ushistory logo<
buy a poster
ushistory logo

The President's House in Philadelphia

George Washington's Household in Philadelphia, 1790-1792

The Washington household account books for the years 1789-1792 are in private hands. Selections were printed in Stephen Decatur's Private Affairs of George Washington (Boston, 1933). This listing was compiled by Independence National Historical Park in February 2004. This listing is uncorrected. References to "below" on this page refer to information in the Household Account Books. Additional household members, such as the enslaved African Joe Richardson, do not appear.


  • The Private Affairs of George Washington, by Stephen Decatur Jr. (1933).
  • Additional information on servants comes from correspondence and diaries of the period

George Washington

Martha Washington

Nelly Custis

"Wash" Custis

Tobias Lear, secretary; he and wife Polly have son born in March 1791; Lear and other secretaries take regular walks or rides with the President. (Decatur, 194) Lear leaves with two-year old son Benjamin shortly after wife's death in July 1793. (Decatur, 181, 205; Brighton, The Checkered Career of Tobias Lear, (1985), 116)

Polly Lear Tobias Lear married Mary Long on Apr 18, '90; son b. 3/11/91; she died, possibly of yellow fever, July 1793.(Decatur, 128, 129, 181)

Lears' maid (?) Lear reported that he was bringing a maid and manservant with him to Philadelphia. It is not evident in the record whether they joined the President's household. (Lear to Clement Biddle, Oct 3,1790)

Lears' manservant (?), ditto (no further record if the manservant remained in Washington's family, however)

Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., secretary, Martha and George's nephew. Replaced Thomas Nelson, Jr., when he resigned in November 1790. Unhappy in Philadelphia and disappeared in May 1796 without explanation, but returned before the end of the summer and continued in service until the end of second term in 1797. He assisted Tobias Lear to pack the household goods after the Washingtons left on March 9. (Decatur, 326; final salary payment Mar. 25, 1797; The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, 8, 23-24.)

Maj. William Jackson, secretary, paid salary Dec 13, 1790, Jan 15, 1791; joined the president on s. tour in April 1791; salary paid on March 3, 1791 is 100; married Elizabeth Willing, a younger sister of Mrs. Bingham, in 1795. Marriage end of service? He appointed Surveyor of the Port of Philadelphia. (Decatur, 174-5, 188, 204, 209)

Robert Lewis, junior secretary and nephew, may not have come to Philadelphia at first, as GW asked him to take George Augustine Washington's place as manager of Mount Vernon in August 1790. He received, however, a salary of 75 on Jan. 10, 1791, suggesting his return to the presidential household as secretary. On Feb. 12, 1791 the accounts noted "Robert Lewis, pd him in full of salary, allowing him at the rate of 600 dolls. per year for all the time he has been with the President. 403." This amount, as Decatur, 197, explains, was double the annual rate, and a sign of Washington's generosity to his relations. (Decatur, 55, 147,187; 197)

William Osborne, valet de chambre for the President Washington. Wages for 6 months to Dec. 31, 1790 paid Jan. 3, 1791. Wages in October 92. Osborne wrote GW in 1793 explaining that in order to support his wife, he hoped to leave the President's service and open a tavern. He asked to borrow up to $200 and GW agreed to loan $100. Osborne died of yellow fever in 1793, just before his intended departure from the president's service. (Decatur, 183, also explains valet's role, and 291; 307 for Osborne's illness and treatment by Dr Kuhn Nov 17, 1792; online correspondence from the Washington Papers, Wm Osborne to GW Aug 29, 1793 and Mrs. Osborne to GW, June 7, 1794)

Christopher (Sheels), dower slave, GW attendant (GW to Lear Nov 22, 1790) shoes for May 91. Decatur says that he was still in household on June 30, 1792, but no reference to his name was found in accounts from 1793-1797.(Decatur, 235, 277; )

John Hyde, steward, in NY and at first in Philadelphia. Had trouble with servants; gave his intent to leave Feb. 1791 & last acct. Mar 22/27, 1791. Dec. 13, 1790 deld him to purchase sundries for the Househd. Wages paid to him and wife, Feb. 15, 1791. (Decatur, 174, 198, 203, 214, and 217 explains that Hyde went on to open Tontine Coffee House in NYC, a Republican haven.)

Hyde's wife, cook, (for sources, see John Hyde)

John Vicar, chef/cook (from Baltimore). Worked for the President in NY; He was married and his wife joined him in Philadelphia. Decatur called him "the best cook that could be obtained." He couldn't make cakes; delv'd $20 for marketing Mar. 1, 91; replaced by Samuel Fraunces in May 1791. Left household in May 1791 stating he didn't want to work under Fraunces. (Decatur, 221, 234; Lear to GW, May 15, 1791, Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series. 8, 67.)

Mrs. Vicar, traveled with her husband by land to Phila. in Nov. 1790. [Decatur, 172]

Samuel ("Black Sam") Fraunces, steward and chef, worked in NY as steward, May 89-Feb 90; recruited by George Washington as steward in Philadelphia; started May 91, when Vicar left and Hercules made his assistant. (Decatur, 233-34.) Continued until June 9, 1794. ("Washington's Household Account Book, 1793-1797," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 30, (1906), 184.)

Hercules, Washington's slave, cook, and besides Moll, probably the only slave servant who continued all 7 years in Philadelphia. Came by stage with Austin in Nov. 1790 and remained in the household until GW's last day in March 97, when he could not be found. He may have returned to Mount Vernon before his final escape that year. (GW to Lear, Mar. 10, 1797 and its footnote; Decatur, 173, 214, 296)

Mrs. Emerson, housekeeper, began in May 91; salary in accounts June 92 (Decatur, 233, 277). See later accounts. She background and duties described in Lear to GW, May 1, 1791. Mrs. Emerson stayed in the family throughout GW's presidency. (See below)

Moll, dower slave, maid to Martha. Shoes for bought Jan. 15, 1791. Remained all 7 years with family in Philadelphia. Martha gave Moll, Hercules, Oney, each a dollar and Chris a half-dollar to buy things to send home by Giles, Feb 21, 1791. (Decatur, 188, 201 and see entries from accounts below)

Oney [Judge], dower slave, maid to Martha. Only 12 years old when 1786 inventory taken of Mount Vernon slaves. Pr of shoes for Dec 12, 1792; GW notes her as "underage" for the provision in the 1780 Gradual Abolition Act. Martha takes her and Christopher to New Jersey on a visit in May 1791 before 6-month residency in Pennsylvania ends. In late Spring/early Summer 1796 Oney escaped to New Hampshire. (1786 slave inventory in Jackson and Twohig, eds., The Diaries of George Washington, 4, 277-283. Lear to GW, May 15, 1791; Decatur, 32, 39, 48, 201, 224, 277, 314; Diary of John Adams, July 17, 1796, Adams Family Papers on line; Oney interviews from Mary Thompson, Mount Vernon)

John Mauld, porter, worked for President in NYC; went with GW to Mount Vernon before coming to Philadelphia; replaced James Hurley as porter; Mauld became a fixture in the family; wages were paid on Dec 18, 1790; went on southern tour, mounted, with the President; Richard Keating replaced him as a footman [sic] in May 1792. Mrs. Mauld was paid for making handkerchiefs for GW's nephews, Jan. 18, 1791. She likely lived with him in the household. (Decatur, 102, 153, 178, 189, 210, 252, 254)

Henry Rhemur, houseman, in NY with the President. Went to Mount Vernon with GW in fall of 1790 before coming to Philadelphia. GW suggested him for garden work, (GW to Lear, Ap 10,91) replaced May 92 by Charles Liddle (Decatur, 153,252)

Fanny Fink, principal washerwoman, worked in NY; her request that her four children join household was denied, but she joined the staff in Phila. Did she live out? months wages, May & June 92 (Decatur,103, 187, 255, 264) and see 1793 below

Mary Wilson, washer until March 1791, when she replaced Mira Lefferts as housemaid; married summer 92, final wages paid to Mary Loeffler, Nov 10 92 (Decatur, 194, 300)

Mary Helm, washer, as of Feb 91, wages 3/31/91 paid for 2mos, (Decatur, 215)

Katy Jacobus, washer, wife of coachman, Jacob Jacobus. Joined household Apr 1, '91 and replaced Mary Helm; wages June 92 (Decatur, 215, 277)

Mira Lefferts, house maid, succeeded Jane Imhoff; paid 3 mos wages as House Maid on Jan 31, 1791; became personal maid to Mrs. Lear on March 1, 1791, (Decatur, 163, 193,194)

Katy Lefferts, kitchen maid, paid 2 months wages Jan. 31, 1791. Sister of Mira Lefferts. (Decatur, 193)

Austin, dower slave, son of Betty, and half-brother to Oney. Arrived by carriage with Hercules in November 1790. In his mid-thirties while in Philadelphia. His specific role in the Presidential household is unclear, but he worked with the carriages and as a waiter at Mount Vernon. He went on southern tour with the President; entrusted to take goods purchased in Philadelphia to Mount Vernon; on December 17, 1794 Washington noted his death (at Hartford," Md., "supposed an appoplexy," suffered while on his way to see his wife and family. (slave list, 1786, in The Diaries of George Washington, 4, 277; GW to William Pearce, Dec. 24, 1794, in John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington 34, 74; Decatur, 173, 223-226, 239, 277; Mary Thompson, Research Specialist at Mount Vernon, discusses Austin's death in her unpublished paper given as a talk on November 3, 2001, "Different People, Different Stories,: The Life Stories of Individual Slaves from Mount Vernon…" pp. 28-9.)

Richmond, Washington slave, Hercules' son, kitchen scullion and sweep. Traveled by water from Mount Vernon to Philadelphia with Christopher in late November 1790. Washington permitted him to come because Hercules requested it. Two shirts for, from House Exps Jan 19, 91. Returned to Mount Vernon spring 91. (Decatur, 173, 190, 224, 280)

John Dunn, coachman, worked for President in NY; replaced due to poor performance in Nov 1790; wages Dec. 16 covered to Dec 31, 1790 (Decatur,153, 175-6 quoting GW to Lear, Nov. 23, 1790)

John Fagan, new coachman (a Hessian), replaced Dunn in December 1790. Fagan's wages raised to 8 per month, a dollar more than his predecessors. Wages noted Jan 21, Mar 2, Apr. 1, 1791 (Decatur, 176, 190, 204, 217; The Diaries of Goerge Washington 6, 99)

Giles, dower slave, stable hand and driver, postillion; Hiltzheimer noted him in Philadelphia with Washington in 1787 for the Federal Convention. Paid .34 to have tooth drawn Jan. 21, 1791. Because of some disability he remained at Mt. Vernon in the autumn of 1791 and was replaced by Geo. Beard.("Extracts from the Diary of Jacob Hiltzheimer, 1768-1798," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 16 (1892), 173; Decatur, 190, 271)

George Beard, assistant coachman or postillion, replaced Giles (who was crippled and unable to ride a horse) in Autumn 91. Had worked for the president in NY. (Decatur, 271)

Jacob Jacobus, coachman, returned to service to attend Martha while GW on southern tour spring 91(Decatur, 202)

Fidus Imhoff, footman (wife leaves service 1 Nov 90); wages May 92 (Decatur, 260) Fidus' wife, Jane, left the President's household in Nov. 1790. [Decatur, 163]

James Hurley, footman (Fanny Paris married James Hurley and left the president's service in New York, before the move to Philadelphia.) The president considered Imhoff & Hurley excellent servants. Wages paid Feb 14, 1791, June 1792. (Decatur, 197, 265, 277); Fanny Hurley wanted to be home to tend to her three children, but she did washing & mending for the president's nephews, Feb-Mar 91; in May 1792, she did 8 days work in the house as ordered by Mr Fraunces (Tobias Lear to George Washington, Sept. 12, 1790, Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series,6, 420, 424; Decatur, 219 256)

Paris, dower slave, stable hand, listed as a boy on 1786 slave inventory. Received 2 shirts and 2 pr. stockings paid for Mar 12, 1791, before southern tour. President didn't like his attitude during the southern tour and left him at Mt Vernon at his return. (The Diaries of George Washington, 4, 277; Decatur, 208)

John Hudson, old stable asst., who worked for his keep and donations. Received $2 on Feb. 10, 1791. In May 1791, was sent to Mount Vernon. (Decatur, 196 & 230, see notes below)

John Gaceer, new coachman, known as "Dutch John" or Fritz" according to Decatur, 253. Account book for June 30, July 11, 1792, wages paid, (Decatur, 277, 282 and 1793 and 1794 accounts.)

Elizabeth Warner, new housemaid, replaced Jane Imhoff in April 92; wages June 92 (Decatur, 253, 277)

Charles Liddle, houseman, replaced Henry Rhemur May 92 (Decatur, 252, accounts 1792)

Martin Cline, indentured servent, stockings, handkerchiefs and one comb for in accts May 4, 1792; shoes for Nov 3 92 (Decatur, 254, 296). Martin Cline was confined to the workhouse on Aug. 4, 1794 for being "frequently Drunk, neglecting his duty, and otherwise misbehaving," by order of the President. He was released Aug. 22. Vagrancy Docket, Case No. 154, as cited in G.S. Rowe and Billy G. Smith, "Prisoners The Prisoners for Trial Docket and the Vagrancy Docket, " chapter in Billy G. Smith, ed., Life in Early Philadelphia (1995), 84.

Howell Lewis, secretary, nephew, son of Washington's sister, Betty, and brother of Robert and Lawrence Lewis, begins service May 92, at 21 years of age. Young Howell becomes attached to GW. (Decatur, 262, 310; William S. Baker, "Washington After the Revolution, 1792-1793," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 20 (1896), 338.)

Richard Keating, porter and footman, replaced John Mauld in May 92, on list of wage earners Nov. 92 (Decatur, 252, 254, 296)

Katy Bower, house maid?, wages June 92 (Decatur, 277). Quit household Ap 16, 1793. Appears again 96. (see accounts below)

ushistory logo Facebook

Interested in using our content? Click here!

Copyright ©1999- by the Independence Hall Association, a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, founded in 1942. Publishing electronically as On the Internet since July 4, 1995.