George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James Keith, 13 April 1793

To James Keith

Mount Vernon Aprl 13th 1793.

Dr Sir,

Your letter of the 8th has been duly received. You, better than I, can acct for the smaller judgment being for two hundred and odd pounds more than is due. Justice to all parties, & a speedy settlement of the whole, is all I am at. the latter, as I have often repeated, I am extremely desirous to have accomplished.1

Was I to see Colo. Hooe, which is not likely now to happen, as I am in the very act of Setting off for Philadelphia; I should be at a loss to know what to say to him respecting the charge on Acct of Giles.2 By the papers alone I could be governed in any conversati[o]n held with him and these you have. If my memory does not deceive me, however, (but on it I never rely)—there is a particular statement of this matter in the Will of Thomas Colvill. If it is justly due to the Tankervilles, it ought undoubtedly to be paid, if it is not, I, as certainly ought not to allow it.3 I rely therefore on you to have the matter thoroughly investigated, either by yourself, or some other eminent in Law that I may act safely. for I have had too much trouble in this business already, to lay the foundation for more, by allowing a claim if it requires authentication.

Messrs Wilson & Dunlap on Tuesday the 2d instt required only 10 Days to consider whether they would pay the judgment on the Bond with—or without interest.4 This time is elapsed; & delay only can be their object if they have not announced to you (—to me they have not—) their determination thereupon. Of course no time should be lost in issuing the Execution.5 But who is it to be served upon? Cumberland Wilson they say, who has no interest at all in the business! As you are so much better acquainted with this business than I am—& know my objects & wish, I shall, in one word, as I shall be out of the State in a few hours—leave the accomplishment of them to you—being Sir Your Most Obedt Humble Servant

Go: Washington

ADfS, sold by Early American History Auctions, Inc., item 254, 9 Feb. 2002; LB, DLC:GW.

1In addition to Keith’s letter to GW of 8 April, a number of letters recently had been exchanged between GW and the Alexandria, Va., lawyer in an attempt to settle the estate of the brothers John and Col. Thomas Colvill, of which GW was an executor (GW to Keith, 7 Feb., 17 Mar., 7 April, and Keith to GW, 7 Mar.). For the amount of judgment against Cumberland Wilson, Thomas Montgomerie, Adam Stewart, and George Mason in favor of the heirs of the estate, see Court Judgment, 22 May 1792.

2For GW’s earlier correspondence with Robert Townsend Hooe about the Colvill estate, see GW to Hooe, 7 Feb. 1793. For Mr. Giles’s claim against the Colvill estate, see Keith to GW, 8 April, n.3. GW arrived in Philadelphia on 17 April (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 107).

3Charles Bennett, the fourth earl of Tankerville, and his brother, Henry Astley Bennett, were among the primary beneficiaries of the Colvill estate (Thomas Montgomerie to GW, 24 Oct. 1788, and source note; see also the wills of John and Thomas Colvill in Fairfax County Will Book, B–1, ViFfCh, and summarized in King, Abstracts of Wills description begins J. Estelle Stewart King. Abstracts of Wills and Inventories, Fairfax County, Virginia, 1742–1801: With Rent Rolls for 1761 and 1774. 2d ed. Baltimore, 1978. description ends 11, 15).

4For William Wilson and James Dunlap’s promise to contact GW within ten days about whether they would challenge the judgment of 22 May 1792, see GW to Keith, 7 April.

5For Keith’s mention of serving papers of execution, see his letter to GW of 8 April.

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