From William Ellery
[Newport, Rhode Island] March 11, 1794. “I acknowledge the Rect. of your [letter] respectg. the case of Saml. Pearsal jr. master of the Sloop Nancy of Fairfield,1 and now represent the case of George W. Topham master of the Sloop Sarah Ann of Newport, a Registered vessel without a License. She arrived here on sunday last, and the next day the master came to the Custom house and produced a certified manifest and permit from the Colle. of Newyork2 dated March 7th. 1794. On reading the oath to him when the words composing the whole cargo were pronounced, he manifested great surprize, and said that he could not swear to that; for that there were two bales of goods on board the Sloop which were not in the manifest. He was told that he had transgressed the law.…3 I told him that I believed his violation of the law was owing to ignorance or inattn. but that it was my duty to enforce it; That I must state the matter to you, and that upon an appln. made by him to you through the District Judge, you would make such a determination as you thought proper.… please to favour with a decision the questn. proposed in my letter of the 3d. of last mo.4 before the Quarter expenses.”
LC, Newport Historical Society, Newport, Rhode Island.
2. John Lamb.
3. Section 24 of “An Act for enrolling and licensing ships or vessels to be employed in the coasting trade and fisheries, and for regulating the same” required the master of a vessel to “deliver to the collector of the district where he may have arrived, a manifest of the goods laden on board such ship or vessel … and to the truth of which manifest or declaration, he shall swear or affirm; and also that such manifest contains an account of all the goods, wares, and merchandise which were on board such ship or vessel, at the time, or have been, since her departure from the place from whence she shall be reported last to have sailed …” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 305–18 [February 18, 1793]).