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In Their Own Words

April 08, 1738

Strange Ships Caused Concern

Today’s entry in the journal of William Stephens recorded the concern felt in isolated colonial Georgia when some strange ships appeared off the coast:

“…Mr. Causton came from Ockstead this Morning, and soon after received an Express sent from Port- Royal by two Justices of the Peace there (Mess. Wigg and Woodward) enclosing Copies of two Affidavits made before them on the 6th, one by Lyford, Master of a Sloop bound for Augustin, and the other by a Sailor in the said Sloop; both of the same Import, viz. That coming, a few Days since off the Bar of Augustin, they observed three or four Ships of considerable Bulk, lying at Anchor there, with a Couple of Sloops, and another Ship of Burden coming in out of the Sea; and there- upon they lay by, not caring to go nearer in, being about a League off; and put out their British Ensign, expelling it would have been answered, as is common; but they found no Answer of any Kind from the Ships; but they could discern several Boats going Aboard the Ships from the Town: All which put together gave them some Apprehensions of bad Designs; wherefore they turned back again, and made what Speed they could into Port- Royal, to give this Intelligence. Mr. Causton came to me, and showed me what he had received; the whole being a Copy from the Original sent by the same Gentlemen to Charles-Town. I went at Mr. Causton’s request to his House; from whence a Messenger was dispatched over Land in the Evening, first to Darien, and thence to the proper Officers at all the Southern Settlements, Fred- erica, Fort St. Simon, Fort St. Andrew, and to Capt. Gascoigne of the Hawk, advising them fully of the Whole, &c. Capt. McPherson being not yet gone out of Town since his Arrival here to make a new Bargain (as before is noted;) it was recommended to him now to be more than ordinarily careful and diligent with his Company of Rangers, and try if they could discover any Danger And Notice was also sent to Mr. Cuthbert, that he might be as adlive also with his Men: The Constables likewise were to have immediate Orders to look carefully into all the Arms, and see, that they were in good Order, and nothing wanting…”

Source: Allen D. Candler, ed. The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, Vol. IV, Stephens’ Journal 1737-1740, Atlanta, GA, 1906, pp. 120-121.