Drought and Economic Crisis Once Again; The Decision to Expand and Diversify

Frederick George Mulcaster to James Grant

St. Augustine, January 15, 1773

. . .

“The Dr. [Turnbull] has made about the quantity he did last year. He talks of getting into his back swamp which I dare say would [ ? ]. His paople are quiet and easy. The Indians behave well and bring him venison.”

. . .

James Grant Papers

The Reverend John Forbes to James Grant

February 23, 1773

. . .

“....the winter has been the most open and most moderate we have had since I have been in the province, scarce any frost and very little cold weather. There has been raised and exported above 31,000 weight of indigo....

“Doctor Turnbull seems to be in tolerable spirits. He schemes great things in the planting way, and as he is happy in what I am afraid may be called his delusions, it is a pity to rob him of them. His people are healthy and increasing. Mr. Neilson is daily expected here, what alterations his account of Smyrnea will make I know not. Greatly to my satisfaction the Doctor has drop't or at least to me is quite silent on what we call politics and the affair of our administration....”

The Reverend Forbes closed the letter with news of a winter storm: “We have had a violent snow storm, several vessels I am afraid have been lost. The snow [fell] for twelve hours two or three inches deep, the indigo is not much hurt as the snow saved it from the frost.”

James Grant Papers

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Smyrnéa, May 10, 1773

Turnbull was not satisfied by the responses he received from Thomas Nixon concerning the man–Reynolds–who purchased the 1771 Smyrnéa indigo crop, and asked Ramsay to look into the matter. He judged Nixon to be “honest and means well, but not being much acquainted with large business, [gave an] opening to the Jew brokers to take advantage.” Turnbull does not “trust them or the way they do business [and thinks] a third party should audit all the accounts between us. Not a full employment, but a gentleman who has a fortune, but with time on his hands, [who] might take it on.” Please propose this to the Earl of Temple & to Duncan.

Turnbull also informed Ramsay that “Mr. Neilson” was then at Smyrnéa.

Dundee City Archive

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Smyrnea, May 20, 1773

Turnbull was “very uneasy” that Thomas Nixon refused to accept the recent series of bills drawn on him “for the supply of provisions and other necessities that this country cannot produce, [and which] therefore must come from abroad, as [this settlement] can't subsist without them. I never intended that Lord Temple or Sir William Duncan should supply more money, [but] I couldn't avoid drawing.” Furthermore, Turnbull complained, the draw was on the indigo sent home by a merchant ship which should have provided a sufficient fund to reimburse Nixon for the provisions. Refusing to accept bills for provisions “will have bad effect on minds of the People in the settlement, but I'm resolved to get over if possible and will continue to look forward. Extraordinary expenses or returned bills will set us back for a year or two but cannot prevent our success.”

Nixon was worried that the Smyrnéa indigo might not sell since a surplus of Carolina indigo dye was then on hand in London. But Turnbull protested that the indigo manufactured at Smyrnéa was of much higher quality than the Carolina produce, and that it was used for different purposes. While “it may be affected and perhaps be lower for the late stagnation of every branch of commerce, I'll be anxious until I hear whether Nixon returns my bills or not. If they are protested I have no recourse but to dispose of our crop in Charles Town to enable me to go on, and if obliged to this mode of business it shall be transacted with merchants of reputation and conduct there, that all may be on a fair and open plan. A protested bill in America is like the sound of the tocsin in France, it alarms far and near and I should be looked on in a bad light if I offered a bill in the future.”

Turnbull was unwilling to buy from the merchants in St. Augustine, “where provisions and all effects I want are dear and not of best qualities....”

Dundee City Archive

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Smyrnéa, May 27, 1773

“Inclosed with this you will find a long answer and I'm afraid a tedious one to your letter of the 2 nd of March. I have not wrote much to Mr. Nixon by this opportunity on the disagreeable subject of bills, all I can say about them is in this letter to you. If you think prorper you may read the whole of it to him. I have troubled you also with proposals which I have begged the favour of your communicating to Lord Temple and to Sir William Duncan.

“I wish to assure Sir William that I do not desire to be unconnected with him in this settlement, and on that account, wish rather that he accepts of the yearly rent proposed than the other by purchase. If I become his farmer he will probably take a turn to this part of the world, the lease of ten years shall be no objection to my entering into such improvements as he thinks proper. I beg to add that if Lord Temple accepts of either of the terms proposed, there will not be a necessity of waiting for Sir William's determination, as it makes a separate affair; besides I do not mean to refuse accepting of one share on purchase or as a farm tho' the other Proprietor does not agree to either. I leave all this to your management.

“Since my last letter to Sir William Duncan I have received one from him, in which he tells me that it will be inconvenient for him to be in London next year. I beg, my dear Sir, your assuring him that I mean to consult his conveniency and not my own in everything; my coming to Europe shall be at a time most convenient to him, and therefore I shall not think of stirring from hence ‘till he tells me when it is convenient for him to meet me in London. I beg my respects to Mrs. Ramsay. I shall be anxious to have your answer to this.

“If my bills come back, I've resolved to put what indigo we have into an open boat and carry it to Charleston myself to answer these demands. I have the boat ready and must not lose a minute, tho' attended with some danger in an open boat, to reinstate my credit at Charleston and to engage a house there to supply this settlement.”

Dundee City Archive

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Smyrnéa May 27, 1773

“Your letter of the 2 nd of March came to hand the 19 th of this month. I am sorry that Mr. Nixon was under the necessity of giving you trouble about my bills, I did not intend that either Lord Temple or Sir William Duncan should have been desired to supply more money; The reason of the expences which drew these bills from me is, that I am obliged to supply this Settlement with such provisions as we cannot raise here, and of which we were in so much want when these supplies arrived, that we had not one barrel of pork here, nor one hundred weight of either rice or flour, the two last wanted daily for the sick, [women nursing] and children.

“I mention this to explain the necessity of these bills drawn on Mr. Nixon on consigning our Indigo to him, which is not a new practice in America business, for it is done every day, and as I thought that the Indigo sent home would have been sufficient to refund these sums, I did not imagine that I was much out of the road of that kind of business. The failure of Mr. Reynolds has indeed lessened our friends, which adds to the weight of these bills on Mr. Nixon, but if he had told me positively when I was with him last year, that he would not advance anything for us in the future, it would not have been difficult for me then to have found a House in London to do this business for us, on condition of having the consignment of our indigo to reimburse the advances made in cash, for which an interest of five percent is commonly paid; this with two and a half per cent on the purchases, and as much on the sales brings ten per cent for the capital in that Trade: considerable sums of money are employed in this way by the merchants trading to South Carolina, their correspondents or factors in Charlestown supply the planters at one year's credit to be paid by that year's crop, which for the most part cannot even be put into the ground...without the credit.

“I mention this to justify myself as far as customs in such cases can justify me, I do not mean, however, that I was induced to draw by those customs or to avail myself of them, for I would not have drawn for one half penny of the amount of the Indigo tho' with Twenty thousand pounds, if absolute necessity...had not compelled me. If seen in this light it will seem more excusable, but however that is, I think myself much obliged to Mr. Nixon for having accepted the bills then presented; tho' at a longer time; The State of credit in Europe has no doubt involved him in some difficulties, and I am sorry that my bills should add to his distress, which my present circumstances cannot alleviate, on the contrary, I must continue at least for this once to add to them, for I must give a bill on him by the next post for £94:18:6 Sterling to balance my last account with Mr. Gordon's House [in Charles Town, S.C.], in which are included the costs of seventeen bushels of indigo seed, two hundred bushels of salt and the freight of the vessel sent here with the coppers [copper stills]. I do not know of any other demands on me for some months at least, except the fifty or sixty pounds which I mentioned in another letter for the twelve draught oxen commissioned from Georgia. I did not think that our provisions of this year would have amounted to so much by four hundred pounds as they had done, which proceeds from that kind of provision being at a much higher price than usual, but as I could not subsist without them, they must be paid for.

“I have therefore said that I must continue to draw to pay for them, but if one bill comes back it will most effectually put a stop to that and everything else here, until I find means to pay those returned. Bills with extraordinary expenses on them, which I must endeavour to do by a contract with some house in Charlestown to supply me, and which I flatter myself will not be difficult, as men of capital there know the capability of settlements in this country better than the London Merchants. Money may be lost by giving credit to men in trade, that given to planters can hardly be said to be in risk. On these grounds I found an opinion that I can get over the bills if returned, tho' such a stop of the credit of this settlement will certainly do much hurt in many respects. I am also sorry that it will entirely break the connection between Mr. Nixon and this settlement as to the business of it, as the supplies and sales must then be thro' the Charles Town channel in the mode adopted even by the most opulent of the Carolina land holders. It would be much more agreeable to me if this does not happen, as the business of this settlement would probably have recompensed him in future for the trouble he has had, besides I think him an honest and an industrious merchant, I may not be so happy as to have the same confidence in another.

“In answer, my dear sir, to the paragraph of your letter about raising of stock. I tried that of Hogs, but the Wolves and Tygers destroyed them as fast as raised. I shifted to another place, where I thought they would be less liable to be destroyed but with as bad success as at the first place, not withstanding I have not given it up, as I find that the clearing of the lands rids us in part of these destructive animals. I have also fed hogs in pen, but found it more expensive than purchasing salt pork.

“In regard to the salting of fish...as a part of our food, we could not have subsisted here without it. It is by fish that I have reduced our quantity of pork to less than eighty barrels a year, and to the allowance per week of one-half pound only for each person of a certain age. I endeavoured to save that expence also, but found from experience that vegetable food without some of the animal kind brought on a weak digestion, acids and flatulences of the bowels, with obstructed viscera, dropsies, and a risk of life. These could not be prevented without meat. I was therefore obliged to give the half pound of pork per week, rather as a remedy than as a part of food. I have a right to call it remedy, from the intention of it as well as the small quantity given. I repeat however, that without fish we could not subsist on so small an allowance of pork.

“I frequently salt between three and four thousand weight of fish in a day, but it is only certain seasons, and in favourable fishing days that we catch many, tho' we save five hundred pounds a year at least by fish. I have troubled you with a long detail of this part of our savings and subsistence, that you may judge of it, which your acquaintance with affairs of this nature enables you to do and I am so far from taking amiss what you write to me about saving expences for provisions, that I am much obliged to you for it, and shall always be glad of any hint of that kind which may occur to you.

“I observe what you say about the disappointment from last year's crop, it was greatly so to me, all that I can do is to endeavour as much as the climate and seasons admit to better it in future. The failure of last year has indeed made me apprehensive that such accidents will happen oftener than was at first imagined, which gives me the more anxiety as I am sensible it will be very discouraging to Lord Temple and Sir William Duncan, and the more so as an expensive, tho' necessary apparatus of Husbandry, added to the partial failures of the crop from lands, the nature of which we are not yet well acquainted, with many other hindrances, will keep us out of great profits for a certain time, but cannot prevent our succeeding and that in a large way.

“I do not mean to raise other expectations than what seem to me well founded, nor did I intend to deceive as to what I said of our last year's crop. I was deceived by appearances. I may also be deceived this year, and do really apprehend it, notwithstanding I venture to offer the Lord Temple Eighteen thousand pounds sterling for his property in this settlement and lands in East Florida, and the same sum to Sir William Duncan: it must not be understood that I can lay down the money, I mean that I will engage to pay interest of five per cent on the 18,000 pounds till it is all paid off, which may be at thirds every four years, the interest to ease on each third as paid off. A mortgage on their own lands and on mine as well as my personal security is the only offer I have to make them for the making good of this Engagement; that, however, is more than they have at present, having only a right to their own four-tenths each and not to my one-fifth.

“I do not flatter myself that the profits of this settlement will enable me to pay even half of that money in the time mentioned, but I think that the improvement of the lands will give me a means of either borrowing money on them, or leasing them out on fines to pay the thirds at the times proposed. If this offer is not accepted, I shall be glad to farm their shares, each at one thousand guineas a year, free of all expences whatsoever, and this to be by lease fourteen years, and if it is found right to continue it, I will engage, even now, to give two thousand guineas for each share the next ten years after the first ten are elapsed. If the first proposal is agreed to, the interest may commence on the exchange of the writings; if the second, the event of a thousand guineas a year may commence on the first of January next, and in either case the writings may be sent to the attorney general here, or to any other person, that I may sign them, and that they may be registered in the Register's office of the province, which ensures the validity of them and proves it, by which step no fraud can ever be committed to the detriment of these writings.

“Tho' I am convinced that these conditions are not disadvantages to me, I declare, however, that profit does not induce me to make these proposals, my sole reason is that I am apprehensive that I shall not be able to reimburse the money laid out so soon as is expected, this gives me uneasiness, and will probably hurry me to making a present and temporary advantage of our lands, which may probably wear them out too fast, and consequently cramp such a foundation as this settlement ought to have. I therefore beg the favour, my dear sir, of your proposing these modes of purchase or rent, and if accepted the writings may be sent out without delay. It is understood that I am to take on me all the debts and wages due by the settlement, the sums proposed being to be clear of every deduction.

“I don't mean that I will not purchase nor farm one share without the other. I will agree to the above proposals with either Temple or Duncan tho the other does not accept of the terms proposed. If neither is accepted our affairs will then stand as they are now.”

Dundee City Archive

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Smyrnéa, June 29, 1773

This letter repeats the themes explored in the second letter Turnbull wrote to George Ramsay on June 27, 1773, although in a shorter version. He also mentioned that the laborers were “all well and in high spirits. I conceal from them the storm which hangs over my head about bills which I expect to be returned.”

The letter is noteworthy, however, for the enclosure of a letter Turnbull wrote to Thomas Nixon, also dated June 29, 1773.

“I observe what you say about making copper [color] indigo and cutting it into 1 and 1/4 inch pieces. I regulate myself by advice from London in regard to making indigo as bear the highest prices and most marketable. That is how I made indigo last year of strong and deep color which your broker told me would sell best in general. Now you say they want me to make copper....[and] you say you sent samples and recommended making indigo of size and shape of these samples. I never received any except those I sent for when I wrote for some pieces of every kind of indigo then at market....

“You also say [mistakenly] that brokers recommended making copper to me. They never mentioned copper, but desired indigos of a strong deep color–purples and dark blues. I return to the samples which you are surprised I didn't follow. I followed the best of them. I'm looking at samples and find the high priced Spanish Flora, which was the finest of all samples was so far from being in shapes and pieces of 1 & 1/4 inches, not one piece so large as a hazelnut and all without shapes or make whatever. [The sample is] dated February 26, 1771, and the market price was nine shillings, six pence per pound. The best Carolina copper was then selling at only five shillings.

“Judging from the authority of your samples, it seemed best to imitate the high price sample, hence I made indigo equal to it in look and color tho' it didn't sell for quite 9 shillings. Perhaps our weed cannot give so strong a dye as that from Guatemala, but the price ours sold at justifies my following the Spanish example rather than producing copper color, which didn't sell better than our ordinary blues, made by our newest and worst manufacturers. As to your brokers telling you the coppers would have sold better, I suspect their [motive] to be the old stale excuse of these men rather than a reality, the same excuse, by shifting sides, would probably have been called in had I sent coppers. If blues or purples are not so much in demand as copper it was for them to say so.

“I cannot see the propriety of permitting these people to run down the quality, which I am confident is something better on the whole than the indigo sold last year, in part the first and second floras, which are seemingly equal to the best Spanish flora at 9.6 in 1771. I have all the samples and as good a light as the brokers I have recourse also to comparison to the finest Guatemala, which is the way to find out the truth of the quality they want to conceal so we cannot find out. I insist on your keeping samples of the indigo now in your hands. I'll prove to you that you ought not trust broker's judgment....

“I have suffered by merchants trusting too much to their brokers and just such Jew brokers as yours. As to the price of indigo, that is an occurrence which none of us can help but that is not a reason for deprecating our indigo. You say also that Mr. Webster did not find it good. When merchandise is boxed it is seen at a great disadvantage, especially if the dry salter is a buyer....I shall ever endeavor to regulate myself according to the qualities of indigo wanted at market when the advices are directed by judgment and influenced by probity, not inconsistent and almost contradictory as that of your Brokers. These men have in general two views of everything and always two friends to serve, one the seller and the other the buyer, but as they find it difficult to serve both, they generally make out affairs to the advantage of one and expense of the other. I would rather have advised you pick up among other merchants and dealers....If advice gets to me early in October I'll have time to throw some lands into another culture for next year. This would be of great use to me.

“I can't conclude without consoling you on the general distress of merchants at trade at present and I am much concerned for the distress brought on you by my affairs. I can't do anything about it for a while, but I will [do something] as soon as possible. I'm now making indigo from...[weed planted last year]. The drought of this spring has burned up some hundreds of acres of indigo planted this year. I am replanting these lands again in hopes of a partial crop, yet I'm sorry to say that the prospect is gloomy....

“PS. Mr. Ross received a letter from Mr. Elliott (dated March) writes Mr. Waugh has seen his indigo of last year and said it was worth six shillings a pound. He has the character of being very intelligent in the article and his advices have always been the best of any sent into this province: nothing of the broker in them. It is necessary to mention that Mr. Elliott's indigo for two years past was so much inferior to ours that it was always sold for 1 to 2 shillings a pound cheaper than ours. This according to the opinions of the best judges and manufacturers of indigo. How can I reconcile this with the opinion of the Jews, who tell you our indigo is bad. Either they impose or they are not competent....”

Dundee City Archive

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Smyrnéa, August 7, 1773

Turnbull heard from Thomas Nixon that the last shipment of indigo from the settlement was sold; his letter stated that Smyrnéa indigo was not worth above three shillings a pound. Turnbull was sure it was worth more, as was proven when it sold for twenty percent more. Turnbull sold a test sample for seven shillings and six or seven pence, proving “that fine indigo does not fall in proportion to the low sort, which was forty percent cheaper than last year, the fine dye not above twenty percent cheaper.” The lesson learned was to make only fine indigo of a strong deep dye.

Turnbull predicted income of £4000 Sterling from the 1773 crop; if the weather proved favorable until the end of November, even more. At the beginning of 1773 “the spring was promising, but drought came on and burnt it up 500 acres of this year's crops.” It was planted a second time but not an ounce of indigo has been made from it, and it appears that only one small cutting of weed will be taken from it. The yield will not be above one-fourth of a crop for all the new land.

The indigo dye made so far in 1773, about 4,000 weight, all came from weed that was planted in 1772. Workers were cutting weed daily, Turnbull said, and the yield was expected to reach 12,000 weight before the first of October. If the season continues mild until late in November, some thousands of pounds more will be added, unless something adverse happens. “Unexpected accidents have often disappointed all the planters in this province....We shall establish a very solid and advantageous settlement. We have such a bottom of [productive] land, laborers, houses, indigo works, cattle and machinery as must give great profits to the proprietors.”

“Mr. Neilson went from here three weeks ago after staying here some months. I didn't ask him the reason for his coming back. I was glad, however to see him and took some pains making him acquainted with the most minute circumstances of the settlement as I imagine he was sent back for that purpose. He is prudent and intelligent. [However,] the appearance of a person with authority from other proprietors of the settlement when I was absent might have raised troublesome if not ruinous commotions, therefore his going away was prudent. He never showed me his authority from Temple and Duncan and they have never sent anything about him, I treated him as if they were here. I want things to be represented as they appear, not misleading. I don't mean to deprive or hinder from every means of information regarding management here and I would love the Duncans to [come] spend a year or two here....”

Dundee City Archive

Andrew Turnbull to The Reverend John Forbes

Smyrnéa, August 10, 1773 (copy sent to James Grant)

“I was glad to see a letter from you and thank you for the talk about indigo. It is a favorable topic with us at this season. I am heartily sorry that affairs in council have made a coolness among you. Mr. Drayton was charged with having delayed the [king's] service by not having delivered the presentments of the grand jury sooner than he did, even tho' these presentments were not taken into consideration when delivered and the other members have joined in the same sentiment with the Lieutenant Gov I think he had the greatest reason in the world to resent it. I have not heard of a charge against any man so frivolous and groundless. If the king's service was delayed by his neglect How much more are the council with the lieut. Gov. to blame for still delaying it. This will always exhibit the charge against Drayton in its true colour and will do no honour either to the heads or hearts of the accuser and of those who joined with him.

“This is the light I see this affair in at this distance. I shall be sorry my dear sir, if you have joined in such an unjust charge against Mr. Drayton. I think when men of respectable character are accused upon such frivolous pretexts it is every man's duty to resent it, how much more the duty of one in council. I wished and hoped to see concord amongst you and should have been glad to secure it at the expense of the public interest, only at present if there was to be a change in the administration of the government of the province soon, but when charges are laid against men on such slight pretexts it is time for every man to be on his guard and to declare his sentiments against such violent and malevolent charges. This is the sense I have of this affair at present. I shall not be ashamed to retract if I find that I am in an error. I don't wish to be drawn from this retreat and my affairs here, but at the same time must not bear being guilty of a breach of Solon's famous law, and of that assistance which every man owes to the community. The charge against Mr. Drayton exhibits Mr. Moultrie in a different light from whatever I saw him in, there is something too disguising in it.”

. . .

James Grant Papers

The Reverend John Forbes to James Grant

August 23, 1773

Reverend Forbes began the letter with praise for Grant's “great merit” when governor of East Florida. “You will scarce believe at no period of your residence here were we half so stupid, or was the town in such a state of decay as it is at present; there is so little society with two regiments, and such a spirit of faction among your friends that they can scarce bear to look at one another....” In Forbes's opinion, the acting governor, John Moultrie, was too dull and dogmatic to govern well in Grant's absence.

Forbes commented on the severely dry condition the province had experienced in 1773, especially from mid-March to mid-July when the province had been “parched in a Florida white,” but the rains then fell and the crops recovered.

“The Doctor has made by his first cutting [of indigo weed] 4,000 weight; he expects to make in all 14,000. His people, I hear, a little dis-satisfied. I have the same opinion of that settlement: there will I am afraid be a mutiny some day. It will not bear its own expenses and pay the interest of the money laid out. The Doctor sees things in the usual light; he has his golden dreams.”

James Grant Papers

The Reverend John Forbes to James Grant

St. Augustine, May 3, 1774

“I am sorry to inform you that the period of the Dr.'s settlement which you foresaw and dreaded is not far distant. He went to Charles Town to sell his indigo, I suppose to supply the needful trips of Doran from there to his place which have of late been frequent. Many of his people's indentures are near an end and they are clamorous and talk loudly of leaving him. One of the discontents found his way to town and Collins was paid by Wilson to support them. The man was with some argument smuggled off. He complained of hunger, oppression, etc., and many more use the same style of language.”

James Grant Papers

Frederick George Mulcaster to James Grant

St. Augustine, May 14, 1774

Mulcaster relates that he “set off with him,” meaning the newly arrived second governor of British East Florida, Patrick Tonyn, for a visit to Dr. Turnbull and the Smyrnéa settlement. The two men were accompanied by John Moultrie, David Yeats, Alexander Gray, an Ensign Wools, and “old Cumming who forced himself to be one. The Dr.'s people all dissatisfied, and applications from them to the governor for redress [had been received]. I had heard of it before and told Bisset to prepare the Dr., but the Dr. had found it out only a day or two before our arrival.

“Trotti, his principal overseer of the Minorcans and the man the Dr. always put great confidence in [was] at the bottom of it and also the two Priests and Louisiana at the bottom of the whole. William Wilson who had just returned from England but also fed Collins to take the cause of any who might want advice or assistance, Wilson to appear outwardly as a person doing it from his regard to liberty, but Louisiana the real person who set all agoing and not to appear in it. The Governor recommended obedience to the People, wanting to make the best of it. They were quieter when we left the place. The Dr. Has discharged the Friar and Trotti–but I'm afraid quietness will not last long.

“The Dr.'s fields in bad order at present, not the least appearance of a crop.”

. . .

James Grant Papers

David Yeats to James Grant

St. Augustine, May 24, 1774

. . .

“Dr. Turnbull's prospects are not at all promising either on provisions or indigo. A vast deal has been planted but destroyed by the dry weather and planted over a second time. He trusted rather too much to his old hammock land which seems to be wore out for a time and wants rest, as sit produces little except crab grass which is exceeding troublesome on an indigo plantation. He has good land in the back swamp which he is now hard at work upon, but only little of it in good order for planting. On he whole I'm afraid his crop will turn out very short; his provisions and indigo seed have fallen short, and his People become troublesome to him again so that he must have an uneasy time of it.”

Yeats also praised the “exceeding good bridge over Spruce Creek” that had recently been finished by Captain Robert Bisset in his effort to construct the portion of the King's Road that eventually extended to the south from St. Augustine to “Stobbs,” really Peter Elliott's plantation, today in the vicinity of the town of Oak Hill, north of Titusville.

James Grant Papers

The Reverend John Forbes to James Grant

St. Augustine, November 1, 1744

. . .

“Dr. Turnbull's affairs seem near a crisis; he has made nothing, neither provisions nor above 1500 weight in indigo, yet still the same tales of next year, new rich swamp, and etc., and he has no doubt that his constituents will support the settlement, that they want him to enter into a new contract and that he means to go home next year for that purpose. The People are dissatisfied and I suppose will feel hunger.”

. . .

Frederick George Mulcaster sent similar news to former governor Grant on November 3, 1774, saying “The Dr. Makes about a thousand weight and provisions” only this season.

. . .

William Drayton wrote December 16, 1774 that the season's woes were not over for the season, he indicated that “The Dr. Writes me the mercury [thermometer] stood at 26 at Smyrnea. All our gardens are [cracked?] up: my large field is scalded yellow, and as for the orange trees I never saw them in such a situation, their leaves are almost all of the same color with the fruit.”

James Grant Papers

Archibald Neilson to Mr. George Ramsay, Esq.

Newbern, North Carolina, November 15, 1773

“I wrote to you on the 6 th of July, and as I now find it will not be necessary, or proper to come home from my advices from my constituents, thro' the medium of my Brother, and the circumstances of my connection with Gov'r Martin, I sit down to write you in terms of my last letter and but for indisposition and some accidents, this should have been done sooner.

“The accurate Drawings & Surveys sent or carried home, by Mr. Turnbull, render any perspective description of Smirnea and the circumjacent plantation unnecessary; no idea can be communicated in writing, equal that which may at once be procured from the inspection of such Drawings.

“Think it by much the best situation that I have seen in Florida, for such a Settlement on account of the goodness of the Navigation; the Bar being as safe and deep as that at St. Augustine; the command of water carriage along the front, & by a creek to the back parts, and of the disposition of the Land.

“The climate in general of E. Florida is better than that of the other Southern colonies; and Smirnea is one of the most healthful Situations in the province. The Thermometer in Summer on a medium is at 85 [degrees], and seldom lower in winter than 33 or 34 [degrees].

“The Spring is dry and hot, the Summer in good Season showery after the month of June (tho' in a course of years a bad Season occurs in which the Summer is dry) the autumn is rainy; particularly the month of September, yet moderately so, and the Winter, as the same Season is all to the Southward of Virginia, is as agreeable as can be wished for: the frost at Smirnea is seldom strong enough to produce any great effect. Were it not for the dry springs, the climate would particularly suit the Indigo culture; that drought, however, will be less felt if the Indigo succeeds in the low wet swamp lands.

“The soil in Florida, as in general in the lower parts of North America, consists of marle, salt & fresh Hammoc, Savannahs, pine Barren & Swamp. Of the first (salt marsh) there is a large tract on the front of the Settlement, of some thousand acres; which, if drained, would it is probable, afford rich pasturage for cattle; tho' as it has not been as yet tried, I will not speak certainly; at present, the grass on it is cut as feed for the horses.

“The Hammock land constitutes the front of the Settlement, extending upon Hillsborough & Halifax Rivers, from South East to North West, upwards of seven miles, and is about half a mile wide; being 1600 acres - nearly all which is in cultivation. To an European Eye [it] threatens to be altogether unfertile; appearing little better than an absolute Sand; here or covered with oyster shells, or a pure white sand, then shaded with a sprinkling of Earth, hazel or Brick colored, and rarely mixed with a little clay. This soil is some yards in depth, and rests upon a stratum of stone apparently a congeries of sea shells. Unpromising as it appears, be it from the contained nitre or the salt dews, or from whatever other causes it be, Indigo and corn is produced from this land in moderate quantity, but it must rest after the third year's crop to recruit from its waste; which it does in two or three years' fallow.

“Mr. Turnbull proposes next year to turn two thirds of this hammock land into pasturage as being exhausted from culture. Crop grass which is an excellent food for cattle rises on it spontaneously and with surprising vigour.

“Behind this Hammoc extend the Savannahs or natural meadows of the same length, and in many places, half a mile in breadth. They are divided by thickets and are in the main but one great Savannah, plain verdant, enameled with various flowers and studded with clumps of beautiful Trees and Shrubs; they offer to the Eye a prospect of the most agreeable; nor are they divested of utility, affording an excellent and convenient range fo the Black cattle & horses; perhaps too, they may be applied to yet a more profitable use; for there are some who pretend that, by proper culture they will produce provisions, or even Indigo; the Soil being of a good quality. Others again reject this opinion, thinking that either from the effects of the water having long stood on them, or from an inherent quality, they have a sourness, perfectly contrary to the healthy vegetation of either corn or indigo.

“From the farthermost verge of these meadows to the first swamp, at a mile and half's distance, pine barren intervenes. This swamp is intersected in its length, but put together, amounts to above six miles long and near a mile broad. It bears all the promising marks of good land, is heavily wooded, with cedar, live oak, ash & etc., growing from a strong unctuous Black mould, intermixed with marle, lying upon a clay bottom, at a considerable depth from the surface. To all appearance this is as rich soil as in America, and by a presumption, strengthened by experiment this last year, it will produce corn and indigo in great luxuriance. Indeed many seem to judge that the fortune of the province depends on the swamps and on the event of the culture.

“Of this swamp, Mr. Turnbull has already seventy or eighty acres in culture, and next year expects to have five hundred; which with what he plants of the hammoc will be his cultivation

“To the North West, across two miles of barren, lies another Tract of Swamp, three and a half miles long, and one mile broad, of which seventeen hundred acres taken up this summer.

“More to the South West, at three miles from the first swamp, a pine barren interjacent, is situated, the second, or great swamp, seven miles in extent, lying nearly in the direction of the front hammock, North West & South East and two miles wide, with as good land in it as that in the first; but not so much in proportion caused by the interspersion of unfertile spots and small marshes & ponds difficult to be drained. It has been supposed that one-half of it may be good plantable land. This swamp bounds the mosquito tracts to the North West.

“The Grant on the St. Johns River, at not many miles back from the last mentioned, contains some excellent land: it is yet uncleared. But in the like soil, in its neighbourhood, lying in a similar manner, on the banks of St. Johns, I have seen by much the finest crop of corn and indigo that I have met with in Florida: the plantable land is not however in proportion to that on the former two tracts.

“The other grants to this association on Nassau & St. Marys, are equal in quality if not superior to those of others in the same districts of the province: and, from the fresh marshes contained in them promise, at a convenient period, good returns from the cultivation of rice.

“Mr. Turnbull conjectures that of the last mentioned propertys, one fourth is plantable land. Where land is in a state of nature, a mistake may be readily made on any side. I have heard others say they did not apprehend there was one half of that quantity plantable.

“I return to the Inhabited country – a good Cart Road runs from one end to the other of the cultivated Hammoc at Smirnea North West. It passes thro' the village, and from it several other lead to the different Indigo vats. Along the North East side are the Houses of the country labourers, many of palmetto but thirty-seven of Tabby, fifty more of the last will be built this winter, materials being already provided. One house lodges two Families, and comfortably, each having one pretty large Room on the ground, and another on the upper floor. The corporals and overseers have each a House for their Families.

“In the Town, or Village, is an excellent Windmill, and thirty-one Houses and Stores all framed and plastered. These Houses are occupied by the Superintendents, clerks and Tradesmen.”

“In the country, at convenient distances, are found four double setts of vatts and Indigo Houses of the size as in the draught accompanying this, and twenty sets of single vats, twenty more are provided and ready to set up as wanted. There is also a church or chapel.

“The people are divided into nine corporalships or regular gangs of field labourers, besides clerks Tradesmen and Negroes, and amount in total as particularly specified, in a separate note sent with this, to Seven hundred Twenty four Souls.

“They are fed and cloathed in the most parsimonious manner; it costs but a trifle more for each person than is used by Negroes, and yet from being managed with Humanity Method and propriety they seem hale and contented. In 1772 the increase by Births was Thirty, and Deaths in all twelve; from the 1 st Janry to 1 st July this year Twenty Children have been born, four adults have died.

“By the accounts, the people still stand indebted to the contracting associates in Seventeen thousand, seven hundred and seventy nine pound 3/ Sterling.

“The annual expences of such provisions for the people as are not raised at Smirnea, is eight hundred pounds, as much goes for cloathing; for clerks overseers and trades mens' wages four hundred pounds must be allotted; and for contingent expences, at least one hundred and fifty pounds. The goods in the stores are sufficient to last them for many months.

“The Live Stock consists of two hundred and sixty black cattle, thirty seven horses, and sixty hogs; Poultry each family raises for itself and to spare. With regard to the accounts, each person is debited with the value of what he gets, and credited for his share of the produce, which is proportioned to him. This mode properly adhered to: the Balances at due times sent home, with Inventories and copies of Invoices etc. regularly transmitted, all which Mr. Turnbull proposes doing. I flatter myself there can be no difficulty in auditing the accounts with you.

“I should not proceed to describe the cultivation and manufacture of Indigo, but that I beg leave to append in a paper by itself.

“There are mulberry and olive trees which seem to thrive but at present are not worth mentioning; any more than the vines.

“With respect to my idea of the management I use the freedom to refer to my last Letter. I hope and sincerely wish prosperity to the undertaking, and shall be truly pleased at an opportunity of showing the reality of these wishes by disinterested services. I have the honour to be, sir, your most ob. Hum. Servant.

Arch'd Neilson”

Dundee City Archive

Culture and Manufacture of Indigo [at] Smirnea

Enclosed in Archibald Neilson to George Ramsay, November 15, 1773

“The ground designed for indigo must, in the winter months be well cleaned, broke up and worked, and the seed put into the ground after the rain succeeding the vernal equinox.

The seed used in North America are the Bahama or false Guatemala, what the French call L' Indigo Batarde, and the wild indigo, the two first most commonly. It is sown in drills sometimes eighteen, sometimes twenty to twenty three inches as under a depth just sufficient to guard against the winds baring it by blowing off the surface. For the first weeks it must be carefully weeded, and indeed that attention must be continued thro' all its progress.

“Indigo timeously planted is commonly fit to cut when twelve or thirteen weeks old, at which time it seems to have arrived at its greatest vigor and strongest vegetation; for after this period, tho' it continues to increase in height, its increase daily lessens; and its best and largest leaves begin to fall off.

“Being cut, it is put into a wooden vat strong and as close as possible, the dimension seventeen feet square, and three feet deep, which are now by experience, especially in extensive fields, found preferable to smaller ones. This is filled with the weed as full as possible without hard pressing, then as much water is let in as it can hold, laths or other pieces of wood being laid over to prevent the weed from rising up. In the space of three or four hours it begins to ferment, and in warm weather, the fermentation arrives at its highest pitch in eight or nine hours more, and this is deemed the proper point of time for drawing off the liquor into another vatt; the whole of the dye being then extracted, called the beater, which if serving to the forementioned steeper, should be twenty feet long fourteen feet wide and five feet deep. This drawing off the liquor is done by opening a plug on the side at the bottom of the vat, through wich the infusion runs off, leaving the plant, now useless, behind.

“The time of steeping depends entirely upon the heat of the weather and temperature of the air, for in the moist close weather weed steeps faster than when the air is dry and hot, and when hot, sooner than in cold weather. This causes the variation in the steeping from seven to sixteen hours, and some times more. The water too makes a difference; soft water steeping sooner than hard.

“There are different signs of a vatt being full steeped, or, in other words, being arrived at the highest pitch of fermentation. Among others it is observed that the froth ceases to rise upon the surface, and the water or liquor in the vat, which gradually rises above its first level as the fermentation increases to 1 1/2 or 2 inches, now ceases to arise or rather begins to fall, which is easily perceived on the sides of the vatt. Also if some of the plant is taken from under the water, it appears as if boiled, having lost its stiffness and elasticity, and when squeezed in the hand receives an impression like clay. Another sign still more certain than either, is, when some of the liquor being drawn off into a wine glass appears to be of a bright yellow, like old fine Madeira, having at the same time a green top like a piece of green cloth. When the weed is not steeped long enough the liquor will have a watery greenishness, and not the green cloud: when it is over steeped, the liquor in the glass will appear muddy, like foul wine. A small spiggot ten inches from the steeper is necessary for this use.

“The liquor being now in the beater it is requisite to separate the due therefrom, which is done by beating or churning it, and letting into it a quantity of strong lime water: which operations separate the Indigo, granulate it like fine powder, and in this state, when the beating ceases it precipitates.

“From a fourth to a sixth of lime water, in proportion to the liquor, is in general the quantity requisite to cause the indigo subside, and four bushels of lime will be found the necessary quantity to make lime water for such large vats: here it is to be noted, that it is found the preferable practice, to let in the greatest part of the lime water immediately, before the liquor is admitted into the beater.

“A difference in the heat of the weather occasions a different management in the beating and lime water, as well as in the steeping, for the warmer weather is so much the harder is it to effectuate the separation that is, so much more beating and lime water is required.

“Beating is performed in this manner; a square wooden bucket, about eighteen inches at the mouth, but narrower at the bottom, which is open, is fixed on the end of a pole, and the pole balanced in the middle on the edge of the vatt, so as that the bucket may reach somewhat beyond the middle of the vatt: a stout man, by working up and down the outward end of the pole, plunges the bucket on the other end to the bottom of the vatt, and raises it again above the surface, Four such buckets being commonly used, two on a side, produces a vast agitation in the liquor; yet fifty minutes or an hour and sometimes more is required to separate the whole of the Indigo. If the grain is tardy in separating more lime and water must be let in at discretion, and when a clear separation is brought about, and the grain distinctly seen floating in the liquid, yet while this liquid retains a green colour there remains Indigo to be separated; which is done by continuing to beat till the grain is gone and the liquid becomes of an amber color.

“The Indigo having subsided to the bottom of the beater, the water is drawn off by plug holes at different heights, and when the whole is run off, the Indigo remains of the consistence of thin mud: this mud is put in a strainer, which is a box six feet square, raised from the ground by benches, containing a bed of land, on which is fitted within the frame a course woolen strainer, others advise to strain in woolen bags, hung up, alledging that both color and quality are from some cause injured in the other way. In ten or twelve hours it strains to the consistence of curdled milk. It is then put into an osnaburg cloth, and pressed in the manner cheese is; ‘till it had a sufficient consistence to be cut into pieces; and dried upon boards in the air. In eight or ten days after which it is usually dry enough to put into casks; where, yet, it loses much of its moisture before it is fit for the markets.”

Dundee City Archive

Number of People at Smirnea 1 st July 1773

Of the nine corporalities of labouring people in the country containing 450 persons, exclusive of corporals.

Males Females

from 1 to 5 years old 23 28

from 5 to 10 14 10

from 10 to 20 77 39

from 20 years upward 125 134 Male Female

239 211 out 239 211 =450

In free lands, labourers 43 viz'

from 1 to 5 years old 2 3

from 5 to 10 1 4

from 10 to 20 4 6

from 20 years upwards 11 12

18 25 out 18 25 = 43

Families laboring in the grounds apart by themselves 34 viz' from 1 to 5 years old 2 3

from 5 to 10 1 4

from 10 to 20 4 6

from 20 years upward 9 10

16 18 out 16 18 = 34

Total = 273 Male & 254 Female field laborers of whom not 30 of both sexes are above 40 years.

Single men of diff't occupations ages 20 to 40 total 20

Corporals, Overseers, principal Tradesmen & Families = 99

from 1 to 5 years 8 11

from 5 to 10 years 5 3

from 10 to 20 years 2 2

from 20 years upwards 35 33

50 49 out 50 49 = 99

Men with Mr. Watson, Chief Carpenter age 18 to 35 21 0

House Servants 5 in all 4 1

Ostlers 2 0

Cattle Driver 1 0

Clerks 3 0

Clerks & Doctors Families 5 10

Doctor 1 0

Priests 2 0

Men Women Total

Whites 382 314 696

Negroes, mostly old 14 14 28

Total 724 396 328 724

Mr. Andrew Turnbull, assistant to the Dr. Turnbull & Mr. Watson, Superintendent of Buildings, Carpenter Work, etc.

Dundee City Archive

Archibald Neilson to Sir William Duncan

Newbern, North Carolina, December 8, 1773

Sir,

“I wrote to Mr. Ramsay 15th ultimo, containing some account of Smirnea, and I now write him again with an account of my expences. You will know Sir William, I never had an eye to an immediate pecuniary advantage and You'll believe me since when I assure you that, besides the elapse of two years, at my crisis of life of some consequence, I have spent more than what is charged a hundred guineas of my own money.

“I yet consider myself as engaged in duty to my constituents, and every service to them, that may henceforward lye in my power, I shall execute with pleasure to myself, and without expence to them. It may be that a delicacy, and restricted attention to my last instructions, may have prevented my information being so ample as was wished; but I am, at all times, ready with the utmost candour to answer all questions which may be put to me, and I would fain flatter myself, that the attention I have paid to the subject will enable me to answer as far as possible, most if not all, that can be interesting.

“To you, Sir, I shall now open myself with more freedom than, in my idea, would have consisted with prudence and modesty to have done publicly, on a matter delicate, dubious, and hard to be determined.

“What is the probable advantage to be expected from the Settlement at Smyrnea from present mode of cultivation? And, by what other management may that advantage be increased?

“These are questions, obvious to ask; and which I now proceed to answer, No fixed data, from whence to draw a conclusion, can be had, with regard to the first of the questions, from calculations made in the Neighboring province of So. Carolina where the same culture of Indigo is most followed, and consequently the profit easiest to be ascertained for from different planters, I have heard averages at, from eight up to forty pounds Sterling working hand per annum. I must, therefore, in this great disagreement (which prevails likewise in Florida) beg leave to communicate to you such conclusions as I would form myself, were I a proprietor of Smirnea, established upon many various circumstances, which cannot be well explained in writing to another unacquainted personally with America, but which strike a mind used to the contemplation of things upon the Spot, such as the many accidents of different kinds he daily sees happening to disappoint the greatest care and most exact calculations, unforeseen expences, the general defeat of sanguine expectations: and that such as were covered, much covered under the apparent truth in theory, come almost constantly, nearest the truth in practice, and many more.

“These things being premised – I am of opinion that the hammoc land at Smirnea, that which has hitherto been in cultivation, may not be expected, on the whole to produce more than six to seven pounds Sterling gross per every effective labouring hand employed on it, besides provisions (corn & etc.) and the best swamp land not more than from twelve to fourteen pounds Sterling.

“At the same time I must pray you to advert that the swamp land is not yet fully tried, and can only be judged of by appearances. Then too, I must inform you, in order to be as candid as possible, and to put it as much as I can into your own power to correct my conclusion, that it seems to me to be of equal soil with their best land in South Carolina, and that, on such, there, they very generally calculate from thirty up to eighty pound weight of indigo per acre, a stout hand when wrought to the utmost cultivating three acres besides provisions. But as the Indigo made at Smirnea is much finer than theirs and to subtract for their Extravagancies of speech, moderately suppose the Smirnea farms produce thirty five pounds, besides provisions, and that an effective hand cultivates two & a half acres, that is eighty seven pound, at five shillings (average price) is Twenty two pounds Sterling. The reasons before mentioned incline me to reduce this calculation as above.

“In answer to the second question (How may the present advantage be expected to be increased?): To begin with what naturally comes in here, The general expence (to come off the gross profits) may, from year to year be lessened, and will, at last, be but inconsiderable (without mentioning that the great weight of it, will, when the people come upon shares, lye upon them). The three considerable articles of it, flour, pork, and rum, may it is hoped, be in a great measure provided for on the plantation. Rye, raised on the light soil, mixed with a little flour, composing what is called mueslin may prevent much expence of flour, the people too, more accustomed to the other grains, may feel less desire for it. Pease, potatoes, buckwheat & etc., may be raised, which, at the same time ameliorating the soil, may fatten hogs for the pork wanted. Succedaneums (sic) may be fallen on for rum, molasses beer or mead from the honey, which is plenty, or even sugar canes may be planted, which shall at least supply a rum preferable to that which is distilled in North America.

“When the number of field labourers, at present above five hundred, must increase not only by the Births, but also by the function of several people now employed in building, cutting timber, boating, & etc. From thirty to forty of them are upon wages, and their engagements soon out. Many of them may depart, but the country labourers from the nature of their contract registered, at Augustine, and which I remember Mr. Turnbull has fully informed you of are so bound, that, were they ever so willing to go off, they are fast fixed for a series of years at the expiration of which time I do imagine they will have such encouragement and be so much attached to the soil & climate as well as to each other, that very few of them will think of migrating.

“Mr. Turnbull's plan for next years' labor is to clear and plant swamp land (most of the old culture being designed for fallow) and to throw a field of it into sugar canes if Mr. Elliot's sugar plantation succeeds. He intends also to make some small planting of vines and mulberry trees which for both in his opinion the climate is favorable. The olive trees, also which he brought from Greece and Italy, thrive well. For my own part, I have, I confess, no great hopes of the vines from the experiments which have already been made in America, and the opinion of the most judicious settlers, and I think the success and advantage in making sugar to be very precarious. But I am much inclined to think well of the silk scheme, when I consider the agreement of the climate with the silk countries, that the mulberry tree and silk worm are indigenous in America, that only two months in the twelve are requisite for attention to this manufacture, that in all probability a pound per hand might be annually raised without interfering with other cultures, and that, in time that quantity may be increased to ten pounds, or more, at from 15 to twenty shillings per pound value. I say taking these as facts, & as such, they have often been averred to me, I must think the matter is much worthy of attending to.

“Olives, grasing [grazing livestock], and raising provisions for Augustine, and who knows if not, in process of time, the opuntia (which bears the cochineal worm) grows in Florida spontaneously and may be cultivated), may also produce advantage. But Mr. Turnbull's idea seems perfectly just to give no more attention to even the least uncertain of those plans than is necessary for a tryal at some proper period, and as does not interfere with his more certain actual plan of cultivating Indigo.

“I need not to add how much depends upon the spirited, prudent & steady management which there is all reason to expect from Mr. Turnbull, and upon keeping the Settlers together in one united plan, having I think fully mentioned it in a former public letter.

“Upon the whole, still supposing myself and speaking as a proprietor, without indulging high and sanguine expectations, I should certainly cherish moderate hope, & still consider this plantation as an object worthy of countenance and attention.

“Much, much do I wish it to succeed, and happy shall I be that the advantage arising from it far exceed my estimation.

“I have the honour to be, Sir William,

Your most obedient and most humble servant.

Arch'd Neilson”

Dundee City Archive

The Reverend John Forbes to James Grant

St. Augustine, December 28, 1774

. . .

“Mr. Drayton has gained control of the Doctor and some others to the side of liberty. The others are as you left us. These two gentlemen were not made for quiet. Jonathon Bryan of Georgia has under their patronage and assistance had in agitation a scheme of purchasing Latchaway from the Indians. While you was governor they were afraid of you. Bryan has now obtained a lease of all the land unceded to the King from the Indians in this province, including Latchaway, Apalache & etc., amounting to four or five million acres....A copy of it was sent to Governor Tonyn, his knowing tho' not from legal authority that the Doctor and Drayton are concerned, has desired the Chief Justice's law opinion in writing and made him sign a warrant to apprehend Bryan for a trespassing on the King's land and a Breach of Prerogative, damage laid at 10,000£ Sterling.

“As I am sometimes admitted into the Privy Council my good advice and good wishes are never wanting to Drayton. Polish [and finesse] will not altogether extirpate remains of the highlander. Drayton is gone to [Turnbull's estate], and Bryan it is said has got the lease renewed by the Indians and is in the province now taking some kind of possession of the lands. As these lands are undoubtedly the best in the province, may I take the liberty to rrecommend it to you, Sir, to procure at home for yourself an order for some of them because of their being given up by the Indians to the King.”

. . .

James Grant Papers

Frederick George Mulcaster to James Grant

Rolfe's Saw Mill, Trout Creek, January 4, 1775

Mulcaster informed Grant that William Drayton was at Smyrnéa with Dr. Turnbull, supposedly to consult about the Jonathon Bryan land purchase. Turnbull, Mulcaster wrote, “is already buying corn in large quantities, and no indigo sent home, not even a 1000 pound weight. I think it would be better to mind planting than politicks.”

. . .

James Grant Papers

David Yeats to James Grant

St. Augustine, January 6, 1775

Yeats announced that a peace agreement had been reached between the Creek Indians and Governor James Wright at Savannah, Georgia. During the course of the negotiations, “Wright has discovered that a Jonathon Bryan has found means...to persuade about fifteen of the head men of the nation to put their signs and seals to a deed, purporting to be a lease from them to him for ninety-nine years, of about four millions of acres of the best land of this province. Governor Wright mentions that it is confidently reported at Savannah that some of the principal gentlemen here are concerned with him, that their names are not mentioned in the lease. Viz. The Chief and the Doctor [William Drayton and Andrew Turnbull]. This affair has been laid before the Council and how it will terminate I know not, but if these gentlemen are concerned (as it is firmly believed they are) it won't read well at home, considering the present state of America, and their enjoying office under Government.”

The indigo crop had been trifling everywhere but at Grant's Villa, Yeats wrote. “The Dr. has totally failed, both in provisions and indigo, he expects to do a great deal [in 1775], and is to go home in the course of this [year] to settle his accounts.”

Yeats also informed Grant that Alexander Skinner, agent for the former governor, had been unable to devote as much time to the 1774 indigo crop as in previous years, largely because of the demand on his time by the new governor. At the time the letter was written, Skinner “was to talk with the Indians at Latchaway about [the reported Bryan land purchase].

James Grant Papers

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Charleston, South Carolina, January 21, 1774

“As I have always desired Mr. Nixon to acquaint you with everything relating to the Smyrnea Settlement I have not therefore troubled you lately with any letters. He told you, no doubt, that the Spring drought hurt us much, and that the caterpillar was destructive to our weed in the autumn, which is the reason that our crop this year amounts to only 1026 & 1/2 [weight] only, but as most of it is fine indigo, and such as is wanted at present in London, I flatter myself that it will sell for more than eight shillings a pound. I was offered 7 shilling & 2 pence from one person and could have had nigh 8 from another, but as I was doubtful of the abilities of the last I was afraid to risk such a sum in his hands.

“I have therefore thought it best to ship it on the London, Captain Curling, and have consigned it to the House of Graham, Johnston and Co, merchants in London. My reason for sending it to that House is, that Mr. Nixon having refused paying a bill of £104 it stops my giving any more on him, not being negotiable from that refusal. I was therefore obliged to apply to the House of John Simpson & Co. Here in partnership with Graham, Johnson & Co. to supply provisions as I want immediately for the Settlement, also for a credit in London to pay the £104 mentioned with three hundred more for osnaburg and linens for the Settlement. Mr. Nixon also added that my partners were resolved not to advance any more money for the settlement. This was not said to one but to others, and would have hurt me if the opinion everybody here has of the success of the settlement was not greatly in our favour. All that, however true, might as well have been kept in. I know all partners of the house of Graham, Johnston and of John Simpson and Company. I have a very high opinion of their abilities and integrity.

“I have desired Mr. Graham to ensure our indigo at £3000 Sterling, tho' I was offered here more than 3500, but I think it will sell for more than four both from its quality and advantageous packages for sale to the manufacturers. I have given Mr. Graham such directions for selling it as I think will be an advantage: a public sale is condemned by everybody. As to Mr. Nixon's advance for the settlement I mean and wish it to be done away by reimbursing him as soon as possible, except the £800 due by Reynolds....I am sorry that Mr. Nixon obliges me to put the business of the Settlement into another person's hands, but it must go so for now till I meet with Lord Temple and Sir William Duncan in London this time twelve month or soon after. I am very sorry that our affairs here have met with so many drawbacks.

“I have land now prepared for 20,000 weight of indigo at least, even allowing for moderate droughts, & etc., but of this & everything else of this nature, I would not be understood to speak with infallible certainty. I am founded, however, when I say that our Settlement will soon be a very considerable one, we have such a large bottom of extensive tracts of land with great and active strength that we must succeed if properly employed, which I shall continue to do. Some sugars made at Mr. Elliott's plantation flatter us much that that culture will turn to great account, and the more so, as the season for cutting canes comes on immediately after that of our indigo, which will give us the advantage of double crops.”

Dundee City Archive

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Charleston, South Carolina, January 25, 1774

“...The indigo dye was loaded on a ship to London, along with a cask of 28 & 3/4 gallons of our Smyrnea honey. I asked Mr. Graham to send one-half of the honey to Mr. Ramsay. Eating honey with bread and butter in morning will be good for you, to carry off the bilious complaint you had when I was in London. It is excellent for preventing many disorders of the breast and bilious disorders.

“I have asked Mr. Graham to tell me what [the honey] would sell for in London, as the settlement will probably produce one thousand gallons this year. The honey and wax the people make will in the future almost supply them with the many little necessaries we are obliged to purchase for them at present. In order to encourage them to this easy and useful piece of husbandry, I have only reserved for the proprietors about one-tenth of this produce. It is wholesome and even necessary for the health of our People in this warm climate for most disorders, especially autumnal ones which are from a bilious cause or have a tendency that way.”

Dundee City Archive

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Smyrnéa, March 30, 1774

“Your letter of the 25 th of October came by the Britannia at the beginning of this month. I observe what you say about the proposals I desired you to make to Lord Temple and to Sir William Duncan. The present circumstances make no great difference as to what I thought might be given then as an annual rent, but the purchase value of the lands is, in my opinion, much higher than at that time. This rise in value is from the experiments made last year in making of sugars in this Neighbourhood. We find that an acre of land will give of sugar and rum to the value of twenty pounds. And as the cane does not ripen here until the middle of October, the making of sugar comes in well immediately after our indigo crop is over, consequently all hands may be employed in it for a couple of months at least every year, in which time much good work may be done.

“On this account the lands in the south part of this province are of a much more value than before the culture of sugar cane was ascertained. It would not be well therefore for the proprietors of this settlement to sell out. I wish them to profit of every advantage which may arise from it, as they must be great, but being still at some distance, I am apprehensive that they will lose patience. The prospect of these advantages is clear and certain to a person on the spot as I am, and the more so, as we are now clearing lands, which are not so liable to be burned up with droughts as those we were obliged to clear at first to render the country airy and healthy. That labour, however, is so far from being lost, that I hope to have much Indigo from twelve hundred acres of it this year.

“The new land being cleared for provisions, of which we now have eight hundred acres, seven hundred of it will be in indigo next year when more new land will be cleared for provisions. We shall increase in quantity of land every year in this manner, consequently we have reason to expect larger crops, and the more so, as the first cleared lands will soon admit of plowing, which means one man with a boy will do more labour than eight men with a hoe. We shall then get on in a large manner, and with less labour. It is by mere dint of hard work that we get crops from rough woody lands where almost every stroke of a hoe meets with a root.

“As to what you mention about a return every year of the quantity of land cleared, produce Indigo & etc. I am now getting an accurate survey made of every acre and shall make a return this year, on one sheet of paper in different columns of everything regarding the Settlement, so that the state, strength, number of people, & etc. may be seen at once. Our affairs here go on now so regularly, that time can be spared for accuracies of this nature. I think myself much obliged to you for every hint of this kind, I wish to be distinct and correct in everything.

“I do not write to Sir William Duncan by this opportunity, as I cannot speak with any kind of certainty of our crop this autumn, which must be after the months of April and May. The drought in these months may burn up all our Indigo, when that is the case, we are obliged to plant again in June, but this gives little in proportion to that which comes on early. Please to present my respects to Lord Temple, and acquaint him with everything, if it is not troublesome to His Lordship.”

Dundee City Archive

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Smyrnéa, August 20, 1774

Two paragraphs of this letter discuss the continuing controversy with a London broker, a Mr. Reynolds, who purchased the 1771 Smyrnéa indigo crop but went bankrupt before Turnbull and partners were paid. The merchant Thomas Nixon was pressing for payment of a large bill related to the affair that Turnbull felt was an unjust charge. He apologized to Lord Temple for the trouble he had experienced with Nixon, but says he does not have the money to send payment unless he can borrow eight percent interest commonly charged in East Florida. There are no “monied men in this country” or he would borrow on his own credit. All money here is laid out on plantations. Mr. Payne, factor to Nixon, bought a plantation with Negroes, cattle, and improvements, from Mr. Drayton, chief justice for the province, for a price of about 3,000 guineas, at 8% interest and a security on the purchase.

Turnbull thanked Ramsay for advice about the colors of indigo dye that were in demand and says that he aimed for the Guatemala model which was then bringing high prices in London. He acknowledges that he missed the mark with light blues and grainy indigo but complains that the indigo prices in general should have been higher. He believes that the merchant John Graham will arrange higher prices for their indigo.

The current crop does not appear promising, although 1,300 acres was planted in indigo. At a moderate yield, 20,000 weight of dye should be expected, but a “bad crop” will probably be the settlement's fate in 1774.

He explains that the previous year's efforts with indigo and corn ended early in November, whereupon “The People were employed until the end of December clearing about 700 acres of heavily wooded high swamp land. This was intended for corn and other provisions and not for Indigo the first year, for the sourness of shaded swamp land, added to an acidity from the roots of the trees and shrubbery, are hurtful to Indigo until the land has been exposed one year at least to the sun and air.

“The months of January, February and the beginning of March were employed in giving a deep hoeing to our large Indigo field, I mean the 1,300 acre field. It was afterwards hoed again, slightly raked, and planted. It came up but the uncommon great drought of the latter end of April and May burnt it up. I planted the second time expecting the usual rains about the middle of June would bring it on. Some very light showers in that month brought it out of the ground, but as the drought set in again from the latter end of that month until the 26 th of July, it was quite destroyed a second time,” with the exception of 200 acres of the 1,300 cleared acres mentioned above. But even the 200 acres was burnt and dried up so the plants will not yield much indigo dye.

On seeing this, Turnbull “threw all the labour I could spare from the provisions crop into the swamp in order to plant some Indigo in it and with difficulty got 200 acres prepared and planted before the season was over. The roots of the underwood and great trees on that rich new land are so much wove and matted together that the breaking up of such land is very hard labor, and demands much time.” Consequently, little was accomplished.

Turnbull does not know, therefore, how much indigo will be produced. He said “everything is against it,” plus the land has a marle bottom and marle is generally “too hot” for indigo until it has been exposed for one year at least. Turnbull had come to the realization that deep hoeing hurt the soil at New Smyrna. It was previously thought to be the best of husbandry, but proves the opposite for “loose and sandy soil.” The combination of winter winds and hoeing “almost wore [it] out and the drought had a much greater effect on if it had been only slightly opened. This error I discovered to late. I have now thrown it into fallow for three years.”

Following the fallow period the land will be plowed for indigo following the practice of the Carolina planters: fallow for three years; crop for three years, and repeat that cycle to produce a better yield than when new land is first cleared and planted. Such a practice requires one-fifth the labor since the roots will become rotten and can then be plowed and can then produce “incredible crops. We have only one example in this province of what may be done in that way, and with the plow culture, which is on Governor Grant's plantation. It had been an old Spanish field with a growth of very small timber on it, consequently it was easily cleared and the plow was put into it the third year.”

This practice, guided by Grant's intelligent manager, “raises the most provisions with very few of his people, the weakest of his people manage the plows easy so that he has almost his whole strength in the Indigo fields.” Thus, the overseer gets double the work from the same number of hands in the indigo fields as is normal in East Florida, whereas the raising of provisions on newly cleared land employs every hand from eight to nine months.

[In a second letter written on this subject, a Turnbull communication practice intended to send essential news to his partners in case the original letter failed to reach its destination, Turnbull said that at Governor Grant's plantation they can put plows in the field in three years, whereas it takes eight years to put plows into new land. Raising provisions in new cleared land takes eight or nine months, whereas Governor Grant can do the same in three months and send the laborers saved into the indigo fields.]

Another error made by Florida planters is that they consider high and light hammock land best for Indigo, yet experience here has shown that one acre of high swamp is the equal of two acres of hammock for Indigo and for all other crops. Turnbull fell into the same error as the other planters until he discovered the value of high swamp, but that error inadvertently produced an advantage by siting the cabins for the workers in an airy and healthful location. There will also be an additional advantage after the high hammock land is fallowed properly, when it will be productive and of value.

Turnbull warned that the effects of the current drought would have a devastating effect on the yield from the 1774 crop. He had not found a way to avoid the drought burning up the indigo plants. “We find by all our wells that the general level of the water is at least four feet lower than ever we knew it, so that even in the lowest ground the longest rooted plants suffer. These disappointments bear hard on me, and they would sink the spirit of labour among our people, if the good opinion of the swamp lands had not encouraged them and me to hope that next crop will amply compensate this year's failure.

“In order to secure our Indigo swamp field from over flooding by summer and autumn rains, which sometimes are too abundant in this country, I have run a main drain up thro' the middle of the swamp, It is eighteen feet broad, and will be above five miles in all, four of which are now finished. I have made some miles also of two others, but narrower than [the main drain]. These are to assist the immediate discharge of the water which may not lodge in our fields. These, I flatter myself, with the main drain [will save us from accidents in rainy seasons].

“The great drain carries a navigation for boats of above ten tons burden into every part of that body of land,” which is 3,083 acres of rich fresh marsh, a great part of the swamp is fit for sugar, our trials show it can make money without great expense.”

Dundee City Archive

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Smyrnéa, August 22, 1774

Turnbull writes a letter of deep despair, saying that “every possible obstacle” has been thrown in his way. He professes that he has done the best job he knows how to do, without neglect, “my life here is a continual exertion in the service of this settlement.”

Dundee City Archive

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Smyrnéa, August 28, 1774

Turnbull again commented on the “great drain” system that was being dug through 3,083 acres of good land where he planned to plant sugar for a crop that could employ the laborers after indigo production terminated each year. “I would erect the buildings and set all the machinery going without laying out a farthing except for the boilers and iron work...wheels, rollers, etc.” But that work would have to wait until Indigo succeeded and cleared the debts of the partnership.

“Through all the low lands I plan to cut small drains at 100 feet to drain off sour water from new lands and to serve as reservoirs afterwards to water our lands and secure crops in dry months. I [expect to plant] between 800 and 1000 acres in Indigo next year.”

Land was then being cleared for provisions grounds, Turnbull said, apparently in response to a criticism from George Ramsay that the settlement should raise its own provisions rather than purchase them in Carolina. However, Turnbull said, it could not be accomplished immediately. “Our people do supply themselves with necessaries from the wax and honey they collect and the poultry they raise, although the drought has hurt the bees,” since the indigo plants were not producing the flowers the bees normally feed on. In the future Turnbull intended to supply “our people with cloathing without breaking in on indigo.” When Mr. Gordon left Charles Town to return to Britain, Turnbull began purchasing goods from Mr. Panton, and also from Mr. Nixon and Mr. Gardiner from Edinburgh. Purchases of coarse linen and oznaburgh caused the main debts.

To help pay the salaries of the managers at New Smyrna, Turnbull decided to “put goods into a store under the care of one of our People, in order to barter their goods against the honey, wax, etc., which the people have to dispose of, and I intend to charge thirty percent profit on these goods.” The profit generated would then be “thrown into the mass to pay wages.” He said it would also “help the people” since they had been selling their goods at less than their value and paying for a fifty percent commission on their purchases. Thirty percent is the American custom....The money laid out for clothing and etc. for the People I charge thirty percent on, as is the custom in America.” He asked for Ramsays's approval for this practice.

Turnbull explained to Ramsay that he had always assigned nine months' labor to provisions and yet they had not been able to raise more than 8000 bushels of corn. But In 1773 the workers at Smyrnéa harvested “8,400 bushels of corn which was put in storage, which with proper care, is the amount needed for the people for the entire year. That is what we needed the previous year, except for the corn we needed for seed. It was a wivel got into our corn stores and destroyed half of it. This animal is in the soft part of the germ, and lives within the grain which it hollows into a shell.” This catastrophe created havoc. When they ground the corn with the windmill and served it out as meal they discovered that one bushel of grain, which normally produced forty quarts of meal, was now producing only thirty-two bushel and less. Turnbull was therefore forced to order five hundred bushels of corn and seed from Charleston, and to later order another 500 bushel in St. Augustine from Mr. Penman.

Governor Patrick Tonyn sent the corn to Smyrnéa in the provincial sloop. The corn was paid for with £85 Sterling earned from sale of a small schooner that had been built by ship carpenters at Smyrnéa as a pilot boat during the previous winter. When it turned out to be too small for use at the settlement it was sold to the Savannah merchant, John Graham. Turnbull also contracted with Governor Tonyn to build an open launch for a St. Augustine pilot boat, at a price of £56:10, and to deliver it in November. “... all the boats for this plantation I have built, plus many other jobs are done with one master boat builder and two apprentices. Their wages and provisions do not cost me in all £30 Sterling a year. They have built the boat sold, another for this place, worth £50, and are to build that for Governor Tonyn all in ten months, which with the caulking of Indigo vats, making of oars, etc., makes their labor of value to this place....”

“A master carpenter with two apprentices I brought from the Mediterranean have built the schooner mentioned, and a bar boat for this place. Wages and provisions for all three do not cost me £30 Sterling, the building materials do not cost us anything. When they are not making boats we need here, I will have them make boats to sell to others to diminish our expenses and debts. “

This letter also contains a list of items saved from the wreck of the “East Florida” sent in account to Thomas Nixon. The mistakes are Nixon's, Turnbull accused, and the overcharges were also Nixon's mistake.

Dundee City Archive

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Smyrnéa, October 9, 1774

Turnbull told his partners that he was facing major difficulties producing sufficient provisions to feed the people at the settlement in the coming year. He feared that £600 to £700 Sterling would be needed to purchase enough food to feed the people, plus another £10 Sterling for drugs from London. The settlers had planted double the amount of corn as normal, but the drought burned the stalks so severely that only one ear of corn was harvested for every three stalks, and that ear was small and only partially filled with kernels. He had anticipated a surplus of between 3000 to 4000 bushel of corn to sell in St. Augustine, in addition to a full sufficiency for consumption at Smyrnéa. Instead, he was assured of a shortage of three to four months of provisions.

He had diligently combated the drought by means of a system for watering the fields through the drains he had the men install. At Peter Taylor's plantation, also known as the Penman tract, laborers had planted corn in low and wet swamp land that withstood the drought. None of the other planters had done the same and they all lost their provisions crops.

Dundee City Archive

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

December 19, 1774

Turnbull informed his partners that the severe drought that occurred in summer 1774 would have devastating impact on Smyrnéa. With the exception of Governor Grant's plantation the drought had been general in East Florida. The rains came only in September which, even at that late date, brought on the indigo plants. The workers had tried earlier to water the dry provisions fields, but “this sort of work all takes time,” Turnbull said, and in the face of this summer's severe drought the provisions fields failed. As a result it would be necessary to purchase 2,500 bushels of corn this year, along with fifty barrels of pork, thirty barrels of flour, 10 hogsheads each of rice and rum. Other miscellaneous items would also be necessary.

Because the indigo weed came on so late in the season, Turnbull “was obliged to dry the indigo hastily, which caused cracking and breaking of the cakes into pieces. To keep it whole requires more time in steeping and slow drying in the shade,” he said, but with winter coming on it was necessary to hurry the production process.

The merchant, Thomas Nixon, had sent a bill to Turnbull, which he refused to pay until the fees on commissions, drawbacks and other matters had been adjusted. “He insists that I pay him from private accounts, rather than to wait until commission goes through. I asked Mr. Dagge to pay him £100 out of my salary as Secretary of this province.”

Invoice for Indigo from the partial crop of 1774.

number package quality gross weight net weight

1 barrel Flora 306 248

2 ditto Flora 221 161

3 do. Purple 303 238

4 do. Fine Copper 313 255

5 do. Fine Copper 318 259

6 do. Blue 328 272

7 do. Small & dust 255 200

2044 1633

An Account of Indigo & other Commodities, of the Growth and Manufacture of East Florida in the year 1774, and transmitted from the Port of St. Augustine to Great Britain Vizt P the Brig Betsy, Alvara Lofthouse, Master, for London December 24, 1774.

1 #2 Cask, 2 Chests, 3 bags Indigo from Mr. Taylor 636

3 Boxes from Mr. Fatio 279

10 Casks from Mr. Oswald 1180

25 Casks from Governor James Grant 5460

2 Casks from Mr. McLean 233

6 Boxes from Mrs. Box 261

3 Casks & 2 Boxes from Mr. Tucker 466

1 Cask from Mr. Elliott 153

5 Casks & 1 Box from Mr. Strachey 828

3 Casks & 3 Boxes from Mr. Gray 663

7 Casks from Governor Patrick Tonyn 976

9 Casks from Mr. Russell 1549

6 Casks Lt. Governor Moultrie 1800

4 Casks from Mr. Morris 856

1 Cask from Mr. Levett 251

1 hogshead, 2 Barrels, 1 keg from Mr. Payne 852

4 Casks from Mr. Moncrief 704

4 Casks & 1 Box from Lord Egmont 2094

4 Boxes from Mr. Ashby 248

1 Cask from Mr. Potts 110

3 Casks from Mr. Macdougal, decd. 317

7 Casks frm Doctor Turnbull 1633

8 Boxes of Indigo from Mr. Berresford 575

88 Pine Plank for Ships Decks 25 to 27' long, 2&1/4" thick from the Plantation of Mr. Holmes, a Sample

12 Pine Plank abt 14' long, 2¼” thick, from Mr. Short's Mill

80 Pine Sheathing Boards; 25 Cedar plank; 88 barrels Tar made by William Mills

1 Cask Madder Roots from the plantation of Mr. Elliott

5 Bags Cotton from Mr. Tucker

2 pipes & puncheon Orange Juice; 45 Hides, all by the Schooner

Charming Betsey, William Wilson Master for Savannah, Jan. 10, 1775. Not landed but transhipped to London.


Custom House, St. Augustine, January 23, 1774, John Holmes, Deputy Collector

Colonial Office Papers

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Smyrnéa, January 31, 1775

“Your letter by last post confirms the melancholy news of Sir William Duncan's death.” Turnbull sent his condolences to Lady Duncan and announced: “I shall hurry to London in the fall to lay before her and Lord Temple a state of their affairs here, which, not withstanding all the drawbacks, will soon justify our plan; but it cannot get on except it is supported for this year's supplies, to the amount of between six hundred and seven hundred pounds.”

Turnbull pleaded with Ramsay to arrange with Lord Temple and the heir of Sir William Duncan “to not let the bills go unpaid. I am willing to pay eight percent interest, the legal interest here, until I can repay sums borrowed from the crop this year.” If the bills come back, he warned, a twenty-four percent interest is added, thus a great deal of expense can be spared if the bills are paid.

“I sent our last year's small crop by Captain Lofthouse. The badness of the weed from the drought made the getting of dye from that weed so difficult, that it was impossible to make it tolerably good, nor could we attend much to the shape, but as we have a prospect for fine weed for this [coming] crop, you may depend on my attention to the shapes and colours you recommend.”

Dundee City Archive

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Smyrnéa, February 20, 1775

Intensely worried about the effects of the drought of 1774, Turnbull explained that the indigo and provisions crops had been destroyed and he had been forced to order food to keep the laborers alive. Without an alternative he had been forced to order more of everything. However, if the bills were not paid by the partners in Britain, Turnbull warned that he would “be forced to release our People from all work to forage for their sustenance and to fish and hunt until new corn comes up,” which would certainly lead to “immediate discontent and disorder” followed by “certain ruin” that will cost the settlement the entire Indigo crop of 1775.

“I avoided every other annual Expence of cloathing and etc. for this year, which the People have forgone without a murmur, tho' they see all the Negroes in the Province better supplied with cloathing than they are. The whole of our Expence for provisions, tools, and necessaries this year will not amount to more than between twenty and thirty shillings a head, which is not much considering our extraordinary supplies for clerks and overseers who have something more than a bare subsistence.”

Turnbull had been able to gather and save one hundred bushels of Indigo seed from the 1774 crop, although he feared that more would be needed if replanting became necessary in spring or summer 1775. Although it was only late February, most of our corn crop for 1775 had already been planted.

Dundee City Archive

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Smyrnéa, May 1, 1775

Turnbull informed Ramsay that he had given a bill of exchange to the province's surveyor general for £18 Sterling for the additional land grants that completed the 100,000 acres for the Duncan-Temple-Turnbull partnership. The governor and provincial council agreed to award the deed for “Mr. Purnell's tract in my name. It is 10,000 acres with more than 3,600 acres on Sugar Island on the Indian River; Also two tracts at 100 acres each and one at fifty acres. Considering all the grants in my hands, the total is 101,500 acres.” He promised to bring all the deeds to London for their expected winter meeting.

The Smyrnéa settlers had managed to plant all the corn fields and 500 acres of indigo early in spring 1775, but unseasonable colds in mid-April destroyed 100 acres of corn and indigo. It was replanted, however, and all the plants were out of ground by the start of May. Since the weather had been pleasant in April and May, the workers were busily planting more indigo, but planting in newly cleared land where greater labor efforts were required than in older fields. Thus, they had only been able to plant between 700 and 800 acres.

Planting corn and other provisions crops took additional time of labor because of the great consequence of achieving self-sufficiency in foodstuffs. Therefore, Turnbull was to announce that the corn they planted had already grown beyond risk of accident, releasing him from a major worry and ensuring that the need for the coming year was ensured. If all went well, he thought it possible that an excess of corn might be available for sale.

In addition, the plants in a five-hundred-acre field of Indigo had grown above ground and looked well, yet Turnbull was worried that the soil in some parts of the field might prove too rich for indigo. It was his opinion that indigo generally did better in new ground during the second year of planting. Turnbull had come to distrust marl soils: “I gave all these marle lands two hoeings in the winter” which he hoped would equate to two year's exposure of the soil.

“All the People are in excellent health and spirits, tho' in rags, for I have not been able to purchase any cloathing this year.”

My respects to Lord Temple, and to Lady Duncan in London.

Dundee City Archives

Andrew Turnbull to George Ramsay

Smyrnéa, August 10, 1775

“Your letter of 6 May arrived yesterday. The news of Captain Duncan's coming here is very agreeable and satisfactory to me. I shall wait for him until the beginning of February. I cannot well stay longer, as I must be here again in the month of June for the Indigo making. I hope that Captain Duncan will find it convenient and even necessary, to stay here, a round of the seasons at least, that he may see everything, as it goes on thro' the year, and I heartily wish, that his stay may be for years. If he is to have an Interest, or share, in this settlement, he cannot be more usefully employed; especially as another Director is much wanted here, for my nephew and I have rather more on our hands in this season than can be managed by two persons.

“One of my chief reasons for coming to Europe in the Spring is, that the several grants of land belonging to this partnership, may be divided in lots, or otherwise. For as the lands granted for the settlement are in several names, and above half in my name, these circumstances might give rise to disputes hereafter if not properly settled now. As to the lands now in cultivation by this settlement, these may be left undivided, if the partnership is continued. I have some other business in England but what I mentioned is the most material, and I think it of consequence, for I have learned lately that some of these lands having been grants to me after the date of our agreements, my heirs might dispute the right of them; I do not wish to leave any grounds for suits or pretexts for suits after my death.

“I thank you much, my Dear Sir, for the machine for cutting of Indigo into proper sizes and shapes, if it is better than one I contrived here, I shall use it when it comes to hand. I have not only preserved the Indigo we have made this season from breaking, I have also made it all good, and of a proper shape so far, and as we have made our beginning in this way, I hope to be able to continue it. I am endeavoring to get about 500 pounds worth dried to send by Lofthouse. I am apprehensive that I cannot send more, because it will not be cured sufficiently to put into casks at the time he goes away.

“I did not make a fair beginning of making Indigo until the first of this month. And as it takes six weeks or two months in drying, I cannot ship much for it splits and falls to pieces if dried quickly. I hope to continue making until the end of November.

“I am much obliged to you for speaking to Mr. Graham and engaging him to accept my bills for provisions. I do not know of any more demands on me at present, and hope that the disagreeable business of drawing is at an end. I rejoice that Lord Temple is in a fair way of recovering from his late Indisposition. I wish his Lordship to have the satisfaction of seeing the success of this undertaking, and that he may enjoy that pleasure for many and many years to come.”

Dundee City Archive

The Reverend John Forbes to James Grant

St. Augustine, November 1, 1775

. . .

“Doctor Turnbull keeps pretty close at home, has made plenty of provisions and some indigo. Captain [Adam] Duncan, heir to Sir William's East Florida estate, is expected here daily from England. The Doctor talks, whether he comes or not, of going to England next year.”

. . .

James Grant Papers

Lady Mary Duncan to Dear Adam (Captain Adam Duncan, Sir William Duncan's nephew)

Rome, January 6, 1776

Lady Duncan writes that she had received two friendly letters from Captain Duncan, and that she had observed a procession with “the Pope, he mounted from St. Peters Church upon a fine grey horse with great dignity & ease, perform'd his part well, the Cardinals upon mules seem'd not a little frighten'd and out ill, the rest of the nobility after, it being a fine day, the procession long, made the sight gaudy enough, all the Romans drest extreamly magnificent, at night the outside of the whole Capitoll was lin'd with crimson & gold, bands of musick in different parets of town, and a great assembly at the Capitoll given by the Senator Prince Reasonico, where I saw all the first people there.”

She was attending the “most general ones, the rest of my time is absorb'd in Musick” and thus she knew little of the English men and women in Rom. Every night went to the opera and would continue to stay in Rome until April or May first, followed by “a tour of Loretto, Venice, and all the other town that I have not been at” until August. Because she would be “wandering” for four months she would be difficult to reach by mail. In August and September she planned to be in Florence, and in October she planned to attend the Carnival in Milan. From there she was going to Paris and she did not intend to return to England until November 1777, where she would reside for one year, when she announced she “will go and end my days in Florida. I know you will start at this paragraph, I have well weighed and thought over my present situation, upon so doing, am more confirm'd in never residing in England, (should I live to that time.) I have outlived all those I love, my conextions all broke, the stupid silly life of us Old Women in London, to meet with those I don't care a button about, to be scolded at a card table is what I will not submit too. The journey and sickness for two months is bad; then it is over, going there myself, I can then afford to carry proper people to help me, my own amusement will be, to chuse out some spot with elbow room enough, to build a house, garden, & park, large enough for the proprietor hereafter, when that property shall come to be a large estate, this plan leaves room for various works of amusement, I shall build a repository there, carrying with me those most valuable remains of my Dear Sir William Duncan. In executing this plan, it will be the wisest step I can....The remainder of my days there will rub on easy and quiet, till God shall think out of his great goodness to release me....

“At last post I had a letter from Mr. Ramsay, that the wild Turnbull is coming to England, when all America is in rebellion tho' the Floridas are not in it, surely he must be mad, to leave all those people at such a time. Tho I can't express how much I feel for the care and trouble Mr. Ramsay has taken, throughout this whole affair. Let Lord Temple do as he pleases, [but] there is three points I put in my caveat against. First, I will not spend one shilling more upon the Estate in Florida till I or you go there. Secondly, I will have no accounts pass'd till I come to England or go to Florida, because in the last he brought us in creditor to him, & tho Mr. Ramsay had infinite merit in setling them, yet he must believe the articles that Turnbull brings on his side, now I will settle my part of the account, when I have seen the country. Thirdly, I will agree to no division of lands till the year 1778, and lastly, I will enter into no agreement of any sort or kind till the year 1778. So that all reasons that can be alledged will be of no weight with me, please to tell Turnbull that if God should spare my life, health & strength enough remains, I shall have the satisfaction with my own Eyes, and the help of proper people, to divide, or farm it then; but till that period of time, I am resolv'd not to sign my name to any agreement whatever. Be so good not to send me any; I shall only burn it.

“By the second agreement as he could not advance the money equal to us, that Estate when divided, his share is but a fifth or two fifths as will be seen in the agreement, besides he obliges himself to continue the care of that Estate upon the same forms as long as one or both of the proprietors chuses. I will not relinquish on my part, either of those two articles, it is the only hold we have upon him to keep his accounts hanging over his head, & to oblige him to continue it, till you or I see at leisure what he has done.

“I am very glad you don't go there at present, it would be running a risk, at this time. Besides going there for a few months, in a property of that sort, I fairly think, would not be of so much service, there would not be time enough to examine it thoroughly, so as to come to a division or agreement, I cannot help observing when we sent Mr. Neilson, he immediately made some pretense to leave him there and come to England, now he hears of your coming, he must play the same trick, this has not a very honest appearance on his side, a man of good character in such circumstances, would have put off his journey, to show openly his works & expences upon the spot, not to come and tell us what he pleases; He takes us for little children, to give credit to his words, he must be joking, when he writes thus. Please to tell him from me, that to be convinced of his uprightness you or I must see with our own Eyes, how those great sums are laid out, if justly, & whether the returns for that money is in proportion remitted as much as could be reasonably expected, when well, & honestly managed, to the proprietors, or in a fair way of being so, those are the proofs, words is only loss of time, & an unessary (sic) fatigue to the lungs. “

Dundee City Archive