To Bushrod Washington
Mount Vernon 23d Oct. 1797.
A Mrs Forbes, who was Housekeeper to Governor Brooke, has been strongly recommended by his brother Mr John Brooke to Mr Anderson (my Manager) as a person who would answer my purposes well1—She has been written to once or twice, and no answer is obtained. Let me request the favour of you (as it is said she lives somewhere in Richmond) to ascertain her character & fitness, and if such as you conceive would answer our purposes—for your Aunt is exceedingly fatiegued & distressed for want of a good housekeeper—to enquire whether she has received the letters which have been written to her; what her determinations are; & terms.2 If you know of another, pray inform us. I wrote some time ago to you respecting Pearson’s suit. Our loves to Mrs Washington—and I am always your Sincere friend and Affecte Uncle
1. Robert Brooke (c.1761–1800), a lawyer in Fredericksburg, was a member of the Virginia house of delegates from Spotsylvania from 1791 through 1794, when he was elected governor. He was elected attorney general of Virginia in 1796, immediately after his term as governor ended. His brother John T. Brooke also represented Spotsylvania County in the house, in 1793. GW’s letters to Mrs. Forbes have not been found.
2. Before receiving Bushrod’s response of 30 Oct. to his queries about Eleanor Forbes, GW sent to former governor Robert Brooke on 27 Oct. John T. Brooke’s letter to James Anderson and asked Governor Brooke to send Mrs. Forbes to him provided she had been “an acceptable and competent house keeper to you.” On 30 Oct. Bushrod wrote that he had talked to Mrs. Forbes and asked GW whether her terms of $ 150 per annum and a delay of her arrival for a month would be acceptable to him. GW replied on 3 Nov. that Mrs. Washington’s “distresses for want of a good house keeper are such” that Mrs. Forbes’s high wages would be of no consideration. He then asked for more information about her and spelled out in detail what her duties and privileges would be. After being told by Brooke that Mrs. Forbes was a respectable and competent English woman without a family, Bushrod persuaded Mrs. Forbes to agree to go immediately to Mount Vernon (Bushrod Washington to GW, 8 November). As it happened, however, Mrs. Forbes did not arrive at Mount Vernon until 6 Dec. (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:271; see also GW to Bushrod Washington, 22 Nov., 18 Dec, Burwell Bassett, Jr., to GW, 26 Nov., and Bushrod Washington to GW, 26 November).