Skip to main content

Series 2. Legal Documents, 1697-1835


Content Description

From the Collection:

The Bushrod Washington Family Papers consist of documents gathered by the descendants of the first President of the United States, George Washington. The collection comprises an assortment of correspondence and legal documents documenting the lives and property ownership of several branches of the Washington family. The collection is organized into five series: Correspondence, Legal Documents, Social, Miscellaneous, and Indenture Notices (Land Deeds).

The Correspondence series, circa 1780-1835, contains letters mostly written to Bushrod Washington, executor of George Washington’s estate and inheritor of Mount Vernon. While some were written by friends of Bushrod Washington, most are from his brother and his many nieces and nephews.

Of the letters not written to Bushrod Washington, the largest portion were written by Bushrod Corbin Washington, his wife Anna Maria, and their daughter Hannah to their son, Cadet Thomas Washington, who was stationed in Middletown, Connecticut. Most often, when one of the three would pen a letter, the other two would add a quick greeting in whatever space remained. Among the famous Virginians with whom Bushrod Washington corresponded are Richard Channing Moore, George Spotswood, and George Wythe. All of the letters are in alphabetical order by the last name of the correspondent, with undated materials at the end.

Legal Documents, 1719-1835, contains six subseries: Estate Matters, Financial Agreements, Land Disputes, Plats, Wills, and Other. Issues arising after the death of a family member can be found in the Estate Matters subseries. The estate of George Washington was perhaps the most disputed, with legal proceedings occurring thirty years following his death. Loans and sales of property are the focus of the Financial Agreements subseries. At least two family members were involved with land disputes over the years. The Land Disputes subseries records the disputes of Richard Bushrod and John Augustine Washington. Surveys, or Plats, were the primary tool for settling such disputes and can be found in the next subseries. The Wills of several family members provide data regarding the families' possessions. This subseries contains wills written by ten family members. In addition to household items and distribution of land, these wills also dictate the owners' desires regarding who would inherit slaves. Four other documents, not closely resembling any of the other legal pieces comprise their own subseries. When possible, all of the Legal Documents are listed in alphabetical order by the last name of the creator.

Bushrod Washington, a well-respected Judge, was active in affairs aside from running his family estate. Evidence of these can be found in the Social series, 1816-1829. The American Bible Society and the Bunker Hill Monument Association were among the organizations in which Judge Washington was involved.

A formula for cement, mailed to the President of the United States, Mount Vernon, and recipes highlight the Miscellaneous series, 1795 and undated.

Some of the oldest material in the collection is found in the Indenture Notices (Land Deeds) series, 1662-1814. These documents relate the history of land ownership among the Bushrod and Washington families, as well as several of their neighbors and associates. While technically legal documents, the size of several of the deeds precludes their being stored alongside the papers of the Legal Documents series. Arranged chronologically, the Indenture Notices specify all the details of the transaction, including the amount of land, location, and purchase price.


  • Creation: 1697-1835


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research during scheduled appointments. Researchers must complete the Washington Library’s Special Collections and Archives Registration Form before access is provided. The library reserves the right to restrict access to certain items for preservation purposes.


From the Collection: 1.5 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials


Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections at The George Washington Presidential Library at Mount Vernon Repository

PO Box 3600
Mount Vernon VA 22121