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Declaration Signer George Ross Witnesses a Promissory Note
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[GEORGE ROSS]. Document Signed as Witness, Promissory note of Johannes Pfautz to Edward Biddle, May 30, 1770. 1 p., 6 x 4 in.

Inventory #24194.01       Price: $450

Complete Transcript

I promise to pay unto E Biddle or order ten pounds on demand for Value reced. Witness my Hand 30th May 1770

                                                  Johannes Ffaŭtz

Test                                          Geo: Ross

<2> [Endorsement:] J Fauts Note / £10 / Cumb? County

[Docketing:] Cumberland / July 1773 / Edwd Biddle / Jno Fautz / C? / Nar

Historical Background

Promissory notes and bills of exchange often passed as a form of currency in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Johannes Pfautz gave this promissory note to Edward Biddle, and George Ross, Biddle’s brother-in-law, witnessed the transaction. The docketing on the reverse suggests that Biddle had to make a claim against Pfautz in a Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, court for the payment of the note in 1773.

George Ross (1730-1779) was born in Delaware and educated at home. He was admitted to the bar in Philadelphia in 1750. Initially a Tory, he served as Crown Prosecutor for twelve years. Ross served in the Pennsylvania provincial legislature from 1768 to 1776, and represented the colony in the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1777. He was a signer of the Continental Association and was the last of the Pennsylvania delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Edward Biddle (1738-1779) was born in Philadelphia, studied at the Academy of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) and served in the French and Indian War. In 1761, he married Elizabeth Ross, the sister of George Ross, in whose office Biddle studied law. Admitted to the bar in 1767, Biddle began a law practice in Reading, Pennsylvania. He represented Berks County in the Pennsylvania provincial legislature from 1767 to 1776 and then the state general assembly until 1778. He and Ross were two of the four radicals out of the seven delegates Pennsylvania sent to the Continental Congress, where Biddle served from 1774 to 1775. There, he signed the Continental Association. When in early 1775, Governor John Penn attempted to have the provincial assembly appease the crown, Biddle, Ross, and John Dickinson urged independence. The assembly elected Biddle as speaker, approved the actions of the Continental Congress, and sent a more pro-independence delegation to the next Congress.

The person who drafted and signed the note could have been one of the following:

Johannes Pfautz Sr. (1745-1821) was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and married Mary Mohler there in 1767. He also died in Lancaster County.  Or Johannes Michael Pfautz (1728-1806) was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He married Anna Maria Klein in 1741 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. After her death, he married Margaret Bast in 1770 in Cumberland County. He died in Rockingham County, Virginia.

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