LETTER TO MR. JOHN GIFFORD


From the Iron Works Papers, Baker Library, Harvard University

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Mr. John Gifford London, this 26th of
April 1652

My last to you was upon the 21st of October which went out from the Downs the 8th of December last per John Greene Mr who had with him 240 Scots. I hope that he is there well arrived in the latter end of January last, since which I have received yours of the 10th of October last, but I received none from Mr. Awbrey to any purpose, only 2 small letters of advise for 2 bills of expense, one of L25 and one other of 12 l to Mr. Knowles, the minister. I do also much wonder that you should complain of my not writing to you, whereas I have as yet not neglected any opportunity to write to you, but shall henceforth send them by themselves without enclosure. If anybody should have taken up those letters wrongfully, it were an extreme dishonesty and I should not trust any such men if I knew them. I had also a small letter of advise from Mr. Awbrey wherein he desires only that I should pay to Goodman Osborne’s friend here in London 100 l upon account and that he finds 200 l due to him upon his last account, but I shall let him understand that unless Goodman Osborne sends a letter and a more perfect account than hitherto he has done and that it is also examined by you, that we should pay him but little money here, neither he shall pay him any there before he has orders from us. As for the dieting of the Scotsmen, I have advised with some of the Company and they tell me that 3s 6d per week is a sufficient allowance for every man, considering the cheapness of provisions

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there, and more they are unwilling to allow. As for their clothing and other necessities the Company must provide for besides anow [?] will diet them for 3s 6d and very good entertainment. I hope you will have long before the receipt of this set Braintree forge at work and that you have provided water according as was propounded by you at a reasonable charge so that you may have always a 100 ton of sums lying in stock for fear of any casualty of the furnace and as for the guns we conceive it were better left alone until next year. It is a question when they are cast who shall turn or bore them. If the water be not as yet brought to Braintree furnace, let it be done per the first as also what coppice wood are proper to be inclosed belonging to the Company near the works to have them inclosed as also what wood grounds lay conveniently unappropriated to all the Works may be added to the grant inclosed to our use and Mr. Foote to assist you in it. We will send you a copy of the grant by this shipping. We understand by one of our partners that Mr. Thing has made a motion to farm our Works, but we would have him and others to know that we are unwilling now we have in a manner perfected the work and, having cost such a mass of money and after so long expectations and now so probable of a great improvement, to farm or let them to him or anybody. If we can have an honest dealing from those we put in trust for us the Company would have you to inform them more particularly

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of the state and condition of their affairs, as for instance, how many Scots you have in your employment and what order you have had for the dieting of them as also what is become of all the rest that were indisposed over and many particulars. About the stock of the coal, you do not write distinctly of it. I understand by several that come from thence that you had at least 1500 load of coals in readiness and that you had bought a great deal of wood near the place and that you had bought some land of Mr. Knowles proper for our Works, but of all this and other things you make little or no mention. Also the Company will not be satisfied without those weekly accounts of all your charges and the computation of iron made and what iron sold ‘tis true. You pay them not in money but you can set down as well the value as if you paid them in money because they must have the worth for it and by that we should know how to reckon our charges and if any encouragement we would then enlarge ourselves. The Company does not understand what your meaning is of the entertainment of strangers there it being absolutely against their desire to entertain any they not being enjoined so to do nor anybody else unless they will needs not. If Leader did so that is no rule for the Company though we believe we partly paid for it. It being then a new plantation, it was not so much to be wondered at, but now the curiosities of the people there are satisfied. Especially there being so little sale for bar iron or ells, it might be supposed that the trade required much recourse of people or strangers. That the Company has been at a great charge they

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are sensible of it and they would not have multiplied their charges in sending Mr. Awbrey unless they had seen an absolute necessity for 2 to be there in equal trust in case of mortality, as well as otherwise, and that the work might have been so much the easier to be well-performed, but it was never intended or thought on that Mr. Awbrey should have stood for any supremacy in this thing, but that it should have been free for you to peruse his accounts and he yours upon all occasions and that he also should have busied himself with the nailing trade and the iron tools [?] that were contracted for to be made by Mr. Foote’s smith for the Company, but if those things should fall to the ground and no hopes to do any good upon it then would the cause alter. I am confident that the nailing trade or chiefly the gross ironware will be a special commodity in the Barbados if the price be reduced as we hope it is because they that brought such things from New England to Barbados got half in half by them and those of New England had first their profit sufficiently out of it, but if the nails cost 6s where those nails coming out of these parts are sold there for 3s or 3s 6d, then it is in vain to keep any market, but at a great loss. Also it has been always understood by the Company that they should furnish the nailers with rod iron and seawle [?] and to return the money due to the Company in nails at such rates as was agreed on or as they are there sold in the country and Mr. Foote was to negotiate for the rest of their nails between him and them. Since the writing of this letter, so far I received your letter of 27 December as also the accounts of charges amounting to a great value as

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also account or list of the remaining Scots as also divers letters from Mr. Awbrey with several bills of expense to the value of 1180 and not a bar of iron sent which he having absolute charge of the Company not to do so unless he sent iron to discharge it and it seems by your letter such a small business that you make not a word mention of any such great charge upon us, neither one word of sending any iron only upon the general terms that, unless the workmen prove lazy, you intend to make 300 ton of bar iron a year. In the interim, it is your pleasure we should be deep enough in charge and in debt first which the Company resents very unworthily. As for Mr. Awbrey, he sends no account at all, neither of the Scots and their provision he received nor of any money or iron he has received, only charged you at a lump that you should have had from him =2700 and excused with this that he is troubled with melancholy that he is incapable of framing an account and by his letter we find now such things but that he has his senses at command so that I fear more knavery than melancholy and in your accounts you make no mention of anything more than your transactions and as if you know him not nor in what capacity he was, only you have made use of him to draw money for you so that in the meantime the Company is well-served and your accounts are not such as the Company desired of you. You well know their desire was to send them weekly or monthly accounts of all charges whatsoever and what iron made and what sold and what remaining, but nothing is performed according to our agreement or copies of accounts which we desired you to follow, not only when you were here, but also advised you

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from time to time in all my letters so that seeing neither of you performs his trust, we shall be enforced to take another course of settlement as not desiring to trust such an estate in man’s hand that will not follow our instructions, but their particular way though never so destructive to us. When Mr. Leader left the works, he made it to appear that at Lynn, Braintree, and Boston was remaining in stock and good debts above 2000 and at his coming there he brought with him in English commodities the value here of 670 which was worth there about 850 which in all probability would have been a competent stock to manage the works without any more help of ours. Moreover, we sent you after your 4 months arrival this 82 Scots which, if they had been sold for the Company use, one half of them would have procured you above 600 for 30 of them and then you should have as yet 30 more remaining at the works to have done your business complete that you could not have wanted common hands or stock. You wrote, before you knew of the Scots coming, that you thought you should not set the furnace blowing before this last February and you had now so many hands and never the sooner was the furnace set to blow, but there was a firm resolution to do little or nothing till this here as also the old stock of might have been bought up long since and by that means some returns would have come to us to discharge some of these bills. Mr. Awbrey did believe you would have sent some 30 ton with this last ship, but no such thing. In the meantime, there is good correspondence kept between him and you. He writes also that you of late have kept the iron and that you have sent him but little and that you have sold a great deal. We have partly observed in you not the reasons of not working, but this work or repairs might have been done most at one and

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the same time and not to wait one for another. We have understood you have been often absent at Boston and elsewhere and in your absence the workmen will do but little. As also, the works exposed to the utmost danger of being all burnt in one night when the coal heap did fall on fire, but that it was by the special providence of God who kept them and little of your care, you being then in Boston with your wife. The Company has been much discontented that you have dismissed William Osborne. He could have supplied the place at Braintree and sometimes at Lynn when you have had occasion to be absent, he being an ancient workman and careful and in whom the Company would have reposed some trust, but I find they are unwilling to have anybody admit in such a place whom they know and you should not have dismissed him without the approbation of the Company. He might have been a great help to you being that both works are to go at 10 miles distance and therefore we shall henceforth keep the power in our own and others hands to admit of any clerk or the like. We wrote you that we desired the Scots should be dieted by some there in the country by those that would have performed best and cheapest and not to have it done by you at such a high rate, the Company not being willing to allow above 3s 6d a week and you being 5s. As also they would not have you to spend your time with that employment and those parties that should have dieted the Scots should have had their provision sent them from Mr. Awbrey at the best hand, but still in all this you have taken no notice of our desires and in all your former letters you have much hinted to have your power increased as also your wages, but if all these misdemeanors do deserve it we much doubt it and we shall endeavor for the future to set such order as that we may not be abused so grossly either by an agent or factor and for that purpose we

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have made choice of Commissioners there, in all our affairs, Mr. Bridges, Mr. Foote, Mr. Webb, and Mr. Tyng and have given them absolute power, 3 of them being also partners, to act in anything there concerning our affairs and to examine both your accounts and Mr. Awbrey’s whom, after he has made his account, shall be discharged and anybody else he made choice of there who the Commissioners shall think fit for the place. And as from you, we shall at no rate be satisfied without you are willing to give or send us such weekly or monthly accounts as was agreed upon in our agreement and that you will henceforward follow our Commissioners’ instructions and to be accountable to them when and what time they shall please either once a week or month and to understand what iron you have made and sold from time to time and upon those terms we shall proceed. And one other, it is strange to me that you should allege you wanted water this summer. We have had a workman (Turner by name) by us. He having wrought there at one of the furnaces, he tells us he never knew any want of water and he is to go for New England again and would be a collier. Besides the Scots and your bills which are now charged upon us, which have been as money to you for the most part so that we cannot conceive what your meaning is or drift is in this. Our desire is that another hammer be set up in Lynn forge and another finery, there being a huck [?] for it already and will be done with little cost as also the water increased at Braintree. Turner tells me that there’s wood enough at Lynn for those works this 20 years. He being a collier should understand somewhat of it. Mr. Leader told us that our land we had there, if improved to the utmost, would be worth 500 l per annum, and you wrote me we had no considerable

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land there, it being nothing but mountains, barren ground, and dales, as also in a tottering condition. As concerning the furnace at Braintree, we would have nothing cast in that but pots or other cast ware or salt pans or shot (in the furnace at Lynn nothing but pigs should be cast which will make your pigs better and tear the furnace less). If cast in pigs, they are better to be transported to Braintree forge. All the endeavors might be to get workmen under those we have to learn their trade or else we shall always be to seek for workmen especially if we should be hereafter encouraged to set up more works as I doubt not but it will if we may have but cordial dealings and then you should not want any encouragement from us. Having once beaten out our charge and our debts paid (some of our monies returned in our purses which all this may be easily done with the stock and help you now some cannot make less than 6000 in iron. It would much impair your credit and reputation if you should leave the works now there is such a great expectation suddenly which we believe you will not do. We do in the highest measure wonder you should have disbursed near 300 of your own estate since you came to the works rather than the works should want. This might be believed upon better grounds if we were well satisfied you brought such an estate there of your own and that so much money had not been charged upon us which is no less than 15 or 1600 and for return is not come to our hands since you going over above 420 – we shall be desirous to know what servants you have about the works that we give diet and clothes and how many there is of them besides the Scots. You mention in your letter that the grass we have goes to the keeping of our teams which if we have teams from where then comes our excessive charge brought in account for cartage of timber,

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wood, mine and coal to a great value. In your former letter, you were in hope to draw out 400 ton yearly in bar iron of both forges and in your last you make mention but of 300 and as for the muskets you wrote for, the men shall be sent to you with this shipping I do no way doubt but if you have constant work at the furnace and forges but that you shall have workmen more plenty and better qualified when they shall find a round employment and good pay but heretofore they wanted often times stock of coal and other necessities which the works being now supplied of all that can be thought on unless English commodities which we wrote Mr. Awbrey that if he sent some reasonable quantity of iron that then we would send him 500 in English goods desiring our workmen may have the same goods or commodities at 4d in the shilling profit and not that others have more given out of it and so become extremely dear for the wearer which I wonder all the workmen do not turn colliers having such great wages as 5s 6d per load which is unreasonable and then for cartage some 2s 5d and some at 4s per load. We find by the accounts that the very cartage of timber, wood, and coal comes to above 300 l and we desire you and Mr. Awbrey to get oxen and some horses of our own on to do our work having sufficient ground to feed them. And if any ground be lacking, it might be rented from others. We had 80 acres of pasture and doubtless near and in the woods some food is to be found in the summer time for oxen and horses and this would have extinguished a great deal of the charges and we must have it so done. The Scots, we perceive, have cost as much again for dieting and clothes as they have earned which is but a sorry account to bring in 5s per week whereas many would be glad to furnish

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their diet for 3s 6d you having plenty of fish, both fresh and salt, and pigeons and venison and corn and pease at a very cheap rate and all this excessive charges must needs inflame your account. It ought to been underwritten by Awbrey but you make not a word mention of him as if he had not been in place, neither do you take notice of his drawing upon us in this nature only that he has furnished you with bills of expense of 30 – apiece whereof one is come to my hand. You wrote in your letter that you had assigned it to William Holgrave but upon the bill no mention is made of any assignment only payable to you so that it not being signed I shall forbear to pay it till it is assigned by you. In the meantime, I doubt not but that the Commissioners will send me a 100 ton of bar iron to make good these bills and other charges. As for William Osborne, Awbrey has drawn 200 l upon me to pay his friend upon more being due to him as he conceives whereas in his own account sent by Awbrey in the year 1650 there was due to him 65 l:7s:1d and now which is but 18 months longer then should be above 230 due to him besides you being in your account paid to him for salary for 33 weeks wages = 2.5 – besides the money in your account paid to him for work done and cartage which all comes to a considerable sum of money so that we do not understand your meaning and therefore William Osborne must have a little patience till the accounts are reconciled between you and William Awbrey upon necessity and what is due to him he shall have paid to him and also to see in Osborne’s account if any what is paid to Mr. Leader that it may be brought to his account in debitor . You allege in your former letter that without 200 per annum you cannot live comfortably in that place.

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Upon that we answer that we cannot allow any such wages but according to our agreement 80 l per annum we are willing to allow you and no more. Expecting then such accounts as have been mentioned and if you should dislike so to do let us understand your intentions. You intimate also in your former letter that you are willing to sit still in this employment only till you hear more of our minds and if you are willing to sit still we shall desire you to go on in our business as also that you had nothing to go when you entered but only dead stock and no help was to be looked on from the Company whereas we do make it appear you have had above 3,000 stock and that would much encourage the workmen as to forgive them their debts. First we know not what debts they owe and how onely [?] it. Another thing, we do fear if those debts be once forgiven then they will soon after that grow insolent again and stand upon their own terms so that in policy it were good to keep that lock upon them, though they pay it not, and if they get well hereafter then they could easily pay it, but we shall refer this to our Commissioners to use their discretion as they shall find cause. If any guns be cast for a trial, let it be done in Braintree furnace because you will find your sow iron to be better and more constant at Lynn furnace as when cast ware was made there and your hearth will longer continue. We should be in good heart if you could blow 14 or 15 ton a week with a reasonable quantity coal yielding to proportion as if ten or 12 were cast. We conceive if more water be brought to Braintree furnace it shall then not be necessary to take down and remanned, but that it was only ordered so in respect for want of water. We neither intend to let nor to sell any of our works at no rate having been at such a vast expense and now but hopes of profit newly. As for a finer and his man that you want, John Turner, which is a finer goes

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over in this ship, will supply your want best. He would rather be a collier , seeing such great rates are given for coaling. I will ask him if he cannot get a man somewhere as also a hammerman. It is very difficult to get workmen to travel so far. As for a forge carpenter, I understand there is one or 2 forge carpenters and if so it were better to employ them so they are sufficient workmen than to send others. In respect of the great charge, now the works are once rightly repaired they will want the less looking after. If the 18 Scots cut 4 cord apiece per week, that would be 3600 per annum which would make a good round stock for supply with the help of other cutters, but methinks you should have no less than 24 Scotsmen to cut constantly wood. Mr. Awbrey writes to us that he has issued and paid to you from time to time above / 2700 and you make it but 2100 – so that in this charge to you here is no less than 600 difference, but all these things we shall order the Commissioners to look after that we may hereafter clearly understand how all our affairs stand. As for a Master finer you want, with this ship goes over to New England John Turner which is a finer and has wrought formerly at our works there and he is an able workman able to supply the place at furnace or forge or collier which he had rather do than anything else finding more gain in that and not so hard labor. Never the less, we have engaged him and he has promised us to take the charge of one forge for the fineries [?] till such time as we have instructed other workmen fit for the place or that we otherwise can be fitted for fineries and upon that condition the Company has lent him 10 l for him and his wife’s passage, which 10 l he is to repay to the Company out of his first work. You must also draw off in those workmen’s accounts that money you and Mr. Leader lent to the workmen at your going over from hence or else the Company should lose it. As for the land

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or wood grounds near Braintree whereof Mr. Foote writes, if it may be had reasonably we have given order to the Commissioners to buy it. [ ] is no [ ] if the works were once provided of master finers and their men then would we have another finers setup in Braintree forge but if we had never so many fineries and no workmen to supply them ‘tis worth nothing. The Scots and others, being placed with other workmen, will learn apace. John Turner is contented to take somebody to teach him the trade. Nothing else for present but that we nowise doubt your compliance in all this our former desires which will be most for your credit. We commit you to God’s protection.
Nicholas Bond
John Becx
William Greenhill
Thomas Weld
William Hiccocks
Thomas Foley
John Pocock

Copy of Comp. Lre.
26 April 1652 to Mr.
Gifford Original
delivered to him
23th (5) 52