George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James Mercer, 3 October 1792

To James Mercer

Mount Vernon Oct. 3d 1792

Dear Sir,

It has long been in my mind to ask you, though I have never yet done it, if you could give me any information of a conveyance of the Lotts I purchased at Colo. Mercer’s sale of Land in Frederick County in the year 1774.1 I can find no Deeds for these Lotts amongst my land papers; but by recurring to Letters which have passed between you & me (in a settlement of Accts with your Brother Colo. Jno. F. Mercer in August last) it would appear as if this had been done through your Agency. If so, your memory (much better I am sure than mine) may furnish you with the fact, and with the circumstances attending it—or, if it should not, and you would be so obliging when in Richmond to examine the Clerks Office of the General Court to see if any Deeds from you to me, by way of re-conveyance (for this I think was the mode suggested) are on record, it would be doing me an acceptable favor. If none is to be found there nor in the Frederick Office, I am yet without a legal title to the Land, although the purchase money has been allowed in the Settlement before alluded to, with interest thereon agreeably to the tenor of the Sale.2 With sincere esteem & regard I am—Dear Sir Your Affecte Servt

Go: Washington

ALS (photocopy), DLC:GW, ser. 9; ADfS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. The cover of the ALS is addressed to “The Honble James Mercer Esqr Fredericksbg” and includes the postal notation “Alex. 3 Octr.”

1In November 1774 GW bought two lots, totaling 571 acres, near present-day Berryville, Virginia. For background on GW’s purchase of this land from the estate of George Mercer, eldest brother of James Mercer, and his subsequent difficulties in acquiring a clear title to the land, see GW’s Statement concerning George Mercer’s estate, 1 Feb. 1789, and note 3.

2Mercer received this letter at his home in Fredericksburg on 6 Oct., and that same day he replied: “the Circumstances of the Deed you enquire after are full in my memory & I am certain they are of record in the General Court—this fact is the deeper impressed on my mind from the Circumstance of being obliged on a former consultation to devise the mode of perfecting this business by putting your Excellency to the trouble of attending purposely at Richmond—this hapened some years ago & I also remember you then convened the old members of the Dismal Swamp Compy[.] I mention these things hoping to recall the lease to yr own memory but as I go to Richmond on Monday next for a month I will take Care to remove yr Excellencys Suspense as soon as I reach that place—by writing you again & perhaps sending you the original Deed which I presume is yet in the office, not being called for you or yr agent.” He concluded this letter with regret that recent illness had prevented his visiting Mount Vernon (PHi: Gratz Collection). Mercer soon found the missing deeds and sent them to GW (see GW to James Mercer, 1 Nov. 1792).

For GW’s memorandum of 8 Aug. pertaining to his settlement with John Francis Mercer, see GW to Francis Deakins and Benjamin Jones, 8 Aug., source note.

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