1. Harry Alonzo Cushing, collector and editor, The Writings of Samuel Adams, III (1773-1777) (n.p.: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907, reprinted in New York: Octagon Books, Inc., 1968, 200-202.
2. Ibid., 201.
3. Ibid., 190—191.
4. A transaction that would be posthumously settled by Abraham Van Bibber.
5. Lord Rodney to Lady Rodney. Footnoted in John Franklin Jameson, “St. Eustatius in the American Revolution,” American Historical Review, VIII, 1903, 695. Rodney must have liked these words. Four days after Statia fell he wrote about the same thing to the lords of the Admiralty in Greenwich, “I hope this Island will never be returned to the Dutch; it has been more detrimental to England than all the forces of her enemies, and alone has contributed to the continuance of the American war.” See Jan Willem Schulte Nordholt, The Dutch Republic and American Revolution, translated by Herbert H. Rowen (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1982), 46.
6. Lord Suffolk to the Dutch Ambassador, April 12, 1776, as found in Jameson, 688 n. 3.
7. For example, Barbara W. Tuchman in her The First Salute (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988) and Ivor Noel Hume, 1775: Another Part of the Field (New York: Knopf, 1966), 375, seem to have based their information on a mis-reading of Jameson, 688 of “The Rotterdam merchant already mentioned....” Something else could be mentioned here. John Adams writing James Warren on October 12, 1775, remarks,
I have inclosed [sic] a copy of a paper upon which I will make no Remark: But I leave you to you own Conjectures--only I must insist that it me mentioned to nobody...it may gratify and give some Relief to your Cares.
The enclosure was a suggestion of exactly how the Continental Congress could steal powder from the West
I would advise the continental Congress to make a general Sweep of all the Powder, at St. Eustatius, it may be first taken and then paid for afterwards as the Dutch refuse to sell it to us [emphasis mine]; I am well persuaded the whole of this Plan may be executed, and that near 3000 Blls of powder may be obtained in the Course of 3 or 4 months.
(The Warren-Adams Letters, Being chiefly a correspondence among John Adams, Samuel Adams, and James Warren, vol. I [Boston: The Massachusetts Historical Society, 1917, reprinted in New York, New York: AMS Press Inc., 1972], 134—136).
8. Besides Van Dam, it should be noted that Abraham Van Bibber who will be discussed further in the present paper, was also from an old American family but indeed of Dutch descent. For further information on the Van Bibber Family, see George Johnston, History of Cecil County, Maryland, and the Early Settlements Around the Head of Chesapeake Bay and on the Delaware River With Sketches of Some of the Old Families of Cecil County (Elkton, Maryland: George Johnston, 1881, reprinted as Cecil County, A Reference Book of History, Business and General Information (Baltimore: County Directories of Maryland, Inc., 1956)) 186-189, 211, 216, 236, 247, 248, 250; and The Maryland Historical Magazine, March 1964, p. 80, from which the following is taken: His family were among the early settlers of Bohemia Manor in the Maryland Colony. Matthias was one time Justice of the County and his nephew James Van Bibber, a Sheriff. Matthias and his brothers Isaac and Henry were all natives of Holland. Matthias and Isaac were involved in merchandizing in Philadelphia before going to Maryland where they were naturalized in 1702. Henry went to Cecil County in 1720. One of these three, most likely Isaac, was father of Isaac and Abra[ha]m , both commercial agents in the West Indies for the colonial government of Maryland. Agent Isaac’s grandson, Thomas E. Van Bibber was author of the popularly known, Flight into Egypt. Abraham Van Bibber was also a member of the Baltimore Committee. See William Bell Clark, Naval Documents of the American Revolution, Vols. 1-7 (Washington: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1964), 2:16. Abraham Van Bibber, generally styled “esquire” or “Gentleman” was born in Cecil County in 1741 and was of Dutch extraction. He appears to have settled in Baltimore County by 1780, in which year he completed the first of several purchases of land to make up a farm known as “Paradise.” This farm contained about 300 acres extending on both sides of Stony Run from Cold Spring Lane nearly to University Parkway in the center of the present city of Baltimore.
Van Bibber married twice. First to Sarah Chew daughter of Benjamin Chew, and second, Mary Young, daughter of Samuel Young of Baltimore County. Mary Young was half sister of Robert Young Stokes who laid out the town of Harve de Grace on his own plantation.
Abraham Van Bibber died at “Paradise” on August 23, 1805 at the age of 61. By his wife he had had one son Abraham, who died in Baltimore at the age of five (according to newspaper records).
He left his estate to his two nephews, Andrew Van Bibber of Mathews County, Virginia and Washington Van Bibber of Maryland.
9. By the seventh day of March, 1776, he was “‘lately deceased’ of St. Eustacius,” Abraham Van Bibber to the Virginia Convention, St. Eustatia, March 7, 1776, “Virginia Legislative Papers,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. XV (October, 1907), 291.
10. Sarah Van Dam, “Letter to her Brother, The Reverend George Young,” November 4, 1784, private possession.
11. Indeed, the very transaction between Virginia and Van Dam was used by John J. McCusker, Money and Exchange in Europe and America, 1600-1775 (Chapel Hill:
The University of North Carolina Press, for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1978) Flume, Jameson, Tuchman, as well as others.
12. Robert L. Scribner, ed., with the assistance of Brent Tarter, Revolutionary Virginia, The Road to Independence, I-VI (Charlottesville?: The University of Virginia Press for Virginia Independence Bicentennial Commission, 1977), 111:43 n. 4.
13. Ibid., n 7. See also II: 375-376.
14. Ibid., 111:4-5.
15. “Statia” was the affectionate name for the island. Other spellings include “Eustacius” and “Statius.” Except for quotations, this paper will use “Statia” and “St. Eustatius.”
16. “Letter of the Earl of Rochford” dated “Janry
26, 1775,” an enclosure in “Letter of Lord Suffolk to Sir Joseph York,” dated February 7, 1775, in Clark, 1:396; See also “Abstract of the most material Proceedings in this [British Admiralty] Department relative to North America,” Ibid., 393.
17. Ernest McNeill Eller, ed., The Chesapeake Bay in the American Revolution (Centreville, Maryland: Tidewater Publishers, 1981), 315-316.
19. James Curtis Ballagh, collector and ed. The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, vols. I & II. (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1911 and 1914, reprinted as a part of The Era of the American Revolution, Leonard W. Levy, ed., Da Capo Press, 1970), 1:138.
20. John Hatley Norton was not only the son of a prominent London merchant who could export British goods to neutral islands in the West Indies, but also the son-in-law of Robert Carter Nicholas, Treasurer of the Colony of Virginia. See Frances Norton Mason, ed., John Norton & Sons, Merchants of London and Virginia, The Dietz Press, second edition with Introduction by Dr[.] Samuel M. Rosenblatt, 1968.
21. Col. Thomas Newton, Jr., of Norfolk, Virginia was a son of Thomas Newton (1713-1794) and Amy Hutchings of Norfolk. Born May 15, 1742 and died September 11, 1807. He married Martha, daughter of Robert Tucker of Norfolk. Besides being one of the leading men of the Virginia of his day, he was also, at many sessions, a member of the House of Burgesses for Norfolk County. He was a Patriot from the beginnings of the Revolution. Member of the Committee of Safety of the Borough of Norfolk 1775-76. He was in command of the Militia of the Borough and from 1780-81 one of the commissioners of supplies. Appointed to the commissioners of Admiralty in 1776. His son George Newton married Courtney Tucker Norton, daughter of Daniel Norton, brother of John Hatley Norton of Norfolk. For further information, see Virginius Newton, “Newton Family of Norfolk,” Genealogies of Virginia Families from The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Baltimore:Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1981, 4:538-568 and Mason, 515-516.
22. George M. Curtis, III, “The Goodrich Family and the Revolution in Virginia, 1774-1776, The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 84 (1976): 55.
23. Scribner, 111:206.
25. Curtis, 56.
26. Nordholt, 40.
27. Lord Suffolk to the Dutch Ambassador, May 31, 1776, as found in Jameson, 688 n. 3.
28. Nordholt, 39. Goodrich sailed directly (Curtis, 56) for Antigua. According to one of his depositions Goodrich “sells” £2,000 of bills or according to his deposition before Dunmore, deposits “the remainder of the cuntries money” (Van Dam says £2,000) with Van Dam. On the other hand, Goodrich says he sold £2,000 and deposited £500 with Van Dam. Someone is lying. Goodrich seems to have told his story as the audience demanded. Van Dam seems to have done the same, as did his bookkeeper and wife and numerous others. See below. Unfortunately, so many “histories” have been written using William Goodrich’s testimonies that it is all but impossible to piece together the details.
29. Goodrich in his deposition before Dunmore said that Bartram sent him the 1,BOOwt of powder “in a French bottom.” According to Jameson, Lord Suffolk wrote the British Ambassador April 12, 1776 to the Netherlands that “recently, having procured from a trader in Martinique and from a smuggling vessel belonging to Antigua more than 4,000 pounds of powder, he [Van Dam] had forwarded it to North Carolina in a Virginia vessel (Jameson, 688).” This is undoubtedly the same as the 1,600, 1,800 and 750 pounds that Goodrich took on his Virginian vessel to Virginia after landing in North Carolina.
30. The order of William Goodrich’s comings and goings is different from that Curtis gives. What is so difficult about all that follows is that it is an interpretation of information provided by vow-breakers, spies, traitors, and liars. Curtis and others seem to have taken William’s sworn word for what took place, but William’s sworn word changed, depending before whom he was swearing. Add to this human memory and human error and things get even more confusing. See note 28 above.
31. Nordholt, 39. But note 29 above.
33. According to Goodrich’s letter to the Pennsylvania Council of Safety written from the Philadelphia Jail, written September 7, 1776 as found in Clark, 6:739.
34. Curtis, 57.
35. According to Goodrich’s letter to the Pennsylvania Council of Safety written from the Philadelphia Jail on September 7, 1776. See Clark 6:738.
36. Curtis, 57
38. Ibid., 58
41. Ibid., 59.
42. According to Goodrich’s letter to the
Pennsylvania Council of Safety written from the
Philadelphia Jail on September 7, 1776. See Clark, 6:739.
43. See Van Bibber’s letter of 28 March 1776 to William Lux, as found in “Virginia Legislative Papers,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, XV:291, it was at this time that Goodrich got the £400 from Van Dam and told him that Dunmore was to get the rest of it. Goodrich wrote the Pennsylvania Committee in his September 7, 1776 letter that Van Dam had the powder ready which he [Van Dam] sold “to a New York Sloop that was laying in the rhoad [sic].” See Clark 6:739. This was probably the ship of Mr. Knox of St. Thomas.
44. Isaac Van Dam to William Goodrich, December 6, 1775, Ibid., 2:1315.
45. “[Virginia] Committee of Safety To the Hobble [sic] The Delegates from Virginia in Congress at Philadelphia, Nov 11. 1775” in Scribner, IV:379-380. Also see Curtis, 61. Robert Carter Nicholas also sent a letter to the Virginia Delegates in the Continental Congress on November 25, regarding William Goodrich’s arrest. Some powder had been gotten by the time this letter. See Clark, 2:1137-38. Also see the letter of Edmund Pendleton to Richard H. Lee, Ibid., 2:1167.
46. Curtis, 60, 67.
47. Curtis, 60-67. One member of this committee was Thomas Newton, Jr. who had been a part of the Goodrich scheme from the beginning.
48. Clark, 3:704. See also 3:673, 661ff, 617ff. For a more comprehensive report see 3:579; 3:563ff.
49. Scribner, IV:135 n13-136.
50. Ibid., IV:67 n6—68.
51. Letter of Van Bibber to the Virginia Convention, St. Eustatius, March, 1776. A copy with the date March 11, was sent to the Virginia Committee of Safety, most likely through another channel in the event one was lost. See “Virginia Legislative Papers,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, XV: 156-157.
52. See Curtis, 61-67.
53. Robert Walter Coakley, Virginia Commerce During the American Revolution [Charlottesville, Virginia]: Unpublished Master’s Thesis, 1949, 134.
54. Ibid., 134.
55. Scribner, V:426 n. 14.
56. Coakley, 134.
57. In his letter of March 7, 1776 to the Virginia Convention, Van Bibber says, “[I] shall not be able to render you any further [emphasis mine] service at the present....”
58. Clark, 4:467.
59. “Virginia Legislative Papers,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, XV:292.
61. Scribner, 5:398-399.
62. “Virginia Legislative Papers,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, XVIII:64.
64. Nordholt, 39.
65. I am sure that this is “Sarah” Van Dam though no absolute proof has been found. The Sarah Van Dam who left Statia in 1784 had been married to a merchant of that island whose brother was Anthony Van Dam of New York City. No other brother could be possible except Richard Van Dam who seems o e died in Queens, New York about this time. There is no indication whatsoever that he was either a merchant not even in the West Indies.
66. Letter of Van Bibber to William Lux, from St. Eustatia, 28, 1776 as found in “Virginia Legislative Papers,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, XV,
67. The Earl of Dunmore to Earl of Dartmouth (No. 34), 6 December 1775- February 1776, Dunmore off Norfolk, K. G. Davies, ed., Documents of the American Revolution, vol. XII (London: Irish Academic Press Ltd. 1976), 64.
68. 1776, January 9th, Letter Lord Dunmore to Dartmouth, Clark, 3:703.
69. Van Bibber to Lux Mar 28, 1776.
70. McCusker, 291-294. Interestingly enough, McCusker used the Deposition of William Goodrich, 31 October 1775 and the account of Goodrich with Isaac Van Dam 6 December 1775 to find the commercial rate of exchange in September of that year. Then it was £175. By the time Van Bibber arrived, we see that was now £188.
71. 10 Apr 1776 to Wm Lux, “Virginia Legislative Papers,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, XV: 289—290.
72. Clark, 5:540.
74. Ibid. This was a printed form. Words here underlined were entered by hand.
75. Coakley, 135.
76. Mason, 394.
77. Clark, 5:1224.
81. Ibid., 1,224—25.
82. For a full account, see Nordholt, 39-41.
83. Ibid., 40-41.
84. Clark, 9:812-813.
85. According to her letter to her brother, Sarah Van Dam had been born in England. Most likely she had been raised on Montserrat as was her brother. (See note 10 above).
86. October 21, 1788. See Mason, 480-481.
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