George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Cowper, 9 March 1794

To John Cowper

Philadelphia March 9th 1794.


After waiting several months from the time your bond, dated the 18th of May 1791, for £146.13.4 became due, to see if (without reminding you thereof) you would make payment, I hardly expected, when application was made, to learn that I was yet to wait many months more for the money.1 As this, however, is the case, and you ask, “whether I chuse the payment to be made in Philadelphia, should you be as late as the last of June next in making it,” my answer, and wish is, that this may be the case, unless you have other advice from me in the meanwhile.2

I never heard, before the receipt of your letter, of the claim of Jethro Ballard Esq: to any part of the land which was bought of Mr Marmaduke Norfleet; nor can I easily conceive that such a claim is founded in equity. For I recollect well, that all the disputable part of it, which was known to him, was given up. My opinion therefore is, that before any more of it is relinquished, he, or his heirs ought to be consulted; as they are certainly liable for any loss that may be sustained.

It appears a little extraordinary, that a claim of this sort should not have been known by Mr Norfleet; nor by Colo. Lewis & myself, whilst we had possession of the plantation—was shewn, & always viewed the contested spot as part of the premises, if Mr Ballard was the proprietor thereof in virtue of an elder patent—especially as I am very confident the lines & corners comprehending it, were ascertained to us by Mr Norfleet at the moment he announced a dispute in another part, which, as I have beforementioned, was given up with his consent, rather than embark in a contest.3

It is, however, the business of mister Jno. Lewis (from whom you purchased the land, or rather with whom you made the agreement) to examine into this matter; for I have not time, nor will my situation allow me to do it. and further because the land was disposed of contrary to my judgment, & given into, merely to accommodate the demand on his father’s Estate. I am, Sir, &c.

Go. Washington


1For GW’s earlier requests for payment of this bond, see his letter to Cowper of 26 Oct. 1793, and n.1. For the bond, see Indenture with John Cowper, 17 May 1791.

2Cowper’s letter to GW, from which this quote is taken, has not been found. GW received a partial payment in early September (GW to John Lewis, 8 Sept. 1794, ALS [letterpress copy], DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW).

3On the purchase of this tract of land in what is now Gates County, N.C., from Marmaduke Norfleet of North Carolina, by GW and his brother-in-law Col. Fielding Lewis and, after the death of Fielding Lewis, its subsequent sale to Cowper by GW and John Lewis, see n.7 of George Augustine Washington to GW, 7 Dec. 1790. See also the Deed from Marmaduke Norfleet of 26 April 1766. Mr. Jethro Ballard’s claim has not been identified.

Index Entries