George Washington: A Biography - Vol. 1

By Douglas Southall Freeman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
CHANGING HOMES AND FORTUNES
(FEBRUARY, 1732-APRIL, 1743)

THE GREAT event of the Northern Neck in the year of George's birth was the death on August 4 of "King" Carter. Every person who knew of Carter's wealth and of his part in the development of the "back country" must have talked for days of his obsequies, his will and his children's fortune. He had done well by them and not ill by the Proprietor. During his second lease, 1720-32, Carter had issued between Potomac and Goose Creeks, along the line of growing speculation and increasing settlement, patents for 600,000 acres. Friends and descendants might assert it was to the Proprietor's interest, rather than otherwise, that a considerable part of this had been acquired by Carter's family and intimates: they were financially responsible; their quit rents would be paid.1

To Augustine Washington, the passing of "King" Carter meant little at the time. The young planter was busy both on Pope's Creek and at the Accokeek furnace, which was inconveniently distant from the Washington home in Westmoreland. Nor was the time, financially, one of jubilation for Augustine. He was not "land poor," but he was possessed of many acres that were yielding little. His speculation almost ceased in the early seventeen-thirties either because he found few bargains or else because he lacked the money with which to take advantage of those he saw.2 He lost something through the death of William Lord;3 he was not above the performance of many petty duties for the trivial compensation allowed him and William Brown as executors of

____________________
1
As shown by the Land Books of the proprietary, the patents by volumes and years were as follows: Book A, 1723-26, acreage 188,995; Book B, 1726-29, acreage, 77,956; Book C, 1729-31, acreage, 278,244; Book D, 1731-32, acreage, 55,651. Carter's will, as noted already, was published in 5 V408 ff and 6ibid., 1 ff.
2
His recorded transactions of 1732-34 include only a lease of 100 acres to Joseph Lee for £4 a year current money, the purchase of the islands near the mouth of Pope's Creek from his brother John, and an exchange of land with Daniel McCarty and William Aylett. ( 8 Westmoreland Deeds, 175, 245; Westmoreland Orders, 1731-39, p. 28.)
3
Westmoreland Orders, 1731-39, p. 68.

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