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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JOSHUA JOHNSON'S LETTERBOOK, 1771-1774
(Maryland Hall of Records, Private Accounts 1507)
1. (p. 1) to the firm per the New York packet 4 June 1771
I have the pleasure to acquaint you of my safe arrival at Bristol on the 29th ult. and from thence here on the 3rd inst., during which time there has nothing material happened. I have this day taken lodgings. They are not so good as I could wish them, therefore shall discharge them as soon as the week is up. I have not as yet delivered all my letters, occasioned by a misfortune in hurting my leg at Bristol and being squeezed up in a machine has made it inflame and look very ugly; therefore am under the necessity of nursing it but, so soon as it gets well, I shall dispatch them. Those to whom I have delivered letters make very friendly offers; of that more by and by. I wish I had a little more time; I now find the absolute necessity of it, though shall fall to work as soon as I conveniently can. I am getting clothes made and shall have more of the appearance of a Londoner. I am exceedingly sorry to inform you of the death of Mr Gibbs and Mr Bordley's son Tommy; Mr Bordley's son died very lately, Gibbs about 3 months ago. [cf. 18b]
Mr Zachariah Hood is appointed comptroller of Philadelphia. Mr Charles Carroll [barrister] and his lady is not yet arrived nor is Capt Johnstoun with Bob Norris, Dr Thompson and 8 or 10 passengers more; they are given over as lost. From an estimate I made on my passage out, I find we shan't have a sum sufficient to complete the first payment [for goods]. Therefore, it would not be amiss to forward me £4 or 500 more shortly, as I shall, if my 'fiz' [physiognomy] will attain credit, ship you the whole quantity agreeable to the order. I am informed here that there is large quantities of goods shipped for your parts. I don't know how you will make out, but we must push them. I have not time to say more than that the country has surpassed my utmost expectations, that I will write you fully by next opportunity and I beg you to tender my love to my brother's, Tom's, lady, family, and to your ladies.
2a. (pp. 2-3) to the firm per the New York packet 3 July 1771
I wrote you the 4th ult. per the packet since which I have fixed on tradesmen, agreed with them for our goods on credit, given them the orders, looked out part of the goods and getting all ready as fast as I possibly can, so that I hope they will reach you by the middle of September. Col Hunter, to whom we are under great obligations, as well as Mr Thomas Sprigg who recommended me [to Hunter], and Mr [Osgood] Hanbury, who has been exceedingly kind from Daniel Wolstenholme Esquire's genteel and friendly recommendation, advised me to take that step, especially at this time, as I was quite unacquainted in London, I mean as to the place as well as the tradesmen, and as we were willing to [ship quickly so our goods would] have the advantage of your Provincial Court. Mr Hanbury has been so obliging as to send Mr J[ohn] Hanbury his cousin to all his tradesmen to introduce and recommend me to them. I think it the only step I could have fallen on to put us immediately in credit with the tradesmen, which it has to any amount I would take of them. I have judged it for the best and heartily wish that it may merit your approbation. Indeed I never expected to make any prodigious advantage from the first purchase more than the bounties, [discounts for] prompt payment and the choice of the goods which I will be as careful in as the state of my leg will admit of (which I wrote you before was bad and which continues so).
I find that it is a lucky instance enough that we obtained those two recommendations. The tobacco trade began to view it with a jealous eye, and I think some of them hung aloof; however, I now defy them. Mr Hanbury at first desired that I would be ingenuous and tell him whether or not we intended to meddle with the tobacco business; he said, if we did, that he could not consistently recommend me as the gentlemen of the trade would say he acted ungenerous in taking a stranger by the hand to rival them in the business. I told him we had not even a wish, much more a thought, which satisfied him. His fortune puts him above doing those mean things that some do and his punctuality with his tradesmen commands the very best in London. I don't think it would be amiss to forward me £500 more as soon as you can with any degree of convenience for the better we make our payments the higher we shall stand in the esteem of the tradesmen.
2b. Your friend Anthony [Stewart's] bill to J. Russell for £300 is protested and John Buchanan [Stewart's London correspondent] has refused to pay it on his credit. Upon my word, we must take care for what is £3,000 to £18,000? There is some of the bills noted for non-acceptance. As soon as the days are out, I will get them protested and forward them that you may get renewals.
I have just agreed with Capt Thomas Williamson, commander of the ship Brothers, for the freight of our goods: in substance, he is to deliver them to you at Annapolis for the sum of £63 sterling; you are to find him craft to land them in. I have likewise included the small cargo for my brother Tom shipped by Russell, so that it will reduce our freight to £50 odd. I pushed hard but could not get off the primage. She is an English built ship and on the first list of insurance [Lloyd's Register] so that I hope to get that done on good terms. From the uncommon demand it has raised many kinds of goods [in price], so that I can't form any kind of judgment of the amount. There is no tea shipped directly from hence to Maryland but the Baltimore Town gentlemen has been artful enough to have theirs shipped to Philadelphia and from thence have it carried over to Maryland. The plagued Customs House frights me; I shall be obliged to employ a broker or a clerk.
We have had the devil to play in electing sheriffs for the City; however, Wilkes reigns triumphant notwithstanding the influence of government. I labour under an ugly cough; I wish I was well of it. I long to hear from you; be pleased to give my love to T[om] J[ohnson], his and yours and compliments to any inquirers.
P.S. She [the Brothers] will sail from the 15th to the 20th inst. certainly.
3a. (pp. 6-9) to John Davidson per Capt Thomas Williamson 22 July 1771
I shall now proceed to give you a small sketch of my observations since I left you, skipping over every matter until my arrival in London, on which I waited on J. Hobson. He not being at home I waited on J. Russell and he not being in, I went to Mr [William] Molleson's whom I found at home. After reading his letters, he very politely thanked me for my care of them, but offered me no assistance. I dined with Russell who took every occasion of diverting me until he found that he was to have no more 2½ per cent [commission] of me; then there was an end of that over fondness.
As soon as I got myself a little equipped, I waited on Mr [Osgood] Hanbury whom I found to be the plain sensible gentleman. He very readily told me that, from the introduction of D[aniel] Wolstenholme Esq, that I might command him in anything; he appointed a day for me to dine with him. When I went, I found Col Hunter there (whose letters I had delivered and he not at home) who introduced himself to me by telling me his name was Hunter and that he was glad to see me, saying he had been a day or two inquiring me out. As Mr Hanbury was out of the room, it made an opening for us to talk over matters. When I discovered to him my errand, he readily gave me every information that he could respecting the manner prudent to pursue, and at the same time cautioning me not to believe what the people in the trade would advise me to, for that they all would tell me lies, which I have found true. After dinner and the company was withdrawn, he introduced the subject to Mr Hanbury. Mr Hanbury was very candid; he said that for his part, on recollection, the names that I had opened the account in, was Wallace, Davidson & Johnson, that he was ready and willing to serve you [Davidson] or me, but that he thought Mr Wallace had treated them ungenteelly and would choose to have no further connection with him. You know I could say but little to the matter. Col Hunter urged that in this case he ought not to consider any transaction of Mr Wallace's, that it was me that he could wish to serve and hoped that he would [do] all [that] lay in his power. He [Hanbury] then mentioned the tobacco trade as I wrote Wallace and you fully before. On being satisfied, we then began the mode of my procedure when it was agreed to purchase on credit by the introduction of Mr Hanbury to his tradesmen, which mode I have pursued and hope to the concerned's satisfaction.
I delivered all my other letters; Mr Harvey has taken notice of me but none of the rest has vouchsafed to inquire me out. I have seen Mr E[dmund] Jennings but he did not know me or would not and indeed my back is not grown so very limber as to fawn.
3b. I am frighted at the expense attending one's living here; O Joney, you have no idea of it. They may talk of 18d. per day but it is impossible and to support the character I must, why, the washing of my clothes alone will come to £18 or £20 per annum; then where is the first purchase, house rent, meat, drink, etc.? However, I will never flinch while I can serve you two, if I get nothing but my support.
I don't know what will become of my building [in Annapolis]. I suppose that I shall be obliged to mortgage it, to finish it. Mr Russell tells me he has sent out the nails, etc. for us. You will settle that matter and remit me the amount of them that I may pay him. I want to know very much how you go on with the building; pray write me fully about it and respecting the collection of my outstanding debts. I do hope that they have made you tolerable good payments; if they have not, I doubt you have been obliged to advance for me. It will be unlucky if the house is not ready to open the goods in; I wish it may, it will save you a world of trouble.
The manner in living and everything else illy suits my foolish backwardness; it has put me to the test, I do assure you, and I found there was a necessity to push my way through the crowd. I find that the duty on hams is taken off so that, if any of my friends would be so polite as to present me with one now and then, you may assure them there is no danger from the Customs House officers. I likewise have discovered a method to get safe a few bottles of such good old spirit as we used to have. Should any one incline that, I should drink their healths with it. I now and then keep company with Z. Hood Esq, who is very friendly indeed; but, Jonny, you know we have studied the art of smuggling.
I have been very much scared with a bad leg, though I now have the pleasure of telling you that it is much better. The apothecary I suppose will make my pocket feel for his attendance, which has been ever since I have been in London. I have likewise had a very severe attack of the cough and was fearful of a consumption but bless God my fears begin to decrease as does the cough; what made it more alarming to me was the number that died under the complaint, and some in perfect bloom when attacked and snatched off in 5 or 6 weeks. The step recommended to me not to board in a family is as opposite to the recommendation of those who know their peas and cues here as can be and they assert that there is £25 difference. I shall settle myself in that way as soon as I can meet with a family to please me. I expect you will be full in yours to me. I have tired myself and doubt shall you. Therefore, adieu with love to Mrs Davidson, compliments to Mah and Miss Strahan and bless little Will (to whom I present with a little hat and feather) . . . .
P.S. Pray purchase for me the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Assembly and send them me and the Maryland papers as you are done with them.
3c. Since writing the above, yours of the 24 May has reached my hand and I may add my heart, for I can't tell you the pleasure it gave me and can only compute it to the friendly manner of the introduction, for you must know that we have nothing of that kind here. I am rather pleased than displeased that our joiners [working on their building] has taken it in their heads to quarrel and I am by no means for using compulsory measures to make people agree; if they will pay me the money due me, give them a full discharge, with thanks for our riddance of them. I am now looking out for a man and, as soon as I can get one, will send him out to finish it for me as you recommend. I shall give wages if I meet with one to my liking. I think it right to employ Munrow until he has discharged his debt. I believe him very honest and very poor, poor fellow.
I was surprised to find our Charles Wallace had undertaken the [construction of the] Public Building [i.e. the Capitol in Annapolis]. I heartily wish him well through it and nothing in my power shall be wanting to facilitate his plan.
4. (p. 11) to Charles Wallace per Capt Thomas Williamson 23 July 1771
I received a letter from our J. Davidson of the 24 May informing me of your undertaking the Public Building, enclosing a bill of exchange from Her. Courtney on Jor. H. Bigger for £17:11:3, your order for a square of slating, a sheet of lead, a set of mathematical instruments and two house carpenters and joiners. The bill is good and when due shall be passed to the credit of an account that I shall raise against you respecting the building only. Enclosed you have bills lading, bills of parcels and invoices of the sheet lead and mathematical instruments amounting to £16:6:11 which hope will please, as I was obliged to pay ready money for them. I waited on Roger Roberts at Mr Rosse's timber yard, who would readily have undertaken to put up the slates, but, as there was such a number of sorts and lengths so variable, we thought it the most advisable only to forward you an estimate of the different kinds which you have enclosed. As for the bone pins, he cannot undertake to furnish.
I have applied to Mr Crisp to be on the lookout for two such servants as you describe, but am doubtful that I shall be able to procure such as will answer your purpose without giving wages. I assure you that no trouble shall be wanting to effect it and, should I be lucky enough to meet with them, I will send them in the first ship to your parts; otherwise, I must wait your further order before I dare agree to give wages. The lead sent, you will observe, is milled lead, for Mr Green tells me that it will not run longer than 47 feet, if that length, and under will do; the price is 18/ or 17/6 per cwt. for money. You will be pleased to observe that the box of mathematical instruments are in a package W.D.J. No. 126. Whatever is for the building you will be pleased to give distinct and separate orders for; it will be a means of keeping all your matters clear and you will likewise have it in your power to show the amount of the materials here furnished at one view. I am with wishes that you may be able to execute the plan undertaken with honour to yourself and to the satisfaction of the trustees and public in general.
5a. (pp. 11-13) to Charles Wallace per Capt Thomas Williamson 23 July 1771
Enclosed you have invoices and bills of parcels of goods amounting to £15:16:8, which hope you will find right and prove satisfactory. I should have sent Mrs Wallace's gown, but could not meet with any Irish poplin like it. I ordered the mercer to procure me a silk grogram, which he told me he would, but, when it came to the time, he had it not, which has compelled me to leave it out as well as the two yards of brown damask. As for the damask, I find my memory is not good enough to trust in the matching it, so as I dare send it; I wish she could send me a little bit of the gown and prick me of the flower on paper. I applied to Mr [Christopher] Court for the net proceeds of those two hogsheads tobacco. The tobacco, it seems, came home in a ship of Mr [Matthias] Gale's who looked on them to be consigned to him and sold them as if they were. Court applied to him and informed him of my having an order for the proceeds; he told Court that he would pay it, on which I waited on him, when he answered me that he would pay your bill on sight. You must therefore lose the advantage of a ready money purchase of your goods and lay in debt until you forward me your bill on him for the amount.
Mr Miles is here but don't appear public, so that I have not received his debt. I have desired my bookseller, whom he visits occasionally, to tell him that there is a gentleman wants to see him, at the same time not to disclose my name to him, but to get him to appoint a place of meeting and time. If this stratagem should succeed, perhaps I may do something for you, but, if not, that is gone. Capt Curling is now in the West Indies; on his return, I shall demand his debt for you. Mr Hanbury tells me you owe him a balance of £17 odd. I told him that you expected that he was in your debt, but that I was sure that you would settle it on the first notice, which I hope you will, as he has been exceeding kind to me. He mentioned the difference between you to me, which I could say but little to and I am apt to think you may thank some good friend who busied himself to your prejudice with him. They tell me that they forwarded you a state of the Cailes' concern, that it still lies unpaid; I have desired that they will give a state of it, that I may push them for the money. What I would recommend to you would be to order the papers, etc. to be delivered to me. If you do, they shall get no rest until they account. Indeed Mr Hanbury has such a multiplicity of business of his own that he can't turn his thoughts to anything else.
5b. When you are in a writing mood, be pleased to bestow a few lines on me and tell me in them how the house building in company, etc. goes on and what progress you have made on the wharf. It will be exceedingly welcome to me, more so than a play and sumptuous suppers after it at the other end of the town, for it will enliven the thought and freshen the memory of those jocose evenings that you used to sit at your house, with your feet up against the jamb and plan for the public. Oh, Charles, all those days are gone, at least from me, I fear. I live much retired here, not a friend nor even a person that I dare open my mouth to, but what is ready to catch at an advantage. Retirement indeed proceeds from three reasons, the first having been very unwell, second no great inclination for company and lastly not finances to support it. The weather has been so cold here that I have but the other day thrown off my flannel jacket. It is very different from our country and not near such fine clear air; it preys a good deal on my lungs, but I am kept in spirits from its being a general thing to all on their first coming. I forgot to take a bill for mounting Mrs Wallace's fan; the monnt is not the height of the mode which made it rather high. I beg you will present my compliments to her and Miss Cummings. If Mrs Howard will go the expense, I can get her second-hand papers at a penny per piece and send them as opportunities offers or the magazines at 6d. each.
6a. (pp. 13-18) to the firm per the Brothers, T. Williamson 26 July 1771
Enclosed you have two protested bills: Charles Banks on [John] Stewart & Campbell for £140 charges 5/9 and Thomas Gassaway on Thomas Philpot for £35 charges 6/9, in all £170:12:6 [sic] to the debit of Wallace, Davidson & Johnson, which you will get renewed and forward as soon as possible. John Dorsey's bill on Russell is noted; as soon as the time is expired I shall get Mr Hanbury to have it protested, should it not be paid, and forward it to you. On my arrival here I presented to Mr Hanbury J. Davidson's order for £3,040. The £3,000 I had placed to the credit of Wallace, Davidson & Johnson and the £40 to my own. I then let it lay as the bills might be presented and accepted or protested until the 4th inst. when I received from O. Hanbury & Co. £1,500 and placed it in the hands of O. Hanbury, John Taylor, Sampson Lloyd & William Bowman, bankers, and on the 19th those two bills for £170, so that we still have in their [O. Hanbury & Co.] hands £1,330 which I shall draw out as soon as ever those 60[?] day bills become due and divest in the hands of our bankers. I have agreed with the bankers that they take all the bills of exchange and negotiate them after acceptance, which will save me some trouble.
By this opportunity you have bills lading, shop notes and invoice of goods amounting to £3,877:0:9 to the debit of Wallace, Davidson & Johnson which, on examination, I hope you will find right; the sum far exceeds our expectation, although I have added but little to the order and omitted sending the tea, cheese (which was at such a price that it would not pay the first cost), the stamped wax oilcloth for Mr Vallette (which I can't find in any of the shops [in] London), some earthenware and part of the shoes, which I could not get made in time, [and] which shall come and the other articles, if to be had, by the next opportunity.
There is many things I was obliged to pay ready money for and could not get any discount, particularly the sugar from [James] Piercy; the allowance was considered in the price and quality. You will attend to it and say whether or not he deserves a continuance of our orders; indeed he is well able to serve on the very best terms being the most capital [sugarbaking] house in London, though it is not like any other business, for their credit is but 2 months to anybody and it frequently happens that you may apply to ten before you can find one with enough by him to serve you.
6b. I divided the linen between [David and John] Barclays and [David] Harvey; Barclays' is shipped at the short price as is all the rest of their goods, and the other at the long. I beg you will give particular attention to that and tell me which is the best. You will likewise observe that I divided the oznabrigs [cheap German linens] between Barclays and Mee & Co.; the latter is a very capital wholesale Hamburg house who serve many of the linen-drapers to the amount of thousands per annum. They both are importers of it and the only difference respecting the sales is you may have a single piece of Barclays and not less than 10 pieces of Mees & Co.; Mees' & Co. is shipped at the long price and Barclays' at the short; Barclays' linen [is payable] at 12 months and Harvey's at 6 months, though Harvey will not break but only sell in lots as put up in Ireland. That occasions so much fine in the present bill [i.e. shipment].
I am fearful that the woollen-draper's bill will displease; I could find none would serve me on better terms and he was out of the [export] trade which was an inducement. The cloths are of the newest fashion here, which I hope will contribute to the sales. Vardon & Franklin's bill [for ironmongery] I have my doubts [about], but it is lower than I could get of others. The two packages J.M. is for Joseph Mayo and made for him. It is impossible to particularise each without swelling my letter to an immoderate size. I therefore will only add on this head that the silks, ca[mbrics], calicoes, etc. is of the newest fashion here and worn by the nobility. However, I hope you will give me an accurate account of the quality of each of their goods that I may have no more to do with them, if any of them has imposed on me, for I really had it not in my power to walk to look at the goods as I wished and would have done had I been able. I have sent you a paper of patterns from Nash, Eddowes & Martin [linen-drapers]. You will observe that the bounty is taken off. When there are anyone likes a pattern, send me the number and say what species of goods it is and I can send it you.
6c. Amongst my inquiries while at Bristol, I found a shoe warehouse that we [could] be served from with women's shoes on better terms than here. I have some thought of ordering a parcel to make a trial of . . . .
I am in hopes that the ribbon will give the greatest satisfaction; it came . . . from Coventry, and sure I am that there never was any in Annapolis on as good terms. I got 7½ per cent discount and 4/ per lb. drawback, so that you may sell tolerably low. Mr Love's is not quite finished; the clothworker has had it ever since I have been here; he tells me that it shall be done well, [and] as soon as it is I will send it you. I have sent a few things from [here] for trial; if they will answer, you will let me know . . . .
I have sent all the books ordered by Miss Bordley, Miss Turner and Mr Love. They are packed separate and marked on them. I am in hopes our millinery will please; many of the things are very cheap and very fashionable. I don't know whether or not I have done right but I have made the insurance so as to cover the amount of the goods and charges and 2½ per cent as a commission, so that, should we lose them, we should get just a commission for the interest of our money and trouble. If I am wrong, I beg you will say so, but the difference is very trifling and I think it prudent to secure enough. I have not made it [insurance] in a public office. The reason why I did not was their particularity; they must know who you are and a deal of that; then again you are plagued more than little enough before you can get the money after a loss and everybody prefer making theirs at Lloyds for that reason. I have got ours done at 2 per cent. I keep an exact copy of the invoice sent you [and] only charge commission; that with the bill of lading is a sufficient proof to recover on. The debentures at the Customs House is only receivable twice a year and I am obliged to employ a person to get them around for us as is everybody that ships goods. I will send you a particular account of them when I receive them.
6d. I hope you will allow me an assistant at the time of shipping goods; if you will not, I can't help being honest enough to tell you I am not capable of doing the business and that it would only be imposing on you to say that I could; the expense of one for a week or fortnight is but trifling and the business to do very considerable to what I expected. I have been obliged to employ one now and should be glad of your approbation on the charge of his services against the company. Meat, drink and everything here is very dear. The goods ought to yield a devilish profit or we sell a vast number to support me at least in the character of a gentleman and a partner to a house that will export £10 or 12 thousand per annum. I have got a small room and a closet to hold my bed in, which costs me £25 per year and not one thing found me. During the shipping of the goods, both places has been crowded full of goods and let what gentleman would come there, I am obliged to have him and if a porter comes, why I have no other place to do his business, which makes me mean. However, my circumstances will not allow me to alter it and I am content any way you shall dispose of me.
Enclosed you have an order on T. Johnson for £9:5:6 which is the balance due me for the freight and primage of his goods, which you will forward me or pass to the credit of my account, though, as money begins to grow scarce, I had rather have it here. The primage was more than I was in hopes it would have been, and indeed I wanted to squeeze the captain out of it at first, but you can't possibly do it as it is a perquisite of theirs. The shoes and boots were made on purpose for me and I believe of the best stuff, 2 pair of which is marked T.H. for Thomas Harwood and some of the shoes and pumps C.W. for Charles Wallace. As there was no china shipped in the Brothers by any person, it was impossible to include it in their entry and a particular entry would have made it come very high. I have therefore sent it in Capt Blackwell to your place who will sail in a day or two; there is a china pan for Mrs Johnson amongst it.
6e. [Capt] Carcaud is arrived and put up for Patuxent, Annapolis and Baltimore. If I can get them ready, I will send you the remaining things, shoes, rugs, cheese and the stamped wax oilcloth. [Capt] Jarrold is arrived with wheat, etc. but is not suffered to enter, the port for that commodity being shut. I am surprised that I have not a letter by him. When I have a little time, I will send you a list of the shipping charges, my distribution of the insurance, primage, etc. that you may judge whether or not we have saved. I think we have [saved] about 4 per cent exclusive of [discounts for] payments, debentures, being better served and the choice of goods.
I have made my [insurance] policy so as to recover on a single package, if damaged, as if the whole were, or so many as would make an average, which you will give attention to [so] that, in case there should be any damaged, you will have a proper review and sell them to the highest bidder for the underwriters. I likewise added a clause more than the merchants do here, that is, that the risk commences from their delivery off the quays to the lighter. They [the underwriters at Lloyds] thought it hard at first but it went down; those advantages we could not have had in a public office.
The captain tells me that J. Russell has shipped 5 chests of tea on board of him in these two days for West River. It puzzles me; I wish you would not be sparing to me of these hints for, provided it is a general thing, we ought to profit by it; otherwise, the traitor ought to be exposed, though I wrote you before that the Baltimoreans had imported tea for some time through Philadelphia.
I need not tell you that it is requisite to remit [funds to me]; you will see that plain enough from casting your eye at the foot of the invoice and attending to the protested bills [of exchange sent me] and then I doubt not but you will [remit] as quick as possible. For the convenience and advantage is striking, that, provided we could [have funds here], it would save 10 per cent in making prompt payments [and] by turning the money [over] so as to go to market twice a year. It is more than probable you will find two packages, a bale and a cask of No. 94. The cask is pepper and should have been No. 108 but it is a blunder of the tradesmen. I have enclosed you [Capt] Blackwell's bill of lading for the china, by whom I shall write you in a day or two. I have sent two pieces of linen in Capt Williamson's care which he promises to deliver to you; they are for my own use and was to have been packed with the rest, but Mr Harvey made a mistake. You will be pleased to give them to Mrs [Thomas] Johnson for my sister and let her have a piece of cambric for me. I am fearful that sent is not fine enough for your place. I have thought of sending some more with the other articles and will if I can get on good terms. The people that Selby directed me to for his saddlery is dead, therefore have not sent it. From the favourable season of year I flatter myself with hopes that this with the goods will soon reach you with [my] wishes for . . . a quick and profitable sale.
7. (p. 18) to the firm per Capt Blackwell 27 July 1771
I wrote you the 26th very fully per Capt Williamson, since which there has nothing occurred. I have enclosed you shop note, bill lading and invoice of the china amounting to £22:10:6 to the debit of Wallace, Davidson & Johnson.
I have likewise sent you Capt Williamson's second bills of lading. The goods in him for Wallace, Davidson & Johnson amount to £3,877:0:9 which I heartily wish quick to hand for I am told here that an Annapolitan has sold 5 or 6 thousand pounds worth since my departure and ordered more. I hope the run may not be over so that we may come in for part. I have sent Mrs [Thomas] Johnson a china pan packed amongst yours; you will be pleased to deliver it her. I will write you again soon.
8. (p. 20) to the firm per Capt Carcaud 7 August 1771
I wrote you on the 26th ult. by Capt Williamson and the 27th by Blackwell, to which I beg leave to refer you to. I was in hopes to have been able to [have] sent you the remaining part of the shoes, etc. by this ship but I could not get them ready. Capt Greig is to sail in all this month for Annapolis; I shall most assuredly send them by him.
You will no doubt say that Molleson is one of the most lucky fellows breathing; his two ships [from Maryland] were the first at market, sold all [their tobacco] off and [at] high [prices], got full freighted with goods [for Maryland], which will turn out very pretty. I am told there is no hesitation about shipping tea, that it has become almost general; I wish I knew how to act on the occasion. I am surprised whenever I think on it that England could furnish the quantity of goods that is exported; it is beyond any conception, the demand for them to all parts of the world.
Mr J. Davidson will take care to forward certificates to cancel my bonds in the Customs House. Pray make Tommy [Johnson, the younger, their clerk] copy me Richard Crew's & Thomas Clerk's bills of parcels and send them to me. They omitted to deliver duplicates and to enter the articles on their books. The sooner you forward me the schemes for the next cargo, the better, as I shall have more time to procure them and consequently they will be better. I left all the old invoices behind me; they will be a regulation [i.e. model] for you in forming the schemes. Don't lump matters, for you can better form a judgment of what will sell, than it is possible for me to do. Enumerate the articles and describe them and leave the fashion and quality to me.
I will write you again soon and have only to introduce the bearer, Revd Mr Bowie, to your notice. He is very modest and backward and I believe a very good man.
9. (pp. 22-3) to the firm per Capt McLachlan 18 August 1771
I have enclosed you John Dorsey's bill on Russell under protest for £35:5:9 and placed it to the debit of Wallace, Davidson & Johnson. I am informed that [John] Buchanan, [James] Russell and [Thomas] Philpot has sent out tea in Carcaud; I have determined to lie still and wait the event of that arrival, for reasons I found from some hints that, if I was prevailed on to ship, that it would have given a sanction under which they would have availed themselves and urged that they were justifiable from my having done it, who was one of the associators and who was but just from the country. In my opinion, it is a matter of the first consequence to us, for what would our friends have said to us? Why this, I see that your boasted regard for your country consists in self interest, and that you, under a preconsulted and formed plan, has pushed away in support of liberty until that you were ripe to put your damned plan in execution, when instantly you give it up and immediately become the suppliers of the most cursed poison that has laid a foundation to ruining the country. May Josh's actions ever demand such an attack, he would despise life and say, traitor I die, a betrayer of my country and friends. I am well satisfied that every advantage will be taken on any slip committed by us and nothing would give some more satisfaction than persecuting us out of England.
Believe me, I do not speak it out of any prejudice to anyone in the trade, but I see it plain and from my old friend's [James Russell's] imprudence. His menace has reached my ears; they were mean indeed, such as interlopers, finding fault with my conduct as a committee man on his cordage, hinting that I ought to have acted contrary from the obligations I was under to him (God forbid that should ever bias Josh) and he dunned me almost to death about J. Davidson [as deputy comptroller of customs], using him ill in not returning a certificate for the cordage. I bore it as long as I could but was obliged to snub him. His character here is infamous, I speak generally, as a most debauched creature, liar and bad paymaster.
As you are sensible of the misfortune I labour under in education I beg you will answer the following query: if it is not most prudent for a man who labours under disadvantages to be a spectator, store up and deliberately digest the different matters and form his judgment. W. Molleson, with his over quickness, leaves great openings, though it is my opinion that he never speaks without a design. I shall write you in a few days by Greig and will give you no more of this stuff. . . .
10. (p. 23) to the firm per Capt James Thomas, via Bristol 26 August 1771
Enclosed you have bill of parcel, bill lading and invoice of shoes amounting to £22:19:6 to the debit of Wallace, Davidson & Johnson which hope you will find right. They are the shoes I wrote you I should send from Bristol. If they should please, we can be supplied from thence for the future. You will take no notice of the discount, as it will be carried to the credit of the general account. I this day received J. Davidson's letter by A[nthony] Stewart who is just arrived and very well. Capt Greig sails in a day or two, by whom I send out some goods and shall write you very fully; therefore will only add that Capt Thomas (by whom this comes) during our voyage and my stay in Bristol behaved exceedingly genteel to me and beg you will on my account give him your countenance.
11. (pp. 23-5) to John Davidson per Capt Greig 27 August 1771
I on yesterday received your favour of the 7th ult. by Anthony [Stewart] for which I most sincerely thank you as it has give me unexpressable pleasure in hearing that you all were well and that all other matters that we and our friends are concerned in flourish. Mr Stewart landed at Brighthamsted [Brighton] so that he could not bring me Mrs Strahan's gown with him, but [I] shall take care to get it as soon as the ship comes up and will do all in my power to have it done to please. Whenever Mrs Davidson will honour me with the order for pewter or anything else, it shall be most strictly attended to and nothing (unless the want of judgment) in my power shall be omitted to make them satisfactory. As for the bills [of exchange] you mention, they are a requisite commodity enough, but I hope that will not prevent her or you from commanding me, for I am now fairly in for it and the amount of her order will not worst me.
I found on my arrival here that my friend J. R[ussell] had trumped up £20 more than I expected I should have owed him, together with those goods for the house exceeding my expectation. And I found in a little time after . . . they [Russell, etc.] understood my errand, that there was a coldness and I can't, you well know, bear to be beholden. I was therefore obliged to make use of all my pocket money and borrow a little from T. J. [brother Thomas Johnson] to discharge the balance due him [Russell], so that that has created a debt to the tradesmen and I must go on tick for clothes until you can furnish me with a little and remit me for the nails, etc., shipped by Russell since I came away, which I think is £49:8:3. You tell me that you are now purchasing up the £1,500 [in bills of exchange], that you have the current [Maryland] money by you at 3 per cent. I thought that in case C. W[allace] undertook the building, his dismission [?] from our business and my service here was to be adequate to the use of the money; I may be wrong, therefore mum.
If it will not appear to you that I am vain, I will say that my expedition in shipping the cargo of goods has astonished all the trade and creates a double jealousy. I must fear that you will not get the store [being built in Annapolis] ready for the reception of the goods, as by this time you may begin to look for them, and indeed the cargo is so large that a small house will not do for them. I wrote C.W. & J.D. [i.e. the firm] very fully the other day about the tea and my reason for not shipping it yet. The information about Ridgate is locked up as close in my breast as the £600 bill was on to Weatherton's chest. Poor fellow [Ridgate], he will be pushed devilishly here by the trade; O. Hanbury & Co. has protested all their [Barnes & Ridgate] bills which has hurt their credit. I am very sorry that the people has given you so much trouble in collecting the balance due me. I beg you will commence actions against those who neglect to discharge them immediately. As that concern is at an end, there can be no farther appealing. . . .
12. (pp. 26-7) to Charles Wallace per Capt Greig 27 August 1771
It is with the utmost reluctance I take up my pen to write you, for I am afraid Mrs Wallace will not believe me when I declare that I can't get her a gown in all London. However it is a notorious fact and I declare to her on my honour that I have taken undue pains to get it, nay I would have had her one woven but when they made their estimate I found it 10/6 which was too much; though unfortunate in the first commission I hope to be more successful in the next whenever she is pleased to honour me with them. I have had a devilish deal of plague with Mr Love's cloth and have it not in my power to send it to him yet; they are so suspicious of America that I had the utmost difficulty to procure a friend to get it done; it's now about and I will, you may assure him, forward it as soon as ever I can get it fit.
I have daily conferences with Mr Crisp and his creatures [building craftsmen], but they will not go without wages. I should have agreed to have given one wages for myself and sent him, but I could not prevail on [Capt] Greig to carry him. I wish you would tell me what to do, for, in those cases where I have no line of government, I know not how to act and am fearful you will attribute it to indolence, which I do most solemnly declare is not the case. I will write you no more until you do me and tell me how the house [being built] goes on and what progress you have made in the dock. Therefore give my love to Mrs Wallace and Polly.
13a. (pp. 27-9) to the firm per Capt Greig 29 August 1771
Enclosed you have bills of parcels, bills lading and invoice of goods amounting to £84:1:5 to the debit of Wallace, Davidson & Johnson; they are the remaining part of the order, so that nothing is excluded but the cheese and the price of that still keeps up so high that there is no touching of it. I wrote you the 26th via Bristol per Capt Thomas and enclosed you invoice and bill of lading for some women's calamanco shoes amounting to £22:9:6 which are put up on exceeding good terms.
I enclose you some bills for money advanced for Miss Turner and my order on her to you for their amount which you will be pleased to receive and pass to my private account. I am fearful that she will not be pleased. However, you may assure her it cost me a deal of pains for I was obliged to have the gown dyed a second time; the rascal who did it at first did it so very badly that it was not fit to send her. I know the people with you think but little of those matters, but the advance of 40/ for one and 10/ for another makes a plagued hole in my very little stock.
Enclosed you have a state of the accounts as settled with O. Hanbury & Co., in which you will see [that] the motive that actuated them to serve me was to serve themselves. I never had a hint from them that they intended to charge us any commission until a day or two before the settlement when Wilkinson informed me they did; they have done it; we have paid it, but take care they shall never get another out of me. I urged that the use of the money [left with them], I thought, was adequate to the trouble, and that they might have made a commission on it in discounting bills; they answered that they was always obliged to have that sum in readiness which stripped them of that advantage. They likewise smoke us with a commission on the outport bills which you will take notice of and get Mr Mundell to [accept a] discount if you can. They [Hanbury & Co.] have been serviceable to me and it is in their powers to be of prejudice to me; therefore I must be quiet. But, but compare this act, look at it, view it, in all its lights and tell me whether or not it is consistent with an open generous spirit; I say no, or, if it is, I am unhappy enough not to know what that thing called candour and generosity is. I shall say nought about it and think it as well if you do. A man must always have his eyes open here. Indeed, if nature had been lavish enough to have given him a pair behind, he would have use for them, for you must watch the actions of others as well as your own. I always told you I was diffident of myself and that I was fearful of impositions; though this can't be attributed to me, perhaps someone may by and by. However, you thus far may rest satisfied that I will exert myself to avoid any.
13b. I draw on a discount account nearly £120; however, that you shall have by and by. The drawback will not come round till Christmas; there will be some deductions on them, but I will frame an account and send it you for your farther satisfaction. I have paid all the money away to £80 which is proper to keep to answer any unforeseen matter that may occur between this and your sending me the bills you propose to make the next purchase with. I don't know but I think it will be best to discharge the debts due to the different tradesmen and purchase the next cargo on credit, that is provided they will not allow me a discount. Perhaps you expected more on the discount account [for early payment], but then you must attend to the bills returned, freight, insurance, shipping charges and ready money purchases and I think you will be fully content. I don't care how soon you will forward me the schemes for the next cargo. If you determine to fix one at Baltimore this spring, which I think you had better, let it be separate orders.
You were apprehensive that I should have a great deal of idle time on hand. It is not the case indeed, for I have more writing to do than I can well undergo. Mr Lee, Mr Stewart and Mr Ridgate is all arrived safe. I have not seen Ridgate, he having but just come. The crops has failed in France, Spain and Italy, so that supplies will be wanting from America. The price [of wheat, etc.], I am told, has rose 45 per cent at Lisbon on the failure of the crops in those kingdoms. Could I do anything clever, I should love to be ameddling, though not without your approbation. I thank God I am very well.
14. (pp. 29-31) to the firm per Capt Maynard 17 September 1771
I wrote you the 29th ult. per Capt Greig since which there has nothing material occurred. Enclosed you have the letter that I wrote you on 26 August and sent to Bristol to go by Capt Thomas which unluckily proved to be too late and was returned.
I have some thoughts of going to Birmingham and from thence to Bristol Fair which will be about the last of the month. I there shall meet a number of the woollen manufacturers and it's probable may make some advantageous acquaintance. Should any of your letters fall in (which I am in daily expectation of) which will require my attendance in London I shall refer my journey until the spring and for your approbation, as it is the company's interest [that] makes me desirous of taking the jaunt. Indeed I am of opinion [that], was I suffered to go to many of the capital manufacturing towns, I should form such connections as would pay us fully for the trouble and expense, though I shall decline any of those jaunts without your particular approbation, it being too expensive for me, alone and on my own account, to support.
The price of Patuxent (and any other that has any pretensions to colour) tobacco keeps up beyond expectation; it shows the great scarcity of that commodity in Germany, Flanders, etc. and it is doubtful whether or not the present crop will be more than sufficient to reduce the price. Capt McGachan is gone out [to Maryland] with a considerable wheat commission. I am doubtful about the validity [credit worthiness] of the commissioners [speculators ordering the wheat]; therefore use prudence of this information both in respect to the offer of any of his bills or the notice given you. I know it [the purchasing commission] was refused by some others.
We thought it needless to fix correspondents in Glasgow, Bristol, Whitehaven, Liverpool, etc., to negotiate our bills [of exchange drawn on those places] for us, but it is absolutely requisite or we must submit to pay half a per cent [service charge] which to me is not very agreeable. I am on the lookout to form those acquaintances and beg you will have an eye towards them and let me know. I am likewise doing my endeavour to get acquainted with a member of parliament who will be good natured enough to give me franks to save postages. Those expenses, though apparently trivial, amounts to a deal of money in time. I have the same objection to outport bills as J. D[avidson] has and I think you had better always give ½ per cent more for London bills and then you in my opinion would save money.
The New York packet is arrived and brings letters from your place as late as the 20 July. I really expected to have heard from you by her or Capt Love, who is likewise arrived, but poor J.J. [i.e. himself] is most cruelly neglected. I wish for the schemes of the next cargoes; it is prodigious the advantage in having time to dissect them properly, fix on tradesmen and look out the goods in time. It is no disadvantage to the purchaser [to act early], for the 12 months (or time agreed on for credit) commences from the date of your invoice and not from the date of the shop note. I wish you were equally disposed to write me; it would give me infinite pleasure to read your letters as they would instruct me how to act, but until you are in that humour I must submit. . . .
15a. (pp. 31-4) to the firm per packet 6 November 1771
I wrote you the 17 September by Capt Maynard, since which I have received yours of 30 August covering seventeen first bills amounting to £1,793:9:4 and an order for goods. The bills on London are all accepted but Edward Lloyd's on [Matthias] Gale; William Thomas's on J. Morton Jordan & Co. and Walter Carrew's on R[ichard] Horne; they are noted and, as soon as the time is expired, I will forward them under protest if they are not paid. The three bills on Glasgow were in the Glasgow mail on their way down for acceptance when the mail was robbed; the seconds are now gone down for acceptance. We shall lose nothing by it, only 20 or 30 days' time. The orders for the goods are now in the tradesmen's hands. I am alooking them out and having them got ready as fast as possible that I may be in readiness to embrace the first opportunity that offers, which I am in hopes will be in time for their arrival at Annapolis in February. The noteabeany [nota bene] at the foot of the scheme was very just; it did indeed want a great many amendments and it still might have been more perfect had there been a proper attention paid to it when made out.
Our C. Wallace's letter of the 25 August is now before me, in which he says that you have ordered William Potts of Barbados to draw on me for some spirit and sugar [for Annapolis] and don't mention the quantity ordered or say anything more about it. It leaves me in the dark about regulating my cash matters, as I can't judge what sum to retain to answer the draught. It will not be improper to advise me of the quantity for the future.
Mr [Matthew] Ridley is just arrived and informs me that he left your place about the 19 September and that neither Capt Williamson or Blackwell had arrived. I am very sorry for it, as it will prove prejudicial in not having the goods ready for your races. I am not a little surprised that I have not the acknowledgement of my letter by the July packet; it most certainly must have reached your hands before Ridley came away.
15b. I am doubtful whether or not I shall send you any oznabrigs in the next cargo. It is exceedingly high and I am trying to form a connection at Bremen (in Germany) and import it from thence here and reship it you. We shall by that means save one commission at least. Suppose you permit me to go to Holland next spring, I think it would pay us for my trouble. I find it will not do to ship our ironware from London; it comes too high and, had I have known that McKoidy [i.e. McKirdy] was gone to Bristol in time, I would have sent the ironware from thence. I have formed some connections which will produce several capital articles much lower than they usually come. We are in top credit here and it is well worth your whiles to attend to supplies of means [funds] to keep it up at least for some time.
I found that in the manner I lived would not answer. It looked so Zac. Hood like. (I beg his pardon, but I thought I could not convey 'mean' to you in a more proper light.) I therefore resolved to take a counting house which has made me of the consequence a merchant merits. I have fixed [at 6 Tower Street] nearly between the Customs House and the Change which makes it very high, though that I can't help, for it is a maxim with me that I had rather sink the profits of my labour than to diminish my partners and self in the good opinion of the world. It has added all the consequence to us that I wished, as it has stripped me of the appearance of a transient person. If you'll permit me, without thinking me vain, I will add that the different step pursued between most of my countrymen and me, in their running to the other end of the town to lodge and my fixing here, has not been without its good effects with the staid cits. I am sorry for J. Davidson's and S. West's difference as Hobson [Stephen West's London partner] deserves every assistance that we can throw in his way. I have learnt two things since I came to London: that is, not to meddle with religion or politics; they are only exercised here with self views from the exceeding venality and debauchery.
15c. The Lord Baltimore is dead. It was reported that his mistress was entrusted with his will from Naples and since which contradicted, but the fact is his will is still at Naples, to which place several are sent commissioned to open it, register it and bring the original to London. There is many claimants which has produced detainments of counsel for three already. However, it's thought that the Crown will succeed to the government [of Maryland]. He has left a natural son and daughter; the latter was at Naples with him. I do suppose it will make a little confusion amongst the court party with you and that you will have a number of new candidates for preferment amongst which I suppose S[amuel] Chase is one of the foremost.
As my finances are exceedingly small to support me and the credit of my company, I am reduced to the necessity of asking your leaves to make insurances for any gentlemen who will favour me with their orders and to solicit what you can for me. Perhaps I may get five or ten pounds that way and it will be of no disservice to you. I see, though now too late, that there was a field opened for our making £1,500 or £2,000 on tobacco this year had we accepted of the consignment business and pushed it; a number was surprised we did not and a number was afraid we should. It is expensive here but the business just as easy managed as shipping of goods. That which is shipped so as to arrive here in April, May and June will sell well if anyways coloured. Send me every bill as fast as you get them, if it is only £5 at a time, it will be of service to us and be sure always to forward the second bills; you see the necessity from the robbery of this mail. And forward next fall's scheme [of goods to be purchased] as soon as possible. I beg my most sincere love to [brother] Tom, [his wife] Nancy (whom I hope is happily delivered, of what—a boy) and all the rest of his family, Mrs Wallace and Polly, Mrs Davidson, her Mah and Miss Strahan, poor little Will and I suppose another.
16. (pp. 37-8) to Charles Wallace per Capt Page 1 December 1771
I have your welcome favour of the 25 August now before me for which I am very thankful. I am sorry and ashamed to repeat to you that I can't furnish you with those rascals [building craftsmen] you order without imposing on myself and you. I have therefore declined sending any on wages and shall until I am favoured with your particular directions. I am glad to hear of the forwardness your house was in, but I have my doubts that you had it not fit to open your goods in, which, if you had not, would give you a deal of trouble. I am told, although you were above doing it, that J. Pinkney has bought the old Court House in order to make friends with you. It's damned hard Charles and must touch pluck. I suppose though he found it his interest.
O Lord, I wish I could be with you just time enough to say what is uppermost. I should like it of all things and after business (which I don't intend to touch on in this letter) I would tell you that I have seen the Lord Mayor's show, the electing a Lord Mayor, the institution of the Garter (as acted at Drury Lane), the bub, noise and bustle of London, and lastly the Bow Lane Speaking Club, where the differences in the nation is dissected by tailors, shoemakers, barbers, apothecaries and attorneys, and, after all these sights, what then? Why I had rather ten to one drink a good dish of tea [than] to see and hear all that children's stuff again. I join you in an opinion that R[ichard] Sprigg Esq has paid for that little plantation [near Annapolis], though I suppose it was to please, for I am wrong if she don't like great company as they call it there. (But Anthony [Stewart] says this is the devil of a place, for nobody in the street pays any more attention to him, a well-bred, dressed gentleman than to a porter) and God knows what some of yours is thought of in the neighbourhood of Soho.
I am very sorry indeed to hear that your crops has suffered from the drought, for want there is and very great want too of wheat all to the eastward....
[P.S.] Fine coloured tobacco @ 4 to 3½, so to decrease as in quality. Brown Eastern Shore, very low. Viginia, lays on hand. Tell me the price of wheat with you.
17a. (pp. 39-40) to the firm per Capt Page 2 December 1771
I wrote you the 6th ult. per the New York packet, in which I informed you that I should embrace the first opportunity of forwarding you the goods ordered in yours of 3rd August and this being the first to your province, I thought it would not do to omit it, though not so convenient as I could wish. I have therefore enclosed you bills of parcels, bill lading and invoice of goods amounting to £2,729:3:1 and placed them to the debit of Wallace, Davidson & Johnson. You likewise have enclosed William Thomas's 2 bills on J. M. Jordan & Co. under protest amounting with charges to £46:10:8 which are carried to the debit of Wallace, Davidson & Johnson and which you will get renewed and forward as quick as possibly. I wrote you that E[dward] Lloyd's bill on Gale was noted; Mr Richard Lloyd [Marylander visiting London] paid it under protest for the honour of his brother; Walter Carrew's still lies, the time not being expired; those on Glasgow are all good.
If this cargo of goods does not please, it is out of any power to do more, for, where we are obliged to purchase on credit (which in fact is an advantage, because we then receive an advance [rebate] on our prompt payments), notwithstanding the goodness of that credit, there may be some impositions, though I am vain enough to think that we escape more than in general others do; or, should it be in the choice or quality, that must be computed to my want of judgment or the goods exchanged by the tradesmen after looked out. I have the sail cloth from Lichfield 120 miles from London—the charge is not high—and from that I have 10 per cent discount besides the bounty. I have an allowance of 10 per cent on ribbon, earthenware and wool cards; these you will say nothing of [to our customers] and I hope every now and then to be accommodating to them. If the choice in the silks are liked, I think the price will: I have 15 months' credit or a deduction of 5 per cent at the end of 3 months.
17b. It's true you will find many things amounting to more money than in the last cargo, but the quality is better and they are fashionable. The printed goods I have taken a great deal of pains with; they are put up very different from any hitherto shipped to Maryland. They are charged at the long price as is the Irish linen; the drawback and excise will be to the credit of your general account; the Irish is charged at 6 months' credit and subject to a discount of 3 per cent. Pray compare it with the linen shipped before and say whether it is so good or not. I have not sent the oznabrigs, . . . cheese, lemons, china slops [tunics] and Persian taffetas, some of which being too high and a probability of getting the others on better terms against next shipping. I think the quantity of porter very large; it is on better terms than before. You will take care to forward me a certificate for the wine that I may cancel the [customs] bond. I shall be glad to receive your orders for the next fall's cargo in April at farthest that I may have time and be able to ship in June. I likewise would be glad you would make your remarks on each tradesman's bills; it will govern me for the future.
The books marked G. C. were ordered by George Chalmers from D. Dulany [visiting London] and as it was ill convenient for him [Dulany] to be ashipping goods, on his application I sent them; he [Chalmers] must pay ready money, with charges and a small advance for the use of our money. There is several ships that will sail about Christmas and with goods for your place, which made me the more anxious to get those out by this ship that we may have the start of them. I have only how to enclose you my account of expenses in getting here which you will examine and if right pay the amount to my order in favour of Mr J. Davidson.
I am in hourly expectations of hearing from you and of the arrival of Williamson, but, whether or not, I shall continue to write you by every opportunity and on the New Year forward you an account current.
18a. (pp. 40-2) to John Davidson per Capt Page 2 December 1771
I wrote you the 27 August per Capt Greig since which I have not been favoured with a line from you. I have by this opportunity forwarded you Mrs Strahan's gown dyed and I hope to please, likewise Mr Love's cloth, the cost of which I have enclosed and, although it is but a little, the trouble and vexation I have had about it is prodigious and am obliged at last to send it in such a state as is in no ways pleasing, but I assure you it is in the best I could get it done either in town or country. The gown is in Trunk W.D.J. No. 126 and the cloth in Trunk W.D.J. No. 127.
I have likewise enclosed you a sketch of J. Russell's account which you will be pleased to have settled in my books. I was in hopes from yours that I should have received a small supply [of personal funds] by this time, though I judge the reasons are the call for the building and the difficulties in collecting, though let that be it or not, there is a necessity of having a reimbursement of the sum paid Russell and if you can't raise it for me out of the outstanding debts, pray borrow it for me. I have likewise enclosed you the following orders, on Wallace, Davidson & Johnson for £18:15:7, on Thomas Johnson Jr., £1:11:6 and on Mrs A. Green [printer] £0:5:6½ for magazines and papers ordered by Wallace & Davidson; I could not with propriety introduce an account against Mrs Green. I shall therefore, as it will be the most legal method, after this year, get a bookseller to keep an account against me, render it at the year's end, draw on her to Wallace, Davidson & Johnson and charge them with the draught, and which she ought to allow interest on until you are reimbursed. This method will occasionally supply her and prevent trifling payments. The order on Wallace, Davidson & Johnson is for my passage and expenses to London and which I hope you will find right; I would have it all placed to my private account with the company as I suppose they are or will soon be in advance for me on account of the building. The £16 you lent me in Cheston's bill, if you have not repaid yourself for it, stop it out of your half of the goods shipped by Russell. I always allotted Charles Beattie's debt (which is due next March) to be applied to the discharge of my bond to J. Rogers; you will if possible pay that off for me.
18b. I assure you that I am afraid to say a word about the [store] building [in Annapolis], for I now see that I am not as yet able to complete it without borrowing money and that will never do; the only way I can think on will be to secure it from the weather, fit up the store and let that, and the other part must stand until I am able (if ever) to complete it.
I have sent you a letter from poor J[ames] Gibbs whom I was informed was dead and which I wrote you on my first coming here. I presently began to find that honest men was not the most beloved among the rascally part and especially where they envy them in their offices. [Gibbs was absentee comptroller of Patuxent customs district.] This made me begin to think that he might not be dead and determined me to know the truth of it. I therefore began a diligent inquiry and could not succeed. I likewise wrote but to no purpose. At last Z. Hood who was on the inquiry (though from different motives as well as a number of others) heard where he had lived and told me of it, but could not tell whether he was dead or aliving. I then wrote and directed there which produced me a letter from the dead man in a few days and which has opened a correspondence ever since but which I keep hid from all the inquirers, that they may pursue their solicitations for his place without effect.
I have been confined to the house these two or three days with a violent cold and pains which I caught in the damp warehouses looking out the goods and shipping them from the quays, but I am in a fair way of getting rid of it and beg you will not say a word about it, for I know they will be uneasy and I have not even hinted it to anybody.
19. (pp. 43-5) to the firm per the New York packet 4 December 1771
I wrote you the second per Capt Page who brings you goods per invoice £2,729:3:1 and 2 protests William Thomas on Jordan & Co. £46:10:8, both of which sums I have passed to the debit of Wallace, Davidson & Johnson.
I could not meet with any ships going nearer your place or would most readily [have] embraced the opportunity; Galloway's & Steward's [Maryland shipbuilders] new ship is purchased by Russell [London merchant]. She is now fitting out and will sail about Christmas with a large quantity of goods for Annapolis. That, together with the intent of being first, made me push ours out in this ship. I hung off as long as ever I could in order to induce the captain to run his ship directly up to Annapolis, but that old— Russell, who is the charterer, would not suffer him; he is to run his ship to St Mary's [on Potomac], enter with [collector] Wolstenholme and not depart until the goods are delivered in craft and sent off as per agreement and delivered at Annapolis at his expense. I find there is a struggle amongst the merchants who shall get their ships out first: [John] Buchanan sends Christie out, Russell sends Pearson, Molleson has chartered a ship and West & Hobson is on the lookout for one; they will all sail about the first of January, I believe, and every one of them carry goods for Annapolis, so that, in all probability, your town will be earlier supplied this year than usual and perhaps with larger quantities. Though I trust that we shall have one advantage, our goods being better in quality, more fashionable and better chosen they must [be], from my having time and seeing them myself, whereas those shipped by the merchants are never seen by them but hurried up as quick as may be and many charged at 15 and 18 months' credit, especially Buchanan's and Russell's.
The new established 'Merchionos' [i.e. merchantess] is to have a supply this year from West & Hobson (I'll not use half sentences), Mrs [Mary?] Howard & Co. I find that I omitted saying anything about the sugar in my last. You'll find it not so good for the price as that shipped before, owing to the advanced price of soft sugars here, which has of course raised the price of refined, though I have it on better terms than even the grocers can purchase of the bakers.
I can at last say that I have yours of 6th October which came to hand yesterday (though other people has had their letters 7 or 8 days ago by the same ship) and which I will answer in a few days by Jordan for Potomac. I am more puzzled in getting my letters (when I have any) than little enough owing to their direction, and for the future let them be simply to J. J., Merchant, London, as I am become of that consequence that they will readily come to hand. Forward me the requisite certificates to cancel all my bonds in the Customs House. I wish for the next scheme [of goods to be purchased] and pray don't fail in forwarding the next fall's so as to arrive here in March or April at farthest. I beg you will write me per the packet [of] the success in the sales of the goods per Williamson. . . .
20a. (pp. 46-7) to the firm per Capt Pearson 28 December 1771
I wrote you the 2nd inst. per Capt Page and the 4th per the New York packet, since which have not received anything from you. I did expect to have heard from you per Capt Carcaud, who is arrived here in 22 days, but have not a line by him. Enclosed you have Walter Carrew's bill on Horne protested, which I have debited Wallace, Davidson & Johnson, with a bill of lading for the goods per Page. I acknowledged receipt of yours 6 October per packet and promised to answer it fully by Jordan to Potomac. I did not comply with my promise; the reason was I found he was to touch at the Isle of Wight for a load of salt which made me refer it until this opportunity.
You tell me that the house [they are building] eclipses even Chase's (now Lloyd's); pray tell me whether or not it is agreeable to Anderson's plan or Noakes's. I can't learn from anyone who has come over here. I wish that your part was ready to open the goods in. Potts's draught has not yet appeared. I shall take care and do the needful when it does. You say that you have bills [of exchange] in contemplation. I wish I had them here; I would immediately pay them away and take the 5 per cent discount [for early payment]. You must be sure to remit me about £1,200 against May to discharge the balance of the [debts on the] cargo shipped by Williams[on] which becomes due in July.
The stock will not be depreciated much from my attendance on the play-house. I believe I have seen two plays and part of three or four more though I won't promise you that it won't ere long feel the effects of my draughts to discharge several debts contracted, which I have made the money due the underwriters answer as yet. Indeed, I hope this will be the heavy year with me; it takes a great deal to clothe one at first and I have been unfortunate enough to be obliged to pay doctors more than I could wish. For fear of misrepresentation, I thought it not improper to inform you that I have been 6 or 8 days confined to my room lately; it was occasioned by riding on horseback about 35 miles and the horse trotting so very hard brought on a swelling in one of my groins and which fell down in one testicle. It gave me immense pain and kept me from going about so much as I otherwise should have done, though it happened at a lucky time for I had just got the goods on board of Page and on going to see Matt Bordley I got that.
20b. I have a letter from Lux & Bowly of 2nd November in which they inform me that Williamson was then at Baltimore Town which gave me reason to hope you have got those goods at last, though much too late owing to his long tedious passage. I hear that [Captains] McLachlan, Greig and Maynard are all arrived; if so, I do most heartily wish to hear from you that I may know what to do respecting the shipping tea. I can get it through the channel we wished.
I should be glad to hear what is done in your Senate respecting the Inspection Law or whether or not there is any act passed prohibiting the return of young Americans (as for Scotchmen it is out of the question; they do as they please). If there is, I suppose the bearer of this, George Fitzhugh [recently returned from India], will not be suffered an entry with you, but if there is not and he is, I introduce him to you as Geo. Fitzhugh. P. Key is here. He has plunged directly into the pleasures of the town, has lodgings just by Covent Garden; it will require a deep purse though that nor anything else he does don't concern me and I beg it may stop here. I just hear that he has neither brought money nor letters; God only knows how long he will support it.
Our J. Davidson [deputy collector of customs] will observe that all foreign goods require a separate cocket by which he may regulate the collection of the duties, for no foreign paper or anything else can be included in a cocket that contains the goods of a free entry. I only intend this as a hint to him though the conjurers here has not found it out as yet and consequently can't make a handle of it against him.
We have a large 3 deck ship called the Annapolis commanded by Thomas Eden put up for your port. I am told that [Christopher] Court is the merchant and part concerned. Take care or little people will be crushed to poverty. I will write you again in a few days and have only to say that I hope your next will bring me the pleasing account of the receipt of the goods and great sales of them and I am with the compliments of the season to you and yours....