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.
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1774 (Apr - June)
The foregoing is a copy of my last per Capt. Hanrick, since which I have nothing from you. I have but this moment received a letter per the Somerset, Capt Robinson, and am much surprised that I have nothing from you. Indeed, I cannot imagine the cause unless you are sick. You are desired to take notice that it cost us 8/6 postage of Hawkins & O'Neil's bills on Ireland which you will be pleased to get back of Whitchcroft.
I am sorry that I have it not in my power to send out the sales of the Kitty & Nelly's tobacco per this opportunity. I have been puzzled to get a part of it shipped and I am afraid I shall not get the whole done next week, which will still keep me backwards. However, I will exert myself and, if possible, you shall have them by Capt [George] Buchanan who I mentioned before was to go out in Capt Craymer.
I mentioned to you in my last that Lord North had brought in a bill and which has passed the House of Commons to take away [close] the Port of Boston until they made restitution for the tea belonging to the India Company that was destroyed by the Bostonians. A few of the Americans petitioned the different branches to prevent its passage but it was to no purpose. If it [i.e. the petition] had been general opinion [of the merchants], I am of opinion that it would have been effectual, but the blessed public spirited merchants refused to step forward themselves and prevented everyone else whom they could and yet I have not a doubt but they will puff away with you what they have done. If they should, I desire you will not hesitate in telling their agents and puffers that it is a lie of the most vile, that I am your authority who has watched their motions and am willing to justify what I say. Perhaps my zeal for my country may be arraigned by their particular friends and dependents. If you should hear it, I request and authorise you to tell them that what I have done I did from principle and would do it a thousand times over again, that it was not from a selfish motive as there will be enough ready to make the people believe. The consequences of the step taken by the legislature rouses all my fears as undoubtedly the people in America will come to some determination and either resist or submit at once; and, supposing the former, what is to become of poor me who is in debt and cannot get away unless he receives remittances sufficient to discharge those debts? Figure to yourself and pity my situation.
130b. I should imagine that Mr W.M[olleson] would find some difficulty this year in loading so many ships, as would old Russell [and] Eden & Co., from this circumstance, the latter's having no effects in the country and the others being such milky court sycophants who, I am sure, would sacrifice the whole country [America] to the support of a single Scotchman or for the gain of a halfpenny; and a pity it is that the people did not know them a little better than what they really do. If they did, they would soon be convinced that their [the Marylanders'] property is not the most secure in their [Molleson's and Russell's] hands, nor have they an inclination to serve them farther than interest, I do assure you.
I have just formed a rough sketch of our wants immediately and find from Earle's not remitting that it is about five and thirty hundred, his being sixteen and upwards of that sum. You will therefore pay attention to this and let me have it with every farthing you can rake and scrape, that we may be beforehand with the world by next January. I shall write you by the packet in a few days; in the meantime, this goes out by Mr J[ames] Mackubbin who has goods from Russell to set up in Annapolis. . . .
The foregoing is a copy of my last per Capt Lewis which I must refer you to. This chiefly is to inform you of the arrival of the packet and Capt Hynson, by neither of whom I have no letters from you. I cannot imagine the reason of it, especially as I understand that Hynson has tobacco on board for us. Surely you must be ill or some accident has happened that prevents your writing. For God Almighty's sake, inform me the reason of it for I am very uneasy about the neglect and if you are well there can be no reparation made me for it. I am just now informed by Hobson that you were about chartering the Betsey, Capt Nichols, to load in Patuxent an early ship. I wish it may be so; if it should, I have a right to expect her the second ship and which will prove of great service to us, as, from every appearance, the price of tobacco will be up considerably higher than it is at present, though I have a pleasure in telling you that it is better than it was a fortnight ago by full an eighth per lb. for dark brown and fine a good deal more. So that I have not a doubt of establishing our reputations in selling tobacco if she arrives before Sewal [Sewell] and much to the prejudice of Molleson and some others who have heretofore held a high hand.
From a letter I have received from Mr Daniel Dulany, son of Walter, I understand that the Baltimore Company have ordered the goods for their [iron] works from us. I wonder at your not mentioning of it to me. However, I will execute them as well as I possibly can and forward them by the first ship after I get the order. I wrote you that Capt George Buchanan had sold his ship to Molleson without her rigging and that he proposed to carry the rigging to Maryland and sell it there; and which I thought would do for the new ship. He has since sold it here for the same money that he offered it me for, so that you must have no dependence on him for it.
131b. I am told that T. Eden & Co. is pushing with all their strength to carry everything before them. I am amazed that the people [in Maryland] will not attend to their not having any effects in the country [as security]; it would be well for them to take care of them. O. Hanbury's house is new modelled; it is now O. Hanbury, John Hanbury & [John] Lloyd; the latter is a young man from Birmingham and brother-in-law to O. Hanbury, quite a young man and knows nothing of business.
I have heretofore told you that I was of an opinion that it would be best to order insurance on the tobaccos generally and advertise it. Old Russell and some others charge everybody insurance whether made or not. I don't think that just, nor will I do it, but, of the two evils, I am for making a general insurance and let the shippers stand the expense; it is very trifling and not an object to them, but, if it should be lost, they will reap the advantage.
Mr [Abraham Lopez] Fernandes, a Jew gentleman, partner and nephew to Vonseackn [Moses-Israel Fonseca] and Jacob [Israel] Brandon goes out in Capt Richardson to settle their accounts with J. Plowman and others in Maryland. They have applied to me for letters to my brother [Thomas] which I shall give him. Tell T. J. that they are the greatest tobacco brokers in England, to keep up appearances for our sakes, but, at the same time, have it in remembrance that it is a Jew and that he is to deal with him as such. I could wish that you would make much of him; tickle him up, it may sometimes be a farthing per lb. advance to us [in tobacco sales]. I am told that he proposes to purchase fine tobacco; if he does, he will raise the price. You may take his bills [of exchange] with safety.
I want to know what is doing in your province about tea matters. It is thought here by most people that you will enter into resolves not to have any more goods and not to ship any more tobacco until the act is repealed. Something I think is necessary to be done and that must be by the ruling opinion with you. I shall be happy to see unanimity once more established between you, but, whilst there is so much jealousy, I fear there never will again. I am much in want of money; take care and secure some and send it me. . . .
The foregoing is a copy of mine per the packet since which Capt Hynson is come up [the river] and delivered me yours of the 18 and 24 February covering 14 first bills amounting to £669:2:0. All those on London is accepted but the following: B. Fenwick, W. Williams and W. Cavenough's on Mildred & Roberts; N. Hobbs on Russell; and Richard Green's on West & Hobson; those on Glasgow and Whitehaven is gone for acceptance. Last night I received a letter from Mr Potts' [Barbados merchant] attorney [in Maryland], advising his having drawn on me two bills for £194:6:10 which two bills appeared and have our acceptance, they being for the amount of rum you bought of him in Maryland and advised me of.
I understand by Capt Hynson that he has 52 hhds. of tobacco on board for us. I have no letter or bill lading from Earle so that I am rather at a loss, though I shall sell the tobacco and give him credit for it. They [Earle & Co.] ought to have remitted me fully for the goods shipped them, but I have, I confess, but very little expectations of their paying us in a hurry and those disappointments will always keep us needy. I have been dunned more since the arrival of this ship than I have for a long time before. I really expected more. C. W[allace] was to have remitted for the copper by the February packet and has not since said a word about it.
132b. I am glad you at last have said something about the country [Maryland] expenses [of chartered ships], as it enables me to tell Buchanan's people that I will not pay them any port charges on the Elizabeth, [Capt] Boog, though the mode of that account is very wrong as you ought always to take the captain's bill or order on me for the amount and express that it is for the port charges on tobacco per such a ship. In that case, the tobacco will be debited to the amount of his bill and that will go to the credit of your account but, as it is, I cannot tell him to charge the people and what I have done is partly guesswork. You will therefore be pleased to transmit me the accounts and express your charge against each ship distinctly that I may pass it to your credit and debit the tobacco. You have enclosed a copy of Capt [James] Buchanan's account which you will be pleased to settle with him so far as transacted in Maryland and take his draught on us here for it, which I will give you credit for and debit the ship. You will be pleased likewise to make up the Kitty & Nelly's account, settle the exchange and send it to me that you may have credit and she be charged. Whatever you advance for Capt Buchanan, be pleased to take his draught on me for it and let him account for the expense of the ship here on settlement. I have taken the liberty of pointing out this mode in order to keep our accounts clear and clever and wish you may attend to them or indeed, if you do not, we shall all be in confusion. I wish you would say something to me about an allowance to the captain in the country and ship's stores. The general rule is £40 for all. I think it too little for a clever fellow. Capt J[ames] Buchanan got a heavier anchor for the Kitty & Nelly so that her old one will do for the new ship and, if I can buy the one that was lost, you will only want a little one; them with the other part of the materials shall come soon.
132c. Capt Geo. Buchanan hinted to me yesterday a desire of having a ship constantly in our employ and that he proposed to decline shipbuilding with Archy [Buchanan]. I do with pleasure tell you that he is a very clever, steady fellow and much attached to our interests. Therefore, if you find our interest sufficient to load a ship, I would wish you to seriously consider of it and put one on the stocks for him to load against next year. However, this I leave for your and his consideration when he gets in. But, in case you close with neither him nor Hanrick, I would wish to decline building any more ships for the price will not indemnify the outfit and expense.
I will pay particular attention to what you say about your bill [of exchange] to John Hammond which, by the bye, I hope you will take up. Mr Dulany's bill on J[ames] Anderson was paid on the 22 March and not before so that, if you borrowed it, you are not to pay interest only from that time. I have been encouraged by [Silvanus] Grove to let Plowman's bill for £80 odd pounds lay and, at last, I fear it will be protested. Your draught in favour of D[enton] Jacques shall be attended to when it appears and settled as you direct.
Damn Mauduits; I have done with them long ago. I will strive to engage with a good house if possible for, I assure you, I do not like the one we do business with at this time, though I know that no manufacturer can serve us generally as well as we are served.
I am glad to hear that your sales has been so great though I confess that I should have been glad of a sketch of the amount etc. and should have been more so to have heard that your collections had been great. That, you are sensible, is the mainspring and ought to be a principal object with you for, unless you can support your credits here, it is all over with us.
132d. I am much pleased with your scheme in forwarding away the Peggy Stewart with a load of new tobacco. It will be the very thing for us, more especially as the price is up and there is a probability of the first new tobaccos selling very high. I have only one wish, that is that she was larger, for I fear of damage on her passage, which defaces and hurts the sale very much. The account of it has made a buzz here and, although our ill-natured foes would insinuate anything to our prejudice, yet this is of service to us and makes them look very down in the mouth. Indeed, I know not if W. M[olleson] will not hang himself; he seems more scared at our progress than anybody else. I hope you will push him in Calvert County. Charley [Wallace] ought to spend a month there with the people at least.
I shall look your order for insurance per the next packet or by the snow, [Capt] Tanner, whom I am in hourly expectations of and, should she arrive within a fortnight from this, I shall be able to sell her tobacco very high.
I am amazed you have mentioned nothing about some [changes in partnership] terms. I wish you would be open and candid and let me know what is your intentions, for, I confess to you, I don't understand being kept thus in the dark. I am now looking out for a proper house where I can have room and light for indeed, for the want of which, we have already suffered much. I bless God I have an exceeding good state of health, wish you and yours the same. . . .
The above is the net proceeds of the 20 hhds. tobacco per the Elizabeth, Capt Boog, as per account sales sent this day. I should not have sent them by this opportunity intending to have sent them per Capt S. Maynard but understand that he will not sail before the middle of next week. John Beale Howard had 6 hhds. tobacco on board the Sally which cleared him £25:15:6, for your government in the purchase of his bill on us. The quantity of trash in each ship hurt the sale very considerably. I hope the Inspection Law will remedy it in future. I do not know what other people's sales will average but this I am sure of: we have sold higher than any of them have by one eighth per lb. I beg you will give me the most early notice of what may be said by the people with you respecting my management.
The foregoing is copies of my last per the Camden, Capt Richardson, which I refer you to. There is one lighter landed out of the Molly & Betsey this day. We have only two hhds. in her which is sample enough to convince me what for kind of stuff it is; to add to it, she cuts [damaged tobacco] like fury. However, I will do the best I can with it and hope to fully equal anything of that sort that has been done yet. I cannot omit informing you that I hear W. M[olleson] has reshipped 36 hhds. tobacco to Maryland; if so, I apprehend that he has a squabble with someone or another there and that he has returned it to them back. You may easily know from your connections with the [customs and naval] offices. Therefore, be sure of it before you give me up as your authority. If he has, I apprehend it will be of no disservice to us. He looks very ill and I am of an opinion that he will die soon. [Molleson lived till 1804.] If he should, remember to be diligent amongst his best correspondents.
I am plagued for money; at this time we have £1,350 odd pounds locked up in the Customs House [in claims for drawbacks and bounties] and cannot touch a farthing of it. You must exert yourselves and throw all you possibly can in my hands and not consider that, because you have remitted fully for the goods, that it will be sufficient. You must give me a command of money or we cannot do as we should. Indeed our ships will sink [i.e. cost] a great deal, which I fear you do not attend to. I will write you in a few days by McKirdy . . . .
The foregoing is a copy of my last per Capt Maynard, since which I have nothing from you. The wind being easterly so long has prevented Archy Buchanan's snow from arriving which is exceedingly unlucky as it keeps Capt George [Buchanan] here. However, I hope that it will shift soon and bring her in. If she brings her cargo safe and free from cutting, I shall be able to sell it for a good price.
I suppose that you are now about pushing off the Peggy Stewart full loaded with good copper [coloured] and fine [bright] coloured tobacco; yes, I take it that you are about putting the last seal to her clearance and that the sky looks black and dismal, threatening a furious northwester, so that, as soon as ever the captain goes on board, he will have nothing to do but up anchor and away and in 24 hours Cape Henry will be astern.
I am very sorry to tell you that the upper part of the Somerset's cargo is so very bad that I am afraid it will prejudice the sale of the whole. Poor Hobson has been obliged to use stratagem to get off the first lighter at 17/8d. and I am apprehensive that that is only a sham sale, from the persons who are the buyers. You ought to be most cautious how you mix such tobacco as old Barnes', Hawkins' and Rider's with good Patuxent; it will in the first place ruin my credit as a seller and do us particular harm in obliging us to give such poor accounts and protesting part of the people's bills. Mildred & Roberts [of London] will suffer severely enough this year from having so much of that kind last year. I communicate freely to you; make a proper use of it.
I do imagine that old Russell's friends [in Maryland] will grow tired of him this year as the trustees for the creditors compels him to protest his best friends' bills [of exchange] where there is not effects [in hand to pay such bills] and which bills he promised the people to pay when he was in the country. Indeed, from what I can collect, they only want to get as much home as will pay themselves, when they will give him up, for they are determined not to trust him much farther at any rate. I wrote you before that he had postponed making a dividend [to his creditors] until June; I don't believe he will make one then.
135b. There is a new house lately struck into the tobacco business and has shipped a great many goods to your province; their firm is Kelly, Lot & Co.; they are mere adventurers and I am most cordially of an opinion will not stand long.
If the Kitty & Nelly meets with dispatch [to London] I suppose you would wish to have her sent away very early without our friends' goods. I am of an opinion that the smaller ship would do better if she can be here time enough and the earlier she goes, the better, unless you think she is too large and choose to get a smaller one. However, be your determinations whatever they may, don't forget to make applications to the gentlemen [merchants] in Baltimore Town for letters to their merchants here for to ship their goods on board of our ships. If you will take that pains, we shall save considerably by it. Indeed, I would apply for those [merchants etc., importing] in Annapolis; it will not hurt you. Pray don't neglect Ussher and [Thomas?] Neal; they can half load our ships, if you get their orders. I am the more anxious about getting that [freight] business as the cash [for freight outward bound] is always paid down and which would indemnify the outfit of our ships. Mr Bowly on his return [to Maryland from London] will render us services in that way. I am to ship their goods and I believe they [William Lux & Bowly] will set in with us; if they do, they will add weight to our tobacco schemes, as I am convinced they would go any lengths to push us forward and obtain tobacco for us. Mr Bowly has been on treaty with Hanbury's but they will not close, I am sure, owing principally to his [Hanbury's] desire of not commencing an opponent in that business.
If you have not forgot it, I wrote you that a cargo of flour would sell well here in June, July or August; it is now very high at Liverpool and Bristol and if you are but so lucky as to have sent a load, we shall make a genteel profit from it, or, if any of our friends are doing anything in that way, advise them to send their ships to Falmouth for orders where to proceed. I apprehend that you expected a considerable remittance would have been made in the tobacco per the Morning Star, Capt Demster. It's true, it would, but, as it is lost, there is none and you ought to throw in every shilling in your power to strengthen our credits. That cursed Earle has sent me nothing more than 50 hhds. tobacco and not even a letter with that. I have wrote and wrote till I am tired. This is to introduce [Capt] Peter McKirdy and to tender my kind love to all. . . .
The foregoing is a copy of my last per Capt McKirdy since which I have nothing from you, although others have letters from their correspondents as late as the 18 March. I know not what can have come with A[rchibald] Buchanan's snow. I wish to God she would arrive. I should be able to make a great sale of her load, there being a considerable rise in the price and no one to oppose me. I sold the Eastern Shore tobacco per the Molly & Betsey the other day at 23/8d. which is by much the greatest price obtained these 15 months past. When the people become acquainted with this circumstance and know that it is higher by an eighth per lb. than Molleson, Hanbury's and Kelly, Lot & Co. has sold theirs per the same ship, I doubt not but they will think us worthy of their favours and I trust you will take some pains in making it known. I shall forward the account sales in a very little time. The sales of the tobacco per the Kitty & Nelly is in great forwardness and [the accounts] will come with Capt Geo. Buchanan with our friends' goods and in Capt Craymer and I have not a doubt but that they will please, as some are as high as four pence per lb.
I am very fearful that there will [have to] be a purchase [of tobacco] in the country [Maryland] this year [to fill the ships]; if there should, be aware of Molleson's agents' bills [of exchange] for I am apprehensive that he cannot stand a purchase, especially as he has ships out and agoing for the small quantity of five thousand hhds. [about 10 shiploads]. I think it requisite to extend your fears farther; there is several others that are very weak. I am offered by Fonseca part of Capt Parker's ship; you will be the best able to judge whether you can load the new ship of A. Buchanan and put any aboard of Parker. If you can, you are to have a preference and I am not bound farther; so that you have the bargain to make there. But, one thing I desire, that you will take care and not put too much confidence in your Scotch acquaintance, as I suppose, from that [ethnic] circumstance, Christie cheated you most egregiously in allowing Molleson to ship tobacco on board the Morning Star at £5 and made you pay £7. Enclosed you have Plowman's bill on Grove for £81:10:5 with charges of protest which be pleased to pass to my credit. I shall write you again in a few days per the packet when I hope to inform you of the arrival of [A. Buchanan's snow] the Farmer. . . .
The foregoing is a copy of my last per Capt Parker since which I have nothing from you. I know not what to do or how to manage for want of hearing of what you are adoing. I am at a stand to devise how to manage my money matters, for fear of entering into engagements and not be able to comply with them. I have looked every day for this month past for Archy Buchanan's snow. We hear she sailed the 10 or 12 March; if so, it is high time she was here. Indeed, if she was to arrive, it would be exceeding lucky as there is no Maryland tobacco now in the market and the price has taken a considerable start. I could wish she would for many reasons, but particularly that of George's being here and having the direction of the sale of her. I am now preparing to ship what goods there is ordered on board of Capt Craymer and, if the copper can possibly be got ready, shall make a finish in all next week. Capt [George] Buchanan is to go out in him and by him I will send out the sales for the Kitty & Nelly's tobacco which are very good and I hope will please. I am to deliver the tobacco that came in the Molly & Betsey tomorrow; if it is possible, her sales [accounts] shall go by the same opportunity which will be the greatest by much sent to the Eastern Shore this year, as I assure you that I have sold that tobacco for an eighth per lb. more than Hanbury and Molleson has sold theirs for in the same ship. I think you ought not to omit making this known; it will convince the people that we can do as much as they can and perhaps throw some hhds. in our way, the consignment of which is worth accepting of.
I am afraid George Buchanan will be too late for Patapsco; if he is, I shall be very sorry for it, for we must have some tobacco from there somehow or somehow. Therefore, I hope you will use industry and not let it escape you. I hope Capt James Buchanan will be home [to London] early. It will be a great affair for us and go far in establishing our credit, there being many already beginning to have a high opinion of it and many as afraid of it. . . .
The above is a copy of my last per the packet, since which I have nothing from you. This will be handed you per Capt Geo. Buchanan who goes out in Capt Craymer and in whom I have shipped you some shoes for the Nottingham and Annapolis stores, the goods ordered for Whitchcroft, Chalmers, and Jacob & Claud and debited you therewith as per a particular list at the foot of this letter. I have likewise sent you the rigging of the new ship and charged it to her account, which you will be pleased to attend to and not pass it through your books. I have shipped the following gentlemen goods by this ship: Wm. Lux & Bowly [Baltimore], John Paca, Chas. Carroll, barrister, James Johnson & Co. [brother's ironworks] and C. Wallace, so that every order that has come to hand is now executed. And I hope I shall not have another shipping before the fall, for it is not only troublesome but you never know when you are done providing for payments. I have delivered in Capt Buchanan's care one or two small parcels for our friends, which you will be pleased to remember that he delivers. You have likewise under cover three protested bills which I have placed [to] your debit and which be pleased to pass to my credit. It frequently makes me sigh when I think on the quantity of goods we are shipping. I hope in God our friends will make punctual payments; if they do not, the Lord have mercy on poor J.J. . . .
|Amount of goods for the Annapolis store||£159:18:5|
|ditto||Jacob & Claud||67:9:3|
I now send you, per Capt George Buchanan, Mrs Davidson's and Mrs Harwood's gowns dyed agreeable to directions and which I hope will please, the expense of which and the cost of the silk that was added is below. I have had your watch in Allam's hands and Howes' [Charles Howse, watchmaker] and still find she runs false, which has determined me to exchange her and by Mr Bowly I propose to send you a good one with a gold seal etc.
The wind has been ablowing for this month past easterly. We have not had a line from that quarter [America] since the arrival of Nicholson's ship, which put me to a loss to know what to do. God send Archy's snow would arrive. It is more than hard her staying out so long. If she would but pop in, I have a fair opportunity of doing something clever.
We have had the French king [Louis XV] dead and buried half a dozen times within this week and nothing but war agoing on. I wish they would war with anybody so that the Americans might rest in peace. . . .
|4 yards silk a 6/||£1:4:0|
|Dying 4 gowns||1:2:0|
We now forward enclosed bill loading, bills parcels and invoice of copper and plaster of Paris amounting to £1,069:6:0 to your debit on account of the public building [Capitol] which we hope will arrive safe and please. We heretofore mentioned the conditions on which we purchased this copper and we therefore hope you will use your best endeavours to remit in time. We have had a conversation with Colonel [Horatio] Sharp who much doubts the ability of any person with you to lay on this covering of copper and has recommended our sending out a proper person for that purpose. We have considered the power your letters have invested in us and are of opinion that we are not authorised in entering into any engagement with one; therefore, choose to decline it until we have your farther instructions. In the meantime we will be on the lookout for one that we may forward him immediately on your order. . . .
I wrote you the 14th per this opportunity and was in hopes by this to have been able to inform you of the Farmer's arrival, but misfortune runs against us, the wind continues blowing strong easterly, where it has been for these three weeks past. I much fear [Capt] Greig's popping in. If he does, he will hurt my sale, but, if he does not, I have hopes of getting a very great price for the cargo. The last advices from your place was 13 March from S. West, who writes that he had wrote by the snow [Farmer] the 10th or 11th; if so, it is high time she was here and, if she does not arrive soon, I shall begin to fear she is lost. I have insured £1,200 on her [tobacco] cargo and Capt George [Buchanan] has made £200 [insurance] on iron and 200 on freight which will bar a total loss.
Capt [George] Buchanan took his leave of me yesterday and this morning goes to Gravesend to embark on board Craymer for your place. I have had several long conversations with him and are so much pleased at his honesty and integrity that I am very much for fixing him constantly in our employ. He promises me to exert himself in our interest and, if he finds it sufficient to load a ship annually, will propose to you to build such a one as you may agree on for him. I think it an object worthy of your attention and do wish you to encourage it, provided you are sure it will answer and I am almost morally sure that he will not request it unless he finds it can be done. Indeed, I am of an opinion that, if it can be done this year, we need not fear hereafter, for I assure you that I am of an opinion that it will be a most trying one and that many who has sent out ships will be ruined this year. Therefore, I repeat my caution and must insist that you do not purchase a hhd. for no price here will indemnify more than ten shillings sterling [per cwt.] with you.
I have sent out the account sales of the Kitty & Nelly's load and sales of that tobacco per the Molly & Betsey, both of which I am of an opinion will give satisfaction. You have under a cover a list of the net proceeds [earned by consigning planters, etc.] for your government in settling with those to whom you have advanced. The list has a debit column in which the amount of goods and bills paid is against each man's name. I think it would be advisable to get their draughts and orders for the net proceeds as fast as possible to prevent their selling [bills of exchange] to others.
I have great hopes of Capt James Buchanan meeting with dispatch and think there is not a doubt of your being able to load him without any purchase. Exert yourselves in pushing him away; if he should arrive here the next ship to Suill [Sewell], it will cut Molleson's comb most confoundedly. If the Peggy Stewart arrives here in all next month, you may expect her account sales before the Nancy can get away from you and which will be good if the tobacco is fine. . . .
The foregoing are copies of my last per the Brothers, Capt Craymer, since which I have nothing from you although the New York packet is arrived and brings letters from other people as late as the first of April. . . .
I have several times hinted to you a desire of sending fewer goods to Annapolis. You once wrote me that you agreed in opinion; I hope you will adopt the scheme and only order an assortment and sell those you have on hand, as I think it most advisable to be awinding up that concern and that it ought to be done by degrees. I don't mean to break up the store, but I mean to draw in a part of our money, for I think we have too much employed in that scheme. Besides, we must either do that or borrow if we keep two ships of our own in the tobacco trade, for they will cost us a great deal of money, and yet I think it more prudent than chartering, as we shall not only have it in our powers to give bread to two clever fellows [the captains] but shall make something by the ships and save squabbles in demurrage which to each of us is disagreeable.
142b. I wrote you that I thought it necessary to make regular settlements with the captains for all the disbursements; let him account with me and do you take his draught for the amount of your accounts. And, in the case of a new ship, you ought to make up her accounts at the time of sailing and close it by debiting me with the amount and forward the account that it may be filed. You will be pleased to render a proper account sales for those servants per the Kitty & Nelly and either remit me the exact sum or suffer me to debit you with them and credit the ship. In all cases whatever, particular care ought to be taken that one's accounts should not be blended. But, I doubt that [in] the mode you have fallen on, both in respect to the ship's accounts and port charges, that you are in confusion; it appears evidently so from Capt [James] Buchanan's account against the ship; he gives you credit and charges the ship with whatever money he had and orders drew on her account. You have charged the ship and I should be glad to know whom I am to charge in order to credit Capt Buchanan. The regular method is for you to charge the captain with whatever you let him have and take his draught on the house here, remit and charge me with it. I hope what I have said to you will prove the necessity of adopting this method and that you will settle the account properly and let me have them.
I have said nothing to you about tobacco matters. The present appearance is against us; there is no sale in Holland or Amsterdam; the [Dutch] manufacturers will not buy at the prices before given and the sellers [there] hold it up; the former [the Dutch manufacturers] have sent their orders to London, having information that the Farmer, Nelly Frigate, Betsey and Annapolis is expected every day. The quantity coming at once will prevent throwing up the price as we hoped, though I think it will not be lower than it has been. Indeed, I should imagine if what I hear hinted is true, that M[olleson] and C. C[ourt] both have a good deal in Holland etc. on their own account; that they will hold up their two ships and, if so, we may do something. . . .
The foregoing is a copy of my last per the Industry, Capt Magruder, since which we have nothing in from your part of the world. I begin to grow uneasy about Archy's ship for fear she may be lost as we have accounts of her sailing the 19 or 20 March. Should she arrive now, I doubt whether or not I can obtain so much as I could twenty days ago by a farthing per lb.
The damned rascals Herries & Co. [of London] who has the French commission has purchased all the tobacco at Port Glasgow for 17/8d., picked out three ships' loads, sent them to Dunkirk and offered the tobacco for 2¼d. which very tobaccos would have sold here a few days past for that market at 27/8d. This stroke of theirs in order to keep down the price is of the most villainous of acts; the people at Dunkirk has countermanded their orders [to London] in consequence of it and I confess I have my fears that his purpose will be answered in a great measure. I cannot help relating a fact between him and old Russell. He applied to Russell for tobacco, who sold him a parcel at 1¾d. to throw out a quantity, agreeing to allow him two per cent discounts and take their notes at two months. Had the other merchants agreed to it, they [Herries] would have paid their paper to the amount of £80,000 and the merchants have had no security whatever. The merchants refused to sell them any and protested against that method. My reason for remarking this is to show the regard Russell has to the interest of the [consigning] people. I wish the devil had the whole clan. It is insinuated here that W. M[olleson, Russell's son-in-law] is to have three parts [quarters] of the tobacco that is made in the country. Surely it cannot be so; do tell me for I long to know. Indeed, if he has as much as he had last year, I should be amazed at it and I think, if you are industrious, that you may curtail a few from his quantity. You must consider this, that he would strip us of every hhd. if he had it in his power and that you ought to push our plan.
If you find our ships not sufficient to bring all you can get, I would recommend your chartering one in preference of putting upon liberty [in others' ships]. . .; and, if a new ship, address her to our house for the sale. Those matters [owning one's own ships] gives a feeling [of importance] and assists us; on the contrary, where you ship on board of a ship on liberty, it is a dead and heavy payment in money. I would not have you to be in any doubt about my being able to manage it. I assure you that I can manage at least 2,000 hhds.; nay, don't hesitate to send me double the quantity, if you can get it. I shall want nothing but money to pay up the duties and a little to pay off all our old debts, which you ought to make a point of sending me to enable me to establish our credits. . . .
The foregoing is a copy of my last per the packet, since which I am favoured with yours of the 19 and 26 March and 19 and 29 April, covering 18 first and second bills amounting to £628:8:4, all of which are good but those listed below. I have likewise received of W. Molleson £53:16:6 for Earle's order and of T. Eden & Co. £32:18:10, which two sums making £86:15:4 you will be pleased to debit me to [the credit of] Earle & Co.
I cannot at this time answer your letters fully and therefore you must wait my next. The orders are making out for the goods that is as yet ordered and will be shipped in all this and the next month, except a few that I am afraid to meddle with until you instruct me what must be done. . . . I have insured £300 specie, 160 hhds. tobacco and covered our commission on it per the Peggy Stewart, Capt Jackson, whose arrival I shall begin to look in the course of next week. The loss of the Farmer has been a heavy stroke to us; if she had done well and arrived at her time, I should have made a great sale of her cargo and have been able to have sent out the accounts in this month, but, as it is, it cannot be hoped. The loss of our commission, which would have been between £2 and £300, don't vex me half so much as to see that cursed fellow W. M[olleson] exult at our misfortune. It has been insinuated here, and I believe through S. W[est], that he West [a merchant in Maryland] wanted a charter of 40 hhds. in the Peggy Stewart, but that you had purchased [tobacco to make up shortage of consignments] and at length could fill her up. If the rascal should ever say or write you again on that subject, treat him with contempt, for both he and W. M[olleson] will take every step to advance their interests at the expense of our characters and well doing. Molleson tells the people that he is to have three fourths of the tobacco that is made this year and that in a year or two he is to have everything. Damn them, I hate them and will be done.
144b. I shall be able to give the shippers in the Farmer £6 clear per hhd. [from the insurance] so that Archy will be no loser on the tobacco and which was the only insurance entrusted to me; his brother [George] made that on the iron and freight. I wish that he may be able to render me the proofs and bills loading by the Peggy Stewart to enable me to recover the insurance; if he does, I will write to each shipper a letter advising the sum that they may settle with Archy.
Mr [James] Anderson has sold Capt Aitcheson's cargo at the mast [before landing] for 2d. per lb. which I think is a great deal too low and which I am of an opinion his friends will not thank him for; but that thing called want I believe compelled him to it. Those orders of Earle's on Molleson and Eden has give me an opportunity of judging in some degree of our own sales and I do with truth tell you that ours for Eastern Shore tobacco is 10/ per hhd. higher than theirs.
Mr Davidson seems fearful that the profits on the consignment business will not indemnify the expenses; it is the strongest proof of his want of knowledge in the business. I will tell him now at a venture that we shall make twelve hundred pounds by our commission in this very year 1774, after deducting the loss per the Morning Star and the Farmer. However, I will make up the commission account the last day of this month and explain matters not in general terms but to his satisfaction. As soon as you have formed some judgment of the Kitty & Nelly's loading, you had better order insurance on her cargo. I have not a fear but our sales will be found to equal anybody's and which I hope will enable you to dispatch the Kitty & Nelly very early and the Nancy soon after. . . .
|A. H. Smith's on Mildred & Roberts||20:–:–|
|J. Bent on Russell||8:9:3|
|E. B. Orme on ditto||70:–:–|
The foregoing is a copy of my last per Capt Walker via Virginia, since which I have had nothing from you. I have anxiously looked the arrival of the Peggy Stewart for this week past; indeed my expectations have been increased from the very quick passages other ships have had from Virginia and the long continuance of southerly winds which ought to have brought her in. If she does not arrive in a week from this, she will be deemed a missing ship. You must use circumspection and not be concerned with those old botched up ships; if they are not lost, they always damage their cargoes. Molleson has sold the Nelly Frigate's cargo and I hear pretty well. Cruel fortune for keeping out the Peggy Stewart; would she but arrive I could sell her cargo immediately and I think for a good price.
I am afraid everything will run in confusion from the sundry late acts which have been passed lately against the American colonies. The cry of the people here has been too generally against you, and nothing less (you would hear uttered), than that you were rebels and deserved punishment. Under these sentiments the people have remained, until the passage of the Quebec Government Bill, which seems to alarm them and the cry begins to be pretty general against government for a stretch of power. They too now begin to think seriously that there will be a general [non-intercourse] association, and that all business will cease between this and the colonies; and should it be the case, you will have the best advocate in the [London] people's apprehensions and fears, which you may rest assured I will aggravate all that is in my power, though I am assured from your silence that no such scheme is in agitation with you. And I hope that you will immediately inform me whenever such a matter is proposed and tell me how to act with respect to our business, as I am most willing at any rate to suffer for a general good.
145b. This comes by one Capt Air, who is chartered by C. Court, but where to load I know not and I question if he does. The Nelly Frigate sails for Maryland about the 6 of next month, by whom I will ship what few goods our friends have ordered, unless Mr Bowly gets a ship he is now about purchasing and which will be determined either way in a few days. I have not time to get any goods from the country and must pick them up here on the best terms in my power. From the great number of ships that is gone out, I am fearful that the Kitty & Nelly will be late home this year; if she is lucky enough to get away any time before the last of August and arrives here in October, I am not fearful of rendering good sales for her cargo, though I hope to be informed by you from time to time of her movements.
I did expect Earle & Co. would have remitted me per Aitcheson but I neither had anything or heard from him; it is time to look after them. I long for your letters by Capt Jackson; I do not know what to write until I get them. Pray forward me the papers from [Isaac] Harris to recover the insurance on his schooner. I am afraid I shall lose it unless you do. . . .
|B. Fenwick on Mildred & Roberts||£6:10:4|
|W. Williams on||ditto||4:9:3|
I wrote you the 23rd inst. per Capt Air, a copy of which I now forward you on the other side. The Peggy Stewart is not yet arrived. I fear she has gone the same way as the Farmer. Hard fortune indeed! If the Morning Star and Farmer had but arrived safe, all our debts would have been paid up and we should have been in top credit, but, as it is, we are not behindhand too much. That, added to a general fear of the Americans opposing the late measures, has wounded credit afresh and I fear will prevent me from putting up those goods now ordered on such good terms as I could wish. Indeed, it will compel me to stick by some of the tradesmen that you desired might be exchanged, but, believe me, it is not the time to look out for new credits. If it was, my own inclinations leads me to chastise the insolence of a number and which I most assuredly will do if good fortune ever puts it in my power, but, until then, we had better rest content with consoling ourselves that we are served on full as good terms, if not better, than other people.
Tuesday the 28th. Mr [James] Anderson's ship [Fortune] having not sailed as expected, by whom I intend this, affords me an opportunity of informing you that Mr Bowly has purchased a ship named the Hope by whom I shall ship you your goods with the rest of our friends'. The orders are all in the tradesmen's hands and the goods agetting ready as fast as possible so that I hope she will sail by the 10th of next month.
146b. We have ships in from Virginia who brings accounts as late as the 21 May, and by them we are informed that there had been a severe frost which had destroyed the tobacco plants, wheat and fruit; we fear it was general from the same accounts from Philadelphia and which, should it be, I am sure will compel a purchase and which will ruin whoever makes it. I think W. M[olleson] has over witted himself this year in sending out so many ships and that it will prove his destruction. He begins to look down for fear that he has stretched the string too tight and, if it should break, what sad havoc there will be made. O planters, have wisdom and take care in time. I have all along cautioned you against purchasing; don't by any means whatever. And, if you cannot fill up your ships with tobacco, you had better with lumber or, in short, anything better [than] to buy, as we must sink everything by doing it.
Since my writing you per Air, I have obtained the real prices that Molleson sold the Nelly Frigate's cargo for and which I find not so good as I there informed you and which are as follows: 3 hhds. for 4d., 9 or 10 for 2¾d., the remainder of the cargo for 2d., except about 20 hhds. that is on hand and which he has offered at 17/8d. but cannot obtain it. The wind continues to blow at S.W. No Peggy Stewart; if she sailed at the time I have a right to expect she would, I am afraid she is gone. We look the arrival of the packet every day, when I hope to be informed the day she did sail. There is several vessels going shortly, by all of whom I shall write you. . . .