circa Summer 1766: John Sears of Essex County (son of Mahockney owner?) defended by Richard Henry Lee after the repeal of the Stamp Act
- “Although Mr. Lee participated in the joy so generally expressed, he did not however cease to feel great apprehension from the spirit which appeared in the declaratory act. he constantly expressed his conviction that the absolute authority thus formally asserted, would, ere long, be again attempted in practice. yet willing to hope for the best, he did not wish to cloud unnecessarily, the prospect of happier times. But his antipathy to the stamp act, and its friends and supporters, was as strong, as when it was hanging over the land. Th efollowing anecdote will show this, and will also exhibit his zeal, in behalf of the rights of his countrymen. His purse was at the service of his country, and in this respect, he continued throughout the revolutionary contest, to prove his readiness to sacrifice his fortune, as well as his talents and life, to promote her interests. Mr. Caul who had been a supporter of the proceedings of the mother country, had refused to join in the general joy, on the repeal of the stamp act. This conduct was indignantly beheld, and violently resented, by a warm, perhaps indiscreet person of the name of Seers, and a verdict in an action at law, was obtained against him by this adherent of kingly power. To show their detestation of toryism, Mr. Lee, and at his suggestion, many inhabitants of the county, subscribed money to satisfy the judgment. A copy from the original manuscript, as written by Mr. Lee, is here inserted. It contains the signatures of the subscribers, in their own hand writing. And comparatively unimportant as it is, this list has often excited in the breast of the author, feelings of attachment to the men, who seemed so devoted to their country. It is one of those genuine evidences of the patriotic spirit of the times, which is worthy of a place among records of apparently a more exalted character.
“In testimony of our entire approbation of the virtues and manly spirit with which Mr. John Sears, of Essex county, resented the contumacious and vicious conduct of Caul, in refusing to join the general joy of Virginia on the repeal of that most arbitrary, unjust, and tyrannical act imposing stamp duties in America, and utterly abhorring all principles by which he can be injured for having so acted, we agree most willingly to pay the sum of money, by each of us subscribed, to Mr. Sears, or his order, on demand, thereby to prevent the bad consequences of a late judgment obtained against him, and also to evince our attachment to the cause of liberty by supporting its generous asserters.
Richard Henry Lee, 20 shillings
James Davenport, 10 do. (ditto)
John Lee, 5 do.
Jno Martin, 5 do.
Francis L. Lee, 5 do. more if necessary.
Richard Parker, 5 do. my intention is to indemnify; more if necessary.
Wm. Booth, 5 do.
Thomas Ludwell Lee, 5 do. more if necessary
Wm. Lee, 5 do. do.
Arthur Lee, 10 do. do.
From: Memoir of the life of Richard Henry Lee, and his correspondence with the most distinguished men in America and Europe: illustrative of their characters, and of the events of the American revolution, Volume 1 (Google eBook)
by Richard Henry Lee; H.C. Carey and I. Lea, 1825