The Journals of Nicholas Cresswell - Nicholas Cresswell - ebook

The Journals of Nicholas Cresswell ebook

Nicholas Cresswell



These are The Journals of Nicholas Cresswell, who sailed to the American colonies after becoming acquainted with a native of Edale who was now resident in Alexandria, Virginia. He was 24 years old when he arrived and for the next three years he kept a journal of his experiences, along with comments on political issues. He became unpopular due to his opposition to the patriot cause in the American War of Independence.

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The Journals of Nicholas Cresswell


1774 - 1777








The Journals of Nicholas Cresswell

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9



ISBN: 9783849650445

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NICHOLAS CRESSWELL, the Diarist, was the eldest son of Thomas Cresswell of Edale, a parish in the Peak of Derbyshire, which was formerly part of the Forest of High Peak, Derbyshire, one of the largest forests in England. Nicholas was born at Crowden-le-Booth, Edale, in December, 1750. He was, therefore, twenty-four years old when he went to America in 1774. His mother was Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Cresswell, and a daughter and heiress of Richard Oliver of Smalldale in Bradwell, near to Castleton in Derbyshire. His father was a local land-owner, who owned and farmed his estate in Edale and was a large sheep farmer. No doubt he was a very hard ruler, but he was a man very much respected in the Peak district, and he established a school for the education of the children about his own home. I believe that Nicholas was educated in this school and in the Wakefield Grammar School.

The Cresswell family originally came from Cresswell in Northumberland, where they held land under the English Kings in consideration of their keeping up Castle Cresswell and assisting, whenever required, in repelling the Scotch when they invaded England. A younger member of the Northumberland Cresswell family settled near Chapel-en-le-Frith in the Peak of Derbyshire and founded a family there, which held lands under the Crown in and about Chapel-en-le-Frith from about 1350 down to 1631. Ralph Cresswell, of Malcoff in Chapel-en-le-Frith, sold his property there about 1631 to the Ford family and took a grant of land with Giles Barber in Edale when it was disafforested. The original grant was from the Trustees of the Corporation of London. The Corporation had lent Charles I a large sum of money in return for a grant of Crown lands and these Trustees sold land in Edale to Ralph Cresswell. His share was known as Crowden-le-Booth, now called Upper Booth and situated at the north end of the Edale Valley. The Edale branch of the Cresswell family used the same coat of arms as the Cresswells of Northumberland, and Mr. Justice Cresswell, President of the Probate and Admiralty Court, who was at one time the head of the Northumberland family, acknowledged the Derbyshire branch as being descended from the Northumberland family of the same name.

This Ralph Cresswell was one of the twenty-one founders of the Chapel of Ease at Edale under the mother church at Castleton. The stipend of the Vicar of Edale was provided by each of the original founders charging his estate with an annual sum. Crowden-le-Booth possessed very large grazing rights for sheep and cattle on the hilly district of the Peak, and here it was that the Cresswell family settled and built their home. A local photograph shows the original house and the cluster of buildings around it. In the old building is a large barn which was turned into a schoolhouse and a residence for the schoolmaster, and this was provided by Thomas Cresswell for the children of the immediate neighbourhood.

Nicholas Cresswell was helping his father on his Edale estate when he decided to go to America in 1774. He went to Virginia, sailing from Liverpool in 1774, and returned to Edale in 1777. He kept a diary from the time he left Edale until his return. On April 21st, 1781, he married, at Wirksworth Parish Church, Derbyshire, about fourteen miles north of Derby, Mary, the youngest daughter, a co-heiress, of Samuel Mellor of Southsitch, Idridgehay, in the Parish of Wirksworth, in the County of Derby. He died when fifty-three years of age on July 14th, 1804, at Idridgehay, and was buried at Wirksworth Parish Church.

His son, Robert Cresswell, owned the Edale and other estates in the Peak and also the Idridgehay property. He succeeded to the Edale property on the death of his grandfather, Thomas Cresswell, in 1808.

The “Kirk” referred to in the Diary as a storekeeper was evidently a son of the blacksmith of Edale, who had settled in Virginia and who befriended Nicholas because he knew his people.

The Diary came into my possession on the death of my father, Frederick Thornely of Helsby, Cheshire. Joseph Cresswell was the youngest brother of Nicholas Cresswell and his daughter Ann married my grandfather, Samuel Thornely of Liverpool. My father, Frederick Thornely, eventually came into part of the Edale property and also Southsitch, Idridgehay, which had formerly belonged to Nicholas Cresswell. My father also came into the Nicholas Cresswell diary and on my father's death in 1918 it came to me.

The portrait of Nicholas Cresswell also came to me with the diary. I also have the original sea-chest, which Nicholas Cresswell had made by John Braddock of Chapel-en-le-Frith and took with him to America and brought back again. I also have a bison horn, silver mounted, which Nicholas brought home with him. One of my sisters has an Indian headdress which was presented to Nicholas by the North American Indians when he traded amongst them, and we also have at home the snowshoes and tomahawk which he possessed.

Crowden-le-Booth passed to Nicholas Cresswell's eldest son, Robert, and on his death in 1862 it went to George Cresswell, who about 1889 sold it to Mr. William Champion of Edale and Riddlesworth Hall, Thetford, Norfolk, who is the present owner. In Crowden-le-Booth was some very old oak furniture, which formerly belonged to the Cresswell family. This is now owned by Mr. George Cresswell, who lives in Herefordshire.





March, 1924




Tuesday, March 1st, 1774.

 I have been studying and deliberating for a long time how to shape my course in the world, and am this day come to a determined resolution to go into America, be the consequence what it will. I am certain to meet with every possible obstruction from my Parents and Friends, but I am resolved to brave them all and follow my own inclination for once. From the best accounts I have been able to get, and from my own Idea of the country, I am sensible a person with a small fortune may live much better and make greater improvements in America than he can possibly do in England. Especially in the Farming way, as that is the business I have been brought up to. I have made it my study to enquire more particulars about it. The land I am told is good and the price is very low. Consequently Agriculture must be in its infant state. The Climate must be good on some part of the Continent, for it is all climates in extent.

I have almost from my infancy entertained some thought of going to America at some period of my life, and none is more suitable than the present. Supposing I had no inclination to go to America, I have a number of Cogent and Substantial though private reasons, that rather oblige me to leave home, not altogether on my own account, but in hopes it will be for the future peace and quietness of those for whom I shall always have the greatest esteem. Therefore I am determined to make a Voyage to Virginia, as I like the situation of that Colony the best; if I like the Country to return immediately and endeavour to prevail upon my Friends to give me something to begin the world with. I shall by this Voyage be better able to judge what will suit the Country or whether the Country will please me well enough to fix my future residence in it or not. Admit I do not approve of it, it will be a means of settling me on this side the Atlantic; not only that, but I am in hopes it will have its good tendencies in other respects to those I leave behind. If this last purpose is effected I shall be happy—if neither, Miserable.

Intend to get Mr. James Carrington to speak to my Father about it, and break the way a little. I am sorry I dare not do it myself; I believe he may have some influence with my Father, if any one has. Determined to keep a daily and impartial Journal from this day, by which I hope to square my future conduct.


Wednesday, March 2nd, 1774.

 Went to Mr. Carrington to get him to intercede with my Father in my behalf. He with some reluctance promises to come to-morrow. I confess I have no great opinion of his oratorical abilities, but believe he will be honest and do me every service in his power, as he finds I am resolutely bent upon it.

Thursday, March 3rd, 1774.

 This evening Mr. Carrington came and by his aid and assistance got the consent of my Father to go into America. I believe it is with very great reluctance he grants it. I am sorry he will not converse with me on the subject, but am determined to persevere.

Friday, March 4th, 1774.

 Employed at home. I have found a great deal of difficulty to get the consent of my Mother. In short all my Friends think me mad for attempting to go abroad. But they are utterly unacquainted with my true reasons for taking this surprizing whim, as they call it.

Monday, March 7th, 1774.

 My Father, contrary to my expectations, went to Mr. Hall to get a letter of introduction to Mr. Latham of Liverpool. Intend to set out for Liverpool tomorrow.


Warrington—Tuesday, March 8th, 1774.

 Set out for Liverpool. Dined at Manchester. Lodged at Warrington, the sign of the Nag's Head.


Liverpool—Wednesday, March 9th, 1774.

 Got to Liverpool. Dined at the Golden Fleece.

 After Dinner waited on Mr. Latham, who went with me to look at several Ships that are bound for Virginia. None pleases me so well as the Ship Molly which is bound for the Rappahannock River in Virginia in a fortnight. The Captain, whose name is Parry, is not in town but expected to-morrow. Spent the evening at the Fleece with Mr. Latham.


Thursday, March 10th, 1774.

 Drank Tea at Mr. Latham's. After Tea met with Tom Middleton who went with me to Captain Parry's. Agreed with him for my passage for 10 Guineas, and am to be in Liverpool by the last of the Month. Spent the evening at Tom Middleton's.


Manchester—Friday, March 11th, 1774.

 Left Liverpool. Dined at Warrington. From Warrington in Company with Mr. Whitaker to Manchester. Supped and spent the evening at Mr. Greatrix's with Sam Jackson. Lodged at The Swan.


Edale—Saturday, March 12th, 1774.

 Left Manchester. Dined at Stockport. At Chapel-en-le-Frith ordered Edward Ford to make me some Clothes. Got home in the evening. Found my Brothers Tom, Ralph and Joe, ill of the Measles.

Sunday, March 13th, 1774.

 In the forenoon went to Chapel. I believe the Parson made a Sermon on purpose for me. His text was taken from the parable of the Prodigal Son. It is very strange that these Sons of the Clergy cannot forbear meddling in other people's affairs. After Dinner went to Castleton to return Mr. Hall thanks for the trouble he has taken in my behalf.


Monday, March 14th, 1774.

 At Home, employed in preparing things ready for my Voyage. My Father has scarcely spoken to me since I came from Liverpool. This is very disagreeable, but I must submit to it, tho' it is of great disadvantage to me, as I do not know what he will give me and cannot tell how to act with any degree of propriety.


Friday, March 18th, 1774.

 Went to the new smithy for direction to James Kirk in Virginia. It will be absolutely necessary to have some acquaintance on the other side the Atlantic, or I cannot possibly get so good a knowledge of the Country as I could wish.


Wakefield—Saturday, March 19th, 1774.

 This morning my Father gave me 12 Guineas and desired me to set out for Wakefield, which I did immediately. Dined at Mottram with my Aunt. Drank Coffee at Peniston. Got to Wakefield late in the evening.


Ughill—Monday, March 21st, 1774.

 After breakfast Mr. Ellis gave me this advice: Always to put my trust and confidence in God; to do justice to every one; to act with Honor and Honesty in all my dealings; and that these rules strictly adhered to will support me in any troubles or adversities that may happen to me. This Sincere and Friendly advice I will endeavour to follow as far as the Frailty of human Nature will admit. Dined at Sheffield with Mr. Furnis. Bought some Hardware of Messrs. Broomheads and a small quantity of Mr. Furnis. Very merry with Mr. Furnis and Mr. Magnel at the Rose and Crown.

 Got to Ughill late in the evening; all the Family in bed.


Edale—Tuesday, March 22nd, 1774.

 Breakfasted at Ughill. Got home to dinner. In the evening John Briddock brought my Chest home. The sight of it affected my Father the most of any thing I have yet seen. I believe he is most heartily vexed and very uneasy at my proceedings. Am sorry for it. What I do proceeds from good motives, and I will persevere.



Wednesday, March 23rd, 1774.

 In the forenoon employed in packing up my Clothes. This has cost my Mother many tears. After dinner went to Chapel-en-le-Frith to put up my other Clothes and see my Chest in the waggon for Liverpool. Spent the evening with Doctor Green. From him I understand that people in general think that I am Non Compos Mentis.

 Some attribute the reason of my going to one thing, some to another, but they are most of them far wide of the real Cause. Got home late in the evening.


Thursday, March 24th, 1774.

 At home settling my affairs ready for my departure. A disagreeable business. I wish I was gone.


Milnthorp—Friday, March 25th, 1774.

 Set out for Milnthorp. At Hope my horse fell sick. Borrowed one of Jacob Hall and proceeded, got to Milnthorp late in the evening.


Edale, Saturday, March 26th, 1774.

 Dined with Mr. Perkin at the Rose and Crown in Sheffield. Paid Messrs. Broomheads for the goods I had bought of them. Miss Perkin gave me a Letter to her Cousin in Barbadoes. Got home very late in the evening.


Sunday, March 27th, 1774.

 Went to the Chapel in the forenoon. Mr. Bray, John Bore, John Hadfield, and Michael Bradbury came to bid me farewell. John Hadfield wants to send his son along with me, but I will not be connected with any person whatever.


Monday, March 28th, 1774.

 Went to Castleton to bid Mr. Hall Adieu. Widow Hall made me a compliment of a pair of stockings. Am at a Loss to know what is her motive for it. Spent the evening with Mr. Bray, Jacob Hall, John Hadfield and Michael Bradbury at the Castle. Find Bradbury to be an Insinuating, Lying, Backbiting Scoundrel; am sorry I ever had any connections with him, but will avoid such acquaintance for the future.


Tuesday, March 29th, 1774.

 Received a Letter from Tom Middleton which informs me the Ship sails on Friday next. Employed in settling my private affairs and preparing everything ready for my Voyage. Intend to set out for Liverpool on Thursday.




Wednesday, March 30th, 1774.

 This day I have been taking leave of my Friends. Very disagreeable employment indeed. They all are, or pretend to be, very uneasy at my going away. Some of them that I had least expected shed tears plentifully; but whether they are real or affected they are the best judges. Drank Tea with my Grandmother. The good Old Lady is very uneasy. She tells me it is the last time she expects to see me in this life. Went and bid farewell to my worthy Friend, Mr. Champion, who gave me every good advice that lay in his power in a very sincere and affecting manner. I am very sorry to part with this most valuable Friend. My Mother and all the Family very uneasy. This has been a disagreeable evening.


Warrington—Thursday, March 31st, 1774.

 Early this morning my Father gave me what he thought proper and I set out for Liverpool. The parting with my Friends has been one of the most affecting scenes I have ever yet experienced. Plenty of Tears on all sides, but this is nothing more than what is usual on such occasions. My Brother Richard overtook me at Chapel-en-le-Frith and insists on going with me to Liverpool. Called at Stockport to see Nat. Pickford, but he has got a Girl with Child and will not be seen. Dined at Mrs. Dixon's in Manchester. From there to Warrington in company with Sam Jackson, Charles Greatrix and my Brother. After supper went to see the Waxworks and spent the evening very merrily.


Liverpool—Friday, April 1st, 1774.

 Reached Liverpool before Dinner. Found my Chest and goods at Mr. Latham's, Captn. Parry informs me that the Ship will not sail this week.


Monday, April 4th, 1774.

 This morning my Brother set out for home with Mr. Baker. Supped and spent the evening at Mr. Sykes's with Sam Jackson, Greatrix, and a Captain May. All of us very merry. Intend to go to Mr. Sykes to get acquainted with Navigation if the Ship does not sail next week. It will be much better than idling about in the manner I do at present.


Tuesday, April 5th, 1774.

 This morning Sam Jackson and Greatrix set out for Manchester, and I entered at Mr. Sykes's school. In the evening the Burrows, Captain Bostock, from Guinea, came into the Dock. Went on Board to see Bob Middleton who is Steward of her, but he was so disguised with dirt and sickness I did not know him; indeed I never saw such a Scene of Sickness and Confusion before. The Captain could scarcely stand, and several of the men not able to get out of their Hammocks. As a remarkable instance of the Guinea Sailor's being accustomed to Mortality—a Gentleman came on board to enquire for a passenger from Jamaica: “D—m my Blood,” says one of the Sailors, “he's dead three weeks ago, but we have pulled his guts out and stowed him away on the Ballast below,” with a great deal of indifference.


Wednesday, April 6th, 1774.

 I am pursuing a desperate design—at least it appears so in the eyes of all my Friends. In short, I have not one friend in the world, to my knowledge, that approves of my proceedings, Mr. Champion excepted. Therefore I ought to act with the greatest caution and prudence. I have a number of difficulties to encounter: brought up to no business and almost ignorant of the ways of the world, the deceits and knavery of mankind in general, more particularly the part of the world to which I am bound; my education very slender; in a Distant Country, no friend that I dare trust to advise with, and little money to support me; a certainty of losing a considerable part of my Independence at home. All these things added together are not sufficient to counterbalance a natural impulse, and the uneasiness of mind I have laboured under at certain periods when at home. What I have undertaken is with a good design, not to wrong or defraud anyone, but with this in view, to be a benefit to myself and service to my friends. What will be the consequence is in the hands of the Disposer of all things and the womb of time to bring forth. As I engage in it voluntarily, from honest and generous motives, I am reconciled to my Fate, be it what it will. If I am fortunate, I make no doubt but my friends will say that I have acted prudently and wisely to persevere. If I am unsuccessful, not only my friends but every Rattleskull will condemn me, put on a wise countenance and say they knew my plan would never answer, that I was too well at home, of a restless, rambling disposition, and possibly in the height of their profound penetration will tax me with extravagance and dissipation, without making the least allowance for the common vicissitudes of life. To avoid these imputations it is necessary to lay down short rules, to govern and direct my proceedings: First, To act Honestly and pay my debts as far as I am able, as an effectual means of procuring credit when I may want it. (Mem. Never to contract any debts that I can possibly avoid.) Secondly, Not to be over hasty in making any purchase, or engaging with anyone for any length of time till I have considered the Temper and disposition of the people, the Climate, their trade and Commerce, the fertility of the soil, with the nature, quality, and quantity of the produce, their form of Government and Colonial or Provincial Polity. Thirdly, If I like the Country, to return as soon as I have made what observations I think necessary and endeavour to go out on a better footing and live as frugally as I can with decency. These general rules observed may be of great use to me. Spent the evening with Mr. James Longsdon at the Fleece. Thursday, April 7th, 1774.

 Find navigation is not so hard to learn as I at first imagined. Spent the evening with Mr. Longsdon, who gave me a pattern Book and desires me to do some business for him, but will avoid all connections in the Foreign trade.


Friday, April 8th, 1774.

 Orders to be on Board to-morrow morning by Seven o'clock. Bought a Sea Bed; paid Captn. Parry my passage. Got my chest and things on Board. Understand we are to have three other passengers, but do not know who they are. Spent the afternoon on Mount Pleasant with Mr. Oaks of Sheffield. Wrote to Gustavus Bradford. Got everything ready for going so soon as the wind serves.




SHIP“Molly” towards America—Saturday, April 9th, 1774.


 This morning got up very early and wrote to my Father. Got on Board about Nine o'clock. Set sail with a fair wind and tide in our favour; in the afternoon calm and pleasant; came to an Anchor off Ormshead. We are Four passengers, but don't as yet know the others. All of us very merry at supper, tho' I believe most of us Young Sailors are rather squeamish. At Eight in the evening, a Breeze sprung up; hove up the Anchor; about Ten saw the Skerry Lighthouse.


Sunday, April 10th, 1774.

 Last night in attempting to get into my Hammock the hook at the foot gave way and I had like to have broke my bones with the fall, to the no small diversion of my fellow passengers. The Hammock is a hard piece of canvas suspended up to the roof of the Cabin at each end with cords.


Monday, April 11th, 1774.

 Fine pleasant weather. In the afternoon saw Bardsey Island on the Welsh Coast and Carmarthen Bay. Yesterday it blew fresh and I was very sick, but to-day I am something better. Sleeping in a Hammock is very agreeable, though very different from a bed on shore.


Tuesday, April 12th, 1774.

 Slept pretty well last night. This morning made St. David's Head, the N.E. promontory of Wales. Fine pleasant breezes. Much better of my sickness; at least I am as well as the rest of the passengers. Saw the rocks called Bishop and Clarks at Night.



Wednesday, April 13th, 1774.

 Saw Ireland about 12 leagues Distance. Fine pleasant weather. Believe I have got over my sickness.


Thursday, April 14th, 1774.

 Fresh Gales and a large rolling sea. Broke our Fore Top Gallant Yard. Took our Departure from Holyhead in latd. 53°°-23″ North, Longd. 4°°-40″ West. Got clear of the Channel with the wind at N.E. Find I am much deceived—very sick all day.


Friday, April 15th, 1774.

 A fair wind and pleasant. Drank a Quart of sea water which operated both ways very plentifully and did me great service. Spoke a Brig from Leghorn bound to Bristol.


Saturday, April 16th, 1774.

 Fair wind and pleasant weather. Our passengers are the Rev. John Baldwin and his Brother, Thomas Baldwin, from Chester, bound to Bermudas as they say for the benefit of their health. But it seems a little strange that they should come aboard under fictitious names. The other is a certain Captain Alexander Knox, a Scotchman, bound to Maryland. This evening drank our Sweethearts in a large Can of Grog. It is a custom at Sea on Saturday nights. Very sick indeed.


Sunday, April 17th, 1774.

 Sunday and we, having a Parson on Board, expected prayers. But instead of praying he amused himself by reading a Treatise on the Scurvy, while most of the Sailors were reading in their Common Prayer Books. I find these men not such an unprincipalled set of beings as they are represented to be. It is true they swear most horridly in general, but when they pray, which I believe is very seldom, they do it heartily. Pleasant weather and good wind. Pretty free from sickness.


Monday, April 18th, 1774.

 A fine N.E. Breeze and pleasant weather. Begin to be hungry, which they tell me is a sign that the sickness is going off. This is certainly one of the most disagreeable sicknesses in Nature, continually sick at the Stomach, Dizziness in the Head and listlessness, with a loathing to all sorts of food.


Wednesday, April 20th, 1774.

 Pleasant and a fine wind. Paid forfeit one Bottle of Rum for going aloft.

Thursday, April 21st, 1774.

 Fine weather and light breeze. Saw a large Fleet of Porpoises playing about the Vessel. Some of them appeared to be 10 ft. long, but we caught none of them.


Friday, April 22nd, 1774.

 Pleasant weather. Spoke a Brig from Lisbon. Dined on Stock Fish and Potatoes. This Fish is cured in the Frost without salt. Before it is boiled, they beat it with Iron hammers against the Anchor Stock to soften it. A general dish on Fridays and is reckoned a great delicacy, but to me it is none, for I hate the smell of it. Saw Corve one of the Western Islands bearing S.S.E.½ E. Distance about 14 Leagues. Pretty well over my sickness. The Sea begins to be agreeable.


Saturday, April 23rd, 1774.

 Fine pleasant breeze this morning. But this evening blows hard and I am sick.


Sunday, April 24th, 1774.

 Hard Gales from the Eastward. The Ship rolls and pitches the worst I have yet experienced. Very often the waves break over the Long boat. Broke our Mizzen Yard. Very sick. Messrs. Baldwin in the same condition.


Monday, April 25th, 1774.

 More moderate to-day. But still blows hard.


Tuesday, April 26th, 1774.

 Strong Gales and a high Sea. The first thing that I saw after I got upon Deck was the Carpenter tumbling from one side of the Deck to the other in a great Sea we had Shipped, in which he lost his Hat and Wig. Saw him soon after and asked him what he had done with them. “D—m my eyes,” says he, “they are gone to Davy Jones's Locker.” This is a common saying when anything goes over board. Very sick.


Wednesday, April 27th, 1774,

 Strong Gales all day. My sickness continues so bad that I could almost wish myself ashore again.


Thursday, April 28th, 1774.

 Fine pleasant breeze and smooth water. Took a drink of Sea water, which operated very well, and gave me a good appetite. Mr. Baldwin caught a Fish called a Portugeeze Man of War. It is about 9 inches long and appears like a bladder upon the water, always swimming upon the top. I believe it never goes under water. Of a transparent blue colour. The part that appears like a bladder serves as a sail. The body is like a bunch of red worsted with a long tail. The one that Mr. Baldwin caught was 16 Foot long and no thicker than a straw. If you touch the tail or body it causes a sensation the same as if you had touched a Nettle.


Friday, April 29th, 1774.

 Fresh Breezes with Rain.


Saturday, April, 30th, 1774.

 Fresh Gales from the Eastward and cloudy weather.


Sunday, May 1st, 1774.

 Light breeze and clear weather. Evening calm. No prayers to-day.


Monday, May 2nd, 1774.

 Pleasant weather with light showers of rain.


Tuesday, May 3rd, 1774.

 First part of the day strong gales with rain. Saw a Ship to windward. Evening very heavy Rain with Thunder and Lightning.


Wednesday, May 4th, 1774.

 Light airs with clear hot weather. The Thermometer to 73 Degrees. Expect to make the Land in a week. Evening calm.


Thursday, May 5th, 1774.

 Pleasant weather but Foul wind.


Friday, May 6th, 1774.

 Fresh Gales, but contrary, with cloudy, hazy, rainy weather. Saw a Ship to windward.


Saturday, May 7th, 1774.

 Foul wind with cloudy weather. Lightning and Rain.


Sunday, May 8th, 1774.

 Pleasant weather but a foul wind. Spoke a Brig from Georgia bound to Lisbon. No prayers to-day.


Monday, May 9th, 1774.

 Sultry hazy weather. Saw several Grampuses. They appear to be very large and throw the water a great height into the air, it is said through their nostrils. At six this evening the wind came to the Eastward.

Tuesday, May 10th, 1774.

 Light winds but a great swell from the North. Sultry, hazy weather.


Wednesday, May 11th, 1774.

 Pleasant weather and a fair wind.


Thursday, May 12th, 1774.

 Cloudy, hazy weather, but fair wind.


Friday, May 13th, 1774.

 A fair wind with hazy, cloudy weather at six in the evening. Hove the Lead and struck Ground in 25 Fathom of water. Sandy bottom, but see no Land.


Ship “Molly” Chesapeake Bay—Saturday, May 14th, 1774.

 At 10 o'clock this morning made the Land from the Masthead. At 2 afternoon abreast of Cape Henry, from which we see Cape Charles E.N.E. about 18 Miles distant. Got a Pilot on Board. The Land appears low and sandy, covered in Pines. Wrote to my Father by a Ship bound to London. At 7 this evening came on a gust of Thunder, Lightning, and rain from the N.W. Obliged to let go our Anchor in 6 Fathom water at the tail of the Horse Shoe. It is a custom with all passengers to pay a bottle of rum to the Sailors as soon as they make the Land. We, agreeable to that custom, have paid ours and I believe every man aboard (the Captn., Passengers, and first Mate excepted) are drunk, swearing and fighting like madmen. Blowing very hard. Thundering very loud and Lightning so strong and quick that I can see to write without Candle.


Sunday, May 15th, 1774.

 At 5 this morning weighed Anchor with a fresh breeze and cloudy weather. At Noon Clear and pleasant. The land appears from the Masthead to be level and covered with lofty Pines. A great number of Rivers empty themselves into the Bay. Can count Nineteen Sail of Vessels and see the Land on every side. This is one of the finest prospects I have ever seen. What makes it more agreeable, not seeing land before these 27 days. At 7 in the evening, calm. Let go our Anchor off Windmill point.


Monday, May 16th, 1774.

 A Head wind and, as we have got an indifferent Pilot, the Captn. does not think it prudent to move. Still at Anchor. Captn. Received a Letter from Liverpool that informs him the two Baldwins are in debt at home and obliged to go abroad.




Urbanna, Rappahannock River, Virginia—Tuesday, May 17th, 1774.

 Contrary wind. Our Ship at Anchor. Captn. Parry, Captn. Knox, Messrs. Baldwin, and I went ashore in the Pilot Boat. Landed at this place after a passage of thirty-eight days from Liverpool. This is a small Village pleasantly situated on a Creek of the same name; the Custom House for the Rappahannock River, and Tobacco warehouses for the County are kept here. Messrs. Baldwin went to the house of a Merchant whom they had Letters of introduction to, Knox and I stayed at the Inn.


Wednesday, May 18th, 1774.

 At Urbanna, waiting for the Ship; took a walk into the Country. Find the Land sandy and barren to all appearance, but it produces excellent Garden stuff. Green Peas are in plenty. Intend to keep a Diary for the future.


Thursday, May 19th, 1774.

 This day the Ship came up. Captn. Knox and I hired a Boat to carry us us to Nanjemoy on Potowmeck River, about 60 Miles from Alexandria, which place I intend to go to as soon as possible. Went up to Deep Creek and got our Baggage on Board the Boat. Parted with Messrs. Baldwin, who are bound to Norfolk in Virginia. Got down to Urbanna, but so late at Night obliged to sleep in the Boat all night.


Friday, May 20th, 1774.

 Left Urbanna about 8 in the morning. Our Boat manned with three Negroes. At 2 in the afternoon got into the mouth of Potowmeck River, which is about 12 Miles wide. A great number of pleasant seats on the Banks of the River. At 10 in the evening came to an Anchor in Majotack Creek.


Nanjemoy, Maryland—Saturday, May 21st, 1774.

 Early this morning weighed and stood over to Ladlor's Ferry in Maryland, where we got breakfast at the Ferry house. After Breakfast got under way again, but run the Boat aground on a sand bank in the River where we stuck two hours, but by lashing the Canoe to the Masthead and filling her with stones, Heeld the Vessel on one side and got her off. Arrived at Nanjemoy in the afternoon. Captn. Knox's Brother has a House here, but he is not at home. He introduced me to his Brother's partner, Mr. Bayley, who behaves very civilly to me and insists that I shall stay a week with him. Don't intend staying any longer than I can get a passage to Alexandria.




Sunday, May 22nd, 1774.

 This is a small Village of about five houses. All Planters except Knox and Bayley, who keep a store. (What they call stores in this country are Shops in England.) In the afternoon drank Tea with Captn. Knox and Mr. Wallace (Knox and Bayley's Clerk) at Colonel Harrison's. Captn. Knox introduced me to every house in the Village. The people are remarkably civil and obliging, appear to live very well, and exceedingly happy.


Monday, May 23rd, 1774.

 Captn. Knox and I went to Mrs. Marsden, a widow lady in the neighbourhood. Got some very indifferent Strawberries and Cherries.


Tuesday, May 24th, 1774.

 Dined on Board a Scotch Ship called the Jenny, Captn. McLeash, Master.


Wednesday, May 25th, 1774.

 Saw them plant Tobacco. The Land is first hoed into small round hills about the size of Molehills and about 4000 of them in an acre. The plants are something like small Cabbage plants; they only make a hole with their fingers or a small stick and put them in, one in each hill. Two Negroes will plant three acres in one day. Small Blisters are broke out all over my body, attended with an intolerable itching. They call it the Prickly heat and say it is very wholesome. It may be so, for everything I can tell, but it is very troublesome.


Thursday, May 26th, 1774.

 Waiting for an opportunity to go to Alexandria by water, but I believe Captn. Knox does everything in his power to disappoint me, for fear I should go away. Drank Tea at Mrs. Leftwich's.


Friday, May 27th, 1774.

 Dined on Board the Jenny, McLeash. It is true we had excellent Porter and Wine, but had our stomachs been of a squeamish nature, they would have been disobliged at their Scotch cleanliness.


Saturday, May 28th, 1774.

 The Land here is level, sandy and barren in general, except where it is mixed with Oyster shells which renders it very fertile. Agriculture is in a very poor state. In short, they know very little about farming. Tobacco and Indian corn is all they make and some little wheat. All done by Negroes. The Tobacco is all worked with Hoes, the Indian corn with Ploughs, but of a bad sort and without a Colter. The furrow they make is not more than two inches deep and does little more than kill the weeds. Land sells upon an average here, at about three Dollars pr. acre. (Thirteen shillings and Sixpence Sterling.)


Sunday, May 29th, 1774.

 Captn. Knox went to Bulo in Virginia to see his brother. Here is no Church within 14 or 15 miles of the place. Mr. Bayley and I went to see a Negro Ball. Sundays being the only days these poor creatures have to themselves, they generally meet together and amuse themselves with Dancing to the Banjo. This musical instrument (if it may be so called) is made of a Gourd something in the imitation of a Guitar, with only four strings and played with the fingers in the same manner. Some of them sing to it, which is very droll music indeed. In their songs they generally relate the usage they have received from their Masters or Mistresses in a very satirical stile and manner. Their poetry is like the Music—Rude and uncultivated. Their Dancing is most violent exercise, but so irregular and grotesque. I am not able to describe it. They all appear to be exceedingly happy at these merry-makings and seem as if they had forgot or were not sensible of their miserable condition.


Monday, May 30th, 1774.

 Dined at Colonel Harrison's. Nothing talked of but the Blockade of Boston Harbour. The people seem much exasperated at the proceedings of the Ministry and talk as if they were determined to dispute the matter with the sword.


Tuesday, May 31st, 1774.

 Waiting for a Passage to Alexandria, but can't meet with an opportunity. This is doing nothing.


Wednesday, June 1st, 1774.

 Waiting with a great deal of impatience for a passage to Alexandria. I am informed that the Land is much better the higher you go up the River. If it is not, I will not settle in this part of the Country.


Thursday, June 2nd, 1774.

 Spent the afternoon at Colonel Harrison's. Find him a very intelligent man and seems to take a pleasure in communicating the customs and manners of his countrymen. Captn. Knox returned to Nanjemoy this evening and gave me an invitation to go with him to Annapolis, which I intend to accept.




Port Tobacco, Maryland—Friday, June 3rd, 1774.

 Hired a horse and crossed Nanjemoy Creek. Got to Port Tobacco in the evening. This is a small town situated at the head of a Creek of the same name. The County Courts are held here and a Warehouse for the inspection of Tobacco. Several Scotch Factors are settled here.


Marlbro, Maryland—Saturday, June 4th, 1774.

 Left Port Tobacco in company with Mr. John Creig, a Scotch Merchant, Doctor Gustavus Richard Brown, and Captn. Knox. Dined at Piscataway, a small town 16 miles from Port Tobacco. Our victuals badly drest, and sour. Madeira Wine at 7/6 per Bottle. From Piscataway to Marlbro 16 miles. Saw the quarter of a Negro man chained to a Tree for murdering his overseer. Land in general appears barren and thinly inhabited, some places sandy and others a sort of stiff clay, but plenty of fine Orchards, and I observe they generally plant a Peach Orchard on the worst land. They had a frost on the 9th. of May, which has killed a great number of Trees, the woods for a mile together seem dead and withered.


Annapolis, Maryland—Sunday, June 5th, 1774.

 Left Marlbro early this morning. Crossed Potuxen River at Mount Pleasant Ferry. Some good Land after this River. Breakfasted at Rollin's, a Public House, but in this Country called Ordinaries, and indeed they have not their name for nothing, for they are ordinary enough. Have had either Bacon or Chickens every meal since I came into the Country. If I still continue in this way shall be grown over with Bristles or Feathers. From Rollin's to London town on South River. This is a small, pleasant place at the head of the Bay, but no great trade. Crossed the South River and on to Annapolis to Dinner, 22 Miles from Marlbro. Land very indifferent from London town to Annapolis.


Monday, June 6th, 1774.

 This is the Capital town or rather City in the Province and the seat of the Governor, situated at the Head of Chesapeake Bay. It is not very large or populous, but regularly built and some of them good buildings. They are now building an elegant State House of Brick, which is to be covered with Copper. A place of very little trade, chiefly supported by the meeting of the Provincial Assembly. There is a great number of people collected together to get Bills of Credit out to the Provincial Loan Office. A considerable sum in Four, Three, Two, One, Two-thirds, One-third and One-Ninth of a Dollar Bills, is struck in these Bills of Credit by an Act of the Provincial Assembly. An office is opened and the money divided into Lots of 1000 Dollars each. Any person a resident in the Province may take up a Thousand Dollars, if he has an Estate in the Province of twice the Value and clear of Entail or Mortgage, which Estate he Mortgages into the Office as security for the money, which he has at 4 per cent for Ten years, and then the Bills are called into the office again. It is Death to Sell or Mortgage an Estate that is Mortgaged to this Office till the expiration of the time, and in default of paying the interest the Treasurer of the Loan Office has a right to sell the whole estate and appropriate the whole of the money to the Province's use. These Bills are a lawful tender and the greatest part of the business is done with this sort of money. Not only this Province, but every Province, and Colony on the Continent has large sums of this kind of money issued by their different Houses of Assembly. I suppose the Credit of these Bills must be indisputable, if one may be allowed to judge from the number of people that apply for them. It appears to me that there is a scarcity of Cash amongst the people of all ranks here. They Game high, Spend freely, and Dress exceedingly gay, but I observe they seldom show any money, it is all Tobacco Notes. Great number of Scotch tradesmen here, but very few English. Provisions are as dear here as in England. Mutton and Beef at 6d. per lb. A Violent pain in my Head this evening.


Piscataway, Maryland—Tuesday, June 7th, 1774.

 This morning Captn. Knox and I left Annapolis. Dined at Marlbro, Lodged at Piscataway. A most violent pain in my Head attended with a high Fever, obliged to stop and rest myself at several houses on the road. Captn. Knox behaves exceedingly kind to me.


Wednesday, June 8th, 1774.

 Got to Port Tobacco with great difficulty. Captn. Knox insists on me applying to Doctor Brown. I have taken his advice and he told me it is a Fever with some cussed physical name. He has given me some slops and I am now going to bed very ill.


Nanjemoy, Maryland—Thursday, June 9th, 1774.

 Find myself no better, However, the Doctor has given me more physic. Got to Nanjemoy. Almost dead with pain and fatigue, added to the excessive heat, which caused me to faint twice.


Wednesday, June 15th, 1774.

 Very ill, confined to my room. This is the first day I have been able to stir out of it. I am much reduced and very weak, but my spirits are good and I hope in God I shall get better. Captn. Knox, Mr. Bayley, and the whole neighbourhood behaves with the greatest kindness to me, some of them has attended me constantly all the time.



Friday, June 17th, 1774.

 Much better. The Doctor tells me I am out of all danger, but advises me to take some physic to clear my body and to drink a little more Rum than I did before I was sick. In short, I believe it was being too abstemious that brought this sickness upon me at first, by drinking water.


Saturday, June 18th, 1774.

 Able to walk about the house. It is such excessive hot weather or I should mend faster.


Sunday, June 19th, 1774.

 Dined at a certain Mr. Hambleton's. Supped and spent the evening at Mrs. Leftwiches with some young ladies from Virginia. After supper the company amused themselves with several diverting plays. This seems very strange to me, but I believe it is common in this Country. Find myself much better to-day. Hope I shall be able to go to Alexandria next week.


Monday, June 20th, 1774.

 Gathering strength very fast, the Doctor sent me a Box of Pills with directions to take two at night and two in the Morning. These are the last I intend to take. Dined at Mrs. Leftwiches. After went over to Virginia with some young ladies, but returned in the evening.


Wednesday, June 22nd, 1774.

 Taking the Pills the Doctor gave me, but these don't seem to work, only cause a bad taste in my mouth. Will take three this evening.


Thursday, June 23rd, 1774.

 This morning took 4 Pills which has caused a violent pain in my bowels all day, attended with a constant thirst and a very bad taste in my mouth. But affects me no other way. Colnl. Harrison sent me a Humming Bird. This is supposed to be one of the smallest Birds that is known. It is Green on the back, its neck and breast of a beautiful azure, the belly and thighs are of a whitish colour. It has a long beak about the thickness of a needle which it darts into the flowers and extracts the Honey upon which it lives. They are only seen in the Summer time, their nests are very rarely found, and are looked upon as a great curiosity.


Friday, June 24th, 1774.

 Much worse, my throat and tongue much swollen. Have sent for the Doctor. Confined to my bed. Am afraid that I am poisoned with his confounded Pills. A continual thirst, but these people will not let me drink.


Saturday, June 25th, 1774.

 Captn. Knox sent an express for the Doctor, who came about eight this morning. After he had examined the Pills, he came with a truly physical face to the bedside and felt my pulse. Began to beg pardon for the mistake he said his Prentice had inadvertently committed by sending me strong Mercurial Pills, in the room of cooling ones. I immediately gave him as hard a blow as I could with my fist over the face, and would have given him a good trimming had I been able. This discomposed his physical muscles a good deal, and made him contract them into a most formidable frown. He did not attempt to resent it. Begged I would moderate my passion, follow his directions, and in a short time I should be well again. I believed myself poisoned and grew desperate, abused him most unmercifully. However, he left me some Brimstone and Salts which I took immediately after he was gone, which worked very well and has given me a great deal of ease. Tho' I am still full of pain and much swelled, spitting and slavering like a mad dog, my teeth loose and mouth very sore. I believe I have little to trust to but the strength of my constitution for my life. Much difficulty to write, but if I happen to die I hope this will appear against the rascal.


Sunday, June 26th, 1774.

 This morning took a dose of Brimstone, laid in bed all day and sweat abundantly. This has made me very weak and faint. Doctor came to enquire after me, but did not come into the room. Much easier.


Monday, June 27th, 1774.

 A great deal better but much relaxed and very weak, able to sit up most part of the day.


Wednesday, June 29th, 1774.

 Mending very fast, able to walk about the room. The swelling gone away, my throat got well, but my mouth is very sore, which I wash every two hours with Vinegar. I understand the Doctor sends every day to enquire how I do. Had it not been for the extraordinary care of Captn. Knox, I must certainly have died.


Thursday, June 30th, 1774.

 Took a dose of Salts, able to walk into the Yard.


Saturday, July 2nd, 1774.

 Continue mending, but very slowly.




Sunday, July 3rd, 1774.

 Rode out with Mr. Wallace to Colonel Tayor's Plantation. It is only two miles, but I find it has fatigued me too much.


Monday, July 4th, 1774.

 Went to see them reap Wheat. The greatest slovens I ever saw, believe that one fourth part is left on the Field uncut. Some of them mow it with sticks fixed on the scythe in parallel lines to lay the grain straight. This makes worse havoc than the reapers. The grain is but indifferent and their crop very light, seldom that they get seven bushels from an acre, but they put it into the ground in such a slovenly manner without any manure, it is a wonder that they get any.


Tuesday, July 5th, 1774.

 Took another dose of Salts, which I hope will be the last I shall have occasion to take at this time. Find myself pretty well. Free from pain, but very weak and much reduced. My clothes hang about me like a skeleton. The Doctor has never come in my sight since I struck him. Intend to go and pay the rascal to-morrow.


Wednesday, July 6th, 1774.

 Went to see the Doctor, who (contrary to my expectation) treated me with the greatest kindness and acknowledged that he had given me just cause of complaint, though inadvertantly, and absolutely refused being paid till I am quite recovered. I understand their Doctors' Bills in this country are very extravagant. Returned to Nanjemoy much fatigued.


Thursday, July 7th, 1774.

 Took my passage on board a small schooner bound to Alexandria.

Captn. Knox and Mr. Bayley pressed me to stay a week longer and get a little stronger before I attempt to move. I think I am able to go to Alexandria as it is only 100 Miles by water. I am under infinite obligations to these worthy people, every possible care has been taken of me in my late illness, had I been their Brother more tenderness could not have been used for my recovery. They absolutely refused taking anything for my board so that I must remain under obligations to them which I am afraid it will never be in my power to repay. Calm in the evening, the Captn. and I went ashore, to what they call a reaping frolic. This is a Harvest Feast. The people very merry, Dancing without either Shoes or Stockings and the Girls without stays, but I cannot partake of the diversion.




Potowmeck River—Friday, July 8th, 1774.

 Contrary wind, came to an anchor off Maryland Point. Went ashore and dined at Capt. Harrison's. Had a very genteel dinner, but the Captn. is a violent opposer of the Government. Got on board in the evening. Fair wind, got up to Colonel George Washington's, came to an Anchor in the Creek. Here is a small Insect which appears in the Night like sparks of Fire. Every time it extends its wings there is something of a luminous nature on the body, just under the wings, which is seen only when it extends them, only discernible in the night, and is called the Fire Fly. A great number of pleasant Houses along the River, both on the Virginia and Maryland side. All Tobacco Planters, some of them people of considerable property. This River parts the Province of Maryland and Colony of Virginia.


Saturday, July 9th, 1774.

 Waiting for a load of Flour from Col. Washington's Mill. I am now got pretty well, but weak and feeble.


Sunday, July 10th, 1774.

 Went to see the Mill. It is a very complete one. Dressing and Bolting Mills the same as in England with a pair of Cologne, and a pair of French stones, and make as good flour as I ever saw. Land much better here than it is lower down the River.


Alexandria, Virginia, Monday, July 11th, 1774.

 Got our Cargo on board. Weighed and got up to Alexandria about three o'clock. After dinner waited on Mr. Kirk with my letters. He seems to be very glad to see me, gives me great encouragement and insists on me making his house my home as long as I stay here. Got my baggage ashore.


Tuesday, July 12th, 1774.