George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Parke, 2 September 1795

From John Parke

London 2d Septr 1795


I have many years contemplated the happiness a Residence some where in the United States would afford me I am now become anxious to realize a situation in Kentucky or Western Territory contiguous to Navagation and free from any depredations of the Indians & the Land to be first rate but my hopes nearly vanish when I consider the improbability of being able to provide in such way for myself and family because I am not a man of property beyond what the Furniture of my House would produce on being sold and an Income of £300 ⅌ Annum arising from the office of Landing Waiter in the Customs here which I would Cheerfully relinquish to embrace any thing likely to afford a Peaceful retreat and the necessaries of life I am fifty two years of age active and fear not to encounter such difficulties as perseverance and Industry can overcome.

My Family consists of a Wife two Children, a Sister and an old female servant who has been in my service upwards of nineteen years I have read in Filson & Imlays Topographical description of the Western Territory that an honest industrious man may have stock and land on Credit1 Permit me to inform you that your Brother Mr Richard Washington many years ago a Merchant of this City but of whom I have not heard a very long time lodged in Cheapside at the Miss Stovins when I did and that at the time he went from hence to Bermuda and when there was indebted to them £242.16.10 which with the Interest of £291.12.0 to the conclusion of the present year forms a total of £534.8.10 Miss Joan Caroline Stovin died in 1770 Miss Mary Stovin I married and who has bee⟨n⟩ dead rather more then fourteen years The above sum of £⟨242.16.10⟩ was a considerable part of the effects belonging to them which by marriage became mine a copy of the Register of such marriage I herein enclose as also an affidavit to the above sums but nevertheless I have presumed to do this I have no claim on you whatever.2 I have merely taken the liberty to mention this matter to which I could add many other losses much more important which I have sustaind as Circumstances wch render ⟨me⟩ incapable of making a Purchase and that in consideration of such Misfortunes and a General good Charector certified to you (if required) by the American Ambassador or Consul resident here in consequence of Testimonials to them that your liberal Heart may compassionate so far as to render me such services as you may be pleased in obtaining a residence where my family may benifit from their & my assiduity.

If the Interest was correctly calculated from the different dates in the Acco[un]t it would amount to considerably more than 291.12.0 I have only calculated it from the begining of the year 71 to 95 inclusive.

Mr Joseph Brown late of this City but now of Islington has known me many years and would upon application furnish his Testimony in my behalf I presume Sir you may recolect him in some degree.

He drew the Petition which was carried from this City to the Commons House of Parliament the day their Vote put an end to Hostilities with the United States and at whos House the late Doctor Price the late Mr President Lawrence and Mr David Hartley had their first Interview.3

I wrote to your Excellency considerably more then a Year ago by the Brothers Capt. Smith who was taken by a French ship of war therefore conclude that letter to be lost.4 Any Answer which you may be pleased to Honor me with may be directed for me at Mr Hamiltons Surgeon Aldermanbury London who has two Brothers at Alexandria who probably may be known to you I am most Respectfully Sir Your Mo. Obdt Servt

J. Parke

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1Parke referred to the second edition of Gilbert Imlay’s A Topographical Description of the Western Territory of North America … (London, 1793). That edition’s title page mistakenly gives “George Imlay” as the author. It also contains works about Kentucky written by John Filson.

2Parke enclosed a “true copy” of his marriage certificate (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). He also sent an attested copy of a “Testimony of Debt,” 24 Aug., in which he, “John Parke of the Custom House London Gentleman,” certified that Richard Washington, a former London merchant, was indebted to him for £242.16.10 “Lawful money of great Britain” with interest at five ⅌ Cent from 1771 to 1794, which amounted to £291.12.0, for a total amount due of £534.8.10. That sum would come due at the end of 1795 (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

3Parke was referring to the petition of 27 Feb. 1782 in which the city of London implored the Parliament “to interpose, in such manner as to their wisdom shall seem most effectual, for preventing the continuance of the unfortunate war with America” and to the debate and vote on that date supporting Henry Seymour Conway’s resolution opposing further prosecution of an offensive war with America (Parliamentary History of England, description begins The Parliamentary History of England, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803. 36 vols. London, 1806–20. description ends 22:1064–85). David Hartley (c.1730–1813) represented Kingston-Upon-Hull in the British House of Commons, 1774–80 and 1782–84. He was the signer for Great Britain of the 1783 treaty of peace with the United States.

4No previous letter from Parke has been found. The snow Brothers of Philadelphia, captained by John Baptiste Smith, left Great Britain for Baltimore in late June 1794, but it was taken en route by the privateer Sans-Pareil (see The Oracle, Public Advertiser [London], 28 June 1794, and Impartial Herald [Newburyport, Mass.], 13 Sept. 1794).

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