On this date, October 10, in 1760, William Fauntleroy appears to have been a bit cranky. A planter and merchant in Tidewater Virginia, he took a few minutes to pen an epistolary snapshot of life in the 18th-century British world in a fascinating letter to his sister, Elizabeth, then in London. It covers the British criminal justice system, gender, property, transatlantic commerce, and the Seven Years’ War, then raging in Canada, all through the perspective of one person, with his own bundle of informed and uninformed presumptions about that world. Although William avoids the one ubiquitous subject that practically no one in colonial Virginia ever wanted to discuss–slavery–this letter otherwise gives us a very human moment and reveals the many ways in which we lose more than we gain when we see the Atlantic as a barrier, and a not a bridge, before the American Revolution.
It does make one want to find out how “cousin Henry” and Mary turned out, doesn’t it?
Sorry cousin Henry did not conduct his matters better in Virginia. It’s really the fault of that convict wench that served part of her time with me. If I were you I’d have her hanged for going back to Britain before her convicted time was out. Her name was Mary Acres and you may easy know where she was convicted from. I hope Henry is released by now and will reflect on himself and alter his course in life. Things sent that came by Capt Brough were sent immediately to cousin Sally and Judah Fauntleroy according to your desire. Sally is married to Doctr Mortimer, a fine man. Judy is married to one of Col Carter’s sons, a good family and fortune. I can’t tell what cousin Harry did with the money he got from Mr Hodge but believe when young men gitte so in love with common theaves & strumpettss they can’t have too much money. I got with the extrs [executors] of your cousin Moore Fauntleroy’s and at last have your just clame inclosed. Tobo [tobacco] now with so high, thought it most for your Interest considering there being no convoy & war times to send you a good Bill. I think to send you & Mr Ribright a Little Tobo this year. As for the war with us, the French lattly has given up Montreale without striking a Blow, so we have all North America from the French.