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Letter from Archibald Maclaine to George Hooper
Maclaine, Archibald, 1728-1790
September 20, 1784
Volume 17, Pages 166-168


Wilmington, 20th Sept., 1784.

My Dear Sir:

I should scarcely have thought of writing you before Kitty's departure, were it not that I am anxious to attend to the affairs of my friends. The letters which I inclose to you are from Mr. Hay, & I beg you will forward them by the first conveyances. If vessels for both England and Ireland, you will separate them according to their direction.

The late Dr. Mortimer of this place (whose widow Dr. Geekie married)

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left, after the death of his wife and daughter, his house, and some other parts of his estate, to his nephew, John Conaway, of S. Carolina. Upon the death of Mrs. Geekie, the house, &c., became his property. Some years ago this nephew, (who is a poor insignificant creature) wrote to Dr. Green (then dead) as one of Mortimer's executors to know what his uncle had left him. He signed himself John Connerly. Whether he is totally illiterate and procured some person to write for him, or that his uncle who was eminently illiterate himself, mistook the name I do not know. Should his name be really Connerly, I am of opinion, if he proves himself the nephew of Mortimer, & there is no nephew of the name of Conaway, that he would succeed to the bequest. Doctor Geekie is at present in a disagreeable situation. He may be in immediate danger of losing his place of habitation, & be obliged to pay the profits since the death of his first wife.

From what Mortimer's nephew writes, he seems not to know what he is entitled to under his uncle's will, & I understand that he is not only insignificant but a drunkard. I believe Dr. Geekie has heard of him lately. I therefore wish that you could continue to have some conversation with him, & without mentioning Dr. Geekie's name, or the death of his uncle's widow and child (if he should be ignorant of these circumstances) find out from himself what connexions or expectations he had in this place. You could easily manage it so as to bring about a treaty for the purchase of his claim. If you advance so far, it will not be amiss to let him know you understood that the name of Mortimer's nephew was Conaway, not Connerly, (if the latter is really his name) and insist as a preliminary, that he prove his propinquity to the deceased, so that the proof may be transmitted here under the seal of the State. Perhaps this affair may not bear the most equitable aspect; but if the man is such a creature as I have heard and believe (and this belief is founded upon the want of personal application in the claimant) there will be little injury done to him. I would not by any means have this business so conducted, that it should transpire here; as there are several who would endeavour to get the property from Geekie; and Walker, exclusive of his insatiable avarice, would risque damnation to injure any man who has uniformly and openly opposed him. Where this Connerly is now to be found I do not know;

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but his letter of—1778, requests an answer to him at John Vineyard, leather-breeches maker, in Charleston. When Kitty sets off I will transmit you his letter or a copy of Mortimer's will, and the form of a conveyance, in case you should purchase. When you left this you had such a fine tide, and such a steady wind for at least 36 hours, by my calculation, that I think you must have been in Charleston the next day by noon. The second night after you left us, it blew a storm, at almost all points of the compass. I hope and believe you were entirely free from Danger.

We have now a dreadful fresh in the N. West. Except one, I believe the highest that has been known. This of course carries off the most of the grain that had escaped. In the neighbourhood of B. Smith and T. Clark, they were all busy in with boats saving what they could. This has prevented the latter from coming to town for Mrs. Forbes. He has however wrote to her (I am told) very affectionately, but not with that politeness which she expected. Tom however is not remarkable for address. Mrs. Forbes I believe despairs of staying here to any purpose, and thinks to accompany Kitty to Charleston, from whence she expects a more ready passage than she could have here.

I must mention a circumstance which may eventually be of importance. Dr. Claypoole who has lately complained of the toothache, says that he never had a hollow tooth till since he came here. That he attributes it to smoking, that the heat occasioned and kept up by tobacco smoke, must necessarily affect the teeth, as all extremes do. Notwithstanding this opinion he cannot deny himself the pleasure of a pipe, of which he is remarkably fond. If the doctor is right, perhaps it is owing to such a circumstance, that I have never had the toothache. I never could smoke without sickness, & I never could drink anything very hot or very cold.

Catherine & Poll are as you left them.

Yours affectionately,

I think Connerly would be satisfied if he could get 50 or 100 guineas, & Geekie would be well off to get clear of him for the largest of the two sums; though he will probably take less.