Joshua Johnson's Letterbook, 1771-1774: Letters from a Merchant in London to his Partners in Maryland. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1979.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by London Record Society. All rights reserved.
116a. (pp. 224-5) to the firm per the packet 5 January 1774
The two foregoing are copies of my last per Capt Richardson, since which I am favoured with yours of the 25, 28 and 31 October. Capt [James] Buchanan got up to his moorings the 3rd inst. after a long tedious passage, the ship [Kitty & Nelly] being leaky during which. I observe that you say that you had insured one hhd. tobacco at £6 more than the quantity ordered. You are mistaken, or else the bills of lading are filled up wrong, for by them it appears to be the £8 per hhd. and one less of the £6, which makes the difference on the whole sum only £2 and that the concern may have the advantage of; the manifest was likewise wrong 2 hhds. You in that had given O. Hanbury & Co. 2 hhds. of Jacob Green's which ought to have been to us and as I had the bill lading have taken care to keep them. The weather is now very bitter cold, a great deal of ice in the river, which prevents the Kitty & Nelly unloading. I have made an entry and got a lighter of 63 hhds. on shore today in order to lighten her that she may take the ground easy in case we are compelled to haul her on shore, though hope that may not be the case. And, if the river keeps open, I shall do my endeavour to work her out that I may offer her for sale and put her in our pockets if such a price as I could wish can be obtained.
I received 9 first bills in your two letters of the 25th and 31st, amounting to £1,186:8:6, out of which I have only two as yet accepted, some being noted, others not answered. However, that of Dulany's is noted, though Anderson says he believes it will be paid when due; that of the Visitors of the Free School is accepted. I now forward you the charges for the 12 pieces humhums [a Bengal calico]..., amount £24 to Nash & Co. credit and to your debit; the bill parcel will come by my next. You tell me that the ship is liable to many charges not yet carried to her debit. The amount has almost scared me and [I must] add that all the people, even mates, being at so much for the run, instead of monthly wages, will compel me, I believe, to sell. You ought to have wrote me particularly about it. You have likewise left me in the dark about the freight of the iron, as I know not what to charge. Pray be more careful in the future.
116b. You say that you were in hopes that the arrival of the Kitty & Nelly would relieve me in all my wants. How little do you know anything about it. The duties will lock up near £900; the disbursements for the ship, if she goes back, full £700; protested bills now by me £500; bills in suspense £—. Look at those sums, consider that of my not being able to obtain a penny for this tobacco until the spring and you will admit I must want. However, I will drop this subject at this time, being about making up our annual accounts, which will explain more than I now can to you and prove to you the necessity of your exerting yourselves.
I observe what you say about your Baltimore plan, as well as [about] W. Lux & Bowly, to both of which I shall speak fully of in a few days. I have seen the samples of 21 hhds.; they are greatly inferior to my expectations; there is some damage already and I fear there will be a heavy average [damage]. Push me home an early cargo of good [tobacco] and give me a fair trial with my neighbours is all I wish. . . .
117a. (p. 226) to the firm per Capt Ferguson 10 January 1774
The foregoing is a copy of my last per the packet, since which I am favoured with yours of the 4 November covering three second bills, none of which I can obtain answers to but Plowman's and his is noted. I now forward you 10 bills under protest amounting to £478:10:8 which you'll be pleased to pass to my credit. I would have you to be active in the recovery of those bills of Dorsey's as I much suspect he is good for nothing. Lynche's two bills for £300 are paid. Enclosed you have a list of noted bills and bills in suspense for your government. I now forward you a bill parcel of the 24 [recte 12] pieces of humhums shipped in Nicholson and omitted to be charged by them before.
I cannot omit informing you that Mr Russell has made the following terms with his tradesmen: 5/ in the pound to be paid them next June, they to take his note for the other 5/ on interest for 6 months and to get the remaining 10/ whenever they can. Such indulgence, good God! However, I would have the planters to take care of him, for, if I mistake not, he has already made cat's paws of them in prevailing on them to ship their tobacco to him, as thus he is growing very old and, if he should die, their moneys will be seized by his creditors here.
I shall take particular notice of your complaints against the sundry people in my letter that attends the annual accounts. We are loading the 3rd lighter load of tobacco this day [from the Kitty & Nelly]; it comes out much freer of damage than I expected and there is scarcely any ship damage as yet amongst it. It is not near so fine as I expected. I have not offered any of it for sale as yet, choosing to look well around me first in order to see what and what sort is in the market. I hope to have the ship out in all this week; then I shall offer her for sale and in which [shall be] governed according to my necessities.
117b. I observe what you say about the flour scheme. I am fearful that 18/ per cwt. your money is rather too high to make much by it. However, if we can only save a commission, it will do very well; and, if it should so happen that it does not arrive here before May or June next, I am in hopes of making a good hit of it.
The bills you mention to be drew by M[atthew] Ridley in favour of us are in my hands and carried to the proper account. All the orders for goods which are come to hand are made out and ready to be delivered the tradesmen. I recommend it again to you as the first object of your attention the people in Calvert; they seldom draw [bills of exchange] and in general their tobacco is very clean and good. The tobacco that is shipped from Pig Point [Anne Arundel County] we find in a general way to be the best that is made on the [Patuxent] River so that I hope that will not escape your attention. I am just now informed of [Captains] Harrison and Boucher's safe arrival. I am of an opinion, when you see the sum in suspense, that you will agree with me that it is highly necessary that you use every endeavour possible to enable me to wipe off all the old matters until which you may judge that I have not the most easy time of it. . . .
118a. (pp. 227-8) to the firm per the Jenny & Polly, Capt Lawrence 22 January 1774
On the other side is a copy of my last per Capt Ferguson since which I am favoured with yours of the 19 and 20 November covering 2 first bills for £60, both of which are good and carried to your credits. Your letter of the 1st November is not yet come to hand and I suspect there is others under the same circumstances, the more so from a draught of yours dated the 9 November appearing and no advice from you about it. I am, from that circumstance, left in the dark. However, as the sum was only £29:9:11 I put my name to it [i.e. 'accepted' the bill]. The order you mention of Mr Halls are in the same situation; I much suspect foul play—it is not uncommon here—and you ought to guard against it by always sending a copy of your last wrote on the same sheet. I would recommend that in preference as it will save postage.
I have made insurance on 11 hhds. in the Sally as ordered. You desire that I will point out some other method for making insurance to prevent so much trouble. I have taken pains to inform myself and find it cannot be done without paying ½ per cent on the short interest which would run away with a great part of our commission. Therefore, you must have no dependence on that but keep a list of all that may be ordered insured and forward it to me, specifying each person's tobacco.
Capt Bogg [Boog] is arrived, by whom you advise that there is 18 hhds. tobacco; surely you have not paid that attention you ought or you would not have blundered so. He has 20, a list of whom they belong to you have now enclosed. You add that we should have had all of our tobacco had it not been owing to Coolidge, but, as it is, you will be obliged to transport it round [by Bay craft] to Baltimore to Capt Demster. In this business nothing will or can do without activity and attention. Therefore, it is the more requisite for you to be so, from your having such rascals to combat. The ships that has gone from here [to Maryland] have had no entries for goods; otherwise I would have forwarded those you ordered.
118b. I have got the Kitty & Nelly out [unloaded]. There is not so many large cutters [hogsheads containing much damaged tobacco to be cut off] as I expected, so that I hope that there will be no considerable damage. I have sold none of her cargo yet, nor will not before the spring, if I can manage without it, as I am pretty sure that your [new] Inspection Law will raise the price here. I have seen it all; none of it is fine but the most of it is good clean tobacco. I rather incline to send the Kitty & Nelly out and shall unless I meet with an offer for her to equal your limitation or some of your hereafter letters contradict it. Capt [James] Buchanan tells me that the outfit will cost nearly £400, which is much too great a sum unless I can pick up some freight to help out. However, you may prepare your friends for her reception, as I believe she must go and, in that case, shall sail in all February with our friends' goods.
I now forward you the annual accounts, balance due me thereon £9,890:16:6¾ which I hope you find right, and confirmed by the first opportunity; otherwise be pleased to point out any mistake and I will most readily correct it. I did intend to have sent you a state of our affairs here by this opportunity, but I have not completed balancing my books which makes me refer it until next opportunity, when you shall have it for your perusal.
I am told that you are likely to close with Archibald Buchanan [of Baltimore]; if so, I suppose that his order will come home in Geo. [Buchanan's ship]. I will only tell you, if you have, I shall be very sorry for it, as I assure you that he is a heavy correspondent. You must contrive somehow or somehow to obtain a little of the Elk Ridge [Patapsco] tobacco; a few fine hhds. will command a farthing per pound [extra] on a lighter [i.e. before landed and inspected].
118c. There is nothing adoing in shipping off, the frost having shut up all the foreign ports, though, notwithstanding, there is a good many buyers at market and I do believe, if the merchants could afford to hold off, that we should have a considerable rise in the price. However, so long as they are so needy, so long they must take what is offered and which unfortunately compels others to do the same.
I insured a schooner for I[saac] Harris [of Annapolis] to North Carolina, which I am told was lost and that the necessary papers was to have come by Capt [James] Buchanan; they are not and I much want them to settle the premium; if you should get his order at the time of his forwarding of the necessary proofs, there will be due to him £230 odd pounds for your government.
It will be necessary to increase our capital at least so as to make good our payments and establish our credit firmly. To do which it will take £8,500 by April next, and full £4,000 of which is now due, so that I trust you will exert yourselves and forward every farthing you can. I hear that Capt Eden arrived out on the 2nd December. I long to have answers to my letters by him respecting your proposals, for in my present situation I live at a very considerable expenses and have neither room nor anything else convenient wherein to do the business. Again I was and am still of an opinion that it would add consequence to the house to address [both offices] by our firm [name] and make this the principal. In case you should agree with these proposals, it will be necessary to open a set of books for the company and, the sooner I get your directions, the better. In the meantime, I am very well and with wishes for your health and success.... P.S. I have got a state of my books completed and enclosed you have it. I likewise forward you enclosed W[illiam] Bowie's draught on West & Hobson protested in part £31:9:10.
119. (p. 233) to the firm per the Jenny & Polly, Capt Lawrence 25 January 1774
I wrote you the 22nd by this opportunity, to which I must refer you. This serves to acknowledge receipts of your favours of the 3rd and 6 December which conveyed one bill on West & Hobson for £135. I observe what you say about drawing to W. Potts [of Barbados]. I must pay the bill somehow or other, though at the same time am of an opinion that it is relying too much on good faith. My objections to those large bills are that they come home immediately and [do] not circulate in the country like small bills of inferior value.
You inform me that you were then making out an assortment for a store at Nottingham [Prince George's County, Maryland] to be directed by Mr [Edward] Botelar and that you expected many advantages to arise from it. I wish you may find it to succeed. I have long known the Nottingham people and they, as well as their tobacco, have always been faulty. Indeed, I approve of the [idea of the] establishment of a store at Queen Anne [further up Patuxent] and was in hopes it was perfected. The motive of this branching out, I presume, is to obtain the consignments of tobacco and, in that case, you should always have your eye on the best.
I am pleased to the heart to find the [tobacco] Inspection Law has passed. It will be of particular advantage to the country. I have read your reasons of objection against suffering the people [consigning tobacco] to draw [bills of exchange] and admit the force of your argument. Capt Lawrence being under sail prevents my adding more than that I have ordered Capt [James] Buchanan to get his ship ready immediately for sailing. She goes in dock in a day or two and will most certainly sail in all next month, by whom I shall send our friends' goods and all the rest I possibly can collect. I have wrote Mr [Robert] Tyler of our intention; you ought to make it generally known immediately, for there will be enough who will report to the contrary. It's all stuff about J. B[uchanan] & Sons going on again; the point is settled here and [Capt] Henrick [formerly in Buchanan's service] goes out in a chartered ship for Russell. I wish you would strike up a bargain with him in the country and give him the new ship; he is the very man for the people above [north of Annapolis]....
120. (p. 234) to the firm per the packet 2 February 1774
The two foregoing are copies of mine per the Jenny & Polly, Capt Lawrence, since which I am favoured with yours 1 November and 11 December; the 2 bills on Ireland drew by Hawkins & O'Neill are both noted and will, I believe, be protested, after putting me to a very considerable expense and abundance of trouble.
Yours of the 11 December handed me your desire of shipping A[rchibald] Buchanan [Baltimore] and A. Buchanan & Cowan [Joppa, Maryland] goods. I have always told you how reluctant I was to engage in that kind of business, knowing that we can't ourselves, [though we] strive as hard as possible, collect a sufficiency to extricate us through our engagements. However, as they choose to make us their correspondents and have valued [i.e. drawn bills of exchange] on us, I can but acquiesce in your request and have agreed to ship Buchanan & Cowan's goods which is agetting ready and will go in the Kitty & Nelly with Messrs Halls' & Co. and William Bond's goods. Capt Geo. Buchanan [brother of Archibald and James] has been solicited to accept a ship from Dunlop & Wilson [of London] which he has most nobly refused. I am informed that [Capt] Christie is to have a ship from them and to go to Patuxent, that Henrick is to have one for Patapsco and that a nephew of David Crawford's is to have one for Potomac. You will observe from this that there must be a purchase [of tobacco to fill so many ships]. Be aware of their [Dunlop & Wilson] bills for they are only adventurers and have no property amongst you, and query if anywhere else.
I have all the orders for goods in the tradesmen's hands and hope to be able to dispatch the Kitty & Nelly by the 20th inst. I have considered of sending servants and am of an opinion I shall not. The expense of water casks and a temporary deck will cost more than they would clear. Mr [James] Anderson tells me that a part of Mr Dulany's bill will be paid; I will protest the remainder and forward it to you as soon as it is due.
Capt Geo. Buchanan tells me his brother [Archibald] is abuilding a new ship in Baltimore and that she will be ready by the 1 July. Suppose you get Geo. to load her in Patapsco to us. I think we may manage it somehow or other, if there is industry used. I will communicate to you George's bargain with me in a few days by Capt Perry. I have not sold a leaf of tobacco yet; much want money. Help me for God sake and oblige....
121a. (pp. 236-7) to the firm per the Letisia, Capt Perry 4 February 
The foregoing is a copy of my last per the packet, since which I have nothing from you. I now forward you account sales of the 104 hhds. [tobacco] made up in the mercantile manner, likewise a list of debts as they become due for your government. I wrote you that Capt Hanrick [formerly in J. Buchanan's service] was to go out for Dunlop & Wilson. I am told that he is not. His ship was sold yesterday [by Buchanan's trustees] and I hear was bought by himself for account of Thomas Eden & Co., whom he is to go out for in her. I have not yet sold any tobacco, hoping still to do better and, indeed, which I could, was not old Russell in the market, but he will take anything that is offered, which the buyers plead as a precedent.
Capt J[ames] Buchanan [of Kitty & Nelly] is getting ready as fast as possible and will be fit to take in goods in all next week and I am apushing him away by the 20th and hope I shall accomplish it somehow or somehow. We find where the leak was and it is owing to a wind shock and rotten stern which Ball [the builder] ought to be damned for, besides paying for a new one, which he most certainly shall do. Next voyage you ought to have the quarter-deck carried forward to the mainmast and none of that high work at the bow. Ball has likewise ruined the rudder by making the main piece so slender. Guard against those faults in your next whom I could wish you would call the Nancy.
121b. The terms agreed on between G[eorge] Buchanan and myself are that he has the total disposal of his ship and the snow [i.e. the Farmer] on her arrival [in London]; that we have the sales and commission on the tobacco and iron, which, when sold, to be paid to him or his order on the account being made up and settled; that none of those transactions are to be in the name of [brother] Archy [Buchanan] whose goods and Buchanan's & Cowan's I am to ship to the extent limited between you and at the different times. I find neither you nor Archy mentions interest on the balance [unpaid] at the expiration of 12 months [the limit of the credit on which goods will be purchased]; you ought to get him to say in a letter that he agrees to it or we shall never be able to recover any and I much fear he will not be punctual. Capt G. Buchanan tells me that they have a ship abuilding and will be ready to take in tobacco by 1 July. I think she will do for our Patapsco ship and that Geo. will be as good a commander as we can get; have therefore advised him to send out rigging on the Kitty & Nelly and to write Archy to forward her [with] dispatch. He says he will and that [he] proposes to send out his mate in our ship to get her rigging ready. I have only time to enclose you Duvall's bill in part protested £25:10:7 with charges 9/3 which you'll give me credit for. Capt McKirdy is waiting for this, the ship being gone down....
122a. (pp. 237-9) to the firm per the Industry, Capt Nichols 19 February 
The foregoing is a copy of my last per Capt Perry since which I am favoured with yours 24 December and 8 January covering your order for the spring goods for Annapolis and Nottingham, likewise Kerr's protest and 20 first bills all which are accepted but those listed below.
You ordered me to insure 36 hhds. tobacco on board the Morning Star, Capt Demster, in yours of the 24 December and write on the back of it to be delivered by the captain which was on yesterday about 12 o'clock after his being arrived these nine days—that is my other letters [on the same ship] being at hand these nine days—and in about one hour after the receipt of my letter a messenger brought me word the ship [Morning Star] was lost on the Isle of Wight and we not a farthing insured on her. Whose fault is this? Is it yours or mine? Don't you think in justice you ought to make it good to the people [who consigned the 36 hogsheads] ? Most undoubtedly, for it is most unjustifiable, especially after my writing and pressing you so often to order the captain to put your letters in the Post Office immediately on their arrival and have as often pressed you to write me by the New York packet. She [the packet] has sailed long since Creamer [the captain who brought the letter late] and [her letters] have been here a long time. There is no excuse; it is totally owing to your neglect and, if you will not attend and be more explicit and punctual in future, we soon shall find the people grow tired of us. Damn the foolish little pimping saving, supposing it was one, that of the postage, but it is not, for the interest of the money that letter covered would have paid the postage twice over. Besides, it has detained Capt [James] Buchanan at least a week; the expense of the ship [Kitty & Nelly] alone would more than pay all the postages in the course of the year.
Everyone here who is interested in the happiness of your province is highly pleased at your last session, but we fear the emission of £100,000 [new paper money] will raise the [rate of] exchange so high that it will ruin those who sold their goods [in Maryland currency] for 100 per cent [advance on sterling cost]. (fn. 1)
122b. Yours of the 8th January seems intended to regulate the insurance on the tobacco per the Morning Star. Surely you do not understand that business; I could wish you would inform yourselves, as all I can say will not avail. It cannot be done [the way you want] as there is a declaration in the policy of the exact number of hhds. at each stipulated sum, without which we could never recover an average. I have told you that no method can be fallen on to establish the insurance by bills of lading or anything else. The mode used by all the trade is to keep lists and forward them by way of New York and every other opportunity, and, whenever anyone orders you to make insurance, if it is only on three hhds., you ought to write me to make and say whom it belongs to, as we find it best in the recovery to declare whose property it is.
The outfit of the Kitty & Nelly will cost us a great deal of money owing to our being compelled putting in a new stern, which you must make Ball [the builder] repay. She is now complete and a very fine ship; and I think you will agree with me that it is better than chartering, especially when the ships are [being chartered] at £7:10s. and all port charges again. I expect it will be pushing work in the country this year and, in that case, we at least shall steer clear of demurrage.
J. Dick & Stewart [of Annapolis], I am told, was for pushing Russell's interest all that was in their power and had so far agreed with the old man as to send him their orders for goods which the trustees [for Russell's creditors] would not suffer him to ship; the orders were delivered to Mr Dick's brother who has applied to Mr W[illiam] Lee [merchant of London] to ship them and who has refused, so that, in all probability, you will have no opponent in them as for this year and probably overtures made you to ship their goods, which I expect you will reject, as I will not agree to it by any means; indeed, we are too much in that, I fear, already, especially if there is as much punctuality with them as with Earle & Co.
122c. You seem desirous of my engaging with Geo. Buchanan;. . . George . . . came to me and struck immediately. I am therefore shipping a cargo for Buchanan & Cowen [Joppa] and another for A. Buchanan [Baltimore] which you will acquaint them of and ask them to take some pains in procuring us a load of tobacco against the arrival of George and let as much of it be from Elk Ridge [on Patapsco] as possible. I don't mean purchase but consigned, that it will be requisite for you to advertise Geo. Buchanan loading to us and for you and Archy to go and solicit for him.
I shipped on board the Kitty & Nelly this day Mr [Charles] Carroll's goods, Hall, Gilbert & Hall's, Buchanan & Cowan's and William Bond's, with all the planters' goods and some of the W.D.J.; all the rest shall be shipped in the course next week, although the orders are not yet in the tradesmen's hands. I have sold one lighter of the Kitty & Nelly's load [of tobacco] for 2½ round [2½d. per lb. averaging all qualities], which is higher than any of my neighbours have got. I have not sold any more and hope that I shall obtain that for the rest. Should I be able to do which, you will have no reason to condemn my first beginning, nor will the [Maryland] people; so that when you speak of the price of tobacco, say from 2d. to 4d. as in quality, except trash that is 1¼d. a 17/8d. and which I hope never to have any more of, as it prejudices the sales of the good.
I want money for I wish to get once even again with the tradesmen; we shall find great advantages from it. Therefore, hope you will labour hard to enable me. I have worked hard for this fortnight so that I am most wore out though am in spirits. . . .
P.S. Charley Calvert died at Eton last month. I never heard of it before yesterday or that he was ailing or I would have been with him. It is odd none of us heard it. Never send a lad home to me.
123. (pp. 292-3) to Charles Wallace per the Kitty & Nelly, Capt J[ames] Buchanan 25 February 1774
We have now before us your sundry favours of the [blank] October, 26 December and the 8 January, to all which we have paid particular attention. Above you have the invoice of the shoes and enclosed you have bill parcel and an order of Wallace & Davidson for their delivery. We have been to a number of the cutting mercers to obtain Mrs Wallace the yard and half of damask and cannot match it. We will as soon as we can get time look after it again and if possible send it you.
We are sorry your order for the copper [for the roof of the Capitol] came so late that it was impossible to send it out by this opportunity. We have had several proposals given in; that of the Royal Copper Company is 14½d. per lb. at 6 months' credit; some others (which we shall close with) is 14¼d. per lb. at 9 and 12 months' credit; but we can't get anyone to undertake it for more than two feet broad and four feet long so that you have been grossly imposed upon by your architect if he has informed you it was to be had. We will do the utmost in our powers for your interest, but it is impossible to do business so well when we are so hurried in point of time. It is impossible to get the workmen you want and servants at this time of the year of any kind grow scarce as there is such a number of ships going out.
We have read your letters repeatedly and cannot help wondering at your schemes. We are of opinion that we have irons enough in the fire and are against launching out in anything that is new. Besides, our business already would employ three thousand more capital than we have. You little considered the expense in sending out servants; it is considerable and all ready money. You know our want and ought not draw out a farthing until our old debts are rubbed off. Besides, our keeping the ship [Kitty & Nelly], instead of selling her and applying the money as you expected, will make a material difference, and you ought to push hard to put us in money to answer that end. We have always agreed not to ship cargoes. Why, then, for God's sake, will you enter into any such engagements? We would do anything rather than do dishonour to your agreements, but we foresee inevitable ruin if we continue to do it and therefore will at all events not do it. If we can get only 500 hhds. tobacco per year, we had better be content and not run such risks, for we find that no one can be punctual. You will remember you thought Earle & Co. pro bono and of the first consequence; we will only tell you that we have not one single farthing of their money as yet and we are now dunned for the payment of those goods. You feel them not or you would not be so willing to engage for our shipping of them. We will recommend caution to you and to mind that those to whom we have shipped goods do pay for them in time; you will know that if they don't, we can't. We will write you again soon and are with love to Caty....
124a. (pp. 308-9) to the firm per the New York packet. 2 March 1774
My last was of the 19th ult. per the Industry, Capt Nichols, who is lost near the Isle of Sheppey and has damaged great part of her cargo, it amounting to upwards of £5,000, amongst whom were [the goods of] our friend R. Cowden. This misfortune will in all probability prove a lucky affair for us as the Kitty & Nelly must be the first in, if she has but a tolerable passage. She takes in her last goods tomorrow and proceeds to clear out immediately and will fall down the river on the next day to Gravesend, where I shall meet her on Saturday to indent what servants I can get and which I expect will be about twenty. She has cost us a great deal of money in the outfit but she now is a complete ship and I hope that she will make full £250 freight out. I have not stinted Capt [James] Buchanan in anything in order to try him and I have a pleasure to see that he is frugal. I am of an opinion that it is best in order to attach them [captains] to one's interest.
Capt George Buchanan has sent out the rigging for Archy's ship and his mate and two boys to get her in readiness. I have pushed him to determine on a day for his own departure and he tells me that it shall be in all April. I would have you go and fix a charter with Archy immediately. The terms here are £7:10:0 [per ton of 4 hhds.] and all port charges, though I think we ought to have her at £7 and 2/3 port charges as she is a new ship and we are obliged to buy the rigging. I could wish that you would think of what you are going after and not make such damned bargains [giving space on company's ships] as you have done with Hanbury & Co. I have wrote circular letters to every good planter that I could recollect. You must forward them instantly and go yourselves and make our intentions known amongst the people. You must be industrious and not lurk at home, for it will not do; and indeed, if you are not industrious, we had better give it up.
124b. I wrote you in my last that the Morning Star was lost. I was even then in hopes we should have saved something but, for your comfort, I am sure that there will not be a shilling to divide. How it is to be settled with the owners [of the tobacco consigned] I know not. I shall write them letters in the name of the house and send you the letters open so that you may take what step you will. But this, I am of an opinion that if the bills loading are filled up for so much per hhd. clear that we had better at once pay it, as we should be liable in my opinion both in law and equity. I have taken [Capt] Creamer's deposition before the Lord Mayor respecting your charge of the delivery of the letter and the time of his delivery of it was after the accounts being in town of her loss some hours, so that you must own it was totally owing to your imprudence and it will be damned hard for me to bear a part of the loss.
The New York packet is in and not a line from you. For God's sake, what is the occasion of this treatment? Am I to be considered as your partner or do you put no regard on our interest? This I assure you that it will never do and, unless you mind your hands in punctuality, there will soon be an end to him who is most faithfully. . . .
125a. (pp. 304-7) to the firm per the Kitty & Nelly, Capt J. Buchanan 5 March 1774
On the other side you have a copy of my last per the packet. This comes by the Kitty & Nelly, Capt [James] Buchanan, with yours and our friends' goods, whom I wish quick and safe to you. Enclosed you have bills loading, bills parcels and invoice of goods for the Annapolis store amounting to £4,952:5:9 and bills lading, bills parcels and invoice of goods for the Nottingham store amounting to £795:5:9 which two sums together being £5,747:9:1 [sic] is to your debits and which be pleased to carry to my credit. I have given Benjamin Hall an order on you for a piece of grave India Persian [an inexpensive silk] and one piece of bandanna [Indian silk] handkerchiefs, which let him have and forward me the account that I may charge him. Their not being sent was an omission of the linen-drapers and not mine. In order to save the duty on the paper ordered by C[harles] Carroll, A[quila] Hall and R[euben] Meriweather, I had it packed in a small keg and have put in the captain's care whom I have drew orders on for the delivery. Pray see that it is done. I have sent a cheese in lead for Robert Tyler Esq and have ordered the captain to deliver it with our respectful compliments. See that he has it.
I have made a rough sketch of the amount of the goods we have shipped per the Kitty & Nelly and find that they amount to upwards of £12,000. What time we shall be in cash for them, God alone can tell. The very thoughts make me sick and tremble. You wrote me that Archy Buchanan would not want more than four thousand pounds in the course of the year for both stores, and his present shipping amounts to upwards of that sum. I am afraid of him and hope that his fall orders will be very moderate; if they are not, we shall have got in with him for a fine sum indeed. I have ever been afraid of this work, knowing how ready both Charley Wallace and T[homas] Johnson are to accept of anything that has the immediate appearance of gain. You do not know the circumstances of the people half so well as I do—notwithstanding you are amongst them—and a number of people who possess a great deal of property [in America] are very backward in their payments here. Besides, you rest easy and are not tormented with duns; if you were, you would readily agree with me that a life of happiness, though in poverty, is better than a superfluity and eternally uneasy. And suppose that those gentlemen [A. Buchanan & Co.] should not remit, as Earle & Co. has, what must become of us? I know . . . [that] our capital is not sufficient . . . to make good the payments. I do therefore insist on it that you make a provision for it and not enter into any such large engagements for future. If you do, I will withdraw myself from the concern.
125b. I heretofore wrote you that the Kitty & Nelly's outfit would cost us a great deal of money—it has cost near £500—but that we now have a fine ship of her and therefore think the money well laid out on her. Besides I was very loath to pay freight on the quantity of goods I have shipped by her which will amount to upwards of £300 [i.e. 2½ per cent of £12,000]. And if Capt Buchanan is lucky enough to get the quantity of servants that he expects, I am in hopes their passage will reduce the outfit still more. I have worked like a slave and fretted my very soul out to get the ship away. I proposed that she should sail the 20th ult., and she should have done it, but that your order and A. Buchanan's only came one or two days before the appointed time. I have long urged you to be more industrious in those matters. There is enough of you and it is high time you would attend to it.
I have wrote you circular letters and left the names blank for you to fill up and distribute amongst the better kind of planters, which you will receive enclosed as well as some to A[quila] Hall Esq and to E. Bottelar [manager of their Nottingham store], whom please to instruct to do the same. There is a great many [others] which I have directed and sealed, which pray forward immediately. In order to enable you to distinguish those of more consequence, I have forwarded you a list; and I would have you be particularly careful to whom you deliver them, as they may be intercepted by some before the owner can lay his hand on it and many of them cover invoice of goods and the others are thanking the gentlemen for shipping us tobacco per Capt Buchanan last year.
125c. I hope ere Capt James Buchanan arrives that you will have engaged his load [of tobacco back] and that he will have but little to do but take it in and come away. If he is lucky enough to arrive here by the middle of August and with a good cargo, we shall establish ourselves forever in the tobacco business. I am sorry that I cannot send out his account sales [of tobacco shipped last year] by this opportunity; they shall follow him in a very little time, I having sold his tobacco for 1/8 per lb. more than any cargo has been sold for from Patuxent as yet. I expect to deliver it next week, shall then set about making out the sales immediately and I am sure that I shall be able to give upwards £10 [per hhd. net] for the fine, though the ground leaf that was mixed with the cargo hurt the sale very much. I have likewise sold Geo. Buchanan's cargo very well and shall send the account sales by the first ship which I have hopes will do great matters for us up the Bay and enable Geo. Buchanan to load quick in Patapsco. You must go immediately through that country with A. Buchanan, W[illiam] Bond, A[quila] Hall & John Paca and solicit the people and you must by all means try hard to get some of the fine Elk Ridge tobacco. It will make a difference of a farthing round on a cargo, which is the reason why everyone is so very anxious to get it. If S[tephen] W[est] begins to fall off, as I am told he does, close with Ned Gaither by all means. Give him any wages, rather than miss him, and assort a store out of ours at Annapolis and set him up for us. I had rather take the whole on myself than miss him. He would be worth £500 a year to us in obtaining fine tobacco; besides he is indefatigably industrious and very clever. Set all your engines at work and let me know your success.
125d. I have a complaint from Calvert [County] that they are neglected; I am sorry for it; they are valuable correspondents and merit your attention. Molleson is confoundedly afraid of you there. Nay, as for that, the whole trade is fit to cut my throat and are as jealous of us as the devil. If you will but be as industrious as I will, I warrant we top them all. Do but write, no matter how bad; only let me know what is doing with you.
I am not under the least apprehension of our loading Belt readily in Patuxent unless the people take umbrage at that neglect about the insurance on the tobacco per the Morning Star. I have wrote a letter to each and enclosed them to you for your inspection and you must make the best of it you can. But this I expect, that if you are obliged to pay it [compensation for the insurance not made], that I am to bear no part of the loss. And again, I would not have you by any means pretend to keep it [the failure to insure] a secret; publish it immediately and prepare friends with the facts to contradict any injurious insinuations against our conduct.
I hope the expense of the Kitty & Nelly this voyage will be inconsiderable as she has had so good and expensive outfit here. She has got another anchor for herself and I intend the other for the new ship that is abuilding. It will be the best way to take Capt Buchanan's draught for the ship's disbursement on her leaving the country, as her accounts must be kept here. I did not allow Capt Buchanan anything for his expenses whilst he was in the country. Consider of it and let me know what will be sufficient; he is industrious and saving. I am for treating him genteelly, this being our first ship in the country from London. I expect you will be compelled to treat a great deal; therefore have laid in stores in proportion; and if Capt Buchanan has any to spare, let Capt Belt have them. I have wrote and thought until I am almost incapable to do either, though I am even willing to do more had I time, but for want of which must bid God bless you and prosper your endeavours. . . .
126. (p. 309) to the firm per the Molly, Capt William Maynard 19 March 1774
The foregoing is a copy of my last per Capt [James] Buchanan, since which I have nothing from you. I have now to inform you how misfortunate we have been in the detention of the Kitty & Nelly by contrary winds. She went from here on the fourth or fifth inst. to Gravesend to clear and indent the servants, which was done in two days, when she proceeded on her voyage and had got within six miles of the Downs when the wind shifted to the eastward and which came on to blow so very hard that they was obliged to cut their cable and run for the Hope [bay]. It is the more unlucky for, if she had but got that little distance, she would have had a fair wind from the Downs and perhaps made the greater part of her passage by it, but, as it is, God knows what time she may be with you, as she had not got clear of the Downs on the 17th.
I have now to inform you that I have paid £31:12:9 for D[aniel] Dulany son of Walter to William Maynard and charged it to him here so that you will be pleased to take notice. I shall write you by Frost and Henrick in a few days very fully, which perhaps will be at hand before this. I am in want of money; my not having heard from you so long has made me very necessitous. I likewise much want to know what is agoing forward with you. . . .
127. (pp. 311-12) to Charles Wallace per the Friendship, Capt Frost 24 March 1774
We wrote you the 25th ult. per the Kitty & Nelly which we refer you to. This will inform you that we have contracted for the copper you have ordered for the public building on the following terms: the copper to be in sheets perfect of two feet wide and six feet long squared on the edges, to weigh from 16 oz. to 18 oz. per square foot, to be delivered in London in two months, the time [of credit] to commence on shipping from here to you and equal payments punctually at 9 and 12 months, which we hope you will attend to and provide for in time.
We expected to have heard from you per the February packet agreeable to your promise but you are, we find, as inattentive as others and, unless there is more punctuality, the Lord have mercy on us that is here. We hope you will attend to ordering insurance generally on the tobacco that comes in the Kitty & Nelly as soon as Capt [James] Buchanan has taken in part of his loading and do it by every opportunity then offering to this place. We are most unlucky in the loss of that tobacco per the Morning Star as the price has got up most amazingly and we could have sold it for any sum we pleased. We have sold the 20 hhds. per Boog for 25/8 round notwithstanding there was full one fourth arrant trash; it is admitted by everyone that it is the greatest sale that has been made this year. If you have but pursued your original intention in getting a ship for Jimmy Belt and loading her so as to arrive here in June or July it will make our fortunes, as we shall be able to sell it for what we please so that it is but good. You must this year, Charles, ride night and day and be very careful that you do not enter into any engagements that will hurt us. We are deep enough already and must not ship large quantities of goods to anybody.
We hope that you will remember what we wrote about Gaither [prospective storekeeper] and use your endeavours to secure him. Capt Henrick, I think, is awavering, notwithstanding he is employed by the Edens. Feel his pulse and secure him by taking in him as a partner in a new ship which build for him against the next year and send him to Patapsco and Geo. Buchanan up the Bay. Consider of it and write me your opinion of this plan.
We want money and hope that you will take care to secure a sufficiency out of this emission [of paper money] to pay off all our old debts and add three thousand pounds to our capital. We then shall be able to do business with pleasure. We trust that you will be regular in writing by every conveyance and of informing us how matters goes on with you in the tobacco business this year and the goods way. . . .
128a. (pp. 315-17) to the firm per the Friendship, Capt Frost 25 March 1774
The foregoing is a copy of my last per the Molly, Capt W. Maynard, since which I have nothing from you. This will cover you a bill loading, bills parcels and invoice of china per Capt W. Frost amounting to £21:7:11 which you will be pleased to pass to the credit of your account current here. The knives and forks that is charged in this invoice went out in the Kitty & Nelly but the bill parcel was omitted to be sent by that opportunity. You will receive by that opportunity four pieces of Welsh cotton which I have before omitted to say anything of. I bought them of the first hand at Barmouth in Wales and had them dressed here in order to ascertain the difference and find it so considerable that I am induced to ship that article to all our small marks [i.e. correspondents] in future by a ready money purchase. You will therefore make your observations on this and give me your opinion on my scheme.
By this opportunity I have sent out account sales of the tobacco we had in the Sally; they will not average so much round as I expected although I sold them for more money than any of that sort has been sold for. They were very light and a good deal of it damaged on the passage home, which was a considerable drawback on it. I was in hopes to have been able to have sent out the sales for the Kitty & Nelly's load by this time, but I have been disappointed from time to time by the buyer and have not delivered all of it yet, so that I cannot ascertain the outward [re-export] weights. He promises me to make a finish of it next week, when I shall close them as fast as possible and forward them with the Betsey's which are now ready and should have come by this opportunity but that I was fearful those who shipped in Buchanan would have grumbled.
128b. I have insured the Kitty & Nelly from here to, at and from Maryland valued at £1,750 so that you may rest easy respecting her. I have inquired again respecting insuring tobacco home and I find they generally insure the whole ship at a middling valuation as £5 per hhd. round and keep a list of the whole who chooses to insure and charge them in the sales proportionably. You will, therefore, be pleased to adopt this method and, as soon as you can find you can load her, order insurance on her cargo, keep a list and transmit it to me by different ways.
We are plagued more with general ships [taking tobacco to any merchant in London] than a little enough. I wish to God you would steer clear of them all you possibly can and, indeed, in those whom you have shipped tobacco, you have omitted to send me a copy of your agreement and which leaves us open to be imposed on or drags me into a squabble. Instance, this ship of Buchanan's, they charge us £7 per ton and two-thirds port charges; we had not that [port charges] of Hanbury, [who chartered from the firm] or, if we was to have had it, you have not told me so and I therefore did not ask it of them and consequently refused to pay it to Buchanan. You ought to be more intelligent and I beg you will put me to right in this by the most early opportunity.
Capt [James] Buchanan's [lost] anchor and cable is taken up; I will, if I can, buy them for the new ship if they will do and I can get them a bargain. If I should succeed, I will send them out immediately.
I have been looking every day for a long time for Nicholson and Archy Buchanan's snow. I wish to God they would arrive. I never in my life wanted to hear from you so much for I can't tell how to manage matters as you have omitted informing me what was likely to be done in the remitting way. I have never received a shilling from Earle & Co. and, from their ordering insurance on Nicholson, the account is enlarged instead of being diminished. I think you ought to push them, for, I assure you, I think they don't use us well. I now forward you enclosed two protested bills amounting to £22:4:4 which be pleased to pass to my credit. I am very fearful that that bill of J. Plowman's must go back and all those little ones on West & Hobson.
128c. I mentioned in my last that I thought Capt Henrick awavering. I would have you by all means make him a proposal to join us in a ship. I do really believe that he will close with it and then we shall have him for our Patapsco captain. It's true I don't want to discard George Buchanan, but they seem to be on a plan of building themselves which we shall find very ill convenient, for you will know that the people wants a standing ship.
The Kitty & Nelly's outfit cost us a great deal of money; that, together with our keeping of her, runs me very hard to make up with our creditors. You will no doubt see it in the same light and remit me immediately a sum sufficient to answer that disappointment as well as a sum to pay off the debt contracted on account of Earle & Co. You will be pleased to take care and remit me a sum next summer to indemnify the outfit of the two ships and not calculate, as you too often do, on the payment of the next goods, for, so long as you do that, I shall always be pushed to comply with our engagements.
The large quantity of large ships that is agoing out this year scares me for fear that there will [have to] be a purchase [of tobacco] with you [to fill them]; if there should and you find you can't load both ships, fill up one and charter the other to load with wheat and flour to Cadiz or Lisbon and give me instructions to sell the one that comes home. I will be much obliged to you to inform me of the agreement between you and Coolidge and say whether or not we were to have paid any port charges. I have had more squabbling about it here than a little enough and it now rests till you inform me. I am very much in want of money and, unless your next remittance is very handsome, I don't know what I shall do. . . .
129. (pp. 318-19) to the firm per the Baltimore, Capt Hanrick 26 March 1774
I wrote you the foregoing yesterday per Capt Frost; this will be handed by Capt Hanrick, whom I have mentioned to you in several of my letters and will now repeat my desire of your proposing to him a scheme that will procure him in our interest. You had in my opinion better forego some advantages than to lose him, as old Russell cannot survive long, and the interest of the Elk Ridge people [hitherto dominated by Russell] must be divided, and, if we had him, he would secure a great number of them to us. My reason for urging this is the advantage that tobacco gives us in the sales of the other.
What to think of the present year I do not know, for there appears to me to be a spirit amongst the merchants to ruin each other. Molleson is to have three or four large ships in Patuxent, three in Potomac, two on the Eastern Shore and Craymer in Patapsco; Russell is to have nearly an equal quantity; T. Eden & Co. is to have a great many and, in short, all that used to send out ships are to have more or less and others, who are scarcely known, are sending ships. I do not know where their interest lays that will load them on consignment; and to purchase [tobacco], I am sure, will never do, for trust in what I affirm, that they who do are good for nothing, and I therefore caution you to steer clear of their bills.
I am this moment going to meet the Americans to petition the House of Lords against the passage of a bill against the Port of Boston, which will inevitably ruin the town and fix a taxation on America in general, if it goes through that House as it has the House of Commons. I will write you on my return home. . . .