Robert Fergusson and Alexander Hamilton were agents for the Scottish firm of James Glassford & Company during the latter half of the eighteenth century. Glassford & Company traded primarily in tobacco, though the company was also concerned with other goods, including coffee, sugar, and slaves. Fergusson and Hamilton made contracts with local stores, which in turn purchased tobacco directly from planters. The agents were then responsible for arranging for the crop to be shipped to Europe. Their responsibilities also included collecting payment for debts and distributing payment for goods and services.
Fergusson was born in Moniave, near Dumfries, in Scotland, around 1745. By 1772, he was established in the American colonies as an agent, or "factor" in contemporary parlance, of Glassford & Company. At different times, he also represented James Brown & Company and Neil Jamieson & Company. Fergusson owned Nanjemoy, an estate in Charles County, though he lived in Georgetown and later at "Mulberry Grove," also in Charles County, near Port Tobacco. The move to "Mulberry Grove" might have accompanied his marriage to Elizabeth Ballantine in 1788. Robert Fergusson died in 1813.
Hamilton was also born in Scotland, in Mauchline, Ayrshire. He was not closely related to either the American statesman of the same name or the Hamilton Family whose papers are held at the University of Maryland Libraries. As a young man, Hamilton emigrated to America. In 1768 he became a factor in Piscataway, Prince George's County, Maryland. Eventually he and Fergusson both served as factors for James Brown & Company as well as Glassford & Company. Hamilton maintained a sizeable estate of his own, including more than ten slaves at the time of his death in 1799.
Robert Fergusson and Alexander Hamilton corresponded frequently on business matters and appeared to be on friendly terms.
From the guide to the Fergusson/Hamilton papers, 1761-1827, 1761-1827, (State of Maryland and Historical Collections)