John Neale was a hired carpenter who worked at Mount Vernon from 1795 until 1798. Neale was recommended to George Washington by Washington's nephew, William Augustine Washington of Westmoreland County, Virginia. Neale succeeded Thomas Green and James Donaldson as overseer of enslaved carpenters at some point between August and November of 1795.
Neale's work was varied and included construction of "Dormant [dormer] windows to the Barn, Sashes to the Kitchen where they are falling to pieces, Plank tried up for the North end of the Mansion house…plank…for the Pillars of the covered way going to the Kitchen, Locust posts for the circle before the door." In addition, Neale worked to repair tools.1
Farm manager William Pearce noted that Neale seemed "to be an Industrous Cleaver man and I think he would do very well If he goes on as well as he has begun his agreement obliges him to work Constant with your people and he does work constantly from what I have seen of his work I believe he is a good House Carpenter but he cannot do as good Joiners work as he ought he cannot make sashes nor do a great many other things In that way."2
In 1795, Neale's salary included: forty pounds per year, 600 pounds of pork, 200 pounds of beef, fifteen gallons of rum, fifteen barrels of corn, and 200 pounds of middling flour.3 The following year Neale was paid forty-one pounds, reflecting his salary and money owed for chickens that were purchased from him.4 In 1797, Neale was making forty pounds per year plus 800 pounds of beef and pork, rum or whiskey, three bushels of salt, ten and two-fifths barrels of Indian corn, 2500 herrings, 200 shad, and the right to keep two cows. Against his account were charges for additional salt, one pound of candles, sole leather, and three yards of oznaburg, a textile fabric.5 In 1798, Neale was still receiving forty pounds per year, but his other benefits also included fifteen gallons of whiskey.6
1. "George Washington to William Pearce, 29 November 1795,” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-19-02-0146.
3. See account for John Neale, Mount Vernon Farm Ledger, January 1794-December 1796 (Mount Vernon Ladies' Association), 71.
4. Ibid., 81.
5. See account for John Neale, Mount Vernon Farm Ledger, 1797-1798 (Mount Vernon Ladies' Association), 39-40.
6. See account for John Neale, Mount Vernon Farm Ledger, 1797-1798, 139, 140; Cash Account Entry for 26 December 1798, Mount Vernon Farm Ledger, 1797-1798, 192.