- Meet George Washington
- Visit His Estate
- Support His Vision
- Educational Resources
Matthew Baldridge was an indentured joiner originally from England who worked for George Washington from 1785 until 1788. On July 3, 1784, George Washington wrote to John Rumney, Jr., of the British firm of Robinson, Sanderson, and Rumney requesting: "a House Joiner and Bricklayer. . .would thank Mr. Rumney for enquiring into the terms upon which such workmen could be engaged for two or three years. . .Bed, board & tools to be found by the Employer, Cloaths [sic] by the Employed."
Rumney had articles of agreement drawn up on January 8, 1785 and wrote to tell Washington about Baldridge on February 9th, explaining: "I have made every Enquiry could for a Joiner & Bricklayer, but have only succeeded in the former who I now send out in the Caesar Ct. Atkinson, he is a very sober industrious Young Man & a complat [sic] Worker. I got him on the best Terms I could as you will see by the inclos'd Indenture."1
Baldridge sailed for America on the Brig Caesar, arriving at Mount Vernon on May 8, 1785. Washington appreciated Baldridge's work, writing to Rumney six months after the joiner's arrival that, "the House Joiner. . .answered my expectations fully. He is a good workman and a sober well behaved man." Baldridge was paid twenty-five pounds during his first two years in Washington's employ and thirty-one pounds, ten shillings in his last year at Mount Vernon. In addition to wages, the artisan was also provided with lodging, food, and tools. Baldridge seems to have left Mount Vernon when his indenture expired.2
1. Mesick, Cohen & Waite, "Building Trades," Mount Vernon: Historic Structure Report, Vol. 2 (unpublished report prepared for the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, February 1993), 2-29; The Diaries of George Washington, Vol. 4, 136n.