Tavern Treasures

Joseph L. Ross Desk

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Loyalist or Patriot?

Isaac Jones was a known loyalist until early into the Revolutionary War. Why did he change his loyalty and begin to haul goods for the Patriot cause? We have one provocative piece of circumstantial evidence that might shed light on this. A piece of cardboard was found pressed onto the back of a primitive portrait of Isaac's son, William Pitt Jones. Printed on the cardboard was a copy of a ship's bond that would have been required of any New England overseas shipper stating that he would forfeit a large amount of bond money if he tried to sell his cargo in any country besides England, Ireland, or one of the Crown colonies in the West Indies. The bond was a requirement of a 1775 British law, The New England Restraining Act, the objective of which was to totally restrict the colonies' foreign trade. In addition, New England ships were barred from fishing in the area known as the North Atlantic Fisheries. This Act had a major impact on the economy of New England. The Act was later extended to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, South Carolina, and Virginia.

What was Isaac doing with a copy of the bond? Why did he save the bond and press it into the back of his son's portrait? We know that his neighbor and friend, Samuel Savage, a Patriot, visited Isaac, and we conjecture that he brought this bond with him and possibly said, "Look Isaac, now you have to admit that England is trying to enslave us economically." It must have worked, because sometime after that visit, Isaac did become a Patriot.