Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library


See McDuffie Will and Duncan Campbell letter below

Letters, John Campbell of Jamaica & Mary Spotswood of Virginia


Mary Spotswood (nee Dandridge) first married John Spotswood of Virginia, a son of Alexander Spotswood, former governor of the province. John Spotswood died in 1756 leaving two sons, Alexander and John, and two daughters, Ann and Mary.
His widow subsequently married John Campbell, 'a native of Jamaica', whose stepsons, Alexander and John were sent to school at Eton College in England. During their time in England, they spent time with Margaret Campbell, John Campbell's widowed mother in London before returning to Virginia in 1764.
The estates of both families had become heavily indebted and creditors were pressing. By 1766, Campbell had decided to return to Jamaica in order to sell his property and relieve himself of debt.
A long letter to his wife, written from Kingston, gives an interesting insight into financial conditions at Jamaica in 1767 and of the difficulties which he believed he would face in achieving his aim.

To date, the identity of this John Campbell of Jamaica is open to question. However, it is quite likely that he was a younger relation of Hon. John Campbell of Black River who died in 1740.

November, 1766

The Virginia Gazette published the following announcement,
                                                                               Spotsylvania, Nov. 23. 1766
The Subscriber intends to leave the Colony for a short Time. Mr James Hunter, of Fredericksburg, will act as his Attorney in his Absence.
                                                                             John Campbell.

January, 1767

Campbell is about to depart

My Dearest beloved
              I am this instant going on board the brig & have only time once more to give my dearest love and best affection to the best of wives and children. I pray to Almighty God to preserve & bless you all in this world & the next. I am forever my dearest dear
                                                         Your most affectionate husband
                                                            John Campbell
                                                               Thursday January 7  1767

Spring 1767

The letter is undated but was probably written sometime towards the end of February. Campbell is now in Kingston where he is making arrangements to travel into the country, to visit relations and, presumably, his properties. He appears to favour a sea voyage along the coast.
[Note: the top and bottom of each folded page has crumbled at the crease, leaving gaps in the first and last few lines.]

My Dearest Life,
         I shall ………………………………… but I have hopes that in a few days……………………. relations. Capt. Brookes has a prospect of getting …….…… country, his going down is therefore an  excellent opportunity ………our baggage which I shall not fail to em…………………Sunday he proposes to sail; the passage is seldom more than…………….days. I cannot as yet inform my dearest of any particulars relative to my affairs in this island, but by what I can gather from hints I shall have no great reason to be very well satisfied with them; I shall neglect nothing on my part to put matters on the best footing in my power but whether they may turn out agreeable to our expectations is more than I can answer for. My dear beloved I am afraid many troubles hang over us & that we shall have severe tryals to encounter, but support your spirits & do not give way to despondency. If I could but flatter myself that the time of my absence from the dear Partner of my heart would be but short, I could undergo any toils with content; but the present situation of this Island affords as gloomy a prospect as ye country I have left behind. No money to be had, the trade with the Spaniards, the principal source from whence the Merchants here draw their cash, is reduced very low. Goods are daily selling at publick sale for little or nothing; the Gentlemen of the country are in general deeply involved, each man tearing his Neighbour to pieces, in short a scene of distress presents itself on every side. This is but a melancholy picture for us who have property to dispose of; indeed I am afraid that purchasers will hardly be met with, except those who will buy to pay themselves. But why should I afflict your tender heart that has already…enough to oppress it. my unwillingness to communicate anything to my dearest that I was conscious must give only….has they been the cause of my concealing……..……had
[p.2] they been …………….. how much ….. should I have ………… particularly ……….any good fortune. At my present ……. …….  …..  point, to endeavour to secure if possible a reliable independence that may enable us to live if not in affluence …….. with content, a small income is adequate to this if we will resolve to be ……. the means are in our own power if we will but make use of them. If I can but satisfy the North American demands & accomplish this object of my wishes I can accommodate myself to any station provided I see my dearest but contented. Remember our observation at the Springs this last summer that happiness is not annexed to great houses & splendid furniture, the pleasing recollection of the many happy cheerful innocent & delightful hours that we past in our Log House, free from all the corroding cares that have since played upon my heart, even at this distance is so strongly imprest that I reflect on it with rapture, & in vain wish a return of those agreeable moments. Oh my love the consolation of having you with me would soften every inconvenience, believe me your absence from me oppresses my heart & I feel that I want my better half. I knew not the force of my Affection for you until our separation, so true it is that we know not how to put a true value upon the blessings the Providence bestows upon us until we are deprived of them. My love grows every day stronger, your dear image continually presents itself to my idea & you are every day more ….. in …… I am incapable
[p.3] my dearest of …… ……. ……. I shall have seen my Attorney, afterward I shall be better acquainted with matters. In the mean time my ……… will  support your spirits and give nothing too …….. for my safety. If it should please Almighty God to call me from this scene of troubles & difficulties, your fortune will then be independent & clear from all incumbrances. This consideration gives me comfort under all my uneasiness. How many thousands are there more unhappy than myself who not only are entangled in debts themselves but even by their death plunge those they love dearest in deeper distress, in this particular I have reason to esteem myself fortunate. Yes my Dear this reflection will give peace to my last moments. Oh most gracious God grant that I may once more be restored to my dearest wife & children & I will submit with resignation by the assistance of thy Grace to whatever misfortunes it shall please this Providence to permit me to taste of in this Life in humble hope that they may be the means of conducting one to future happiness. Thy ways O God are wisdom & thou alone knowest what is best for us. Let us daily repeat

This day be bread and peace our lot,
All close beneath the sun,
Thou knowest it best bestow'd or not,
And let thy will be done.

I am impatient for the arrival of some vessel from Philadelphia by which alone I have hopes of hearing from my dear family. Opportunities are so scarce that I hope you will write me books, not letters, with anything that relates to you all, however insignificant it may appear to you, will be interesting to me. Yes my dear, your letters will be the picture of your heart to me the Talisman ….. Gloria …… my multitude of … … …… for a line
[p.4] from my beloved ….. …. not mea….. fault but for the want of opportunity I am too well assured of your Love to say that you would miss any occasion of giving me the tenderest proofs of it. Long experience has made me truly sensible of the value of it, may my future ……. shew that I am not altogether unworthy of so great a blessing. As I am going into the country you must not expect to hear from me again until the return of Capt Brookes who will sail the beginning of April. Vessels to North America from our part of the Island are not numerous and opportunities to Kingston precarious, I mention this my dearest to prevent any uneasiness on your part shou'd you at any time be longer than usual without a letter from me, be assured it shall never be my fault if an opportunity slips by without a line from me. Letters of affection will be dull & insipid except to those who are interested repetitions elsewhere tiresome, are here the language of the heart, & therefore valuable. I have many particulars to inquire about but I will suspend them until I receive your letter which I daily expect. By Capt Brookes I hope to send you some small matters which I wish may be agreeable to you. I cannot do much yet, Cash is hard to get in this Town, more so than you can easily imagine. I do not know how it is but when I am writing to you my paper is insensibly filled I have hardly left room to give my dearest love to Nancy, Polly, Alex. & my ….. Jack. O my dear I once more press you my heart. I am now retiring to rest, may your idea present itself to me & make me as happy as distance will permit.
                                                      I am and ever shall be my Dearest Love
                                                        Your most affectionate husband
                                                           John Campbell

[Source, The Virginia Historical Society, Spotswood papers, Mss1 SP687b 3-5]


The Rev. Jonathan Boucher, a loyalist who left North America in 1775, knew both John Campbell and Mary Spotswood. He recorded his reminiscences after returning to England and wrote the following,

A near neighbour of mine, the widow of a Colonel Spotswoode . . . had married a Mr. Campbell, a native of Jamaica, where he was supposed to have large possessions. (He was a sensible and an agreeable man; and we were good neighbours.) But they had been expensive; and of course were soon plunged into great difficulties. To extricate them out of these, Mr Campbell said it was necessary to go to Jamaica. He did go, but never returned, having long since settled in Bruxelles, where last summer I called upon him, but could not see him, and where he seems to live utterly unmindful of his wife and Virginia.
[Source, Boucher, Jonathan, Rev. 'Reminiscences of an American Loyalist, 1738-1789', pp. 63-64, Boston 1925]

There is sufficient evidence to suggest that Campbell did in fact return to Virginia, despite Jonathan Boucher's statement, although there is little doubt that he eventually left for Europe.

Will of Janet (Campbell) McDuffie, 1799

[National Archives of Scotland, CC8/8/131]

Edinburgh, 30 July 1799

Follows the Inventory
The said Janet Campbell had addebted to her the sum of £5 Sterling being part of £400 Sterling due by Neill Malcolm Esq. of London1 …being the arrears of annuities due to her by Mr Peter Campbell her brother for his bond for which Neill Malcolm became liable in consequence of an inhibition as purchaser of the estate of [   left blank   ]2 from the said Peter Campbell, extending the said sum of £5 Sterling in Scots money to £60

Follows the last Will and Testament
I Janet Campbell daughter of James Campbell of Ruddel3 in Argyllshire and widow of Dugald McDuffie sometime merchant in Kingston Jamaica4 think it proper to write some directions to be observed with regard to the disposal of the few things that may be found in my house at the time of my death…
Seeing that Miss Magdalene Anderson daughter of Thomas Anderson late of White Burgh is the nearest relation that I have in this country who is able to take the trouble about the ordering this my will, I hereby appoint Magdalene Anderson my cousin my executrix…
I will that the sum of £10 Sterling be given to the Rev. Mr John Allan who has long been my good friend and attentive pastor, also one half guinea to the presenter and ten shillings to the poor box in the chapel that I attend in Skinners Close
Item, to my much esteemed cousin Robert Anderson Esq. of Whiteburgh…I leave my rum case and the bottles belonging to it as also my china punch bowl and silver punch strainer. I think he will not refuse to accept of a legacy of this size.
To my dear cousin Miss Emilia Anderson daughter of Thomas Anderson I appoint six china coffee cups and saucers and two china pots and a large china milk pot together with my silver milk pot and silver sugar basin.
Item, to my cousin Miss Magdalene Anderson I leave five silver table spoons and a silver dividing spoon as also the large bed that I sleep in, the bedstead curtains, featherbed mattress, bolster and pillows together with three pairs of large sheets belonging and two blankets with scarlet borders.
Item, to my dear cousin Miss Elizabeth Anderson daughter of Mr James Anderson of Ormiston deceased and niece of Robert Anderson of Whiteburgh I leave a ring with green red and white stones and also a small satinwood tea cannister and my best tea table together with all my shawls and plaids that are my own spinning and any things in my trunks or drawers that are fit for her use…
Item, to Mrs Florence Campbell spouse of the Rev. Mr Archibald Campbell first minister of Inverary I appoint one dozen of desert spoons by way of memorandum of the frequent use I made of hers.
To Miss Florence McDougald niece of the Rev. Archibald Campbell I desire the sum of two guineas in consideration of the many errands she has gone on my account particularly on the business of writing with her uncle and aunt.
There is in Sir William Forbes Bankers hand the sum of £50 Sterling for defraying the expence of my funeral, as for debts I have at present none.
My annuity from the City of Edinburgh is payable to the day of my death.
There is in Messrs Mansfield Ramsay & Co.'s hands the sum of £300 Sterling which I appoint to be equally divided between James and Jean Campbell the children of Mr Patrick Campbell5 writer in Greenock who is by birth my brother and I appoint James and Jean Campbell to be my residuary legatees…only to James I desire that he may have over what is already mentioned one dozen of tea spoons and a sugar tongs a small draining spoon also my watch and to his sister Jean I appoint my best wearing apparel…
My best quilt which was originally a present from my aunt Mrs Anderson of Whiteburgh to my mother I desire to be given to my sister Mrs Campbell of Skervine for her use during her life and at her death to be given to James Campbell hers and my nephew…
Written with my own hand at Edinburgh this twentieth day of June 1794.

Probate granted 30 July 1799


Notes on Anderson

It is possible that the Anderson family named here was related to Andersons in St Ann's parish, Jamaica.
One James Anderson is named in a letter from James Blagrove Campbell dated 14 June 1798, as being present at the opening of the will of Archibald Campbell of Minard, Jamaica, and 3rd of Knockbuy in Scotland, who was brother-in-law to John Campbell of Orange Bay.
[Campbell, Marion, 'Letters by The Packet', Argyll & Bute Library, 2004]

A Dr. James Anderson, of Huntley estate in St. Ann was born 1740, in Scotland, and died 1811, at Huntley. He married a Henrietta [unknown, but quite possibly a Campbell]
Sons: James, b.1766; Adam, 1780-1835; John, 1781-1875.
Hon. Dr. John Anderson, Supreme Court judge and President of the Council of Jamaica died 1875 at Minard. He was then owner of Huntley, Minard and New Hope, all in St. Ann, the latter two being former Campbell properties.
He also owned Rock Pleasant pen in Trelawny, once belonging to Alexander McLachlan [d. 1783] a cousin of Peter Campbell of Fish River who was McLachlan's executor, together with Neill Malcolm.

1 Neill Malcolm of Poltalloch, sometime of Hanover, Jamaica
2 It is not known whether this was a property in Scotland or in Jamaica.
3 Ruddel / Rudhil, near Kilbride in Argyllshire. It was in the glen next to Kilmichael where the Campbells in Hanover originated. James Campbell of Rhudil was listed as a landowner at Over Rhudil, Kilbride, Taynabenny and Knocknaheilt. ['A Directory of land ownership in Scotland, c.1770', Scottish Record Society, Series 5, 1976].
4 Transcript of a letter to Dugald McDuffie, dated 1766, from London merchant Duncan Campbell is below. McDuffie was known to the John Campbells of Orange Bay and Salt Spring and his store in Kingston appears to have been sometimes used as business rendezvous
5 Assumed to be the Peter Campbell aforementioned.

Letter from Duncan Campbell, 1766

Duncan Campbell to Dugald McDuffie, mcht. Kingston6
London 27 October 1766

Dear Sir,
          This will be delivered you by my nephew Capt. Somerville who is ___________ to __________ but I directed him to call upon you to know if my brother7 left any instructions for him. He is a young Capt. and a stranger to your place. I beg leave therefore to introduce him to your countenance and good offices. He will inform you what lumber he has for sale in the ship's8 account; if any of these utilities are in demand he has orders to dispose of them at Kingston for the ready only9 he  __________ you will direct him in that respect. Mrs. Campbell joins me in affectionate compliments to Mrs. McDuffie & you. I shall be glad on any occasion to render you any service in power on this side of the water and I am  Dear Sir etc.

6 "Mr. McDuffie's store" in Kingston is also mentioned by James Campbell of Orange Bay
7 Brother-in-law John Campbell of Salt Spring
8 This was Orange Bay's maiden voyage to Jamaica with Somerville as captain. The ship had collected a cargo of lumber in Philadelphia.
9 Campbell wanted to be paid in cash

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