George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Attwood Digges, 1 July 1791

From Thomas Attwood Digges

Belfast 1 July 1791

As I am writing to Mr Fitzgerald I take the liberty under a Cover to Him to inclose Your Excellency a description of Messrs McCabe & Pearce’s new invented double Loom for weaving two peices at the same time, & which description is annexd to the Report of a Committee of the Irish House of Commons upon the utility & benefit of such a Loom.1

Since Mr Wm Pearces embarkation hence to New York in May last, in order to obtain a Patent from Congress for said Loom, His partner Mr Thomas McCabe has taken no steps in this Country for a premium, But He is now in London endeavouring to obtain a Patent for in England, where He will undoubtedly succeed.

It is necessary for me to mention to Your Excellency, That the drawings & specifications commonly necessary for the obtaining a Patent went out in the Brig Endeavour Capt. Seward to N. York with Mr Pearce and a working Artist Mr Wm Jameson who made the Looms, and together with a set of Temples & Headles Elbow & Shuttles &ca were boxd up, seald, and directed for Your Excellency to the care of Mr Geo. Woolsey Merchnt New York. Mr McCabe as well as myself mentiond this in seperate Letters to Your Excelly, and I gave Mr Peare a seperate introductory Letter. He will be a most valuable acquisition in whatever quarter He may fix, & has I think ere this been at Alexandria & the Falls.

As I had it not in my power then to forward the printed Report of the Committee, I take this oppertunity of forwarding it, And am with the highest Esteem & veneration Yr Excellencys most Obedt & very He Sert2

Thos Digges

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

For Thomas McCabe, Sr., and William Pearce and their “double Loom,” see McCabe to GW, 21 July 1790 and notes 2 and 3. Pearce left Ireland with letters of introduction from Thomas Attwood Digges in May 1791 and arrived at Philadelphia before mid-July (see GW to Thomas Jefferson, 12 July 1791 and note 3). For Digges’s reputation, see Parsons, “The Mysterious Mr. Digges,” description begins Lynn Hudson Parsons. “The Mysterious Mr. Digges.” William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 22 (1965): 486–92. description ends 486–92.

1The Alexandria, Va., merchant John Fitzgerald was the brother-in-law of Digges. The enclosed description of the loom, in Digges’s hand and initialed by him, and the 2–page “REPORT on the Petition of Thomas Macabe and William Pearsce. Reported to the Irish House of Commons, 14th February, 1791, By the Right Honourable John O’Neill,” first Viscount O’Neil, are printed in Elias and Finch, Letters of Digges, description begins Robert H. Elias and Eugene D. Finch, eds. Letters of Thomas Attwood Digges (1742–1821). Columbia, S.C., 1982. description ends 429–34. Jefferson also received a copy of the report on 16 July from the American consul at Dublin (see William Knox to Jefferson, 19 April, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 20:241–44).

2For Digges’s previous letters from Belfast to GW and Jefferson in late April 1791, see Digges to GW, c.28 April, letter-not-found entry, GW to Jefferson, 12 July, nn.2 and 3, and Digges to Jefferson, 28 April, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 20:313–15.

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