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Lawrence Greatrake (1793-c.1840)
Miscellaneous  Historical  Sources 1

Various News Items   (1813-1832)   |   Reminiscences of Wilmington   (1851)
Autobiographical Recollections   (1860)   |   Charles Willson Peale   (1947)
"Gilpins Papermaking Machine"   (1957)   |   Early Engineering Reminiscences   (1965)
"Dickinson's Paper Machine"   (1967)   |   Rockdale...   (2005)   |   L.G. Sources Part 2

Charles R. Leslie
Autobiographical Recollections...

(Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1860)

  • Chapter 1
  •     pp. 1-13

  • Transcriber's Comments

  • Greatrake mentions in text below:  p. 2  p. 3  p. 6  p. 8-12  p. 12-13


    [ 1 ]



    Voyage to America -- Engagement at sea -- French ship vanquished -- Youthful bravery -- The Newfoundland dog -- Residence at Lisbon -- Departure from Lisbon -- Arrival at Philadelphia.

    In looking back on the opportunities my profession has given me of knowing many persons whose names will outlive the present age, I cannot doubt that much which has interested me will be read with interest by others. Without the hope that I can do justice, in my relation, to what I have seen and heard, I am yet tempted to commit to paper those of my recollections on which I dwell with the most interest, and to connect with them some account of my life.

    My father, Robert Leslie, and my mother, Lydia Baker, were Americans, natives of Cecil county in the state of Maryland. Their forefathers had settled in that neighbourhood early in the last century as farmers; my father's ancestors being from Scotland, and my mother's from England.

    My father was a man of extraordinary ingenuity in mechanics. He settled in Philadelphia in the year 1786, as a clock and watchmaker, having previously pursued that business at Elktown. He was a member of the Philosophical Society, and was known and respected by some of the most eminent scientific men in America, among whom I well recollect Latrobe, the architect of the Capitol at Washington. His business having become prosperous, he determined to extend it by taking a partner in Philadelphia,

    2                                 MEMOIR  OF  C.  R.  LESLIE.                               [CHAP. I.

    and by going himself to London to purchase the clocks and watches wanted for the establishment. This he did about the year 1793. He was accompanied by his family, which consisted of my mother and three young children (girls), and his sister, Margaret Leslie.

    I was born in London on the 19th October, 1794, and my first recollections are of our living in a house in Portman Place, Edgeware Road, two doors from that which I occupied after an interval of thirty years. My brother, the youngest of my father's children, and about two years younger than myself, was also born in London. On the death of my father's partner, Mr. Price, he returned to America with his family.

    Our voyage was a remarkable one; and, as my father kept a journal, and as I have been favoured, within these few years, with a sight of another kept by one of our fellow passengers, Mr. Lawrence Greatrakes, I am enabled to give some account of the principal events of it.

    We sailed, on the 18th September, 1799, from Gravesend, in the ship Washington, 875 tons burthen, carrying sixteen 24-pounders (carronades), six long twelves, and two 6-pounders. She was an English-built East Indiaman, but when we sailed in her she was in the American merchant service, and armed in consequence of the war between the United States and France. She had a complement of sixty-two men and boys, and was commanded by Captain James Williamson, a Scotchman. Mr. Greatrakes remarks, that:
    "Perhaps few instances ever occurred of a vessel suffering greater difficulties, and not being lost, in endeavouring to beat out of the Channel."
    And my father says:
    "We were only just clear of the land when we had been thirty-four days on board.

    "On the 23rd October we passed through an English fleet from the Mediterranean, and were brought to by the largest of the ships the Majestic, 74. The gun she fired as a signal had, by the carelessness of the gunner, a ball in it, which came on board of us, and, passing very near the heads of two of our passengers, sunk into a spar on the deck.

    "On Thursday, the 24th," continues my father, "we were called up by the mate and gunner, who informed us that there

    CHAP. I.]                                  VOYAGE  TO  AMERICA.                                  3

    was a French ship in sight, and that we must prepare for an engagement. As soon as I got on deck, the captain requested me to get Mrs. Leslie and the children up and dressed, as he wished to have them ready to go below at a minute's warning. We were steering west, with the wind right aft, and the Frenchman following us at the distance of about four miles. It was, no doubt, a ship we had seen the evening before, dogging the fleet we had passed through, probably in the hope of cutting one or two of them off. He did not seem to be gaining on us, so that, at eight, we had breakfast as usual, soon after which we found that our enemy could keep up with us with less sail than we had, by which it was evident he could overtake us if he pleased. Our captain determined, therefore, to slacken sail, and have our fate decided while we had the day before us."
    Mr. Greatrakes says:
    "The orders to clear for action were productive of some droll scenes. Great was the confusion produced among the passengers some half-asleep, some only half-dressed, running every way but the right one, and carrying their moveables everywhere but where they should; bemoaning their unhappy lot in coming to sea in time of war; rolling up their bedding, and tumbling their trunks down the orlop deck stairs; and some of them tumbling themselves after them; inquiring of every one whom they judged in the least likely to know, whether it would be a hard fight; whether the French would take all the passengers' property; whether they should be put into prison; whether they should ever get home; &c., &c."
    To return to my father's journal:
    "At half-past nine we had everything in readiness, and every man to his station: the guns all primed, the matches lit, and all the women and children ordered down into the hold.... At a quarter before ten the Frenchman fired one gun, though at too great a distance to reach us. In five minutes more they were near enough, when our captain fired our first gun with his own hand, it being one that stood on the quarter-deck; the men gave three cheers, and the action commenced very briskly on both sides, the two ships being near enough to use muskets and have a distinct view of each other. The French ship appeared new, and in every respect like a frigate, except in size. Their musket-balls for a

    4                                 MEMOIR  OF  C.  R.  LESLIE.                               [CHAP. I.

    few minutes were sent so rapidly against the side of our ship, that the noise to us was like a hail-storm against a window, and yet we had not a man killed by them. One grazed our steward's neck, and another went through the fleshy part of a man's arm. No muskets were fired from our ship, except by some of the passengers, as our men were all required to work our heavy guns; in which we were, in one respect, very unfortunate, as almost every one of the 24-pounders that was fired tumbled over. I counted at one time five of them lying on their sides on the gun-deck. The carriages were made on a new patent plan, but so high and narrow that they could not bear the recoil. One of them in falling broke the leg of our carpenter. The two ships were but for a few minutes near enough to use muskets; after which some of the passengers who had been engaged with them went to assist in making wads and handing cartridges, and the rest went below. The action was now continued with the cannon on both sides; ours were pointed at the hull of the enemy, and we saw the effects of them in several places. They generally aimed at our rigging with double-headed shot, grape-shot, large spike nails, bars of iron from six to twelve inches long, and some of them an inch square, which did much damage to our sails and ropes. At eleven o'clock the privateer steered off, to our great joy, as almost all our cartridges were gone, most of our 24-pounders dismounted, and our crew much fatigued. We had lost, however, but one man, who was hit by a grape-shot through the head, and died instantly.

    "It was the opinion of our captain, that the enemy had gone only to repair some of her damages, and meant to attack us again. After some grog, therefore, all hands went to work making cartridges, wads, &c., and getting the guns in their places; and rather before all was ready, we saw the Frenchman bearing down on us a second time, though not so fast but that we were enabled to be quite prepared before he came near.

    "They began to fire at a great distance; but our captain ordered his men not to fire till they were close to us, and then as fast as possible with the 24-pounders. At a quarter past one we commenced the second action, with more vigour on our part than the first. The men were so eager to despatch the business,

    CHAP. I.]                              FRENCH  SHIP  VANQUISHED.                               5

    that they charged the guns with a 24-pound ball and two double-headed shot. The French, as before, aimed at our rigging, and we at their hull, which our 24-pounders damaged very much; four of them were seen to go through her on one side below the wale, and another stove in the whole of her gangway. At a few minutes before two o'clock she sheered off, and did not return, leaving us with our rigging terribly damaged: our main-mast shot through in four places, the mizen top-sail yard in one, and the cross jack-yard cut in two in the middle; one ball through the fore-top mast, and nearly half the shrouds and stays of the ship cut away. Most of the braces were gone; and the mizen stay-sail, the smallest we had up, had thirty holes in it, the main-sail sixty-two, and the others in the same proportion: yet in the last action not a man was either killed or wounded.

    "At three o'clock the French ship was so far off that we had no expectation of her return; when the captain told me I might get my family up from where they had been confined for more than five hours, with very little air, and the light of only one lanthorn. At four the privateer was nearly out of sight, and we sat down to dine on a large boiled ham, which the cook had got done for us, notwithstanding all the bustle. The men had at the same time their usual fare, to which the captain added two cheeses and an extra allowance of grog. Thus ended the busy part of the day; and, although we had beaten off our enemy, the evening prospect was but a gloomy one. Our deck was as black as the sides of the ship with the quantity of powder that had been burnt on it, and was covered with ropes, blocks, pieces of masts, yards, &c., balls, shot, and spike-nails. * We had only four rags of sails up, and were not able to manage them for want of braces. Night coming on, put it out of our power to do anything but let the ship drift before the wind, which was east.

    "The evening was closed by bringing up on deck the man that had been killed, sewn up in canvas, with a cannon-ball at his feet. He was laid on the deck; the company stood round while one of the passengers read prayers over him, and he was then lowered gently into the sea. The name of this young man was
    * I remember hearing my father say, that he found the iron of an old patten sticking in the side of the ship

    6                                 MEMOIR  OF  C.  R.  LESLIE.                               [CHAP. I.

    Samuel Reed; he was a good sailor, and had been with Truxton when he took a French frigate, and afterwards in the ship Planta when she beat off a French privateer in the Channel in the early part of the summer."
    Mr. Greatrakes says:
    "During the action a circumstance occurred that showed the character of our captain. A wad from one of the Frenchman's 32-pound carronades struck the starboard quarter-rail and flew back, spinning round with great velocity. He instantly attempted to jump on it and stop it, almost pushing me down to get it. Then tearing and cutting it to pieces, he charged the larboard 6-pounder several times, and, stuffing the fragments of the wad into it, fired it back again at the Frenchman, swearing bitterly at the whole nation all the time. *

    "Two boys, from thirteen to fifteen years of age, got a stroke or two from the first officer for dancing hornpipes on the main-deck during the heaviest part of both ships' fire. Another boy, in carrying forward a 24-pound cartridge, had it shot away from his hands. 'There,' said he, with an oath directed to the Frenchman, 'you _____, now I must go back for another.' In the early part of the action our colours were shot down, when our third mate, Mr. Thomas (an Irishman) and our little steward emulously contended for the honour of first mounting the poop, to nail them to the mizen-mast, in the midst of a most heavy fire of musketry. Thomas succeeded in getting the fallen colours and nailing them up, though they were shot through several times while he was doing it, and two geese were killed in the coop on which he stood. A young American gentleman, named Wallraven, distinguished himself by his gallantry, and was publicly thanked by the captain after the action."
    Of such of the occurrences of this eventful day as were most calculated to make an impression on the mind of a child of five

    * Young as I was, I can recall to mind the figure of Captain Williamson. He was a well-formed, strong-made man, of a good height, but not tall. On this occasion he wore a kind of naval uniform, a hanger at his side, and a belt round his waist, in which were stuck a pair of pistols. From what will be related, he seemed (like Dr. Johnson), to consider one Englishman a match for four Frenchmen; and with Englishmen he no doubt classed Americans, as well as Scotchmen.

    CHAP. I.]                             THE  NEWFOUNDLAND  DOG.                               7

    years of age, I have a tolerable recollection. I had often before looked with awe down the hatches into the gloomy region in which we were confined during the battle, and had seen indistinctly the upright post with notches in it for the feet, by which we children were carried down. My wonder and admiration were now excited by the steward, who seemed to me almost to fly up and down this post by the help of the hand-rope, his frequent visits having no other object than to see that we were as comfortable as circumstances permitted, to tell us all the best news from the decks, and to bring us reinforcements of ginger-bread, oranges, and wine.

    All my notions of war were associated with the then popular piece of music, the "Battle of Prague," which I had heard my eldest sister play on the piano; and, accordingly, when I heard the groans of the poor man whose leg was crushed, and who was brought somewhere near us, I exclaimed, "There are the cries of the wounded" The burial of the man who was killed made a deep impression on me, for I saw his messmates carry him to the bow of the ship, and I could distinctly trace the human form through the white canvas in which it was tightly sewn up; and this to me, the first image of death, has never been effaced from my recollection.

    Often as children are frightened without cause, they are as often in moments of real danger less alarmed than their elders; and I, though constitutionally timid, have no recollection of being terrified by what was going on, perhaps because I believed the hold to be a place of perfect safety. I remember that my brother and I amused ourselves for a great part of the time with playing at hide and seek among the water-casks, with some of the other children of the passengers. My brother, indeed, who was more heroic than I, wanted a little pistol, that he might go on deck and shoot the "naughty Frenchmen." My two elder sisters were of an age to understand and feel alarmed for our situation, and my youngest sister was dangerously ill with an attack of pleurisy, and in that state taken out of bed and carried below. What must my poor mother have suffered!

    The captain had a very fine Newfoundland dog, named Nero, who was always greatly excited by the firing of guns. During

    8                                 MEMOIR  OF  C.  R.  LESLIE.                               [CHAP. I.

    the engagement, he was so much in the way of the sailors, running from one end of the ship to the other, jumping on the guns and barking, that either by chance or design he was thrown down a hatchway, and his leg broken by the fall. The poor animal became so restless, and his howls were so distressing, that my father, having fastened a rope to his collar, carried him to a part of the hold as far as possible from that which we occupied, and while endeavouring to find some means of securing him, he found one of the passengers sitting alone and quite in the dark. My father asked him to hold the dog, but receiving no answer, he placed the rope in his hand, but it was cold and trembling, and incapable of retaining it.

    The broken leg was probably not the worst hurt poor Nero received by his fall, for he died a few days afterwards, greatly regretted by his master, who gratified him, in his last moments, by firing a pistol over him; a favour Nero acknowledged by slightly moving his tail, and making a faint attempt to bark.

    Some of these particulars have probably remained with me from hearing my father and others of the family mention them after our arrival in America, rather than from my own recollection.

    Mr. Greatrakes relates that
    "As our damages were too great to be repaired at sea, and the wind was unfavourable either for England or Ireland, the captain determined to go to Lisbon to refit, from whence we were about 500 miles distant.

    "On the 26th, another privateer, a brig, appeared in sight with all sails set to overtake us; probably supposing, from our shattered condition, she would find us an easy prey. She came up with us towards evening, and our captain determined to sink her, which his weight of metal enabled him to do. Luckily for her, however, a shot fired prematurely reached her, and she took French leave as quickly as possible.

    "On the 30th we took a Lisbon pilot, who came on board with a cocked hat and a high plume of red feathers, laced ruffles to his shirt, and a sword by his side. *
    * The house in which we passed our "Winter in Lisbon," had been built purposely for the accommodation of lodgers. It was four stories high. On each story were two complete and distinct suites of rooms; each suite comprising

    CHAP. I.]                                 RESIDENCE  AT  LISBON.                                   9

    "The repairs of the ship detained us at Lisbon five months and two days, though the carpenter had engaged to send us to
    a very large parlour or drawing-room, four chambers, and a kitchen. -- Our family occupied a set of apartments on the second story or first-floor. The adjoining set was rented by a Portuguese fidalyo who held a small place under the government, and with his wife, sister, and children, led a life of pretension and poverty, show and dirt. All the rooms, except the kitchens, were built entirely without fire-places, or any means of heating them except by the occasional introduction of a brazier of charcoal, in which case it was of course imperative to sit with a door or window open. And even then, the fumes produced such headaches that we thought it better to endure the cold. In the south of Europe, the lamentable scarcity of fuel is a serious drawback to any pleasure that may be derived from passing a winter in those countries. The houses are built as if for perpetual summer. Though during the whole winter there was no snow that lay on the ground, and no ice thicker than a shilling, we had several weeks of almost incessant rain, accompanied by cold, driving winds; and afterwards occasional rain-storms of three or four days. And such rains! a whole cloud seemed to descend at once. The streets (fortunately for them) were so flooded that at times they looked as if cataracts were rushing down between the two rows of houses. But it washed them clean. Our door-windows fitted so badly, that the rain poured in at them through all sorts of crevices and open places; so that, at each of the three, large tubs had to be placed to catch the water that would otherwise have deluged the floor. After the first rain, however, my father contrived means to stop up these cracks, so as to render the in-pouring less violent. But the dampness that pervaded the house, and all other houses in this fireless country, was without remedy. The shoes that we took off at night were frequently in the morning found covered with blue mould. So also were the surbases, and the frames of the chairs and tables. Our clothes became mouldy in the bureaus and presses; the covers and edges of our books were frequently coated with mould in a single night. To guard against the effects of this humid atmosphere, which there was no fire to counteract, we had recourse to many strange expedients. Every morning, on rising, we dressed ourselves as if we were going to spend the day in the street; putting on as many under garments as we could, and finishing with our pelisses or outside coats, and fur tippets. We wore our bonnets all day long; and my sisters and myself rejoiced in cottage beavers, tied in closely to our faces. My father (always in his great coat) likewise kept on his hat, and the two boys were made to keep on theirs. Several days were really so cold, as well as damp, that after breakfast we all went regularly to bed; remaining there the whole day, except at meal-times. This we found a tolerably good plan, and I liked it very well, as I could then give myself up entirely to reading. One of the amusements of the juvenile part of the family, when our parents were not present (with shame I speak of it), was to peep through the keyhole, with a desire to be enlightened as to the manners and customs of the Portuguese people who occupied the adjoining suite of apartments; a door, always locked, being between their drawing-room and ours. We would not have acted so dishonourably towards persons of our own country, or even to British neighbours; but we regarded the Portuguese as "no rule." We soon ascertained that

    10                                 MEMOIR  OF  C.  R.  LESLIE.                               [CHAP. I.

    sea in six weeks, or two months at the farthest. The expense was 12,000 sterling, with a deduction of 2000 for old materials.
    their general habiliments were old and slovenly, but that whenever a fine day tempted the lady-wife to walk out, she covered her dirty dark calico dress with an elegant blue satin cloak trimmed with ermine; and had a barber to come and dress her hair, and decorate it with embroidered ribbons; bonnets not yet being introduced into Portugal. Keeping no regular servant, she, for these occasions, hired, by the hour, two maids to walk after her. When any of her female friends came to visit our neighbour, they also brought their maids with them; and while the mistresses were conversing on the sofa, the maids sat flat on the floor in front of them, and kept up a whispering talk with each other. Among other items of keyhole knowledge, we discovered that every day, about dinner-time, our neighbours had a table set out in their parlour with clean damask cloth and napkins, pieces of bread, silver forks, spoons, castors, &c.; handsome wine-glasses, and goblets, and all the paraphernalia of a very genteel dinner equipage. The table stood thus during an hour or more; so that if visitors came in, they, might suppose that the family were preparing to sit down in style comme ilfaut. But to this table they never did sit down; for when the time of exhibition had elapsed, all the fine things were taken off and carefully put away for a similar show the next day, and the next. Meanwhile (as we found by reconnoitring through the kitchen keyhole) the Portuguese family all assembled in the place where their food was cooked; seated themselves on the floor round a large earthen pan filled with some sort of stew; and each dipped in a pewter spoon and fed out of that same pan. Our house was supplied with milk in the usual Portuguese fashion; the fashion at least of that time. A dirty ofd man with a red woollen cap on his head, and round his ragged jacket a red woollen sash, to which hung several tin cups of various measures, drove before him a cow, two she-asses, and three or four goats, stopping to milk them at the doors of his customers, who thus had their choice of cow's milk, ass's milk, or goat's milk. The two last milks are considered good for invalids; English people of that unfortunate class being then in the habit of resorting to Lisbon for the improvement of their health. They have grown wiser since the whole European continent has been opened to them. Our milkman, like all other Portuguese, took snuff a loutrance ; always stopping to regale himself with a pinch more than once during the process of milking into the tin mug, and when resuming with his snuffy fingers. A remonstrance from the person who stood at the door to take the milk so offended his Portuguese dignity, that he immediately drove off his beasts in high dudgeon, and there was no milk that day. Next morning, when he was caught with some difficulty as he passed grandly by, it required considerable coaxing and apologising, and many promises of future good behaviour, to prevail on him to stop, and supply milk as usual. The fashion of knee-breeches, cocked hats, and hair tied and powdered, was retained by the Portuguese long after that style became obsolete in all other parts of the world. With their long and ample cloaks, there was no need of wasting money on good clothes to wear underneath; and linen was rarely discerned about their necks, for very good reasons. A large house was building next door to ours. Immediately in front, the street was chiefly occupied

    CHAP. I.]                                 RESIDENCE  AT  LISBON.                                   11

    "While we were at Lisbon we heard from the American consul at Corunna, of the privateer we had been engaged with.
    by a wide deep slough or mud-hole, where the paving-stones had sunk or died away; and the councilmen, or aldermen, or selectmen (if there are any such persons in Lisbon) had taken no account of it. When the weather was uncommonly bad, the carts that brought stone for the building generally stuck fast in this capacious hole. The Lisbon carts were of very primitive structure. They had no close sides; neither had they iron stanchions like those of drays to keep things from falling; there were only a few crooked sticks, stuck in here and there along the edges. Though wood is so scarce in Portugal, there was a great waste of it in the wheels, which had no spokes, but were solid and massy, like grindstones; and the axle-tree revolved with them, groaning, or rather, shrieking dismally all the time. These carts were drawn by a pair of oxen, which it always required two men to urge along. The dress of these carmen began by cocked hats, and powdered hair tastefully queued with blue or pink ribbons; cotton velvet jackets with tarnished, tinsel-looking ornaments; faded breeches open at the knees; and their bare Portuguese legs ended, as usual, in old shoes with large showy buckles. Each driver carried a goad, and when the cart-load of stone got into the slough, while one man goaded the oxen, shouting violently something that sounded like "shah!" the other went to their heads, and endeavoured to frighten the poor beasts out of the mud-hole by making ferocious faces at them, and shaking also in a loud voice, and brandishing his stick threateningly. The workmen came out of the house to assist in this enterprise of extricating the cart; and they always had to do at the end what they should have done at the Beginning, unload it of the slabs of stone; after which, the oxen and the empty cart were generally shahed out of the hole in less than half-an-hour. Among the sights of Lisbon streets, those that have a taste for such things may be treated daily with the gratuitous view of a pig-killing. If a man is driving a pig, and the animal seems to have more than his usual disinclination to "go a-head," the driver, to cut short all further argument, stops in the open street, takes out his knife, and deliberately kills the pig. Then, getting some dry furze from the nearest shop, he makes a fire in the street, singes and scrapes the animal, removes the inside, and carries the carcase home on his shoulder, all ready for selling or cooking. The Portuguese pork is the finest in the world: being fattened on chestnuts and sweet acorns. This food gives a peculiar sweetness and delicacy to the meat, the fat of which is as mild as cream. The beef is far from good; and there is a law against killing calves ; it being thought better they should live and grow up into larger and more profitable animals. Nevertheless, mysterious men came sometimes to our house, and with many and solemn injunctions to secrecy, produced from under their cloaks a piece of veal, for which they asked an enormous price as an indemnification to their consciences for having violated the law. Kids are much eaten in Portugal; but it is not altogether safe to venture on one, unless you are quite sure that it is not a cat. I am still uneasy with a misgiving, that, at a table not our own, I did eat a slice of grimalkin kid; and I can never be quite certain that I did not. I must say, however, that whether of the feline species or not, it looked and tasted well. Among the country people that came into market, were the wine-sellers,

    12                                 MEMOIR  OF  C.  R.  LESLIE.                               [CHAP. I.

    She was called La Bellone, of Bordeaux, a beautiful new ship, mounting twenty-six brass twelves and four thirty-two pound cannonades. She was a very swift sailer, and had, when she left port, 275 men; but when she engaged us her complement was 240, having put the others on board a British prize. We killed thirty-seven and wounded fifty-eight, and when she got to Corunna, she had four and a half feet water in the hold."
    These particulars are confirmed by my father's journal, with the exception of the number of men killed, which he states at thirty. *
    "On the 31st of March," says Mr. Greatrakes, "we left Lisbon, and the same day we carried away our new fore top-mast in a gale, and the next morning though the wind had subsided suddenly, it left such a deep trenching sea that the ship rolled in the most dreadful manner, and about 11 o'clock our new main top-mast was rolled over-board, with a man and a boy on it. The man was killed, but the boy saved himself by catching in the shrouds, though he was severely wounded.

    "On the 3rd April, while all hands were busily employed in clearing the wreck of the two masts, at five, p. m., we saw a sail to windward, appearing like a ship of war. We could not make sail from her, if we would, and our captain now pronounced her a frigate, and declared his intention of fighting her, should she prove to be an enemy. We cleared for action, and at six we could see her hull, but no colours; at half-past six we were ready, and could now discern her hoisting colours, but it was too dark to see what they were. At seven she shot across our bows, within pistol-shot, matches lighted, and every gun with lanthorns, as were ours. At this moment a perfect silence reigned in both ships; not a whisper was to be heard in our own. We were incapable of preventing her from lying on us in any situation she might choose, and her taking this very formidable one of crossing our bows alarmed us much, as she might in passing, being higher than ourselves, have raked us
    each carrying on his back a borachio or goat-skin, distended with new wine, the forelegs being brought round the neck of the man and tied together in front. Such were the wine-skins that Don Quixote attacked with his sword, mistaking them for an army of soldiers. "Recollections of Lisbon" by Miss Leslie.

    * The remainder of my father's journal has unfortunately been lost.

    CHAP. I.]                             ARRIVAL  AT  PHILADELPHIA.                            13

    dreadfully. We now concluded she was an enemy, and respiration seemed almost to cease among us for a few seconds, expecting her fire. She, however, swiftly crossed our bows from starboard to larboard, and wearing round, as if animated by an instinctive spirit, laid herself alongside of us at about twenty yards' distance. In this manoeuvre was fully exhibited the great skill and discipline of British seamen, and all was done in profound silence. She hailed us in English, a language at this moment peculiarly musical to our ears, and she proved to be the Sea Horse, a 38-gun frigate, most gallantly manned and homeward-bound from a cruise. *

    "On the llth May [1800] we arrived at Philadelphia, forty-two days from Lisbon, and seven months and twenty-six days from London."
    My father now found himself obliged to engage in a lawsuit with the executors of his deceased partner, who had greatly mis-managed the business. The lawsuit turned out tedious and expensive, and before it was decided my father, whose health had been long declining, died, after a confinement to his room of one week.

    This was in 1804. I was too young to feel how much we all lost in him. He was a most kind parent, and I cannot now recollect that I ever had an angry word from him, though I can remember many indulgences and gratifications which he afforded to my sisters, my brother, and myself, at an expense of time and trouble, of which we were then little aware. The retrospect convinces me that his chief happiness consisted in making his children happy, as well as his wife, between whom and himself I can remember nothing but entire harmony and affection. The only recollections of my father that are painful, are of his ill-health. I cannot recall to mind a single day in which he seemed quite well; and his disorders must have been greatly aggravated by his pecuniary embarrassments during the last years of his life.

    Among his most intimate friends, I remember the leading physicians

    * It may seem incredible that the captain of our ship should have thought of fighting a frigate, disabled as he was; but he assuredly did so, for I distinctly remember, when we came up from the hold, seeing our sailors all ranged at their guns with lighted matches, and I can, therefore, vouch for the veracity of Greatrakes.

    14                                 MEMOIR  OF  C.  R.  LESLIE.                               [CHAP. I.

    of Philadelphia Doctors Rush, Barton, Whistar, Physick, and Mease. He had also known Franklin, and among his daily associates were Charles Wilson Peale, and Oliver Evans, two men of great ingenuity the first in many ways, the last as an engineer. That a man, without any advantages of education, should have lived constantly in such society, proves that he possessed no ordinary mind. His reading was, probably, not extensive; but I remember that, after Shakespeare, his favourite authors were Addison, Pope, Fielding, Sterne, and Goldsmith. He made a small collection of engravings in England, and "Hogarth's Apprentices " were among the number....

    Note 1: Mr. Leslie's recollection of the immigration ship's name is confirmed by a 1911 genealogical query from E. Haviland Hillman: "...Lawrence [Greatrake] was a passenger on the American ship Washington, sailing from Lisbon in November, 1799. This Lawrence settled in America, and, I believe, owned and operated the first paper mills in that country, on the Brandywine, near Wilmington, Delaware." (Notes and Queries: For Literary Men, General Readers, etc., 11th series vol. 3, Jan., 1911, p.7)

    Note 2: For more information on the long-forgotten military conflicts referenced in the above account, see Gardner W. Allen's 1909 book, Our Naval War with France. On page 67 he notes: "Several other vessels were built, or purchased and converted into vessels of war, under the acts of April 27 and June 30 [1798]. The more important of these were the General Greene, 28 [guns], Adams, 28 [guns], and the Portsmouth, Connecticut, Trumbull, Ganges, and George Washington, of twenty-four guns each. The two last were merchantmen purchased and converted to warlike use." On pp. 234-35 Allen reports the following communication: "A letter from William Smith, United States minister to Portugal, to the Secretary of State, dated Lisbon, November 2, 1799, says: 'Two days ago arrived here in distress the Washington, Capt. Williamson, bound from London to Philadelphia, with thirty-four passengers. She mounts 22 guns, has seventy men, and off Scilly fought two hours a large French privateer of 28 guns and beat her off. She had one killed and two wounded.'"

    Note 3: The Port of Philadelphia passenger disembarkation lists show a "Laurence Greatrich" as one of eight cabin-accomodated passengers, arriving in that city aboard the Washington, from London, on May 19, 1800. The Leslie family is listed among the steerage passangers arriving on the same ship. Greatrake's family members were not with him -- they do not appear in the government records as U.S. citizens until 1813. They probably came on a different ship in 1800, without any record of their arrival in America having survived. They appear to be enumerated in the 1800 census for the "Christiana Hundred" (Wilmington) of New Castle Co., Delaware, under the household head "Laurence Greatrater," with two boys between the ages of 10 and 15, three young men between the ages of 16 and 25, and four men between the ages of 26 and 44. The household then included three girls between the ages of 10 and 15, along with four women between 16 and 44.


    News Items  (from various papers)

  • Am. Watchman:  06-20-1813
        06-27-1813   06-04-1817   07-25-1817
  • Bal. Patriot:  05-14-1819
  • Nat. Messenger:  06-23-1820
  • Bal. Patriot:  04-18-1821   08-23-1821
  • Wil. Gazette:  02-26-1822
  • Bal. Patriot:  08-08-1822   08-12-1822
        08-14-1822   08-19-1822   08-23-1822
  • A. Gen. Adv.:  04-30-1824
  • Am. D. Adv.:  04-05-1832

  • Additional Information



    No. 448.                            Wilmington,  Saturday, June 20, 1813.                            Vol. V.


    Tigris agit rabida cum tigride pacem
    Perpetuam, saevis inter se convenit ursis.
    SIR -- Events sometimes occur in life, which compel a man, in opposition to his inclination, habits, and opinions, to become an egotist. Such, sir, have recently occurred to me; and I feel myself compelled by duty to my family, in justice to myself, in honor to a society which has so kindly countenanced me, to tell a plain, unvarnished tale; to give a true exposition of my principles, and a brief account of the motives which brought me to AMERICA; a country of which I am now a lawful citizen.

    Humble as I am situated in life, humbler still in abilities, and never in the least deserving public notice, yet the events of the past six months have occasioned my being a subject of some conversation, of considerable animadversion, and have made me known to the government of my now adopted country.

    To you, sir, and to all my fellow citizens of the borough of Wilmington I have been known for thirteen years, and much longer have my family and myself been known to many of the most respectable native citizens of America: Thirteen years I have been settled among you, and have received so much friendship and hospitable treatment, have lived so excluded from all political public assemblages, never even being present at an election, devoting my whole time, thoughts and attention to the promotion of useful and valuable manufactories, that I could not possibly imagine I should be considered as a dangerous character, or that I should be particularly selected for banishment from all the other alien manufacturers on Brandywine creek; many of whom had never worn a pair of shoes out, on American soil. -- I, however, was so selected -- and on May 10, I received an order from the Marshal to depart my house for Reading, as did also my son George, a youth of only eighteen and an apprentice. -- We had then work doing for nine banking institutions, and were advised of five more coming on; on me lay the execution and responsibility: a heavy responsibility however honorable to me, it mught be -- all was stopped. -- My partner and myself waited on the marshal to obtain permission for my remaining till the end of the week that we might have time to arrange some means of orogressing, so as not wholly to [stop] the sundry banks; butthis boon we could not obtain, and on May 12, I left my family and my fortunes. The actual loss has been several thousand dollars, to us, and very serious loss and alarm to our employers, some of whom saw me at Reading, and others from the extremes of the South and North have been here; (their sentiments on the subject were unanimous;) and what, sir, must have been the consequences, had all the other alien manufacturers on Brandywine creek been banished? You may form some estimate of the injury it would have been to the borough of Washington only, when I inform you that I have paid in Wilmington 150,000 dollars, and never received for sales made there 3000 dollars.

    Why I was particularly selected for banishment, I know not to this hour, except that I was known both here and in England as a most notorious WHIG, the son and grandson of most distinguished WHIGS: Men who possessed both fortune and abilities to support and defend their principles, who supported the revolutionary cause of AMERICA from its commencement to its termination, and the latter of whom spent 15,000 pounds sterling in the contest: and I, his grandson, shed my blood in the same cause, and have subsequently risked my life cheerfully in the defence of AMERICA'S free and noble flag; which flag may God and freemen continue to to protect and defend!

    But a few minutes preceding my receiving the order of banishment, I had expressed a wish, that I had the timbers of all the British ships then on the coast to kindle our factory fires with; and in which wish my partner, Mr. Thomas Gilpin most heartily joined me. I learned from Washington that one of the charges alledged to criminate me was that of endeavoring to terrify the Messrs. DuPont's workmen from embodying and taking up arms, intimidating them by saying they would be hung up as rebels, were they taken in arms by the British! To Messrs. DuPonts I have never been, sir, these seven years: but two British subjects made the observation to me, that they were extremely embarrassed about bearing arms, for AMERICA could not claim them as subjects, were they taken, and wished me to advise them how to act. I simply told them to do as they judged best; but, as for myself, were my father's sons to invade my home or property, I should feel perfectly justified in rendering myself brotherless; and designed to keep myself and house completely armed, to act when necessity required. These circumstances I related in a store at Wilmington, and which were afterwards promulgated to my injury, by one fool,
    Who lolled his tongue [---] at another
    Shaking his empty [-----] at his brother.
    and were sent to Washington as a heavy charge against me, ommiting to mention that I had also encouraged all the hands at these factories to turn out and assist in building the fort; and which cost the paper mill alone 75 dollors, exclusive of all profits lost for the time.

    I came not, sir, to America from necessity or by compulsion. No, sir, I came from a heartfelt preference I had for its kaws, its government, and its manners; and it is very probable, that with a wife and eight children, and myself verging on sixty years of age, I should be guilty of a dereliction of all my former principles, and turn traitor to America, to proimote the ruin and destruction of my family and of myself, to dishonor and discredit all my friends and connections! No, sir, I could not turn traitor to the French, were I a resident of France, and protected by its laws. And this the government no doubt believed; for on a very moderate representation of the hardships of my case, a letter of exemption was immediately ordered for me, and was on the point of being sent off to the marshal, when a certificate, with but three or four names subjoined, arrived at the office, representing me as a most dangerous character, and one who was likely to xorrespond with the enemy, if suffered to return. This, the certifiers did not believe; they could not believe it. No, I will not degrade their understandings so much as to suppose they could even think it;
    But they who one thing think and another tell,
    My heart detests them as the gates of hell.
    This certificate, however, delayed the just, yet generous intention of granting me a letter of full exemption, and I was only allowed to return, subjected to confinement, to the plantation on which the factories stand. It may be very fairly asked me; "Why were you not naturalized before?" I will again answer, as I have many times before, -- I am, sir, the claimant of property in England to a great amount now under litigation; and I was advised by those whose profession it is to advise right, not to be naturalized till that was determined, (but which it yet is not,) and my father's affairs were settled, who died soon after my coming here. Finding my restriction to be very injurious to the extensive business of the place, and not being able to obtain the least indulgence or relaxation from the marshal, I determined, at the risk of all my claims in our enemies' country, to be naturalized; and I was made a citizen of America, by the Supreme Court at New Castle, on Monday the 8th inst. On my return from thence through Wilmington, where I had not been for six months before, the marshal was kind enough to inform me that, he could have stopped me had he met me; * that he would carefully watch me, &c. &c. and honored me with the appellation of tory, scoundrel, &c. &c. This, sir, and all the details I have given of my family and self, will be fully and substantially proved. Now, fellow citizens, was there any thing in this proceeding unjust, or unlawful? Are there any of you whom I have robbed, swindled or injured? If there be such, I am willing and desirous of making every reparation in my power; and as to those who may imagine themselves injured or offended by me, I am (although an old man) willing to give them any kind of satisfaction, at any time, in any form, place or manner they may choose. I am always to be found. I am, and ever was, sir, a thorough going REPUBLICAN, though I acknowledge I have no taste for abusing men, and cutting their throats, for the mere accidental misfortune of their being born Kings and Princes.

    By becoming in form, what I have been in heart these thirty five years, a citizen of the United States of America, I hope I am not unacquainted with the new duties devolved on me, and the new obligations by which I am bound; and should danger assail us, the only revenge I desire on those, who have so erroneously judged of me, is that they will follow where I will lead. That danger will assail us, real, trying danger, the next spring and summer, I most religiously believe; -- and, fellow citizen, permit an old man, although a young citizen, one not unversed in the world, and the men of the world to put you on your guard. Suffer not the present awfull calm to impress you with a belief that danger is past. Suffer me strongly to urge you to keep up a military spirit, a thorough union in your duty of vanquishing your enemy, and seriously to reflect that, whether we approve or disapprove of the war, that it was yourselves voted it, by a legal, constitutional majority, and we now ought to have no other thoughts, but how best to defend our country, and support our own majority.

    Accuse me not, fellow citizens, of vanity or presumption, for thus obtruding on your attention for a moment, the concerns and affairs of so obscure and humble an individual as myself; but having been the object of much misrepresentation, and much persecution, and feeling how painful those sensations are, which arise from the apprehension of being unfavorably thought of, by those whom we have been accustimed to esteem; I could not remain silent under the accusation from a United States' officer, of being a tory scoundrel; for I do pledge my word and sacred honor, that even in our enemies' country, England, the appellation of tory, omitting the scroundrel, is considered so infamous and so degrading, that whoever uses it must venture his blood and his life, in support of his assertion.

    Confined as I am by business, laboring to retrieve, in part, if I can, the sudden, unexpected crushing ruin which had so nearly overwhelmed my character, and with that, my fortunes; I had no other means of defence left. Almighty God! Am I at last, after all my sacrifices to the principles of liberty, with my head silvered over by age, to be appelated as a scroundrel, as a traitor, to the country of my choice, in which I have experienced an infinity of goodness and encouragement? Nay, to be even called a tory, is a trial to humanity, to which disolution is preferable.

    I have now, my fellow citizens, given a true and faithful account of myself, and which has been proved since my banishment took place; and I hope you will not countenance me less than you formerly did, when I was a stranger and no citizen. I trust you will continue to find me, what I hope you have formerly found me, a mere, plain, downright, honest mechanic, pursuing my occupation, paying all just claims on me on demand, and hating no one, but loving many; and that, when business or inclination may lead me to walk the streets of your beautiful town, I may meet with the same countenance and protection I formerly met with, non obstante the threats of any individual.
    L. GREATRAKE,    
    Brandywine Paper Mills,
        Nov. 15, 1813.

    * I went under a written order from the judge, and had that failed, a Habeas Corpus was ready to bring me to court.

    Note 1: The above address is one of the few extant documents which identifies Lawrence Greatrake, Sr. (c.1756-1817) as having been a former resident of Bristol, England. That was the same seaport from which Lawrence's relative, Osborne Greatrake, operated his maritime mercantile establishment during the mid-1700s. Lawrence was from the English Protestant settlers in Ireland, and evidently was born in or near Cork County. Possibly his father (Roger) or his grandfather (Lawrence) had some association with Osborne's trading company -- and that was the basis the 1813 claim: "for thirteen years, and much longer have my family and myself been known to many of the most respectable native citizens of America." Osborne Greatrake's ship Sampson was sailing between Bristol and the colonial American seaports as early as 1760, and it is possible that young Lawrence made his first journey to America on such a ship, prior to the American Revolutionary War. Lawrence Greatrake and his family immigrated to America "thirteen years" before he wrote his 1813 letter to the newspaper, he arriving (alone) on the ship Washington, at Philadelphia, on May 19, 1800, and recorded under the name "Laurence Greatrich." Whatever his connections with Orborne Greatrake may have been, the young Lawrence also apprenticed in the stationery and papermaking trade (along with John Dickinson, a noted paper-maker) and by the 1790s had become an employee (and likely manager) of the Apsley paper mill in Kings Langley parish, Hertfordshire

    Note 2: See the 1813 New Castle court records for documentation of Lawrence's Irish birthplace (Record Group and series: 1217.35 Naturalizations - Petitions). The remaining male heir from the Cork County family of Greatrakes, still alive "thirteen years" prior to 1813, was Edward Greatrake, the younger brother of Osborne (and whose name was still being mentioned in the Irish newspapers as late as the 1790s, more than a decade after Osborne's demise). With Edward's death, Lawrence Greatrake may have envisioned a legal claim upon the Greatrake fortune and property remaining in Bristol and Ireland. If not, then the death of his own father (Roger) supplied Lawrence with a sizeable legacy of claims upon his late father's assets -- some of which were in Bristol (see the last will and testament of Roger Greatrake, probated Nov. 1804 at London).

    Note 3: The following entry appears on page 344 of Daniel Preston's 2001 compilation, A Comprehensive Catalogue of the Correspondence and Papers of James Monroe: "Madison Caesar Rodney to J[ames] M[onroe] 11 May 1813 recommends that Lawrence Greatrake, a British subject, be allowed to remain in Wilmington, Delaware."

    Note 4: In his Nov. 15, 1813 address, Lawrence Greatrake claims to have "a wife and eight children" living at Brandywine. The last page of the 1810 original, hand-written census tabulation for New Castle County's "Christianna Hundred" township shows Lawrence Greatrake as the head of a household comprised of 16 people: two boys under 10, three young men ages 16-25, two men ages 26-44, and one man over 45 -- the household also had three girls under 10, two girls ages 10-15, one young woman age 16-25, and two women between the ages of 26 and 45. If Lawrence's wife Eliza was born c. 1766, she was likely the eldest of the enumerated females



    No. 450.                            Wilmington,  Saturday, June 27, 1813.                            Vol. V.

    Mr. Wilson. -- I observe in your paper of the 20th inst. an address signed Lawrence Greatrake, evidently intended to prosuce a belief that he has been the innocent victim of unmerited oppression upon the part of the Marshal of this district, in having been sent into the interior, as an alien enemy. A regard to the dictates of truth, which have been egregriously violated in almost every line of this production, induces me to submit a brief explanation of the causes which led to that measure.

    Had Lawrence Greatrake been actuated by worthy motives in becoming a citizen of this free country, he would have been content with the silent enjoyment of the privileges he has thereby obtained. But he could not resist the bent of his nature, to use his own words, he must turn egot, and let the good people of this country know what an amazing acquisition they had obtained in their new fellow citizen. Lawrence's aim is notoriety, and he must thank himself of he should eventually become more notorious than he originally expected or wished.

    L. Greatrake has resided here, as he states, thirteen years, and has not thought proper until since the war, to avail himself of the opportunity of becoming naturalized. The reason assigned by him of a claim pending in England, is a mere pretext -- it is quite as likely that his great estates lay in the moon as in England. -- The true reason undoubtedly is, that he could not bear the idea of abjuring his allegiance to his sovereign lord the king. All Wilmington knows that he ever has been a full blooded Englishman in principle as well as birth -- a more noisy, boasting, vociferous son of John Bull, never left the barren shores of Albion, than Lawrence. He may tell the public, that he came not to America from necessity, but from a preference for her laws and government, and a thousand other fine things, but who that knows him will be imposed upon by such tales? Such an assertion is viewed as an unparalleled piece of effrontery by those, and there are many, who have heard him declaim for hours upon the superiority of British freedom and British excellence of every kind, and who have seen the jealous irritability of his manner when any reflection was cast upon the British character. The writer of this article recollects when the capture of the Guerriere was announced in a company where L. was present, he endeavored to undervalue the victory by asserting that he knew the Guerriere to be a small sloop of war, of 16 guns -- and when the Java was captured this same Lawrence declared it as a fact that one half of the crew of the Constitution were British seamen. A hundred incidents of this kind could be mentioned, all tending to shew his devoted attachment to the corrupt and perfidious government of England.

    When war was declared prudence ought to have dictated the necessity of silence. But silence is a virtue which, with all his egotism, Lawrence, I imagine has never laid claim to. And it is a fact which fifty persons in Wilmington can testify to, that he has indulged himself frequently in most abusive and insolent language towards the government, and upon the subject of the war generally. The intemperance of his conduct, at length attracted the attention of the Marshal, who was himself several times a witness of it, and on one occasion forwarned him that if he did not abstain, he should be obliged to order him to the interior. It was not however till he was made acquainted with the machinations of Lawrence to deter the workmen of the Messrs. Duponts from joining their military association, by threatening them with the vengeance of the British government, that this measure was resorted to. This is a fact too which can be substantiated by satisfactory evidence. The Marshal did not refuse to indulge Lawrence with the time to adjust his business, as he falsely asserts; he gave him his own time for that purpose; in this, as in every other instance, he granted him every indulgence which was consistent with his duty. The permission to return from Reading was entirely an act of indulgence on the part of the Marshal, for the instructions from the government about which Lawrence and his friend Thomas Gilpin have made so much clamor, contained no order to that effect, but left it exclusively to the descretion of the Marshal, to permit his return or not, as he should deem it expedient. The principle condition required of Lawrence, and which he shamefully violated, by stealing privately to New Castle with his friend T. Gilpin, who was a party to the engagement. Scarcely had he been clothed with his newly acquired privileges before he returned to Washington, and with his friend in company, met the Marshal in the street, who accosted them with civility, notwithstanding the provocation their dishonorable conduct had justly given him, to which they replied with all the insolence & impertinence that malice could dictate -- A piece of conduct which proves Greatrake to be as unworthy, as his principles render him unfit to enjoy the privilege of a free born American.

    To prove that he is a thorough going Republican, I suppose, Lawrence tells us, that he had expressed a wish to have all the British ships on the coast to kindle the factory fires with. In which wish his partner Mr. Thomas Gilpin most heartily joined him. Now Sir, without disputing this assertion, I will merely ask this thorough going republican, to remember that these are the same ships which he has at all times declared to be the only bulwork of American liberty against French ambition. The partial introduction which L. here gives of his friend Mr. Thomas Gilpin renders it meet and proper that I should bring that gentleman and his merits more fully to the acquaintance of your readers. Thomas Gilpin is like his friend L. one of your thorough going characters -- I will not say that he has shed as much blood and spent as much money for America as Lawrence and his progenitors have done; I don't know that his vocation lies that way -- but Thomas is a federalist of the true Boston patent stamp -- a man who is notorious in Wilmington for the eloquence of his lavectives against the government of his country; who has been heard in our streets to brand Congress with the appellation of a pack of scoundrels and other approbious epithets, and whose whole conversation upon political matters is of the same malignant and indecent tenor.

    I will not trouble myself to enquire whether Lawrence was as he styles himself, a notorious whig in England; one thing is certain, that he has ever been a most notorious braggadocia here, and he is acting perfectly in this notorious character when he speaks of the 15,000 pounds ex[ended by his grandfather and of the blood he has shed for the American cause. I would recommend to Lawrence a perusal of the works of that celebrated traveller Baron Munchausen; the marvellous performances of that never to be sufficiently [rendered] hero may be of remarkable service to him in his future publications under this head. Probably the world never produced a more thorough going character than Baron Munchausen, not excepting Lawrence's two countrymen Captain Bobudil and honest Jack Falstaff.

    An Englishman, Mr. Editor will always be an Englishman. You may as well attempt to make a negro white, by washing him in Lawrence's mill dam, as to convert a thorough going John Bull into an American, by the mere process of naturalization. It is, I presume upon this stubborn immutability they build their position, that an Englishman in China or in France is strictly bound by his allegiance as if he were in London. An Englishman whether in China, France or America bears with him the peculiar characteristics of his nation. He is in all countries a loud talker, a hard eater and a most egregious boaster; prodigal in professions but a niggard in performance. Believe him, & there is no danger however appalling that he will not face -- try him, bring him to the test, and the emptiness of his pretension is manifest. The character of this nation of gluttons and bullies is so well understood here, that Lawrence's hints about the satisfaction he tenders to those he has offended will be as little attended to as his tale of the 15,000 pounds and the blood he has shed for America, will be credited. Lawrence is now a naturalized citizen, and if he will take the advice of one who in this instance is willing to act the part of a friend, I would admonish him to enjoy his privilrges in silence, to shun the path of notoriety, which he appears to have marked out for himself and which can only eventuate in mortification and chagrin to his own feelings.
    AN AMERICAN.    

    Notes: (forthcoming)



    Vol. IX.                            Wilmington, Del.,  Wednesday, June 4, 1817.                            No. 707.
    DIED, at Brandywine Paper Mill, near Wilmington, on the 14th inst. of a short but severe illness, occasioned by an attack of the Gout in the Stomach -- LAWRENCE GREATRAKE. a native of Bristol, England; residence in this country seventeen years. He has left a wife and eight children to mourn his loss. --

    His remains were interred in the burial ground of the Episcopal Church, attended by his friends and neighbors generally. --

    Among the good qualities of the deceased, the rememberance of which will long be cherished by his acquaintance, he was distinguished by his liberality, and integrity, and correctness as a man of business, and his suavity in social intercourse.

    Note 1: The following appears in an alphabetical list on page 46 of Raymond B. Clark's The Maryland and Delaware Genealogist: "Greatrake, Lawrence b. 1761; d. 1817; buried Old Swedes." The original Swedish church in Wilmington, Delaware had become an Episcopalian congregation, well before Lawrence's 1817 burial there. The church, by that time, was known as Holy Trinity Church.

    Note 2: Lawrence left behind a "last will and testament," in New Castle Co., Delaware (as did his wife Eliza, who died in 1838).



    NS. Vol. I.                            Wilmington, Del.,  Wednesday, July 25, 1817.                            No. 2.
    ALL PERSONS having any demands upon the estate of Lawrence Greatrake, of the Brandywine Paper Mill, lately deceased, are requested to produce their accounts for settlement, and those indebted to the same, are respectfully requested to make payment to George Greatrake, who is authorized to receive it. THOMAS GILPIN, Ex.

    Brandywine Paper Mill, June 26, 1817.

    Note: It is perhaps significant that the eldest son (Lawrence Greatrake, Jr.) is not mentioned in this notice. Lawrence, Jr. had, by this time, distanced himself from his Episcopalian parents, by converting to the Baptist faith, moving away to Baltimore, and going to work for a competing firm (the Franklin Paper Mill).



    Vol. XIII.                            Baltimore, Md.,  Friday, May 14, 1819.                            No. 113.


    The partnership heretofore existing under the firm of GREATRAKE & PALMER, was, by mutual consent, dissolved on the 1st day of April last. All persons having claims against the said firm, are requested to present them to LAWRENCE GREATRAKE for settlement, who is duly obligated so to do, and fully authorised to exact and receive all debts due to said concern. LAWRENCE GREATRAKE,
    A. R. PALMER.


    Continues to keep at the late Warehouse of
    G & P.
    A very Extensive Assortment of
    PAPER -- viz.

    DRAWING, MAP, PLATE, HEAVY WRITING, COMMON WRITING, * PRINTING & WRAPPING of the various sizes and qualities.

    * Amongst this class of Papers, are some No. 1 Vellum, and Laid Cap, of a quality equal to any British, tho' 50 per cent less in price.

    ==> Highest Price given for RAGS.

    Note: The retail stationery partnership of Greatrake and Palmer was evidently formed in late 1817 or early 1818. The firm was mentioned in the regional newspapers as early as May, 1818. Quite likely Lawrence Greatrake, Jr. obtained his half of the start-up and operational investment from his share of his late father's estate (see the last will and testament of Lawrence Greatrake, Sr., probated in 1817).


    National  [   ]  Messenger.

    Vol. II.                            Georgetown, D.C.,  Friday, June 23, 1820.                            No. 2215.

    Laurence  Greatrake,


    No. 170 1/2 Market Street, Baltimore.

    An extensive and very superior assortment of
    PAPER -- Viz.

    Columbine, Imperial, Super Royal, Royal, Medium, Post, Demi and Cap.


    Imperial, Super Royal, Royal, Medium, and Demi -- equal to the first class of British paper.


    Including 1st and 2d quality Folio and 4th Post, plain and blossom colored -- No. 1 vellum and laid, thick and thin Cap -- No. 2, 3 and 4 Cap.


    Of the former, Atlas and Medium -- of the latter Super Royal, which is an admirable, if not an equal substitute for parchment or for deeds, and other records, and costs but 1/16th of the latter.


    Of various qualities, and of the Imperial, Super Royal, Medium and Demi sizes.


    Bank Super Royal, Royal, and Bank-note -- Binders and Bonnett Boards, of the first quality, together with Stainer's, Coloured Medium, Iron Monger's, Cutler's, Tissue, Tea, and Wrapping Paper.

    All or any of which will be sold at very moderate prices for Cash or short credit, or in barter for Rags, Rope and Paper Shavings of a clean description.

    Note: Lawrence Greatrake also ran similiar ads in other newspapers of his region of the country at about this same time -- for example, the Washington, D. C. Daily National Intelligencer published essentially the same Greatrake advertisement, during late May and early June of 1820 -- the National Messenger ran his advertisements through September of that yeat.



    Vol. XVII.                          Baltimore, Md.,  Wednesday, April 18, 1821.                          No. 2552.


    Has removed his PAPER WAREHOUSE to No. 15 South Calvert-Street, more particularly with the view of realizing a larger share of the Eastern & Western Shore rags; for which, and all others, he will allow the most liberal prices, either in cash or trade.

    ON  HAND,

    His usual extensive assortment of Super-fine Paper, -- together with common Foolscap, Folio and Quatro Post, Imperial, Super Royal, Royal, Medium and Demi, Printing; Super Royal, Ironmongers, Double Crown Cotton, Cartridge, Red Blotting, Blur Medium and Cap; Bandbox and Binding Boards, Sheathing and Wrapping Paper, -- and which (to redeem his pledge,) he will dispose of for cash, at a short credit, or in barter for rags, at as low a rate as can be bought for elsewhere.

    A variety of PRINTING INK,
    approved by all who have used it, and perhaps not surpassed, if equalled by any thing of the sort manufactured in the country.

    Note: Mr. Greatrake's addition of printing ink to his stock of goods for sale, may indicate an experimental entry into the publishing industry on his part. In Greatrake's first 1824 pamphlet, he mentions having supervised the publication of a book at about this time in his career. To Alexander Campbell, he says: "I may observe, that about the same time you published your first Debate on Baptism [i.e. 1820-22], I was interested in the publication of a book, altogether superior in materials to yours, of 360 pages"



    Vol. XVIII.                            Baltimore, Md.,  Thursday, Aug. 23, 1821.                            No. 44.


    On the evening of the 20th inst. between the Franklin Paper Mills and Baltimore, (vis Liberty Road,) a Red Morocco Pocket Book. The only article it contained worth this public notice, was a note of hand, dated 18th March, 1821, at six months -- drawn by John Cole, to the order of Francis M. Wills, for the sum of three hundred and thirty-eight dollars and _____ cents. Whoever may have found, or may find, said pocket book and note, shall receive a reward of $5, upon returning them to the subscriber, or $1 for the pocket book itself -- means have been taken to prevent payment of the note to any other person than myself.
                No. 15 South Calvert street.

    Note: Mr. Greatrake's precise relationship with the Franklin Paper Mills near Baltimore remains obscure. He evidently was never the owner (nor major share-holder) in the enterprise, but he appears to have been the manager of its Baltimore sales office, and (perhaps later) the tenant-operator of the mills. The 1820 federal census report for Baltimore lists Greatrake as the head of a household in the residential section of the city, as well as the "agent" for Franklin Mills, at an urban location, where several men (evidently employees) also resided. An 1823 trades and mercantile reference volume, J. C. Kayser's Commercial Directory, provides the following information: "Franklin Mills, situated on Gwin's falls, 4 miles south of Baltimore, on which [site] a large wollen mill, and paper mill are erected; the former founded in 1813, and the latter in 1802 -- The paper mill is also in full operation, and is rented to Law[rence] Greatrake, c. of Calvert St. and Lovely lane."



    Vol. ?                                  Wilmington, Del.,  February 26, 1822.                                  No. ?
    There has been much damage done in the neighborhood of this place by the freshet. The chain bridge at Brandywine was carried away, and with it the corner of a flour mill. The water was from twelve to eighteen inches deep on the lower floors of the other mills, and some injury was sustained in consequence of the wetting of grain and flour. The dams are all swept away. Several persons were standing on the bridge at the time it gave way and were carried down the current; two men are missing. The machinery in the cotton mills has been injured by being wet. The sulphur mill of Mr. Du Pont was carried away. A stone building belonging to Messrs. J. &. T. Gilpin's paper establishment, and used for the purpose of preparing rags, and one thousand dollars worth of paper, entirely finished, accompanied them. Several small buildings were destroyed, and some other injury done to other parts of their establishment -- their loss is estimated at fifty thousand dollars. The water is stated to be two feet higher than it was ever known before in the Brandywine. The whole loss by the flood is estimated at one hundred thousand dollars.

    Note 1: The American Watchman ran a similar report on the same day, saying: "At the manufactories no lives were lost, but many workmen were severely injured in attempting to save property." Another account out of Wilmington added: "The mildness of the weather for a few days past has produced a great thaw, which combined with a heavy rain, has raised the streams in this vicinity to an uncommon height. The Brandywine is said to be higher than has been known for 27 years... The extent of damage is beyond conjecture. It is rumoured that every bridge on the Brandywine within 20 miles of this place has been swept away."

    Note 2: On page 39 of her Reminiscences of Wilmington. Elizabeth Montgomery offers this unique recollection: "Mr. G[eorge] Greatrake, by personal exertion in the freshet of '22, impaired his constitution, and became the victim of a disease of the lungs, and in a few years died at the south, whither he went to recruit his health. From his knowledge of the business, and popularity with the workmen, his death was a great loss to the establishment." See also Hancock and Wilkinson's 1957 article, in which they say: "By 1820 the Gilpin mills were producing $40,000 worth of handmade paper annually, had forty-four employees, and were paying $10,000 in wages. A severe flood in 1822 damaged the mills, and a fire in 1825 completely destroyed the building in which the handmade paper was manufactured. Since the Gilpins had now turned their attention almost exclusively to machine-made paper, they did not resume the manufacture of the handmade product."



    Vol. XX.                            Baltimore, Md.,  Thursday, Aug. 8, 1822.                            No. 30.


    By virtue of a writ of fieri facias issued out of Baltimore county court, to me directed, will be exposed to public sale, on Saturday, the tenth day of August next, at Eleven o'clock, A.M. at the Court house for cash viz:

    18 reams super royal Writing Paper, -- 50 reams do -- 4 bundles of copying do -- 8 reams of blotting do -- 3 reams of bank note paper -- late the property of Lawrence Greatrake, seized and taken at the suit of John and Nelson Clarke.
    S. C. LEAKIN, Sh'ff.      
    July 31th, 1822.

    Notes: (forthcoming)



    Vol. XX.                            Baltimore, Md.,  Monday, Aug. 12, 1822.                            No. 33.


    By virtue of a writ of fieri facias issued out of Baltimore county court, to me directed, will be exposed to public sale, on Saturday, the tenth day of August next, at Eleven o'clock, A.M. at the Court house for cash viz:

    18 reams super royal Writing Paper, -- 50 reams do -- 4 bundles of copying do -- 8 reams of blotting do -- 3 reams of bank note paper -- late the property of Lawrence Greatrake, seized and taken at the suit of John and Nelson Clarke.
    S. C. LEAKIN, Sh'ff.      
    July 31th, 1822.

    Editor of the Patriot,
      SIR -- I beg leave to notice, through your paper and that of the Federal Gazette, in relation of the recent attachment of my property by the Sheriff, as follows:

    1st, That John & N. Clarke never had a claim against me for a cent, only as collectors of a note of Cone & Freeman's, and which I had unfortunately endorsed gratuitously.

    2d, That I had every reason to believe that judgment would not be entered upon said note before the fall term -- independent of which, I had the assurance of the makers of the note, that when the same was recoverable by legal process, that it should be paid promptly.

    3d, That under these circumstances, and while absent from Baltimore, and without a moment's previous notice to my agent, my goods were seized and taken away; and this too, when the makers of said note had property in Baltimore to the amount of judgment obtained, "twenty times told," all of which it is confidently believed was well known to all those interested in the recovery of said judgment.

    4th, Whenever there may be suspicion of my ability to meet the few claims existing against me, from the above, occurrence, that the subjects thereof are invited to call and settle accounts, which shall be done in a manner at least creditable to myself.

    Lastly, I am warrented in asserting that the real holders of said note of Cone & Freedman's never contemplated bringing a suit against me -- but that his orders to his agents (John & N. Clarke,) were to proceed against Cone & Freedman -- the reason for all which was, that he had information from the persons from whom he received said note, that I was not to be considered eventually responsible! -- that in case Cone & Freedman did not pay said note, that they would -- and they were gentlemen.

    Notes: (forthcoming)



    Vol. XX.                            Baltimore, Md.,  Wednesday, Aug. 14, 1822.                            No. 35.


    As the manner in which the subscriber's name has been introduced into the advertisement of Mr. Lawrence Greatrake, is calculated to produce an erroneous impression, he deems it proper to state, that at the time of his leaving the city, three years ago, Mr. Greatrake, for payments received, assumed the payment of one half the note referred yo, and of course, all responsibility whatever, so far as the subscriber was interested. -- It has, therefore, excited some surprise, that a statement of the original transaction should have been given to the public, in which such subsequent arrangement has not even been alluded to.   JOS. CONE.

    Notes: (forthcoming)



    Vol. XX.                            Baltimore, Md.,  Monday, Aug. 19, 1822.                            No. 39.


    SIR -- I perceive this morning, for the first time (having been in the country for some days past) Mr. Cone's paragraph in your paper and that of the Gazette stating "that for the value received, I had assumed the payment of his part of the note on which my goods were recently attached" -- through the same medium, I beg permission to state -- that this is decidedly a mistake, to say the least of it, on the part of Mr. C. -- and to give the most unquestionable evidence for the truth of what I assert -- I engage to convince even himself to the contrary of what he has affirmed -- more than this, I shall not say through the medium of a newspaper, upon the subject.

    When I sent you my statement of the ground upon which my property had been attached, I candidly acknowledged that I did not feel altogether free from some suspicions, that Mr. Freeman had in this instance been inexcusably negligent; with equal candour, and every imaginable satisfaction, I feel myself authorsied to say, that these impressions against Mr. F. were unjust -- that his arrangements in relation to the payment of the note had been most ample, and in perfect agreement with his well known integrity.

    Notes: (forthcoming)



    Vol. XX.                            Baltimore, Md.,  Friday, Aug. 23, 1822.                            No. 43.


    SIR -- However averse I may be to a controversy of any nature, especially when conducted through the medium of the public press, a regard for truth, and a desire to preserve an honorable standing in society, compel me to notice the continued misrepresentations of Mr. Lawrence Greatrake

    The unwarrantable use which that gentleman originally made of my name, in order to exhonerate himself from censure, and quiet any suspicion as to his solvency has not been sufficient it would seem, either to heal his wounded feelings, or prevent his making a more deliberate and wanton attack upon my reputation.

    The statement made in a former communication, and which I here repeat, that Mr. Greatrake for value received three years ago, assumed payment of the note srawn by Cone & Freeman, so far as I was interested in it, he has thought proper to contradict, and by way of affording "unquestionable evidence" for the truth of his assertion, "engages to convince even me," of having published an untruth. This undertaking, I forsee, will be an arduous one, for, of many facts which will be likely to break the thread of his discourse. The following one may be selected, which can be proved by a respectable witness, viz: That Mr. Greatrake himself, within the last three weeks, acknowledged to me, the transaction which took place between us, the principle feature of which was, his assumption of payment, as before stated, and myconsequent release from responsibility.

    With respect to Mr. Freeman's integrity, it was altogether unnecessary for Mr. G. to express his favorable sentiments, except as an atonement for the groundless "suspicions," which he had thought proper to entertain respecting it. But the introduction of the subject, answered the further design, of basely insinuating that I had acted from a different principle; and it would create no surprise to learn, that a bundle of "unquestionable evidence" had been prepared, to "convince even me," of having, throughout the affair, indulged in all the wickedness of malice prepense.

    Should Mt. Greatrake adhere to his resolution of continuing in retirement, he is invited to refer the subject to a private tribunal, from whose decision, I shall make no appeal. But if a different course is pursued, he may receive the assurance that while capable of appreciating the value of a good name, I can never suffer it to be trampled upon with impunity.
    JOS. CONE.    

    Note: The above notice marks the final mention of Lawrence Greatrake in the pages of the Baltimore newspapers, except for occasional listings of unclaimed letters waiting for him at the post office. Mr. Cone makes a passing reference to a "suspicion as to his [Greatrake's] solvency," and it may have been that Lawrence Greatrake quietly closed out his paper business between this time and March of the following year (when his letters were still going unclaimed). A final set of unclaimed Lawrence Greatrake letter notices appeared in the Baltimore Patriot during January, April and December of 1828 -- probably an indication that he had informed correspondents that they could contact him in Baltimore around those times.


    Vol. ?                                 Philadelphia, Fri., April 30, 1824.                                 No. 11,950.


    WEREAS the President and Directors of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company, in conformity with the powers in them vested, have heretofore made and signed orders for the payment at certain times and in certain proportions of the monies payable by the proprietots of stock... Now therefore notice is hereby given, that said President and Directors will on the first day of June 1824, at 7 o'clock in the evening, at the Merchants Coffee House in the city of Philadelphia, sell at auction and convey to the purchasers the sahre of the said proprietors so refusing or negelecting payment... H. D. Gilpin, Sec'ry.   James C. Fisher, President....

    ... Original subscribers... [Mt.] Gilpen.
    ... Where subscribed... Pennsylvania
    ... Present Proprietors... George Greatrake...

    Note 1: George Greatrake's older brother Lawrence, Jr., was ordained an elder, to replace Sidney Rigdon in the pastorate of the First Baptist Church of Pittsburgh on June 13, 1824. Presumably Lawrence Greatrake, Jr. came to Pittsburgh directly from Baltimore, where he had obtained a letter of dismissal from the Second Baptist church of that city in the spring of 1824. In the early 1800s Lawrence Greatrake, Sr. (along with the his sons George, Henry and Lawrence, Jr.), was an employee in Joshua Gilpin’s paper-making enterprise, which had its main mill near Wilmington, Delaware -- whereLawrence, Sr. was the manager. Beginning in about 1818, Lawrence, Jr. became connected with the Franklin Paper Mill in Baltimore. George evidently succeeded his father as manager of the paper mill near Wilmington, but in about 1823-24 he moved to St. Mary's, Georgia, where he died in 1832.

    Note 2: George Greatrake's 1824 failure to pay for goods shipped in the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal was perhaps a consequence of his declining health, following a serious injury suffered at the Gilpin paper mill in 1822. It seems likely that the goods he abandoned were either paper products or paper mill equipment. The reference to Pennsylvania in the auction notice may indicate that they were destined for some location in that state.


    Poulson's American [ - ] Daily Advertiser.
    Vol. ?                              Philadelphia, Penn.,  Thursday, April 5, 1832.                             No. ?


    DIED, on the 9th day of March, 1832, at. St. Mary's, Georgia, of a pulmonary affection, George Greatrake, of the Brandywine Paper Mills, in the 38th year of his age. In the impressive remembrance of the conduct and merit of the deceased, a tribute seems to be alike due to the feelings of the living, and the character of the dead. In the several relations of the filial and social duties, he was led to support an even tenor of conduct, and to perform the part alloted him with affection, perseverance, and fidelity.

    Under a full sense of his accountability for the actions of this life, to which he constantly referred, he endeavored to discharge the tender and kind obligations of an affectionate son, a brother, and a friend.

    In his last moments, distant from his home, and the tender offices of those connected to him by the most endearing ties, he evinced that he     "Could, sustained and soothed
    By an unfaltering trust, approach the grave
    Like one -- who wraps the mantle of his couch
    About him -- and lies down in peaceful rest."

    Note: George was the younger brother of Elder Lawrence Greatrake, Jr., who replaced Sidney Rigdon as the pastor of the Pittsburgh First Baptist Church in the summer of 1824. George suffered serious injury in 1822, during a flood which destroyed part of the Gilpin paper mill. He developed a lung ailment and left Delaware to seek treatment in the South. Newspaper notices indicate that he left unclaimed business goods (perhaps a consignment of paper or paper-making equipment) in Pennsylvania in 1824. George Greatrake's residence at St. Mary's, as well as his deteriorating illness, his burial at Oak Grove Cemetery, etc., was noticed by Adiel Sherwood, in his 1837 A Gazetteer of the State of Georgia, p. 228.


    H. B. Hancock and
    N. B. Wilkinson
    "The Gilpins... Machine"

    PMHB Vol. LXXXI No. 4

    (Philadelphia: P.H.S., Oct., 1957)

  • pp. 391-392   pp. 396-404

  • © 1957 Penn. Historical Society
    All rights reserved. Fair use excerpts
    only, reproduced here.

  • Transcriber's Comments


    [ 391 ]

    The Gilpins and
    Their Endless Papermaking Machine

    by  H. B. HANCOCK  and  N. B. WILKINSON

    A business new to Delaware was established on Brandywine Creek in 1787 when Joshua Gilpin founded the state’s first paper mill. His brother Thomas later joined the firm, and for the next half century the Brandywine Paper Mills were noted for their high-quality products. In 1817 America’s first endless paper machine, an invention of Thomas Gilpin’s based upon English models, went into operation in these mills. Revolutionizing the industry, this invention forced other paper manufacturers to mechanize their plants; by 1860 handmade paper had become a luxury.

    Joshua and Thomas Gilpin are not the heroes of a rags-to-riches story. Their father, Thomas Gilpin, was a prosperous Quaker merchant in Philadelphia. Through inheritance and industry he acquired flour mills on the Sassafras River in Maryland and on the Brandywine, as well as properties in Wilmington and in Philadelphia. He was married to Lydia Fisher of the well-known Philadelphia Quaker family, and was active in the American Philosophical Society, exchanged letters on scientific subjects with Benjamin Franklin, advocated the construction of a canal from the Delaware River to Chesapeake Bay, and helped establish the Wilmington Grammar School. During the American Revolution, he was suspected of disloyal tendencies and was exiled to Winchester, Virginia, where he died in 1778. [1]

    His son Joshua, born in 1765, was educated by tutors and in the Wilmington Grammar School. Joshua attempted to emulate the eighteenth-century concept of a gentleman, and the journal of his “grand tour’’ of Europe from 1795 to 1801 reveals that he was an

    1 Thomas Gilpin, “Memoirs of the Gilpin Family in England and America,” 11, 41-69, Gilpin Collection, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP), Vol. 64; Joshua Gilpin, “Genealogical Memoranda of the Gilpin Family,” 1-19, Gilpin Collection, Vol. 66; Thomas Gilpin, “Memoir of Thomas Gilpin,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of Biography and History (PMHB), XLIX (19ZS), 289-328; Henry Simpson, Lives of Eminent Philadelphians Now Deceased (Philadelphia, 1859), 389-400.

    392                   by  H. B. HANCOCK  and  N. B. WILKINSON                  October

    acute observer of antiquities, museums, and society. At great length he described and drew sketches of industrial processes in paper, iron, and pottery factories. During his travels he associated with such persons as Benjamin West, Robkrt Fulton, Joel Barlow, Lord Stanhope, Matthew Boulton, and William Gilpin of Bouldre, a distant relative and literary figure. In 1801 he married Mary Dilworth, the daughter of a Lancaster banker, from whom he acquired “a handsome fortune” and by whom he was to have eight children. [2] Gilpin and his family spent the years 1811-1815 in Europe, and three of his sons were later educated in English schools. Upon returning to America, he built an elaborate residence on the Brandywine called “Kentmere” after the English estate of his forefathers, and it was there that he subsequently passed most of his life.

    A man of literary bent, Joshua Gilpin published "Verses Written at the Fountain of Vaucluse" (1799) "Memoir of a Canal from the Chesapeake to the Delaware" (1823), and "Farm of Virgil and Other Poems" (1839). His “Journal of Western Travels” appeared in the pages of "The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography." [3] Among his unpublished works are a fragmentary history of Delaware, a volume upon the English woolen industry, and a journal of travel in New England and the eastern states. A plump little gentleman, with a round face, owlish eyes, and receding hair, Joshua was, like his father, a member of the American Philosophical Society. [4]

    Thomas Gilpin, who was born in 1776, never married. At the early age of nineteen, when Joshua went to Europe, Thomas was left in charge of the paper mill. In 1848 he published "Exiles in Virginia," in which he described the sufferings of Philadelphia Quakers, including his father, during the American Revolution, and compiled genealogical studies of the Gilpin and Fisher families. He too was a member of the American Philosophical Society and contributed papers to its proceedings. Possessed of decided mechanical genius and talents, he

    2 Seven of his children survived him, several of whom became prominent. The nomination of Henry Dilworth Gilpin as governor of Michigan Territory was twice rejected by the United States Senate, but subsequently he was approved as Attorney-General of the United States in 1840. William Gilpin was appointed governor of the Territory of Colorado in 1861 and wrote several books about the West.

    3 "PMHB," L, LI, LII (1926-1928).

    4 Joshua Gilpin, “Genealogical Memoranda of the Gilpin Family,” 20-23; Simpson, 400-409.

    (pages 393-395 not transcribed, due to copyright restrictions)

    396                   by  H. B. HANCOCK  and  N. B. WILKINSON                  October

    ... By 1820 the Gilpin mills were producing $40,000 worth of handmade paper annually, had forty-four employees, and were paying $10,000 in wages. A severe flood in 1822 damaged the mills, and a fire in 1825 completely destroyed the building in which the handmade paper was manufactured. Since the Gilpins had now turned their attention almost exclusively to machine-made paper, they did not resume the manufacture of the handmade product. [13]

    The Gilpins were familiar with developments in the mechanization of the paper industry in Europe. During his tours of Europe between 1795 and 1801 and between 1811 and 1815, Joshua Gilpin had become acquainted with Bryan Donkin, John Hall, John Dickinson, Henry Fourdrinier, and John Whatman, all of whom were associated with the development of the endless paper machine. In 1798 Louis Robert of France had invented a machine in which paper was formed upon an endless belt of woven wire, which passed continuously through a vat of pulp. This machine was perfected by Bryan Donkin and John Hall in England and placed in use there in 1804 in the factory of Henry and Sealy Fourdrinier. The Fourdrinier machine, as it ‘was called, was not imported into the United States until 1827. Independently, John Dickinson of England had invented a cylinder machine for manufacturing paper, which he patented in 1809. By this method, paper was formed upon the wire-covered surface of a cylinder which revolved in a vat of pulp. Thomas Gilpin’s invention of 1816 closely resembled the Dickinson machine. 14

    The resemblance was no coincidence. In the Gilpin Papers in The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is a manuscript volume entitled “Paper Making Machinery - 1816. Property of Richard Gilpin.” Although the name of Joshua’s son is on the cover, most of the letters and memoranda in it were written by Joshua and Thomas Gilpin and by Lawrence Greatrake, manager of the Gilpin mills. The volume is important to students of papermaking because it reveals clearly that

    13 Thomas Gilpin, “Fairmount Dam and Waterworks," PMHB, XXXVII (1913), 473; “Gilpin Mills" in “Raw Returns," 1820 Census (Photostat at Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation, Wilmington, Del.).

    14 R. H. Capperton, “The Invention and Development of the Endless Wire, or Fourdrinier Paper Machine,” Paper Maker, XXXIII (1954), 1-11.

    1957                       THE  GILPIN  PAPERMAKING  MACHINE                      397

    the Gilpins in 1815 and 1816 were endeavoring by every means in their power to obtain models, drawings, and patent specifications of the Fourdrinier and Dickinson machines. Lawrence Greatrake was in England in 1815 and 1816, where, at the behest of his employers, he was paying special attention to papermaking. When Thomas Gilpin developed his invention, he was in possession of a detailed drawing of at least one machine and had probably received patent specifications for both English models which he had discussed with his brother and Greatrake. [15]

    Upon Joshua Gilpin’s depirture from Liverpool for America on September 6, 1815, he wrote a note to an English papermaker, probably Fourdrinier, in which he regretted the existence of ill-feeling which seemingly had originated over his failure to acknowledge the gift of some sample paper. He also expressed a fear that a more serious reason for disagreement existed:
    Another ground of jealousy may exist in your ideas that I wish to make myself master of your new machine and take it to America -- I assure you Sir that except what I have seen of your own and Mr. Dickinsons works, I have not been in a single paper mill in England, nor taken any measures whatever to obtain any further knowledge of the machine, workmen, or materials.

    Joshua Gilpin could not see that any particular injury would come to English trade if the machine were to be exported to the United States, since he considered the United States to be largely self-sufficient in papermaking. Actually, the inventor might “materially” benefit if the patent were set up. [16]

    By September 17, ten days after Joshua’s departure, Lawrence Greatrake had gathered enough important information to forward to his employers by separate routes two substantially similar letters. In these letters he described the events of a three-day visit with John Dickinson, the inventor of the cylinder machine. Greatrake had once been a fellow apprentice with Dickinson in the firm of Richardson and Harrison, stationers to the East India Company, and held him in high esteem. In one letter Greatrake described Dickinson as “the genius, the Gentleman, & the liberal mind,” and in the other, as “a Young Man of science, very Gentlemanly in his manners, & like

    15 “Paper Making Machinery -- 1816,” Gilpin Collection, HSP.

    16 Joshua Gilpin to [ -- ], Sept. 6, 1815, ibid.

    398                   by  H. B. HANCOCK  and  N. B. WILKINSON                  October

    yourself [Thomas Gilpin] of great Mechani[ca]l talents.” Greatrake was shown the Fourdrinier machine at Apsley Mill and Dickinson’s own model at Nash Mill.
    The most favourable Opinions I had ever entertained of these machines are infinitely exceeded by their operation, & whoever first gets one to work in Amer[ic]a conjoined with bleaching will open a sure road to the fortunes of all concerned, & the Object I conceive to be infinitely more worth attention, than either woolen or even cotton under the existing state of things, & it is this impression induces me to write as early as possible to you, as you may govern your expenditures, alterations, &c at Brandywine as you may then judge best.
    At length Greatrake described Dickinson’s machine, whose principles were the same as those later used by Thomas Gilpin [17]:
    The machine of his own invention works by a cylinder covered with a 60 inch wove wire through a box of thin stuff which adheres for about a diameter or a third of its circumference to [the] wire & then gives it to a cylinder covered with an endless felt, which passes it off to 2 rolers covered with felt & afterwards between two brass rolers from whence it is wound off on a wooden roler ready for cutters; the adhesion of the Stuff to [the] first wire roler is caused by exhausting or as they call them suction pipes. these pipes are under ground, & the air is pumped up by a beautiful little air pump as I judge 30 ft distance from [the] stuff box or little vat.

    The difficult part of Greatrake’s task was to secure a drawing or model of a Fourdrinier or a Dickinson machine. He had approached John Hall and Bryan Donkin with only limited success. “I cannot buy one, that is plain,” he wrote. “Mr. Dickinson has shewn & explained all I chose to ask, & whether he thinks He has now acquitted himself of all friendly attentions I cannot yet judge. Hall refused proceeding with [the] first machine of Fourdriniers, judging it was impossible to answer. Donkin took it up and completed it, and he could give me a drawing.”

    Fourdrinier, whom Greatrake described as “an ignorant, swearing low man, & not much esteemed here,” had said that one of his machines would never be sent out of England, but believed that an imitator might successfully set one up from a drawing. As a matter of fact, one of Fourdrinier’s machines had been taken to Russia by his son, and several were about to be exported to

    17 Greatrake to Joshia Gilpin, Sept. 17; 1815 (two letters), ibid.

    1957                       THE  GILPIN  PAPERMAKING  MACHINE                      399

    the Netherlands. Fourdrinier’s men watched Greatrake closely at all times. Obviously, his best chance of success lay with Dickinson. [18]

    Greatrake submitted another report to the Gilpin brothers on November 8, 1815. He had finally secured from Hall a drawing of the Fourdrinier machine, and Dickinson was willing to have Greatrake make a drawing of his invention, but believed that because of concealed parts no one in America could duplicate it. Be it a Fourdrinier or Dickinson model, Greatrake hoped that some type of papermaking machine would soon be operating in the Gilpin mills. “It truly is a proper Object for America,” he observed, “as it makes [the] sheets so beautifully equal in thickness, so extremely smooth, & a small one would work all the stuff four Engines could give at Brandye. driving day [and] night, & make as much paper as 10 or 12 vats at the present rate of mens wages for one vat.” [19]

    The Gilpins apparently felt that Greatrake was not making sufficient progress, for in December, 1815, Thomas Gilpin requested the aid of an English friend: know that my brother, and self, are concerned here in the paper manufacture, and it has been so admirably improved by him, in my business as to constitute an excellent concern, certainly the best in the United States -- there are however some improvements in England, which it is exceedingly important for us to possess, as my brother has begun works which must be suspended till we have them; and when I assure you that the possession of them, if they do not actually make a fortune for my family bid fair to increase it, I am sure you will serve them and me in the business.

    He thought that the Dickinson patents might be obtained from a clerk at the patent office, or through Mr. Wyatt, editor of the Repertory, whose brother was a clerk there. [20]

    Thomas and Joshua Gilpin carefully studied the information that they received from England. Memoranda with such headings as “Dickinson’s Machine,” “The New Improvements in Paper Making,” and “Sequel to my own Information taken from letter of L. G. Allen to T. Gilpin, September 17, 1815” are scattered through Richard Gilpin’s papermaking book. Other memoranda were entitled

    18 Ibid.

    19 Greatrake to Thomas and Joshua Gilpin, Nov. 8, 1815, ibid.

    20 Thomas Gilpin to “John” [?], Dec. 15, 1815, Gilpin Collection, Vol. 54. It is not known whether these patents were secured by the Gilpins.

    400                   by  H. B. HANCOCK  and  N. B. WILKINSON                  October

    (pages 400-403 not transcribed, due to copyright restrictions)

    404                   by  H. B. HANCOCK  and  N. B. WILKINSON                  October

    ... The court papers reveal, furthermore, that Gilpin’s patent specifications and drawing had mysteriously disappeared from the Patent Office. In March, 1822, John Ames of Springfield, Massachusetts, appeared on the Brandywine and attempted unsuccessfully to visit the Gilpin mills. Later a Gilpin workman named Hugh McFee received a note “from an unknown friend” asking him to come to a Wilmington tavern. Ames met him there, took him to his room, and locked the door. He showed McFee paper made by machine at the Ames mill which was inferior to the Gilpin product, and asked advice about how to improve it. McFee refused to answer. Ames then attempted to bribe him with a handful of bank notes from his pocket and a promise of more money if McFee would tell him the secret. The Brandywine workman spurned the bribe -- “neither money nor fair words would induce him to inform Ames anything about Mr. Gilpin’s machinery or business.” Undaunted, Ames offered to move McFee’s family to Massachusetts and to pay him fifteen dollars a week to work in the Springfield mill, but McFee persisted in his refusal. In desperation, Ames attempted to get McFee drunk, but the Gilpin employee disdainfully refused the brandy: “If I want a glass, I’ll call for it and pay for it myself!”

    McFee informed Lawrence Greatrake of his interview, and the next morning Thomas Gilpin called on Ames, examined the Ames paper, which he considered of such good quality that no help from him could improve it, and reprimanded Ames for attempting to “seduce” his employees. Eventually, Ames did locate a former Gilpin employee who gave him the desired information, and on May 14, 1822, within two months after his visit to the Brandywine, Ames patented a papermaking machine which closely resembled the Gilpin invention....

    (remainder of article not transcribed, due to copyright restrictions)

    Notes: (forthcoming)


    Anthony F. C. Wallace

    (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2005)

  • pp. 217-218
  • pp. 225-226

  • © 2005 Univ. of Nebraska Press
    All rights reserved. Fair use excerpts
    only, reproduced here.

  • Transcriber's Comments


                              The  Inventors  of  the  Machines                           217

    The Network Outside Philadelphia

    The mechanicians traveled frequently, partly on business to discuss new construction and panly just to gain information. Travel was a mode of education for mechanicians as well as merchants. The mechanicians of the Brandywine Valley, which was in its own tight a center of machine shops of all kinds, were in constant contact with their brethren in Philadelphia. Charles Willson Peale sent his sons Titian and Franklin to serve apprenticeships with the Hodgson brothers. George Escol Sellers recalled in his later years riding out to Delaware County abut 1818 (when he was a boy of ten) with his father Coleman Sellers and Oliver Evans. Evans was then sixty-four and within a year or two of his death; but he talked vigorously about the future course of technological progress. On another occasion about the same time, George Escol and his father visited Thomas Gilpin and Lawrence Greatrake, Gilpin's technical manager, and spent the evening with them and E. I. du Pont from the powder mills.

    The pattern of traveling to leam is also illustrated by the petegrinations of John Morton Poole and his brother-in-law Edward Bancroft of Wilmington. Initially financed by a loan of $100 from Charles du Pont, they wandered in a leiswely way through the 1830's from one machine shop to another, stopping for a couple of yeam to work at Matteawan, returning to the Brandywine, then spending two or three more years in the shops at Providence, Rhode Island, and finally going on to Boston and Lowell (where letters of introduction provided by Du Pont made possible their first commissions). Poole returned to work as a foreman (at $60 per month) in the locomotive shop of Charles and George Escol Sellers at Cardington in Upper Darby, before finally going on to establish the Poole machine shops in Wilmington.

    The mechanicians also often made a pilgrimage to England, stili the fountainhead of mechanical innovation, in order to acquire technical sophistication (and, sometimes, to steal industrial secrets and entice away English mechanics). The visits to England of Francis Lowell, who there gained knowledge of the working principle of the power loom, and of Joshua and Thomas Gilpin, who studied textile and papermaking machinery, were well known in their day. Lowell's trip resulted in the patent Waltham loom and the great industrial growth at Lowell; Gilpin patented his imitation of John Dickinson's endless papermaking machine (the first introduction of continuous papermaking in America).

    But many trips were undertaken less in the spirit of espionage than of a genuine desire to learn about English machines and processes that were

    218                           ROCKDALE FROM 1825 TO 1835                          

    not regarded as secret and to tell the Englishmen about American progress. These visits seem to have been understood in that light and were carried on even during the War of 1812 (Joshua Gilpin was in England and traveled freely gathering technical information all during the conflict). Many of the Philadelphia mechanicians who worked as civil engineers during the period of canal and railroad construction before 1840 visited England, including Erskine Hazad, Samuel Kneass, Solomon Roberts, and William Strickland. In the winter of 1832-33 George Escol Sellers traveled in England to learn about English papermaking machinery from Bryan Donkin and John Dickinson; but he also visited the shops of the late Henry Maudslay -- celebrated as the inventor of the first workable slide rest for the engine-powered lathe; Sharp and Roberts’ shops at Manchester; the Royal Mint; and the tunnel under the Thames then being constructed by Marc Isambard Brunel. And he found time to visit his old friend Jacob Perkins’ “Adelaide Gallery” (or “National Gallery of Practical Science”), where he found a display of remarkable machinery invented by Perkins and his old Philadelphia friend Joseph Saxton. Saxton had in fact just invented the first practical commutator for an “electtic magnetic motor” and an electric generator. Soon after Sellers’ return, Isaiah Lukens built an electric generator for Peal’s Museum.

    The inter-state and international character of the mechanicians’ fraternity was also maintained by migration in search of opportunity. After the lifting of British restrictions in the 1820s, a steady stream of English and French mechanicians of greater or lesser degree came to America; of the hundreds of these immigrants in the Philadelphia area, among the best known were the Hodgson brothers and the Greatrake family on the Brandywine. The Du Ponts imported French mechanics while they were setting up their cotton and powder mills. And within the country, as opportunities opened one after the other in the growing frontier cities in the west and burgeoning south, mechanics from the east coast traveled to construct railroads, locomotives, steamboats, mints, and textile factories.

    The mechanicians’ fraternity, then, was consciously international, indifferent (insofar as technology was concerned) to national boundaries and to international conflict, committed to facilitating technological progress by a continuous, free exchange of information among themselves. They talked constantly to one another of ideas for improving processes and were eager to show the uninformed the value of a more advanced procedure....


                              The  Inventors  of  the  Machines                           225

    him around the shop, and carrying him along on business travels. In this way was laid the basis for a deep, if somewhat competitive, identification, as the sun sought first to become like his father and then to excel him if possible in their shared and chosen craft.

    The Network of In-Laws

    Connections by marriage were as important as descent for economic purposes, for they provided added sources of partnership and capital, opponunities for education and recommendation, and a forum for the exchange of ideas. After children were born, of course, they were the source of consanguineal alliances as well. They offered an additional set of connections to tie together the loose fraternal assemblage of mechanicians.

    One important affinal connection of this kind was formed between the John Sellers line of Millbourne and the Pooles of Wilmington, Delaware. John Sellers was a successful miller but he did not contribute much personally to the family's tradition of mechanical invention. In 1817, at the age of twenty-seven, shortly after undertaking the management of the new mill his father had built for him, he married Elizabeth Poole, the eldest daughter of William Poole, a Brandywine miller (and friend of Oliver Evans). Elizabeth Poole was a strong and intelligent woman, who "had been the congenial companion of a very intellectual father," and (in the opinion of the county historian, who knew them well) "brought into her husband's home a wisdom beyond her years." One of their eleven chiidten, William, born in 1824, was apprenticed at the age of fourteen to John Morton Poole, his maternal uncle, when Poole started up a machine shop in the basement ac Joseph Bancroft's mill. This John Morton Poole, who had been born in 1812, had served his mechanical apprenticeship at the Matteawan Manufacturing Company and had studied science and mechanical drawing at the Franklin institute in Philadelphia. He had been partners briefly with Edward Bancroft (the brother of Joseph), who had worked at Cardington for several years for Coleman Sellers and Sons, and his sister Sarah was married to Joseph Bancroft.

    William Sellers stayed with his uncle for seven years as a machinist's appmtice. He then took charge of the machine shop at Edward Bancroft's mill on Ridley Creek. In a few years he moved to Philadelphia to set up his own plant for the manufacture of machine tools; there he was joined in partnership by Bancroft. In 1853 William's brother John joined the firm as partner. The firm of William Sellers and Company, as indicated earlier, pioneered the design and manufacture of machine tools.

    226                           ROCKDALE FROM 1825 TO 1835                          

    An affinal connection of equal importance was formed with the Pooles in 1805 when Nathan Sellers’ son Coleman married Charles Willson Peale’s daughter Sophonisba. This alliance brought the two families into a close consortium. Charles Willson Pale was then principally devoted to the development of his famous Museum, which he hoped would become a "School of Nature” at the heart of a national university. To the Museum, as lecturers and laboratory workers, he attracted most of the scientists, artists, and mechanicians of Philadelphia. Of Peale’s numerous progeny, two -- Franklin and Titian -- had at the suggestion of E. I. du Pont been apprenticed in 1813 to the Hodgson brothers in their machine shop on the Brandywine. After a year, with an introduction from Coleman Sellers, Franklin went for another year’s experience to work at William Young’s cotton mill at Rockland. This was to be their preparation for taking part in managing the Peale family’s little cotton factory at Belfield near Germantown. But, like so many others, the Peales’ cotton factory did not survive the renewal of British imports after the end of the War of 1812 and the three mechanically mined brothers -- Franklin, Titian, and Charles Linnaeus -- went on to other things. Franklin, however, returned to mechanics, working for Coleman Sellers for a time, and later serving as an employee of the U.S. Mint, where he invented a steam press and eventually (in 1840) became Chief Coiner. It was Franklin also who, a temporary victim of religious enthusiasm, married the daughter of the Gilpins’ mechanical expert, Thomas [sic - Lawrence?] Greatrake. The Greatrakes were Quakers and the young woman was a “Quaker Preacher” of extreme religious zeal. After their daughter was born, Eliza became psychotic, running away from home and threatening to kill the child. She was placed in the Philadelphia Hospital for a time and the marriage was annulled; eventually she was returned to her parents. [9]

    Another of the Peals, Raphaelle’s son Edmund, lived with the famiiy of Coleman Sellers and worked for a time in his factory. And George Escol remembered in later years his own summer visits to Belfield, to stay with his grandfather Charles Wiltson Peale, where he recalled hearing a discussion of Redheffer’s famous -- and fraudulent -- perpetual motion machine.

    Evidently, then, the Sellers’ connections by marriage with both the Pooles and the Peales were routes by which young people were recruited into mechanical pursuits, trained, and placed in positions of employment. They bound together three important mechanicians’ families of Philadelphia and Wilmington.

    9 Early Engineering Reminiscences (1815-40) of George Escol Sellers Smithsonian Institution, 1965); by George Escol Sellers, pp. 97, 124-26; Charles Willson Peale, 1947, by Charles Coleman Sellers, pp. 294-95; and Titian Ramsay Peale, 1799-1885: And His Journals of the Wilkes Expedition, Jessie J. Poesch (ed), 1961, p. 16: "References to the Eliza Greatrake episode occur in Charles Willson Peale's Letterbooks throughout the 1814-1824 period... In April, 1815, Franklin married his Quakeress, somewhat against the better judgment of his father."

    Notes: (forthcoming)


    George Escol Sellers
    Early Engineering Reminiscences

    (Washington, DC: Smithsonian, 1965)

  • pp. 96-98
  • pp. 106-124

  • Transcriber's Comments

  •   Entire contents © 1965 by the Smithsonian Institution, all rights reserved.
    Only limited, "fair use" excerpts are reproduced here.

    [ 96 ]

    In 1817 or 1818 [sic - 1817], George Escol Sellers, not yet ten years old, journeyed with his father to see Thomas Gilpin's new cylinder paper machine on the banks of Brandywine Creek, just north of Wilmington, Delaware. The area was a center of industry that included mills for the manufacture of paper, flour, gunpowder, cotton goods, and textile machinery

    The paper mill of Thomas Gilpin had been established 20 years earlier by his elder brother Joshua Gilpin and Miers Fisher. Flour mills had been in operation since before 1750, and by the 1780's several were employing Oliver Evans's bucket-and screw-conveyors. The powder mills were those of E.I. du Pont de Nemours, who had opened them in 1802. William Young's cotton factory and the machine shops of the Hodgson brothers have been mentioned in chapter 9. It was in the Hodgson machine shops on the Brandywine that George Escol's uncle, Franklin Peale, had learned the machinist's trade.

    Thomas Gilpin's paper machine, patented in 1816, was based upon the similar machine of John Dickinson, of London, patented in 1809. Details of Dickinson's machine had been obtained through the extensive European travels of Joshua Gilpin and from Lawrence Greatrake, who had returned to England on personal business at the time the Gilpins were considering the practicality of producing machine-made paper in America.

    Other cylinder paper machines machines followed Gilpin's, as related by Sellers. Of John Ames's patent for a cylinder machine, the editor of the Journal of the Franklin Institute commented in 1833 that he could detect nothing novel in the Ames specification, since Ames was merely adapting a design that had originated in France and that had since been improved in England and in the United States.

    [ 97 ]

    ... [Sellers' account] The machine I referred to, believing it to have been the first machine on this Continent to make continuous paper, and that I had a perfect recollection of, was in the paper mill of Mr. Thomas Gilipin on the Brandywine Creek a few miles from Wilmington, Del., but I cannot with certainty fix the date that I first saw it in operation; but from other circumstances connected with the visit to the mill with my father [He was in Europe again from 1811 to 1814] I do not think it was earlier than 1817 or later than 1818, and then the machine had been in operation for a considerable time...

    I have no distinct recollection of my father's visit to the mill at that time. But I do remember that he and Mr. Gilpin and his manager, Mr. Greatrake, spent much time in the machine room watching the operation, sketching and discussing points in connection with the forming cylinder and the exhaust pumps. The millwright had been...

    [Editor's notes] Lawrence Greatrake is known to me only through these pages and a series of his letters in the Gilpin papers in Historical Society of Pennsylvania (kindly pointed out to me by Norman B. Wilkinson). Bound in a volume entitled "Paper Making Machinery -- 1816 -- Property of Richard Gilpin" there are several of Greatrake's letters to Thomas Gilpin between September 1815 and April 1816. The date of Greatrake's first coming to the United States is uncertain. He mentioned, however, that "had I staid another year in England, I had been a partner in the immense concern at Apsley."... Greatrake's letters indicate that he could not obtain a cylinder to take to the Gilpins, as he had hoped to do.... In 1815 Franklin Peale married Eliza Greatrake, daughter of Lawrence. The marriage was a tragic one, for within a year or two Eliza became hopelessly insane.

    Dickinson purchased the Apsley mill in 1809 (Anon., "The Firm of John Dickinson and Company Limited," London, 1896. p. 7). about the time his paper machine patent was issued. Thus Greatrake may well have been Dickinson's right-hand man, as related by Sellers; but his letters do not suggest an earlier familiarity with the development of the Dickinson machine.

    [ 98 ]

    ... Mr. Irenee du Pont, the founder of the Du Pont Powder Mills, whom I had frequently met in my father's office; he took me through the mills explaining everything; this made a lasting impression, for it was the first time I had seen the process of gunpowder making.

    I also visited the cotton factory of my father's old friend, Mr. William Young, who had, in connection with his factory, a good machine shop for that period. It was in this shop that my uncle, Franklin Peale, served his apprenticeship

    We spent the evening with Mr. Gilpin in his bachelor quarters, Messrs. Du Pont and Greatrake being of the party. The making of paper by machinery in all its aspects was discussed, also the feasibility of drying the paper by steam heated cylinders....


    [ 106 ]

    ... worthy gentleman." (Greatrake was the father of Eliza our Uncle Franklin's first wife) ...

    [ 124 ]

    ...When I was introduced, it was as an American engaged on paper machinery, and being a young man, as a matter of course, Mr. Dickinson's principal attention was to the great artist, and to the large consumer of his paper; and I walked with them, listening and taking but little part in the conversation, until Mr Dickinson asked me if I had ever met a Mr. Greatrake in America, who many years before had been taken from him by Mr. Thomas Gilpin offering a higher salary than he could at the time afford to pay.

    On my replying in the affirmative, and that I was well acquainted with with Gilpin, and thoroughly posted as to his cylinder paper machine, he then spoke of Greatrake as having been one of his most reliable and trusted employees; that it was a severe blow his leaving at the time he did, knowing that he had taken with him to introduce in the States his inventions, that they had together worked on for years, through great difficulties. He was very bitter on Gilpin for, as he called it, buying Greatrake to get his inventions.

    Before we left, he asked me if I had ever met any of Mr. Greatrake's family. He referred particularly to a daughter, Eliza, who many years ago had written to his wife, announcing her marriage, since which time they had lost all trace of her.

    I told him her case was a sad one; her husband was my mother's brother; that since the birth of her only child she had become a hopelessly confined invalid...

    Notes: (forthcoming)


    B. G. Watson
    “John Dickinson and
    His Paper Machine”

    The Paper Maker 36:1

    (Wilmington, DE: Hercules, 1967)

  • pp. 31-35

  • Transcriber's Comments

  •   Entire contents © 1967 by the Hercules Powder Co., all rights reserved.
    Only limited, "fair use" excerpts are reproduced here.

    [ 31-35 ]

    John Dickinson and
    His Paper Machine

    By B. G. Watson


    A number of articles have appeared in earlier issues of THE PAPER MAKER which have discussed, in detail, the work of Joshua and Thomas Gilpin... Joshua, the elder brother, during his visits to Europe between 1795 and 1801, and again between 1811 and 1815, met many of the British paper-machine machine pioneers, including Hall... he was obviously anxious to find out all he could about new machinery, and consider whether it would be of use in their new mill. Of an excursion he made to Nash Mills, in 1796 (before it belonged to Dickinson), he mentioned that it had recently been built under the supervision of Hall, and he was particularly impressed with the salle -- "being the most extensive and perfect I have elsewhere seen."

    Another mill he visited in the same area is referred to as "Greatrakes Mill," It was described as " old patched affair with two engines and vats." Without doubt this was Apsley Mill, which had been owned by the Greatrake family for some years. In 1792 James Greatrake was in correspondence with James Whatman, and four years later Roger Greatrake was the papermaker at the mill. Gilpin mentions Lawrence Greatrake in his journal, and it was this member of the family who was eventually to work in America, assisting the Gilpins in the development of their paper machine.

    As we have seen, Dickinson had bought Apsley Mill from Staddord in 1809, and it would appear that at this time Lawrence Greatrake was employed at the mill. He is also spoken of as having been foreman at Nash Mills, and it may well be that in the years before he left England he worked in both the Dickinson mills. He wrote a letter about Dickinson as "the genius, the gentleman, and the liberal mind" and on another occasion as a "Young Man of Science, very Gentlemanly in his manners, and... of great Mechani[ca]l talents." Nothwithstanding his esteem for his employer, Greatrake was persuaded by the Gilpins to work in their mill. It is not certain when he first went to America, but it was probably about 1808 [sic - departed in 1799]. By this time Dickinson's mould-machine was working, though not commercially, and Greatrake would have been familiar with its construction. Since the English patents were not effective in America, there is little doubt that by employing Greatrake, the Gilpins hoped to build and run a copy of the machine. In a recently published book, it is reported that George Escol Sellers wrote of a visit to Dickinson in the summer of 1832:
    "Mr Dickinson asked me if I had ever met a Mr. Greatrake in America, who many years before had been taken from him by Mr. Thomas Gilpin offering a higher salary than he could at the time afford to pay.

    On my replying in the affirmative, and that I was well acquainted with with Gilpin, and thoroughly posted as to his cylinder paper machine, he then spoke of Greatrake as having been one of his most reliable and trusted employees; that it was a severe blow his leaving at the time he did, knowing that he had taken with with him to introduce in the States his inventions, that they had together worked on for years, through great difficulties. He was very bitter on Gilpin for, as he called it, 'buying Greatrake to get his inventions.'"

    Notes: (forthcoming)


    Charles C. Sellers
    Charles Willson Peale

    (NYC: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1947)

  • pp. 286-286
  • pp. 294-295

  • Transcriber's Comments

  •   Entire contents © 1947 Charles Scribner's Sons, all rights reserved.
    Only limited, "fair use" excerpts are reproduced here.

    [ 286 ]

    ... If Titian [Peale] said that he could not learn dead languages, his father asked the school to excuse him from those classes, and so it went. Constraint was a last and dreadful recourse. Instead, he would offer only encouragement and advice, emphasizing, too, that innocent pleasures are a necessity of life. His children, after the manner of children, responded with a love that was not tempered by respect, and very rarely expressed in obedience....

    After completing his year at Hodgsons', Franklin went, in December, 1814, for another twelve months' service at William Young's cotton factory outside of Wilmington -- their machine cards were manufactured at Coleman Sellers' wire works, which gave him the entrance there. Thence he returned to Belfield to open the cotton factory of his own. In the meantime, however, to the mingled distress and amusement of his family, the youth had fallen in love with a Quakeress -- not an ordinary Quaker girl, but a strange, unctuous creature, older than himself, given to awesome silences and sudden ejaculations of a religious character. Of course he must join the Society. His father sent him a copy of the Portraiture of Quakerism, wrote himself in praise of the Friends, and hoped for the best.

    It was a changed Franklin who now visited the farm -- the tassels off his boots and the ruffles gone from his shirt front -- his eyes warm with devotion, his lips formed to pious utterances.

    [ 287 ]

    "I have been wild, very wild, as you well know," he confessed to Linnaeus.

    Sybilla, at the same time, but in a very different vein, was writing to Lin, now absent at an army post. "Oh I only wish you could come home to see a fine job of a wedding here and some Quaker Preachers that are coming into the family. You would crack your sides laughing to know who it is. Try all your might to get a furlough, for besides the pleasure of seeing you, I would not that you should miss the pleasure of being groomsman and going into meeting with your great sword by your side and uniform on for the world....


    [ 294 ]

    ... It was not long before he let out the land again to a tenent farmer, and thus regained full leisure. On fair days he drove to town with Hannah at his side, renewing old acquaintances, laughing back at those who laughed at the idea of an old man making a new painter -- declaring that an inactive old age "savors in my opinion of laziness." On cloudy days he stayed at home, reading aloud to Hannah and Rachel, or at work in his painting room.

    He sought lessons and advice from Rembrandt, who visited the farm for the purpose, and he and Franklin went down to Baltimore. He tried out his skill with a still life, an art he deemed too elementry to hold much interest, and and turned, as soon as his hand was in, to portraits and occasional landscapes. He made copies for the Museum, including Columbus and... With Franklin's training now completed, with the war over and a new era opening before them. Peale vastly admired the neatness and artistry with which his son was setting up the new machinery.

    Franklin, borne along upon the happy tide of expectation, married -- on the twenty-fourth of April, 1815 -- his "Quaker preacher." His father had shortly before bade him to take no

    [ 295 ]

    wife until he could support her, and he had denied any intention of marrying for two or three years longer, Or at least his father understood such a denial to have been given, Sybilla and the others had been planning the wedding for some time, and Peale's displeasure served merely to turn it from a formal into a runaway affair. Spring had come. Eliza, on a visit to the farm, was there beside him in his mill, and he could not wait. Never was the cautious voice of age to be so surely vindicated, the tragedy of events only heightened by the bridal couple's religious zeal and the sly merriment of their young friends.

    Eliza Greatrake was a daughter of the manager of Thomas Gilpin's paper mill on the Brandywine, the only plant in the country making continuous paper. Gilpin, an intimate friend of Coleman Sellers, had brought Eliza's grandfather [sic - father] to America, to the annoyance of his former employer, John Dickinson, an inventor of paper-making machinery and the owner of several English mills.

    Eliza's reputation as an oddity had preceded her when she came to Belfield for a visit in the spring of 1815. Peale thought at first that she must be out of sorts with him, and tried to win her by attentions -- then came to the belief that perhaps her mind had been deranged by religious enthusiasm. Belfield's rational, matter-of fact style of living should be a cure for that. But after her marriage the terrible truth appeared, and by summer it was plain to all -- Franklin's wife was insane. Looking back, talking with those who had known her longer, it became equally evident that she had always been so. Indeed, a warning letter had been written to Peale, which he, by mischance, had never received. Poor Franklin's brief joy was turned into an agony of shame and bitterness, trying in vain to conceal what everyone soon knew, moody and silent, meditating suicide for all his father knew. A daughter was born to him, March 25, 1816. Eliza ran away, threatened to kill the child, and, in these straits, was placed in the hospital in Philaphia.

    [ 296 ]

    Franklin doted on the child, a fat and playful thing, and gradually shook off the worst of his melancholy. Peale, by 1820, had succeeded in obtaining an annulment of his son's marriage. Eliza was returned to her parents although the unpleasant business endured for three years longer in the form of proceedings to determine who should pay for her support in the hospital, a charge that was finally left at Franklin's door. Franklin did not marry again until 1839.

    His daughter, Anna Elizabeth Peale, lived, unmarried, to the ripe age of ninety [in 1906]. Franklin's cotton mill was of course but one of a host of new ventures. Burgess Allison was spinning at Burlington, and there were others everywhere....

    Note 1: Additional published references to Eliza Greatrake Peale are very sparse. Volume 107 of The Numismatist (July-Dec 1994) has a short article on Franklin Peale's work with the U.S. Mint -- and on page 1137 the following mention of his wife and daughter occurs: "Peale married Eliza Greatrake on April 24, 1815. Together they had a daughter, Anna Elizabeth [b. 26 Mar 1816, Philadelphia]. It soon became apparent that Eliza was insane, and the marriage was annulled in 1820. Peale married again on May 4, 1839. He and his second wife, Caroline E. Girard Haslam, had no children."

    Note 2: A more detailed account of Eliza was excerpted from an unidentified biographical source, for publication in the May 1888 issue of The Atlantic Monthly (Vol. 61, No. 367, pp. 611-624: "The American Philosophical Society" by Anne H. Wharton). In a report which may have mistakenly been taken from the life of Charles Willson Peale's wife (also a Quakeress), the magazine reports the following: "...Franklin Peale, says his biographer, ... was one of the founders of the Franklin Institute, and for many years discharged with great ability the office of chief coiner at the United States Mint. -- One of Mr. Peale's friends, who became an active and valued member of the society, was the learned Abbe de Serra, Portuguese Minister to the United States, who scandalized Mrs. Peale, a Quakeress, whose neatness was phenomenal, by appearing at her door so dusty and shabby... that the good lady waved him away from her spotless threshold, saying, 'No, my good man, I have no time to attend to you now;' little thinking that the good man was the expected guest, in whose honor she had put on her best satin gown, and prepared a savory repast, whose crowning triumph was a dish of asparagus from Mr. Peales garden, then a greater rarity than now. The Abbe had been on a geological tramp with Mr. Peale, and when that gentleman rallied his wife on treating his friend and guest like a beggar, the excellent lady justified herself by saying that, after all, 'he could not be much of a gentleman, as he helped himself to the asparagus with his fingers;' eating it, of course, after the French fashion."


    Elizabeth Montgomery
    Reminiscences of

    (Philadelphia: T. K. Collins, 1851)

  • pp. 38-39

  • Transcriber's Comments


    38                       REMINISCENCES  OF  WILMINGTON.                      

    to be further described, where many visitors from the neighborhood and cities have been so hospitably entertained. Mr. Gilpin resided here with his family the latter part of his life; and died there in the year 1841.

    In the day of prosperity, the large stone house opposite the mill was occupied by Lawrence Greatrake, who managed the concern of paper-making. Death summoned him suddenly, in the vigor of life, to leave this extensive business and his large family. A youthful son succeeded him in the management of the establishment for years. It was a beautiful spot, and all around it was kept in the neatest order, shaded by trees, shrubbery and vines. Yet no withered leaves or broken branches marred the rich verdure on this hill. The mistress of the mansion, Mrs. G., arranged all within her bounds in good taste.

    The court in front was adorned in beauteous order, with many flowering shrubs. The balcony in the rear overlooked the creek and mills, and far beyond; and the steep hill descending was covered with rich grass, and handsome trees well trimmed, so that the view was not obscured. On one side was the garden, with a serpentine walk the whole length of the high ground, and planted with different species of trees and shrubbery, consisting of some hundred varieties, completely shaded. Here and there was an arbor, decorated with vines and furnished with stools painted white. This presented the most picturesque view. At the entrance of the estate was a neat cottage, called a lodge, at vhich the road divided into three ways, with a large gate to each; a private one led to Kentmere, a lower one to the mill below; and the centre one to this house and the mills above.

    There are many who gratefully remember the civilities tendered to them by this family, especially those caught in rains or thunder-storms in their rambles up these banks, and sought shelter under their roof. Some far away, who have been educated at Hillis’s boarding-school, may not forget the memorable evening when the entire school fled to this mansion to

                              VISITORS  TO  THE  MILLS.                          39

    seek an asylum from a pelting rain, and the perplexity, as night approached, with no appearance of a change in the weather, and how George Greatrake exhibited his kindness in ordering the large covered mill wagon, geared with four horses,in which fifty or more girls were closely packed like reams of paper, standing erect, secure from the rain. They had a merry ride: though slow, it was sure and novel; a carriage conveyed the teachers home, and this was deemed an event in their life.

    The daily crowds of visitors here one would think must be wearisome to master and man, yet all were met by cheerful faces, their curiosity gratified, and questions answered, however frivolous, and the greatest civility extended in passing through the various departments. Some one was ready to show all that you desired to see.

    Mr. G. Greatrake, by personal exertion in the freshet of '22, impaired his constitution, and became the victim of a disease of the lungs, and in a few years died at the south, whither he went to recruit his health. From his knowledge of the business, and popularity with the workmen, his death was a great loss to the establishment. But the business being changed and the estate having fallen into other hands, everything was soon on the wane; and we lament to note the decline and fall of an establishment of which this town could once boast, as unrivaled in its order and pleasant scenery, and the delight and amusement of distant friends in their walk to view the operations at the old paper-mill.

    How old things have changed! The buildings are noe cotton mills with additions. The beautiful trees and tasteful ornaments are laid low in the dust. Like the elder members of this hospitable family, they are mingling with the earth....

    Notes: (forthcoming)



    "Gilpin's Paper-Mill on Brandywine Creek"  (Thomas Doughty c. 1827?)

    Baltimore-Philadelphia Area c. 1815   (larger image)

    (under construction)

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