George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Rawleigh Colston, 1 June 1798

From Rawleigh Colston

Frederick County June 1st 1798.


When I had the pleasure of conversing with you the last summer on the subject of the land purchased by William Hickman from the estate of the late Col. George Mercer, you seemed to be of Opinion, that under the decree of the high Court of Chancery Col. J. F. Mercer was impowered to pass conveyances to such of the purchasers as had not received them from you. In consequence of which I applied to him in person for this purpose in March last, but was refused a conveyance and referred by him to the decretal order, to prove that this power still rested in you—I now inclose you a Copy of the order & of Col. Mercers reply, and could wish, if you have any doubts remaining on this Subject, you would consult counsel and acquaint me with your determination. If you should conclude to make me a conveyance, I will with out delay furnish my friend Mr Keith of Alexandria with a description of the lott, and will get the favour of him to receive the conveyance.1 I am with the highest respect, Sir, your mo. Obt St

Rawleigh Colston


1In the sale that GW conducted in November 1771 of George Mercer’s property, William Hickman bought two parcels of Mercer’s land on the Shenandoah River in Frederick County. In May 1788 Hickman sold one of these lots to Rawleigh Colston (d. 1823), John Marshall’s brother-in-law. See William Hickman to GW, 5 Oct. 1786, and the references in note 1 of that document. One of Colston’s enclosures, a copy of a decree of the Virginia Court of Chancery dated 9 Nov. 1782, declared that it being impracticable for General Washington to continue to collect the proceeds of the George Mercer sale, John Francis Mercer “be appointed receiver of the effects in the room of the said General Washington.” The second enclosure, dated 9 Mar. 1798, is a statement by John Francis Mercer that the chancery court decree only made him, Mercer, receiver of the proceeds and “in no other manner altered the nature of the original Trust & subsequent powers confided in Genl Washington.” Copies of both enclosures are in CD-ROM:GW. GW did not respond until 16 July, explaining that Colston’s letter arrived “long, very long after its date.” Colston wrote again about this matter on 20 Dec. 1798.

Index Entries