Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: William Lee

Dear Brother,

I wrote you so fully by way of Glasgow lately touching the most uncommon and unpardonable neglect of Capt. Roman in not attending his Craft to quicken them, and in not waiting on the Gentlemen according to my directions, that he might in time inform me who failed that had promised, in order that I might in time have provided other Tobacco for him, all which, in the constant never failing custom of Capt. in the consignment business to do. I say, having written you fully on these points before, it is the less necessary to say much now, however it is proper to make some observations.

I had great reason when at Williamsburg to suppose from the inclosed letter, that there was no doubt of the Friendship being soon filled by means of the orders and directions that I had left with the Captain. But you may judge my surprise, when after a month’s absence, returning the 8th of June to find that he had only 101 hhds. on board, and finding by enquiry in the Ship and from himself together, that in a month he had only been twice or so, in the neighborhood of his Ship, under pretence of having been sick, altho he had one Craft up Potomac and another up Rappahanock that had been gone between 3 and 4 weeks when less than a fortnight was fully sufficient. And being informed by his Son that he had no person who understood how to stow the Ship but himself, I concluded his illness to be pretence, in order to cover his not being provided, as surely he ought to have been, with a proper Stower. Finding things going on in this abominable manner, and that he proposed to profit from a charge of demurrage occasioned absolutely by his own fault, by his own inex<cu>sable neglect; I did on the 13th. of June give him notes and orders for what he said was as much as he could carry, and immediately after that, the next day he got 10 or 12 hhds more than what I had given him on the 13th. He assured me then that he would sail in 10 or 12 days; this being the 3rd of July (my letter not being finished the day I began it) is 19 days ago and he is not ready yet. The <cause> of this is owing clearly to his total neglect of his Craft, and not following them up as is the constant custom of every consignment Captain in this Trade. All this, which can be most amply and fully proved by Squire Lee, myself, and many others whenever it shall be necessary, would now have been stated in a protest from me, if he had protested when his lye days were out. But I have omitted it as he did not protest, but assured me, that as you had by Charter many more days for discharging the Ship at the Port of London than are necessary; if you would allow out of them in propotion for his extra stay here, that there should be no word of difference between you. As I think it always better to avoid disputes where it can be done reasonably, I have not yet protested against him. His being late with Tobo. this year will rather be of advantage, as the Market must sure be rising, and in a short time will probably be very high, as well from political as natural causes. The Crop likely to be made this year I am very certain will not exceed half a Crop, and the report of 74 will be considerably short of last year. I must refer you to Capt. Blackwell, and his mate Capt. Dennis for information, whether Roman had either water, fuel, or Mess sufficient for sailing when his lye days were out. And to them also, for the truth of accounts I have received of Roman talking much to your discredit in public company here, saying you had cheated and imposed on him about his Charter and other <things> injurious to y<our Ch>aracter. Whether, what <he d>id will be found actionable, or not, I can’t tell. But I am sure it was very Rascal like, to abuse behind his back, a Gentleman, whose interest he had undertaken to promote and advance to the utmost of his power. You may be sure I heard him not, but I am told that Capts. Blackwell and Dennis did. As this Creature can never come again in your business, I would recommend Capt. Blackwell, who has a good personal interest in Northumbd & and Lancaster, and is well acquainted with, and much esteemed by all the Gentlemen in these parts. But if you cannot get him, there is one Capt. Cockeril, who has loaded a Ship in Corotoman last winter, and having sent her home remains here to load another. I forget whose business he is in, but I understand he is not well fixed in his present employ, and he has universally established the first reputation in his way where he is known. We have really had most oppressive work with Walker, Rayson, and Roman. Upon my word I believe such another Triumvirate cannot be matched on this side the river Styx. You must not imagine that this arises from any difficulty of pleasing us, no, every body here agrees, that they are not to be equalled. I make no doubt but you have, or will soon, inform me touching your intention to employ Capt. John Lawson for your Agent. I still think he will answer your purpose extremely well. In the present political state of America, when there appears so universal a determination in all the Colonies to stop exports and imports, especially in Virginia & Maryland, I cannot venture to advise your sending another Ship until this unhappy dispute is ended. A meeting of all the late Members of Assembly, is called by the Moderator & 24 other G<entlemen to m>eet at Williamsburg on the 1st. of August next <mutilated> king exports & imports. The sense of the Coun<cil ... th>e in the meantime, and those, already met are c<mutilated>. The determination of the <Augus>t meeting y<ou shall hear the> first opportunity afterwards. When you can send Ships, Loudon and myself agree, that the Potomac Ship should be the earliest, sometime in January we think, and the Rappahanock Ship about May; because no rival ships appear in Rappahanock before then, but many in Potomac. A Ship of between 3 and 4 hundred hhds for Potomac & about 400 for Rappahanock. But as the larger sized Ships sail much the cheapest, if a plan were settled either to draw moderately or to purchase in case of Accidents, then Ships of between 4 and 5 hundreds hhds had best be sent. It is indispensably necessary that you send immediat<ely> in, yr. proved account against the Trents to Col. F. L. Lee , that no time may be lost in the settling their business after the Courts are opened (for they are now Shut up) unless they have made you payment. And such account should always be sent where you intend the Debtor may be sued. But it is of the last consequence that you request them all to make their remittances thro the hands of Loudon, to avoid this signal inconvenience. When he, or I, apply, they say remittances have been already made you, and we not knowing but it may be true, are oblidge to acquiesce. There is no point that Loudon & myself are clearer about, than that it is essentially necessary for your interest and the right adjustment of your affairs that you visit Virginia for a few months. You have many debts that none so well as yourself can settle, and besides, a fine growing interest, which your personal application to would benefit exceedingly. For my part, I would not wish you to come away before the next election in England, but as that is in Apri<l ... > be here with your Rappahanock Ship in <mutilated> be a very good time for that river. I pray <mutilated>t this, if by any means you can effect <mutilated> Fairfax’s lately I was told that you proposed <mutilated> loss Trade) and the j<udgmen>t

R. H. Lee


Lee PapersVirginia Historical Society

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 - 1778, pp. 118 - 22.