Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library Research Report Series - 1065
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library
We have discovered a mistake in the title of a House History. You might want to note it on your copy. I am making changes in our copies, in the Reference Desk copy of the Chadwyck-Healey microfiche catalog, and in the Access db.
RR-1065 has the title "Lightfoot House Historical Report, Block 3, Lot 1-8", but it has nothing to do with the Lightfoot House. It is about the Custis Square property, as the original title indicated.
I am changing the tile on our copies to "Custis Square Historical Report, Block 4, Lot 1-8."
Can't imagine how this error ever happened...
The Williamsburg property, known as the "Custis Lots" or "Custis Square" was thus designated as early as January 13, 1718/19. William Blaikely, by indenture, gave possession of Lot M to John Custis, which lot is described as being "near Custis Square." (Virginia Miscellaneous Manuscripts, Library of Congress. Copy in Department of Research, Colonial Williamsburg.) Lot M was on Francis Street across from the Lunatic Hospital, and Custis Square was to the east of the hospital, bounded by Francis, Nassau, Ireland, and King streets. This square is now included in the Eastern State Hospital grounds, and the side streets no longer run through to Ireland street. (See Tyler plat of the City, Illustration #1.)
Colonel John Custis lived in York and Northampton Counties. He represented William and Mary College as Burgess in 1718 (Journal of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, p. 181). Custis for many years was a member of the Council of Virginia (Executive Journals, Council of Colonial Virginia, IV, p. 147; Ibid., V, p. 299). Custis married Frances Parke, the daughter of Colonel Daniel Parke1 of Queen's Creek in York County. A marriage agreement filed in Northampton County in June 1714, between John Custis and Frances, his wife, as a result of some differences of opinion, designates Custis as "Mr. John Custis of York County." (Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, IV, pp. 64-66.) There is evidence that Custis and wife had a marriage that was stormy and tempestuous. Most of their married life was 2 spent at the Queen's Creek plantation1 near Williamsburg. Daniel Parke Custis, their son, was born there; and Frances Parke Custis who died in 1715 was buried on queen's Creek plantation. When Colonel Custis died in 1749, at his own request, his body was taken to Arlington in Northampton County and buried there on his grandfather's plantation. (See Illustration #2 for epitaphs of Colonel John Custis and Mrs. Frances Parke Custis.)
It is not know just when Custis obtained possession of the Custis Square property. Because of the destruction of the James City County court records during the Civil War period, an unbroken chain of title to this property is not available, and no early deed to the property has thus far come to light. John Custis owned other Williamsburg property. In 1714 the trustees of the City deeded lots #353, #354, and #355 to him and on one of the lots he erected a tenement or house to rent, facing upon Duke of Gloucester Street. (See house history on "Custis Tenement," block 13 - Ms. deed [illegible] Custis from trustees of the City in archives of William and Mary College.)
It is believed that Custis erected his Williamsburg house and moved into it shortly after the death of his wife in 1715, although we have no definite evidence to substantiate this belief. Excerpts from letters written by Custis indicate that he was living in Williamsburg in 1717 and that he had become interested in developing a garden surrounding his property. Additional evidence, taken from letters, journals, and advertisements in the Virginia Gazette and from early plats of the City, add to the fragmentary information on the property.
Several items are listed to show that Custis had a house in Williamsburg 3 at this period, that the house was well built on high ground, and that there was a cultivated garden of large area around the house.
"... I desire you will lay out 40sh 50sh in good Conicall diverting prints to hang in the passage of my house; lett them bee good of the sort, or send none painting and poetry admit of no medium, some you sent in the last year were well done. (VIZ Mars & Venus, & Neptune and Amphitrite but the Medlys [?] as you Call them were wretched stuff... I have lately got into the vein of gardening, and have made A handsom garden to my house, and desire you will lay out 5£ for me in handsom striped hollys and yew trees, but most hollys, gett some one to Chuse them that has judgmt in such things, choose them wth handsom bodys and not to big; and buy them as near the Water side as you Can, land Carriage will bee apt to shake and loosen them to much; lett them bee Carefully put up in pots..." (John Custis to [Mr. Perry?] - Custis Letter Book 1717-1741. Microfilm in Research Dept. CWI)
1723, Apr. 10: "Dear Bror
" I come now to beg a favor of you wch is to entreat you to get me two pieces of as good painting as you can procure it is to put in the summer before my Chimnys to hide the fire place let them bee some good flowers in potts of various kinds and what ever fancy else you think fitt; the big top of each Chimny is the one 4 feet 4 inches high &: 4 feet allmost 4 inches wide the other 4 feet 5: inch wide and 4 feet 3 inch & 3/4 high done on canvas this is the exact dimensions of the Chimnys; the workman will know wt allowance to make; I should not give you this trouble but that I well know you have good judmt in painting and I had much rather have none than have daubing Mr Blair bought me some pieces most horrid... I send this early that the painter may have time to do them well and the colors time to dry Mr Perry will pay..." (John Custis to his brother ________ - Custis Letter Book 1717-1741. Microfilm in Research Dept. CWI)
1724, Jan. 15: "...I shall go to Law with all the case in the world the Court being in sight of my door;.." (John Custis to Mr. Perry re Col. Parke's estate - Custis Letter Book 1717-1741)
1724, Aug. 12: "This comes to inform you that on the 12 of August wee had such a violent flood of rain, and prodigious gust of wind that the like I do believe never happened since the universall deluge it has destroyd most if not all the Tobacco in the colony... the trees in the woods miserably blown up by the roots so that 4 there was no passing in many places on horseback; houses blown down... I myself have as strong and as high a house as any in the Govemnt stands on high ground; and I do affirm it that I was obliged to put on a pair of whole boots to work from one room to the other to secure [?] my house hold goods on the Lee side of the house..." (John Custis to ? [crossed out] - Custis Letter Book, 1717-1741)
1725: "... should bee very glad of some Layers [?] of good flowers, I know they will live if the master takes care of them because I have had them come safe... I have a pretty little garden in wch I take more satisfaction than in anything in this world and have a collection of tolerable good flowers and greens from England; but have had great losses in their coming in partly by the carelessness and ignorance of the master of the ships that brought them and sometimes by the ships coming in to late... any roots that are bulbous will come safe if the ships comes in early..." (John Custis to Mr. Robert Cary - Custis Letter Book 1717-1741)
1730, June: "... you are pleasd to complimt me concerning my garden, wch I assure you no ways deserves it; my greens are come to perfection, wch is the Cheif fruit of my long and assiduous endeavors, wee have had 3 or four very bad winters, and hot & dry summers, wch demolishd all my Flowers, and A great many of my best greens, so that I am out of heart of endeavoring any thing but wt is hardy and Virginia proof..." (John Custis to Mr. Catesby - Custis Letter Book, 1717-1741)
1734 [mo. omitted]: "Sr Jno Randolph and Capt Isham Randolph acquaints me that you are desirous of the mountain Cowslip... I am very proud it is in my power to gratify any curious gentleman in this way; being my self a great admirer of things of that nature; I have a garden inferior to few if any in Virga - in wch and in good painting my whole delight is placed; and have had for severall years ever greens flowers &c from england..." (John Custis to ________ - Custis Letter Book, 1717-1741)
1734 [mo. omitted]:
... I am very much pleasd wth the flower pieces you sent me; but the man has not done me justice - in not sending the thirteenth print wth the subscribers names wch I find he has sent to other Gentlemen, Col Lee for one, I hope you will order him to end it to me still, I believe I have got him serverall Customers..." (John Custis to Mr. Cary - Custis Letter Book, 1717-1741)
1737, Dec. 5: Letter of Collinson from London to Custis at Williamsburg arranging for the continued exchange of plants and seeds between the two parties that the 5 collection of each party may be enlarged. (Curwin Mss. II, 10, American Antiquarian Society)
1737, Dec. 25: "... I arrived about sunset at Col. Custis who received me very kindly for thy sake. Next day I went to wait on the Governor... I stayed about an hour with him and then went to Coll. Custis's... where I stayed at night..." (Bartram to Collinson - Bartram Papers, I, f. 16, Pennsylvania Historical Society)
[no date - probably 1738]: "... I despare of raising the horse chestnut... but I saw in Col. Custis garden a foot high. The gors will not live over winter..." (Bartram to Collinson - Bartram Papers, Pennsylvania Historical Society)
1739/40, Jan. 31: Letter from Peter Collinson of London to Custis acknowledges the courtesy shown his friend John Bartram; plans for the future exchange of plants, shrubs and seeds; and comments on the excellent garden seed furnished by Custis. (Curwin Mss., American Antiquarian Society)
1740 [mo. omitted]: "... I have some very thriving trees from ye Nuts you sent me... and now I have filled two large boxes and ye baskett you sent my trees in wth them, and are now in my garden in full health and Glory..." (John Custis to Peter Collinson - Custis Letter Book 1717-1741)
Other references prove that Colonel John Custis was living in the city of Williamsburg and give a general idea as to his location. Sir John Randolph dubbed himself "a neighbor of Col. Custis." (Custis Letter Book, 1717-1741.) In 1734, Sir John Randolph,1 by a codicil to his will, devised to his son Peyton Randolph "a parcel of land I lately purchased of colonel Custis and his son [Daniel Parke Custis] adjoining to my land at Archer's hope..."2 (Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 36, pp. 379-80.)
On December 21, 1744, Governor Gooch, by enclosure to the Lords 6 of Trade, listed the present members of his Majesty's Council in Virginia, noting the distances they lived from Williamsburg. "Mr. Custis" was noted as living "in town." (Public Record Office, Colonial Office, 5/1326, pp. 201-4; Library of Congress transcript, pp. 80-90; Robert Dinwiddie, by Louis Knott Koontz, fn. Pp. 37-38.)
Benjamin Hanson, butcher and grazier, advertised in the Virginia Gazette (William Parks, ed.) on October 24, 1745, that he would like to buy mutton or beef and that he was "living next door to Col. Custis's, in Williamsburg."
Colonel John Custis died in Williamsburg in 1749 (see Illustration #2 for copy of epitaph). In his diary, William Byrd notes on October 28, 1710, that he had to "go to the christening of my sister Custis' child." (The Secret Diary of William Byrd of Westover, 1709-1712, p. 249.) A footnote states that the child was Daniel Parke Custis, born October 15, 1711.1 Daniel Parke Custis also held the title of "Colonel" as his father did. He died in 1757, leaving a wife, Martha Dandridge Custis, and two children, John Parke Custis and Martha Custis. Martha Dandridge Custis married George Washington in 1759.2 (Diaries of George Washington, Vol. I, p. 266.)
Virginia Gazette (Rind, ed) August 3, 1769 Joseph Valentine advertised to be rented7
" THE HOUSE and LOTS in Williamsburg, belonging to Col George Washington; a lease will be given for six or seven years, and the lots put in good order. For terms apply to Col. Washington, in Fairfax, or to the subscriber; near Williamsburg." Joseph Valentine
In the notice quoted below, the reference to property of "Col. Custis's in Williamsburg," doubtless alludes to the Custis Square lots, then owned by Colonel Daniel Parke Custis as inheritance from his father, Colonel John Custis:
This notice seems to establish Colonel Daniel Parke Custis as owner of the Custis property on Francis Street (designated as "Back Street").*
In July 1758 (the year after Colonel Daniel Parke Custis's death), a description of the lands of John Randolph, the Tory - which lots comprised what is now known as the Tazewell Hall tract - designated Custis property as one of the boundaries:
Undoubtedly, the "Mrs. Custis" referred to in the above description of the Randolph lands was Mrs. Daniel Parke Custis, widow. The two items quoted above are the only data found by the writer which would indicate that Daniel Parke Custis was owner of the Francis Street property known as "Custis Square."
Nothing further has been discovered about the Custis house and lands until the date October 4, 1770, when Joseph Kidd notified the public that he was in business: 8
AT the house generally Known by the name of CUSTIS's, Gentlemen may be accommodated with very good LODGING, &c. upon reasonable terms. There is a very elegant parlour, intended to be appropriated to the use of lodgers… Good pasturage adjoining the house, well fenced.
JOSEPH KIDD (Virginia Gazette, Rind, ed.)
On June 20, 1771, Kidd repeated his advertisement in a slightly different wording. Kidd described his place of business as being "at his House known by the Name of Custis's in Williamsburg…" (Virginia Gazette, Purdie Dixon, eds.)
In 1773 and 1774, Peter Hardy, Williamsburg coach maker, announced that his shop was at Custis's:
April 29, 1773.
PETER HARDY BEGS leave to inform the public that he has opened shop in the BRICK HOUSE commonly called CUSTIS'S, near the HOSPITAL, WILLIAMSBURG, where he proposes to repair COACHES, LANDEAUS, CHARIOTS, and all other sorts of CARRIAGES, in the neatest manner; also PAINTING, GILDING, JAPANING, and CARVING, done with the greatest elegance…(Virginia Gazette, Rind, ed.)
August 19, 1773.
PETER HARDY, Coach and Chair Maker.
BEGS Leave to inform the Publick he has opened Shop at the Brick House belonging to Colonel Custis's Estate, near the Mad House... (Ibid., Purdie and Dixon, eds.)
Williamsburg, April 13, 1774.These advertisements of Peter Hardy1 indicate that the Custis estate had not been entirely settled and that it was being rented. The property was still referred to as "Colonel Custis's Estate" or "the house where Colonel Custis formerly lived."
PETER HARDY thanks the public for their kind encouragement since his establishment in this city, and begs leave to inform them, once more, that he still continues the coach and chaise business at the house where Colonel Custis19 formerly lived, near the madhouse in Williamsburg... (Ibid., Rind, ed.)
John Parke Custis2 had come into the Custis property "on the back street" in Williamsburg by November 27, 1778, at which date Custis advertised the house and lots for sale at public auction:
To be SOLD for ready money, by public auction, on the premises, on Monday the 14thof December,
MY HOUSE and LOTS situated on the back street, and one of the most retired and agreeable situations in Williamsburg. The house is in tolerable good repair, having two good rooms and a passage on the lower floor. The offices are a kitchen and a large stable, with a meathouse &c. There are about four acres enclosed in one lot, and will be sold with the house.
JOHN PARKE CUSTIS.(Virginia Gazette, Dixon and Hunter, eds.)
Custis's house and lots are here described in 1782. On the Frenchman's Map there is a square marked by dotted lines to the east of the "Maison des 10 foux." In this dotted area on the Frenchman's Map is pictured a large house about center, a small house nearby towards the east, and two buildings to the rear of the lot. The plot covers about four acres. (See Illustration #1 for drawing from the Frenchman's Map.) The situation of the house was "most retired and agreeable." The only building now standing is the kitchen, which is in the grounds of the Eastern State Hospital.1
Although we have found no record of the sale of Custis's Square, it seems to have passed to Dr. James McClurg sometime prior to 1782. Possibly he purchased it from John Parke Custis. The Williamsburg map (Browne, c.1780?), owned by Miss Annie Galt, shows eight lots with McClurg's2 name thereon, numbered 1-8, bounded by Francis Street on the north, Nassau Street on the west, King Street on the east, and Ireland Street on the south. These lots comprise the entire block between Carey's3 block on the east and the Madhouse block on the west. (Copy of map in Department of Research.) The College Map, sometimes called "The Unknown Draftman's Map" (1791?), shows eight lots, numbered 1-8, bounded by Francis, Nassau, King and Ireland Streets on the north, west, east and south, respectively - an entire block with Carey's block to the east and the Madhouse block to the west. The Bucktrout-Lively Map (1803,1867) indicates eight lots owned by McClurg with the same boundaries. (Copies of maps in Department of Research.)
In 1782 (the earliest date of Williamsburg Land Tax Records), James McClurg is taxed as owner of eight lots valued at eight pounds. (Tax records, photostats, Department of Research.) On January 11, 1779 (about a month after John Parke Custis announced that his house and lots "on the back 11 street" would be sold at public auction). Dr. McClurg had Humphrey Harwood, carpenter and brick mason, begin repairs for him. Such repair work extended into March, July and October 1779. (From the number of bricks used, which was about 4,000, one is sure that only repair work was done.) From Harwood's itemized statement, repairs such as "Bricking up Celler Door," "Rubing Weater Table," "Setting up a Grate," "working in Celler window frames," "Repairing plastering, & pinting Chimneys," "White washing 4 Rooms, & 2 Passages," "underpining Stable," "Repairing well," "underpining Dary," etc., were made for Dr. McClurg in 1779. (See Illustration #4 for detailed accounts.)
From the above description one gathers that the house repaired for Dr. McClurg was, possibly, a four-room house with two passages. There was a stable and dairy. The house of John Parke Custis was described as "in tolerable good repair, having two good rooms and a passage on the lower floor." A stable, meathouse and kitchen are also mentioned.
On May 22, 1779, the Virginia Gazette (Dixon and Nicolson, eds.) published the following news item: "Last week was married Doctor James M'Clurg, of this city, to the amiable Miss Selden of Hampton."
It looks as though Dr. McClurg had repairs made on the newly acquired property just before and immediately following his marriage. In June, September and December, 1783, Harwood made other repairs for Dr. McClurg. There were charges for "mending plastering up Stairs," "Whitewashing 2 Rooms & a passage," "twining Arch & takg down back," "repairing Cellar wall & layg Kitchen harth & back," "building up the brest of Chimney," etc. (See Illustration #4 for detailed accounts.) Such repair work may have been occasioned by the ravages of the British in Williamsburg.112
The Land Tax Records for Williamsburg indicate that Dr. James McClurg was in possession of 8 lots from 1782-1811. The valuations vary from 8 pounds during 1782-1785; to 12 pounds during 1786-1787; to 15 pounds during 1789-1800; and from $50 to $66.67 during 1800-1811. (See Illustration #5 for full list of tax accounts.)
The McClurg property is noted as a boundary line of Wilson Miles Cary in an insurance policy, dated May 5, 1806, in which Cary describes his property as "My two Buildings on the South side of the Market Square now occupied by myself situated between the Lots of James McClurg and the cross street leading from Main Street..."
On March 16, 1810, Wilson Miles Cary, by will, made the following bequest: "I give and devise to my said wife Rebecca during her life, the house and lot in the City of Williamsburg wherein I now reside1 together with the lot I purchased of Doctor McClurg..." (Southall Papers, College of William and Mary.) Cary, in his last codicil, June 19, 1816, made other provisions for his wife: "Having sold my house and lots in Williamsburg always intended for the occupation of my dear wife Rebecca Cary I direct my executors to supply her with a decent house with not less than four rooms, garden ground, all necessary out houses during widowhood..." (Ibid.,) Cary died in November, 1817; his will was probated in Richmond in June 1818. (Ibid.)
These sections of Cary's will are significant in that they show that McClurg sold Cary a lot and that Cary later sold the lot. What lot McClurg sold Cary is puzzling. From 1782 to 1811 McClurg is charged in the tax records with only eight lots in Williamsburg.13
In 1811, Samuel Tyler is charged in the tax records with "8 lots via McClurg." (Tax Transfers for Williamsburg.) Undoubtedly, the eight lots gained by Tyler in 1811 are the same eight lots owned by McClurg since 1779-80, as noted hitherto in this report. One explanation is that Cary had a deed of trust to the McClurg property and not an outright deed to the lots. Hence when the property was sold, it appeared as "via McClurg." (See Illustration #5 for tax accounts.)
On December 29, 1815, Elizabeth Tyler, widow of Samuel Tyler, petitioned the General Assembly of Virginia for permission to sell "two houses & lots in the City of Williamsburg containing each about 4 acres... That the houses & lots in the City of Wmsburg called the 6 chimnies is in a ruinous & decaying state, the house not being habitable & can not be rented for anything..."1 The petition was granted. (Photostat, Department of Research.)
In 1818, the tax records for Williamsburg show Samuel Tyler as owner of 17 lots with a valuation of $180. Tyler had been listed as owner of 16 lots with a valuation of $150 from 1812 to 1818. A note on the 1818 tax record for the Samuel Tyler estate carries the following explanation concerning one lot of the estate: "1 Via Wilson M. Cary, house and lot known by the name of Custices, or the six Chimneys & lately conveyed to the heirs of the said Samuel Tyler decd." Beginning about 1820 in the tax accounts the term "lot" could mean several adjoining lots belonging to an individual. Before 1820, the term "lot" meant one half-acre lot.
From the Elizabeth Tyler petition, and from the tax note to property of Samuel Tyler's estate in 1818 (both noted above), evidence is given beyond any doubt to prove that "Custices" and "the six chimney lot" are identical lots.
Evidently Tyler's heirs failed to find a purchaser for the property 14 called "6 chimnies" until 1823 when Jesse Cole acquired the lot valued at $500, "Sum added to lot on account of buildings $200, via Samuel Tyler's heirs." (See tax accounts in Illustration #5.)
In 1824 the tax accounts show that William T. Galt was the owner of "1 lot [valued at] $500, Sum added to lot on account of buildings $200, via Roscow Cole who purchased of Jesse Cole." The tax accounts do not indicate when William T. Galt conveyed the lot to Dickie Galt. However, there is a transfer in 1843 of the property to the Lunatic Asylum: "1 lot, Value of lot including buildings [being] $230, Value of buildings $200, via Dickie Galt in 1841." (See Illustration #5.) From 1843 to the present time (1947) the property has been held by the lunatic Asylum, now know as "The Eastern State Hospital."
A description of this property during the period 1861 is noted by Mr. John S. Charles in his "Recollections of Williamsburg" (p. 25):
The entrance for vehicles to the asylum grounds in 1861 and in all probability the original vehicular entrance, was at the southern end of Nassau street, for when the War began a very high and strong fence extended from a brick wall at the corner of Nassau and Francis streets to the "Bright lot." There gates faced Nassau street and through them for generations was handled all the coal, wood and other supplies for the Mad House, as it was called in the long ago. The plot of ground to the east of this entrance and along Francis street to the line of the Bright lot and south to the orchard was the hospital garden. This lot, known as the Six Chimney Lot with a little brick house near the center of it, still standing, and said to have been Martha Washington's kitchen, was surrounded on all sides by holly and cedar trees, which in winter were filled with berries that attracted vast flocks of robins and other birds that furnished rare sport the the pot-hunters of that day.
Another citizen of Williamsburg, Mrs. Victoria M. Lee, mentioned in her recollections, "Williamsburg in 1861," (p. 67) the Martha Washington kitchen: Martha Washington's kitchen, though weathered and worn 15 by the passing years, looked then as it does now. It was used as a store house for the Asylum garden tools.
Because the James City County court records were destroyed in the 1861-65 period, an unbroken title to the property known as "Custis Square" is not available. However, indications are that John Custis owned and lived upon the lots from about 1715 to his death in 1749. Undoubtedly, his son, Colonel Daniel Parke Custis's estates were being settled for some years. In 1755, Daniel Parke Custis might have been living there. After Custis's death the property was rented to Joseph Kidd in 1770-71; and to Peter Hardy, coach-maker, in 1773-74. In 1778, John Parke Custis, son of Daniel Parke Custis, advertised that he was owner of the above noted lots and house which he offered for sale. The Frenchman's Map (1782?) shows a large house about center in the lot with three dependencies thereon. Tax accounts for 1782 (the earliest date for these accounts of Williamsburg) indicate that James McClurg, a doctor in Williamsburg, had come into possession of eight lots or the entire square. Dr. McClurg, apparently in 1779, had made some repairs to the house on the lot. Dr. McClurg held the property from 1782 to 1811 when he conveyed it to Samuel Tyler. In 1815, Mrs. Elizabeth Tyler, widow of Samuel Tyler, petitioned the General Assembly for the right to sell "Two houses & lots in the City of Williamsburg containing each about 4 acres... That the houses & lots in the City of Wmsburg called the 6 chimnies is in a ruinous & decaying state, the house not being habitable & can not be rented for anything..." In 1818, the tax accounts for Williamsburg note that Tyler's estate held one lot "Via Wilson M. Cary, house and lot known by the name of Custices, or the six Chimneys & lately conveyed to the heirs of the said Samuel Tyler decd." This apparent contradiction in succession of ownership 16 is interpreted as meaning that Wilson Miles Cary had a deed of trust on the property and not an outright deed, hence the lots remained in the name of Tyler. In 1823, Jesse Cole bought the property. Cole sold to William T. Galt who evidently transferred to Dickie Galt though no transfer has been located. However, in 1843 such property was transferred by Dickie Galt to the Lunatic Asylum which corporation has held the property up to 1947.
Department of Research
(Report prepared by Mary A. Stephenson, General Assistant)
Note: Up to this date no archaeological excavations have been made on this property.
M. A. S.
PHOTOCOPY OF HANDWRITTEN NOTE TO MARY A. STEPHENSON DATED JANUARY 23, 1947 FROM E. G. SWEM
No digital image available.
PHOTOCOPY OF HANDWRITTEN NOTE TO MARY A. STEPHENSON DATED FEBRUARY 22, 1947 FROM E. G. SWEM
No digital image available.
Beneath this Marble Tomb lies ye body
of the Honorable John Custis, Esq.,
of the City of Williamsburg and Parish of Bruton
Formerly of Hungars Parish on the Eastern Shore of
Virginia and the County of Northampton the
place of his nativity.
Aged 71 years and yet lived but seven years
Which was the space of time he kept
A Bachelor's House at Arlington
On the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
This information put on this tomb was by his
own positive order.
(William and Mary Quarterly, First Series, Vo. III, p. 258.)
Here lies the Body of Mrs
Frances Custis, daughter of Daniel Park Esq
who departed this Life March the
14th 1714/15 in the 29th year
of her Age.
(Virginia Historical Collections, Vol. XI, p. 99.)
Dr. James McClurg was educated at William and Mary College and at Edinburgh University. (Blanton, Medicine in Virginia in the Eighteenth Century, 330-331.) In 1779 McClurg married Miss Elizabeth Selden of Hampton. (Virginia Gazette, Dixon and Hunter [Nicolson], eds., May 22, 1779.) The same year he was appointed Professor of Anatomy and Medicine at the College of William and Mary. This was the second such chair established in the colonies; the first was established in Philadelphia. (Medicine in Virginia in the Eighteenth Century, 330-331.)
While living in Williamsburg, Dr. McClurg was a member of the Masonic order. The Minute Book (page 33) mentions his first attendance on June 3, 1777. (Photostat in Department of Research.)
Dr. McClurg enlisted in the Revolutionary War. He served as surgeon of the General Hospital (Journal of the Council of Colonial Virginia, Vol. I, p. 306) and is listed as a surgeon of the Continental Army (Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. II, p. 361; Vol. XVI, pp. 43-44).
His published work, "Experiments on the Human Bile and Reflections on the Biliary Secretion," was recognized by the medical profession of the day.
About 1783, Dr. McClurg moved from Williamsburg to Richmond. His death occurred in 1823. An obituary notice appeared in the Richmond Enquirer of July 11, 1823. (For more detailed biography of Dr. McClurg see biographical files, Department of Research.)
|Januy||11||To 650 Bricks a 12/. & 23 bushels of lime a 3/||£ 7. 7. --|
|To Bricking up Celler Door. & Rubing Weater Table||5. - --|
|th||To 3 Days labours work a 10/||1.10. --|
|29||To 250 bricks 27/6. & 23 bushels of lime a 3/. & 1 bushel of hair 5/||5. 1. 6|
|To 7 Days labour a 12/. & Setting up A Grate 30/.||5.14. --|
|To working in Celler window frames 50/||2.10. --|
|To Repairing plastering, & pinting Chimneys 85/.||4. 5. --|
|March||3||To White washing 4 Rooms, & 2 passages 24/.||7. 4. --|
|July||12||To 2400 bricks a £ [illegible] & 28 bushs of lime 8/.||41.18. --|
|To underpining Stable £10.0.0 & 4 Days labr a 18/||13.12. --|
|Octobr||3||To 300 bricks a 27/6 per [hundred] 4 bushs of lime a 8/||5.14. 6|
|To Repairing well 72/. & 1 Days labour 20/||4.12|
|16||To 500 bricks a 27/6 11 bushs of lime a 8/||11.15 6|
|To underpining Dary & laying floor||12.13|
|To seting up a Grate 75/ & 3 Days of labour a 20/.||4.15 --|
|19||To Work to Amount of|
|June||13||To 2 bushs of Lime a 1/.||£|
|To Repairing Plastering 3/. & hair 4d & ½ Days labr 1/6||4.10|
|To whitewashing 2 Rooms & a passage a 6/.||15.|
|To 1 ½ bushel of Whitewash 3/.||3. --|
|19||To mending plastering up Stairs 1/6||1. 6|
|To Whitewashing 2 Rooms & a passage a 5/.||15. --|
|To ½ bushel of Whitewash 1/.||1. --|
|Septemr||26||To 4 bushs lime 4/. & laying a harth 2/6||6. 6|
|To twining Arch & takg down back 3/.||3 -4|
|To repairing Cellar wall 3/6 & layg Kitchen harth & brick 3/9||7. 5|
|To 180 Bricks 5/. & 2 Days labour & 3/.||11. --|
|Decemr||5||To 8 bushs of lime a 1/. & building up the brest of Chimney 10/ and 2 Days labour 6/.||1. 4. --|
|£ 4.10 3|
|1782||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 8|
|1784||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 8|
|1785||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 8|
|1786||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 12|
|1787||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 12|
|1788||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 15|
|1789||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 15|
|1790||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 15|
|1791||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 15|
|1792||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 15|
|1794||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 15|
|1795||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 15|
|1796||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 15|
|1797||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 15|
|1798||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 15|
|1799||James McClurg||8 lots||£ 15|
|1800||James McClurg||8 lots|
|1801||James McClurg||8 lots||$50|
|1806||James McClurg||8 lots||$66.67|
|1807||James McClurg||8 lots||$66.67|
|1809||James McClurg||8 lots||$66.67|
|1810||James McClurg||8 lots||$66.67|
|1811||Samuel Tyler||8 lots||via McClurg (tax transfers)|
|1812||Samuel Tyler Est||16 lots||$150|
|1813||Samuel Tyler's Est||16 lots||$150|
|1814||Samuel Tyler's Est||16 lots||$150|
|1817||Samuel Tyler Est||16 lots||$150|
|1818||Samuel Tyler Est||17 lots||$180||1 via Wilson M. Cary, house and lot known by the name of Custices, or the six Chimneys, & lately conveyed to the heirs of the said Samuel Tyler decd|
|1819||Samuel Tyler Est||17 lots||$180|
|Value of lots||Sum added to lot on account of the buildings|
|1820||Samuel Tyler Est||1 lot||$ 500||$ 200|
|1821||Samuel Tyler Est||1 lot||$ 500||$ 200|
|1822||Samuel Tyler Est||1 lot||$ 500||$ 200|
|1823||Jesse Cole||1 lot||$ 500||$ 200-via Samuel Tyler's heirs|
|1823||Samuel Tyler's Est||1 lot||$2400||$2000|
|1824||William T. Galt||1 lot||$ 500||$ 200-via Roscow Cole who purchased of Jesse Cole|
|1824||Samuel Tyler's Est||1 lot||$2400||$2000|
|Value of lots including buildings||Value of bldgs|
|1825||William T. Galt||1 lot||$ 500||$ 200|
|1825||Samuel Tyler's Est||1 lot||$2400||$2000|
|1826||William T. Galt||1 lot||$ 500||$ 200|
|1826||Samuel Tyler's Est||1 lot||$2400||$2000|
|1827||William T. Galt||1 lot||$ 500||$ 200|
|1827||Samuel Tyler's Est||1 lot||$2400||$2000|
|1828||William T. Galt||1 lot||$ 500||$ 200|
|1828||Samuel Tyler's Est||1 lot||$2400||$2000|
|1829||William T. Galt||1 lot||$ 500||$ 200|
|1829||Samuel Tyler's Est||1 lot||$2400||$2000|
|1830||Charles L. Wingfield||1 lot||$2400||$2000 Via Elizabeth B. Tyler widow of decd|
|1830||William t. Galt||1 lot||$ 500||$ 200|
|1831||Jacob Sheldon||1 lot||(Tax Transfers)||via Charles L. Wingfield and Eliza his wife|
|1835||William T. Galt Est||1 lot||$ 500||$ 200|
|1835||Jacob C. Sheldon||1 lot||$2400||$2000|
|1838||Dickie Galt||1 lot||$ 280||$ 250|
|1843||Lunatic Asylum||1 lot||$ 230||$ 200 via Dickie Galt in 1841|
|1843||Lunatic Asylum||1 lot||$ 50||via Jesse Cole transferred in 1842|
|1844||Lunatic Asylum||1 lot||$ 230||$ 200 via Dickie Galt in 1841|
|1844||Lunatic Asylum||1 lot||$ 50||via Jesse Cole in 1842|
|1844||Lunatic Asylum||1 lot||$ 300||$ 200 via Jones|
|1844||Lunatic Asylum||1 lot||$1500||$1200 via Scervant Jones|
In going over Coleman family papers of her aunt's, Mrs. Moorehead found the attached letter in the hand of Mr. G. P. Coleman's mother. She requests that you retain it for your files if it is of interest to you.
S. P. M.Enclosure (1)
Dear Miss Dean:
Your letter to Mr. Geddy requesting information on the Six Chimney House has been referred to this department.
A report on this property has been compiled recently. Unfortunately, the court records for the portion of the town in which this house stood were destroyed in the Civil War, and our information as to its early history is fragmentary.
We do not have record as to when John Custis secured the property, but we believe that he built the house on the square bounded by Francis, Nassau, Ireland, and King Streets about the time of his wife's death - probably between 1715 and 1717. In 1717, he was living in his Williamsburg house and was developing a garden on that property. There are occasional references to his house and frequent references to his garden in his letter-book, 1771-1741, which is now at the Library of Congress. John Custis died in Williamsburg in 1749, leaving his property to his son, Daniel Parke Custis. It is believed that Daniel Parke Custis and his wife, Martha Dandridge, whom he married in 1749, lived in the "Custis Square" property. Daniel Parke Custis died in 1757, leaving a son, John Parke Custis, and a daughter. His widow, Martha, married George Washington in 1759. Washington became guardian of the Custis children and of the estate, and he stated that his marriage "entitled [him] to a third of that estate, and Invested [him] likewise with the care of the other two thirds by Decree of our General Court." We do not know whether George and Martha Washington occupied the property when in Williamsburg on public or private business, or whether it was rented. The John Custis estate included plantation lands adjoining Williamsburg; and also included another house or "tenement" in Williamsburg on Duke of Gloucester Street, which John Custis leased to John Wheatley in 1746. This tenement was occupied by Peter Scott, cabinet-maker, for a number of years. In April, 1760, Washington visited Williamsburg to attend to matters concerning the Custis property, noting in his diary for April 28th: "Let my House in Town to Colo. Moore [fn. Thomas Moore of King Wm. Co.], for Colo: Dandridge [Bartholomew Dandridge, Martha Washington's brother], who is to come into it in the Fall, and pay me 45£ pr. Ann. In the mean while I am to paint it." It is possible that he referred to the Duke of Gloucester Street tenement; but as it is believed that that property was already occupied in 1760 by Peter Scott, it is more probable that he was speaking of the "Custis Square" 2 Property on Francis Street. At any rate, we know that the Francis Street property was rented to Joseph Kidd by 1770, for the following advertisement appeared in the Virginia Gazette on October 4, 1770:
"AT the house generally Known by the name of CUSTIS's, Gentlemen may be accommodated with very good LODGING, &c. upon reasonable terms. There is a very elegant parlour, intended to be appropriated to the use of lodgers… Good pasturage adjoining the house, well fenced.
In 1773 and 1774, the property was occupied by Peter Hardy, coach maker, who announced that he had "opened shop in the BRICK HOUSE commonly called CUSTIS'S, near the HOSPITAL... where he proposes to repair coaches, landeaus, chariots..."
In 1778, John Parke Custis came into the Custis property "on the back [Francis] street" and advertised it for sale at public auction, describing it as follows:
"To be SOLD for ready money, by public auction, on the premises, on Monday the 14th of December, MY HOUSE and LOTS situated on the back street, and one of the most retired and agreeable situations in Williamsburg. The house is in tolerable good repair, having two good rooms and a passage on the lower floor. The offices are a kitchen and a large stable, with a meathouse &c. There are about four acres enclosed in one lot, and will be sold with the house.
JOHN PARKE CUSTIS."
The Frenchman's Map of c.1782 indicates a large house in about the center of the square, a small house nearby towards the east, and two buildings to the rear of the lot - doubtless the house, kitchen, stable, and meathouse described in the advertisement above. The property was in the possession of a Dr. James McClurg by 1782. McClurg made repairs to the house and occupied it for a time. By 1811 it had passed into the possession of Samuel Tyler. In 1815, Elizabeth Tyler, widow of Samuel Tyler, petitioned the court for permission to sell her Williamsburg property, noting that the "house & lots... called the 6 chimnies is in a ruinous & decaying state, the house not being habitable & can not be rented for anything." The house probably fell into complete disrepair about this time. In 1843, the square came into the possession of the Eastern State Hospital, which institution owns it today. All that still stands of the Custis residence is a small brick building - believed to be the kitchen. A late citizen of Williamsburg, in writing his recollections of the town in 1861, described the site as follows:
"...This lot, known as the Six Chimney lot with a little brick house near the center of it, still standing, and said to have been Martha Washington's kitchen, was surrounded on all sides by holly and cedar trees, which in winter were filled with berries that attracted vast flocks of robins and other birds that furnished rare 3 sport to the pot-hunters of that day."
We hope this information will be of some help to you.
(Mrs. Rutherford Goodwin)
Department of Research
Dear Dr. Swem:
I believe I sent, with my letter of January 22nd, about all we have on the Custis property near the asylum on Francis Street. As you will recall, we have found nothing concerning that property between the dates of John Custis's death and, possibly, 1770 (when Joseph Kidd may have operated a lodging house there), and, more definitively, 1773 (when Peter Hardy, coachmaker, seems to have occupied the house.)
If you have found no evidence to the contrary, it is quite possible that that is the "House in Town" which Washington rented to "Colo: Moore for Colo: Dandridge" in 1760.
We have found the following notice in the Virginia Gazette (Rind) for August 17, 1769, which may also refer to the above property:
"To be RENTED on reasonable terms,
"THE House and Lots in Williamsburg, belonging to Col. George Washington; a lease will be given for six or seven years and the lots put in good order. For terms apply to Col. Washington in Fairfax, or to the subscriber, near Williamsburg. JOSEPH VALENTINE"
In 1774,we find an advertisement in the Virginia Gazette (both Purdie and Dixon for June 16, 1774, and Rind for June 23, 1774) to the effect that B. Dandridge proposed to practice as an attorney in the County Courts of York and James City, and in the Williamsburg Hustings Court, and could be found at "his Lodgings (Mrs. Rind's) in Williamsburg" before and after each court, and in "all publick Times." On June 13, 1777, an Elisabeth Carlos (?) deeded to Bartholomew Dandridge, "All that tenement, piece, parcel or lot of land lying and being in the city of Williamsburg.. and numbered in the plan thereof by the figure 20." (York County Records, Book VIII, Deeds, p. 536.) This is merely a sidelight on the activities of one B. Dandridge in Williamsburg, which would not change any conclusion you may arrive at as to his whereabouts in 1760.
We have the following information on John Custis's Duke of Gloucester Street property, which would indicate that the property was occupied by Peter Scott in c. 1760: 2
"Mr. Peter Scott's old house in this City, which he had rented and lived in for 43 [sic] years, was burnt down last Sunday Night, by accident."
If the 1746 deed from Custis to Wheatly refers to this same property, the 43 years mentioned above must be an error. Possibly, they meant 23 years. In either case, it would not make Custis's tenement available in 1760. I hope these notes will be of some help to you.
(Mrs. Rutherfoord Goodwin)
See letter to Dr. Swem from M. Goodwin Dated Feb. 20, 1947, in house history file, Block 13.
Custis House - Block 4
Dear Dr. Swem:
I'm sorry to be slow in sending you what little information we have on the "Six Chimney Lot." When you called, I had just returned form an extended vacation, and on my return Mary Stephenson was away on vacation, which left me alone to cope with our annual report, and a "hurry" checking job, as well as other daily problems.
I'm attaching the references we have to Custis's house and garden. WE have never found his deed to this property - and I do not know whether Miss Woodfin turned up anything in this regard or not. However, from the references we have, it is obvious that he was living on the property and had "made a handsome garden" by 1717; it is evident that his property adjoined the "Mad House"; and, according to Mr. Charles, there were vestiges of his garden remaining in 1861.
We do have the deeds to other property belonging to John Custis in Williamsburg. We have an indenture, dated August 7, 1714, from the trustees for the City of John Custis for lots 353, 354, and 355 (the latter being the lot on which the Maupin House now stands, which is supposed to be the "tenement" built by Custis). We also have an indenture, dated January 13, 1718/19, by which William Blaikly, merchant, deeded to John Custis Lot M, which lot and house he had purchased from John Tullitt in 1716. The lot is described as being "near Custis Square." As you will see from Tyler's Map (and from the College Map), lot M is across the street from the asylum, at the corner of Francis and Nassau Streets. It cannot be the Francis Street property offered for sale by John Parke Custis in 1778 (see attached notes), as that property is described as being "about four acres enclosed in one lot" -and is doubtless the "Custis Square" mentioned in the Blaikly-Custis deed. It is doubtless this "square" that is shown on the Frenchman's Map.
I hope this material will be of some help to you, and I'm sorry we do not have more. As you know, there are many references in the Custis Letter Books to what John Custis planted in his garden but I do not suppose you are interested in these details.1
"This Indenture made the thirteenth day of January one thousand seven hundred and eighteen/nineteen... between William Blaikly Merchant, of James Citty County of ye one part and John Custis of ye same County gentm of the other part... the said William Blaikly for divers good causes and considerations him thereunto moving, but more especially, for and in consideration of thirty pounds Current mony of Virginia to him in hand paid... doth clearly and absolutely, grant, bargain, sell... unto the said John Custis and his Heirs for ever, one certain lott of ground and house, in ye Citty of Williamsburgh near Custis Square, denot4ed in ye plan of ye said Citty by ye letter M, which lott of ground and house ye said Blaikly purchasd of John Tullitt;... one thousand seven hundred and sixteen..." [Ms. indenture in possession of Colonial Williamsburg. Lot M is across street from Asylum, at corner of Francis and Nassau Streets. M. G.]
"Williamsburgh 1717... I have lately got into ye vein of gardening and have made a handsome garden to my house; and desire you will lay out 45 for me in handsom striped hollys and yew trees but most hollys..." [John Custis to Perry, Lane & Perry. Custis Letter-book, 1717-1747.]
"…Wee had such a violent flood of rain, and prodigious gust of wind that ye like I do believe never happened since ye universall deluge...I myself have as strong and as high a house as any in ye Governt; stands on high ground; and I do affirm it that I was obliged to put on a pair of whold boots to walk from one room to ye other...to...my house hold goods on ye Lee side of ye house." [John Custis to Peter Collinson. Ibid.]
"... I have some very thriving trees form ye Nuts you sent me, ye Persian lilack you sent me thrives very well... I went myself into ye woods this last February and found a swampt where great plenty of sorrell trees grew and got fifty fine young trees; I have filld two large boxes and ye baskett you sent my trees in wth them and are now in my garden in full health and Glory..." [John Custis to Peter Collinson. Ibid.]
"… Wee have had ye most severe winter that ever was known in ye Memory of man...ye very trees killd ye peach trees wch are very hardy abundance killd; it has made dreadfull havock in my garden most all my Philereas quite destroyd nay even ye Yoppan or for Cassena trees, notwithstanding natives of ye Country came of[f] but poorly; Cedars & Yews and Hollys stood it…" [John Custis to Peter Collinson. Ibid.]
Virginia Gazette, William Rind, ed., April 29, 1773
"PETER HARDY BEGS leave to inform the public that he has opened shop in the BRICK HOUSE commonly called CUSTIS'S, near the HOSPITAL, WILLIAMSBURG, where he proposes to repair COACHES, LANDEAUS, CHARIOTS, and all other sorts of CARRIAGES, in the neatest manner; also PAINTING, GILDING JAPANING, and CARVING done with the greatest elegance…"
Virginia Gazette, Purdie & Dixon, eds., August 18 , 1773
" PETER HARDY, Coach and Chair Maker, BEGS Leave to inform the Publick he has opened Shop at the Brick House belonging to Colonel Custis's Estate, near the Mad House, where he intends to carry on his Business in its various Branches, in the most elegant and best finished Taste, particular Care being had to the Goodness of the Work as well as the ornamental Part… Also ELECTRICAL MACHINES of all Sorts, with Directions how to use them…"
Virginia Gazette, Dixon & Hunter, eds., November 27, 1778[There are also two advertisements in the Virginia Gazette (October 4, 1770, and June 20, 1771), by Joseph Kidd, referring to "the house generally Known by the name of Custis's," in which Kidd advertises "very good Lodging," one mentioning "a very elegant parlour," and both mentioning an excellent pasture adjoining the house. These do not mention the back street, or Francis Street, but they probably refer to this property.]
"To be SOLD for ready money, by public auctions, on the premises on Monday the 14th of December,
MY HOUSE and LOTS situated on the back street, and one of the most retired and agreeable situations in Williamsburg. The house is in most tolerable good repair, having two good rooms and a passage on the lower flower. The offices are a kitchen and a large stable, with a meathouse, &c. There are about four acres enclosed in one lot, and will be sold with the house.
JOHN PARKE CUSTIS."
"Tyler Samuel Est [No of Lots] 17 [Annual Value] 180 [Transfers &c] 1 Via Wilson M Cary, house and lot known by the name of Custices, or the six Chimneys, & lately conveyed to the heirs of the said Samuel Tyler decd."
Southall Papers, folder 179.
Legal Cases and Estates. James City County
"Jacob C. Sheldon of Williamsburg, first part
William S. Peachy of Williamsburg, second part
Robert McCandlish, Robert F. Cole, Thos G. Peachy, Jr.
and other securities for & creditors of Jacob C. Sheldon, the third part. May 2, 1851
"Now,...Jacob E. Sheldon...for the further consideration of the Sum of one dollar to him in hand paid by the said Peachy doth grant...unto the said [William S.] Peachy, the following real and personal property to wit, all that lot of land with the houses thereon in the City of Williamsburg whereon the said Sheldon now resides, adjoining the lot of Beverly Tucker,... all that lot of land in the said City supposed to contain about four acres called and known by the name of the 'six Chimney lot,' all that lot of land on the said City on Main Street whereon the store house of the said Sheldon formerly stood..." [Notes from Southall Papers by Miss McWilliams.]
"Recollections of Williamsburg as it appeared at the Beginning of the Civil War..." (Ms.)
"The entrance for vehicles to the asylum grounds in 1861...was at the southern end of Nassau Street, for when the War began a very high and strong fence extended from a brick wall at the corner of Nassau and Francis Streets to the 'Bright' lot. There gates faced Nassau Street... The plot of ground to the east of this entrance and along Francis Street to the line of the 'Bright' lot and south to the orchard was the 3 hospital garden in which was raised all the vegetables consumed at the hospital. This lot, known as the 'Six Chimney Lot' with a little brick house near the centre of it, still standing, and said to have been Martha Washington's kitchen, was surrounded on all sides by holly and cedar trees, which in winter were filled with berries, that attracted vast flocks of robins and cedar birds..."
RG file Custis Block IV
Graphic Arts #270
|Unidentified Lady||(Formerly identified as Frances Parke Custis, c. 1686-1715, wife of John Custis and sister of Lucy Parke Byrd, Mrs. William Byrd II)|
|Attributed to Charles Bridges||(If Bridges, impossible that portrait is Frances Parke Custis as she died in 1715 and Bridges was in Virginia only from 1735-1740. It is possible that the oil painting is her daughter, also Frances Parke Custis, born in 1709 and died in 1744, wife of William Winch of New Kent and then of _____________ Dansie.)|
The original portrait was sent to Colonial Williamsburg in 1944 by Miss Eunice Chambers (dealer), 900 East Home Avenue, Hartsville, South Carolina as a possible purchase, but was not bought by Colonial Williamsburg. The last known owner is Miss Chambers. In her letter dated March 30, 1944 to Mrs. Rockefeller, she described the portrait as follows: "It is a particularly attractive portrait and she is shown wearing a green blue velvet dress. She has ash blonde hair and blue eyes." Miss Chambers in the same letter identified the portrait as "Frances Park, sister of Lucy Park (Mrs. William Byrd II) married Mr. John Custis, and they lived at "Queen's Creek" Virginia in the home place of her father Daniel Park. At a later date, Frances and her two children, went to live with William Byrd, at Westover, and it was from Westover that this portrait was taken to Brandon, with the other Harrison portraits." (Letter, C. W. Central Files)
Mr. Thomas Thorne at the College was also in communication with Miss Chambers concerning this portrait and visited her on a trip south and saw the portrait. In his opinion it was difficult to identify the portrait as being by Charles Bridges.
For more information on Charles Bridges see Henry Wilder Foote, "Charles Bridges: Sergeant-Painter of Virginia 1735-1740" 60V3-53
IN THE NAME OF GOD AMEN
I JOHN Custis of the City of Williamsburgh and county of James City in the Colony of Virginia, being weak in body but of sound mind and memory, do make this my last will and testament in manner and form following Imprimis my will and earnest desire is that my executor hereafter named do lay out and expend as soon as possible after my decease out of my estate the sum of one hundred pounds sterling money of Great Britain to buy a handsome tombstone of the most durable stone that can be purchased for pillars very decent and handsome to lay over my dead body engraved on the tombstone my coat of arms which are three parrots and my will is that the following inscription may be also handsomely engraved on the said stone (vist) Under this marble stone lays the body of the Honorable John Custis Esqr of the City of Williamsburgh and Parish of Bruton formerly of Hungars Parish on the Eastern Shoar of Virginia and county of Northampton the place of his Nativity aged years and yet lived but seven years which was the space of time he kept Batchelors house at Arlington on the Eastern Shoar of Virginia This inscription put on the stone by his own positive orders and I do desire and my will is and I strictly require it that as soon as possible my real dead body and not a sham coffine be carried to my plantation on the Eastern Shoar of Virginia called Arlington and there my real body be buried by my grand father the Honorable John Custis Esquire where a large walnut tree formerly grew and is now inclosed with a brick wall which brick wall it is my will and I strictly charge and require it that the said brick wall be always kept in good repair very handsomely by my heir that shall enjoy my estate and if my heir should ingratefully or obstinately refuse or neglect to comply with what relates to my burial in every particular I then barr and cut him off from any part of my estate either real or personal and only give him on shilling sterling and in such case I give my whole estate real and personal to the next heir male of my family named Custis that will religiously and punctually see this my will performed but more especially what related to my burial in general and if by any accident the tombstone and appurtenances should be lost broke or any waies miscarry in coming in from England or any other ways whatsoever in that case my positive will is and I earnestly require it that my heir or executors immediately send to England for such another stone exactly with the same appurtenances of the same price until one shall come safe to hand according to my will and desire I give to my dear friend Thomas Lee Esquire if living at my death two hundred pounds sterling to buy him anything he has a mind to remember me I give to my worthy and esteemed friend John Blair Esquire one hundred pounds sterling I also give to Mrs. Mary Blair the wife of the said John Blair five guineas to buy her a mourning ring Whereas my plantation called Arlington on the Eastern Side of Virginia is intailed by my grand father the Honorable John Custis Esquire on the heirs male of my body lawfully begotten and for as much as my father the late Honorable John Custis Esquire had a patent in his own name for two hundred and fifty acres of the said Arlington Plantation which my said father has given me by his said will in fee simple I do intail the saif two hundred and fifty acres of land so given to me exactly in the same manner as the other three hundred acres contiguous or adjoining to it And my will is that is always descend exactly in the same manner as Smiths Island and Mocoon Island which are firmly intailed on the heirs male of my body lawfully begotten by the will of my grandfather the Honorable John Custis Esquire and whereas by my deed of Manumission recorded in the county Court of York I have freed and set at liberty my negro boy Christened John otherwise called Jack born of the body of my slave Alice Now I do hereby ratify and confirm the said deed of manumission unto the said John otherwise called Jack after the death of the saif John otherwise called Jack I give all the estate by me heretofore given to the said John otherwise called Jack either by deed or otherwise to my son Daniel Park Custis to hold to him my said son from and after the death of the said John otherwise called Jack his heirs executors administrators and assigns forever My will and desire is and I hereby strictly require that as soon as possible after my decease my executor build on the land I bought of James Morris Scituate near the head of Queens Creek in the county of York for the use of the said John otherwise called Jack a handsome strong convenient dwelling house according to the dimensions I shall direct and a plan thereof drawn by my said friend John Blair Esquire and that it be completely finished with in side and without and when the house is completely furnished with one dozen high Russia leather chairs one dozen low Russia leather chairs a Russia leather couch good and strong three good feather beds beadsteads and furniture and two good black walnut tables I desire that the house fencing and other appurtenances belonging to the said plantation be kept in good repair and so delivered to the said negro John otherwise called Jack when he shall arrive to the age of twenty years I also give him when he shall arrive to that age a good riding horse and two able working horses I give to Mrs. Anne Moody wife of Matthew Moody if she be living at my death twenty pounds sterling for which she hath my bond of five hundred pounds to be paid to her annually during her natural life I also give her the picture of my said negro boy John otherwise called Jack It is my will and I desire that my said negroboy boy John otherwise called Jack live with my son until he be twenty years of age and that he be handsomely maintained out of the profits of my estate given him I give and devise unto John Cavendish for the many services he has done me the house and lot where he now lives to hold the same rent free during his natural life all the rest residue and remainder of my estate real and personal be it of what nature or kind soever and where soever lying and being in the whole work I give devise and bequeath unto my son Daniel Parke Custis to hold to him his heirs and assigns for ever And lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my said son Daniel Park Custis whole and sole EXECUTOR of this my last will and testament hereby revoking and making void all former wills by me made IN WITNESS whereof I have set my hand and affixed my seal to three sides of these two sheets of paper containing this my will being paged Number 1. 2 & 3 this fourteenth day of November One thousand seven hundred and forty nine and in the twenty third year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King George the Second.
JOHN CUSTIS (LS)
Signed sealed published and declared by the said John Custis as and for his last will and Testament in the presence of: THOMAS DAWSON-GEORGE GILMER-JOHN BLAIR Jun. At a Court held in James City County April the 9th 1750 This will was proved by the Oaths of Thomas Dawson George Gilmer and John Blair Junr the witnesses thereto sworn to by Daniel Parke Custis the Executor therein names and ordered to be recorded and certificate for obtaining a Probat in due form was granted the said executor. Teste: Ben Waller C C Our Virginia
LEWIS BURWELL Esqr President of His Majestys Council and Commander if Chief of this Colony and Dominion.
To all to whome these presents shall come Greeting
Whereas John Custis Esquire late of James City County deceased by his last will and testament did make constitute and ordain Daniel Parke Custis Gent to be executor of the said will and whereas at a court held before his Majesty's Justices for the county aforesaid the ninth of April 1750 the said will was proved and the said executor hath performed what the laws of this colony in that case require.
Therefore (to the intent the said will may be well and truly performed) I do give and grant and committ unto the said Daniel Parke Custis the administration of all the goods chattels rights and credits whatsoever belonging to or concerning the said decases'd and his testament with full power to him to dispose of all and singular the said goods chattels rights and credits according to the true intent and meaning of the testament aforesaid hereby requiring him to render a true and full account thereof and the same to exhibit into the County Court aforesaid when thereunto lawfully called
Given under my hand & the seal of the Colony at Williamsburgh the ninth day of March 1750 and in the twenty fourth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King George the Second:
Lewis Burwell. P.
I certify that this copy has been examined with the official copy of the original Will deposited in this Registry and that it is a true copy thereof
A Musgrove Registrar
File CustisNorthampton County
In the Name of God Amen the Eighteenth day of March in the fourth yeare of the Reigne of our Sovereigne Lord & Lady William & Mary King & Queen &c. And in the years of our Lord God One Thousand Six hundred Ninety & one I John Custis of Northampton County on the Easterne Shore in Virginia Esqr being weake in body But of good and perfect minde and memory (thanks bee unto Allmighty God) And calling to Remembrance the uncertaine Estate of this Transitory Life and that All flesh must yeild unto death when it shall please God to call: Doe make Constitute Ordaine and declare this my last will and Testamt in manner and forme following: Revokeing and Annulling by these present All and every Testamt & Testamts will & wills heretofore by me made and declared either by word or writing: And this for to stand and bee in full force and for and as my last will and Testamt and none other: Principally Comitting & Commending my Soule into the hands of Allmighty God my Creator Trusting and Assuredly beleeving (through the meritts & passion of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ) to Inherit Everlasting life: And my body to be buried in such place and decent manner as it shall please my Executors hereafter Named to Appoint: And for the Setling of my Temporall Estate Such as it hath pleased God to bestow upon me I doe order give will devise and bequeath the same in manner & forme followinge (that is to say)
first I will that All such debts and duties as I justly owe to any person or persons whatever Shall bee well and truly Contented and paid within convenient time after my decease by my Executors hereafter named.
Item. I Doe hereby give bequeath and confirme to my Kinsmen John Bradhurst and his heires for ever five hundred Acres of Land being part of my Devident of Land called Jolyes Neck lying and beinge in Accomack County in Virga According to my free Deed of Gift which I have Already given him for the same under my hand and Seale as fully and as firmly to all intents and purposes As if the said Deed had beene by me Acknowledged in the Court of the said County of Accomack and there recorded: And further my will and desire is that my said Kinsman John Bradhurst as soone as he hath an opportunity purchase A man or boy Servt for the full time hee comes into the Countrey for: as reasonable as hee can: And that the said Servant bee paid for by my Execrs hereafter Named which said servt I Doe also freely give & bequeath to my said Kinsman for his full time as aforesaid.
Item. I Doe will devise and bequeath unto my Kinsman Edmond Custis Son of my Brother Thomas Custis Eight hundred Acres of Land lying and beinge at Deepe Creeke in the County of Accomack aforesaid and to his heires for ever: which said Eight hundred Acres of Land is one part of parcell of the seventeene hundred and fifty Acres of Land hereafter in this will given by me to my Deare and loving wife Tabitha Custis but Abutteth upon the Same and that one Thousand Acres of Land Pattented and belonging to Tabitha Smart deceased and her heires.
Item. And I Doe for me my Heires Execrs and Admrs remise release, and for ever quit claime unto Smart the Son of William Whittington and to his heires for ever: All and All manner of Right title Interest Claime and demand upon any ptence whatsoever I or they have or may have to the Said one Thousand Acres of Land.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my Deare and loving wife Tabitha Custis and to her heires for ever: All that Tract or Devident of Land in Accomack County aforesaid at Deepe Creeke containeing one Thousand seven hundred & fifty Acres of Land beinge the halfe of Three Thousand five hundred Acres formerly pattented in her and sister Matilda her Name with all houses orchards, gardens, fences, and all other profits & comodities thereunto belonging: Together with all Cattle horses & mares belonginge to me (and not before disposed of by Deed of gift to my Kinsman Edmond Custis) now Running upon it or which shall bee thereto belonging at the day of my death.
Item. I give will and bequeath unto my said wife Tabitha Custis These following Negroes or slaves by Name (vizt) Kate, Charles, Jeremy, Rose A childe, Jenny A childe, Jack, Jenny, Gabriels Daughter, Betty Negro Ned, Maria, her child Simon, A Boy, Tom Bell, Long Tom, Gabriel, Indian Jone, with all & every of their increase to bee fully, freely, & absolutely Enjoyed by her my said wife and at her disposall after my decease And I doe also give and bequeath unto my aforesaid wife Tabitha Custis [blank] Bendle, Stephen Twyman, Taylor Boy, Elenor Meghull Irish woman, Servants for terme of years for the full time they have or shall have to serve by any way or meanes howsoever: And it is my will and desire That my Salve Gabriel Jacob before herein menconed to be given to my said wife at the Expiracon of foure years service to her after my decease on Imploymt in the Sloope or otherwise as occasion requires then to be free and at his owne disposall. But if it soe happens That my Said Wife should decease in lesse time then the said foure years, Thence forward my said Slave aforenamed to have and begin his manumission and freedome.
Item. My will is that my said wife shall have and Enjoy to her owne proper use for ever (without beinge Reckoned or Accompted any part or parcell of my psonall Estate) Three feather beds and Bolsters, Twelve downe pillowes, with one Rugg, one paire of blanketts, and a suite of Curtains & Vallence to Each of the said beds Such as my wife shall choose of any in my Mansion house Arlington, Accordingly her Goldchaine for her Neck & Locketts, with all her Jewells, Rings, Necklaces, pockett watch, wearring Apparell, made up or by her intended to bee made up (To say) All Such New Linnens, Silks, Sattins, or other Stuffs of what kind soever as are now in my house, or which shall bee in my house or in passage for Virginia, or sent for before the time of my death for her owne preticular use and wearinge: And further I freely give unto my said wife my Russia Leather Couch A dozen of chaires ditto and my Square Table in the Hall, and the presse made of cedar and blackwallnutt in the greate Parlour also my three best Copper Kettles or such as shee shall choose at my dwelling house Arlington: Together with all provisions thereupon beinge or growing (To witt) Indian Corne, Tobacco, wheats, and all other graine or pulse and all other Necessaryes provided for the keepinge, maintenance, & feedinge of my family.
Item. I will and bequeath to my said Lovinge wife Tabitha Custis all that Divident of Land and Dwellinge plantacon I now live on at Arlington together with the Mansion house All the houses, outhouses, gardens, orchards, and other Appurtenances Also my whole Island called Mockton withall houses and Appurtenances thereunto belongine for the whole & Sole benefit of her Stock, And all other profitts, priviledges and Immunities that may any way Appretaine or belonge unto the same duringe her Natural life: and after her decease to my Grandson John Custis. And to the heires male of his body for ever, And for want of such Issue then to the next of my Kindred but heires male forever.
Item. I give will and bequeath unto my said Grandson John Custis these followinge Negroes hereafter named (that is to say) Jeffery, Bess, A boy child, Peter, Mall, Tucker, Sarah, Nancey [?], Young, Daniel, Sandy, Gustien, Bab, & Tom. Sarah to bee delivered him with their increase att the Age of one and Twenty years And till then my aforesaid wife Tabitha Custis to have the profit and benfit of my said Grandsons Negroes for his more liberall mainetenance and Education: And for the Lookinge after and takeinge care of his Stock: I doe also give will devize and bequeath my Island called Smiths Island wholly to my Said Grandson John Custis: and to the heires male of his body for ever: And for want of such Issue then to the next of my Kindred But heires male forever: My will also further is That my Said Grandson John Custis have the greate Dutch Presse and the Gilded lookeing Glasse in the dineing Roome of my Mansion house Arlington.
Item. All the rest of my Lands, houses or plantacons, wheresoever or whatsoever I give to my Son John Custis and to his heires for ever: To say All Such as are not before in this my will otherwise disposed of: And it is likewise my will and desire And I Doe hereby give and bequeath unto my said Son All my wearinge Apparell whatsoever my owne Diamond Ringe, & pocket Watch Swords & Belt, my owne Rydinge Saddle wth Holsters pistolls & furniture thereunto belonging: All which are to be wholly at his owne disposall, As also my owne Rydinge horse to my said Son.
Item. My will is that my Executors hereafter Nominated Doe lay out and Expend Ten pounds Sterlinge in mourning Rings and bestow them on such friends as they shall thinke fitt.
Item. I will and desire and doe hereby further give will and bequeath unto my Deare & lovinge wife Tabitha Custis aforesaid her owne Rydinge horse with Saddles & furniture Appertaining to them.
Item. My will is that all my Stocks of Cattle Sheepe horses & mares (not herein already disposed of) Att all or any of my plantacons or Islands whatsoever: I give bestow and bequeath in Equall Thirds betwixt by said wife Tabitha Custis, my Son Jno Custis & my Grandson John Custis to be Equally divided betweene them (only my said wife to have her first choice of every severall devision) and soe to remaine to them respectively with all their increase male and female.
Item. All the rest of my Estate whatsoever either in Virginia, Maryland, England, Scotland, Ireland, or Else where whether in moneys, plate, merchandize, goods, debts, Servants, Chattles Reall, and Chattles personall of what nature or kinde soever not before herein bequeathed or given away (After one hundred pounds Sterlinge money of the Kingdom of England Sett apart or the full value thereof (which I desire my son to take care and see that it bee duely remitted & paid as occasion requires for mainetenance of his childe my Grandson John Custis at board & schoole in England) I give bestow and bequeath, in Equall halfes betwixt my Said loving wife Tabitha Custis and my said Son John Custis (only my said wife to have her fist choice of every severall division) And I Do hereby Nominate Appointe and make my said wife Tabitha Custis and my Said Son John Custis Executors of this my last will and Testmt And Lastly in Testimony and confirmacon whereof I have hereto subscribed my hand and putt to my Seale to this my said will beinge Two severall sheets of paper marked at the bottme No. 1: No. 2: And Doe publish this for my last will and Tstamt in the prsence of these persons underwritten whome I purposely sent for and desire to witness the same.
These two severall Sheets of paper signed and Sealed by the Said John Custis Esqr as also published and declared by him as his last will and Testmt and none other in prsence of us
Eliz (X) Waterson
Northton ss February the Tenth Adom 1695 The Said day Madam Tabitha Custis the widow of the Honoble Coll John Custis deceased prsented his Last will & Testamt to the Court for probate thereof To which probacon was made in open Court by the Corporall Oathes of Major John Robins Daniel Neech and Margaret his wife and Approved and Allowed of by the Court as an Authentick probate and Ordered to bee Recorded:
South of France Street west of the Colonial Parkway is a square of eight one-half acre lots which was owned in the fist half of the eighteenth century by John Custis IV (1678-1749). Custis built a small brick house, before 1717. This square was bounded by a row of trees on all four sides, an unusual feature for the eighteenth century. Custis had one of the finest gardens in the Colony in this square.
Upon Custis' death in 1749 this property passed to his son, Daniel Parke Custis who died in 1757. His widow married George Washington within two years. Washington managed this and all other property of Daniel Parke Custis until Martha's son, John Parke Custis, became of age in 1776.
We know the style of the Custis House from a nineteenth century letter to a Richmond newspaper from General John H. Cocke.
Seeing that you occasionally ornament the pages of the Planter with a cottage from foreign parts, I avail myself of the skill of my accomplished young friend Chas. Radziminski to send you a drawing of one among ourselves. This is a cottage of my own building at [illegible]-Recess. The stile is copied from the only two specimens of the like building I ever saw - the well remembered, old Six-chimney House in Wmsburg once the property of the Custis Family - and Bacon's Castle in Surry said to have taken its name from Bacon the leader of the rebellion of 1676.2
The dimensions & cheapness of this Building bring it within the means of any gentleman who can afford to lay out $2500 or 3000 in a House - and its accommodations are sufficient for any family of temperate habits & moderate desires in a republican age & country
John H. Cocke
This house was first called the six-chimney house in 1815 and is supposed to have burned early in the nineteenth century. This property was sold to the Lunatic Asylum, now called Eastern State Hospital, in 1843.
It is planned to begin archaeological investigations on this site this spring. These excavations, it is hoped, will reveal more in detail certain features which will enable Colonial Williamsburg to reconstruct this site.
January 21, 1964
(Editor's Note: - This is the 22nd of a series of articles to appear exclusively in the News Leader on historic buildings in the Williamsburg restoration project.)
By J. Luther Kibler. 1928-29
There are a number of very interesting old-time kitchens still standing in Williamsburg, but the most famous one is the quaint little brick building known as "Martha Washington's Kitchen", with its historic associations that make it worthy of preservation for all time. This lone relic of the ancient Custis homestead here stands on the "six-chimney lot", now included in the grounds of the Eastern State Hospital.
The Martha Washington kitchen is 19 ½ by 18 ½ feet. It has one door on the south side, one window on the north side and another window on the west end. The chimney stands at the east end, and on the outside is seven feet wide. The eastern gable is brick (continuous with the wall of the building) while the west gable is simply weatherboarded. The coping on the brick gable has partly fallen away.
The roof is in a very bad condition. The shingles, in places, have entirely rotted away, and nearly the whole roof is covered with moss. The interior is very uninviting-lonely and bare. The plastered ceiling is falling down, and the floor seems to have been improvised from the ground itself. The old white-wash still clings, with broken surface, to both the inside and outside brick walls. The hearth before the large fire-place is conspicuously absent.
The fire-place, which identifies the building as an old-time "kitchen", has long since ceased to spread light and cheer for faithful servants; all is humble and desolate-not not forgotten! Tho neglected, the place is an heirloom from the past of Virginia history, and will never interest those who know its story. A. P. V. A Official Writes.
Mrs. Cynthia B. H. Coleman, a vice-president of the A. P. V. A., in a letter to Mayor John L. Mercer, dated August 1, 1899, wrote this concerning this old Custis relic:
"On the early plate of the city of Williamsburg several lots are assigned to John Custis, Esqr. In time they were considered under the name of "The Six-Chimney Lot", and became the residence of the son of John Custis, who married Martha Dandridge. Left a widow, she became the wife of General George Washington. He visited her at this place, and possibly made it his temporary home. "The small building now left standing near the yew tree planted by Mrs. Washington herself at her garden gate is all that is left of this once imposing residence, which was the center of extensive grounds adorned by handsome cedars and holly trees, which from time to time have fallen under destructive winds. "This now humble little building, doubtless in its day, played an important part in the establishment of Mrs. Washington, and many a saddle of mutton and roast pig to grace the table were turned upon the spit before the ample fireplace. "To preserve this building is to preserve the history, in some sort, of the customs of those days of open-handed hospitality which have made Virginia famous wherever her name is known."
Now there is just one holly tree on this place; it stands over fifty years ? northwest of the "kitchen" (in the opposite direction and the same distance from the yew tree) and measures seven and a half feet in circumference. Despoiled for Christmas decorations, it will soon totter and fall, being only half alive.2
According to Washington Irving, George and Martha Washington spent their honeymoon at the Custis mansion here, and no doubt the young warrior of the western frontiers, when a member of the house of burgesses from Winchester, made his temporary residence here. The above reference to Washington's early connection with the Custis kitchen should be supplemented by the elaborate story of Washington's courtship and marriage (January 6, 1759), as found in Howe's History of Virginia, under New Kent county.
A rather large collection of letters, newspaper articles, and memos at the end of the Special Collections folder that are not included in the Lektriever version.
Those images from number 3 are from this selection.