A handwritten letter, dated June 4, 1804, from Margaret Eustace to another woman concerning her troubles finding witnesses to support her in a legal matter. Eustace and her children were close to several U.S. founding fathers and became caught up in several scandalous affairs.
Robert Scott Davis wrote an article about Eustace (1733–1809) for the September 3, 2020 issue of the Journal of the American Revolution. Margaret’s father was Captain Lauchlin Campbell of Isle of Islay in Argyllshire. He brought 83 families from Scotland to New York at his own expense in 1738-40 on the false promise of New York colonial governor William Alexander Cosby of 100,000 acres. Captain Campbell returned to Great Britain to help the British Army put down the Scottish Rebellion of 1745. Margaret and her siblings remained in America and successfully sued for 10,000 acres as compensation for their father’s patent.
Margaret married Dr. John Eustace, who abandoned her and their children in New York when he moved his practice to North Carolina in 1765. He died in Wilmington in 1769. After settling his estate, Margaret moved with her daughter, Catherine “Kitty” Eustace Blair (1752-1788), to Norfolk, Virginia, where Kitty met her first husband, Dr. John Blair, whose father founded the College of William and Mary. In November 1772, Thomas Jefferson represented Kitty in her divorce from Blair, who died before the divorce went to trial.
“Margaret Eustace played roles throughout this notorious affair, an episode in her epic career as a survivor,” Davis wrote. His article also explores a mysterious group of letters concerning Margaret’s visits to Georgia during the British occupation, which aroused suspicions of espionage.
Margaret’s son, John Skey Eustace (1760-1805), was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, who attained the rank of major and served as an aide-de-camp to Major General Charles Lee. Following Lee's court-martial for mistakes at the Battle of Monmouth, during which Alexander Hamilton testified, John Eustace claimed Hamilton perjured himself at the trial and snubbed him at a later encounter to the point where he confided to Lee: "I could not treat him much more rudely ... I expect the son of a bitch will challenge me when he comes.”
The half-page letter offered here is written by Margaret Eustace to Mrs. William Thompson, whose son is apparently helping Eustace with her case. She wrote that Thompson’s son promised he would “endeavor to find out one or more to attest it perhaps even the day of the trial find somebody honest enough to come forward in time.” The particulars of this case are not known, but there is a brief mention of an eight-foot path being denied.
The letter is written on a sheet of 8” x 7” paper that is torn along the left edge. There is a negligible bit of loss in the center, where the letter had been affixed by a wax seal. The letter is toned with creasing from prior folds; otherwise very good. Item #74215