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Letter from Archibald Maclaine to George Hooper
Maclaine, Archibald, 1728-1790
December 23, 1783 - December 28, 1783
Volume 16, Pages 996-1000


23rd December, 1783.

My Dear Sir:

Gaillard did not deliver me your letter (Monday) though I found that he arrived here on Saturday evening. This was indeed of no further ill consequence than depriving me of an opportunity, by Mr. Shaw of paying my respects to my new nephew. Who this same Mr. Winter is I cannot conceive. I never knew that any relation of mine had married a man of that name, & I am pretty well assured that none of my near relations ever did. As to his being the son of a neice, that is impossible. I have no neices or nephews in this world, except the children of a maternal sister, whose husband’s name was Quinn. The eldest of these (a son) is about 27, as my brother informs me. None of the daughters are married, that I know of, & if they are, they are too young to have sons grown. My sister was married but a short time before I left Ireland, & had her first child lived it would not have been more than 34. This Irish cousin is some adventurer, and as we may expect that many such will be visiting this country, I believe I must endeavor to give you some account of my family that you may be able to detect them. There is however one rule, by the observance of which you may escape these harpies. If they bring no letters for me or my brother, they are either no relation of mine, or if they are, not worthy of notice. I have not had an opportunity of inquiring of Brennan, who is lately from Philadelphia; but he told my brother that he had seen a genteel looking young man there, who wrote a fine hand, was a redemptioner, and said he was my nephew. Brennan had not inquired or heard his name, concluding it was Maclaine; but if your cousin Winter came from Philadelphia, I shall believe him to be the identical nephew. It is highly improbable that he should be the son of my sister, unless she has one so wild as to run away from his mother.

I spoke to Mr. Winslow, Mr. Cochran, Mr. Hogg and your brother about the negroes. They have not yet decided upon any thing. I will urge the two latter to act in concert with me. But are not

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Toomer and Quince also concerned? Pray let me know who are the ostensible debtors, that is, who are bound by the bond. If those who have the negroes in possession will not agree to do something effectual immediately, some steps must be taken to compel them. Is there anything like a bill of sale and to whom is it made?

As to your removal here when your affairs will permit, I shall only say that it will give me pleasure, if the temper of the times should alter, but not otherwise. Believe me, I rejoice that you are out of the reach of malice here; & I hope and believe that Tallon cannot injure you there. For this piece of happiness I am indebted to Governor Martin, and though in my own opinion his conduct as a public man is absurd beyond expression, I shall never forget that he has made you happy. He told me yesterday in confidence that your brother Will was infinitely more solicitous about Tom than he was about you. I believe this to be true; but laying aside the ties of blood, perhaps I might have expected that some consideration for Kitty & for me, might have induced him to interest himself in your favor.

I will prepare something for Tallon very soon. In the mean time, Silas Cooke, will I expect either send or carry to Charlestown, protested bills of Fallon’s for £200 sterl. drawn in favor of one Barry. Jemmy Walker had them once. I see by one of your newspapers that a Hugh Kelly is arrived from London. He is another of those numbers whom Fallon has taken in. Whether those people by your laws can sue, I cannot tell; but I am sure Kelly has materials sufficient to make Fallon as black as his master. There are letters (if not lost) under the scoundrel’s own hand, that will shew with what address, and with what plausible falsehood he induced Kelly to accept his bills. The moment that was effected, he got them discounted, & pushed off to Edenburgh with the money, & from thence to Edenton.

26th December.

The Governor left us yesterday morning for Colonel (now General) Clarke’s. The preceding evening, he was with me, and appeared very happy. Indeed he is extremely pleased with the attention & respect with which he was treated in this place; and as I had the honor to preside at the grand entertainment (where there were

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above 60 persons present, and where the evening was passed off without any thing disagreeable) his Excellency has expressed under his hand the obligations he is under to me in particular, & to the gentlemen in general. Would you think that I sat from three in the afternoon till after ten, and went home sober? But so it is. With all this apparent friendship and cordiallity, I have not been able to effect any thing for Burgwin. In truth I was so much disgusted with the folly and injustice of the arguments made use of against my lenient measures that I at last avoided touching upon the subject. My pride was hurt at the idea of prostituting reason and common sense to fools. It would have been casting pearls before swine. I have still one faint hope arising from Mr. Mcguire’s interposition, who is acquainted with my application, & before he left town, promised, if I did not succeed, to use his endeavors.

As to Major Maclean, the Governor certainly repents of what he has done; but I suppose thinking his dignity at stake, has refused to recall his order for sending that gentleman away. He has however (meanly I think) consented to a connivance that will make matters easy. Lilllington & Young have directions to permit Maclean to stay ashore, provided he does not appear publicly in town. A little mind can never submit to acknowledge an error.

The Governor understanding that tobacco is high at Charlestown proposes, if the price does not rise soon in Virginia (which would be more convenient for him) to send some waggons to you, in order to supply himself with such articles as he wants. There is little to be had at present in Fayetteville. I have assured him that you would take particular pleasure in obliging him. Indeed he always speaks of you, even in mixed companies with approbation. As I believe his disposition is not bad, it is probable he may feel some satisfaction in this, upon my account: but I am persuaded he would not venture to say any thing favorable of any one, were he well assured that the people in general were unfavorable to that one. When I made your acknowledgements and my own, I told him expressly that there would not now be any occasion for the pardon which he so kindly offered, as you never intended to return here as a criminal; and though this was rather a contradiction to what you wrote, and which I shewed to him, it is my own opinion. My reason is, that I would not have it said, that your conduct stood in any

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need of a public interposition in your favor. Every thing is now so nearly at an end, and I suppose you are doing so well where you are, that, notwithstanding all the violent nonsense to the contrary, I would not give a shilling for the lenity either of the executive or legislative power of the State, and I am determined not to ask for, or receive, any favors which I can possibly avoid.

Poor Doctor Burke is no more. A heavy loss to the public at this time, notwithstanding his failings and peculiarities. Mrs. McCalester (late Mrs. Roger Moore) we hear is lately dead; & as it comes from several hands we think it is true. Sam Mabson, a boy of eighteen, is lately married to Miss Sallie (Nat) Moore, aged about twenty-eight. The Governor, it is said, had it in view to get a wife among us. Miss Heron, and Miss Lyon have been particularly mentioned; & he very frequently visited their mothers. I believe he certainly had the former in view; and our old friend M. Jones told him, very wittily, that he understood he had the fortitude to attack a Lioness. I fancy there is some truth in it, as Poll looks foolish when it is mentioned.

I have been plagued for two days, though I have not been out of doors, with the compliments of the season, and a merry Christmas. I am by no means disposed to be merry, though I could be perfectly easy, and perhaps cheerful enough, were it not for the daily infraction of the laws, and the treaty of peace. A short time I hope will do away all this folly & villainy, but my immediate uneasiness arises from B——’s situation. I am really concerned for him and perhaps my pride is hurt, after so many successful struggles in his favor, to be defeated at last, when I least expected it. My present despondency on his account does not prevent me from enjoying the happiness of your present situation, nor from wishing you a cheerful Christmas, and that you and yours may enjoy many happy years. Whether you can be soon with me I know not; but I am sure if I have life and health, I will see you before any long period. To the children, you will from me, deliver the compliments of the season in form.

I am Dear Sir,
Very affectionately yours,

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If the Governor sends you any waggons, you will have a good opportunity of making some acknowledgement that may be acceptable to him. It need not be very expensive to you.

28th December.

I find that Wilson Blount has after all, left his affairs unsettled. Your sheriff charges him in very pathetic terms, with a deception. Blount says expressly that he has not only delivered the sheriff Mr. Rutledge’s orders to discharge him; but that in consequence of it, the sheriff delivered up the promise of Scarborough and Cooke for the forth-coming of Blount’s person. And in truth it is scarcely credible that an officer should discharge a prisoner without order from the plaintiff or his attorney. Even after his discharge, B—— says he went with Mr. James Miller, more than once, in order to execute the papers agreed upon, but that Simpson refused to make the necessary defeasance upon the bond for delivering it up, when security should be given here, though it was directed by Mr. Rutledge, his own lawyer, whose hand appears to be to it. Whether B—— has in any respect acted disengenuously, I cannot pretend to say; but from his account of the whole matter, he has been hardly, and I think unjustly dealt by. If you have leisure, I wish to hear what is said of it with you, & what authority there is for it; for I would not willingly support a man in a scheme that would ruin an officer who has shewn him great indulgence. Who this sheriff is I do not know; but he writes sensibly; and I almost suspect that his letters are dictated by some other person.

A. M.