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Letter from Rawleigh Colston to Abner Nash
Colston, Rawleigh
May 10, 1779
Volume 14, Pages 299-301

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RAWLEIGH COLSTON, ESQ., TO HON. ABNER NASH.


Cape Francois, May 10th, 1779

Abner Nash, Esqr.
Sir:

I took the liberty of writing you a line to yourself and some other Gentlemen of your place, in Feby., 1778, acquainting you that I had the honor to be fixed at this place as agent for the commonwealth of Virginia and making a tender of my services in a mercantile way. As I have not been favoured with an answer, I presume those letters miscarried. Capt. Denison, in a vessel belonging to you, arrived here about 10 or 12 days ago, being compelled to decline the prosecution of the voyage to Surinam, by the loss of his mainmast in a severe gale of wind. He was accidentally introduced to me by a Mr. Blackledge of your State, who happened to be present. I had no prospect of disposing of his tobacco at any tolerable price, it being one of the greatest drugs that can be imported, but I promised to render him every service in my power, sir, for which I beg leave to refer you to him. His cargo being stored in our magazine gave me an opportunity of being acquainted with the condition of it. I was sorry to find on examination that 5 Hhds. were wet through & through, & had been so such a length of time that a great part was entirely rotten, which must, from every appearance, and the current testimony of the hands, have happened before it was put on board. Add to this that a great proportion of what remained as will for the conveniency of storage, a circumstance that renders the sales extremely difficult and disadvantageous. Our first business was to spread that which was damaged, and after so doing coopering the cask we packed up the loose and pressed it in with weights. In justice to Capt. Denison I cannot omit mentioning here his activity, as well as his great solicitude and apparent zeal for your interest. This being done, we sought with great industry for a Market, and finding he had a prospect of doing better, I advised him to accept of the best offer that was made him of exchanging it for Sugars tho' at a higher price than they might have been had for in Cash; and in my opinion, considering the state of the market and the condition of the Tobacco, he has done extremely well, and much more so than some of our Countrymen who were here with the same commodity. His Indigo has been sold for as

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high a price as has been given for many months for that of much superior quality, but his Tar and Turpentine could not be disposed of at any tolerable price. For this reason I advise him to leave it for a better market; but as a vessel arrived yesterday from your State with upwards of 300 Barrels, which is, I believe, more than one year's consumption for the Island, besides a large quantity on hand, I shall recommend his selling it, if possible, almost at any price. I have taken the Liberty of consigning you 14 Tierces of Brown Sugar of the first quality, which, with the other freight, will in some measure compensate for the bad voyage. As soon as it arrives I shall be obliged to you to give notice & have it sold by auction, and as it is superior to any I have ever seen produced in this Island, I hope it will command a price proportioned to its quality, which will bear the strictest examination. The proceeds you will please to place immediately in the Continental funds, taking out certificates in my name. Or, as I understand there is a quantity of bad money in our circulation, it would be still more agreeable to sell it for such certificates, even at a somewhat lower price, or otherwise you will please to direct the person to whom you may intrust the disposal to be very cautions of bad money. Altho' I have been already very prolix, I must beg leave to add that I have established a Commission House at this place for American business, under the firm of Delaise & Colston, & shall always be happy to serve you or your friends in that way. It is my intention to pay a visit to the Continent very shortly, for the purpose of settling my affairs and extending my Correspondence, but the business in my absence will still be continued under the same firm.

I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your most obed't Serv't,
RAWLEIGH COLSTON.

P. S. It is to be observed that the French weight is at least 8 per cent. better than ours, so that the Sugars will probably gain near that much more than is specified in the inclosed invoice.

May 13th, 1779. Having advanced the money for Capt. Denison's Clearance Duties and fees of officers and other disbursements, he falls in debt on settlement £502 6 sh. 6d., after deducting 10 per cent. for the freight of the Sugars, which I chose to pay

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rather than retract anything from his little Cargo. For this he has passed a receipt & acknowledgements on your accts. of this date, which you will please to remit, when an opportunity offers, to this place, with directions to pay the same to Messrs. Lejunie & Delaise (with whom I am connected in business) in case of my absence. A loan office Bill of exchange on the Commissioners in France would answer my purpose as well as the cash.

Yours, &c.,
R. COLSTON.