Gunston Hall April 6th. 1777.
The express who went from here last (Mr. Chew) not being yet returned, and therefore not knowing what orders are given about lading the vessels at Alexandria upon Continental Account, I enclose you the three letters brought by the last three vessels, together with one from Mr. Muir to me mentioning the state of that business, and the quantity of flour required for the vessels already arrived. The whole towns of Dumfries and Alexandria are under innoculation for the small pox, in the latter about 600 persons, which I fear will prevent the flour waggons coming in.
I should like to know how the sale cloth manufactory goes on, and whether Mr. Matthews has got any person acquainted with the new Machines introduced a few years ago from Russia for spinning the thread; which it is said perform the work better, and vastly more expeditiously than common wheels. My reason for this enquiry is, that I think I can engage a workman who served an apprenticeship in one of the great sail cloth Manufactories at Hull, and is master of every part of the business, from breaking the hemp to finishing the sail cloth. He is also acquainted with the clasp harness, and the beforementioned Machines, which by his account are simple and extremely advantageous, and thinks he can instruct a workman to make them. He served his time with a friend of mine in Maryland, who gives him a good Character for honesty and diligence; but knows nothing of his proficiency in his trade, further than his being a complete hemp and flax dresser. Upon his coming over here to enter on board a privateer at Alexandria, I stopt him; and thinking a man so useful to the public ought not to be lost, I prevailed on him, by promising him good wages, and making him hope for some fu[r]ther reward, in case his Machines answered, to lay aside his privateering Scheme for the present, and keep himself unengaged until I could lay this information before the Councilboard.
There are in this County two young Scotch gentlemen, Laughlan McLean and Adam McGlashan, in the list of those ordered by the Court to depart the Commonwealth: having engaged their passage in the ship Albion, and advanced (as was required) half their passage money, they imagined their Names were, of course, inserted in the list of those who intended to go out in the same ship, and had petitioned for further time; but Since they have seen the late Proclamation, they are very uneasy lest through any mistake or omission, they may be thought to have neglected the proper requisites, and subject themselves to Confinement; which might be fatal to one of them, who is in a bad state of health; and have therefore desired me to apply to your Excellency and the Board on their behalf; and if they are not already included in the indulgence granted to the rest of the ship Albion's passengers, to pray the favor of being indulged with such further time as may be necessary until the said ship is ready to sail. These young men have been my neighbors a considerable time, and I know their Conduct has been so inoffensive and unexceptionable, that had they called upon Some witnesses in this neighborhood, of undoubted credit, I think they would have avoided the judgment, which hath been passed upon them; otherwise I should not take the liberty to trouble the Board in their favor. I am very respectfully Sir Yr most ob'd't Serv't