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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 4

From William Prescott
Prescott, William RTP
Pepperrell December 16th 1782 Sir,

I1 understand Rouff and Ray2 are to have there trial this week the evedences that are to appear against them (viz) Nehemiah Peirce Jacob Tayler and Robert Parker are counted honest men though in this affair misled by villins, they have this in there favor they repented and informed me of the affair on my promis to use my influence in there favor all three have Served as good Soldiers in our Army the fore part of the war Peirce Distinguished himself at Bunker Hill if they can be sent home free it may have a tendence to Bring find out greater villins.

Your Humble Servent Wm. Prescott

RC ; addressed: “Honorable Rt. Treat Pain Boston.”


Col. William Prescott (1726–1795) served in the provincial forces during King George’s War and later became colonel of the local militia. In 1775 he led his men to Charlestown, where he was one of the commanders at the Battle of Bunker Hill. He served the town of Pepperell as selectman, town clerk, and representative to the General Court (American National Biography).


Roger Ray and Stephen Rolf were individually charged with fraud at the Feb. 1783 session of the Supreme Judicial Court in Suffolk County; their cases were continued to the next court session in Aug. 1783 when Ray was additionally charged with “fraud in enlisting” on which charge the “jury could not agree”; that charge along with the other ones against Ray and Rolf were again continued. By the time the SJC again sat in Suffolk County in Feb. 1784, only Rolf’s case was brought before the court, but it was once again continued. However, none of the cases appear later, and apparently all charges were dropped (Supreme Judicial Court Minute Books, Suffolk County, Feb. 1783. Massachusetts Judicial Archives, Boston, Mass.).

Account of Business Done at the Supreme Judicial Court
January 1783

An Estimate of Business done at the Supreme Jud. Court

1777 to Jany. 1779 Drawing Indictments, travel and Attendance and arguing causes according to the fee bill from June 1777 to Jany. 1779, amounted to about 333. 2. 6
In this time there were 24 Capital Tryals very fatiguing & disagreable.
The cheif of the other Causes were for that most destructive Crime uttering Counterfeit money, very difficult & labourious
From January 1779 to Jan 4, 1780 Drawing Indictments, travel Attendance &c from Jany. 1779 to Jany. 1780, as above according to the fee bill about 260. 3. 2
In this time there were 8 Capital Trials and the Other business as before. The reasons of Stating the business to these periods is to shew how unequall the Grants made at those times were to the business done
From Jany. 1780 to Jany. 1783 Drawing Indictments travel attendance &c from Jany. 1780 to Jany. 1783, according to the fee bill abt. 936.19. 9
1530: 5: 5
In this time there were 24 Capital Tryals and a great encrease of Cheats of enlisting Soldiers by false names & other Crimes.
1779 Feby. 9 By a Grant then made which I never received & have the warrant by me now—£900.0.0 £100.0.0
By Cost of Court received for business done in this time—to Jany. 1779 37.1.3
1780 May 4th. By Grant made at this time for £7500:0:0 which I could never get at the Treasury till
July 19th. I recd. 2605:0:0
Aut. 9th. I recd. 4895:0.0
which by the Scale of Deprn. is 107.0.0
By Costs recd. for business done from Jany. 1779. to Jany. 1780. 60.2.0
By Do. to Jany. 1783 136:7:2

Mm. Cash expended in riding the Circuits exclusive of horse hire or expenses while attending Court where I live amounts to 237.4.5

My Expenses of Living during this time

disagreable to have no income explored

hindred from all possible chance of getting a fortune

The Sums Coming all together sound large

2. During the whole of above time there were frequent Applications by Governmt. for Advice and Conduct—and also from many Officers of Government, which have not been nor can well be reduced to a charge

3 Besides the above matters which were reduced to Indictments, a great number of matters have been enquired into with great attention and Expence of time which thrô defect of Evidence have not been brought to veiw by Indictments prosecutions

1x The above is the amount of the business done according to the fee bill, which is a rate at which no Lawyer will do the business, nor any Client expect it

5 it engroses the time in Such a Manner as to prevent any other business

6 large fees are given by persons accused to their Lawyers, and all Lawyers exert themselves against an Attorney for Government as great Reputation is gained by rescuing the Accused from punishment

7 The disagreable circumstance necessity of Attacking the Lives Reputation & Interest of accused Persons, whereby illwill is created—while those who defend the lives Characters & properties of others are rewarded with good will as well as fees

4 The business performed is of great importance to the existance & welfare of the State

8 The great fatigue in having no assistant (as is always found while in private Causes of any importance is always provided) with whom to consult, the whole burthen of the propriety, discretion & Conduct of a prosecution resting on his own Judgment, having no right to ask the Advice of a brother Lawyer, & desire him to refuse taking up for the accused, & not improve his discoveries against Government

Excluded from the General Court by means of the office.

MS ; endorsed: “Acct. of bus. transacted from July 1777 to Jany. 1783.”