A CUMBERLAND COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA COURT CLERK'S ACCOUNT BOOK, 1775-1788, AS RECORDED IN A MANUSCRIPT RECORD BOOK KEPT BY JOHN AGNEW, CLERK OF THE QUARTER SESSIONS AND JUSTICE OF THE PEACE DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.
Hand sewn calf covers, well worn. 16cm. 118 pp. Short, near daily entries between July 1775 and Sept. 1777, then scattered from 1778-1788, in a legible hand. A wealth of local names are recorded amongst the listings of court cases and other legal transactions.
According to the Carlisle County Historical Society, John Agnew, a Carlisle merchant, first served as a Provincial Justice of the Peace for the county in 1770. He retained this position under the new Revolutionary Pennsylvania government, also becoming clerk of the quarter sessions. He also served as a member of the Cumberland County Committee of Correspondence during the war. In 1784, he was appointed Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. Item #63760
Agnew begins his entries on July 18, 1775, recording lists of names of plaintiffs and defendants in court cases, and the fees paid. A handful mention cases involving "The King" v. various individuals, several mention the Orphan's Court and guardianship cases. On July 27, 1775 Agnew records that he bought "of Col. Washington 4 hhds. Tob[acco] at 18 p hund. Virginia Curr'cy." [This is likely Col. William Augustine Washington, Gen. George Washington's nephew.] Fees were also paid for tavern licenses, writs, and judgments. Sales of state lottery tickets were recorded in 1777 and 1778, and 2d class United States lottery tickets in 1780.
A record of the "Provision Ac't commencing 4th July 1777" includes payments for liquor, flower [sic], salt, soap, wood and whiskey, and from January-April 1778, pork and beef. There are several receipts recorded for goods and services provided to Agnew for stacks of hay, cords of wood, notes payable, etc. One signed by Jas. Mitchell states that at Carlisle "24 May 1777 [he] recd from John Agnew thirty pound seven shills & sixpence in full of cash I left with him when I went to Camp in Winter." Likely these transactions relate to provisioning the Continental Army. Gen. Washington took his Army into winter camp at Morristown, NJ in February 1777, following his victories at Trenton and Princeton, and the following winter, by December 1777, Washington and his army were encamped at Valley Forge. Each state was required to provide provisions for their state regiments, as part of their overall contribution to the maintenance of the Continental Army. Carlisle had been identified by the fledgling Continental Congress as a hub for logistical support for the army, with its iron forges and agricultural resources.
An entry dated Feb. 16, 1781 lists approx. 36 local names on two pages, followed by some kind of census (?), for example, Conrad Hague: 4 men; Jacob Swem: 1 man & wife, 2 servts.; John Anderson: 3 men [etc.]. Another page lists a group of officers, Col. John Davis, Capt. Becker, Capt. Campbell, Capt. Henderson, along with several other local men, without ranks. [Col. John Davis commanded Cumberland County's 2nd Battalion during the American Revolution, according to militia records. He was also Deputy Quartermaster General for central and western Pennsylvania, appointed in 1778. His assistant quartermaster was Samuel Postlethwaite, who later succeeded John Agnew as Clerk of the Quarter Sessions, and was Agnew's executor. See "Samuel Postlethwaite: Trader, Patriot, Gentleman of Early Carlisle," by Carla Christiansen, printed in the Cumberland County History magazine, vol. 31, 2014.]
Laid down on the rear pastedown is a news clipping printing William Smallwood's description of an action involving Gen. Morgan and Lieut. Col. Washington, directed to Hon. Gen. Greene, and printed by order of Congress, signed in type by Charles Thomson, Sec'y. Smallwood recounts the surrender of British troops at Rugeley's Mill, 13 miles north of Camden, South Carolina, tricked into doing so by a ruse of Lt. Col. William Augustine Washington: "The Colonel's address and strategem on the occasion deserve applause; having no artillery, he mounted a pine log, and holding out the appearance of an attack with field-piece, carried his point, by sending in a flag and demanding an immediate surrender."