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In Their Own Words

October 09, 1734

Drink Inhibited Translation

Although Mary Musgrove is credited for the valuable work she performed interpreting during James Oglethorpe’s meetings with Yamacraw and other Creek Indians, it was actually her husband - John Musgrove - who played the role of key translator during the first two years of Georgia’s existence. It was he who accompanied the delegation of Yamacraw Indians to England in 1734. On this important mission, Musgrove was able to perform his duties when Tomochichi met King George II and the Archbishop of Canterbury. But, on several other occasions, Musgrove had a problem that left him ineffective as a translator, as evidenced by this entry about the Trustees’ meeting on Oct. 9 from the diary of the Earl of Egmont:

“We then entered upon the most serious affair of all, which is settling a tariff of trade with the Indians, for which purpose we sent for them down, but the Interpreter [John Musgrove] was drunk and we could not understand one another… .

“Hereupon we desire Mr. Oglethorp to see what he could settle with the Indians to-morrow when Musgrove should be sober.”

Source: U.K. Historical Manuscripts Commission, Diary of the First Earl of Egmont (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1923), Vol. 2, p. 129.