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Letter from William Crawford, Westmoreland County


SIR: As some very extraordinary occurrences have lately happened in this county, it is necessary to write an account of them to you. That which I now give is at the request, and with the approbation of all the Magistrates that are at present attending the court. A few weeks ago Mr˙ Conolly went to Staunton, and was sworn as a Justice of the Peace for Augusta county, in which it is pretended that the country about Pittsburg is included. He had before this brought from Williamsburg commissions of the peace for several gentlemen in this part of the Province, but none of them, I believe, have been accepted of. A number of new militia officers have been lately appointed by Lord Dunmore. Several musters of the militia have been held, and much confusion has been occasioned by them. I am informed that the militia is composed of men without character and without fortune, and who would be equally averse to the regular administration of justice under the Colony of Virginia, as they are to that under the Province of Pennsylvania. The disturbances which they have produced at Pittsburg have been particularly alarming to the inhabitants. Mr˙ Conolly is constantly surrounded with a body of armed men. He boasts of the countenance of the Governor of Virginia, and forcibly obstructs the execution of legal process, whether from the Court or from single Magistrates. A Deputy Sheriff has come from Augusta county, and I am told has writs in his hands against Captain St˙ Clair and the Sheriff for the arrest and confinement of Mr˙ Conolly. The Sheriff was last week arrested at Pittsburg for serving a writ on one of the inhabitants there, but was, after some time, discharged. On Monday last one of Conolly' s people grossly insulted Mr˙ Mackay, and was confined by him in order to be sent to jail. The rest of the party hearing it immediately came to Mr˙ Mackay' s house and proceeded to the most violent outrages. Mrs˙ Mackay was wounded in the arm with a cutlass; the Magistrates, and those who came to their assistance, were treated with much abuse, and the prisoner was rescued.

Some days before the meeting of the court, a report was spread that the militia officers, at the head of their several companies, would come to Mr˙ Hanna' s, use the Court ill, and interrupt the administration of justice. On Wednesday, while the court was adjourned, they came to the court house and paraded before it. Centinels were placed at the door, and Mr˙ Conolly went into the house. One of the Magistrates was hindered by the militia from going into it till permission was first obtained from their commander. Mr˙ Conolly sent a message to the Magistrates informing them that he wanted to communicate something to them, and would wait on them for that purpose. They received him in a private room. He read to them the enclosed paper, together with a copy of a letter to you, which Lord Dunmore had transmitted to him, enclosed in a letter to himself, which was written in the same angry and undignified style. The Magistrates gave the enclosed answer to what he read, and he soon afterwards departed with his men. Their number was about one hundred and eighty or two hundred. On their return to Pittsburg some of them seized Mr˙ Elliott, of the Bullock Penn, and threatened to put him in the stocks for something which they deemed an affront offered to their commander. Since their return, a certain Edward Thompson, and a young man who keeps store for Mr˙ Spear, have been arrested by them; and Mr˙ Conolly, who in person seized the young man, would not allow him time even to lock up the store. In other parts of the country, particularly those adjoining the river Monongaheld, the Magistrates have been frequently Insulted in the most indecent and violent manner, and are apprehensive that unless they are speedily and vigorously supported by


Government, it will become both fruitless and dangerous for them to proceed in the execution of their offices. They presume not to point out the measures proper for settling the present disturbances, but beg leave to recommend the fixing a temporary line, with the utmost expedition, as one step which in all probability will contribute very much towards producing that effect.

For further particulars concerning the situation of this county, I refer you to Colonel Wilson, who is kind enough to go on the present occasion to Philadelphia.

I am, sir, your very humble servant,

To the Honorable John Penn. Esquire.