A servant who worked at Mount Vernon, Thomas Bishop came to America with General Edward Braddock from England in the spring of 1755. George Washington initially hired Bishop as his personal servant at a salary of ten pounds per year shortly after Washington was made colonel of the Virginia Regiment in the French and Indian War.
In 1756, Bishop along with fellow servant John Alton accompanied George Washington and his aide, Captain George Mercer, on a trip to Boston, traveling via Philadelphia, New York, New London, Connecticut, Newport, and Providence. Bishop left his position seven months after Washington's retirement to civilian life. Bishop returned to Washington's employ in September of 1761 and remained at Mount Vernon until his death in the mid-1790s.1
Among the tasks Bishop is known to have performed over the years were: safekeeping and distributing the alcohol provided to enslaved and hired laborers during the harvest in 1764 and as overseer at Muddy Hole Farm in June of 1766, June of 1767, June of 1768, and June of 1769.2
Bishop's wife, Susanna, served as a midwife for enslaved and hired women at Mount Vernon for many years. She died on the evening of Sunday, December 4, 1785. Bishop's daughter, Sally, married Thomas Green, a carpenter and joiner at Mount Vernon.3
According to Martha Washington's grandson George Washington Parke Custis, Bishop had been part of "Braddock’s own regiment" during the battle of the Monongahela, "and, on account of possessing superior intelligence, was detailed as a body-servant, to accompany that ill-fated commander on the expedition to Fort du Quesne." Bishop was close to Braddock throughout the battle and assisted in carrying the mortally wounded general from the field.4
Bishop passed away in January of 1795. Upon learning of the death of his old servant, George Washington wrote: "Altho' Bishop should never have wanted victuals or cloaths whilst he lived, yet his death cannot be cause for regret, even to his daughter; to whom, from the imbecility of age, if not when he died, he soon must have become very troublesome to her, and a burthen to all around him."5
In his will, George Washington left "Sarah Green daughter of the deceased Thomas Bishop" a bequest of $100, "in consideration of the attachment" of her father "to me…having lived nearly forty years in my family."6
1. George Washington, "Notes on Journey to Boston, February 1756," The Writings of George Washington, Vol. 1, 297n, 298, 299.
2. George Washington, "13 June 1764," The Diaries of George Washington, Vol. 1, 329; The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series, Vol. 7, 443, 516; Vol. 8, 104, 221.
3. George Washington, "4 December 1785," The Diaries of George Washington, Vol. 4, 244, 244n.
4. Benson J. Lossing. Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington, by his Adopted Son, George Washington Parke Custis (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1860), 158.
5. "George Washington to William Pearce, 25 January 1795," The Writings of George Washington, Vol. 34, 103.
6. George Washington, "Last Will and Testament, July 1799," The Writings of George Washington, Vol. 37, 287.