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(McRae Family Letters)
Correspondence of the McRae Family, Silk Manufacturers and English Emigrants who fled Imprisonment for Debt and found success in New York City, 1825-1876

35 letters, 125 pages, several accompanied by original mailing envelopes, some staining, and tears, with loss, else in generally good, legible condition.

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Letters of the McRae family of London and New York City, and intermarried relatives, the McRae’s were engaged in the silk trade, particularly in the manufacture of silk fringe, ribbons, and braid. The correspondence begins in 1825 when John McRae senior fled England for New York having failed in business, his stock, looms, and other property were seized, and sold by the sheriff, and he fled at least three writs and warrants against him to avoid imprisonment for debt. McRae’s oldest son, John Jr., remained behind to settle with the law and creditors and take care of his mother and siblings who were left behind in McRae’s haste to escape. McRae re-establishes himself in business in New York, in 1830, again manufacturing silk ribbons and trimmings, his wife and children follow him there, except for John McRae jr., who remains in England running his own silk concern, essentially functioning as an adjunct of his father’s American concern. The McRae’s prosper in the years following their financial embarrassment, John Jr. is evidently wealthy enough to go fox hunting on a regular basis, and his father was worth over $ 30,000.00 at the time of his death. In 1852, the New York business became Thomas C. McRae & Co., run by John McRae’s youngest son. An interesting chronicle of one American emigrant family’s success in 19th century New York City.

      Sample Quotes:

     John McRae London, 19th July 1825, to his father, John McRae, who had just escaped to New York

        “My Dear father,

            Since you left us nothing extraordinary or unlooked for has occurred. We kept yr intentions entirely secret until within these few days past. I broke it soon after you left by degrees to Mrs. M. who of course was extremely anxious abt you. She was much better when satisfied you were out of harms way, but as she will write on part of this herself no doubt she’ll speak her feelings better than I can. I paid the man in possession 8 days ago after you reacd Livl in order to keep the thing from being blazed abrd too soon added to wh his attorney & the Sheriff’s Ofrs &c having been as I think very dilatory the sale was not advertised until las Wednesday the 13th Inst  to take place on Friday the 15th & it accordingly did take place there were but 3 or 4 buyers there for the looms & they bid very low prices consequently Mr Ht bought21 out of the 26 the others sold for from 4 £ to 4 £ 10 per Loom except the French one which sold for 22 £ &all the others Mr Ht bought in … the whole of the mills &c fetched but £ 7. 10the furniture that was left in the house & fixtures &c fetched very good prices the lease has not at present been put up they appear doubtful as to its fetching anything I’m sorry the thing has sold so very badly as it precludes the hope of getting any thing from Mr Ht I’m told the expenses attending seizure, sale &c will be at least 100 £ so that Mr Ht will gain but little. Mr Robts came up about a fortnight ago & wished much to see you I showed him yr letter from Ciren tr wherein you said you should go to Kenle &c he did not say much but upon the whole appeared friendly he wrote on Friday last to say you had noy yet reacd K & requests to know what had been done at Cr I wrote him by return acqg him with sale & told him I had recd a Letter from you dated 27 June which had been by some means delayed which stated you were on ship board & had resolved to quit the country rather than see him & others you were indebted to now that you were stripped of all you had in the world ( you were to have written me a Letter the last thing before sailing saying that you were going abroad that I might have shewn but suppose you forgot it) I have not since heard from him – I was surprised at hearing nothing at all from Billings & thinking it best he should know something of it before the sale &c I wrote him an anonymous note in a disguised hand on Monday 11th Inst as from a frd of his informing him of the seizure of all you had  by Mr H under a Wart of Aty  (I stated under what instrument lest he should think by making you a Bankt he could make Mr H refund) & at the same time told him you had I believed left home in the greatest distress of mind& that I heard you had left the Kingdom & was I believed without a £ & further that I had known you for some yrs & believed you to be a very honest industrious man & that I felt extremely for you signed a friend. I put it in 2 dr pt at Shipton on Mndy night so that he would receive it on Tuesday morng by 10. I was at home all the morng & momentarily expecting him but he did not come until half past 2 & asked (without taking the least notice of having recd any letter) if you were in Town& what was doing at Cr I then told him the whole & shewed him yr two letters he said very little but I thought looked as tho’ if he had you in his power he would do something altho’ when he found you were out of his reach said you need not be afraid of him – the 87 £ bill was dun on Friday & on Sat he called, I was out, & made many enquiries abt Smith & an endorser named Williams & at length left word if I came home by ½ past 10 I was to go to him & if I did not come home by that hour to call upon him on Sunday morng. I accordingly did so & told him I did not know the parties, that you sold many goods at home to persons I know nothing of but that I would endeavor to get the address of Smith or Williams (he did not ask about Blige) but was afraid I should not succeed as you had  no one to assist you at Cr that I could enquire of but that if I could not I would write you for information but that it would be 2 or 3 mons before I could hear he said if we could not make him out he would get me  to do so altho’ he strongly suspected there was no such person at Rygate, he was very savage abt it & said he was served in such a manner  in the whole course of his life so much for him – The more I think of the step you have taken the better I’m convinced it is the very best thing that could be done – the thing got wind pretty much by some means for in less than a week after you left there were 3 writs out against you & an execution at the suit of Ludd’s for 15th these things I learned from the officer who acted for Mr. H but he would not give me the names of the parties he was particularly anxious to know from me how you meant to go about the processes & when he should see you &c & further that as he had been so candid (mind he never said a word abt having them until after having been several times to Cr I found you were not to be met with) I told him I did not know anything about it but would tell you when I saw you. I’m pretty certain one of the writs is at the suit of the Dyers – no one as I  know in the shape of an officer has been enquiring for you in the City, of course all the expenses will fall on the difft parties. I wrote to Uncle Thomas  last week informg of wht had happened & he wrote by return express of his concern at what he heard & that he would exert himself to get either Hn or … Blake I think if we can manage to get two or three of the young ones off Mr Hns hands they would do very well . I have not been able to get any looms for them yet on act of Cr … being so long deferred but have now to have two inqy of which two I like & have been over nearly the whole parish of Bithnal Green for as a long time before I could meet with any thing that I should wish to put the family into but think at last have found a suitable place it is a small House conts 4 rooms & a small kitchen quite new in a pleasant open, airy situation abt one mile from Church St at 15 Guins per annum no taxes or other rates & intend to lose no time in getting them in & to work & hope they’ll be able to manage pretty comfortably considering all things.

      August 2nd Finding the post officer only make up the Bags for America once a month viz the first Wednesday I refrained finishing this until last day since writing the above Billings has been with me 5 or 6 times very wroth about  Bil & will not believe  but I know something abt it &  one or two talk of making you a Bankt  & compelling  you to come forward or be outlawed. I always tell him when he mentions the subject of Banky he must use his own discretion but it would only be adding 80 or 100 £ to his loss. I got Burford to write out the statement of Smith a/c from yr ledger & sent it to B last Sunday week since which I have not heard from him. I have taken the House mentioned above & Mrs M & the family are now in it & very comfortable considering the circumstances I have got 2 looms up & have been employed nearly all last week in removing the family & looms &c & putting the looms to work they have both Jane & Harriott, made a start & I hope will work well. You may be certain without my telling you that it was run away with a deal of money & I felt it in my financial arrangements but shall push on & hope to get the better of it altho’ it will throw me back badly …”

       (The letter is continued with two notes by McRae’s wife and younger son Thomas).

“London 23rd Feby 1829

       My Dear Father,

            We have been anxiously very anxiously expecting to hear from you day to day & from week to week for the three months & are much concerned indeed that we do not particularly as you expressd in a former letter your intention of writing “every month at all events” I heard from Mr. James in Novr who at the bottom of his letter was kind enough to say he had seen you a few days previously that you were well even this intelligence although so scanty gave us great satisfaction – I wrote you in Novr  at the same time & by the same ship as I sent to Mr. Jones but not a word do we hear from you nor can we at all account for your silence but hope & trust there is no influence at home which can prevent your corresponding with the children of your first love we would fain hope there is no such influence but it is difficult to a/c for your long continued silence but we are more anxiously looking for letters from you – I had hoped that the success of business would have caused you to send but alas, no.

             I have but little news to send you either of a Political or Domestic nature as concerns old England excepting that the emancipation of the Catholics has been recommended in the speech from the Throne & that as the day approaches, the 5th March, when it is expected the measure will be proposed to Parliament the public anxiety & agitation appears to increase & petitions are being got up in all parts for & against the proposed measure but it appears to be the opinion of most well informed men that it will be carried & is looked forward to as likely to accomplish the pacification of Ireland & to be a general good to the country – Trade is in a very languid state indeed & the shopkeepers generally have been loudly complaining for the last 4 months – The Ribbon silk trades are both very bad & several Failures have taken place lately I understand the Stocks of Ribbons &c have accumulated amazingly lately  & considerable losses are looked for by the holders. The sale at the East India House commenced on Monday when the prices fell about 20 pr cent in consequence of which the sale was adjourned until the intentions of the Government respecting the duties on Foreign thrown Silks (in which it is rumored they intend making further reductions) shall be known in the mean time trade is excessively flat the manufacturers are in a stew.

             I have done nothing further about Spring Grove there appears little prospect at present of selling it to advantage. I have not hears whether Turner has distributed any part of my late Grandfathers property but I believe he has not it appears strange that Alexr has not yet applied for his … (I have not heard that he has) I was in hope he would teaze & mortify the Turners pretty well on the subject They are wretchedly mean & appear to be despised by nearly all who know them & very deservedly so I believe – for my own part I don’t care if I never see the man –

             Eliza sticks at Clow & Cumming’s notwithstanding the numerous & frequent changes they make  I should think since Eliza has been there they have had 6 or 8 thorough removes of the whole establishment herself excepted they appear to value her & have several times voluntarily advanced her salary which I believe is now 40 £ a year which I think is a very good thing for her in these perilous times she is in very good health & desires me to send her best love & duty to you & all the Family which by the bye we expect to hear has increased since Mrs M’s arrival in that celebrated Land of Liberty. I should like of all things if I could any way manage it to run over & see you all I hope the time will arrive when I shall be able to do so – I shall never forget parting with you in Oxford St my heart felt as if it would burst the absolute necessity & good policy of that step I have never since thought differently of but it was very hard for all of us but I hope all has been & will be for the best there would be no more safety now for Ronald than there was when I saw him last he is not forgotten the last time I saw Billings he enquired & seemed very sour & Robinson is very bitter against him  - It was a providential escape for him for which his family in every branch cannot be sufficiently thankful – Messrs Abraham & John & Mr. Herbert (all Brothers you know) at Law in the Court of Chancery respecting the Freehold Property was a few months since proposed to be sold & was I believe actually so  when as a matter of form it was thought necessary to have Abrms signature  to the conveyance he being heir at Law to his late Father but who having a little previously signed some writings which ad brought him into some difficulty refused to sign the said conveyance until the writings were looked over by his solicitor in doing which behold his Solr found that although the Land on which the houses are built was purchased 2 years before the will all regularly made the conveyance of the said land was not made to Mr. Herbert &c until after he had made his will which circumstance it seems renders the will of none effect as far as regards that property & Abrm as heir at law has filed a Bill in Chancery & is proceeding for the recovery of the said property although his Brothers have been in undisputed possession for 13 years & if he succeeds of which there appears little doubt all the rents recd from the time of old Mr … must be refunded to him – This proceeding … supposed worth from 100 to 150 thousand pounds is very freely canvassed as a villainous proceeding as there is no doubt whatever of the property intended to be disposed of by the old man as stated in his will. Jno Herbert & my old friend George are in great anxiety about the matter as from both Wm & Robert having lost all they supposed it will fall solely on John & will I suppose be a loss of at least 2000 £ to him - …”


“London March 8th/47 27 Ludgate Street [Eliza McRae to her father, 109 Canal Street, New York]

          My dear Father,

             I am sorry to find, from a Letter I saw from you the other day, that you feel hurt at my silence and apparent neglect, but I assure you I have not thought less of you though it has happened that your correspondence has been principally with John, on account of his having had business with you, but with me it would be much more difficult, as you know no one with whom I am acquainted, and I have always been delicate of entering on any subject that might by any possibility wound your feelings… It has been my earnest wish for some years past to see you all, but you may easily imagine there were many reasons why I could not gratify it, first my being actively engaged in a business I could not leave, my very uncertain health, and the expense of course was and is  a great objection but having now in a great measure given up business, finding my health quite unequal to it I thought it better to leave it with a small income, rather than remain to make more money and have no strength left to enjoy it. I have therefore now determined, to make the attempt to see you… My dear friend Miss Evans has made up her mind to accompany me which will be a great comfort to me, as I am quite helpless on board a vessel,… we purpose leaving London by one of the line of packets (not steam) somewhere about the end of May so that we may leave New York in August, to avoid the autumnal gales if possible … Eliza McRae”

“Bristol [England] November 17th, 1847 [John Chapman to Mr. P. Harrison, 69 Division Street New York]

      Dear Brother & Sister,

            … you say Trade is dull with you we hope by this time it is better it has been & is now bad on this side of the water however people are now in hopes that the worst is passed – It is a great shame that the Jews will not let honest folks like your good selves get a fair profit on your business – they ruin every Trade nearly & there is no such thing as beating them off – well all you can do I spose is, as the saying is Grin & bear it – …”

“Bristol January 28th 1848

      Dear Brother & Sister,

         We addressed you last 30th or 31st December, we told you then that we could not make up our minds to leave Bristol until abt the middle of this month, , the present being the first Mail leaving England after our decision, we now have great pleasure in telling you that we really are coming among you and very soon too, I gave notice at Lewis Mead on the 19th Instant & they will allow me to leave at the time I wish –

         We intend sailing from Bristol in the “Cosmo”, she is expected to sail abt the 25th March at any rate if the wind be fair she will not exceed 2 or 3 days after that time – we are preparing our clothes & hope to be ready as far as that is concerned by the time we receive your & Mr Benjamin H’s letter the middle of February – we hope we shall not be disappointed in hearing from you by that time  (with full details for our guidance) as we are building upon it – we are now beginning to dispose of our furniture as we best can to our neighbors & acquaintance, I shall remain at Lewis Mead as long as I can, so as not to interfere with our preparations for the voyage. The “Cosmo” was chartered homeward last voyage to London, she sailed from thence last Saturday for this port in ballast I suppose or nearly so – upon her arrival here after she has discharged I will go on board, The 2nd Cabin Passage £6 pr head, & £5 steerage we shall fix upon the 2nd cabin if comfortable. We  had strong thoughts of going from Liverpool & have made particular enquiry by 2 friends there & they strongly advise us to sail from Bristol, as there are so many Irish always going out from thence & the cleanest of them, we English folks reckon dirty, We have told the dear old folks of our intentions & assured them that all will be for the best & they will be provided for &c as usual they are in sad trouble about it, but we must make as light of it as we can to them, although we fear the parting will be severe, my friends are equally sorry for us to leave & yet they cannot advise us to stay Now dear Brother & Sister we have been long corresponding together, this will soon terminate & in place of it we hope to have the long looked for pleasure of mutual intercourse together & we hope it may be of long duration, I do not think it will be worth while for us to write you after this unless anything unforeseen occurs – you may calculate that the “Cosmo” sails about the date named & we hope under the kind protection of providence to be with you by the end of April, and then Dear Friends we shall as it were enter upon & begin a new life – in the meantime if you can in any way among your circle of friends promote our interests  you will we are sure, do so – You are aware I shall not be particular what it is so long as I have a contented mind for that is what I have not had for a long time – I suppose we shall not starve in such a large land of plenty …J & H. Chapman”

“35 not 31 Jno Street, Tottenham Court Road Mar 17, 1848

      Dear Sir,

          … when you get settled in Amerca Why you are going I know not, except it is from the general dissatisfaction of England and a better prospect there – I myself have spent a long life in a state of subjection to oppression, poverty and Labour and for which to bring up a family to the same drudgery … I think it a great Blessing so many of my family escaped away I think my own life behind will never rise here,,, Thos Harrison”

“London 22nd Mar 1849 [John McRae to his father, New York]


       My Dear Father,

           … my second was in reply to your very unkind letter in which you reproach me   by saying “my son I have somewhat against you” & then blew into a tirade about my having paid some money to Mr. Larner to settle that long & disagreeable matter & as I wrote you in my said second letter I should not have paid the money if I had not considered it wise to do so. I have had many quarrels with the said Larners on your account & have fought all your Battles like I trust a dutiful son & can’t bear the ill temper & spleen with which unhappily most of your letters are interwoven regarding Larners it’s the more strange & inconsistent because in a former letter after I had sent you word what I had done you praised me (for a wonder) & said I always  was a good boy & appeared determined to do all the good things.I think after all the money I have paid “since we parted” in every way which I need not here enumerate its by no means creditable to or honourable of you – your finding fault with my paying looks very like evading repayment but view it how you please I have no doubt of what you ought to do & that is remit me the money at once & with Interest. I consider you justly indebted to me (commencing with the purchases made for you in Oct 1844 money pd in Larners matter & interest) £ 85:14:10 – setting aside all old scores which I gave up with pleasure long since - … you say nothing about your coming over nor do I although the seeing you has been one of the most fondly cherished hopes of my life for many many years but really & its with extreme grief I feel & write it if you come nursing & indulging such irritable & angry feelings & apparent want of affection as seem to be manifested in your Letters instead of being  such a happy meeting as I have so often dreamed of I fear it would not be anything like it for I could not bear your hard remarks & reproaches You mention again for about the 100th time the goods I sent you – I sent what I expected would be what you wished but unfortunately it turned out otherwise but unless you wish to charge me with improper conduct in the matter I wonder you really are not ashamed of it I would rather burn them & efface it from my mind if I were in your place. If I were not a pretty good man of business I should not have arrived at & sustain the position I am in & because in a transaction for you it did not turn out well you sent at different times what I conceive to be very unjust remarks – I did not get the value of a share by the transaction & had every desire to please you & am sorry I failed – You have the knack or misfortune of imputing motives which if they had any existence would be unpardonable. … John McRae”

“London 20 June 1851 [John McRae, to his father in New York]

      My dear father,

         Yours of the 4th Ins. Came safely to hand on the 16th Its contents as to enclosure & sentiments expressed are quite satisfactory to me & it shall not be my fault if another angry word passes there ought to be no such thing enter either of our minds. I felt it quite necessary for my own position, justification &c, to say what I have & shall never revert to those themes again willingly I can assure & sincerely hope & pray that all our correspondence will be conducted with the harmony affection & entire confidence that should undoubtedly subsist between Father & Son. I also hope that you will make a point of writing at least once in very month & I’ll promise you to do the same suppose we fix in order to be regular the 1st day or packet in each month.

            I am very glad to hear you are assisting poor Jane & that she is happier than she has been. Its true Turners are destitute I have assisted them with 20 £ & 10£ my Aunt has been to London on some business of her sons & stayed about a week or so, … Dorrington’s I’m sorry to say do not deserve any assistance I have kept them & 2 or 3 children well employed for years & if they had been thrifty industrious people they would have saved besides living comfortably a tolerable sum by this time but do what you or I will for them they are always pictures of poverty & slovenliness I have no sympathy for them feeling that they deserve none for if all were like them all would be equally miserable I don’t know if they have turned Roman Catholics but have heard so.

           … you need not fear that I shall say or do anything in any way depreciating you indeed it has been my pride here to uphold you & it has been only your unfortunate Letters which have caused such a loss to us all in kindly & affectionate correspondence… John McRae”

“New York 13 Oct 1851

      My Dear Son,

          … we get along very well & are doing more business than usual this is by making a stock instead of so many small orders I wrote you to buy Cheneelle but as I have put the 9 Loom to work in it I am making it faster than it sells I have raised the price & obtain it You might buy a little as a sample ready cut & on small spools the sample of fine warp is as good as I wish but having ordered through Messrs Hadden & Sons don’t want at present but a Bundle or two of fine … what can the best Embroidery silk be bought at another article would be very desirable viz sewings in small skeins all colours such as we get at Nortons as some of our American silk is very inferior don’t buy it sorted all colours on the same pound but self colrs in every paper they are generally put up in ¼  lbs you say John is making something you think will sell if so buy a small assortment also metallic India Rubber thread I have got a few pounds from Horace H Day very good he charges 10/. 5 off for cash. Which you know is about 5/. Sterling what we had through Messr Haddens was charged 10/6 pr lb ster 10 pr cent off for cash – but it don’t answer the purpose you can learn from Messr Hadden’s in Coggeshall Court where that was bought & enquire of them the method of getting elasticity as we cant master it I have sold all the imported & want from the narrowest up to 8 Line Black also a little white & light drab another article much askd for now in Black Silk braid heavy for Tailors use a little assortment of all widths particularly wide ½ inch ¾ & 1 inch wide these must be sent by steamer soon as possible perhaps you can inclose them in Haddens case if they are sending if not send them & of a few call them samples … John McRae”

“London, November 20th 1851 [John McRae to his father New York]

      My Dear Father,

            I duly recd yours of the 13 Oct & am glad to hear Margaret & Clinton have sent you good accounts of their doings & that you are pleased with their reception &c here … of course all is new to them here & I think they are somewhat astonished with what they see & hear in Old England & will not return to New York with a less favourable opinion than when they left the Land of Stars &c … I am engaged as a Director of two companies & do not get home to Dinner – Most Saturdays in the winter I have a days hunting with a nice pack of Harriers & a select field of very gentlemanly sportsmen which usually meet within from 6 to 12 miles of my house so that I get my breakfast comfortably at home … It’s a sport I’m very fond of & find the riding does my health good & can do it at a very small expense – …

            The Dorringtons have so neglected their work for a long time past as to produce the worst of any people I employ & although I have kept them going when we did not want the work & accommodated a great deal of unnecessary[trouble]  yet with the scores of warnings & admonitions they have had they made most careless faulty work scores of threads out & faulty of all kinds & to crown all latterly they have been detected in cutting their work out from 1 to 2 yds short in before the marks were in & thereby got us into disgrace for short measure so that they have completely tired me out & I have given orders to give them no more work – I’m sorry to be obliged to do it but for my own credits sake to avoid continual loss its absolutely necessary … John”


New York November 25th 1851 [Alfred Hoffman to Tomas C. McRae, London]

      Dear Clinton,

         … So when you come on, please bring all the programmes & programme books of Oratorios &c that you can get as they will be of great service to our Harmonic. The Seasons is ready to be given and will be performed in about 10 days. There is nothing very special in the musical way to inform you of here at present. Mrs Bostwick still continues her concerts (which are well attended) She has been assisted by some of our best resident artists, Kyle, Bristow, Timm, Noel & others, equally as good – I enclose you her programme for this Evenings concert – it is a rich selection – Mrs. Bostwick is getting to be very popular, & is deservedly so. Her friends want to have her give a second series if enough subscribers can be got. I hope the 2d series will be given. The last concert of this (1st) series will be given next week in Tripler Hall – She has done well thus far and all her concerts have been perfectly crowded, aisles full and numbers have been turned away for want of admission …

             There has been a terrible accident, at the School in Greenwich Avenue directly opposite our street, as you will no doubt see by the papers – about 50 children were killed – it seems that a lady, a teacher, fainted, and the scholars became alarmed & cried out and each one was frightened by the other, & just at this time, one of the flues gave way, which so terrified the children, that one after the other rushed out - & the stairs or rather the banister being insecure – numbers fell and were crushed to death Miss Brownell – J. Sherman Brownell’s daughter was killed & many others – she was buried, funeral services on Sunday morning. Little Julia Perrine escaped miraculously – she came down it seems from the 3d story either on a plank or by a rope – the children was so terribly frightened she could not tell how she came down except she did not come down the stairs – it is the theme of conversation among all – quite a number of houses near us have had funerals occasioned by this accident , half of the block & many in Fourth Street had crape on their bells, on Saturday morning as I noticed on my way down town. – The case is now being investigated by the Coroners Jury … Albert M. Hoffman” 

“London 5 August 1852 [ John McRae to his father, New York]

      My dear Father,

             … We are going on full swing with the … ribbons of various patterns for the autumn we have orders for about 2000 pieces for one house we are also making various braids. If you are disposed to order for the fall or whatever season is approaching it is advisable to do so at as early a date as you can make up your mind so as to have the goods in New York early so as to be ready for the demand there seems to be every probability of their being a large trade in Draw. g Ribbons & the various Braids, some patterns of which you have – so much for business … the silk market is steady & firm in price but my own impression is that we shall see it a shade but not much lower when the crop comes in.  … John”


“London 3rd Decr 1852 [John McRae to T. C. McRae, New York]

       My dear Brother & sister,

            Margaret’s letter supplies the last scenes of our dear Father’s life & truly affecting they were how very brief his illness & sudden his Death! … my Father wrote me several years ago that he was worth fully 30,000 Dollars, which amt I suppose may be since augmented by some 5,000 more. … I observe your remarks on the Law of the U.S. respecting the division which I think just. You do not mention the Debts owing by our late brother & present brother in law of course they, i.e. the debts, will form a set off to their portions otherwise it wont be just to the other members as if Henry & J W Curtis have had their shares more or less in my Father’s life time they can’t have a second amount.

           You don’t say what was the purport of the partly made will you found nor dies it matter but I should like to know perhaps you will copy it in your next… Have you had competent persons to value the stock ? it ought to be done by someone acquainted with the Trade &c &c & I presume it will be so done … Jno McRae…”

“London Aug. 21, 1867 [John McRae to his brother Thomas, New York]

        “Dear Brother,

               … The fate of Maximilian has caused great disgust – it was a cruel unmanly  & moreover a useless murder – America is connected in the matter in the minds of most folks & although no one I thinks she counciled it she could have prevented such a barbarity but really some folks  on your side (I hope for the honor of human nature that they form an insignificant minority) seem inclined to sanction any outrages if they chime in with their ultra party views – we hope for better things from “the (so boasted) most free & enlightened nation on the Globe”!!! … John”