Gunston Hall, Home of George Mason

George Mason Manuscript Collection
George Mason to Alexander Henderson


Gunston Hall 18th. July 1763.


I wou'd advise you to have your Cellars quite up to the Water-Table laid wth. sound Bricks; Salmon Bricks are very apt to moulder in a Cellar when there is any Dampness, wh. few are without: it is usual wth. workmen to stowaway their bad Bricks in the Cellars, not because they will last better there than in the other parts of the Building, but because they are more out of Sight. Salmon Bricks [ma]y do very well for Inside-work above the Water-table, & in the Breasts & bulky parts of Chimneys. When I built my House I was at [some?] pains to measure all the Lime & Sand as my Mortar was made up, & always had two Beds, one for outside-Work 2/3 ds. Lime & 1/3 d. Sand, the other equal parts of Lime & Sand for Inside-work —it is easily measured in any old Tub or Barrel, & there is no other way to be sure of having your mortar good without Waste, & the different parts of yr. Building equally strong. The above proportion of Lime is greater than is generally used; but when you consi[der] how much heavier the Sand is, & how much closer it lies in measuring than the Lime you will find it not too much. If you have any good pit-sand, out of your Cellars or Well, it will make your mortar much tougher & stronger than it will be wth. other sand, & in that Case the proportion of Lime may be something less. Next to pit sand the River Shoar Sand on fresh Water is best, & the Sand in the Roads worst of all; as being very foul & full of Dust.

I wou'd by no means put any Clay or Loam in any of the Mortar; in the first place the Mortar is not near so strong, & besides from its being of a more soft & crumbly Nature, it is very apt to nourish & harbour those pernicious little Vermin the Cockroaches, who can't so easily penetr[a]te into the strong harsh Mortar made wth. [L]ime & Sand only; & this I assure you is no slight Consideration; for I have seen some brick Houses so infested wth. these Devils that a Man had better have lived in a Barne than in one of them.

I am afraid you will have but an indifferent Acct. of Richd. Masons & Robt. Speake's Crop of Tobo. tho' it is not all yet prized up, so that I can't be certain as to the Quantity: I think Speake's Share will not exceed five or six hundred, & his Baice. upon my Books is at this time 66/6 after giving him Crd. by You for 84/. Whatever Dick Mason’s Share is will be entirely coming to him, as he has no Acct. wth. me; but he had handled his Tobo. in so careless & slovenly a Manner that more than half of it is rotten, & even the best of it I doubt will run some Risque at the Ware house.

I send you all the Hair I have except a little I kept in Case we shou'd have any small Job to do. Melford tells me there is 18 Bushels of it. I am Dr Sir Yr. most Hble Sert.


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