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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.
Mount Vernon, 9 October, 1797.
Mr. Thomas Pearson, heir in tail to Simon Pearson, his brother, has brought suit in the Court of this County, for the lands which the latter sold to Wm. Triplett, George Johnson and myself, five and thirty years ago.—
I understand from Colo. Simms, who is Pearson’s Lawyer, that his complaint is founded upon some irregularity in the proceedings of the Jury, who met on the land to value the same, pursuant to a writ of ad quod damnum—and the examination of the evidence to prove these irregularities went (for I attended) to the establishment of two Points—1st. that there was no survey of the premises in presence of the Jury, at the time of their enquiry into the value of the land; and 2ly. that the said Jury did not explore it sufficiently to ascertain with exactness what the real value of the land was.
This is the amount of Grafton Kirk’s evidence, who was one of the Jurors, and who from your practice in Fairfax County, you may have learnt, is a rare hand at all obsolete claims that depend much on a good memory.
As I shall be ultimately affected in this business if Pearson’s claim obtains (having sold my part of the tract (178 acres) to Mr. Lund Washington), it behooves me to look into the matter timously—let me then ask your opinion on the following points?—
1st. Does the Law providing for the Docking of Entails, by a writ of ad quod damnum, make a survey in presence of the Jury an essential Part of the proceedings?—
The Writ itself (of which I retained a copy) directing the Sheriff to summon respectable men of his County for the purpose of ascertaining the value of the land &c., requires no such thing.
2d. Who is to Judge of the mode by which a Jury on oath is to report their opinion of the value of the land if they are not to do it themselves?—
Mr. Kirk swears he did not, on the day, traverse a foot of the land.—Why? because, says he, living adjoining thereto, I could not be made better acquainted with it than I was; neither did Jno. Askins (another of the Jurymen) stir from the house at which they met; on the Land.—Why again? because Jno. Askins knew it as well as he did.—The rest of the Jurors he acknowledged rode, but were not gone long enough to go over quarter part of the land.—These if not the words are the literal meaning of them, and the sum of Grafton Kirk’s evidence.—No tampering with the Jury to under value the land is even hinted at.—and the transfers devises and descent to Simon Pearson are admitted to be good in order to prove that the said Simon held the land in fee tail and dying (as they say) without legitimate children, that Thos. Pearson his brother is heir in tail.
3d. Whether as Simon was lawfully married and never legally divorced the children of that woman though begotten (no matter by whom) in the state of separation from him is not a bar to the claim of Thomas?
4th. What operation will the Act of Assembly of Virginia for Docking all Entails, (passed many years after the land in dispute was Docked by a writ of ad quod damnum, and sold in 1762) and many years too before the death of Simon Pearson which only happened last Spring have in this Case?—It being understood that the said Simon conveyed the 178 acres to me with a general Warrantee.
5th. I would ask how far my conveyance of the said land to Mr. L. Washington with a general Warrantee also, make me liable for the buildings as well as the land which has been placed thereon?—and
6th. Whether I had better interest my self in defending the suit already commenced in the County Court, or await the decision there and take it up in the dernier resort, if it shd be adverse. I wish also as the case in my judgment turns upon simple points which do not require much study or research, to be informed (confidentially) whether in your opinion Mr. Swan’s demand for defending the suit is not unreasonable?—viz.: $100 in hand and the like sum at the close of the business?—
You may think me an unprofitable applicant in asking opinions and requiring services of you without dousing my money, but pay day may come. If the cause should go to the higher Courts I shall expect you will appear for me, and Mr. Marshall also (if you should not have quit the practice). If the latter should not be returned in time, say who else had I best employ? I beg you will send me and as soon as you can certified copies from the Records of Richmond, of the papers mentioned in the enclosed.—With sincere friendship &c.
P. S. Whether Colo. Simms has any thing in petto I am unable to say, I am told however that he is sanguine and some add that he is to go snacks—