Letter from Ann Pollock to Joseph Hewes
Volume 10, Pages 1027-1032
Letter from Mrs. Colonel Pollock to Joseph Hewes.
Edenton, Decem. 23rd, 1775.
Sir:—You will no doubt be surprised at receiving a Letter from me, but such is the unhappy Situation of my mind at present, that I feel a kind of negative satisfaction in having an opportunity by the return of the Express to Inform you the Particulars of our unkind reception we met with on our return to Edenton—so unexpected and so unmerited—not one person in my Family knows of my writing so must intreat you not to let Mr. P. know of it. Col. Howe who seem'd shock'd beyond measure at our Sufferings, told me he had wrote to you; but alas no person could Let you know the circumstances in so clear a manner as myself; who most Solemnly declare to you the following to be the truth, as I expect to answer before the Great Creator of the Universe—after we left you at Phila. going by land home but not being able to get horses and ours much fatigu'd we were perswaded by our friends there, to get a boat and go down to the mouth of Potowmack. We took their advice, but the wind springing up it blue so hard, and the seas run so high, out of Potowmack, that we were obliged to go right before it, and attempt running to Suffolk; which we shou'd have accomplis'd without being stoped by the men-of-war—but in the mouth of Nansamond we got fast upon an oyster bank, and there remained part of two days and a night before we got assistance from the shore to get our horses out
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and proceed to Suffolk about twelve miles off; at last we arrived, thankful was I to be thus nigh the end of my journey. Mr. Donaldson came to the tavern and took us to his house, during our stay which was only one day and two nights. General was the conversation, but unluckily Mr. Pollock said he heard a gentleman in Anapolis tell Major Junipher who is president of the council of safety that his Brother in a letter from London in a jocular way said, he thought matters might be easily settled by hanging a half a Dousen on each side the Question. Major Junipher Immediately made answer poor Lord Chatham he Suppos'd wou'd be one—this was all—which is nothing more than a member of the Congress might have said—but a narrow Soul'd wretch one Major Smith who Lives on Tar river happening to be present went to Wells Cooper and told heaven knows what, that Mr. Pollock shou'd say they must all be hanged, as soon as we had left Suffolk, Wells Cooper came over to Mr. Donalson swore if we had not gone away as we did he would have blown out Mr. P's brains burnt our carriage &c &c. had D. Hamilton and Mr. Donalson on their oath to declare what they knew, which amounts just to the above conversation; however Mr. Cooper sent to our Committee to have Mr. Pollock taken up, and sent to every house we stoped at on the road to know what Mr. Pollock said the particulars too tedious for a letter and will give you them when we meet, nothing tho' in the least blamable. Mr. Roy he called a fool and such like stuff—these matters however were carried on with so much secrecy that no person ever knew of it, or if they did were made to believe Mr. Pollock's crimes were of such a nature that they were Intimidated, and Injoying ourselves at home nursing a violent cold we had got coming down the bay, Mr. P. did not go out for some days after our arrival, but finding himself better we paid a morning visit one morn'g to Mr. Maxwell a gentleman from New York, married to a distant connection of Mr. P., and Lodged at Mr. Hardy's much Indisposed. Whilst we were there a Mr. Blackburn came into the house, and addressing himself to Mr. P., you are ordered not to leave the Town before you make your appearance before the committee—Mr. P. was much surprised and asked him what he ment; he again told him the message. Mr. Pollock said he had no Intention of leaving the Town but tell the committee I shall go where I please, nor shall I wait on them. Consider the Insult and conscious innocence to a man of spirit who could have done otherways? Immediately
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a body of armed men about one hundred and fifty or more commanded by Capn
Tool was ordered to go to Mr. Hardy's and take Mr. Pollock prisoner. Mr. P. refused to go; on that Capn
Tool order'd a party of his men to seize Mr. P. and himself attempting to collar Mr. P. I fell on my knees to him, intreated he wou'd go without force, for what cou'd an unarm'd man do against numbers, he comply'd with my Intreaty and went prisoner to the Court House—please to observe all this was done by the express order of Mr. Benbury for what reason I know not—think of the distress I must be in not allow'd to know what the cause of all this was, I went to the court house after waiting about an hour at Mr. Hardys to know the fate of poor Mr. Pollock—when I came there I saw him at the door but it being surrounded by a great number of armed men I attempted to enterr but I was pulled off and used in a savage manner by them, who were called to by their officers in the street to Push me down and pull me off till one gardman with more humanity than the rest told them to let me alone, and gave me his arm into Horniblos where I was ordered by the Committee to be searched for arms, I told them that they were welcome to search me that I might be a fool, but was not a mad woman to carry arms to Mr. Pollock who was so much Enrag'd I knew he wou'd make use of them, in short the Ill treatment I met with from committee and officers has yet been uneqaulled—after keeping Mr. Pollock under confinement part of two days and one night he was tried before the committee and discharg'd—I know nothing from himself but have been told he signed the association and tis more than probable. Look'd on it as compulsory situated as he then was, and perhaps told some individuals things they did not like, but consider how little presence of mind a man has in the presence of people who did everything to enrage him to have an excuse for their future conduct; however had they acted according to order some proper person might have presented the association, had Mr. Pollock refused then to sign he merited what censure they thought proper—but moderate measures seemed Intirely Exploded and a worthy member of Siciety was with his Family to be sacrificed to the caprice of a malicious few whose own private resentment was to be sanctified by the public good—in order to accomplish which the persons who I shall give you a list of, by the most scandalous arts got a number of Soldiers out of their barracks who did not know Mr. Pollock, told them he was a Scotchman and an Enemy to America, made them almost
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drunk, and that night on which Mr. P. was discharged and once more in his own bed in Security [for strange it was] but not a person who wished us well knew of it, Mr. Pollock and myself having bad colds had taken a dose of yapon, and about two o'clock being in a profuse perspiration, we was awaked by Jacks coming into our room and telling us that Mr. Hall with a great number of armed men was at our door and must see his master directly. Mr. P. told him to go and ask what they wanted. They immediately call'd, bring him out or down with the house. I then jumped out of bed to open the door to speak to them, but before I could get it opened they chopped it down with their axes in my face, and guns pointed. I beg'd to know what Mr. P. had done, thought he was discharg'd, and asked by what Authority they committed such an outrage; they told me by an arbitrary Authority. I used every argument I cou'd think of, but in vain. Bring him out or down with the house, Mr. C. Hall kept repeating, the House was surrounded with more than two hundred men, no possibility of Mr. P.'s getting out; all the arms we had I had carried out the house when we returned from Mr. Hardy's, for I well knew had Mr. Pollock any he wou'd have lost his life rather than submit to such usage; in short, their promising no Insult Shou'd be offer'd to his person, made me on my knees beg him to accompany them to the court House to speak to those officers he had offended, and who were so little of the gentlemen, as ruffian like, to unequally attack an unarmed man at that unseasonable hour: at Last he comply'd with my request and went with them; two men who staid behind and seemed to have more feeling than the rest, told me that I need not be uneasy, for the worst that would be done to Mr. Pollock would be to tar and feather him. Heavens! can they do anything worse? Death would be more mercifull. I flew out of the house, little clothing upon me, the coldest night we have had this year, screaming for Mr. Pollock all over the streets, some time barefooted. At last I found Him standing in the midst of hundreds before the Court house, all the commanding officers except Capn
Tool were not in Town—gone out on purpose it is well known. I sent Mr. Corrie of N. York to beg him to come and disperse them. I waited till he might have come over, and over at last went myself, and after waiting a considerable time, screaming enough to raise the dead, he came down, but used no means proper to disperse the mob; in short all were combined to make Mr. Pollock a sacrifice, and when they had done that, now says Clem Hall Let
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us burn the coach, which they did—then Merceracu proposed to return and break open the cellars, which they return'd to do, but the store house being opened and no Liquors there, as ours had not arrived, Mr. Pollock gave them a sum of money and they went away. I had been taken in strong convulsions at Hornibloes. They brought me home, but I remained that night and next day so bad that it was with difficulty Life was preserved in me, and certain am I that my being in uncommon good health was all that saved me, and the kindness I received from Mr. Johnston's Family, who on a bed had me carried around there. I was at least more secure, but no person hardly thought I should have the use of my limbs again. We staid there near three weeks Expecting to hear every morning the house was down, as it was a determin'd point with clem Hall. I need not point out to you the daring Insult offered to the committee. Mr. Lamb, a member of that, with some others, is said to have Patronized this affair. I was promised by Mr. Gray and some others that Hall and some more shou'd be made examples of, but 'tis now gone over, and I remain in an unhappy situation, every night allarmed at the least noise, Expecting to be turned out of my bed or the house pulled down over me. Mr. Pollock never speaks on the occasion only to blame me for perswading him to go with the mob, and sending away his arms. Oh, Mr. Hewes, I am sure those feelings of Humanity so predominant in your breast must be shocked—do consider—do use the power invested in you towards the security of civil peace. Let not a respectable member of society be made a victim to a Barberous few. I am sure you never thought Soldiers necessary in this part of North Carolina nor cou'd you have thought they were to be paid to ruin Individuals or disturb the peace of society—to you I look for justice: surely you will not suffer Authority thus to be trampled under foot; none are safe, all as guilty as Mr. Pollock. May the Almighty direct your Councils for the Happiness and peace of America, is the sincere wish of Sir your
These persons I mention to you are accused by good evidence. I beg you will keep the List and shou'd find them guilty you will be a judge of their merits. The affronts to some of them which they pretend to have received I will give you at large when we meet and you will find them false. Thomas Jones, painter, the blacksmith,
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Clem Hall, young Ned Vail, Michael Payne, an Ensign in Capt. Blount's, Joseph Worth, Boyd Blackburn, and many others.
I fear this is Scarcely Ledgable but when you reflect on the agitation of my mind on a retrospective view of my sufferings I know you will excuse all.