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TO BUSHROD WASHINGTON. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIII (1794-1798) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XIII (1794-1798).
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TO BUSHROD WASHINGTON.
Philadelphia, 10 February, 1796.
On Saturday last I received your letter of the 24th Ulto.
Presuming that Mr. Keith has sent you all the attested accounts of my Executorship of the Estate of Colo. Thomas Colvill, in which the affairs of John Colvill, his brother (to whom he was executor) were involved—together with the will of the former, and the claims originating from an extraordinary devise which you will find therein, I am at a loss to know, what more you require than is contained in those papers, when you wish I would give you the general out lines of the business; that you may be enabled thereby to frame the Bill.
I have no papers now by me except copies of the accounts, which have been settled with the court, authentic copies of which I presume you have received;—and having very little knowledge in chancery proceedings I hardly know where to begin or end a story, that may subserve your purpose. I will however, attempt to detail some facts relative to the business, which has involved me in much unexpected vexation and trouble in order that I may as soon as possible be rid of it.
You must know then that in a visit to Colo. Thomas Colvill, on his death bed, (an unlucky one I have ever since deemed it) he informed me, that he had appointed me, one of his Executors. I told him that my numerous engagements, of a similar kind, would not permit me to discharge the duties of one.—He urged—I refused—he pressed again, assuring me that all the trouble would be taken off my hands, by his wife and Mr. John West (who married his niece) that he wished only for my name,—and that I would now and then only inquire how Matters were conducted by those first named. Unwilling to make the last moments of a worthy and respectable character uneasy, I yielded to his request; and having so done I would not be worse than my word, and qualified accordingly:—and when it suited my convenience, occasionally assisted; until my services were required by the county in which I lived, to attend the State convention, at Williamsburg and Richmond—by these conventions, to attend the Congresses which were held in this City,—and by the latter to take the command of the Army, which, and my continuance with the latter comprehended a period of more than ten years, at the expiration of which and my return to private life, I found that Mrs. Colvill, and Jno. West both were dead—that no final settlement of the Estate had been made. That every thing relative to it was enveloped in darkness, and that instead of being a mere auxiliary in the business I was compelled for my own security, to become the sole actor.
Under these circumstances, and knowledge of Mr. Keith’s fitness, from being a professional man;—from having been once, a clerk of a Court and well acquainted with proceedings of this kind; and from his knowledge of incidents; I employed him to collect, and digest the materials which were to be found among the papers of Mrs. Colvill, and West into a final settlement; and nothing short of his assiduity, and knowledge of the subject, cou’d have exhibited the accounts in the manner they have appeared. Sure I am that I could not have framed the accounts from the materials which were exhibited.
I ought to have mentioned in an earlier part of this detail, that one of the first acts of the Executors was—to publish in the English papers an extract of the Will of Colo. Thomas Colvill, making the nearest relations of his mother his residuary Legatees.—This bequest and publication raised a host of claimants, one of whom through the medium of General Howe, while he commanded the B. forces in America demanded in an open impudent and imperious letter, which passed through the hands of that officer, the restitution, of an Estate worth forty thousand pounds which he says was the surplus of the Estate and due to him,—altho’ the very clause under which he claimed expressed a doubt of there being any surplus at all.—
If this concise account is inadequate to the purposes of a Bill, I pray you to propound specific questions, and they shall receive immediate answers.—My objects, are, simply these,—1st, as the surplus after paying the debt and Legacies, is not precisely ascertained; after many law suits and much difficulty; I wish that those who have the best right to it, may receive the benefit of the donation;—and 2d, that I may know where and in what manner to dispose of the money; not being willing to hold it, nor to have anything to do with those who may claim it, I accordingly, as I have been advised turn the whole matter over to the Chancellor; who at the same time that he affords relief to me, will do justice to others. With sincere friendship I am
Your affectionate Uncle.