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Petition from Martha Gilchrist concerning Thomas Gilchrist's return to North Carolina
Gilchrist, Martha
August 01, 1778
Volume 13, Pages 465-467


Aug. 1st, '78.

To the Honorable the General Assembly.

The Petition of Martha Gilchrist Humbly Sheweth

That your Petitioner is a native of Virginia, a Daughter of Mr. Robert Jones, (some time since Attorney General of the State of North Carolina) and the wife of Mr. Thomas Gilchrist, who formerly lived at Suffolk in Virginia, but for some years previous to the passing of the Treason Act, at and near Halifax, in this State. Your Petitioner's said Husband having been in partnership in Trade with his Brother John Gilchrist of Norfolk, for several years, the partnership at length expired, and the said Thomas Gilchrist went to Scotland, leaving almost all his Estate in the hands of his said Brother John. Your Petitioner's Husband having transacted his Business in Scotland, returned to Virginia, with a view to take possession of his Estate, and spend the remainder of his days in America, all his connections as well as your Petitioner's being in Virginia and North Carolina. But during his absence, his Brother John Gilchrist had unfortunately shot himself, and John Campbell, of Norfolk, had obtained Administration of his Estate, who was either unable or unwilling to account with Thomas Gilchrist, your Petitioner's Husband and the courts of Law being then shut in Virginia, he could not compel Mr. Campbell to do him justice; wherefore he retired with your Petitioner and four Daughters, and four or five Negro's all the Estate he could command, to Halifax Town; and this happened a little before the passing of the act for shutting up the port of Boston. Hostilities then commencing between Great Britain and the United States, Lord Dunmore with the British Troops, and General Howe, with the Troops of Virginia, destroyed a great part of the Estate of John Gilchrist by Fire, and Ld. Dunmore, by his Emissaries decoyed most of his negroes on board the Fleet, and John Campbell, the administrator, went off to Bermuda, with

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the Remainder. That, from circumstances sufficiently easy, if not affluent, were Your Petitioner's husband and his family reduced to the gloomy prospect of poverty and Dependence. Your Petitioner's said Husband continued at Halifax until the passing of the Treason act, during which time he conducted himself so as to gain the good will of his Acquaintances, and never, directly or indirectly, by Word or Deed, interfered in, or obstructed the measures of the United States; on the contrary he cheerfully acquiesced in the Determinations of Congress, and agreeable to the Recommendation hired a Soldier to serve in the Continental Army: But when the fatal Act passed, he was Reduced to the greatest Dilemma, as his Fortune here was not sufficient to maintain a Wife and four Children, born to Affluence, and if he should take the Oath of Allegiance, he would in all probability be barred from Recovery of any thing in Bermudas, as Campbell, his Brother's administrator, was a violent Tory, and would undoubtedly make use of that Circumstance as an Argument to defeat his Claim. Under these Circumstances your Petitioner's said Husband was induced to leave the State, with Intention to go to Bermudas, if happily he might recover something out of the wreck of John Gilchrist's Estate; declaring at the same time that he meant to return as soon as possible and become a citizen of the State of North Carolina if he could obtain permission. Your Petitioner further Sheweth that her said Husband, since his Departure, hearing of the Resolution of Congress recommending to the United States to allow even such persons as had taken arms against them to return, flattered himself that he, whose conduct had never been inimical, should be again restored to his Family and Friends, and accordingly sailed for Georgia; arrived there and was admitted a Citizen; and now anxiously waits the permission of Your Honorable Body to embrace his disconsolate Wife and Helpless Children.

As the Case of Mr. Gilchrist has been attended with Circumstances uncommon and peculiarly hard; as he never while here, or since his Departure, murmured at or obstructed the American measures; and as mercy is the most amenable Attribute even of the Almighty; Your Petitioner prays and conjures you that you will not banish her and her helpless Infants, who are Americans like you, from their Country, their Relations, their Friends and

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connection; but humbly hopes that you will allow her Husband to return and bless his Family.

MARTHA GILCHRIST.

August 1, 1778.