GEORGE WASHINGTON was a notable Freemason, becoming a member of Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 in 1753 at age 20 and serving as master of Alexander Lodge No. 22 in 1788. Five years later, he served as President and led the Masonic ceremony to lay the cornerstone of the new United States Capitol. As a Mason, he would have owned at least one apron and possibly more. Aprons were worn at Masonic meetings and public ceremonies.
Offering a 4 pp, 5 x 8, ALS, from Elizabeth Byrd Nicholas, dated May 20th [n.y.] dealing with an attempt to sell George Washington’s Masonic apron, which belonged to Washington’s great, great nieces who needed money. Nicholas, a member of the Virginia Historical Society of Richmond, VA, writes to Dr. Shattuck, a member of the St. Andrews Masonic Lodge in Boston, asking him to help sell the apron to the lodge which is said to be a very wealthy one.”
“I hope you will pardon my troubling you with a letter, but I have a little commission, I wish to beg you to execute for me - & I promise in advance it shall not be onerous. I have been enlisted in the service of some friends in the country, great, great nieces of Genl. Washington, & have told them I would make an effort to sell a Masons apron, which belonged to ‘the Father of his Country.’ Of course, there is no doubt of the genuine quality of the relic, coming from the source it does. It goes without saying, that the family are poor – or they would not dispense themselves of their cares thus. They want a good price for the apron, & as no private individual is likely to purchase it – I have been advised to apply to St. Andrews Lodge, in Boston, which is said to be a very wealthy one. And as Masonic fraternities are very charitable – they may not only wish to possess themselves of the aforesaid article, but consider it a worthy act, to persons not far removed from such a distinguished member of the Society [Washington]. Now for the point, in which I desire to interest you. Can you not see the chief person in the Lodge for me, as a sort of introduction, & vouch for my respectability – so that we might enter into negotiations. I felt I was a stranger & that I could not have a higher endorse than a gentleman of your position –Of course I have no interest in this transaction beyond a desire to aid gentle folk in trouble - & the pleasure of assisting in a kind act. Will you present me very kindly to Mrs. Shattuck. Yours very truly, Elizabeth Byrd Nicholas. To Dr. Shattuck, Boston.”
ELIZABETH BYRD NICHOLAS was with the Virginia Historical Society, and a member of the District of Columbia Society of the Colonial Dames of America and national treasurer of the General Society. She was an “…accomplished lady, foremost in the art and literary circles of Richmond, and who was a leading originator in the Colonial Court Ball, mentioned in the preceding sketch of Lord Botetourt, as having been held in Richmond, February 22, 1876 (Washington’s birthday), the pecuniary proceeds of which were patriotically devoted to the furnishing of the Virginia Room in the Mount Vernon mansion.” (from “Virginia and Virginians” p. 123, by Robert Alonzo Brock & Virgil Anson Lewis; Genealogical Publishing Co. 1996).
"Dr. Shattuck" may well refer to Dr. George C. (Cheyne) Shattuck, Jr. (1813- 1893), who was one of nineteenth century Boston's leading physicians.
Folds, light toning. Small stain at the bottom, back page, not affecting writing.
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