James Madison Papers

From James Madison to John Boyle, 17 May 1771

To John Boyle

RC (Princeton University Library). Addressed: “To John Boyle, Water Street, Philada. Pr. favr. Mr. Wallace.”

Princton May 17th. 1771


I wrote to you not long since by Mr. Armstrong2 but as it is uncertain whether you have seen him, I take this opportunity by Mr. Wallace3 to acquaint you with a mistake you made in a piece of Cloth I bought of you last winter, occasioned I believe by your giving me the remnant accidentantly instead of the measured piece. When I carried it to the Taylors I found it to be one whole yard short of what I paid you for, that is, 2¼ instead 3¼. If you will please to rectify the mistake by sending the value of the Cloth 34/ by Mr. Wallace who will call on you with this letter, you will much oblige

Yr. Humbl. Sert.

James Madison

1John Boyle, a native of Ireland and linen draper in Philadelphia, signed the non-importation agreement of 1765 and was a member of that city’s “Troop” at the outset of the Revolution. Apparently he died unmarried about 1798 (John H. Campbell, History of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and of the Hibernian Society [Philadelphia, 1892], p. 100; J. Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott, History of Philadelphia, 1609–1884 [3 vols.; Philadelphia, 1884], I, 272–73).

2Earlier letter not found. “Mr. Armstrong” was probably James Francis Armstrong (1750–1816), College of New Jersey, ’73, a “fraternity brother” of JM in the American Whig Society, chaplain in the Revolutionary army, and pastor of Presbyterian churches in Elizabethtown and Trenton, N.J. (Jacob N. Beam, The American Whig Society of Princeton University [Princeton, 1933], p. 60; Sprague, Annals description begins William B. Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit (9 vols.; New York, 1857–69). description ends , III, 389–92).

3Probably JM’s long-time friend, Caleb Wallace (1742–1814), College of New Jersey, ’70, and member of the American Whig Society, who at this time was at Princeton preparing for the Presbyterian ministry. After serving as a clergyman for nine years in his native state of Virginia and helping to found Hampden-Sydney College, he was admitted to the bar, moved west of the Appalachians in 1783, and soon became a Virginia Supreme Court judge from the District of Kentucky. From 1792 to 1813 he was a judge of the Court of Appeals of Kentucky (James A. Padgett, ed., “Letters of Caleb Wallace to James Madison,” Register, Kentucky State Historical Society, XXXV [1937], 205–8; George Selden Wallace, comp., Wallace: Genealogical Data Pertaining to the Descendants of Peter Wallace & Elizabeth Woods, His Wife [Charlottesville, 1927], pp. 107–8).

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