Letter, from John Dandridge, January 18, 1788

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  • Letter, from John Dandridge, January 18, 1788

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Letter, from John Dandridge, January 18, 1788


John Dandridge


Fields, Joseph E. 'Worthy Partner': The Papers of Martha Washington. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994


Greenwood Press




Joseph E. Fields, editor


Published version of manuscript document

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Fields, Joseph E. 'Worthy Partner': The Papers of Martha Washington. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994.

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My Dr. Madam -                                              Pamocra Jany 18. 1788

It is a long time indeed since I wrote to you last; and was I not assured that you have had information from your Friends in this county, by other sufficient communications in the interval, I should blame myself more than I now dol for neglecting it on my part - I have in fact of late lost all relish for correspondence, for whenever I write, my letters are so tinctured with my uneasiness of spirit, that they must excite an unhappy sympathy on my Friend, without any alleviation to myself - This will be somewhat the case at present: but connected with me in the double tie of Friendship & relationship, you will bear with me while I address you on one subject of my uneasiness & beg your assistance therein

My Father, particularly attached to his property in Negroes, by his will devised them specifically to his children, & gave almost all his lands to his executors to sell &apply to the discharge of his Debts -This deprived his exectrs of the power to sell any of the Negroes (tho’ it might have been done to great advantage to the Children) until they had first sold the land and applied the whole profit thereof to the payment of his Debts - Anxious as his exetrs & immediate representative to settle & satisfy all demands against his estate, I have used every endeavor to sell the lands & get the money - but such has been the state of public affairs since his death, that I have been able to do it but in part-He was indebted considerably more than he was aware of-particularly by some late speculation & securitiships: The burning of his papers in his house also occasioned me to lose most of his outstanding Debts: And property has now so fallen in its current price, that all his Negroes would not at present, if sold for cash, satisfy the amount. I have been obliged to sell land on considerable credit sometimes, to get anything near the value, & the creditors not agreeing to wait 'till I can get in the money have sued, & will issue executions against the Negroes as soon as they get judgt - Had I been at liberty, under my Father's will, I should have sold at least one half of them towards satisfying the creditors: as we have not land to work them, & there is a great proportion of women & children, many of them are a charge to my Mother, & the money arising from the sale of lands on credit would have been better for the children at interest: For all the negroes are given to my Mother & grandmother for their lives, & they may if they choose it keep them for the children when grown up - It is necessary, however, for my Mother to have some negroes to support her in the education of the young Children - When I wrote to you about the Genls Debt you informed me, he wished me not to sell anything on his acct. immediately; but as the negroes will be sold by somebody, before I can raise money from the land, he is better intitled to them than almost any other creditors. If however he can wait longer with us for the money, & does not see any impropriety in the measure, I would request him to send the bonds immediately to B. Bassett as his attorney, & let me give him a judgt. at March court next: Directing it to be levied on the Negroes, including such as (among which I can have included such as my Mother is particularly attached to) & have them purchased for him. They may then remain his & subject to his claim till I can raise money enough from the lands to sell & Debts due the Estate, to satisfy him - As in time there will be enough to satisfy all the creditors - After this I mean to let Doctr Stuart sell as many of the remaining negroes as will satisfy his immediate demand for money - I intend not thus by any means to defraud any creditor of his just Debt; for if there shall not be enough after paying the Genl, to satisfy the balance I will sell the negroes secured under his Judgt. & all my own individual property, to do it - But this will not be the case -

I make this request thro' you, my Dr Madam & not directly to the Geni, that if you see any impropriety in it, you will stop it & pardon my weakness: Because I would suffer anything rather than propose what may bear the appearance of dishonesty; even in a case like the present, where I am not personally interested but in the welfare of my Mother & her younger children - My own interest in the personal estate I have long since sacrificed to the benefit of the creditors, by selling my share of the negroe, which my mother delivered to me, & paying them the amount - If what I request can be done, 1 shall get time to sell the remainder of the land (which I have as exetr.) to advantage; to collect the money for what has been sold & get in some other Debts: and whilst relieved from the continual distress of such, judgts. & executions, be better enabled to do general justice to all the creditors -

My mother (on whose account principally I have written the above) desires to be remembered to you affectionately: and has only waited a convenient passage to embrace your invitation to patsy - She has grown a great girl & resembles her grandfather's picture, I think very much - She continues to stay with Sister Claiborne yet, & is, as well as the other children, remarkbly healthy - Julious is in very good business & reputation with Mr. Alexander still - Bat lives with Mr. Wm. Dandridge who has commenced Merchant in this County - My Aunt Henley continues another year at the Whitehouse & is just about having another child - we are all well here, except my Grandmother who has been ill this winter; & have moved into our new house, tho' it is not finished -

You will be so good as to make my respectful complts. to the Genl., & send me an answer before March - Immediately if you please -

Believe me my Dr. Aunt, that, tho' the accident or indisposition to it may prevent my continual protestations, I shall not cease to be with less affection & sense of Duty.

Your Nephew
J: Dandridge

Mrs. Washington
Jno Dandridge Esqr
to Mrs. Washington
respectg Bonds
18th. Jan: 1788"


How to Cite this Item

John Dandridge, "Letter, from John Dandridge, January 18, 1788," in Martha Washington, Item #430, http://marthawashington.us/items/show/430 (accessed March 30, 2020).