Law and Order: How a Founding Father was Robbed

Mount Vernon’s staff have rediscovered an interesting story from George Washington’s youth: During a summertime swim in the 1750s, Washington was robbed while in the Rappahannock River. In December of 1751, Ann Carrol and Mary McDaniel stood trial for “Suspicion of Felony, & Charged with robing the Cloaths of Mr. George Washington”.

At some point, Ann Carrol turned and was “discharged, & Admitted an Evidence”. With evidence against her, Mary McDaniel was found “Guilty of petty Larceny” and sentenced to “fifteen lashes on her bare back” at the whipping post.

Washington was out of the country during the court case, which took place on December 3, 1751. In September 1751 he and his half-brother, Lawrence Washington had sailed to Barbados. Washington did not return to the country until January of 1752.


Transcript of Court Case
Court Case
3 Dec. 1751. Ann Carrol and Mary McDaniel Servts of Fredericksburgh, being Committed to the Goal of this County by William Hunter Gent.,1 on Suspicion of Felony, & Charged with robing the Cloaths of Mr George Washington when he was washing in the River some time last Summer,2 the Court having heard Severall Evidences Are of Oppinion that the said Ann Carroll be discharged, & Admitted an Evidence for our Lord the King Against the said Mary McDaniel.

And Upon Considering the whole in Evidence, & the prisoners defense, the Court are of Oppinion that the said Mary McDaniel is Guilty of petty Larceny, whereupon the said Mary desired Immediate punishment for the sd Crime & relied on the Mercy of the Court, therefore it is ordered that the Sheriff carry her to the Whipping post & Inflict fifteen lashes on her bare back, And then she be discharged &.


Notes
D, Spotsylvania County Order Book, 1749–55, p. 141, Vi Microfilm. https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-01-02-0019 

1. William Hunter (d. 1754) was a merchant in Fredericksburg. He came to Virginia from Scotland in the 1730s, and in 1743 he married Martha Taliaferro of Spotsylvania County.

2. GW was surveying in the Shenandoah Valley as late as 1 May, after which, presumably, he returned to Fredericksburg to sell two town lots he had advertised to be sold at the Fredericksburg June fair, which was held in the early days of that month (Virginia Gazette [Williamsburg], 25 April 1751). He was probably at Mount Vernon on 10 Aug. and in Fredericksburg on 20 Aug. (General Ledger A, folio 4, 8, DLC:GW). Some time in August he accompanied his brother Lawrence on a trip to Annapolis, and in September he left Virginia to accompany Lawrence to Barbados, where he remained until 21 Dec. 1751.

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