George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Francis Mercer, 30 November 1793

From John Francis Mercer

West River [Anne Arundel County, Md.] Nov. 30. 93.


On my arrival at this place from Virginia where I had been long detained by domestic circumstances as melancholy as they were unexpected, I found a letter from you1—The Deed from the several parties to You for the Land in Montgomery has been long executed agreably to the Laws of this State, & I will bring the original with me to the meeting of Congress2—I have drawn upon you in favor of Doctor James Steuart for four hundred dollars on acct of his part of this Land which by my calculation is below the sum you will have to pay, the ballance however I shall settle in Philadelphia.3

The answers to the Bill of Hanshaw my Brother Robert informs me, was detain’d by my brother James, under an impression that they were insufficient.4

The circumstances of the fees improperly Charged to you, have not arisen from any neglect of mine, I am persuaded, but suspect that they have been made on a process instituted under the direction of my late Brother agt Lord Dunmores Estate, & which was committed entirely to his care,5 I will however on seeing you repay the same, & can only regret that you have by the ignorance of inattention of any person been perplexed or injured by these or similar charges. With the greatest respect I have the honor to be &c.

John F. Mercer


1GW wrote Mercer on 26 October. The “melancholy” event was the death of Mercer’s half-brother James Mercer on 31 October.

2On GW’s acquisition of the Montgomery County, Md., land, see GW to Mercer, 7 Aug., and n.1 to that document, and Mercer to GW, 15 Aug., and n.2. For continuing problems with the deed, see GW to Mercer, 10 March 1794, and Mercer to GW, 13 April 1794. Mercer represented Maryland in Congress from 5 Feb. 1792 to 13 April 1794.

3GW’s account book records in the entry for 10 Dec. 1793: “The President’s accot proper, pd a draft of Jno F. Mercer in favr of Jas Stuart [$]400” (Household Accounts description begins Presidential Household Accounts, 1793–97. Manuscript, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. description ends ; see also Account Book, 2 Sept. 1793–4 April 1794, DLC:GW).

4John Henshaw’s bill of complaint was related to his purchase in 1774 of land from the estate of George Mercer, for which GW was a trustee. GW’s answer has not been found, but for his response to the bill of complaint, see GW to John Francis Mercer, 23 July 1792, and GW to Bushrod Washington, 30 April 1794. Robert Mercer (1764–1800) was John Francis Mercer’s youngest brother.

5John Murray (1732–1809), fourth earl of Dunmore, served as governor of Virginia from 1771 to 1776. The process instituted against the Dunmore estate may have been the action for recovery of a debt that James Mercer was planning in 1792 (see James Mercer to GW, 20 Feb. 1792).

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