Petition of John Catlet, 1762.
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To the Honourable Francis Fauquier Esq. Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia The humble Petition of John Catlet alias Harvey,
Your Petitioner truly sensible of the disadvantagious Light he must appear in to your Honor as loaded with the triple Guilt of Horse stealing Desertion and Forgery would not have trespassed upon your Honors good nature so far as even to have begged for mercy was he not convinced in his own Breast that he appears at present a much greater Criminal than he really is, This he can no way so well evince as by giving a Short Abstract of his Life, your petitioner was born of honest and industrious parents in the country of Prince William where he married a Neighbour's Daughter by whom he has a large Family of Children and always maintained an unsullied Character till the year Seventeen hundred and fifty six having Occasion to go upon some business to North Carolina in his return from thence in Company with one Peter Lehen and Oswald Adams, he had the Misfortune to tire his Horse and was persuaded by his Companions to take the first Horse he met with which at first your Petitioner refused to do, but they threatening to leave him if he did not, and not caring to be left alone on a Road he was unacquainted with at length was so imprudent as to follow their Advice firmly resolved to leave the Horse he so took at the first publick House he came to and wait there till his own was Sufficiently refreshed to carry him Home, but the Owner pursuing him he was overtaken in a few miles and together with his Companions sent down to Williamsburg where they were all three tried and condemned but some Circumstances appearing in favour of your petitioner his Honor the late Governor tho' he would not grant a formal pardon Suffered your Petitioner to go at large upon condition he would inlist as a Soldier upon this to free himself from a nauseous Goal and the Sentence of Death which hung over him your petitioner received the enlisting money but never was Sworn or regularly enlisted a Soldier for when he had time to consider that he was to leave all his Friends to be Separated from his wife and a large Family of children to whom he had no hopes of ever returning, for tho' your petitioners Father was very Able and always intended to leave him a good Fortune both in Lands and Negroes at his Death and would have Spared no Expence to have procured a Discharge for him, yet as the pardon was only nominal the Sentence of Death still hung over his head and might have been pulled down upon him by every person he Offended when your petitioner considered these things the mercy extended to him appeared more terrible to him than Death itself, and he chose rather to run the Risque of Suffering and ignominious Death by living with his wife and children than to embrace that Mercy which was to deprive him of every Blessing which made life dear to him. What Harships your petitioner hath since endured are too tedious to enumerate but if your Honour can form to your self an Idea of a wretched Outlaw whose Life was equally forfeited to civil as well as military Justice Separated from the Society of his Friends and afraid of every man he met, your Honors Humanity will Surely incline you to think that the punishment your petitioner hath already Suffered is more than adequate to the Offence he committed. With regard to the Crime upon which your petitioner was convicted he in the most Solemn manner protests his Innocence, assuring your Honour he did not known the Bills he had were Forged and calls upon