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Letter from Neil Jamieson to Glassford, Gordon and Co.


Intercepted Letter transmitted to Congress by General Washington, with his Letter dated December 18, 1775.


Norfolk, Virginia, November 17, 1775.

GENTLEMEN: The annexed is a copy of my last, per the ship Isabella, which ship got to sea, I fancy, about the 23d ultimo. Since that time we have been in very great confusion here, very few people remaining in the town. I don' t know a man who had any property left here but myself; but seeing every other person securing their effects, and going off themselves, I began to consider that, if any accident happened to your subjects in my hands, I might be censured; therefore, I bought a small vessel, for which I am to give three hundred pounds; I have put all the rum, sugar, &c˙, on board of her, and I have all my papers and


other things of value lying ready packed up, in order to be put on board this vessel in half an hour, with myself, ready to haul off under the protection of the men-of-war, and proceed to sea, to some place of safety. It is a disagreeable situation to be in, to be lying all night in fear, with loaded arms at your bed-side, for fear of being alarmed or set upon.

Three days ago, our Governour received information of a body of men being assembled in arms at Kemp' s Landing, ten miles from hence. His Excellency set off himself, with the most of the troops that are here, (about one hundred and fifty,) and from twenty to thirty volunteers. They came up with these unfortunate people, about two to three hundred of them. They immediately fired on the King' s troops. I must be excused from giving you the particulars, as I had it from his Excellency himself, last night, (for he spent the evening here, with me.) In short, these poor people were immediately dispersed and put to the rout, with the loss of a few lives; not any of the King' s troops suffered; a sailor, only, shot in the knee.

His Excellency' s humanity appeared in a conspicuous light, as he could easily have surrounded and cut off the most of these poor people; but he was satisfied with taking some prisoners. The King' s standard was hoisted immediately, and martial law declared. This brush was in Princess-Anne, the neighbouring County.

On the standard being hoisted, many people have come in. There were above five hundred people who came in and declared for Government, and took the oath. If I have time, you may have copy of the oath, &c.

Yesterday, about two o' clock, P˙ M˙, his Excellency marched in here, and the King' s standard was hoisted, when the principal inhabitants (what few of them were in town) took the oaths to Government, and all in the town signed, to the amount of two hundred.

Several of the principal people concerned in the raising of the poor people in Princess-Anne County, have been taken prisoners, and are now on board the guard-ship. The poor people blame these men much for obliging them to take up arms. May the Lord in his infinite mercy put an end to these troubles, and bring relief to this distressed country.

There is no communication with the upper parts of the country just now, so that I cannot get Mr˙ Irving' s state to send you; and you may easily judge of our present distressed condition, that I cannot apply to the making out of mine here, just now. It' s said the principal part of the people up the country, in low circumstances, are for Government, if they were at liberty to declare their sentiments.

Lord Dunmore has applied to me to negotiate some money matters. I am not fond of this business; but if he urges it, and gives the necessary security, I suppose I must comply.

If I had time, I should have made out a scheme for a cargo of goods, to be shipped immediately, on receipt hereof; but, as I am not, at present, very fit to go on such business, I think you could be at no loss in sending out a cargo for this, to the amount of four thousand to five thousand pounds sterling; this is providing you have vessels convenient, of our own, and that you have a prospect of selling your tobacco to advantage, so far as to make you easy in circumstances. I presume there will be open trade at this place soon, although I do not expect tobacco can be shipped home for some considerable time, for the planters have not brought any to the warehouses; and if it was, it could not be brought here; but I think dry-goods will be sold here. What I would propose would be this: providing such a young man could be got that you had a good opinion of, and such as you could take for a partner in this business, in that case the goods might be bought up by him or his friends, and consigned to himself. But recommend him to apply to me, and be under my directions. The sales could go on in his name; and, as a plentiful supply would be ordered, which could come here in safety if the country is brought to order by the time they arrive, then we could supply our upper stores from thence. I could purchase the goods here from the young man that was sent out. I have consulted Lord Dunmore on this head, and will have his interest and assistance, if necessary.


From what I have said, you' ll know my meaning. The worst that can happen will be ordering the vessel with the goods for the West-Indies, providing it is not prudent to open them here; but by the time these goods arrive, I think there will be no danger. Indeed, were our circumstances easy at home, you might go the length of ten thousand pounds sterling value in goods. You would be at no loss for a scheme for a summer cargo; all kinds of linens, none above three shillings sterling per yard; some loaf sugar, value about five hundred pounds sterling of it; nails, from four-penny to twenty-penny; paints; linseed-oil. There ought to be one thousand pounds sterling value of osnaburgs of different kinds.

I think, by the time they arrive, there may be a chance of being able to supply the upper stores. By this, you see, your having the schemes for the upper stores in your hands, you' ll not be at any great loss in sending out such goods as are there ordered, especially such as may sell in the West-Indies, in case matters are not cleverly settled here. But, by what I have seen already, I have a notion there will be a good chance of selling goods by the time they arrive.

By the enclosed papers you' ll easily see what may be expected. There are above one thousand people already signed, in three days, from this and Princess-Anne County. I think I shall have no reflections cast on me by any of the country gentlemen, although my not going into violent measures, as many of our countrymen have, I find a party of them here is formed against me. His Excellency knows my reasons, and such as may be deemed prudent, because I informed him I act agreeably to your instructions. I think I stand well with his Lordship, and hope to render good offices to the distressed; this will be my study. His Lordship is a humane, good man, and will use as much lenity as in prudence may be necessary for the unfortunate.

I think you might pretend to order the goods for Antigua, for fear others may choose to ship as soon as you. Be pleased to order the vessel that belongs to ourselves, if they get a load of tobacco for France, to load great salt, providing you should soon hear of an accommodation being expected. Indeed, if a load of tobacco to any part of the Channel was got, I think you might order, in their return, to call at Liverpool and load salt; half of each cargo should be in good sacks.

On the whole, you' ll be pleased to judge for yourselves. If we can go through with this scheme, I think it will do. I refer you to the papers enclosed for what may be expected soon.

I am for self &, Co˙, gentlemen, yours, &c˙,


P˙ S˙ Do not forget an assortment of sail-cloth, and twine; also, a few hogsheads of potatoes, if to be got on tolerable terms. Might fill up tierces with potatoes from Liverpool, provided it' s not too late in the season.

N˙ J.