My dear Brother                                                          Menokin[1] July 2d 1773


      By a Glasgow Ship, I wrote you, that Mr. M. Smith intended to ship 80 hhd. tobo. in Rayson to answer the bills he had drawn on you, but that he cou’d not take them in; we have try’d since, tho in vain to charter you have lost near 300 hhd. for want of ship room; As there will be a great deal of tobo. left in the Country, & the present crop is very forward & promising, I think you shou’d have a ship as early as possible in the fall in the country. I am afraid Hipkins will be tardy in making his remittances, I have pressed him often & warmly, he has promised me to remit you by the first opportunity £90 which he had in hand, and £100 for which he expected an order from Col. Taylor, besides 100 hhd. tob. which he is hawking about for sale the produce of which he assures me will be remitted to you. You may depend I will be as bad as a third day ague & fever to him untill he complys. John Gordon says he does not know What he owes you, as you have not send him sales nor Account currt.; every body is so ready at evading demand, that it is impossible to collect debts without having an exact state of their rects. which you shoud allways send me, at least of those whome you intend I should push for payment. I wrote you by the Justitia[2] Capt Gray, but he is not yet sail’d. Yet doubt will not before Rayson. When she does, John Corrie is to dray for his ball.; on Campbell Capt. Rayson just left me, his last craft is now taking her load from the lower parts of this River, he is all ready & will sail as soon as this Craft gets round, he has been much troubled with the craftsmen; indeed they are grown so bad, that it requires a person much better acquainted with this business & much cleverer than Rayson to manage them, we are endeavouring to form some regulations for these Gentry agst. the next meeting of the Assembly; the trade suffers so much but their negligence & villainy that every body is convinced of the necessity of taking them under consideration my 22 hhd. are on board, you will insure so as to recover £6 in case of loss. I hope if we shd. have a war it will not raise insurance much, as our opponents are not very powerfull at sea. Mrs. Lee intended to have sent her Sister some hams by Dobbie, but the Capt. assured me it was impossible to keep them in a summer passage, so we have defer’d it till the fall, & shall be glad to have a conveyance in a ship of your own. I am afraid I am so far behind with you, that my tobo. will not pay the ball: & answer the Good to be sent for by Rayson but you may depend I will remit you in bills next summer, before the tradesmen will be clamorous for their money.

     As I shall shortly write again I must now take my leave, please to give our hearty love to our dear Sister & Brother Lawyer, & believe me ever your sincerely afft. friend & Bror.,

                                       Francis Lightfoot Lee

To William Lee, Esquire



Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, M2009.045, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall



Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 March 10

[1] Lee’s plantation near Warsaw, Virginia.

[2] “Justitia” was a French war ship that was called “Success” and renamed in 1764. It was built in Genoa and captured by the British during the Seven Years War. Captain Finlay Gray commanded the ship after the death of the vessel’s captain Colin Somerville. The ship made trips to Virginia every two years and would dock at Leedstown in Westmoreland County. The ship later became a prison hulk on the Thames in London. The ship was destroyed and sunk in 1847.