Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Torris, 2 July 1779

From John Torris

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Dunkerque 2d. July 1779.


The Letter I did myself the honnour to write your Excellency the 30th. ulto. Conveyd the Particulars of the Cruise of the Black Prince Cutter.5 Her Cap. Mr. Stephen marchant, Sends me, recd. per yesterday mail, The List of his Prisonners deliverd in Morlaix, & also, a List of 21, equal number, of his men on Board of the 6 Prises, which, he has all reason to think, are retaken by the English Frigat that Chased them, & was Cruising Close to the French shore, where these Prises were Sent.6 I Send your Excellency the Original Letter, & I warmly join my request for the Exchange therein mentionned, hoping your Excellency, guided by your Justice, will employ her generous offices to Procure this Exchange, as Soon as Possible, & prevail on the Minister of the French Navey, to order Immediatly all assistance be given in Morlaix, or Brest, where she Likely will always send her Prises, to grant all assistance to the good, honest, & Brave People of this Privateer the Black Prince, either to Procure men to Continue her Prosperous & finely begone Cruise, & to order some Kings ships to Cruise on the Coast, to Protect her & her Success, & deffend the French Shore from the attempt & arm done by our too Bold Ennemy.

I beg the favour of your Excellency to send your orders & account of your success to the destressed Cap. Stephen Marchant.

I am with respect Sir your most obedient most humbel Servant

J Torris

Notation: Mr. Torris July 2. 1779

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5XXIX, 783. Torris was part owner of the privateer cutter, which in June had made the first of her seven cruises. Details of these cruises are provided in Clark, Ben Franklin’s Privateers.

6Marchant had sent BF a similar list, naming both the prisoners he had captured and his own crewmen who had been captured by the British while manning the Black Prince’s prizes: XXIX, 721–2. BF had provided him with an American commission in hopes he would be able to capture prisoners to exchange for the American sailors being held at Portsmouth and Plymouth: XXIX, 495–6, 571–2.

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