George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Tilghman, 1 March 1794

From William Tilghman

Chester Town [Md.] March 1. 1794.


I have the honor of forwarding the inclosed copies of Sidney George’s bond to J. West,1 & of two letters from Mr George Chalmers to me, which I received a few days ago, by the December packet.2 Mr Chalmers has been very obliging, & assiduous in searching for the bond, & appears to be very honorable in his proposals of settlement—I wait your instructions, whether to desire him to send the bond to me, or to retain it in his hands till the return of Peace shall make the conveyance less dangerous. I should suppose, that the certified copy of the bond which is now in my possession, would be a sufficient voucher to induce Mr George to make payment, without any writing of indemnifi cation. You will observe that Chalmers authorizes me to draw for £100, tho’ he seems confident that he has paid the money. Perhaps it might be worth while to apply to the representatives of Colonel Carlyle, to know whether his books or papers throw any light on this transaction.3 I should rather think that it would be most prudent not to draw on Chalmers immediately. If however, you should be of a contrary opinion, you will be good enough to transmit me a writing of indemnity, to be forwarded to him agreeably to his request. I shall return him no answer till I receive your instructions on the subject.4 Meanwhile I have the honor of remaining with the most perfect respect, yr obt Servt

Wm. Tilghman.


1The copy of the bond from Sidney George, Jr., to John West, Jr., reads: “Maryland to wit. Know all men by these Presents that I Sidney George of Cecil County Executor of the last Will & testament of Sidney George Esqr. late of Cecil County & province aforesaid deceased; am held & firmly bound unto J[ ] West of Prince Williams County & Colony of Virginia in the full & just Sum of one hundred & eighty pounds pennsylvania currency, to be paid to the said J[ ] West his certain Attorney, Executors, Administrators or Assigns. To which payment well & truly to be made & done, I bind myself, my heirs Executors & Administrators firmly by these presents, sealed with my seal, & dated this thirtieth day of August in the year seventeen hundred & seventy four.

“The Condition of the above obligation is such, that if the above bound Sidney George, do & shall well & truly pay, or cause to be paid unto the aforesaid J[ ] West, his certain Attorney, Executors, Administrators or Assigns, the just & full sum of ninety pounds pennsylvania Currency at or upon the tenth day of June next ensuing the date hereof, with legal Interest for the same, then the above obligation to be void, else to remain in full force & virtue in Law.” This bond was “Signed sealed & delivered in presence of G. Milligan [and] Robert Milligan,” and attested as a “true Copy” by George Chalmers at Whitehall, London, on 3 Dec. 1793 (DLC:GW). For background on this bond, see Tilghman to GW, 16 Aug. 1793.

2In his letter written at the “Office for Trade Whitehall” on 5 Nov. 1793, Chalmers acknowledged receipt of Tilghman’s letter of 6 Sept. 1793. He then wrote that when he left Maryland for England in 1775, he turned over his papers to a “Doctor Stenhouse, who then resided in Baltimore Town. Upon my retirement, the Doctor gave public notice, that I had entrusted him with my Affairs, and any Person having any Claim on me might apply to him. In consequence, Clients called for Papers, and Creditors asked for their money. Some Years afterwards, the Doctor thought himself obliged to retire. And, since his arrival in this Country, about fifteen Years ago, I have seldom or never brought my mind upon affairs, which yielded to me no very pleasant Reflections; having had in the mean time neither any enquiry after Papers, nor any Demand for money.

“From those Circumstances you will easily suppose, that my Recollection, with regard to such distant objects, cannot be very minute, tho’ from the Particulars which you mention, I immediately recollected the Transaction in general. I owe it however, to the nature of the Business, and to the respectability of the Parties to give every Information in my Power. With this view, I shall write to Doctor Stenhouse, who now lives on a farm in Fifeshire [in Scotland], and I shall ransack the Papers, which are in my Possession, and which, whatever may have been destroyed or lost, daily increase upon me” (DLC:GW).

The second letter, dated 4 Dec. 1793 and also written at the “Office for Trade Whitehall,” reads: “I now sit down to fulfil, as well as I can, the promise that I made you in my Letter, dated the 5th of November, which was sent by the last mail, under cover to Mr Consul [Phineas] Bond, and a copy of which I enclose, in case of accident to the Original.

“Doctor Stenhouse wrote me, in answer to my letter, on this subject, That he could only remember, he had paid several sums of money for me, had delivered various papers to those who seemed to have a right to them, and had brought away with him such papers as still remained in his hands. . . . I now perceive, that the original Bond from Sidney George to Colo. [Thomas] Colville had been lost or mislaid, so that neither Mr George nor Mr West, knew any thing of it, before I had any concern in the business. And, Mr George refusing, or delaying, to satisfy the debt to Mr West, I was employed to file a bill of discovery in the Court of Chancery in Maryland, which still continued in Court, during the year 1774. But whether it was discontinued by the decease of Mr George, the original obligor, or was ended by Compromise, I am unable to tell. Nor, can I find, what expences, I incurred on account of this Chancery Suit, (the Attornies of Maryland being answerable for the Officers fees due from foreign Suitors) or what fees I may have received, or not, on account of this business. But, these are matters, which at this distance of time and place, are worthy of very little recollection.

“It is plain from the receipt, which you took the trouble to copy into your letter, though I had forgot the particulars of the transaction, that in September 1774, I must have received from Mr George, the Executor of the original Obligor, £100 Pensyla. Currency, and also a bond for £100. upon searching my papers, this bond I have happily found. And I have now enclosed you an exact copy of it: reserving the Original, as I did not think it prudential, at this season, to transmit the Bond without authority. I shall send it by the first packet, after I shall have received proper directions for that purpose.

“I can find nothing which satisfies me, to whom or in what manner, this money was discharged by me, after receiving it, though I am Sufficiently satisfied that I must have paid it. My recollection is, that I had more frequent intercourse with Colo. Carlyle of Alexandria, than with Mr West about this business. But at this distance of time, and without documents, I will not say, that I paid this money, to Colo. Carlyle. My notion is, that the remittance may have been made by letter, and that the acknowledgement may have been destroyed, while I was in the habit of destroying epistolary Correspondence, owing to the circumstances of the times.

“In this state of the business, and of the parties, I do not hesitate in saying explicitly, that I consider myself as answerable for the money, which was once in my possession, but which, after the expiration of nineteen years, and the loss of documents I am at present unable to trace out of it, so as to satisfy the Concerned and myself.

“I can only conceive, that the surviving Executor of Colo. Colville is anxious to close the Administration. I beg you will do me the justice to believe, that I too am anxious to have this transaction properly closed as far as depends on me. To these ends, I desire, that you will draw a Bill of Exchange on me for £100 Pensyla. Currency at the usual Exchange of 662/3, at 30 days sight. And, I am also to request, that you will at the same time send me a letter of advice, with an acquittance, stating the facts, with a special Clause of indemnity, in case I should either by inquiry, or by Chance, discover documents to prove, that I had properly discharged the money, that had been paid to me. This Condition I flatter myself, is so reasonable on both sides, that the mutual Anxiety to close the transaction may be gratified, without much difficulty.

“Having now answered satisfactorily, I hope, both the points of your letter, I will only beg leave to add my sincere wishes, that no misfortune has happened during the Sad Scenes at Philadelphia in September and October last, to the Personage, whose Life is so important to his Country and dear to the World” (DLC:GW).

3John Carlyle (1720–1780), originally of Dumfrieshire, Scotland, was one of the founders of Alexandria, Va., and a prominent merchant of that town.

4For GW’s instructions, see his letter to Tilghman of 10 March.

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