George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Bushrod Washington, 8 February 1793

To Bushrod Washington

Philadelphia Feby 8th 1793.

Dear Bushrod,

I am sorry to think I have cause to accuse you of inattention to my requests. When you were at Mount Vernon last,1 I told you I had been informed that, the Assignees of Semple, against whom I, as the Surviving Exr of Colo. Thos Colvill had obtained judgment on a Bond, either had thrown, or was about to throw the matter into Chancery;2 and I desired if this was, or should be the case that you would unite with Mr Chs Lee to bring the matter to issue as soon as possible: and at any rate, that you wd let me know the true state of the case. This you promised to do immediately upon your arrival in Richmond—since which I have not heard a word from you.3

The Affairs of this Estate have been a source of extreme trouble & vexation to me, and I am very anxious indeed, to have them brought to a close as soon as possible.4

My love, in which Mrs Washington joins me, is offered to Nancy5—and I am always Your Affectionate Uncle

Go: Washington


1GW is probably referring to sometime between mid-July and early October 1792, when he was in residence at Mount Vernon (see Tobias Lear to Henry Knox, 10 July, GW to Betty Washington Lewis, 7 Oct. 1792).

2For GW’s attempt to settle the estate of Thomas Colvill and the concurrent litigation against the assignees of John Semple, see GW to Robert Townsend Hooe, 7 Feb. 1793, and notes 1–2.

3Prompted by the success of his law practice in Alexandria, Va., Bushrod Washington had moved his residence in 1790 to Richmond, Va., from where he responded to GW’s criticism on 1 March: “I returned from Westmoreland [County, Va.] a few days ago, and then recieved your favour of the 8th Ulto. It is extremely painful to me at any time to be charged with neglect by those to whom I am bound only by professional duty; much more distressing is it, when it comes from one who has the strongest claims upon my gratitude, and affection. I declare to you Sir, that your request to recieve a letter from me upon the subject you mention, had entirely escaped my recollection, and I concieved that the information you wished for, was desired only in case any step should be taken in the business by the adverse party—this they have not done, and I have of course supposed that they had relinquished the idea. indeed, I am satisfied, (if I understand the subject,) that from some determinations of the Chancellor [George Wythe], they would be unsuccessful in any application of the sort. Mr Lee informed Colo. Hooe of the Judgment, & I should suppose (tho I have never heard) that he has pursued the proper steps towards obtaining the effect of it. If an injunction had been applied for, I should (independent of your directions as I understood them) have immediately informed you of it, & have taken the necessary steps in it. believe then Sir I beseech you, that the neglect with which I acknowledge you had good cause to charge me, has not proceeded from want of respect, or from in attention to any request which you either did or could make of me” (ViMtvL).

Charles Lee, a brother of Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee and a longtime friend of GW, practiced law in Alexandria, and he often handled GW’s legal concerns.

4For the final settlement of Thomas Colvill’s estate, see the decree of the Virginia court of chancery of 25 July 1796 (D, NHi: George and Martha Washington Papers; D, NHi: Rufus King Papers).

5Bushrod Washington had married Julia Ann (“Nancy”) Blackburn in 1785.

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