Circular to Jonathan Glover, William Bartlett, and William Watson
Cambridge 3rd January 1776
You have annex’d a Copy of the Resolves of the Continental Congress respecting Captures made, or to be made, by Armed Vessels fitted out at the Charge of the united Colonies & others in Compliance With the Resolution of the 20th Ultimo you must on receipt hereof Libel such Vessels as have been taken by the Lee Shooner or any other of the Contineltal Arm’d Vessels, which may be now under your Care, in the Court of Admiralty established in this Colony, you mus[t] use all your diligence that the trial be brought to as Speedy an issue, as possible, in order that a distribution be made to the Captors, Conformable to the Resolution of the 30 of Novembr.1
LB, in George Baylor’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The letter-book copy is addressed to Jonathan Glover at Marblehead, William Bartlett at Beverly, and William Watson at Plymouth. The name of Joshua Wentworth, the prize agent at Portsmouth, N.H., is struck out.
1. GW is referring to the resolution of 25 Nov. on the distribution of proceeds from captured vessels. GW apparently sent the three prize agents copies of the resolves of 25 Nov. and 20 Dec. that Hancock enclosed in his letters to GW of 2 and 22 Dec. 1775 (see Bartlett to GW, 6 Jan. 1776). A copy of those resolves is in DLC:GW. They also appear in JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 3:371–75, 439. The schooner Lee commanded by John Manley took the most valuable prizes captured by American armed vessels during 1775. In response to GW’s orders the agents promptly filed libels against the captured vessels as the first step in having them condemned and sold, but the business was again brought to a standstill by the discovery that the Massachusetts law establishing admiralty courts did not fully agree with Congress’s resolutions and had to be revised before the vessels could be brought to trial (see William Watson to GW, 15 Jan., and GW to Hancock, 9 Feb. 1776 [third letter]). The General Court passed the revised law on 20 Feb., and new libels were soon filed. The vessels were condemned by the admiralty courts in April and sold in May.