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Joseph Woolcombe, Mate of the Blue-Mountain-Valley


Die Solis, 3 ho˙ P˙ M˙, January 21, 1776.

The Committee met pursuant to adjournment.

Present: Pierre Van Cortlandt, Esq˙, Chairman, Mr˙ Scott, Colonel McDougall, Colonel Brasher, Mr˙ Brewster, Mr˙ Tredwell, Mr˙ Sands, Mr˙ Clarke.

Mr˙ William Leary, the Town-Major, came and informed this Committee of Safety, that part of the City Guard, under his direction, had apprehended a certain Joseph Woolcombe, who was come from on board of a transport ship off Sandy-Hook to go on board of the ships-of-war in port, and that he had, also, apprehended Captain William Dobbs, the Pilot, who had brought him on shore for that purpose, and that he had sent them to the Guard-House. That he caused the said Joseph Woolcombe to be searched, and had found in his custody five Letters, which he had brought to the Committee of Safety for their inspection or direction. The said several Letters being opened and read, appeared to be wrote and directed to the persons for that purpose hereinafter named, and to the following effect, to wit:

1st. A Letter from J˙ H˙ Dempster, Captain of the ship Blue-Mountain-Valley, dated January 22, 1776, and directed to his brother, George Dempster, Esq˙, Oxford Street, London. He therein informs him, "that he was now preparing to send an officer on shore, to be fully satisfied of the propriety of going into New-York. That he had been three weeks on the coast, without seeing, or speaking with any of the King' s ships. That he was


greatly amazed at not yet seeing any of the men-of-war his instructions strictly forbidding him to enter Boston, or any other port or harbour in America, till he had spoke with some of His Majesty' s ships — proper orders having been sent out for that purpose. That the ship was in a bad state; he feared that her rudder must be unhung before he could proceed any further, and that they were in want of water."

2d. Letter from the said J˙ H˙ Dempster, of the same London. In this letter he says, "they had been three date, directed to Robert Hunter, Esquire, Coleman Street, weeks on the coast, that they had not seen any of the King' s vessels, though by the tenour of his instructions from the Board, he had reason to suppose he should, long ere this time, have met some of them."

3d. A Letter from the said J˙ H˙ Dempster, of the same date as the others, directed to Richard Cardin, Esquire, Bucklersbury, London, containing advices to the same effect as the letters before mentioned.

4th. A Letter from J˙ H˙ Dempster, of the same date, directed to his brother, J˙ Townshend, London, containing the like advices as the others.

5th. A Letter dated said 22d January, from Joseph Woolcombe, the Mate, (now in the Barrack,) to his father, containing advices of a long passage, very bad weather, loss of sails, ship in bad order, that they had eighty hogs when they sailed, and had now only ten left — that pork would come dear to the soldiers.

Captain William Dobbs, by order of the Committee, was brought before them and examined. He described the ship Blue-Mountain-Valley, says she is a transport from England, with porter and coal for the Ministerial army. That Joseph Woolcombe is mate of the said ship, that he did not promise to put said Woolcombe on board of one of the ships-of-war, but only promised to bring him to the city. That Woolcombe did not mention any thing about the going on board of the ships-of-war, or either of them, until he was near the city, and that he, the said William Dobbs, refused to put him on board.

Captain William Dobbs returned, with a Guard, to the Guard-House, at the Upper Barracks.