George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Preeson Bowdoin, 6 May 1776

From Preeson Bowdoin

Philada May 6th 1776


Capt. Matthews was some time last Fall sent a prisoner by Lord Dunmore, in a Sloop from Norfolk bound to Boston, but on the passage was retaken by the Lee privateer, & carried into some part of New England,1 this Gentleman since his Return to Virginia told me that he had inform’d your Excellency that the Sloop in which he was retaken had been partly the property of myself & Brother, but unjustly seiz’d by Capt. Collins,2 & that you told him if I would prove the property you would have her paid for, this I shall be able very amply to do by some papers I expect from Virginia next Post. if your Excellency can find time from your more important Business, shall esteem it a favour if you will inform me whether it will be necessary for me to come to N. York myself or whether sending the papers will do. your answer will much oblige Sir your mo. Obdt Servt

Preeson Bowdoin

ALS, DLC:GW. This letter is docketed “ansd Do 10th,” but no reply from GW or his secretaries or aides has been found.

Preeson Bowdoin was the junior partner in the Norfolk firm of Phripp & Bowdoin.

1Capt. Thomas Mathews (1742-1812) of Princess Anne County, Va., was a prisoner aboard the sloop Betsey when it was captured off the Massachusetts coast on 17 Dec. 1775 by the American armed schooner Lee commanded by Capt. John Manley (see GW to Hancock, 18 Dec., and GW to Richard Henry Lee, 26 Dec. 1775). Manley took the Betsey into Beverly, Mass., the following day. The sloop was libeled on 26 Feb. 1776 and was tried and condemned on 17 April 1776. It was sold at public auction on 25 May 1776 (see William Bartlett to GW, 11 June 1776).

2Preeson Bowdoin’s brother was John Bowdoin, a merchant in Northampton County, Va., who died in October 1775. John Collins was captain of the British warship Nautilus.

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