WASHINGTON, Mary Ball (c.1709-1789), Mother of George Washington. Autograph letter signed ("Mary Washington") to Mr. Lund ["Lunn"] Washingon (1737-1796), n.p., 25 December 1778. 1 page, oblong (3 1/8 x 8 in., neatly mounted, minor discoloration at corners.
A PRESIDENT'S WIDOWED MOTHER. Mary Washington writes to Lunn Washington, business agent and manager at Mount Vernon during the war, concerning a cask: "Dear Sir, Gest [just] as I had wrote to you not to send the Cask by overseer Conl [Colonel] [Burwell] Bassett came in & Delivered the forty pound Cask to me from you. I am Dear Sir your Most affectionate humble servant Mary Washington."
Mary Washington, father of the first President, was widowed in 1743. She resided at Ferry Farm on the Potomac (which George had inherited from his father). Its productivity fell off, and in 1771 George and his brother Charles took over its management, moving Mary Washington to another home in Fredericksburg. Washington's relations with his mother do not appear to have been particularly warm, though they were always respectful. He reported that she frequently asked money from him, and that most of her food and horse fodder had been supplied by him from Mount Vernon. In later years, Mary caused considerable embarassment to her son by complaining, sometimes to outsiders, that she was destitute and neglected by her children. At her death, at age 83, Washington wrote to his sister Elizabeth that, as "awful and affecting" as the death of a parent is, it is consoling that she lived to an advanced age with "the full enjoyment of most of her mental faculties, and as much bodily strength as usually falls to the lot of fourscore" (Writings, 30:398-403). Provenance: Hamilton, 16 September 1976, lot 340 (misdated 1798). Mary Washington's letters are extremely uncommon. Since 1975 only this and one other example, badly stained have been offered at auction.