George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Horatio Sharpe, 20 September 1754

From Horatio Sharpe

St. Mary’s County [Md.] 20th Septr 1754


Information having been given me in May last that certain Inhabitants of this County, called Jerrard Jordan, Joseph Broadaway, William Harrison & Robert Harrison, had committed a Riot, & spoke treasonable Words against His Majesty & his Government, which Information was supported & confirmed by several Depositions to the same purports that were transmitted me as from some Soldiers in the Virginia Regiment in whose presence such Words were said to have been uttered, while they were recruiting in this Provine: I thought proper to order the Apprehension of the reported Delinquents who accordingly were produced at the Assizes held in this County Yesterday, but no Evidence appearing against them by reason I was not timely advised of their Apprehension, they were dismissed by the Court upon recognizing for their Appearance at the next Court: which I will by special Commission order to sit at any time You may think suitable & convenient for the Witnesses to attend to give testimony, if You think upon making particular Enquiry into the Affair that their is a probability by such testimony of proving the Charge & information that has been laid against the above named Rioters.1 Your speedy Answer to this will much oblige. Sir Your Humble Servt

Horo Sharpe

LS, DLC:GW. In the hand of John Ridout, this letter is addressed “to Colo. Geo. Washington or the Commander in Chief of the Virginia Forces at Belhaven.”

Horatio Sharpe (1718–1790), originally of Yorkshire, England, was appointed lieutenant governor of the colony of Maryland in 1753, arriving in Annapolis on 10 Aug. of that year. While still en route to his new position he was appointed by the king lieutenant colonel and commander in chief of all the forces to be sent against the French at Fort Duquesne. He received this commission on 19 Oct. when he arrived in Williamsburg to confer with governors Dobbs and Dinwiddie (Browne, Sharpe Correspondence description begins William Hand Browne, ed. Correspondence of Governor Horatio Sharpe. 3 vols. Archives of Maryland, vols. 6, 9, and 14. Baltimore, 1888–95. description ends , 1 : 104). Meanwhile, in response to the news of GW’s defeat at Fort Necessity, the British government decided to send over regular troops under a general officer who would supersede Sharpe as commander of the British forces. Sharpe learned of this in early Jan. 1755. During his brief tenure in the fall of 1754 as commander in chief, Sharpe tried to keep GW in service. See William Fitzhugh to GW, 4 Nov. 1754, and GW to Fitzhugh, 15 Nov. 1754.

1On 30 April 1754 a deposition was taken from Sgt. John Willis and privates “John Hamwood [Harwood], and John Swallow” stating that while they were recruiting for the Virginia Regiment in a town in St. Mary’s County, Md., several local men raised a riot against them, led by “William Harris, Robert Harris,” and Gerard Jordan, Jr., who “drank the Pretender’s Health . . . Huzzaed for the tartan Plad and white Cockade,” and “sung several disloyal Songs, and was joined by Joseph Broadway and Others” (Md. Archives description begins Archives of Maryland. 72 vols. Baltimore, 1883–1972. description ends , 50:487–89). See also ibid., 203, 507. The incident caused the Maryland lower house to urge the suppression of resistance by “Papists within this Province” and to authorize a reward for two rioters then still at large (ibid., 504, 508). Sharpe’s proclamation offering a reward appeared in the Maryland Gazette (Annapolis), 30 May 1754. Privates Harwood and Swallow, who enlisted 18 April and 19 April 1754 respectively, both survived the battle at Fort Necessity while serving in Robert Stobo’s company, and they were still in service in Aug. 1754. Willis, who enlisted on 2 Feb., apparently had left the regiment by the end of May 1754.

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