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title:“George Mason to John Francis Mercer”
authors:George Mason
date written:1788-11-26

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:01 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Feb. 29, 2024, 1:15 a.m. UTC

Mason, George. "Letter to John Francis Mercer." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 3. Ed. A Rutland. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 1132-34. Print.
Recipient's Copy, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.

George Mason to John Francis Mercer (November 26, 1788)

Virginia Gunston Hall Novemr. 26th, 1788.
The Bearer, Mr. Johnston, informing me he shall be in Annapolis shortly, gives me an Opportunity of beging you will inform me, whether Mr. Thos. Contee has discharged my Demand, as Mrs. Eilbeck's Execr. (on her protested Bill) against Mr. Mollison of London; as you wrote me, some time ago, he had promised to do. If he has not, I presume it will be in vain to wait longer, and that the sooner legal Means are taken to compel payment of the Debt, the better; and in that Case, I imagine the Process must be issued against Mr. Robt. Young of Nottingham in Prince Georges County; who I am informed has a late Power of Attorney from Mollison, & has taken his Affairs out of Mr. Contee's Hands: tho' perhaps it may be first necessary to obtain a Judgt. agst. Mollison; of this you are the best Judge; I am unacquainted with the Modes of Proceeding in Maryland.
I wish also to know what is done in my Attachment agst. Mr. West; being at this time in real Want of Money, to make the Remittance, I have promised my Son John, to Bourdeaux. If a Bill has not been already brought agst. Rutland, upon my Mortgage, I think it should be done immediately; the Debt is daily encreasing, by an accumulating Interest, and consequently the Security lessening. I have some Reason to think, if Mrs. Rutland is applyed to, she will have no Objection to a relinquishment of her Right of Dower in the mortgaged premises; having been informed she has declared, to some of her Friends, that she claims nothing from Mr. Rutland's Estate, & wou'd relinquish her Right to any of his Creditors; & that her Uncle, Mr. Wallace, has frequently declared, she shou'd never accept a shilling of Rutland's Estate. These however are Reports, which may not be true.
I have been considering the Nature of Mrs. Rutland's Claim of Dower in Rutland's property mortgaged to me. As his Mortgage to Mr. Carroll, of the Tract of Land on South River, was before his Marriage, and he was thereby divested of the legal Estate, reserving only the Equity of Redemption, I hardly think a Wife, marryed afterwards, entitled to Dower in the sd. Land, unless, by discharging the Mortgage, the legal Estate had been revested in Rutland; if this Suggestion is well founded, the mortgage to Mr. Carroll, before Rutland's marriage, will operate to prevent Mrs. Rutland's Claim of Dower on the subsequent Mortgage to me, so far as it relates to the sd. Land. As to her Right of Dower in the Lotts in Annapolis, mortgaged to me, it seems to depend upon the Nature of Rutland's Estate in them. I understand they are subjec[t] to a Ground Rent; if Rutland's Title is by Lease for Lives, or a long Term of Years, renewable for ever, I apprehend the Estate subject to the same Rules, in general, with other Lease-hold Estates, & that a Wife is not entitled to Dower; but if Rutland's Title is by absolute Deed For ever, with only the reservation of a certain annual Ground-Rent; I conceive the Dignity of the Estate is not lessened by such reserved Ground-Rent, any more than the Estates, held under Deeds from the Proprietor of the Northern Neck, were by the Reservation of an annual Quit Rent, &consequently that a Wife has Right of Dower. I am no Lawyer, & only hint these things for your Consideration; no Doubt, there are precedents, & adjudged cases; which have setled the Doctrine, in both Instances; tho' I am not acquainted with them. You wrote me, some time ago, that one of the Lotts mortgaged to me, being liable upon a Judgt. previous to mine, was to be sold by Execution, to discharge a Debt of £400 due to one Mr. Little; & you was so obliging to say, you wou'd attend the Sale, and see that it was fairly sold; & that you imagined the Proceeds wou'd be more than would discharge Little's Debt; if so, I hope the over-plus has been secured for me.
I make no Doubt you have seen the Resolutions of the Virginia Assembly, respecting the new General Government—the following is an Extract of a late Letter, from a Member of our House of Delegates. "We have had a very warm Session, & I apprehend it will continue so, to the End; however the Anti's (as we are called) have been able to carry three great points—An Application to Congress for a new federal Convention, to amend the Government. Laying off the State into Districts, for chusing Representatives, & making Residence, for twelve Months in the District, a necessary Qualifi[cation.] These have passed the Senate; and Yesterday, a disqualifing [Act] passed our House, providing against certain officers of the Unit[ed States] holding offices under this Commonwealth, or Seats in it's Legisla[ture] and I hope, & believe, it will pass the Senate. This Regulation, as well as the two former, the Feds have swallowed like Wormwood; and I believe, had the last been expected by our Convention in June, previous Amendments wou'd have been obtained."
I beg my Compliments to your Lady; and am, with the most sincere Regard, dear Sir, Your Affecte. Friend, & Sert

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