The Virginia Gazette

September 26, 1771. Number 281. Page 3, Column 2, No. 1


September 17, 1771.

HAVING been most injuriously treated, and being so ill that I cannot by this post, prepare to defend my character, nor indeed have I yet received copies of the depositions, &c. from the Coroner, on which they have founded their persecution, I hope you will be so kind to give this letter a place in your paper, to request the public to suspend their opinion until I can have an opportunity of stating the matter at large, that the public may be capable of judging how far I deserve such censure as has been most ungenerously thrown out from the quarter from whence my persecution arose, that I took care to get all my Mattapony friends to clear me before the townsmen (meaning Fredericksburg) could get down, which is so far from being the truth, that there was a majority of the jury, who were in the different interest, if we are to count friends and foes in the manner; nor did I know who were sworn of the jury until the affair was over; nor did I object to the jury's proceedings, although they could not legally take an inquest without viewing the body, which had then been buried twenty-five days, which was deemed by Dr. Mercer, Dr. Julian, and all the jury, to be infectious if taken up; and although it is 11 days beyond the time allowed in Great Britain, which lies in a much cooler climate, yet I requested it as a favour of the jury that they would proceed to examine the witnesses, although two of my principal ones where not arrived, it being then past 1 o'clock, and to report the matter fully, to give me an opportunity of clearing my character of so base and groundless a charge. I suppose what has given rise to the above report, my sending my son to all the back Justices in the county, which are but four, besides the Coroner, to request the favour of them to attend for the following reasons; first, that they had examined witnesses, and taken their recognizances to appear at the county court, at a distant time, beyond the time prescribed by law, for not only of bringing offenders to justice, but giving them an opportunity of clearing themselves of any base charge brought against them; and secondly, that they had been soliciting the Coroner, and had on fresh testimony, prevailed on the Coroner to summon a jury, which the Coroner had informed me of by letter; and as he could not legally hold an inquest, and as I had reason to dread some unforeseen steps would be taken against me, I requested the favour of their attendance, to discharge their duty, by proceeding regularly , who, together with the jury, have acquitted me; but what more these town Magistrates intend to do, time only will discover.