Colonel Andrew Balfour

This information is contributed by Shirley Weissmann

Though a foreigner by birth, he had made this his adopted country, and showed himself, from the 
first, a warm and decided advocate for the rights of man. He was a native of Edinburgh, in Scotland, 
and came over to America about four years before the Declaration of Independence. Like many 
others, he was an adventurer to the New World, but proved to be of kindred sprit with those who 
resolved to be free or die.

Nearly all we know of him is gleaned from a family correspondence which was carried on, for several 
years, between him and his friends, both in Scotland and in this country. From this correspondence 
it appears that his family was in good circumstances, and had a respectable standing in the city of 
Edinburgh. In a country where the distinctions of birth and the gradations of society are so 
scrupulously observed as they are in Scotland, a man who could be, as it appears incidentally from
these letters, Andrew Balfour was, on terms of social equality with such families as the Erskines, 
the Huttons, the Montcriefs, and others of equal notoriety, must have belonged to the same class; 
and that he was in good circumstances, may also be inferred from another fact casually mentioned 
in the freedom and confidence of this familiar correspondence. When his son, John Balfour, who had 
been, for a few years in this country, engaged in business, returned to Edinburgh, merely on a visit 
to his friends, the old man, as he himself tells Andrew in a letter, gave him 200 pounds, or a 
thousand dollars, to enable himto carry on his business here more in accordance with his wishes; 
and to his daughter Margaret, who was coming over to this country with him, to bring her brother 
Andrew's motherless and only child, he gave 400 pounds, or two thousand dollars; but a man who 
could thus give, at one time, three thousand dollars to two of his children, for their accommodation 
and without inconvenience to himself, if not wealthy when compared with many others in the 
far-famed metropolis of Scotland, he must have been very independent in his circumstances, or 
engaged, at the time, in a very lucrative business; for he seems to have been a very prudent man, 
and would not have heedlessly embarrassed himself to accommodate his children, who were doing 
a respectable business for themselves in a foreign land.

When Andrew arrived to maturity, he engaged, for a time, in mercantile business with Robert Scott 
Montcrief, and then set up on his own footing. About this time he married Miss Janet McCormick, 
a lady who had been well educated and accustomed to move in the first circle of society. He thus 
became connected by affinity, as he had probably been before by blood, with some of the most 
influential families in the city; but the fair prospects with which he commenced life were not to be 
of long continuance, whether it was owing to the want of a sufficient acquaintance with the details 
of business, or to those losses which mercantile men so often sustain or to the misconduct of 
others who were in his employ, does not appear; but he soon found it necessary to close his 
business and make some other arrangement. In this juncture of his affairs, so trying to one of his 
temperament and connexions in society, he was impelled, by his great sensitiveness and by his 
high-toned feelings of honor, to take a step which he soon regretted and which was quite unfortunate 
both for him and for his friends. Without trying to do the best he could, or even waiting to know the 
worst, he set sail for America, leaving his young wife with an infant child to the care of his and her 
friends, and his property, including his notes and papers of every description, to his creditors. He 
did not even let his wife or anybody else know he was going away; but left a letter for her and 
another for his friend Robert S. Montcrief, informing him of the fact that he had just sailed for the 
American shore; that he had done so because he could not bear the shame of bankruptcy and 
poverty at home; and that his keys, books and papers of every description would be found in such 
a place. This was exceedingly unfortunate; for , as they informed him afterwards, if he had remained 
and settled up his business himself, they would not have lost one shilling in the pound, or one
twentieth if the whole, which said, they would have borne without a murmur; but having gone off 
without leaving his property in the care of any one, or duly authorizing any of his friends to act for 
him, so much of it was lost by the peculations of servants, the costs of legal processes and in 
various ways, that in the final settlement, they did not realize more than one third the amount.

 By this step, however, he did not lose the confidence of his friends; and his creditors 
imputed it to his having too high a sense of honor, or too great a sensitiveness in 
regard to his character. The following extract from a letter addressed to him by Robert 
S. Montcrief, a merchant of Edinburgh, and the gentleman with whom he had first been 
engaged in business, and now one of his creditors, bears an explicit and honorable 
testimony to his character. It is dated, Edinburgh, July 2d, 1773; and after such 
matters and things as are usually most prominent in letters of friendship, he says, 
"I should be happy to hear that you are successful in business. You will derive some 
advantage from past experience, and learn from that not to be too sanguine in your 
expectations, nor too forward in depending on the honesty of others. There never was 
a time that called for more caution and circumspection than the present. I sincerely 
wish you may meet with many of as honest principles as yourself; for, notwithstanding 
all that has passed, I never could call in question your integrity. I had great confidence 
in it while we used to do business together. I have not changed my opinion of your heart, 
though I regret your too great sensibility and sense of honor, whereby I am persuaded, 
you were led to the step you took." In his answer to the above letter, dated Newport, 
R. I., Nov. 12th, 1773, Colonel Balfour, after expressing his gratification at receiving 
such a kind and consoling letter from one who had sustained a considerable loss by 
his failure, says, "It gave me the greatest sorrow to hear of the bad effects my leaving 
the country has had upon the interests of my friends. I had too little experience in 
business to know or forsee the bad consequences of such a step, and too little 
firmness of mind to support the disgrace of a failure, perhaps the reproaches of friends, 
and all the melancholy consequences of poverty and dependence. This weakness, which 
your humanity and friendship are pleased to soften with the pleasing appellations of too 
great sensibility and a high degree of honor, was the chief cause of my flight. Indeed , 
my dear friend, the greatest consolation, and comfort I have under all the revolutions 
of fortune, is in the reflection that I never had, have not, and, I hope in God, never 
shall have the smallest disposition to any thing that is in the least dishonest, or even 

All his letters, written about this time, to his wife, his father, and others, with whom 
he had been in habits of intimacy, are in the same strain; and it appears to have been 
his earnest desire, if he could be successful in business, to make up all the losses 
which his creditors and friends had sustained by his failure.

This was his sole object in coming to America, and he appears to have made every 
possible exertion for the accomplishment of his purpose. His father, who was also 
a merchant in Edinburgh, and who appears, from all his letters to his son, to have 
been a man of piety and sound discretion, thus commences a letter to him, dated, 
Edinburgh, Feb. 20th, 1773, 

"Dear Andrew:-- I received your very agreeable letter, which gave me a great deal of 
comfort, as I see much of God's good providence in it, for which we ought to be thankful. 
As it is plain it was not by your own conduct or imprudence it happened, so I hope you 
will ascribe the praise to him." A high-minded young Scotchman, raised in affluence, 
and honorably related, both by blood and affinity, could not brook the idea of a failure 
in business, and the untold evils to which it would subject him-the scorn of enemies, 
the mortification of friends, and the taunts and sneers of rivals. To escape from it, all 
at once, in the agonized state of his feelings, and without ever thinking of the 
consequences to himself, or anybody else, he abruptly left the country, and sailed 
"for the land of promise."

He sailed from Grenock, in Scotland, May 20th, 1772, in a ship called the Snow George, 
and arrived at Boston on the 18th of July, intending to go by water, via Philadelphia, to 
Charleston, in South Carolina, where his brother, John Balfour, was already engaged in 
business; but while waiting for a vessel to sail, he accidentally became acquainted with 
a man by the name of John Thompson, a merchant in the city of New York, who had 
gone to Boston in his gig, with a single horse, and having transacted his business, was 
now ready to return. Being desirous of company, and having met with a countryman, an 
adventurer like himself, with whom he professed to be well pleased, he readily offered 
him a seat in his gig, and the offer was as readily accepted. Thompson was from the 
south of Scotland, and had been only a few years in America. Being a man of liberal 
education, Balfour says, he was very companionable and prepossessing in his manners, 
a member of the Presbyterian church, strictly moral in his deportment, and very popular 
in New York. As they were from the same country, they contracted a great intimacy 
and friendship as traveling companions; and, on their arrival in New York, he invited 
Balfour to stay with him at his boarding house until his trunks should arrive which being 
too heavy to bring with them, he had left in Boston to be sent round by water.

During this time, which was thirteen days, they became such boon companions, 
that Thompson proposed to take him in as a partner, and to give him a full third 
of the profits, provided he would put in what little money he had, and give his whole 
attention to the business. The partnership was soon formed, and they commenced 
business with flattering prospects. Thompson was, at this time, a young man, or a 
single man; but soon after married a Miss Robbins, the daughter of a clergyman
in Connecticut. He stood high in the public confidence, and was doing an extensive 
business, having three country stores and a ship or two, at sea. By submitting his 
bonds, book accounts, , etc., to Balfour's inspection, he made him believe that he 
had a clear capital of five thousand pounds sterling; and that there were no claims 
against him which were due, or which he could not promptly meet. Balfour, with his 
characteristic frankness and honesty of intention, told him at once that he had been 
unfortunate in business, and that he had no capital, except two hundred pounds, 
or about a thousand dollars, which he had brought with him to be prepared for any 
emergency that might arise, or, for any casualty that might befall him in a strange 
land. From such a beginning he had high expectations of success, and there was 
apparently no ground for apprehension.

     For a time their mutual friendship and confidence were unimpaired; and they 
seemed to be doing a safe and profitable business. In the midst of it, however, 
he received the sad intelligence that his wife, whom he had left behind, with an 
infant at the breast, and who had gone to live with her brother, Robert McCormick, 
at Preston Pans, had died of inflammatory fever, June 17th, 1773; and, while the 
object of his fondest affection, for whose welfare he had been most solicitous, was 
now taken away, he felt all the bitterness of separation. In about a year after, he 
married Miss Elizabeth Dayton, of Newport, in Rhode Island, a most estimable 
young lady, and of a very respectable family. By her he had two children, a 
daughter whom he named Margaret, for his mother and sister; and a son whom 
he called Andrew, for himself and his father. As Thompson had the most experience 
in this line of business, and was regarded by Balfour as owning the principal part 
of the stock, he either assumed the management, or it was conceded to him, 
as a matter of courtesy, and with full confidence in his integrity; but within 
eighteen months after the partnership was formed, he exploded and became 
insolvent to a considerable amount.

Although Colonel Balfour, had discernment enough to see that a storm was 
coming, before it burst upon them, and in time to secure the greater part of 
what was due to him, yet, he sustained a considerable loss. What little 
money he advanced was, at his own request, so fixed that Thompson 
could, in no event, be liable for his debts; and, at Thompson's suggestion, 
was so secured that his creditors could not take it from him, during the two 
or three years, for which the co-partnership was formed. Of course, he was 
not in strict justice bound for Thompson's debts, and would not in law, 
be held liable to his creditors. The firm was in fact, a mere nominal one; and 
the creditors, though much chagrined at their loss, acquitted Balfour of any 
fraudulent or dishonest conduct. In a letter written to his father on this subject, 
and dated Newport, R. I, January 3d, 1775, he says, "I have got it from under 
the hand of my creditors, that I have behaved in an honest and honorable 
manner towards them. It gives me particular satisfaction that, disposed as 
they were to use me with rigor and severity, I have not afforded them the least 
opportunity to refuse me an honorable testimony to my character."

We feel tempted here, to give an extract from a letter of his pious old father, 
written when he first heard of these disasters; and we give it as illustrative of 
the old man's Christian character, and consequently, of the religious instruction 
and training, which we suppose he had given to his children. It is dated -
Edinburgh, Oct., 20th, 1774

"My dear Andrew - - I received your very melancholy letter of the 23d of May, and 
we all sincerely condole and sympathise with you, and hope you will bear your 
afflictions patiently, as from the hand of a good and merciful God, who afflicts us 
only for our good; and believe in our Lord and Saviour, and pray for the forgiveness 
of your sins in, and through his merits and sufferings for us. Then I hope God will 
make the remaining part of your life, as prosperous as the by-past part of it has 
been troublesome, (full of trouble,) but though our whole life were troublesome, we 
ought not to repine, as we are promised eternal happiness, when we perform our 
duties sincerely, and repent of our sins. Read the first and last chapters of Job; 
and I hope you will observe the many comforts you have, of which he was deprived. 
You have good health, friends who sincerely condole with, and pity you, and a wife 
who sympathises with you- - so you have no reason to despair of God's goodness. 
Read also the 15th chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, which gives a 
description of the Deity, and the history of our Saviour; and especially the 13th 
chapter of John's Gospel to the end of the book."

About the beginning of 1777, he went to Charleston, in South Carolina, where 
his brother John had been for some years engaged in a profitable business; 
and there were several things which now induced him to visit the south. The 
north being the seat of war, business of every kind was at a stand; manufactures 
had not yet commenced; foreign commerce was cut off; and merchandising, 
the occupation in which he had hitherto been engaged, was out of the question; 
but the south, being comparatively tranquil, presented a better prospect of 
providing for a family. In addition to these considerations, his maiden sister, 
Margaret, and his little daughter, Tibby, the only child he had by the wife of his 
youth, were there, and had been for a year or more. It was natural that he
should wish to see them both, but especially his daughter; and leaving his wife 
and her two children in the care of her friends until he could make some 
comfortable or safe arrangement for them in the south, he travelled the whole 
or most of the way to Charleston by land. His brother, John Balfour, 
was a royalist; but it does not appear that he had taken any active or prominent 
part in the contest. As I infer from some incidental remarks of allusions, in the 
letters now before me, Andrew was, from the first, a Whig in principle and feeling; 
but, like many others who wavered, or rather remained inactive for a time, not 
from any hesitancy in regard to the principle, but from the condition of their 
families, which seemed to have, for the time being, an imperious claim on 
their attention, he became more decided and active as the struggle advanced.

Whether he took part in the civil or military operations of the north, is not known, 
but his main object in coming south was evidently to make better provision for his 
family; and there seemed to be a necessity for doing something. Not only were the 
difficulties then great, but they were every day increasing; and to show the 
distressed condition of the country soon after he left, it may not be amiss, in 
passing, to notice the great scarcity and high prices of provisions, during the next 
year. In a letter written to him by his wife, and dated South Kingston, R. I., Oct. 23d, 
1778, she tells him that corn was then selling at five and six dollars per bushel; in 
another, dated Feb. 13th, 1779, she says it was then selling at ten dollars, and in 
another dated the 1st of June, following, it was selling at twenty to thirty dollars per 
bushel, which was equivalent to saying that it was not to be had at all; and although 
she had procured enough for her family in good time, many poor families had to 
subsist almost entirely without bread. Whether this extreme scarcity was owing to 
the drought or the ravages of war, is not stated-probably to both; but from the 
enormous prices of bread stuffs, and the extreme severity of the winter, which she 
says was greater than usual, the sufferings of all classes, except the most provident 
and forehanded, must have been immense.

The South being free from war and comparatively tranquil, the two brothers, 
though belonging to opposite parties in the great conquest which was going 
on for freedom and Independence, might have prosecuted their business in 
harmony together, as was often done by brothers similarly situated and with 
good success; but no such partnership was formed by them and perhaps 
was not designed. The object of Colonel Balfour in going to Charleston was 
part to pay his brother a visit, having never seen him since they came to 
America; but mainly to see his daughter and take her under his own care, 
for we find him soon after at Georgetown, or in the vicinity of it, engaged in 
making salt. As none of his letters to his wife and other friends, during this 
period, have been preserved, or if they have it is not known by whom, we 
gather these facts from the incidental allusions which she makes in her 
answers to what he had written. Thus in a letter, dated March 31st, 1778, 
she says, "I rejoice at your success in making salt, though I am not very 
sanguine in my expectations; for I have resolved not to be disappointed 
with respect to riches." 

Under what circumstances he engaged in this business and with what results, 
I have not learned, but probably he and some other public spirited and enterprising 
gentlemen, of that region, had been induced to undertake it by the pressing 
wants of the country and by the encouragement which the legislative authorities 
had repeatedly given. However this may have been, either they did not succeed 
as they expected, or else a supply was obtained from some other source; for 
we find him, in a little time, at Chevau, to which place his brother John also 
removed either in company with him or soon after, and remained there until his 
death. How long the Colonel remained at Chevau we know not; for there are long 
intervals between the letters of his wife, at least so far as they have been preserved. 
Many letters were written by him and as many by her which were never received. 
At this period, the transmission of letters or papers of any description especially 
to such a distance, was a very uncertain business, sometimes the mail was 
captured by the enemy, and often from carelessness or other cause, letters 
were lost by the way, so that it was frequently months and even a year or two, 
before a communication sent either way, though not lost by violence or 
carelessness, arrived at the place of its destination.Of this she complained bitterly, 
and adopted the expedient of sending to some man who was high in office, or so 
distinguished in other ways, that his name would command respect:--sometimes 
they were sent to the care of Mr. Marshall in Wachovia, or to the Moravian 
settlement; sometimes to the care of Governor Nash from Dr, Stiles, President of 
Yale college. The first notice we have of 

Colonel Balfour, in North Carolina, is in a letter to his wife, dated Salisbury, 
N. C., July, 1778, in which he tells her that he was sometimes there, and 
sometimes at his plantation; but he intended to remove, in a short time, to 
the plantation. He did remove to it, and with the intention of making such 
improvements, as would render it a comfortable home for his family. It 
ultimately became their residence; but the sovereign Disposer of all things 
did not permit him to enjoy it with them. At this time, he had a considerable 
quantity of land in this state, some in the neighborhood of Cheraw, and a 
number of servants. Had he lived, they would all have been independent in 
their circumstances, and happy in the enjoyment of their social comforts 
and relations.

In this year, 1779, he wrote to his wife that he would be ready, in a short time, 
to go for her, and bring her to her new home in this country. When replying to 
this, in a letter already referred to, she says, "It is impossible for me to express 
the joy I feel at hearing that you are well , and that you have fixed upon a time 
when you will visit your family. I earnestly pray that nothing may happen 
to disappoint us. After an absense of more than two years and a half, to meet 
will be a pleasure beyond the power of words to express. * * * * I have always 
understood that to be a sickly country, and have been anxious on account of 
your health ever since you went there. I have been reading the history of the 
European settlements in America, and the author recommended it, not only 
as one of the most pleasant, but one of the most healthy places in the world; 
from which I am led to think that the inhabitants being sickly is owing to their 
high living; but, be this as it may, I shall never have an objection to living there, 
or any where else that may be most agreeable to your circumstances." The 
anticipations which were now so flattering and so fondly indulged, some of 
which were quite as sad as they were imperative.

During this year, Randolph county was formed, and he was chosen as one 
of the first representatives. This is noticed in a letter from his wife, and his 
name stands on the records of the State as a member of the Assembly 
for 1780. Another reason was, that before the adjournment of the Assembly, 
or very soon after, the British army had taken Charleston, and were advancing 
through South Carolina toward this State; and it was not deemed expedient to 
remove his family here, when every thing seemed to indicate an approaching 
time of great and protracted distress, while the Eastern States were not 
comparatively tranquil. When the country of his adoption was thus invaded, 
or threatened with invasion, he felt it his duty to share all their dangers with 
his fellow citizens, and sacrifice his life, if need be, in the common cause. 
He was appointed colonel: and, with a heroic and magnanimous sprit, engaged 
in the military operations of the day; but to what extent is not known. In view 
of such perils and sufferings throughout the entire south, as he would be much 
from home, and his life would be all the time exposed to the most imminent 
dangers, he deemed it best to let his wife and children remain, for the present, 
with their friends in Rhode Island, and leave to Providence the ordering of their 
lot for the future.

That he determined to risk his life in the military defense of the country, as we 
are informed by a letter from Mrs. Balfour, dated June1st, 1779, and written in 
answer to one from him. After noticing some other things in his letter, she says, 
"I have been anxious about the enemy's being in Georgia ever since I heard they
 were there; but your resolution of exposing yourself raises a thousand 
melancholy thoughts. I can only say, I am unhappy and shall be so until I see 
you." From this I would infer that he went, or at least he intended going with 
the unfortunate expedition to Georgia, and under the command of General Ashe: 
but of this we have no certain information. How he was employed, or what he 
accomplished, during this period, we have no means of knowing; for he had 
become very obnoxious to the Tories. In the fall of 1780, he and Jacob 
Shephard, father of the Hon. Augustine H. Shephard, who was also a prominent 
Whig, were captured by a party of Tories, from the Pedee, under the command 
of Colonel Coulson, who were carrying them as prisoners to the British at 
Cheraw, but were attacked by Captain Childs, from Montgomery, who 
completely dispersed them, and set their prisoners at liberty to return home.

On their return, Shephard left the neighborhood and went into one of more 
security, but Balfour remained and met an untimely fate. In the narrative 
of Judge Murphy, furnished for the University Magazine, by Governor 
Swain, we have the following account of this most barbarous and 
disgraceful affair. "In one of his predatory and murderous excursions, 
he (Fanning) went to the house of Andrew Balfour, which he had 
plundered three years before. Stephen Cole, one of Balfour's neighbors,
hearing of his approach and apprised of his intentions, rode at full speed 
to Balfour's house and gave him notice of the danger that threatened him. 
Balfour had scarcely stepped out of his house before he saw Fanning 
galloping up. He ran, but one of Fanning's party, named Absalom 
Autry, fired at him with his rifle and broke his arm. He returned to the 
house and entered it, and his daughter and sister clung to him in despair. 
Fanning and his men immediately entered and tore away the women, 
threw them on the floor and held them under their feet until they shot 
Balfour. He fell on the floor, and Fanning taking a pistol, shot him through 
the head." These are the most important facts in the case; but we have 
the details more fully and minutely given in letters written soon after by 
his sister and others, who, being present at the time, and treated with 
most barbarous cruelty, felt what they wrote.

As Col. Balfour was the most prominent and influential man in that region, 
Fanning, in this murderous excursion up the river, made him the first victim,
and accompanied the act with almost every degree of barbarity that was 
possible. It was on Sabbath morning, March 10th, 1782; when it might be 
expected that the sacredness of the day would have had at least, some 
mitigating influence on the ferocity of these banditti; but we will let Miss 
Margaret Balfour give the account of this transaction in her own language.
It was some months, however, before her feelings were sufficiently 
composed and tranquil to write an account of a scene so distressing, 
and in the meantime, Mrs. Balfour, who, from all her letters, appears to 
have been most affectionate and devoted wife, had received intelligence 
of the fact by another hand. Mr. Marshall, of Salem, N. C., had 
communicated a notice of Colonel Balfour's death to his friend, the Rev. 
Mr. Russmeyer, in Newport, where she lived, and he had made it known 
to her. Owing to the difficulty of transmitting letters, this was a little over 
two months after the event; and she immediately wrote to Miss Margaret 
for a particular account of the whole affair. Her letter, from which the reader 
will, no doubt, be pleased to see a short extract, is dated Newport, R. I. , 
May 22d, 1782.

"My Dear Peggy:

     With the utmost grief and sorrow of heart, I sit down to write to you, having 
eight days ago, heard the unhappy news of my dear husband's death. I had 
the day before, received two very affectionate letters from him, which raised 
my hope to a height to which I had long been a stranger. I had flattered myself 
that, with my dear little ones, I should, in a short time, be happy under the 
protection and guidance of the best of husbands and fathers. My fond 
imagination had painted an addition of happiness in the society of an affectionate 
sister who , though personally unknown to me, I had ever thought upon with love 
and esteem, and of my dear Tibby, to whom I had considered myself as under 
particular obligations of friendship; but I was soon roused from these pleasing 
thoughts by the most distressing account of his being killed by a company of 
villains in his own house. My dear Peggy, it is not in the power of language to 
express what I feel on the present occasion, and I shall not attempt it. It is some 
consolation that there is a way open through which I may hope to hear from you, 
and I embrace this, the first opportunity of entreating you not to delay writing, 
and let me know every thing which you think can afford consolation. I wish to 
know the particulars of your brother's death; and, O, I wish to know more than 
it is possible for me to express in my present distress."

In reply to this sorrowful request, Miss Margaret wrote a letter, of which we will 
give the greater part, because it contains a fuller and more authentic account 
of Colonel Balfour's murder, and of thetreatment which she and little Tibby 
received from these savages, than can be got elsewhere; because it gives an 
affecting view of the disorder, recklessness and Heart-rending distress which 
then prevailed in the country, for this was one of the almost numberless cases 
of a similar kind, and differing from it only a little in degree, and because the 
writer was not only an eye-wittness,but a deep sufferer in the scenes which 
she describes. When we read such accounts, it seems difficult to say whether 
the men or the female portion of the community were the greatest sufferers; 
for the revengeful and infuriated sprit, which reigns in a state of civil war, has 
very little respect for age or sex; but it might not be amiss for the present and 
all coming generations, while living at their ease and enjoying all the luxuries 
which wealth and ingenuity can furnish, to remember the toils and privations, 
perils and sufferings, which were the price of our liberties and all our blessings. 
It is neither duty nor policy to forget the lessons of the past; but we return to the 
letter; it is dated Swearing Creek, Sept. 24th, 1782

My Dear Eliza,

     I have just now received your very kind but sorrowful letter, dated May 22d; 
and it gives me a great deal of both pleasure and pain. I am extremely happy 
to hear from you; but as sorry, that it is on such a melancholy subject. You 
desire me to give you a particular account of your husband's death. My Dear 
Eliza, imposes on me a hard task; for the very thought of it throws me into 
such nervous fits, that it is with the greatest difficulty, I can hold the pen. 
Besides, I have not yet quit the bed of a long and dangerous fever, occasioned, 
I believe, by grief and vexation. However, to show that I really love you; I will 
comply with your request, but in as few words as possible. On the 10th of March, 
about twenty-five armed ruffians came to the house with the intention to kill my 
brother. - - Tibby and I endeavored to prevent them; but it was all in vain. The 
wretches cut and bruised us both a great deal, and dragged us from the dear 
man before our eyes. The worthless, base, horrible Fanning shot a bullet into 
his head, which soon put a period to the life of the best of men, and the most 
affectionate and dutiful husband, father, son and brother. The sight was so 
shocking, that it is impossible for tongue to express any thing like our feelings; 
but the barbarians, not in the least touched by our anguish, drove us out of the 
house, and took every thing that they could carry off except the negroes who 
happened to be all from home at the time. It being Sunday, never were creatures
in more distress. We were left in a strange country, naked, without money, 
and what was a thousand times worse, we had lost forever a near and dear relation. 
What added to our affliction, was the thought of his poor, helpless family left 
destitute, and it was not in our power to assist them. I wish his two families were 
united together, We would be a mutual help and comfort to each other; but 
whether it would be best that you should come to us, or that we should go to 
you, is out of my power to determine 'till I hear from you. Until then, I shall hire 
out my negroes, and go to Salisbury, where we intend to try the milliner's 
business. If there is good encouragement for that business with you, please 
let me know it, as soon as possible. If there is not, I beg you will come to us; 
and while I have a sixpence, I will share it with you. We are at present about 
ten miles from Salisbury, at Mr James McCay's, where we have made a crop 
of corn. We remained only a few days on our own plantation, after the dreadful 
disaster, having been informed that Fanning was coming to burn the house and 
take the negroes. I will write you soon again, and let you know how we succeed 
in business, and I pray you will write immediately. Let me know how you are and 
whether you will come out or not. If you will not come to us, I will endeavor to sell 
out and go to you; for I cannot be happy, "till I see my dear Andrew's beloved wife 
and little innocent children, of whom I have often heard him speak with a great deal 
of pleasure. I had a letter from my brother John's widow, who is at Charleston. It 
informs me of my father's death; and that his will remains in the same way it was 
when I left home. As it will be of some advantage to us: I propose going home as 
soon as circumstances will permit. Tibby joins me in love and compliments to you, 
and the dear little remains of our best friend. She will write to you by the first 

I am, my dear Eliza, with great sincerity, your affectionate and loving, but 
distressed sister,

                                                                  MARGARET BALFOUR.

The following letter from Major Tatom to Governor Burke, is both interesting and 
reliable; it is appropriate in conexion with the above. It is copied from the 
communication of Governor Swain to the University Magazine, for March, 1853; 
and it confirms, not only the main facts respecting the murder of Colonel Balfour, 
but what we have said about the general state of things in that part of the country, 
during the period in which the South was the theatre of war. Major Tatom, it 
appears, was a member of the House of Commons, from Hillsboro', about the 
year 1802; and, having died there, while a member, he was buried in the cemetery 
of the late Comptroller Goodwin, in the Raleigh grave yard. The letter is dated,

Hillsboro', March 20th, 1782.

Sir: - - On Sunday the 11th inst., Col. Balfour, of Randolph, was murdered in 
the most inhuman manner, by Fanning and his party, also a Captain Bryant 
and a Mr. King were murdered in the night of the same day, by them. 
Colonel Collier's and two other houses were burned by the same party.

Colonel Balfour's sister and daughter, and several other women, were wounded 
and abused in a barbarous manner.

There, sir, are facts. I was at that time in Randolph- -saw the Tories and some 
of their cruelties. Without a speedy relief, the good people of that county must 
leave their habitations, and seek refuge in some other place.

                                                                I am, sir, your o'bt serv't,
                                                                 A. Tatom.

It is not strange that his friends, especially his widow and sister, should wish 
to have such a monster as Fanning, and all his accomplices, brought to 
punishment; and we have an extract from another letter of Miss Margaret, 
to her sister-in-law, as illustrative of the feelings that existed, 
and of the course of conduct pursued at that period of civil conflict.

In a letter to Mrs. Balfour, dated June 6th, 1783, a little more than a year after 
the death of her brother, she says: "Some time last February, having been 
informed that my horse was at one Major Gholson's, I got Mr. John McCoy 
with me, and we went to the Major's, where we found the horse, but in such 
poor condition, that it was with great difficulty that we got him home. However, 
he is now so much recruited, that he is fit for a little service. When I was after 
the horse, I heard that one of Fanning's men was in Hillsboro' jail; and, as the 
court commenced on the 1st of April, I went to Hillsboro', and witnessed against 
him. The crime was proved so plainly, that not one lawyer spoke a word in his 
favor, though he had three of them employed. My story was so affecting, 
that the court was willing to give me every satisfaction in their power; and in 
order to do this, they broke a little through the usual course, for they had the 
villain fried, condemned and hung, all in the space of the court. While the judge 
was giving the jury their charge, I heard several gentlemen of my brother's 
acquaintance wishing to God the jury would not bring him in guilty, that they 
might have the pleasure of putting the rascal to death with their own hands; 
and if the jury had not brought him in guilty, I am sure they would have killed the 
wretch before he had got out of the house. If it is an inexpressible happiness 
for one to know, that his dear friends are much beloved, we have that 
happiness; for I believe, that there has not a man fallen since the beginning of
the troubles, who was more sincerely and generally lamented, than our dear 

My brother gave the rights of the land that is in the neighborhood of Georgetown to 
Mr. Randolph Hays, a gentleman who lives in that town, to dispose of it; but he 
could not do so at that time. According to the last accounts, my brother had of him, 
he was a prisoner in Charlestown; but since my brother's death, I have seen General 
Harrington, who tells me that Mr. Hays is now in Georgetown.

My dear Eliza, I am infinitely obliged to you, and I sincerely thank you for your kind 
and friendly 

advice. I shall use every method in my power to drive the horrid scene from my 
thoughts, as my life may be of some service, both to my dear Andrew's family, 
and to the avenging of his innocent blood. I have not had the pleasure of the 
letter you wrote in October. The distance between Salisbury and the plantation, 
is 42 miles, and 30 between Salisbury and Salem.

I am , my dear Eliza, your sincere friend, and affectionate sister.

                                                 MARGARET BALFOUR.

Miss Balfour, in the letter just quoted, does not give the name of the man 
against whom she witnessed; but we have it in the following extract from 
the records of the court at which she attended as a witness. We give the 
indictment as drawn up by Alfred Moore, the Attorney General; and then 
the simple statement that a "true bill" was found. At the same court, some 
half a dozen others were tried and condemned, but to notice them here 
would be foreign to my purpose.

State of North Carolina ) Superior Court of La
Hillsboro' District. ) And Equity, April
Term, 1783

     The jurors for the State, upon their oath, present that David Fanning, late of 
the county of Chatham, yeoman, and Frederick Smith, late of the county of 
Cumberland, yeoman, not having the fear of God in their hearts, but being moved 
and seduced by the instigation of the devil, on the ninth day of March, in the year 
of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-two, and in the sixth year 
of American Independence, with force and arms, in the county of Randolph, 
in the District of Hillsboro', in and upon one Andrew Balfour, in the peace of God, 
and the said then and there being, feloniously, wilfully and of their malice 
aforethought, did make an assault, and that the said David Fanning, a certain 
pistol of the value of Five shillings sterling, then and there charged with gunpowder 
and one leaden bullet, which pistol, he, the said David, in his right hand than and 
there had and held, to, against, and upon the said Andrew Balfour, than and there 
feloniously, wilfully , and of his malice aforethought, did shoot and discharge, and 
that the said David Fanning, with the leaden bullet aforesaid, out of the pistol 
aforesaid, then and there, by force of the gunpowder, shot and sent forth as 
aforesaid, the aforesaid Andrew Balfour, in and upon the head of the said Andrew, 
then and there with the leaden bullet aforesaid,, out of the pistol aforesaid, by the said 
David Fanning so as to aforesaid shot, discharged, and sent forth,feloniously, 
wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did strike, penetrate, and wound, 
giving to the said Andrew Balfour, then and there, with the leaden bullet aforesaid, 
so as aforesaid shot, discharged and sent forth out of the pistol aforesaid, by 
the said David, in and upon the head of him the said Andrew, one mortal wound 
of the depth of four inches and of the breadth of half an inch, of which said mortal 
wound, the aforesaid Andrew Balfour then and there instantly died; andthat the 
aforesaid Frederick Smith, then and there, feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice 
aforethought, was present, aiding, helping, abetting, comforting, assisting and 
maintaining the said David Fanning, the felonly and murder aforesaid, in manner 
and form aforesaid, to do and commit, and so the jurors upon their oath aforesaid, 
do say, that the said David Fanning and Frederick Smith, the said Andrew Balfour, 
then and there in manner and form aforesaid, feloniously, wilfully, and of their malice 
aforethought, did kill and murder against the peace and dignity of the said State.

                                                      ALFRED MOORE, Att'y Gen'l.                   
        State              )
            vs.             )     Indictment Murder.
   Fred'k Smith.      )
Hillsboro' Sup'r Court, April Term, 1783.
Margaret Balfour,    )
Stephen Cole.          ) Witnesses.
Sworn and sent.

                                                        P. HENDERSON, Clerk
A true bill.

                                                        JOHN HOGAN, Foreman.

As the letters of Miss Balfour, though written with great simplicity, and in 
the freedom and confidence of private correspondence, describe the 
deplorable state of things at that period more feelingly and more vividly 
than the present writer could possibly do, the reader will no doubt be 
gratified to peruse another from the same hand. Mrs. Balfour had written 
her two letters, the first of which had not been received, and in the second 
which had come safe to hand, she had requested her sister-in-law to 
relate fully the circumstances of her husband's death. It appears that in 
writing this letter, instead of beginning with "My dear sister," as usual, 
she inadvertently began with "My dear Madam," and this will explain an 
expression in the first of Miss Margaret's letter. The first part of it relates 
merely to private matters which are unimportant in themselves; but as 
they were the consequences of Col. Balfour's death, we give the letter 
Salisbury, N. C., August 17th, 1783.

MY DEAR, DEAR SISTER: - - Two days ago I received yours of Oct. 13th. By 
your changing the appellation at the top of your letter, I am afraid you imagine 
that I am indifferent about my dear brother's family; but I assure you it is one 
of my greatest afflictions that I can do so little for them. 

I wish from my heart you could come home. We might, by our industry, make 
a decent and independent living. I have had the negroes hired out this summer; 
but as they sell very high at present, I have some thoughts of selling them and 
going into trade, if you would come and assist us; for I cannot think that I will 
ever be happy on the plantation where I have seen so much distress and misery. 
Besides, I shall take every opportunity to bring to justice all who had any hand 
in my brother's death.

I do not think, therefore, that it would be safe for us to live among their friends, 
as it is very possible they would do us some private injury. That there was a 
time when my dear brother was happy in his family, I well know; and it was 
his constant and ardent wish, as well as ours, to have his two families 
united. A great deal of pleasure we promised ourselves from this union; but 
fortune was pleased to persecute him to the grave.

My dear Eliza, I beg you will not insist on all the particulars of your husband's death, 
as every circumstance strikes me like a clap of thunder. I held his dead head in my 
bosom till a moment before his death, when the ruffians dragged us from him; and 
then- -O, Eliza! I can write no more. I hope and pray that I may see you soon. 
Then, I will tell you all; for I do not think that it is so dreadful to repeat as to write, 
though the repetition of it in court shocked me so much that I was sick for three 
weeks. But whatever may be the consequences, I shall attend all courts, and 
every place where my presence is necessary, to bring the infernal villains to 
condign punishment. Dear sister, it grieves me to the heart that you should be 
dependent even on your father. It was very far from my brother's endeavor. Pray, 
come to us; and by the blessing of God and your assistance, we may make a 
comfortable living, and have it in our power to give the dear children a proper 
education. Tibby joins in kind compliments to you, to the children and to all 

                  Adieu! My dear Eliza. I remain your affectionate, loving, perplexed sister,

                                             MARGARET BALFOUR.

Although the writer of the above letters has avoided any detail of circumstances, and 
has no doubt omitted the most cruel and revolting parts of the tragedy, nothing more 
need be said.

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