From Edmund Randolph
Wmsburg Jany 26. 1776.
I have been endeavouring to collect the Journal, and Ordinances of our last Convention, which rose last Saturday, in order to transmit them to your Excellency. But Purdie is backward in publishing them: so that I could do no more, than get a Promise from him to send them by next Post.1
Last Sunday a small Skirmish happened below: the Event of which, as it is said, was favourable to us, we having lost 3, the Ministerialists 15, Privates.2
Ld Dunmore is not so frequent in his Depredations, as formerly. The few armed Vessels, fitted out by the Colony, serve to check the Movements of all his Tenders.
About 5 Days since, Mr Custis’s Tenement, where Scot lived, opposite the Church, was burnt to the Ground, by the Negligence of some of the Soldiers, who had been quartered there. The Wind, being due South, the out-House escaped the Flames; the Difficulty of saving the Church became thereby very great. The Country are surely answerable for this Damage, as it accrued in their Service.3
The Convention have established a Court of Admiralty, and, as I am told, have taken the Lead in recommending a free Trade to the Congress. This looks like Business: but I cannot swear, that we are uniformly decisive. I have written to your Excellency repeatedly. I am Dr Sr Yr Excellency’s much obliged Servt
ALS, NN: Emmet Collection.
1. Alexander Purdie printed the official Proceedings of the Convention in February 1776. A modern printing of the journal of the fourth Virginia convention is in Scribner and Tarter, Revolutionary Virginia description begins William J. Van Schreeven et al., eds. Revolutionary Virginia: The Road to Independence. A Documentary Record. 7 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1973–83. description ends , vol. 5. The convention adjourned on Saturday, 20 January.
2. On 21 Jan. Col. William Woodford wrote to Edmund Pendleton, the president of the Virginia convention, from Norfolk: “We have had a party, these ten days, upon Tanner’s creek, who yesterday had a brush with a tender’s boat attempting to land at [Andrew] Sprowle’s plantation; they beat her off, and killed one man.—8 o’clock at night. About 4 this afternoon, another heavy cannonading began from the Liverpool and Otter, during which the enemy landed and set fire to some houses that remained unhurt, near to what is called Town Point wharf. I sent strong parties to reinforce our water guards. We had three fine men killed with cannon shot, and one wounded, who, it is thought, will lose his arm. We have found one sailor and two negroes dead, and suppose many others were killed and wounded, that were carried off in their boats” (ibid., 6:11–12).
3. Mr. Custis’s tenement, or rental property, in Williamsburg was burned on Sunday, 21 January. Early in the century John Custis (1678–1749), father of Martha Washington’s husband, Daniel Parke Custis, bought three adjacent lots on Duke of Gloucester Street upon which he built tenements. These houses, which were now owned by John Parke Custis, were about two and a half blocks east of the College of William and Mary and directly across the street from Bruton Parish Church. Peter Scott (c.1694–1775), cabinetmaker and councilman, had rented a tenement on the middle lot.