WASHINGTON, George. Autograph document signed ("GWashington SCC" [Surveyor Culpeper County]), a survey of land prepared for James Hamilton, n.p. [Virginia], 2 November 1749. 1 page, oblong 4to (8 x 12 5/8 in.), discreet repairs along extreme edges and vertical folds, not affecting text, docketed by Washington on verso "James Hamilton Plat for 350 Acres Deed drawn Pd."
A VERY EARLY SURVEY BY THE 18-YEAR-OLD WASHINGTON: ONE OF THE EARLIEST WASHINGTON MANUSCRIPTS EVER OFFERED AT AUCTION
Washington inherited his father's valuable surveying instruments and learned the technique of surveying as practiced on the frontier by serving as assistant to a local surveyor who laid out the town of Alexandria (for a copy of his Alexandria plat see J.T. Flexner, George Washington: The Forge of Experience, plate facing p.150). According to his own records, Washington's first dated survey may have been one completed on 18 August 1747 (see D.S. Freeman, George Washington, 1:197fn). The young Virginian clearly enjoyed the work, which had the added benefit of cash compensation: "surveying not only had interest and yielded a profit but it also offered excellent training. A good surveyor had to be accurate and thorough..." Washington obviously devoted considerable time to the preparation of these documents: "he painstakingly gave neatness and finish to surveys he made with the fullest care he knew how to display..." On 20 January 1749, after swearing allegiance to the King, he was granted a commission from William & Mary College as Culpeper County Surveyor, the title he proudly affixes after his signature on this document. This constitutes one of his earliest surviving surveys, executed at age 18. An example in the Forbes Collection was dated 5 April 1750 (Christie's, 27 March 2002, lot 10 $58,750); in the last quarter century, most of the surveys sold have been dated 1750-1752; no other survey dated 1749 has previously been offered at auction.
The text reads: "Pursuant to a Warrant from the Proprietor's Office to me directed I have Surv'd for James Hamilton  acres of Waste and Ungranted Land situate in Augusta County and on the Lost River or Cacpehon and Bounded as followeth..." A detailed description of the specific boundaries of the tract in question follows, using a Poplar and a Walnut tree, a stump and other landmarks as reference points. At the bottom left, Washington notes that John Lonem and Edward Corder had served as his Chain-bearers (holding the long chains to measure distance) while Edward Hogan was employed as marker on the survey. On the left-hand side of the sheet, Washington has neatly and meticulously drawn the tract. In the center is a delicately shaded compass rose. The rising hills at the left are labelled "Mountainous ground." To the right is the course of the Lost River, drawn in delicate watercolor; the land beyond it is labeled "very Hilly and Piney." A scale of distance is added at bottom right.