Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for George Wray Papers, 1770-1848
Finding aid created by Shannon Wait, March 2011
Title: George Wray papers Creator: Wray, George, 1728-1804 Inclusive dates: 1770-1848 Extent: 16 volumes (4 linear feet) Abstract:
The George Wray papers contain orders, receipts, correspondence, muster rolls, returns, and several bound volumes relating to Wray's work as commissary of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, primarily during the Revolutionary War.
Language: The material is in English Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190 Phone: 734-764-2347 Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.
The collection has been microfilmed.
George Wray Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
The George Wray papers are arranged into the following series:
Correspondence and Documents
Journals, Notebooks, and Other Bound Items
George Wray was born in England in 1728, and settled in New York during the French and Indian War. On June 21, 1765, he married Catharina Ten Broeck (b. 1737), with whom he had at least three children: George (d. 1768), Jennet or Jane (b. 1769), and Maria (b. 1771). In 1772, he was clerk of stores for the Royal Regiment of Artillery, stationed at New York. He followed the British Army to Boston in 1774, and in December 1775, he became commissary of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, in which capacity he assumed control of issuing and receiving all stores for the artillery. Upon the evacuation of Boston in 1776, Wray went first to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then to Newport, Rhode Island. In December 1779, he was sent to Charleston, South Carolina, and remained there until its evacuation in December 1782. Thereafter, he returned to New York, resigned his commission, and settled on land he owned in Fort Ann, Washington County, New York. He died in 1804.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The George Wray papers contain 11 volumes of correspondence and documents, 3 journals of stores, a volume of muster rolls, an orderly book, a volume of land titles, a trigonometry notebook, two maps, and a blank book. The materials span 1765 to 1848, with the bulk concentrated around 1770-1782.
The Correspondence and Documents series contains 11 volumes of military documents and business correspondence related to Wray's positions with the British Army, first as the Royal Regiment of Artillery's clerk of stores, and later its commissary of stores. The series spans 1765 to 1794 (bulk 1770 to 1783) and contains approximately three linear feet of material. The letters and documents provide ample information about the Royal Artillery during the Revolutionary War, as well as the stores disbursed by the commissary. The materials consist of about 500 orders to issue ordnance signed by Major Peter Traille, who was commander of the Royal Regiment of Artillery in North America; an approximately equal number of receipts for the supplies issued and goods delivered into the regimental storehouse; dozens of letters concerning supplies written between Wray, merchants, and Army officers; approximately 50 muster rolls of companies within the Royal Artillery; and returns of artificers, laborers, and African Americans employed by the regiment, as well as many returns documenting the issuance of weapons, tools, and other items.
The first two volumes in the collection concern Wray's activities as clerk of stores for the Royal Artillery, a position which he held until December 1775; more generally, they pertain to the business of the regiment. Included are muster rolls for various companies of the Royal Regiment of Artillery commanded by David Standish, John Williamson, Anthony Farrington, William Martin, William Johnston, Thomas Davies, and George Anderson. These provide the names of each company's members, as well as their designations as commissioned and non-commissioned officers, bombardiers, gunners, and matrosses. Also present are numerous receipts for items purchased from merchants by the regiment, including cloth (which was often purchased from women--see March 3, 1775 for an example), wood, stones, wheels, shingles, and other items. Many documents also record the ordnance bought for the regiment, such as gunpowder, great guns, small arms, musket balls, and chests for storage (filed under March 31, 1775).
After Wray's promotion to commissary of stores in December of 1775, the documents become more diverse and include a wide variety of returns and other document types. They take account of such matters as the ordnance and stores destroyed and left at Boston (March 12, 1776); the movement of supplies from Boston to Newport, Rhode Island, in 1777; and deliveries made by ordnance transport ships. Major John Grant of the Royal Artillery wrote much of the early correspondence of the period. In one letter, he criticized Wray for drawing on the wrong accounts to cover subsistence pay to a detachment of the regiment (September 13, 1777). In another, he commented on the scarcity of cash in New York and instructed Wray on what to pay for rebel arms brought in by American deserters (February 14, 1779). Wray's incoming correspondence sheds light on the problems and challenges faced by the regiment's commissary, as well as the specifics of the commissary's functioning. Volumes 4 through 9 of the series primarily cover Wray's administration of the commissary while stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, from December 1779 to December 1782. Included are near-daily orders for the issuance of ordnance and stores by Peter Traille, which provide a huge volume of detail on the supplies required by the artillery, as well as records of the items brought into the commissary, including brass ordnance and carriages captured at the Battle of Eutaw Springs (September 18, 1781) and at the Battle of Combahee Ferry (September 10, 1782). Also of interest are numerous inventories of "spare" supplies held by the commissary, a few additional muster rolls for Royal Artillery companies, and other documents relating to the administration of the department.
The Military Journals, Notebooks, and Other Bound Items series contains nine items within five volumes, spanning 1778-1848. Of particular note is a 52-page volume of muster rolls of the civil branch of the artillery in Charleston, which covers 1781 to 1783 (located in Volume 14). In addition to providing names, pay, and remarks on the various white laborers and tradesmen brought in to support the artillery, it also gives basic information on both enslaved and free African Americans, whom it refers to as "Negro servants." The volume classifies them by trade (including carpenters, smiths, "wheelers," sawyers, and general laborers), provides their names and the identities of their masters when applicable, and gives places of residence. Also present is a list of African Americans who acted as servants to particular officers in the Royal Regiment of Artillery.
Another item of interest is an orderly book kept by Wray while in Charleston, South Carolina, 1780-1781 (Volume 13). The book contains orders by Major General Alexander Leslie, Major Peter Traille, and Wray himself, given at the general, regimental, and company level. Wray's orders primarily concern the distribution and transportation of ordnance and supplies, as well as associated logistical issues. Other orders document courts martial, discipline among the enlisted men, personnel matters, and the duties of men in the company. An order of June 9, 1780, offers a reward for information about soldiers who have committed "depredations" against "the unprotected property of the Subjects." An August 23, 1780, order discusses a "parade" of "all the Negroes for Muster." Many later orders in the book specify a training regimen for new recruits.
Other items in the series mainly record stores issued and received by Wray at Charleston. These include an expense book for stores issued at Charleston in 1781 and 1782, a journal of stores received at Charleston in 1780-1782, and two journals of stores issued by Wray in 1778-1779 and1782-1783, with associated receipts and accounts laid into the volume. The latest item in the collection is an 1848 volume of land titles for property in New York, kept by a descendant, John Wray. The volume features surveys of the Wray property, as well as a map entitled, "Survey And Partition of the South Half of Lot No. 93 In the Artillery Patent In the Town of Fort Ann In Washington County And State of New York." A 1784 notebook on trigonometry rounds out this series.
The Clements Library has several collections that contain materials related to Wray:
The Thomas Gage papers (American series) contain two letters written by Wray (March 5, 1759; March 24, 1770) and one letter written to Wray by Gavin Cochran (April 2, 1770).
The Thomas Gage warrants contain seven manuscript items from George Wray regarding expenses in the Engineers Department: September 8, 1772 (32:53); September 29, 1772 (32:77); October 24, 1772 (33:36); December 14, 1772 (33:50); January 20, 1773 (33:64); April 13, 1773 (34:88); May 6, 1773 (35:2)
Two returns of ordnance in the Henry Clinton papers are signed by George Wray: April 23, 1780; January 30, 1781.