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Lot 45

Martha Washington Signs Receipt for Rent of Western Lands Owned by George Washington, PSA/DNA Encapsulated NM-MT8

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Martha Washington Signs Receipt for Rent of Western Lands Owned by George Washington, PSA/DNA Encapsulated NM-MT8


Martha Washington Signs Receipt for Rent of Western Lands Owned by George Washington, PSA/DNA Encapsulated NM-MT8

1p, measuring 7.75" x 3", no place, dated September 15, 1801. A receipt signed "M Washington. Reading in full: "Received September 15th 1801 of Robert Lewis (on account of the collection of my rents) four hundred and eight dollars." The receipt has been encapsulated and authenticated [NM-MT8] by PSA/DNA. It has light toning with a few small spots of foxing. There is a small tear along the right margin. Pencil notation on verso. Boldly signed, overall very good.

Martha Washington Signs Receipt for Rent of Western Lands Owned by George Washington

Complete Transcript
Received September 15th 1801 of Robert Lewis (on account of the collection of my rents) four hundred and eight dollars.
M Washington

Historical Background
At the time of his death in December 1799, most of the more than 60,000 acres that George Washington owned were in the western parts of Virginia, now West Virginia. The land lay along the Ohio and Great Kanawha rivers and largely came to Washington as a result of his services in the French and Indian War in the 1750s and 1760s. Washington also received grants of western Virginia land in the 1780s from Virginia Governor Benjamin Harrison for his services during the Revolutionary War, and he purchased land warrants from others for their bounty lands.

After George Washington's death in December 1799, his nephew Robert Lewis, a son of his sister Betty, continued to arrange leases and collect rents for his western lands on behalf of his aunt, Martha Washington.

On May 1, 1800, Lewis wrote from Springfield, (West) Virginia, to Martha Washington: "Owing to a backward Spring, & consequently plowing, I am prevented accompanying my Rental & the money which will be deliver'd you by Mr Dangerfield, a young Gentleman that lives with me. The amount of the Rental you will perceive is £472:3:0 out of which you will Receive £270:0:0 [approximately $1,230]. The balance now under Replevin bonds & promises of as speedy payment as possible, will be remitted to you as soon as collected. You will be good enough to give Mr Dangerfield a receipt for the money."

In an undated letter, probably from 1801, Lewis wrote to his aunt that he had learned through one of his brothers "of your inclination for a settlement of my Rental a/c for the last year. Had I been prepared, I assure you, it would have superceded the necessity of a summons, as it has ever been a rule with me never to retain money in my hands, which was intended for or belonged to another person. I have at present near one hundred dollars of your money which has been reserved for the Collectors State & Continental taxes. The balance (should there be any) together with what I may collect from the Sheriff when the executions shall be return'd satisfied, will be remitted as early as possible." Lewis also expressed concern that she "not pay any act which may be presented to you by any publick officer on account of that part of the Estate which I have the management of. You have not been apprised, I judge, of the valuation of the property by the assistant assessors, if not, you will most assuredly be taken in."

Martha Washington died on May 22, 1802, just over eight months after signing this receipt.

Robert Lewis (1769-1829) was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the tenth child of Fielding Lewis (1725-1781) and Betty Washington Lewis (1733-1797), George Washington's sister. The younger Lewis served as Washington's personal secretary from 1789 to 1791. He also served as temporary manager of Mount Vernon from 1790 to 1792, while his cousin George Augustine Washington was ill. In 1792, Washington placed Lewis in charge of managing his lands in western Virginia, for which he oversaw leases and collected rents. Lewis later served as mayor of Fredericksburg, Virginia, from 1820 to 1829.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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