The Letters of William Freeman, London Merchant, 1678-1685. Originally published by London, 2002.
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Freeman's Letters, 1685: nos 370-376
370. Thomas Westcott [St. Christopher]
London, January 27, 1684/5
... & Indeed, I had taken resolutions never to have put pen to paper more to you, since I have found my last in that kinde soe fruitles & soe lettle taken notice of by you, but have been setling my affaires in order to see you in some very short time myselfe, unles prevented by a speedy complyance. For I am noe longer able to subsist without my dew. & Therefore, I once more doe give myselfe the trouble repeating what I have soe often repeated to make you sensible (if possible) of your injustice & to prevent such damadges as may hapen to accrue to you & inconveniences as will attend me by takeing such a voyage to noe other end & purpose as you may assure yourselfe I will doe, unles (as I have s.d before) you make a speedy good compliance. & Of this be confid.t (if you put me upon it): you shall find me to proove an unwelcome guest & as greate an enemy ever you yet have found me a freinde. W.ch I leave you to judge. That I have don more ten times for you then ever your father, brother or all the relations & freinds you ever had in the world besides is evident, and how you have rewarded me is as evident & how your unjustly deteining my estate in your hands to my ruin in a greate measure, w.ch I am sure none but a man of ill principalls & a seared consience could dispense with. Be confident if I live to see you there that I shall finde as many freinds as you can hope for & those that now pretend the greatest freindship to you will proove your greatest enimies. However, I shall neither insist upon freinds nor freindship but upon that merits & justice of my cause & will have justice don me, let whose will oppose me in it. & I am sure that being prosecuted with rigor, you will finde it the worst worke you ever tooke in hand & will p.rhaps repent it when to late. You shall finde I will not be bafled as others have been. For I thanke God I am neither ashamed nor affraide to appeare anywheare to doe myselfe right as in some measure I have already evidenced. But yet I hope by your justice for the time to come this may be prevented.
& To show you that I am willing to end all things fairely & to continue my freindship w.th you unles you resolve to continue to give cause to the contrary, I have testified my inclinations thereunto by the assistance I gave W.m Hearn when here (who sayled in the Dan about 3 weekes since) in suplying him with six hundred six pounds w.ch he caryed with him in merchandise upon your accompts, when I am sure he could not otherwise have raised 100£ neither p.r estate you nor all the freinds he had. But by meanes of my instigations & p.rswation which he cannot but be sensible of, had he waited the raising mony upon his estate, he might have spent that sume before it would have been obteined. For its now as far from a settlem.t as ever. I rely upon his promise of doeing me speedy justice upon his arivall in the concern in your hands w.ch prevented my owne goeing in Bridgeman in the room of my bro. as I had once resolved, though I declared it to noebody. But yet I am in hopes I shall not be put upon such extreames. & As I often writ you soe, you may still rest assured that if you will yet doe me right in putting a period to this long & old concern, I will still proove as good a freind & be as assistant to you both in anything you shall desire ... . ...
In the first place, you say I cannot expect you should comply w.th the fifty tuns I have taken on the Abraham, but I still hope you will. ... First, you say you have not a hhd. by you & yet at that it was but last week that Matthews sayled w.th 46 hhds. & that you could procure noe more if your life had layne one it. & Yet at the same time you send me a protest against him for not takeing 14 hhds. more & abuse the man at a strange rate for leaveing them out. Then you proceed to say it cold not be expected you should load more on Mathew when you had soe lately dispatched Jenyns, who left you without a hhd. of sugar. But you forget that you promised to load Jenyns on our acco.tts & write you had sugar by you to doe it and caused mee to throw away a 100£ in premio mony & afterward landed twenty tuns upon him for others mens acco.tts & at the same time or imeadietly after laid out in beefe & a New England cargo that wee know of one hundred thousand pounds of sugar that vary night that quan – tity & in a month after shipt to your brother for your owne accompt neare as much more, besides what you might otherwise dispose of. & Pray how comes it to pass that on John & Thomas Westcotts part of the cargo of goods p.r the Abra. 28 puntions (as they were in reality), though tearmed but hhds., of sugar was shipt & on W.F. halfe parte not a cask. You will say p.rhaps it was to pay for the goods bought of Mr. Helmes. But why ought not John & Tho. Westcott advance theire part in mony as well as W.F. & not to pay for those parts out of the proceeds of the cargo. ...
[p. 533] ... I have againe p.d 15 guinyes premio for 500£ on this ketch & have barely 100£ concerne upon her. I have alsoe insured 1,200£ upon that Abra., cost me 48£, & p.rhaps I may have laiden upon her 300£ & may have as much to pay for dead freight & demoridge. By the contents of your letter I now expect it. But for all these things a day of reckoneing will come. Looke to it. I need not Mr. Helmes to judge how & where the neglect lyes & who is in the fault. I am as well able to judge of it as hee or another man is. I am sure you canot now pretend the laws are not open for you to prosecute or that theire is any other just obstruction against the recovery of those debts that you have so many yeares contracted expresly contrary to your order. What sugar Mr. Baxter hath deteaned for paym.t of your sloope was don by my dirictions & therefore you may lay that charge at my doore, if you please, & I will answer it to you when you & I meet & give a better acco.tt why I have don it then you can for any of your unjust transactions. Your pretence that our ships must have come dead freighted if you had not bought that sloop is as false as the rest of your actions. For everybody knowes theire was twise as much sugar upon the island as there was burthen of ships to cary it w.ch putts mee in minde of your injustice of fr.ting or letting to fr.t your owne your brothers & others mens sugar on the Abra. at 6£ p.r tun, when other must give 8£ pr. tun & on Jenyns 2£ p.r tun less then it might have been let for. Soe that you make, viz. of all meanes to defraud us. As for your pretence that you canot get you sugar from windeward, it doth not concerne me. You should have now had noe sugars to have brought from windward by sloops. I have now spoke w.th Mr. Mathews, who gave a full acco.tt of the villenous transactions. It seemes you curse & dam the ships that come to you, & the Masters & with them may all perish in the sea. But they may swim when such villens as you that wish it may perish for want. Nay you make your costs. The next that comes you will fill them w.th, send them home to us & further that you made us pay twelve hundred pounds in one yeare for dead freight, & that you will againe searve us soe & soon make us weary of sending empty ships to you. I am glad you have given us soe good an oppertunity to proove our damadges. You may to you sory finde where those damadges will fall before you are willing doe on proceed according to the old proverb Every Divell Raynes His Month. You have reigned many more the most of it you can. I will say noe more but be silent.
As for what mony you have laid out in sugar at 10s p.r c.t & what interist may you have rec.d, w.ch you say is but 50£ or 60£ advantage to you, it may as well be 5 or 600£ or double that summe for ought I knowe. I am sure I have hard soe yet & that many other things. But have a care you soe not provoke me too far. Those & many others things you now little thinke of may rise in judgm.t against you.
As to the proposall I made to you if shiping my part distinctly, it is what I still desire. But my bro. Baxter beleeves that may be injurious to his interist. & Therefore, I resolve that whatsoever you ship, unles you ship him equivalently as he is concerned distinctly (alsoe that he shall have an equall benifit of all what is soe shipt mee). For I will not be unjust to any man that is concerned with me. I will sooner loose my whole interest then be guilty of such an accion. The proposall I made you to ad 5 p.r c.t more to your commission to ball.s all my acco.tts, I will yet stand to. Nay, if you will insist upon your demand of 7 p.r c.t, I will allow it. & Whereas I then proffered to give you 2 yeares to doe it, w.ch would have expired next Xmas, I will now give you till the last day of March Next come twelve mo., w.ch is halfe another crop. My bro. Baxter is content the means to reconcile all differences & to continue my freindeship, if you have any regard for it; but if you obstinately refuse this, take what followes.
& Now I solemnly sweare & protest neavor to remit one peny that the utmost severity of the law will give me if you doe not except of this proposall. For what concerns Mr. Helmes, he is there – make the best tearmes you can w.th him or agree as you will. I shall not concern myselfe w.th it. For what Mr. Milward is indebted, over & above the 60,000 lbs. sugar I ordained, so he must pay as well as other people. I shall not concern myself w.th it. What you ship on any ship or ships wherein I am concerned, be sure to give mee advise of it & be punctuall to your advises. For I shall accordingly make insurances. & If at any time we have not ships there to take in one goods, we doe give you order to take freight & load for our acco.tts upon any ship or ships that is bound for the porte of London. I have now given you my full result as to all particulars. & Its in your owne power to continue me your freind, if you please. W.ch if you doe, you may expect from me all the furture kindneses you can desire. But on the contrary expect nothing but the utmost severity & rigor the law affords. ...
371. [p. 534] Robert Helme [Nevis]
London, January 28, 1684/5
[p. 535] ... I thanke you for your kinde offer to mee to make use of your mony. & I owne it as a kindnes exterordinary. But to make use of that w.ch is not my owne gives mee soe impatience & desirous to knowe what I have to trust to. For every man ought to cut his garment according to his cloth. Had I imagined to have met with such dealeing as I have, I had lived more within bounds than I have. But its very hard that a man canot know what he hath to trust to. I am sure you never yet could charge mee with that least miscaridge of anythinge that hath layn under my care. Had I kept my small fortune under my owne care, I am sure it had been greate sattisfaccion as well as advantage to mee. But you canot but thinke its a perplexity to be abused by a company of younge rescalls that have impudently told me in sev.ll of there letters what they have don hath been by your privity & concent or to that very effect. W.ch mythinkes the rogues might at least thanke you for & not abrade you with it. However, I am well sattisfied you intended nothing but justice. But you have let loose the raynes to them & they use you accordingly.
I perceive by your letters to my bro. Baxter thinke the Abra. too cheape sold & hee thought her too deere. Soe he is content shee should run in 1/3ds as before. He paying 80£ for the fr.t of his wines out, w.ch is deare anough. If you please to take my 1/3 p.t at 100£ besides the outset, she shall be yo.rs; I meane as to my parte. Or if you thinke that to deare, I will take 90£ for it. For I am resolved to quit my hands of all those sort of concens as fast as possible I can & free myselfe from those sort of troubles if possible, my patience being quitely red out.
I beg you once more to take a little paines exterordinary this summer to put a period to our concerns. The lawes are open. & Pray put them in execution w.th the utmost rigor. Such as cannot pay sugar, take slaves, horses or anythinge you get, & put them upon our plantations; & if noe want of them there, sell them of as you can for ready paym.t. ...
372. Henry Freeman [St. Christopher or Nevis]
London, January 29, 1684/5
I have little to write to you till I here from you how affaires goes. Joseph Little hath received 20 pipes of wine from on bord the Abra. wherein I am halfe concern.d, being the ball.s of an old acco.tt dew to mee in Madera. I desired my brother Baxter to consigne them to him as his owne wines because I knew not who to send them to. Herewith I send you my bro. Baxters order to him to pay you halfe the n.t proceeds as your owne wine. Hee is only to discompt some p.r c.t comission & noe other charges but what he realy payes. & His orders are possitive to sell for nothinge but ready paym.t. What he may hapen to have sold for ready mony & pay you in that spetia, keep & apply to the use of the plant.; but what he payes in sugar, ship home p.r the first ship, unles you have occation to pay away for the plant. use, then you had better pay that & ship the plant. sugar. Be sure to ship home to me as fast as you can & advise p.r all oppertunities what ships you load upon & take care your cask are large, well hooped & well fil.d & as good sugar as possible you can.
Joseph Loveday & Mr. Edwards hath alsoe orders from my bro. Baxter to pay you some mony. Whatever orders you receive from my bro. Baxter relateing to any concern of his there, be sure to follow & doe him justice in all his concerns. There is 16,000 lbs. sugar dew from my coz. Bedingfeilds estate to be laden on bord in cask, free from custome & all other charges, to myselfe, bro. Baxter & Helmes. Get it & load it as soon as you can. Be sure to endeavor to be assisting to there interest. Its hard a father in law should be made guardian when soe many neere relations there. Be sure to take what care you can of them & there interest, & I will endeaver all that lyes in my power to doe them right. ...
Brother, if possible you can, get me 10 or 12 tras of yallow sanders. Get the best trees you can. Then order the trees the better. But if they be but 10 or 12 inches square, noe matter. But be sure they be not hollow & get them as good lengths as you can. Let some be 15 or 16 foote long, if possible, alsoe a good ceeder tree cut out in planks of 4 or 6 inches thick and 12 inches broad or what more it will conveniently cary. But be sure its clean timber, not shattered. Those bords G. Liddell sent are soe shattered that few of them are servisable & when you can light of oppertunitie to send them freight free, doe. Though you send but some at a time by Clayton, you may send what you will; hee will be sure to take care of them.
373. [p. 536] Thomas Westcott [St. Christopher]
London, January 24, 1684/5
As for the remainder of this p.cell of goods, I have aded 10 p.r c.t for the charges & proffitt as on the other goods & have made W.m Hearne Dr. for the same, in regard he hath bought the remainder of the other cargo. Soe what you meane by saying there is about 90 od thous.d of sugar dew to ball.s of our joynt acco.tts I doe not understand. For I am sure by the acco.tts I have already rec.d from you five times as much as you mention will not ball. our joynt acco.tt. Dew not run yourselfe into such groce mistakes but looke over your Accompts of Sales & then see what you have laden & you will finde you make great erors. Be sure you omitt not to send the perticuler Sales of the above p.cell of goods, for I am confid.t these Sales cannot make out les then 40,000 lbs. or fifty thous.d pounds of sugar more then I have calculated them at, if you have sold as other men doth usually doe.
374. Thomas Westcott [St. Christopher]
February 20, 1684/5
... I have rec.d yo.rs of the 16 Dec.br p.r w.ch I understand you had not put one hhd. of sugar on bord the Abra. I doe not doubt but I shall have 100 lbs. or two to pay for demoridge. But doe you looke to that & judge where its likely to fall? I take notice you say Mr. Helmes is extreamely offended att your shiping us soe largely on our joynt acco.tt & soe little on the other. Which impudent expression I am surprized at – I mean your shiping us soe largely when on the acco.tt of the cargo of dry goods p.r the Abra. now 5 yeares past that amounted to (togeather with the remaines of the other goods in your hands) above £2,200 sterl. principall cost; & now in 5 yeares you have loaden us on acco.tt of the proceeds of all those goods 60 hhds. of sugar that produced £400. The 5 yeares interest of our mony amounts to at 6 p.r c.t p.r anno £660. Soe that we have not rec.d interest for our mony by £260, alloweing the principall lost, as I am sure it will (discompting interest) in a manner before it comes to our hands. & Yet you have our shipt on that acco.tt. Your impudence in such expressions is impardonable. I doe not write these lines to you but for Mr. Helmes his sattisfacion, to whome I send them open to send forward to you. For as I have s.d before, neaver expect another line from me till I have had better sattisfaccion from you.
375. Robert Helme [Nevis]
London, February 24, 1684/5
The inclosed is a copie of my last. Since w.ch have sold the sugars by the ketch at 20s 6d p.r c.t, 3 mo. for payment, w.ch is the best price I ever expect to see againe for muscovada sugar. Doubtles before this Summer is past there will be at 15s. I leave you to judge our advantage by being thus longe kept out of our debts. I wonder you would not ship our plant. sugars on Mathew, nor none of these ships that have lately arived. Pray endeavor what possible you can to put a period to our concerns. ...
I doubt not but you will have an acco.tt of the death of our late King long before this will come to hand, who dyed much lamented; & blessed bee God our present Kinge is as much respected and hath the harts of his people as much as ever prince had (w.ch God continue). Hitherto little or noe alterations in the Governm.t, but all things run all in the same cur.t as formerly. What alterations may be when the Parlim.t sits w.ch (its s.d) will be in May, I knowe not. But none doubts of a very good Parlim.t and then noe doubt but the King & his people will be very hapy. ...
376. Henry Freeman [Nevis]
London, March 7, 1684/5
I hope this will finde you well arived and that now I may speedily expect an accompt of it. Till then I have little to write to you but to desire you to use all possible endeavors for the speedy settlement of my concerns with all imaginable care & dilligence & to hasten home what sugars you can possible by all opertunities, alwayes giveing timely advise what shipp or shipps you load upon & to be very punctuall to those advises. I hope I need not desire you to use all possible meanes to promote all things that you finde tends to my advantage, nor to advise you that, when you ship anythinge, to take care it may be good sugar in the largest hhds, very well filled and good stanch cask, well hooped & nayled. ...
[p. 537] I would have you soe order matters if possible, not to pay away one pound of the plant. Sugars, but to ship it all and to pay debts with orders, sugars, goods or mony. Advise alwayes once a yeare for a yearely suply for it. And then consider of all things that may be wanting or needfull. If you thinke goods wil vend to advantage, advise for what most proper. But consider that sugar is misserable lowe & cannot bee expected to produce above 7s pr 100, cleare of all charges. Indico alsoe very lowe now, not worth 20d p.r pound, w.ch will not cleare above 14d. But if I have your advise, I will adventure to doe anythinge you will incouridge me to same. ...
377. Robert Helme [Nevis]
London, March 5, 1684/5
This searves only to give you an acco.tt of the receipt of yours with the inclosed from Sir W.m Stapleton. Your trouble and kindeness therein I am heartily thankfull for. I hope my bro. may be w.th you before this and that I may have a better acco.tt from him from that concern than formerly. Your assistance to him will ad to your other obligations. I have little to write att present, in regard I designe to be more large by a vessell my bro. Baxter is in treat for and by her to send the ps. of 8/8 you ordered, w.ch you should have had sooner but that I depended upon Mr. Seays sending some p.r Clayton from Irel.d, where I was informed they ware to be procured much lighter & cheaper then here. But I knew nothing till very lately but that he had sent them. I hope the disapointm.t may not be greate to you.
I wish you had shipt our plant. sugar & what other you had by you, w.ch would have come to the best marke that can be hoped for this yeare, though 20s or thereabouts is the most it would have fetch.d. But I doubt will yet be much lower. Pray at any time when you have any by you & we have noe ships there, take all oppertunities of fr.t, for we hopes of proffit by keeping. Pray endeavor a period of our concerns espetially with Westcott and all Antigua. I hope the refinor we sent over will answer expectations and make amends for that charge. I beleeve you may buy Burkins land & stock reasonable. And if Allins could alsoe be added, I judge it would be much to our advantage. For the charge of a large plant. is not much more then a small one & I thinke that addition with those lately made will make it as good a plant. as most thereabouts & will require noe great stock more then what is upon it. Give Westcott & Hearne orders to load on any ship or ships for Londo. when we have none there. & To prevent all pretences to the contrary, doe you take fr.t for them at all times when they are not suplyed. If a speedy good complyance be not made, you must resolve to take others measure. I beleive Mr. Edwards would perform that buisnes weile. I doubt not but you will finde Stanilife that I sent over a carefull, honest man to manidge our plant. or anything elce you may have occation to imply him about. But be sure to instruct him well in the plant. affaires that he may be capable of that at your departure.
378. [p. 538] [John Mortimer [London]]
London, March 16, 1684/5
The many great favors I have already received from you imboldens me to request a further trouble of you. I have been informed that there is one Mr. John Ward who is at present a resident at the Hague, being a Lef.t to a Comp. in one of the English rigments, that hath maryed one Mrs. Reymes that hath the halfe part of a plant. in Nevis left her by Sir Frances Morton & hath a plant. upon St. Xtophers also (which is but inconsiderable in the condition its now in) that did formerly belong to her deceased father Reymes, which I am informed they are inclyned to dispose of. Now, Sir, my request to you is that you will doe me the favor to finde out the s.d Ward and treate w.th him and her alsoe, who must joyne in the sale, it being her estate, and endeavor to bring them to the lowest & best tearmes you can. I hope 1,000 £ sterl. may purchase there intrest in both the s.d estates with all the utinsells and stock, both quick and dead. For since sugers become such a miserable low comodity & likely in all appearance in few yeares not to be worth bringing home, which abundantly lessens the vallew of plant.s; and it must be considered alsoe that those Islands are in greate danger in case of warr. However, if that summ will not doe, be pleased to let me knowe theire demands. And as far as £1,500 goes, I doe hereby comissionate you to give for me, includeing there whole interest on both isl.ds. But indeavor to beate them down that possible. And be assured whatever you doe herein, I will also be greatfull to you for your trouble and paines therein, in case we come to any agreem.t. But one thinge I request of you: that is that you will be pleased not to take the least notice of it to any p.rson here or there, nor make noe mention of my name, unles you come to a positive conclusion. But treate w.th them as for yourselfe, agreeing to pay the mony here in England, w.ch shall be p.d upon sealeing the deeds. Let me receive an answer from you as soone as possible. And pray be privet in the buisnes. In case you cannot come to a conclusion, let me knowe there lowest demands. One thing I omitted to mention to you, that is the estate is considerrable in debt and incumbred. All w.ch I will take upon myselfe to pay at those tearmes I have proposed. W.ch they must take in consideration. Which doubtles they have already been sencible of. And this you must alsoe oblidge them to – that they have not nor will not grant any lease upon it, as I am told they have been in treaty; for if they have granted any upon it, I shall not medle with it on any tearmes. ...
If you come to any agreem.t, let it be firmly drawne up under hand and seale. And whatever you doe as far as I have proposed in the foregoeing, this shall obleidge me to stand and imdempnifie you upon all accompts whatever. But be sure to include theire whole intrest in both the afforced isl.ds of Nevis & St. Xtophers, viz. land, houses, slaves, cattle, mills, stills, coppers, howses and all other utinsells whatsoever belonging to either of the affores.d plant.s or theire parts therein, and binde them soe up that they may not fall of from it.