James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George W. Erving, 5 September 1804 (Abstract)

§ From George W. Erving

5 September 1804, London. NO. 44. “I had the honor to receive your letter of July 3d.1 acknowledging the receipt of mine dated Januy: 28h: containing the result of my application on behalf of Alexander Mc:Elwee; In pursuance of your direction I again made application to the Admiralty on the 10th: Augt., Copy of which and of their Lordship’s reply of Augt. 13th., and also of their further answer dated 21st: Aug, are herewith enclosed:2 By the latter you will observe that they do not acknowledge to have had such a man as Alexr: Mc: Elwee on board the Pelican from the year 1795, a date long prior to the stated time of his impressment.

“It may have happened in this as in other cases, which have come within my knowledge, that, Mc:Elwee has assumed some other name, by which only he is known in the British Service: I fear then that it will be impossible to do any thing further to promote the wishes of his parents, ’till either they or myself shall hear from him.”

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, CD, London, vol. 9). RC 2 pp.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Erving. Headed: “The Case of Alexr: Mc:Elwee.” For enclosures, see n. 2.

1PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (7 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends , 7:410.

2The enclosures are copies of Erving to William Marsden, first secretary of the Admiralty, 10 Aug. 1804 (1 p.), stating that he had sent the Admiralty’s earlier replies to Washington and had been instructed to reapply for McElwee’s release as the U.S. government presumed “that the means of ascertaining this Mans situation” were within the power of the Admiralty; John Barrow, second secretary of the Admiralty, to Erving, 13 Aug. 1804 (1 p.), stating that the Admiralty lords had directed the navy board to report how McElwee was carried on the Pelican’s books and ordered that he be discharged “if on board that Ship, and found to be an American”; and Barrow to Erving, 21 Aug. 1804 (1 p.; docketed by Wagner), stating that McElwee had not been found on the Pelican’s books from 1795 to 31 Oct. 1803 (J. C. Sainty, Admiralty Officials, 1660–1870 [London, 1975], 36, 109, 139).

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