Adams Papers

To John Adams from Lady Juliana Fermor Penn, 24 December 1782

From Lady Juliana Fermor Penn

Spring Garden London Decbr: 24th: 1782.


When I address’d the rest of the Commissioners by Letters last Month, I was not inform’d you was at Paris; or I should not have been so wanting to my interest, as not to have entreated your assistance and Protection, as I did theirs, in the support of the cause of an Innocent and suffering Family. I know the afflictions consequent to War have ever been horrid; But as I hope we are near a happier Period, let me beseech You to give us reason, from the support I trust you will grant our Cause, to rejoyce in the completion of so great a Blessing, as Peace: and that thô now oppress’d and Afflicted, we may again, from the Wisdom, justice, & uprightness of those in Power, enjoy the Comforts we have been so long deprived of.1

I have the honor to be Sir, / Your Excellencies Oblig’d & Obedient / Hble. Servt.

Juliana Penn.

RC (Adams Papers).

1 Lady Juliana Fermor Penn (1729–1801) was the daughter of Thomas Fermor, 1st Earl of Pomfret, and widow of Thomas Penn, son and heir of William Penn, founder and proprietor of Pennsylvania. Her son John, the current proprietor, held a 75 percent interest in the estate. Under its Divestment Act of 1779 Pennsylvania took 24 million acres of unsold land from the Penn family for a settlement of £130,000 while permitting the Penns to retain private estates and proprietary manors surveyed prior to 4 July 1776 and income from that property. Lady Penn wrote to Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens on 23 Nov. to seek their assistance in obtaining a more equitable settlement (Franklin, Papers description begins The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Leonard W. Labaree, William B. Willcox, Claude A. Lopez, Barbara B. Oberg, Ellen R. Cohn, and others, New Haven, 1959–. description ends , 38:343–344; Jay, Unpublished Papers description begins John Jay: Unpublished Papers, ed. Richard B. Morris, New York, 1975–1980; 2 vols. description ends , 2:424–425; Laurens, Papers description begins The Papers of Henry Laurens, ed. Philip M. Hamer, George C. Rogers Jr., David R. Chesnutt, C. James Taylor, and others, Columbia, S.C., 1968–2003; 16 vols. description ends , 16:67). When that was not forthcoming, the family filed a claim with the British Loyalist Commission and was awarded £4,000 annually in perpetuity (Lorett Treese, The Storm Gathering: The Penn Family and the American Revolution, University Park, Penn., 1992, p. 17, 187–191, 195–200, 205). The issue of the Penn family’s claims had already been raised during the peace negotiations, for which see the articles agreed to by the commissioners and Richard Oswald on [4 Nov.], above.

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