People in North Tawton, Devon, UK


From "The Gentleman's Magazine" of Sylvanus Urban, 1824 (pages 223-224)

"Sept. 6              

Mr. Urban,

Perhaps the following Letter adressed to the Rev. W. H. REYNELL, may be worth insertion. It exhibits the feelings of the Americans, previous to the commencement of the war with this country. - R.P."

Philadelphia, March 5, 1769

Esteemed Friend,
I have thy acceptable favour of the 13th of February, which afforded me much pleasure, as I apprehended it came from a Gentleman descended from the same family as I am, and is the first I have ever met with of the same name; and my father, Samuel REYNELL, often told me if I ever met with any that spelled their name in the same manner he did, I might depend they were of the same family; that he had never met with any; but that his father, John REYNELL, who became a Quaker in the latter end of the reign of Charles the Second, being bound over to attend the Quarter Sessions at Exon. on that account, in the beginning of James the Second's reign; when his name was called in court, the Chairman asked how he spelt it, which when he had told him, he took his seal out of his pocket, with his coat of arms, and gave it to him, saying,
"You are one of my family, you are discharged."
His grandfather, Richard REYNELL, was the Clergyman of North Tawton in Devon, and had an estate there, and left it to his son, who was a man of bright natural parts, but no economist, and he spent it. My father, when I was a boy, took me there and showed it me, and told me that ought to have been his, but his grandfather had spent it.
My father left North Tawton when he was a young man, and came and settled in the city of Exon, where I was brought up, and lived till I was in the 18th year of my age, when my father sent me to Jamaica to live with a nephew of his, by the mother's side, to be a merchant; his name was Samuel DICKER; he acquired a very large estate there, and returned back to England, bought an estate at Waltham, built a fine bridge in the way there, and was chosen member of Parliament in his own county where he was born.
I did not like Jamaica, it being a very wicked place, so I did not stay there quite a year, but came here, where I have been now near 42 years, and am in the 61st year of my age. Providence has been pleased to bless me with some small share of this world's goods, but has also been pleased to take from me all my children, which were five; however, I do not repine, he is a good and gracious God, and has done much more for me than I deserve, who am a poor unworthy creature, and if in his great goodness he will receive me into the arms of his mercy at last, it is all I have to ask. I am the only surviving male branch of our family. I have a sister living at Exon, named Mary, who is married to Andrews-Henry GROTH, who have one son, named John-Reynell GROTH. I have had the satisfaction to see them in this country, but they would not stay in it. These are all that are left of the family. Thus have I given thee as particular an account of my family as I am capable of, and if it gives thee any pleasure or satisfaction, I shall be glad I gave it thee.
I am the person who had the honour first to sign the letter or memorial, addressed to the merchants and manufacturers of Great Britain, on which thou are pleased to express thyself in so handsome and kind a manner. We were in hopes that we had pointed out what was for the interest of both countries in so clear a manner as to induce the Ministry to agree to the repeal of the acts complained of; and I think if they had a true regard for the interests of their country, they would readily have done it, but that doth not appear to me to be the principal thing they have in view; but rather how they shall support themselves in power, and carry into execution their plans for depriving the Americans of their liberties and privileges.
The point in dispute is a very important one; if the Americans are to be taxed by a Parliament where they are not nor can be represented, they are no longer Englishmen but slaves, who are to have their property taken away at any time at will and pleasure, which they are not willing to be; therefore it is no wonder they have strongly remonstrated against it, and taken such other measures as they apprehended were most likely to put a stop to the encroachments that were making on their liberties: and as their petitions, addresses, and remonstrances, have not had their desired effect, they are come to resolutions not to import any more goods from Great Britain, unless it be a few articles they cannot do without, and to encourage manufacturing among themselves, which I apprehend will prove of great benefit to this country; and if it proves a loss to Great Brjitain they may thank themselves for it; it is their own imprudent conduct that has been the occasion of it.
I will make no apology for writing thee this long letter, but assure thee I am, with the utmost regard and respect, thy assured friend,
                                                                                          John REYNELL"

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