George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Wilcocks, Jr., 29 June 1793

From John Wilcocks, Jr.

Exeter (Devonshire) [England]
June 29 1793

Honored & Dear Sir

From my Wifes Father, the Revd Mr James Madgwick, whose parents & other relations lived at Cerne[,] Wareham & Poole in Dorset, I learn, your Ancestors and his, were the same, Mrs Jolliffe of Poole, my Father-in-law’s Aunt, being a Washington, being some Years since, when he related it to me (viz.) in the Year 1777 when I married I perhaps may not have been correct—he has been Dead upward of 5 Years1—The present is only to desire your advice & assistance in settling myself & family in one of the United States of America, the natural propensity of the Governors of this country being War;2 trade suffers & taxes must consequently encrease, makes it difficult to provide competantly for a large family (I have five Sons & one Daughter, the eldest John Madgwick Wilcocks 14 Years) I have been always a Shopkeeper (viz.) selling Linen & woolen drapery, Haberdashery, Grocery &c. but know something of Agriculture as practise’d in this Country, & can carry with me upwards of one thousand pounds immediately two thousand more at the sale of my houses here & have an annuity during my wifes Life of £100 pr annm from the British funds—I most sincerely beg pardon for troubling you, with this impertinent epistle, at same time hope & beg you will so far notice it, as to return me what I desire your advice & assistance in the purchase of an eligible piece of ground3—one of your Consuls with whom I am in ha⟨bits⟩ of friendship (Mr Vanderhorst of Bristol)4 recommends Charlestown⟨,⟩ South Carolina, but I am afraid the Climate may be too warm for an English constitution—however if a more suitable place is not recommended to me, I will embrace that, being convinced it is my duty, to leave this unhappy Country. I am Honored Sr Your mo. obedt & Hble ⟨Sert⟩

John Wilcocks Junr5

ALS, DLC:GW; ALS (duplicate), DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters. Edmund Randolph replied to Wilcocks in a letter of 26 June 1794 (DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters).

1Presbyterian minister James Madgwick lived at Cerne Abbas during the 1720s, and he may have been the brother of Revd. William Madgwick (d. 1734) of Poole (William Densham and Joseph Ogle, The Story of the Congregational Churches of Dorset, [Boourmouth, England: W. Mate & Sons, 1899], 71–72, 156–57, 192). Mrs. Jolliffe is probably Sarah Washington Jolliffe, daughter of Thomas Washington and wife of Peter Jolliffe of Poole. Though there is a local tradition about Sarah Jolliffe’s and George Washington’s ancestors bring related, any connection has not been identified.

2France had declared war on Great Britain on 1 Feb. 1793.

3Neither John Wilcocks, Jr., nor his son James Madgwick Wilcock came to the United States, but instead they continued in the linen drapery trade at Exeter (Ian Maxted, Newspaper Readership in South West England: An Analysis of the Flindell’s Western Luminary Subscription List of 1815 [Exeter: J. Maxted, 1996], 50).

4Elias Vanderhorst was the U.S. consul at the English port of Bristol (GW to U.S. Senate, 3 May 1792, and note 3).

5A postscript follows Wilcock’s signature on the duplicate letter and reads, “P.S. I omitted to say my Father in laws Mother was own Sister to Mrs. Jolliffe & were Washington’s before Marriage.”

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