Slave trader who built Continental Navy writes early shipping letter


Date Written

April 20, 1748

William Vernon was 29 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Samuel Vernon, was 36 when it was received.

William Vernon died 58 years, 8 months, 2 days after writing this.
It was written 275 years, 5 months, 13 days ago.
It was a Saturday.

New Providence
Apr. 20th 1748

Dear Bro:

This is the third incoherent serot I have wrote you in great hast since I arrived and I hope you’ll receive safe P. the “Abigail”—I have nothing new & agreeable to advise you about, but shall repeat in as few words as I can what I before said, viz. to Insure on as easie Terms as you can. My interest in the ship “Ann” & “Jane”, Fortisque Vernon Mr: for Boston or Rhode Island. Value here 3000 p%, the whole ship so that you’ll judge what my interest will be when we hold 5/16 of the whole; and her load of salt pray insure which will cost about 1600 p% my proportion of their sums, valueing adp% at 4 of our currency. I desire if you think necessary to secure, this I mention for your government, as well as my own? I shall also have about one thousand pounds our currency on board her, on my private acc’t if you think needful insure.

The Marlbro: has been out near two months on her cruise, tho’ only news that I have had of her, is their tak’g a sloop with suga and sent to the northward, her not answering makes me think, or at least hope she is with you before the receipt of this, with a good Prize, as the time is elapsed wch was sett for their being here and nothing was to prevent without the above reason or some accident.

I have only to say to say we keep possession of the large ship as yett and am determined to hold her if possible and not in the least doubt but shall obtain my resolution, tho’ it may not be upon such good terms as I expected; however if we get her home it may make some amends for the bad management of our affairs in this Port, which is the only reason I am not now able to tell you the ship is our own, the chief business I have yet done is overhauling those confused acc’ts. and shall in a few days I hope know what terms I am to have the ship upon. You may upon the present prospect venture to insure upon my acc’t £2500 yr. currency on the ship Neptune; for that will be her name; Jno Rider Mt: for R. Island and two thousand pounds of goods on board her for my acc’t that may also govern you in making insurance for yr interest; if we do not purchase her, we can only pay for prct and have the premium returned to us, wch will be well worth our while, rather than depend upon Opportunitys of adviseing, this I leave with you to judge of but knowing the danger upon our Coast, but I expect if the Marlbro: is not with you, by the receipt of this; she will be here in a few days and convoy both ships home in that case I suppose you may agree for a draw-back upon the premium.

We have not one bushel of salt on board Vernon ship, or indeed we have heard from the ponds. He is pressing daily, not to waite longer for fall, but proceed in ballast to Boston, shall stay home days longer to know if there is any salt made; if it is 2 1/6 bitt p. bushel it will answer as well as to buy sugar with the same money that our salt would cost us, rather perhaps two waite two months longer, and pay that high rate for it.

Cap’t Jno Rider desired me to ask of you to get £500 insurance made on the “Ann” & “Jane” for his acc’t: wch pray let be done; he has two bbls. of white sugar on board the “Abigail” wch the premium will be paid out of—

Inclosed you have invoice & bill of loadg of sundrey on board the “Abigail” viza three bbls of white sugar, five baggs cotton & small box with some china & leather wares, this keep until I arrive; Deliver Saml: Sanford 100 Cotton in part of his private adventure, the remainder shall I shall send or bring with me—
I have advanced upon my own acc’t: for the sloop “Abigail” 13 P% 2 1/6 ryole, wch I charge at £5/ I currency each that makes it £29-19/ or you’ll note by the inclosed acc’t and deduct out of the hire. Cap’t Rider has put a sloops new main sail on board the “Abigail”, that belongs to the Prize ship, if they make use of it, on their passage the sloop is to pay the value of it, wch you are to take care to receive for use of the owners & Company and keep in your hands, or the sail it may be but kind to advise Mr. Strengthfield to make insurance for Cat. Carr or Vernon’s ship, as she may probabilly sail without the benefit of the “Snow” to convoy her, he is concern’d one eighth:--
Since the above I have put two bbls. more of white sugar on board for my acc’t: I shall close with my tenderest regards for each Bro. & sister and write myself your affectionate Bro.

Wm Vernon

Pray excuse me for not sending some fruit, believe me I could not get even one hundred limes, Rhode Islands share, I have about 55 p% and his share of dry goods the same sortment you have in the invoice I sent you.
“I have this moment got three little tortoises, and have closed all my lett. and said to Capt. Brown & Wm White there was not one to be had and indeed they came in since and was all bought before I was head of them except these three little things. Pray excuse me to those persons and send Capt. Malbone one. I have been obliged to pay the dutys on everything we brought before they woud clear us out, and West has one hhd of Rum on board to ye care of his Bror the mate, the duty I have pay’d wh comes to eight p% you must take care that is stop’t out of the hire, as he has not the money to pay it here.
N.B. I have obtain’d a bill from Mr. Gibbs upon West for 25 p% 1% Royle.

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