The Papers of Henry Laurens


[Page 319]

To John Laurens

    [In the letter below, HL mentioned that he would enclose copies of the correspondence he had with Governor Lord William Campbell and his secretary Alexander Innes concerning the trial, sentence, and execution of the free black man Thomas Jeremiah. "Jerry," a pilot among other things, stood accused of plotting an insurrection and threatening to assist the royal navy over the bar in Charleston harbor when they came to punish the wayward Carolinians. Rather than print the Campbell and Innes letters in the normal chronological sequence, the editors present the material as an enclosure just as HL had them copied for his son. During the intervening years the original missive to John disappeared but the letter has been preserved in an HL letterbook. The enclosure, detached from the letter, was divided into two sections.]

My Dear Son__

I beleive it was the day before yesterday Mr. Wm. Charles Wells[1] called on me to take leave; by him I wrote a very few lines while he waited in the parlour__ from the bad opinion every body entertains of a Vessel called the Wilhelmina I am induced to trouble you with duplicate of a Letter which I wrote the 30th. Ulto. & delivered[Page 320]to the care of her Capt. Williams_ it contains accounts of certain public matters continued by a P. S. of yesterday which you will be glad to know._ Since that date a bold enterprize has been carried into execution by Some of the Friends of America & about Seven Tons of Gunn powder acquired_ while people were flushed with Success, a Report prevailed that an Armed Vessel having 120 Soldiers on board was arrived arrived within a few Miles of the Spot where the powder was lodged_ I won't attempt to describe the effect which it produced_ but I am convinced that a false alarm now & then, would do no harm_
Three days ago the Negro Man Jerry was executed;[2] uncommon pains had been taken to Save him, the fellow had Money & many friends among people of his own Colour, Some among the White_ I Say uncommon pains, tis remarkable that both of the Clergymen of our Church[3] visited him frequently & became Solicitous for him_ _ Your Uncle well knows that that Sort of Duty had been generally left to the Dissenting Ministers when White Men have been under Sentence of Death.
The Law by which he was tried[4] was called in question, the Judges & Attorney General were called upon for their opinions, & for a while those Sages were pleased to aver that a Free Negro was not amenable to that Act, & one of them threw Magna Charta in the Faces of the people_ but loose opinions would not pass & the Gentlemen dared not venture to Subscribe a declaration which must have called Something more valuable than their Law knowledge into question.
after that Bar was removed, one of the Witnesses named Jemmey, it Seemed retracted from his Evidence & declared Jerry was Innocent, this declaration was made in a variety of Answers by[Page 321]Jemmy to the Revd. Mr. Smith's questions_ which are introduced by Mr. Smith on a piece of Paper in these words, "After Some conversation with Jemmy, I put the following Questions."_ Jemmy's Recantation was immediately Sent to the Governor_ & immediately by His Lordship to me Sitting in the Chair in General Committee_ evidently intended for the Committee although His Excellency avoided the Recognition of Such an Assembly_ the Committee on their part refused to take the Letter under their Consideration_ good manners obliged me to write an answer & my Love of plain dealing to write Such an answer; but it was done in haste & very late at night therefore I may be excused for not expressing my thoughts so clearly as I might have done at a little more leisure a Short correspondence followed which gave me Some pain, Capt Innes I beleive to be a Man of honour & a good Soldier but his passions & prejudices are bad qualities in a Secretary to a Gentleman of Lord Williams abilities_ you will See the correspondence in papers inclosed with this._ the retraction by Jemmy could have no weight with Men who would give themselves time to consider that his first Evidence was corroborated by two other Witnesses, that a Sambo who was the main Witness would not retract_ & that Jerry when he was first confronted by Jemmy, possitively denied that he knew his person_ that he knew the Man_ although upon enquiry it clearly appeared that they were old acquaintance & nearly allied by Jerry's connection as a husband to the other Man's Sister_ these & many other particulars were unknown to me when the Governor first wrote_ I am now fully Satisfied that Jerry was guilty of a design & attempt to encourage our Negroes to Rebellion & joining the King's Troops if any had been Sent here_ the uncommon pains taken to Saf Save his Life had filled the minds of many people with great Jealousies against certain Crown Officers acting under direction_ but I declare upon my Honour that I entertain no Such thoughts of any of them in particular_ & I altogether acquit the Governor. my regard for him induced me to alarm him by writing so plainly as I did in my first answer, I believe it had the desired effect_ I am glad of it_ for although I know none of the out of Door Secrets of the people, & carefully avoid Such knowledge, yet I had heard enough to fill me with horror from a prospect of what might be done by Men enraged as Men would have been if a pardon had been Issued_ Jerry was a forward fellow, [Page 322] puffed up by prosperity, ruined by Luxury & debauchery & grown to an amazing pitch of vanity & ambition_ & withal a very Silly Coxcomb_ Such Characters are found in all Countries, & Men may be ruined by prosperity when perhaps their whole Estate real & personal would not yield an hundred Guineas_ Riches are great or Small comparatively_ as a Negro Fisher Man Jerry was comparatively as Rich as a Vannuk, in the Circle of Stock holders._ I have not Said so much on this head merely to furnish you with a narrative of Jerry's latter history as to enable you in case of need to contradict false reports which may be, among others, propagated to the prejudice of the poor Carolinians whose impolicy &, in many instances, mad conduct, will appear glaring enough without the aid of one Lie_
I informed you Some time ago that one Company of our Regiment of Rangers had disbanded themselves, that was Capt. M. Kirkland's who was himself at the bottom of the plot & we have made Such discoveries as will probably bring him to Death if he can be Seized_ Since that another whole Company with their Captain E: Polk at the Head, have followed the example & the remaining Seven Companies are true Carolina Rangers ready to receive the Public Money & determined to follow their own Orders, the Council of Safety have had much trouble with them, forced to coax & at last Suffer them to take their own way_ this is no more than I foresaw & against which I forwarned my Country Men. See my Letter 8th. June per Lassley_ Notwithstanding the nearness of my Situation to the Barracks I know very little of the Government there, but I am frequently told that there is no prospect of our receiving greater advantages from the 1st. & 2d. Regiment of Regulars as they are Stiled than from the Rangers_ be that as it may, these people cost us now upwards of £150. Sterling Per day._[5]
Mr. Drayton & Mr. Tennant are Still in prosecution of their Embassy, important intelligence I expect from them every hour._ Some[Page 323] ten days ago we were alarmed by an Account from Savanna, importing that a certain Some body whose name I don't recollect[6] was Marching at the head of 200 Men of Fletchals band in order to lay Augusta in Ashes & to punish Some of the Inhabitants who had Tarred & feathered the Said Marching Hero_ this cut out a fine piece of work for me to write Letters & Send off expresses_ but as we have heard nothing more of the affair, I conclude the Report was groundless.
Yesterday Sennight the populace of this Town Seized upon a fellow Gunner of Fort Johnson, having been prevoked by his impudence in wantonly Cursing & abusing America & all her Committee Men_ they Tarred & feathered him & then Carted him through the Streets Stopping at the Governor's Door, the Doors of Several Non associates, & acted upon the whole like an ungoverned Mob_ this drew from His Lordship a Message to the House or as I might with more propriety Speak to the Members of Assembly_ His Lordship complains pathetically of the Outrage committed upon the Gunner_ the Assembly gave him an answer_ I will endeavour to Send you both_ the House has been adjourned from day to day Several Weeks past without doing business._
After more than a Month's deliberation in meetings of the General Committee three or four days in the Week, we find ourselves utterly at a loss what measures to pursue with about 24 persons who had refused to Subscribe the Association_[7] an Oath was[Page 324] tendered to them by which they were to bind themSelves not to write Speak or Act in any manner against the American Cause, thank God I escaped the painful ridiculous task of tendering the Oath, that part was assigned to a Sub Committee who Reported five days ago that 23 of the 24 had peremptorily refused to take the Oath_ it has been our employment every day Since to determine what Should be done with them & we have advanced no further than the Eigth name_ what we have determined or rather not determined, is by Some means or other very well known abroad, but as our Members are all under a Solemn engagement not to divulge, until a certain time, you must not expect me to Say more on this head_ what a glorious & delightful time I must have of it_ what ridiculous painful Scenes Men must Submit to & pass through who are driven to the necessity of Serving an oppressed people who too often establish Right & Wrong according to the number of Votes_ Dotr. Millegan[8] one of the 24. but whose name is not yet arrived at in the list has taken Sanctuary on board the Tamar Man of War & intends 'tis Said to go to England in this packet_ if he has any private business to transact there tis well enough, otherwise I apprehend his flight unnecessary_ One of his Country Men intimated to me yesterday his opinion that the Doctor was glad of a pretence_ Government will take care of its freinds.
You would have Smiled to have heard & Seen me by order of the Committee Interrogate John Dunn & B. Booth Boote Esquires two Gentlemen in the practice of the Law & Sensible Men, Sent hither from Rowan County in No. Carolina as persons "Inimical" to the Liberties of America_ these Gentlemen were of Governor Martin's party & had exerted themselves by promoting protests & Associations against the Measures of the Continental & provincial Congresses & Committees_ the Sons of Liberty enraged[Page 325] against them Seized their persons & without giving them time to take a change of Raiment hurried them from Stage to Stage till they reached Charles Town_ I was not a little Surprized to find these Men who are of considerable Rank in No. Carolina & who have both acted in different Counties as Attorney General, readily Submit to the Jurisdiction of the So Carolina General Committee, & undergo an Examination of an hour & an half Standing all the time as Culprits_ the Committee have very prudently referred their Cases back to the provincial Congress which is to meet two days hence at Hillsborough in No. Carolina_ in the mean time Messr Dunn & Boothe are detained & treated as State prisoners._
Our Cherokee Indians according to advices which we have just received from thence are well disposed towards us._ they blame King George exceedingly for quarreling with his Children about "the Leaves of a Tree"_ they Say "he is foolish"_ "Why does not he see that the People in America don't Love it" "if they did, would they have thrown a whole Ship Load of it into the Sea," & they moreover "think it very hard that the King will not give us powder & Bullets & Blankets because we wont drink his Tea." they wonder too at the attempt to make Men "Slaves by pieces of Paper"_ meaning Acts of Parliament, they can form no Idea of the possibility of making the Americans drink "the Leaves of a Tree"_ or "Give their Money for nothing"_ by means of writing upon Paper over the Great Water their Brothers they Say "would be as foolish as old Women to mind paper."_ but they pathetically lament the Scarcity of Gunn Powder & Bullets_ & it would not be consistent with Sound policy if we were just now to Supply them with those articles._
Not a Step taken towards establishing places for retreat in case of an attack upon the Sea Board, See what I wrote the 14th. July_ & the work on our Fortifications goes on just in the manner I expected it would & so does the expence_ were we at open War with France or Spain this languor would not be so visible_ but against the force of Britain, Men of any penetration of any reflexion, See the almost impossibility to fight in a Country Situated & circumstanced as this is_ provided Britain is in Earnest_ I hope She is not quite So infatuated as to persevere till She has destroyed, as to herSelf, the work of her own hands._ I don't mean by any thing[Page 326] Said above that people here would tamely Submit if British Troops were to land here_ No! I am Sure they would not I rather beleive Charles Town would be reduced to Ashes by Some hands in order to force All to retire into the Country._ Gracious God! what a prospect is here before us? tis not merely the figure of imagination._ many people are prepared to Send their valuable furniture into the Country at an hours warning._ I can dwell no longer on the Subject_ I cannot help flattering mySelf Still with hopes that a treaty will Soon be proposed_ & our divisions healed_ no matter on which Side it begins; blessed & for ever blessed Shall those be who make Peace between us._
Our Militia persevere in nightly duty & that Service is extremely well performed, and our Town kept in quiet & Safety_ throughout the Country Volunteer Companies of 50 to 80. Men are formed these choose their own Officers who are Commissioned by the Council of Safety.
You have now from all that I have Said a pretty clear State of our Colony affairs, our abilities & impediments_ endeavours & obstructions; Alertness & languor_ Unanimity & divisions &ca. &ca
We have had the wettest Season from July to this day that I remember_ it has rained every day; notwithstanding which it is very healthy_ of which I judge chiefly by the Silence of the Church Bells. these Scarcely ever give the Signal of Death_
Our Crops of Rice Indigo & Corn will be large_ but what Shall we do with them?_ those who are indebted to England will be distressed but more so those to whom they are indebted_ if times are not like to mend what will My Dear Brother do, if he recovers his health, I was going to Say he must return, but that must not be, till better times, tell him I am willing to forego my own peace & Ease & every enjoyment for his Sake without Complaining_ God assigns us certain Duties in Life, tis an essential one to Act without repining.
What Shall I Say of you & your Brothers & Sisters, how long will my funds hold out to Support you? Such reflections are necessary, but they are exceedingly painful_ patience I repeat is the Sum of my present happiness_ but I recommend to you to think deeply on our circumstances & to look forward, Say to yourSelf what is to [Page 327] become of me & of those Brothers & Sisters, Should the hand of power prevail, Charles Town be ruinated, my Fathers Life distroyed & his Estates lost in the Rubbish?_ Converse frequently on the Subject with your Eldest Sister & prepare her to meet a great reverse of fortune, instead of being waited on, perhaps to wait upon others & to depend upon daily labour for Bread. talk to Harry & Jemmy at proper Seasons & explain to them the danger we are all exposed to_ & think what is to become of an aged & infirm Uncle & Aunt_ & of an Aged Father admitting that he escapes with Life_ pity me when Sitting all alone in this Hall Secluded as it were from all the World, no bosom friend to advise with, nor to participate the burthen of my mind when Strongly agitated by prospects of what may happen_ Secluded I Say_ because I cannot join heartily & Sincerely in common conversation with either party_ & I avoid the Lukewarm & dissembling Class_ Mr. Manigault is unable to come to me often, indeed I have Seen him but once & I can Seldom call upon him_ Mr. Gervais is Contracter for Supplying the Troops with provision & is therefore fully employed we Seldom meet but in Committee. & it would be held Criminal in me to associate very familiarly with the good Doctor[9] against whom there is a most unjust & implacable hatred by Some people who take upon them to form a Committee of Observation upon Companies_ Some Men in Such circumstances would Seek relief in that Ocean of froth & folly the Corner Club;[10] passing by it & unavoidably being in the midst of it once or twice for five minutes, has persuaded me to give a preference to the Small Society of mySelf what a reverse from that course of Life in which I had led lived for upwards of twenty Years_ but let me not complain_ indeed I do not_ thank God I enjoy good health & a mind unmoved._ & I firmly confide in your magnanimity & prudence & have no fears that you will not act your part well_ hope Sustains me too_ I trust we Shall meet again & that I Shall yet enjoy the Society of my freinds my Children & that we Shall part no more till they lay me in the Silent Grave_ where the wicked cease from troubling & where the weary are at rest_ patience & Faith are ex[Page 328]cellent Sound axioms for the absence of companions on the Road of Life.
I ought to have Said they are the best Companions, but for them, how often would my moments which now pass in thankfulness, be imbettored[11] in this lonesome State by anticipating Sorrows, on my own & my Childrens account_ nevertheless these very f reflections are a proof that I am not void of feelings._ I perceive received at that point an Express arrived to me with a Letter from the Back Country which Satisfies me that the Report of an attack upon Augusta was not true._
My Love to your Brothers & Sisters tell My Dear Patsy I Shall about a Month hence expect an Account of her Voyage & first Ideas of England_ I commend you all to God's protection My Dear Son Adieu._ &ca
    [Enclosure]

[(Copy.)][12]

Sir

I beg leave to inclose a paper for your perusal which has affected me more than words can express Surely Sir I may appeal to your feelings for me as the Representative of Majesty in this unhappy Province, Think Sir of the weight of Blood, I am told I cannot attempt to save this Man without bringing greater Guilt on this Country than I can bear even to think of_

I am Sir Your Humble St. to Command.

William Campbell

[P.S.]
I have sent the Original to the Justices who condemned this Man Send me back this Copy_
[Page 329]
To Henry Laurens Esqr.

[Copy of Answer to the above]

My Lord.

Your Lordships Letter of 7. O Clock this Evening did not reach me till 9_ It was brought to me in General Committee & being informed by the Messenger that it was intended so_ I offered it immediately as a matter proposed to the Committee _ The Letter and the paper which had come inclosed in it were therefore read. but when the Committee had heard the Contents they utterly refused to take them under Consideration.
For my own part my Lord as I have not heard the Evidence fully against Jerry I will not take upon me to declare him innocent or Guilty, but with submission to your Lordship I will presume to say that if the retraction of Evidence by one who had been an accomplice & after he had secured his own pardon and Reward, was to be admitted at the Old Bailey many Rogues would escape Punishment and many of his Majestys Proclamations prove worse than Nugatory, but such a retraction I also presume would not even be listen'd to in a case where there had been another firm Evidence
I understand the unhappy Man in Question was found Guilty after a fair Legal trial, that the Justices and freeholders were unanimous in their opinion of his Guilt_[13] In the Calamitous Situation of this Colony under the threats of Insurrections, strong proofs of which the people are possessed of, no wonder they are alarmed at the Sound of Pardon to a Man circumstanced in all respects as Jerry is,_ especially after the recent Instance of one of their Negro Pilots being illegally carried away by the Commander of one of His Majestys Sloops of War_[*][14]
[Page 330]
I pray God to direct your Lordship_ And I assure your Lordship_ that I am with the utmost respect

Your Lordships
Obt & most hum¯ St_

H L

[*][*not a word in answer to this_
I know the history but as it was communicated to me in confidence I dare not inflame the people by divulging it to them_ but I thought it necessary to let the Governor know_ that I had some feeling for the Majesty of the People_ as well as for the "Representative of Majesty."_]

[(Copy_)]

Sir

I have it in Command from his Excellency to inform you that the Voluntary Confession of the Wretch Jemmy[15] was made to Mr. Smith before His Lordship knew such a person was even under Confinement_
No application was made to the Governor in his behalf till past 12. Yesterday. his Excellency signed the Pardon at 6 O Clock & by desire of Mr_ Smith, Jemmy is now ignorant of it, unless Mr. Coram[16] to whom Mr. Nesbitt[17] was obliged to apply for such information as was necessary to enable him to draw the Pardon has acquainted him with it_
[Page 331]
In your hurry last night you ommitted inclosing Mr. Smiths Conversation with the wretched Creature His Excellency requests it may be sent per Bearer_

I am Sir
Your most Obedt. & most Hbe. Servant_

Alex: Innes.

Henry Laurens Esqr.

[Copy of Answer to the above]

Sir

Inclosed is the paper which his Excellency desired to be returned I beg his Lordships pardon for omitting to inclose it last night_
I should be uncandid if, in answer to that part of your Note of this morning intimating that no application in behalf of Jerry had been made to the Governor till past 12 Yesterday, I did not inform you that it was about 12 the preceeding day when the Justice voluntarily acquainted the people that his Lordship had recommended to him to procure or promote a petition in behalf of the Criminal,[*] and that in speaking of the Evidence which had been given against him his Excellency had said, ["]the People should consider what might be the Consequence of executing him upon such Evidence in case the times should alter["]_ a remark which greatly affected the minds of those to whom it was repeated_ with regard to Jemmy I know not his person but he is certainly a liar of the most abominable order of Liars, therefore I am, as I presume every Man_ who knows no more of particulars than I do, must be, at a loss what kind or degree of Credit to give to his Testimony_

I am Sir [&c]

[HL]
[*][*this fact stands uncontroverted_]

[Page 332]

[Copy of Mr. Innes's reply to the foregoing]

Sir,

If you will be so kind as look at my Note again you will find no reason to Complain of my want of Candour. You will find you have mistaken Jemmy for Jerry. I repeat that no application was made for Jemmy till 12 Yesterday when Mr. Brewton was in the House with his Lordship and I also repeat that till that time his Excellency did not know Jemmy was under Confinement, how cruel then that Suggestion in Mr. Laurens Letter of last Night, that either pardon or reward was offered to procure his recantation. Mr. Smith can satisfy Mr. Laurens in that point if a doubt remains in his breast The Persons of both the wretches are totally unknown to me & I most cordially agree with you that Jemmy is the most abominable of Liars, I have the Authority of his Excellency to acquaint you he never made use of that expression that "the People should consider what might be the consequence of executing him upon such evidence in case the times should change." his Excellency shudder'd at the very thoughts of an innocent Mans suffering an Ignominious death but will venture to Assert had he been convinced of his Guilt his Lordship would have been the last Man that would have attempted to save him from the Punishment due to a Crime of so Black a dye
however unhappy his Lordship has been in his endeavours to save this unfortunate person, Hell it self cannot (with even the Colo¯r of probability) suggest one motive that could have actuated the Governor on this occasion but what proceeded from Humanity Justice and Mercy. Adieu Sir I beg pardon for detaining you so long the horrid Scene will soon be closed and this Matter decided by that Eternal God to whom all hearts are open & before whom the most Secret thoughts cannot be hid

I am Sir
Your most Obdt & most Hble Servt

Alexr Innes


[HL's answer to Mr. Innes's second Letter of the 18 August & conclusion of the correspondence]


[Page 333]

Sir

Upon Reviewing your Letter of this morning I perceive that I had mistaken the name of Jemmy for Jerry and I now understand that no application was made in favor of the former till Yesterday Noon but I solemnly declare it was not my intention nor was it in my heart to Complain of a want of Candour on your part by that misnomer and I am assured that upon recurring to my answer this fact will be established_ Upon[18] reflection you will be also satisfied that I could not mean an unkind Suggestion when I signified my opinion of the inefficacy of retracted Evidence after a fair trial and Conviction of a Criminal at a Court of Oyer and Terminer in Great Britain in Cases where by His Majestys Proclamations not only Pardon but Rewards are offered to accomplices for discovering their Confederates which very frequently happens and often to a Proverb ["]the greatest rogue turns Kings Evidence["] nor did I by any means intend to Infer from thence that Pardon and Reward had been offered to Jemmy by the Governor or by his authority directly or indirectly
I am sorry the Magistrate has been so criminal as to misinform the people in that important declaration which his Excellency says is not warranted by his expressions_ he must have taken pains to be wicked in this point by averring a falsehood in writing on one day and deliberately Confirming it upon the day following_[*]
My Dear Sir I do not believe nor will I be persuaded by the insinuations of any Man to believe that his Excellency was actuated in his endeavours to save the Life of Jerry by any other motive but such as proceeded from humanity and his Lordships Apprehensions of Justice and Mercy_ but at the same time I must declare that also I also now believe that Jerry was Guilty and I am fully persuaded the Governor and you are so open to Coviction that I should have no difficulty in bringing you both to be of my opinion on this hed.
I was till this morning unacquainted with particular circumstances because I had avoided the knowledge of the whole of this horrible Insurrection Report, as much as possible, and I was in hopes of having steered clear of an affair which in the sequel has [Page 334]given me some uneasiness. but I learn that the Scene is closed! Justice is satisfied! I beg our correspondence on this disagreeable Subject may here end and that you will believe me to be with great regard

Sir
Your Obedt. Servt.

[H L_]

[*][*The Justice persisted in the declaration to Lord William's Face, His Lordship said he had mistaken him some how or other_ but Mr. Coram is clear & possitive & was very prudently cautious._]

    [Copy of a very extraordinary Letter from the "Representative of Majesty."_ attempting to prove a Negative_ charging two Justices & three Freeholders with the shedding of Innocent blood_ because after a fair & patient hearing, they were unanimously of opinion that Jerry was Guilty_ the trial was conducted not only with great deliberation but with an uncommon degree of delay_ it was above three Weeks on the Carpet the Governor did not act officially, in this case, 'tis not his Province to sign the Death Warrant, although he has the Power of Pardoning_ there is a mystery in this business which I cannot yet unravel._ because I will not indulge uncharitable suspicions_ but I will be upon my guard_]

Sir_

Without attempting to comment upon the contents of this paper, I only Send it for your perusal. In a Case of Blood I wave Ceremony, I would even give up Dignity to Save the Life of an Innocent Man._ Consider it Seriously Sir, lay it before your Brother Justice, & the Freeholders, between God & your own Consciences be it, I take every Holy Power to witness I am innocent of this Mans death, upon your Heads be it, for without your interposition I find I cannot Save him.

I am Sir
Your humble Servt.

William Campbell

[Page 335]
John Coram Esquire
[P.S.]
N. B. I have a Copy of Mr. Smith's Declaration but I have Sent you the Original which I desire you will carefully return._
LB, HL Papers, ScHi; addressed "John Laurens / London / per Eagle Packet"; dated "20th. August. 1775". Enclosure, Copy, ScHi; the portion beginning with the second letter to Innes, Aug. 18, 1775, Copy, SCL (ScU).
[1.] William Charles Wells (1757-1817), the second son of Charleston printer Robert Wells, Sr., studied at the University of Edinburgh in 1770 and became an assistant to Dr. Alexander Garden in 1771. A Loyalist, he refused to sign the Association and sailed for Britain in August 1775. In Britain he continued his education and graduated from Edinburgh in 1780. He returned to Charleston when the British occupied the town to continue his father's printing business. In 1782 he moved the presses to St. Augustine where he published the East Florida Gazette. He returned to Charleston in 1783 and was imprisoned in a civil action concerning his brother John. In 1784 he removed to England where he practiced medicine and wrote on philosophical, scientific, and political topics. Robert Emmet Seibels, "William Charles Wells: Printer, Philosopher, and Physician," Southern Medicine and Surgery, XCIII no. 7 (1931); South Carolina Historical Magazine, XXVI (1925), 41.
[2.] Jerry was brought to trial August 11 before a court of two Justices of the Peace and five freeholders on charges of plotting an insurrection. He was convicted and sentenced to be hanged and then burned. On August 18 the sentence was carried out. Lord William Campbell to Dartmouth, Aug. 31, 1775, Documents of the American Revolution (Davies), XI, 93-97.
[3.] HL probably referred to the rectors of Charleston's Anglican churches, Robert Smith of St. Philip's and Robert Cooper of St. Michael's.
[4.] Article XVII of the Negro Act of 1740 dealt with homicide and insurrection. The act specified that in such cases the court would be composed of two Justices of the Peace and from three to five freeholders. The trial must take place in the county in which the crime occurred and should begin within three days of the arrest. S.C. Statutes, VII, 397-417.
[5.] The previous day HL had received a letter from William Moultrie requesting more money to repay officers who had expended their own funds for bounties. Still the regiment was not filled up and Moultrie concluded "I will send out more Officers on the recruiting service when I am in cash." William Moultrie to Council of Safety, Aug. 19, 1775, Kendall Collection.
[6.] Thomas Brown.
[7.] The South Carolina General Committee ordered, on Aug. 23, 1775, that the names of those persons refusing to sign the Association be advertised "as inimical to the Liberties of America." The list, as it appeared in the S.C. General Gazette, Sept. 1, 1775, included twenty-two names. Twenty-one of the nonsubscribers were members of the royal administration in South Carolina. This list of nonsubscribers included: William Wragg (former Councillor); Thomas Knox Gordon (Chief Justice, Court of Common Pleas); Edward Savage, John Fewtrell, Charles Mathew Cosslett, and William Gregory (Justices, Court of Common Pleas); James Trail (Clerk, Court of Common Pleas); James Simpson (Attorney General); Richard Lambton (Deputy Attorney General); Thomas Skottowe (Register of the Court of Ordinary and Secretary of the Province); Alexander Innes (Secretary to the Governor); Col. Probart Howarth and Capt. White Outerbridge (Officers at Fort Johnson), Robert Dalway Haliday (Collector), George Roupell (Searcher and Commissioner of Forfeiture); Robert McCulloch (Deputy Collector); John Morris (Comptroller of Customs); John Morgridge, Mark Walkman, and William Rhodes (Waiters); George Milligen (Chief Surgeon to His Majesty's forces in South Carolina); and John Cart for whom there was no obvious official connection. Wells's Register, 1775, pp. 89-94; South Carolina Historical Magazine, XXXIV (1933), 198.
[8.] Dr. George Milligen had gone to Georgia in 1748 as a surgeon's mate in Oglethorpe's Regiment and settled at Charleston a year later. By 1775 he held a royal commission as Chief Surgeon to His Majesty's Forces in South Carolina. When summoned before the General Committee, he explained that his royal commission precluded his signing the Association. A highly visible Loyalist, he was threatened by the mob and given notice to appear before the Committee again in August. In light of these circumstances Governor Lord William Campbell advised him to take refuge aboard the Tamar. On Aug. 22, 1775, Milligen sailed for England aboard the Eagle packet. Prior to filing his Loyalist claim, he added Johnston to his surname. Loyalist Transcripts, LV, 331-343; Edmund Berkeley and Dorothy Smith Berkeley, Dr. Alexander Garden of Charles Town (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1969), pp. 265-266; S.C. General Gazette, Aug. 25, 1775.
[9.] Alexander Garden.
[10.] The Corner Club was a social group that took its name from its meeting place, the Corner Tavern, formerly Charles Shepheard's tavern, at the northeast corner of the intersection of Broad and Church streets in Charleston. South Carolina Historical Magazine, LXX (1969), 90.
[11.] Possibly "imbittered".
[12.] Bracketed material here and below in HL's hand.
[13.] About an inch of space occurs between these sentences but this does not seem to indicate a new paragraph.
[14.] In this instance HL did not mention the provocation that led Capt. John Tollemache of the sloop Scorpion to carry off a valuable black pilot. Earlier, however, HL had informed his son John that Tollemache was only responding to the Council of Safety's refusal to return seamen who had deserted from the sloop of war to enlist in South Carolina regiments. A.S. Salley, Jr., Captain Tollemache's Journal of the Proceedings of H.M.S. Scorpion, June 21, 1775-Sept. 18, 1775 (Columbia, S.C., 1919), p. 9. HL to John Laurens, July 14, 1775.
[15.] Jemmy, a slave who belonged to Charlestonian Peter Croft, was Jerry's brother-in-law. In June he had given evidence against Jerry testifying that the pilot "was to have command of said Negroes." Jemmy was convicted, on August 11, of participating in this "attempt to raise an Insurrection," but was pardoned on the eve of his August 18 execution date. Peter H. Wood, "'Taking Care of Business' in Revolutionary South Carolina: Republicanism and the Slave Society," in Jeffery J. Crow and Larry E. Tise, eds., The Southern Experience in the American Revolution (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1978), pp. 284-285.
[16.] John Coram.
[17.] Probably William Nesbitt.
[18.] HL wrote "U" over "u".