AMERICANREVOLUTION.ORG

LETTER BOOK OF CAPTAIN ALEXANDER McDONALD,
OF THE
ROYAL HIGHLAND EMIGRANTS
November and December, 1776

To GOVR TRYON.

Halifax 26th NOVr 1776 SIR.

When I was at New York the Situation of Your health & hurry of business prevented my giving You Any trouble Concerning my own Affairs-I only beg leave now to represent to Your Excellency what I have Suffered on Account of my Loyalty & Attachment to Government, in hopes You will do me justice As far as lies in Your. Power. I think my demands will be both just and reasonable-In the first place, I want that a Patent may be issued out for me, for the Town ship No 12, & for 30.000 Acres more in three different Lots, for all which consistently with Your Excellency's knowledge, I have paid the Purchase &. Expence of Surveying prior to these troubles - Saving only a Small Sum for which Mr Jessop had my Note of hand, which Note of hand he put into the Hands of Richard Morris in My Absence, when I was forced away from my Habitation & Family & in a most base treacherous manner attempted to extort a deed from Mrs Macdonald for the Township No 12, Which is known & Allowed to be the very best in the Whole Purchase -threatening to take out an Execution Against All her Goods & Chattels, & not even to leave her a bed to lie upon, likewise in Order to Swell the Sum. Mr Morris Made a bill of Costs Amounting to Seventy Pounds, for what never could amount to Seventy Shillings, & all this at a time there was No Law in the Country, knowing very well that it was out of my Power to Afford My wife Any Assistance or Relief, had I ever so much money at Command for the Purpose.

The World knows Mr Morris is a Notorious Rebel, Nor do I suppose Jessop is Short of him-Had they been Guilty of No other Crime but this base treatment of me in My Absence, I think they would deserve Chastisement.

The Next thing I think Myself Entitled to is a Reparation for the damage my Farm on Statten Island Suffered, & I think a patent for justice Muchero's farm is as little as I could Expect As it must certainly be Confiscated, he being the Most infamous & Notorious Rebel in all the Country-& if it is a thing can be done consistently with Law & Equity, I should be Glad to have a Patent or at least a long exclusive Lease that no Person could keep a ferry Any Where over the Kill Van Koul from Elizabeth Town Point to Ryerson's Farm at the Mouth of the Kills opposite to New York-I am Certain this would be Much More Advantageous & for the Good of the Publick As the House which I intended to lett as a Tavern is exactly on the Road leading to the Blazing Star from Paul's Hook, the Most Conveniently Situated for the ferry & it is one Of the Most elegant houses for a Tavern in All the Country, & for My part I would Allways take Care to keep a clever man in the house Understanding his Business, & that would keep the best things in his way. Whereas a number of pimping houses being kept all Allong that tract afford No Sort of comfortable Entertainment to Man or Horse

I will not encroach Any more on Your precious time - Having nothing to communicate from this Part of the World farther than a descent having lately been made from Newhamp Shire on Fort Cumberland in the Superior part of this Province - We have as yet no certain Account of their Number; Some calling it 1500 or 2000, others not so many, unless the People of this Province in that part have joined them - An Expedition of part of the Marines & of our Regiment, in which the Militia could not be got to join, has been Sent Against them, & of Men of War - we have had no news of them Since their departure from Windsor.

Trusting Myself entirely to Your Excellency's Goodness, Countenance & favor, I remain with Regard & Esteem.


To CAPT McKENZIE.

Halifax 26th Novr 1776
SIR,

I cannot miss this Opportunity without expressing My deep Sense of your Goodness & Civilities to me when at Head Quarters, & of returning You My Most Sincere-thanks for the Same.

I hope you will be good enough to Continue Your friendship, & keep His Excellency in Mind of me, when you See An Opening & that it can be done with Propriety. - Col McLean who flies from one part of this world to the Other Like Lightning, Arrived here twenty days Agoe, being forced out of the Gulph of St Lawrence by Contrary winds - He is under no Apprehensions of the Regiment not being established by this time, At least he had the Assurance of the Countenance of the first People for that purpose -

One thing more I beg Leave to Mention to You Which by the bye I am Affraid will Appear foolish or ridiculous, but still it runs Strong in my head that After these troubles are Settled it will be found necessary to have a dockyard on the Continent of America in a More Centrical place than Halifax, in which case I think there is a Mill pond close to My House on Statten Island which from My Notion of these Matters Might be Made one of the finest dockyards in the World. As it May very easily be made to contain a vast Number of Ships with the greatest Safety, & take in a first rate Man of War - The water may be raised to Any height you please, & at low water there may be one or more dry docks As will be found necessary - I form My judgement from the Dock-Yard at Helvoetsluys, of which this has an exact resemblance in point of Situation - All works of this kind is allways Attended with Expence, but I think this could be finished with less than Any other place I can think of, & in case Lord Howe entertains Any thoughts of this kind & would think this A proper place, I think I Might be of infinite Service in Making a purchase of the Land that Should be found necessary to be bought for the Use Of the Yard.

In this or any thing of the kind that Should be thought of I depend on Your friendship, as I have a weak family to bring on, who have Nothing else to depend upon than My honest Endeavours - I wish You Much joy of the Success of His Majesty's Arms & I am Sir

Your Much Obliged friend & Most humble Servt



To MAJOR SMALL.

DEAR SIR, Halifax 26 Novr 1776

We Arrived here Safe After a long tedious & disagreeable Passage for bad weather & Contrary winds - Some of the Recruits died on the Passage & Since their landing to the Number of About 20 Men, & I am Affraid A great Many more will die, they having contracted a Malignant fever on board the Ships, being Served with bad Provisions & Stinking Water, & Allmost Naked for want of cloaths - We have About 58 Sick Now

Mr McLean's Not having come allong with the Mustr roll, the Men's Accounts & Pay Money You was to draw for them puts me in great Confusion, As I Must draw that Money here to furnish the Men with Winter Cloathing, & if Capt Murdoch McLean had Not arrived with the Cloathing of the Regiment, I would have been in the Utmost distress, As No one Article of Cloathing was to be had, but At a Most extravagant rate. Col McLean Arrived here Unexpectedly two or three weeks Agoe being drove out of the Gulph of St Lawrence by contrary boisterous winds As he wanted to goe to Quebec-He has not the least of the Establishment of the Regt & told me he might have had Anything for himself he Chose to Ask for, All which he totally refused till Such time As the Gentlemen Whom he had led to Accept of Commissions were provided for - I am Sure he is Your friend from one Circumstance - He Asked me one day what could be the Cause of the Opposition at Head Quarters Against You ? - I told I believed it was Nothing Else but jealousy for Your being Major Commandant of a Battalion - He damned them all & Said, where the d-l was there Any Among them having So great a Right from long & faithful Service - I referr You to him for particulars regarding our Situation in this Province - I only Wish You Would prevail with him to have both Battalions to join in the Province of New York.

You was much mistaken in regard to poor old Ronald - He not only refused Sir John's Offers, but carried 30 of the Highlanders in Spite of All Opposition. to Col McLean - On his Arrival here Capt John Sent him immediately to Newfoundland, & I am well pleased to inform You that our Success there was at least equal to our Expectations, for I expect him here every day with Sixty Men, as we were well informed he was to Sail

Sixteen days Agoe with that number - We are greatly indebted to Adml Montague for his kind Assistance, As he did Not Suffer Any other Regimt there to inlist Men but Ours - One of Legge's Officers was there & returned without a Man

Mrs Macdonald & All the Gentlemen desire their kind Love to You & when it is certain that you have got rid of your bad bargain, none Shall be so happy As your Sincere friend & Well Wisher &c


To RONALD McKINNON.

Decr

Halifax 14th Dec 1776 DR RONALD.,

I have Applyed Several times to the General to Know whether the Grenadrs were to remain there all Winter or Come to Halifax. I Spoke to him this very Morning for the last time, he gave me for Answer that they shou'd not remain there a Moment after he heard from Colo Goreham, or Major Batt for he pays no re gard to flying reports Concerning Fort Cumberland untill he gets a direct Acct from either of these Gentlemen., Altho' we have a pretty Strait Accot of the Rebels leaving that part of the Country already and that Major Batt has gained immortal honor on the Occasion & I believe youll find it absolutely Necessary for you to bring the Conduct of the Captain of the Man of War to a public hearing. Let your journal be very Exact & Certified by the Affidavits of as many as were with you in the Vessel As you think proper Especially the Pilot & Midshipman. These Depositions to be taken before a justice of the Peace I shall say no more on that head till I have the pleasure of Seeing you

The Sloop Gage is ordered round to Windsor, in her I will Send the Clothing of the two Companies As well regimls as Warm Clothing for Breeches & Leggings I shall also send you a Qr Cask of Spirits & another of Wine I gave £5 toe Mrs Campbell to purchase things you have Order'd If She will venture them in the Sloop they shall all go. I wou'd Advise You to write to the Genl for leave to Come down that we might Settle our Accots - I Suppose the Grenadrs will come at the Same time.

I this Moment recd Cape Murdoch's letter by the Midshipman wch I have Answered before I recd it as you see above. I find the keeping of an horse & Cow in this town to be of a terrible Expence & if I cou'd get a faithful person there to take Care of my Mare I wou'd send her up or if You can by any means in the World Send me a Couple Tons of Hay & Some Bushells of Oats if the Opportunity of a Vessel coming round Should Offer. As I have no News or Anything Else to impart this Letter must do for you & Captn McLean & Let poor Morrison be Send down As his Wife & Children are almost Starving for the Want of him Captn McLean may retain the Bearer of this in his Room As he belongs to the Company Morrison is to bring a Horse with him belonging to McNab my love to Mrs McKinnon Miss Latty & all the Genln and believe me to be my Dear Ronald yours affectionately

Alexr McDonald


To COL. McLEAN.

Halifax 17th Decemr 1776 DEAR COLL

Since your Departure from here nothing Extraordinary hapen in the Place we had flying reports of the Rebells having run away from Cumberland on the two Companys of Marriens having arrived there - That Major Batt march'd out of the garrison with 150 troops about 3 o'Clock in the morning in order to Surrownd the Enemies and when he came within a convenient Distance ordered his men to fire three vollies at the place where the enemie was Thought to be, but finding no Shot returnd from them, orders were Given to Charge with Bayonets, after pushing through the bushes for Some time the Divell a Enemie at all was to be founde, others report that 7 men of the Majors Party was kill'd and Sixteen wounded and only one indian, and one of the inhabitants near the Fort were kill'd on the Rebell's Side. I cannot assert eithere of these reports for truth as there are no accounts from Coll Gorham or Major Batt concerning this or any thing eles Since major Batts arrival at the Fort - I waited on Major Sutter & Capt Ramsey the othere two commanding officers of Corps in order to represent to Genll Massey the Injustice Done to the Soldiers regarding the two pounds of bread that are keep'd from the troops in this Garrison more than from the rest of his Majestys troops in all america; a pound of Bread they tell me Sells for four pence tow pounds is 8d allow 2d for Baking there remaines a 6d for every man pr weeke which will amount to £62.10 pr week allowing 2500 men to be serve'd every week. But this is not all we are Served Since prior to September last with Flower that is Rank poison at lest Bread made of Such flower - The Men of our Regiment that are on Command at the East Battery brought me a Sample of the fflower they received for a Months provision, it was exactly like Chalk & as Sower as Vinegarr I asked the Doctors opinion of it who told me it was Suffisient to Destroy all the Regiment to eatt Bread made of Such fflower; it is hard when Mens Lives are So precious and so much wanted for the Service of their King and country, that they Should thus wantonly be Sported with to put money in the pocket of any individuall - The General has been repeatedly applied, he allows the justice of the Complaint but expresses a fear that none better is to be had - However the Contractors who Sent out or provided such ought to be made to suffer, for they say it has been condemned formerly. Our Grenadiers are not yett com Down the Country, but Expect them every Day, altho we are keept here we look on ourselves as much on Duty as any othere part of the armie for these disturbances in the Country & in Cumberland have put our men & officers to considerable Stirr & Expence, all which continues as yet & will longer for ought we know and we therefore pray to receive our Bat & Forrage money as the rest of the armie Does. I hope this will find you Safe arrived at New York and if you cannot pass that way to Canada to have the Pleasure of Seeing you here early in the Spring. You should procure an order to relieve our Detatchments at Windsor & Newfoundland as Soon as the Weathere Should permitt that we Should assemble here all togethere to embark for whatever part of the world we Should be order'd for. In regard to our Lodging Money we are in every respect at considerably greater Expence in this Garrison than if we had been on Service - The Civil Law of this Province has overturned every Regulation made by Genl Howe in Spring last for keeping the Rent of houses within bounds: the Lawyers in their pleadings Say: What title has Mr Howe to interfere with the rent of our houses? The Consequence is that a Room how triffling Soever costs fifteen Shillings per week - This is exceedingly oppressive to the Captains & Subalterns - Provisions continue Very high, & all other Sorts of Goods higher than with the Grand Army & Scarcer because No Supply is now brought to this place

A Chord of firewood in the fortnight is even of the best firewood very Short allowance in the fortnight in this climate for a Captain, & the half of that Quantity to a Subaltern is Miserable - Their allowance is likewise too Small for the Soldiers - But now as we are Served with Coals, 12 bushels of English Coals is not equal to a Chord of Wood, & the 12 bushels of Louisbourgh which we get are not equal to 16 bushels English. The Consequence is we are Obliged to buy the remainder at two guineas at present, & Shortly it will cost three per Chord

The Barrackmaster's exactness amounts to a hard ship in point of Lodging & firing - If one of us goes out of the Garrison or out of the Province on only a furlough, he is immediately Struck off the List for firing & lodging untill his return nothwithstanding he must lock up his room in the Garrison, & pay for the Same while Absent or else he will never get into it Again, as Some Other person will take it - Thus Ensign Ronald Macdonald Sent from this Garrison to Boston to fetch Recruits on the 25th November 1775 applied to Barrackmaster at Boston for lodging money& firing but was refused as belonging to the Garrison of Halifax - When he returned here in february, he were likewise refused by Mr Morden, as being absent from this Garrison. I am not able to Suport myself with fire and Lodging with Duble my allowance as Capt having the command of the Regiment and the Management of their Subsistance. I am Oblidg'd to keep a larger House and more fires in Placeses. I think as Commanding officer I might be allowed the Emolliments of the Garrison as Major.


[To MAJOR SMALL.]

Halifax 17th December 1776 DEAR MAJOR.

I can not help writting to you tho' I have nothing to tell you but that Sueky the Chielderen, myself & all the Gentlemen are very well but our men are Dieing every Day owing in a Great measure to Colds & Fivers they contracted on Board the transports being Served with very bad watter and provisions all the Passage and very bad Bread ever Since their Arrivall I furnish them with wine and fresh provision whoever will pay for it this and Hospitall furnitur &c will com very High and I cannot See them poor Devills Suffer and indeed they are not the worss of our men that Dies - I send you inclosed a Bill which the Collonel Desired me to Sende you by the first Opportunity it is a bill which young Forbes Gave him as a Security for so much advanced him in time of Need if the Coll is there you will give up the Bill to him Should he be Drove off the coast to any part of the world you will be pleased to present the Bill, if it Should be Duely Honor'd & Payed you may Creditt the Coll account so much.

I am Sory I did not Get a Copie of the Muster Rolls with the Date of the men's attestation to Enable me to mak up their acounts if you are Sucessfull in listing men I Supose we will be able to Discharge a Great many in the Spring.


[To - CAMPBELL.]

Halifax 17th December 1776
SIR,

I was in such a hurry leaving York that I Scarcely knew what I was doing. If I remember well when I delivered over possession of the house to you Mention was made that you should have it rent free till May wch would be equal to Making you a present of an hundred pounds as the house wd rent for two hundred and fifty pounds that Currency Yearly if not three hundred however you promised to do all my Business in the law Way Cost free in that place & in Case Mr Liviston who has forfeited all his Estate real & personal by being a most Notorious Rebell & an Inveterate Enemy to the King & Government as I can prove by many Instances & particularly a letter under his hand Directed to his son Harry Should attempt by himself or by any person impowered by him to retake Possession of that house by any indirect Means Such as Mortgages ante dated in order to evade the forfeiture I give you to Understand & to know that there has been No Mortgage on any one part of his Estate & in Regard to my Claim it is as follows My Wife's Grand Mother Mrs McPhedris had only two Daughters the Eldest my wife's Mother & the Second Married Robert Gilbert Livingston formerly owner of that House Of wch I gave you possession

The old Lady's fortune Mrs McPhedris is computed to be Eighteen or twenty thousand pounds of that Currency but whether it is exactly these Sums I will not Venture to say but it is there abouts As I have an exact list of her bonds Signed by herself & She always made it a practice to collect her Interest yearly from these bonds as it became due & lay it out upon Interest. Such a large Sum of money Managed in this Manner Accumulates very fast & I Should think Mr Livingston ought to have forfeited his Title to this as well as the Rest of his Estate. If it was for no other Reason but the base ways & means used by him & his Wife to persuade the Old Woman who is Now Superannuated to Cut off the Children of her Eldest daughter because She had married Contrary to her Approbation - By forcing her to give an Instrument in Writing for that purpose or she could not have lived in peace without doing it. Such instrument was to be kept Secret till after her death. However fully determined to do justice as well to her own Conscience as to her Eldest daughter & Children She in as private a manner gave, an Instrument in Writing to her Eldest Daughter to whom she told wt she had been forced to do agt her will By wch Instrumt she cancelled the One that had been Extorted from her by Mr & Mrs Livingston & left whatever fortune she died possess'd of Equally divided without deduction & by making this Instrumt Irrevocable & Unalterable forever She put it out of her own power to alter it by any other deed She may possibly make hereafter. This deed I am possessed of As well as the list of her bonds A copy of wch may be Sent you if need requires.

These are the Reasons why I lay hold of Every thing I can lay hands on formerly belonging to Mr Livingston as a Security for payment of my Mother in Law's Share of her Mother's fortune wch lays in Mr Livingston's hands the Old Lady having placed a great deal of Confidence in his honesty. Besides this he has a Mahogany Box of mine Containing about four hundred pounds worth of plate. Of all these Matters I beg You will make a Representation to Lord Howe Genl Howe & Governor Tryon or those who are in power to do justice in these cases & leave nothing undone that the Law can direct to get me & my heirs a firm deed for all his Estate in Town & a farm he has near St George's Ferry Called Cottage. I shall be glad to hear from you with your instruction & directions in this Affair & am Sir

Your must humble & Obt
A McD


[To GENERAL MASSEY.] SIR.

I sent our Quarter Master on board the Sloop Gage with the Cloathing designed for our Men At Windsor desiring him at same time to See if a platform, hammocks, beds or any tollerable Sort of Births had been provided in her for the Accommodation of the Soldiers. He reports that there is No such thing - only Cables & billets of wood to lie upon, every thing in Confusion & that there is not near room enough for twenty men to turn in below deck - He likewise reports that the Artillery on board is in the Utmost disorder - I beg leave, Sir, to referr to Your feelings What the poor men must Suffer in that Situation at this time of year, & how Necessary it will be for the preservation of their health & Lives for the Service, & to keep them in due Spirits, that they should have a Comfortable place to lie in at night, With bed & bed cloathing. I thought it my duty to Acquaint of the disagreeable Circumstances of the Vessell, as ten men of our Regiment are going on board, persuaded that to let you know the distress or Maltreatment of a Soldier is redressing the Same

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