London May 1. 1787.
Your favour of Feb. 24. I recd., but this moment.—The Mass. Law in question obliged Masters of Vessels, before they landed a Passenger to give Bonds, to maintain him in Case he came to want. it was intended to indemnify Parishes, or rather Towns, against the Maintenance of Paupers.—This law turned the tide of emigration from Ireland to Philadelphia.—it was early in this Century I believe, but I am not able to ascertain the Date of it. There was an early Law too which obliged Master who manumitted Negroes to maintain them in Case they came to want, upon the same Principle. We have now no new Law that I know of, but ever since I can remember, every Negro who had the Courage to bring an action for his Liberty recovered it. our juries would never declare Negroes Slaves by their Verdict. The is some new law lately passed which gives the Writ de Homine Repligiando, but I know not the Particulars.
I know nothing of W. Penns dying in the Fleet Prison. I can be of very little service to you, in the work you are upon, for I have no American books to resort to but such as you possess and Memory is a very fallacious Guide.— I am, with much / Esteem, sir your most obedient & humble / Servant.
NhD: George Ticknor Autograph Collection.