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William Aylett to Richard Henry Lee


King William, November 30th, 1776.

DEAR SIR: Since writing the letter that encloses this, I have received your favour by our Attorney-General, with my account enclosed, and am glad to hear that the Continental officers are to be saved the trouble and expense of attending at Philadelphia to settle, this account. I imagine the Commissioners will receive full instructions in what manner to proceed, and whether they are minutely to examine all the innumerable little provision-vouchers that I have already audited and settled, or only to examine my receipts, and see that the accounts are properly stated, and sums of money I have received properly accounted for. Examining and settling the accounts with the various Commissioners


and contractors being principally the duties of my office, I presume that it will he taken for granted I have faithfully executed that part of my duty, for a reexamining every provision return will employ a great deal of time, and I could have no interest in permitting impositions to take place, unless I had entered into a wicked combination with the commissaries or contractors, and under that idea no settlement would be ever final. I have all the accounts of the respective contractors fairly stated, with the number of rations issued each day, to whom, and by whose order, and double receipts to every sum of money paid, to be lodged with the accounts and vouchers to be sent to Congress, and the other to remain in my own hands. I wish you, sir, to have this matter of reexamining the vouchers or provision returns, clearly expressed in the instructions sent to the Commissioners, as it will be a prodigious saving of time in settling my accounts; for unless I can be confided in, in respect to auditing those accounts that I have no other interest in than to see that they are honestly and fairly stated, I am a very unnecessary officer; for if the Commissioners are to reexamine them, they might as well do it in the first instance, and save the expense of a Deputy Commissary-General; however, if it is thought necessary, I have all the returns properly arranged and numbered, and will most cheerfully go through with it, but it will take up a great deal of time. I have supposed that producing these accounts, with proper receipts for payment, would be as much as would be required of me; but it may not be amiss to reexamine part of them, to see that I have attentively discharged the trust reposed in me; but the face of every account will show this, as there are none of them but will show the most exact scrutiny having been bestowed on them, from a number of corrections to each.

Dunmore has not yet made his appearance here, though our Governour and Council are taking every precaution to give him, if he comes, a proper reception. Many detachments of the Militia are already in Williamsburg, and I am come up to send a hundred men from this County, who are to march on Monday next. Our recruiting business is like to be retarded for the want of money. It will be well to send a sufficient sum for this purpose, for laying in a sufficient store of provisions as soon as possible. It certainly would be a great saving to the Continent to lay in a large quantity of provisions of pork and beef here, though it is almost too late now to procure beef on low terms.

I am, respectfully, dear sir, your obliged and affectionate,


To Richard Henry Lee, Esq.

I would apologize for the abundance of trouble I have given you, but when publick interest or private friendship is the motive, I know apology is unnecessary.