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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from [Henry?] Purcell to Abner Nash
Purcell, [Henry?]
August 02, 1780
Volume 15, Pages 13-15


Beaufort, N. C., August 2d, 1780.


After a little Respite from so general a Deluge & Bustle that a man can open his Cabin windows & derive some satisfaction in looking around him, I thought I could not (meeting with an opportunity) dedicate a few moments more usefully than in offering them up to Your Excellency, & more especially when anything relating to the common good & Interest of Country demanded such a Tribute at my hands.

Upon my first Arrival here on Saturday, Curiosity naturally induced me to reconnoitre the Beach & enquire who such and such vessels belonged to—what they were loaded with & where from. As my enquiries seemed only directed to satisfy an idle Curiosity, (tho' indeed I had other motives,) my Companion candidly answered them, & observed that such a Schooner belonged to a Person that in all Probability I might know in Chas. Town. I remarked to him, his Character I was perfectly well acquainted with from his first coming into the Country, & it had been no little matter of surprise to me, as well as my fellow Citizens in Charles Town, how a man from the lowest Class of Overseers should have arrived so shortly to such a Command of Cash & Interest. His name is James Wright, a fellow that has ever been skulking & avoiding his Duty, & was here during the Seige. The name you will find amongst the Worthies that addressed Sir H. Clinton. But Col.

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Easton, who did me the pleasure of calling on me yesterday P. M., & who I found I might unbosom myself to, acquainted me that it is not the identical Worthy, the Owner of this Vessel, but a Carpenter in Charles Town. Be that as it may, I have assurances of his going into Charles Town since the Capitulation—consequently can't partake of its priviledges, but must of Necessity have sworn Allegiance to procure a Reception. This, Sir, I apprehend, will amount to Seizure of his Property here, which is not inconsiderable. Yr. Excellency will be pleased to send me a Commission for that Purpose, & I'll speedily execute it. If any Resistance shou'd be made, You will be pleased to direct me where to apply for Military Assistance, & I'll let them see I will act in any Capacity when my Country calls.

The Schooner is loaded with Rum Arms, &c., part for the Public.

A Prisoner, Capt. Joiner, who was cast away in the Little Bob, (her Cargo half the Public,) upon my Enquiries how he had fared and what he had saved, replied in the old and usual Stile, The Public Goods were nearly all lost. Poor America! how art thou jilted & abused. A successful or saving voyage must ever be the Merchant's. Where Loss or Damage are sustained they must be charged on the Dr. side of the Book to thy Account. Besides the above, with another Schooner on the Beach, Capt. Dixon I find has Property to a great Amount on his hands belonging to the sd. Culpret Wright. How to come at the sight and Knowledge of this I must beg of your Excelly. some legal Instructions. And I wou'd scortch every Siner of the law so as to almost make them crack, rather than suffer such Duplicity of Conduct in such dirty Villains to pass unnoticed. 'Tis a Debt we owe the virtuous few amongst us, & will in some Measure ease their Burdens. Should not Capt. Fernes leave Newbern so soon as yr. Excelly. may think it expedient that I shou'd have an answer, I presume some body will be sent to me on Purpose. A Delay may be attended with a total Loss.

With yr. Excelly's Leave I will with Pleasure take under Charge Capt. Joiner's Cargo—I mean the public part—& make him swear to the Loss of the remainder. And in every Instance during

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my residence here, tending to promote the public Welfare & happiness, no one shall more cheerfully engage than

Yr Excelly's most obliged & Humble Servt.,
Beaufort, Wednesday Morning.

P. S. My respectful Compliments to Mrs. Nash & the Family. A Copy of the Subscribers' Names to the Address might be of a Service to me here. Excuse my Scrall & Paper. Capt. Fernes called on me ready to start before I had begun, & seems now very impatient.