Primary tabs

Addresses of the Corportation of Williamsburgh and Lord Dunmore

Address of the Corporation of Williamsburgh


Williamsburgh, Virginia, April 21, 1775.

This morning, between three and four o' clock, all the Gunpowder in the Magazine, to the amount, as we hear, of about twenty barrels, was carried off in his Excellency the Governour' s Wagon, escorted by Captain Collins and a detachment of Marines from the armed Schooner Magdalen, now lying at Burwell' s Ferry, and lodged on board that Vessel. As soon as the news of this manoeuvre took wind, the whole City was alarmed, and much exasperated; and numbers got themselves in readiness to repair to the Palace to demand from the Governour a restoration of what they so justly supposed was deposited in this Magazine for the Country' s defence. However, as some gentlemen represented the propriety of remonstrating to the Governour; upon this occasion in a decent and respectful manner, the Common Hall assembled, who, after deliberating some time, waited upon his Excellency with the following Address, which was presented by the Honourable Peyton Randolph, Esquire, Recorder of this City, and is as follows:

To His Excellency the Right Honourable JOHN Earl of DUNMORE, His, Majesty' s Lieutenant, Governour-General, and Commander-in-chief of the Colony and Dominion of VIRGINIA:

The humble Address of the Mayor, Recorder, Aldermen, and Common Council of the City of WILLIAMSBURGH:

MY LORD: We, His Majesty' s dutiful and loyal subjects, the Mayor, Recorder, Aldermen, and Common Council of the City of Williamsburgh, in Common Hall assembled, humbly beg leave to represent to your Excellency that the inhabitants of this City were this morning exceedingly alarmed by a report that a large quantity of Gunpowder was, in the preceding night, while they were sleeping in their beds, removed from the publick Magazine in this City, and conveyed under an escort of Marines on board one of His Majesty' s armed Vessels lying at a Ferry on James River.

We beg leave to represent to your Excellency, that as this Magazine was erected at the publick expense of this Colony, and appropriated to the safe-keeping of such munition as should be there lodged from time to time, for the


protection and security of the Country, by arming thereout such of the Militia as might be necessary in case of invasions and insurrections, they humbly conceive it to be the only proper repository to be resorted to in times of imminent danger.

We farther beg leave to inform your Excellency, that from various reports at present prevailing in different parts of the Country, we have too much reason to believe that some wicked and designing persons have instilled the most diabolical notions into the minds of our Slaves, and that, therefore, the utmost attention to our internal security is become the more necessary.

The circumstances of this City, my Lord, we consider as peculiar and critical. The inhabitants, from the situation of the Magazine in the middle of their City, have for along tract of time been exposed to all those dangers which have happened in many Countries from explosions and other accidents. They have, from time to time, thought it incumbent on them to guard the Magazine. For their, security, they have for some time past judged it necessary to keep strong patrols on foot. In their present circumstances, then, to have the chief, and necessary means of their defence removed, cannot but be extremely alarming.

Considering ourselves as guardians of the City, we therefore humbly desire to be informed by your Excellency upon what motives, and for what particular purpose the Powder has been carried off in such a manner: and we earnestly entreat your Excellency to order it to be immediately returned to the Magazine.

Response of Governor John Dunmore

To which Address His Excellency returned this verbal Answer:

That hearing of an insurrection in a neighbouring County, he had removed the Powder from the Magazine, where he did not think it secure, to a place where it would be in perfect security; and that, upon his word and honour, whenever it was wanted on any insurrection, it should be delivered in half an hour. That he had removed it in the night time to prevent any alarm; and that Captain Collins had his express commands for the part he had acted. He was surprised to hear the people were under arms on this occasion, and that he should not think it prudent to put Powder into their hands in such a situation.