Gunston-Hall August 29th. 1786.
On the other Side is a Copy of a Paragraph in your Letter to me of Octor. 1st. 1785; from whence it is evident that you put the same Construction upon the Clause, respecting the issueing of Grants in the Land Law of 1779, which I do, & I think every Person must—vizt. that when any Survey hath remained nine Months in the Land-Office, all Requests fulfilled, & No Caveat entered against it, a Grant must issue on it; and that this is an official Business in the Register, the Law not having put it in the Power of the Party, either to expedite his Grant, before it has lain the due time in the Office, nor to postpone it afterwards; & for very obvious Reasons.
If a Grant was to issue in less than six Months after the Survey had been return'd to the Land-Office, it was conceived there wou'd not be sufficient Notice, nor time for Persons, who might be affected, to enter a Caveat. If it was in the Power of the Party to postpone his Grant, beyond the nine Months prescribed by Law, the Commonwealth might be kept out of it's Revenue of Land Tax on such Lands, as long as the Party pleased; besides the Inconvenienes and Injustice of leaving other People, the Bounds of whose adjacent Lands depended upon such Grants, in Doubt & Uncertainty. The Law requires, from any Man entering a Caveat, an Affidavit that such Caveat is not collusive, but entered, bona fide, for his own Benefit. This is notoriously intended to prevent the delaying of Grants, by getting some Friend to enter a fictitious Caveat, in secret Trust for the original Claimer; as was frequently practiced under the former Government. Now if it was in the Power of the Party to delay his Grant, after the Expiration of the nine Months prescribed by Law, this Requisition wou'd be totally negatory.
When the Patent Tax of five Shillings Per hundred Acres was imposed, it became necessary for the Security of that Revenue, to direct that no Grant shou'd issue before the said Tax thereon was paid. When the Law, imposing the said iniquitous Tax of five Shillings Per hund. Acres on Grants was repealed, the Business of issueing Grants was thenceforward in exactly the same Situation, as if such repealed Law had never been made; &consequently the before mentioned Clause, in the Act of 1779, in full Force. I was therefore surprized to find that Messrs. Thomas & James Barbour's Grants for 10,000 Acres each, upon Panther Creek, have not issued, according to their respective Surveys: James Barbour's having been received [in the] Deputy Register's Office on the 2d Day of March, 1784, & in the Land-Office in Richmond on the 6th Day of Septemr. 1784; and Thomas Barbour's having been received in the Deputy Register's Office on the 10th Day of May 1784, & in the Land-Office in Richmond on the 29th Day of Novemr. 1784.
The Ancients, in their elegant Manner of Personifying the Passions of Men, & the Attributes of the Supreme Being, always painted the Goddess of Justice blind: thereby emphatically expressing, that in executing the Dutys of her Office, she favoured no Man.
If any Survey of 6,050 Acres, or of 5,65o Acres of Land has been return'd in the Name of Theodorick Bland, or in the Name of his Assignees John May & David Ross, or either of them, upon a Warrant or Importation Rights, or whenever any such Survey is return'd to the Land-Office, I beg the Favour of you to send me a Copy of it; & also Copys of two Surveys in my own Name, one of 8,000 Acres on my Warrant No. 5 & and the other of 2,000 Acres on my Warrant No. 10 as soon as such Surveys, or either of them, come into the Land Office. If a Grant has issued upon James Scott's Survey of 2,950 Acres of Land upon Panther Creek, you will oblige me in sending me a Copy of such Grant, by the first Post.
You formerly sent me a Copy of a Warrant No. 12, dated July 10th, 1779, for 6,050 Acres of Land granted to Theodorick Bland, for the Importation of 121 persons; which I imagined was the only Warrant, upon Importation Rights, that had been granted to him; but if any other Warrant, besides this, has been granted to him, upon Importation Rights, I beg the Favour of you to send me a Copy of such other Warrant, & if none, a Certificate that no other Warrant upon Importation Rights except that abovementioned for 6,050 Acres of Land, was ever granted to the said Theodorick Bland, or to any Assignee of his.
My County has once more sent me into the Assembly, very contrary to my Inclination, & to every Remonstrance I cou'd make against it. If the present House of Delegates is composed of such Materials as the two or three last, I despair of being able to do any essential public Service. The only agreeable Reflection that presents itself to me, on the Occasion is, that I shall meet with some of my old Assembly Friends, with whom I have acted in Concert, in rescueing our Country from Slavery, whose Remembrance will ever be dear to me, and whom perhaps I shou'd, otherwise, never have seen again. Among them there is no Man, to whom I shall with greater Cordiality pay my Respects, than to Colo. Harvie; being with the greatest Sincerity, dear Sir Your affecte. & obdt. Servt.
G Mason begs the Favour of Colo. Harvie to give the inclosed Note to Mr. Beckley, if he is in Richmond: or if Colo. Harvie will be so obliging to enquire exactly on what day the May Session of 1779 ended, & inform G M, it will answer the same Purpose.