Dublin 18th. June 1786
Tho’ unknown to your Excellency I take the Liberty of addressing you in behalf of an honest tho’ unfortunate Man a Subject of the United States of America who has applied to me to use my Influence & Interest in behalf of himself & Owners with the Commissioners of the Revenue of this Kingdom.
His Name is Aaron Sheffield Commander of the Brig called the Queen of France belonging to himself Coll Saml Ward & others of the State of Rhode Island said vessell has been condemned (upon a trial before the Sub Commissioners at the Port of Cork) under a most severe clause in one of our late Revenue Laws called the hovering Act,—for coming to an Anchor for one Tide only at a place called Ballycotton Bay—a man having been produced at the Trial that swore he bought a Cask or two of Rum out of said Vessell at that Place notwithstanding the Mate & others of the Crew swore there was no Goods of any kind deliver’d out of said Ship at that Place. The whole of the 5 Sub Commissioners signed the Condemnation of the Rum but so insufficient did the Evidence appear to two of them (the Collector & another) that they refused signing the Condemnation of the Ship & for same Reason the Collector refused signing the Condemnation of the Tobacco which consists of 131 Hhds.
Capt Sheffield having transmitted to me the whole of the Evidence I laid it before Council who was of Opinion there was Ground for Condemnation tho’ it was possible the Sentence upon an Appeal might be reversed this with the Opinion of some Friends induced me to recommend to Capt: Sheffield not to prosecute an Appeal but to petition the Commissioners of his Majesty’s Revenue & throw himself on their Mercy—as the Expence of an Appeal would be considerable & the Issue so uncertain, Capt Sheffield has acquies’d in my Advice & I have prepar’d a petition representing the above Circumstances in the strongest Manner & praying the Commissioners might restore the Tobacco & Vessell upon paying a reasonable Gratuity to the seizing Officer which petition I mean to present in a few days aided by the Influence of a Relation & Friend a Member of Parliament.
The peculiar Severity of this Law under which his Vessell & Cargo has been condemned & the Hardship of this poor Mans Case induces me to request your Excellency’s kind Interposition with the British Ministry to write to the Commissioners of the Revenue here to soften the Rigour of this very severe Law in behalf of his Vessell & Cargo which I doubt not with the Interest I shall make here will induce them to determine favourably for him & his Owners.—From the extensive commercial Intercourse between this Country & America I need scarcely mention the Necessity of having a Consul to reside here (the Seat of Government) such an Appointment would add Consequence to the Applications in behalf of such American Property as might be endanger’d thro’ Ignorance or Misconduct of the Crews of Ships; & least your Excellency should imagine that I am unnecessarily intruding on your time—I have inclosed this Letter to Messrs: Lane Son & Frazer who can inform you that Capt Sheffield is deserving of your Protection—in the meantime I shall render him every Service in my Power hoping shortly to be aided therein by your Interference
I have the Honour to be / Your Excellency’s / most obedt humble. Servt: