Adams Papers

Tristram Barnard to the Commissioners, 9 October 1778

Tristram Barnard to the Commissioners

Friday the 9th Octor. [1778]


Your humble petionner hath ben from America this four years in the English Services though not in Goverment Services of any kind nither have I any kind of pretentions or clames to any honour in Supporting the just cause of America any further then Releveing many prisoners with Money and means to make thare Escape from England.

Therefore wishing to be of more Services then I have ben I have a Desire to Encounter with all the troubles let them be what thay may in America and humble beg your Asistences So far as to give me your pass that I may go from London to Spain and take in Such Goods that may be of Services to the Riseing States of America and not be Subject to be captor’d by any of the States Vesslls. This coply’d with I hope will be Sum Services to America and give me an Opportunity of Exerting my Self in the preasent Cause.

Wich is the real Desire of your Humble Petisionner

Tristram Barnard1

NB Gntlemen if you think proper to grant my request there is two Gntlemen in London that hath ben takend and brought to England who have sum property there and we three intend to bye a vessll and go to Spain with the English convoy and from thence to America.2 Your Answer as Soon as convenant is the request of yours to Serve


RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble Commitionners of The United States of America”; docketed, not by JA: “Tristram Bernards Papers.”

1Barnard was probably at Passy when he wrote this letter. This is indicated by letters to Franklin from John Channing and G. Williams of 24 Aug. and 2 Oct. respectively, which introduced Barnard and recommended him for his services to American prisoners. The Commissioners acted very quickly on his case, and on 13 Oct. Barnard took oaths of allegiance and of his intention to settle for life in America (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. description begins I. Minis Hays, comp., Calendar of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin in the Library of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 1908; 5 vols. description ends , 1:482, 506; 4:274). On his return to America, Barnard apparently turned to privateering. Between 23 Nov. 1779 and 11 Feb. 1782 he commanded or had an interest in at least four vessels: the brigantines Charming Nancy, Queen of Spain, and Massachusetts, and the brig Venus (Allen, Mass. Privateers description begins Gardner Weld Allen, Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution (Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections, vol. 77), Boston, 1927. description ends , p. 96, 247; PCC, No. 196, X and XV).

2No further information regarding Barnard’s friends or their plans has been found.

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