George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Bartlett, 4 November 1775

From William Bartlett

Beverly [Mass.] 4th Novr 1775


Since I have had the Honour of a Commission Under your Excellencey I have Never had an Oppertunity before to Return you my Hearty Thanks—The Honour Confer’d on me I Gratefully Acknolidge and hope I shall be able so farr to doo my Duty as to meet with the Approbation of Your Excellencey if so I am Sure of Doing Honour to my Country which is my Sincere desire.

I have the Pleasure of informing your Excellencey that this Morning at Day Light there Appear’d Two Sloops too Anchor Under one of Our Island Called by the Name of the Misery one of them came to Sail and whent in a Direct Course for Boston the Other being Very much Torn to peaces in the Gail of Wind was Unfitt to Proceed on her Intended Voiage—Two Resolute People in a Small boat whent off and tuck Possession of Her before we knew of it in this part of Town However Some of Capn Browns Company of Station’d men togeather with a Number of Inhabitants Arme’d whent Down & Brought her up Safe in this Herbour.1 I have Taken the Liberty of taking of her Under my Care My Instructions are Short with regard to Such Prizes as I hope Many Such may be Taken which Providence may force into Our Herbours in Gails of wind before Next Spring Beg your Excellencey will Give me Perticular Instructions with regard too them I find by Examination that Capt. Ritchee hes ben a Long while out of Boston hes ben Blown off the Coast as farr as the Latt. 38 but the being no Log Book on Board must Refer to the Bills of Percels for the Confirmation of the matter with regard to the time he hes Ben from Boston.

I have Procured all the papers on Board of her and Send them to your Excellencey by Capt. Brown Capt. Ritchees Crew Consists of his Father one White Man one Melatto Fellow one Negro and Two Weoman passengers which I shall keep Secure Untill further Orders from your Excellencey as Capt. Ritchee had the Original Bills of Percels I Thought it would be2 most satisfactory to Send them up to you which I Believe Contains the Chiefest part of her Cargo Except 1 BLL Pork 1 BLL flour 1 BLL & 1 hhd of Rum part of a Hhd of Tobacco 1 Trunk of Inglish Goods Your Excellencey will find by Some of the papers Inclosed that Capt. Ritchee hes ben One Voiage if no more to Annapolis3 and Carry’d up Provisions to the Ministerial Army and make no Doubt but his Intentions were the same Now if Providence had not frown’d upon him.

I would inform Your Excellencey that Capt. Adams Commander of the Privateer Warren hes Carry’d a Sloop Loaded with Wood as I am informed Bound to Boston into Portsmouth4 I have heard Nothing Concerning the rest of the Privateers Since their Sailing.

I shall wait your Excellenceys Orders with Regard to the Above5 And Beg Leave to Subscribe my Self Your Excellenceys Most Obedt Huml. Sert

William Bartlett


William Bartlett, a merchant of Beverly, became prize agent for that town sometime in October.

1The wrecked vessel was the sloop North Britain, John Ritchie, master, bound from Boston to Nova Scotia with dry goods. Moses Brown (1748–1820), another merchant in Beverly, raised a company in July to defend the coast in the vicinity of the town and served during 1776 as a captain in Col. John Glover’s 14th Continental Infantry.

2Bartlett inadvertently wrote “me” instead of “be.”

3Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.

4Winborn Adams (1730–1777) of Durham, a captain in the 2d New Hampshire Regiment, took command of the armed schooner Warren at Beverly on 30 Oct. and sailed the next day. The unidentified sloop that Adams captured on 6 Nov. was later found to be a friendly vessel and was released. See GW to Hancock, 28 Nov. 1775. Adams gave up command of the Warren at the end of 1775 and returned to the army. He became lieutenant colonel of the 2d New Hampshire Regiment on 2 April 1777 and was killed the following September at the Battle of Bemis Heights.

5Stephen Moylan wrote to Bartlett on 5 Nov.: “It is his Excellency’s pleasure, that you take accurate inventory of all the goods on board [the North Britain], & as soon as you Conveniently can transmit them to Head Quarters, where there is no doubt, that when Sold, they will bring a better price than they wou’d at your place the General will, at finishing the Sale, make such Satisfaction to those two resolute fellows who first ventur’d on board, & to the rest who engaged in that adventure, as in such Cases is proper & Customary he desires me Sir to assure you he approves Much of your Conduct in this Affair & doubts not from your Character that he will have farther reason to do so, in your Agency, which I sincerely hope will be of Consequence to you & to the publick—as to the people found on board, it is his Excellency’s pleasure that on their giving the best Security they can, that they will not act against America, they be discharged taking with them their Cloaths & necessaries, except the Captain & owner who you will please to Send to Head Quarters for Examination, let the vessel be laid up at the Wharf untill farther orders” (DLC:GW).

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