Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Crew, 17 December 1790

From Robert Crew

London Decr 17th 1790


I enclose to you four newspapers, which contain some parliamentary debates, which it may be agreeable for you to receive.—I shall be glad to have the honour of receiving your commands in any thing it may be in my power to serve you. I am with the greatest respect Sir Your most obedt Servt,

Ro Crew

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 17 Mch. 1791 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures not identified, but perhaps copies of The Times (London) for 14–17 Dec. 1790 containing proceedings of Parliament on the first four days of the session. The item that may have interested TJ most was the attack on Pitt’s policy toward Spain led by Charles James Fox and supported by Charles Grey, who produced statistics showing the high cost of supporting the southern whale fishery. Grey was accused by ministerial supporters of viewing the matter in a narrow fiscal sense instead of considering the fishery as a nursery for seamen and hence essential to England’s maritime strength.

Robert Crew was a Virginian who had settled in London in 1784 as a tobacco merchant (Crew to TJ, 5 Oct. 1784). He evidently returned to America but was back in London by 1790 and in “a comfortable situation in mercantile business” (Crew to Short, 5 Jan. 1790 and 7 Jan. 1791, OCHP: Short Papers; the first of these letters announced TJ’s safe arrival on the Clermont at Norfolk on 25 Nov. 1789). On 1 Jan. 1793 Crew began a partnership with Thomas Allport for importing tobacco (Crew & Allport to TJ, 10 Dec. 1792; printed form showing typical charges per hogshead plus commission of 2 per %on tobacco received and 5% on goods shipped). In announcing this fact to TJ, Crew sent a paper containing Grey’s motion for an address to the king against the war with France and added: “This government offer 7/per bus. for American wheat that may touch in England for orders, in order to prevent the French from being supplied. At the same time British Wheat is only 5/10 per bush.” (Crew to TJ 1793). Ten years later Crew sent TJ a patented churn capable of “saving much time and labour” and suggested that TJ might wish to have his workmen “construct others from the pattern for the public benefit” (Crew to TJ, 18 July 1803). The only extant letter from TJ to Crew appears to be that of 10 Sep. 1789.

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