Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from David Hartley, 18 September 1779

From David Hartley

Copy:8 American Philosophical Society; transcript: Library of Congress

Sept 18 1779

To Dr F——

I think it very probable that the Exchange of prisoners upon acct. by certificates at Sea may take some time in considering & arranging if consented to by the British Ministry.9 In the mean time as I hear that the second Cartel ship is come back, I write one line to you just to suggest that if you can succeed in obtaining Morlaix for the port of Exchange & will send me a passport for Morlaix, I think a third Exchange may take place while this new proposition is under Consideration. I do not know that it will take much time for discussion but I have already experienced Ministerial delays. In the mean time I wish to hasten another cargo. If the next cargo shd still be for Nantes, pray signify this to me by the return of the Mail.

I have now a favour to ask of you upon my own account. Some friends of mine at Hull viz the Corporation of the Trinity house have writ to me to desire that I wd endeavour to obtain the release of Mr John Stephenson Master & owner of the ship Sally & a younger Brother of the Trinity house & a Burgess of Hull.1 They do not specify to me when taken or where he is or whether captured by french or American. When I obtain farther particulars I will transmitt them to you. In the mean time if you can hear where this Mr Stephenson is, & cd assist me in procuring his release I shall be much obliged to you. I shall probably write to you again soon. I am &c


[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8In Hartley’s hand, and included in his second letter of Oct. 26, below.

9In fact, not until March 1, 1780, did Hartley reply that the proposal for parole exchanges by certificates at sea had been refused. APS.

1The Trinity House, a charitable guild and corporation, regulated conditions of service of seamen and provided for the relief of retired seamen and their families: Gordon Jackson, The Trade and Shipping of Eighteenth-Century Hull, East Yorkshire Local Hist. Ser., no. XXXI (1975), p. 7. Stephenson (1738?–1805) had been admitted as a younger brother of the House in 1761 and appears on the muster rolls as commander of the Sally from 1775 through August, 1778: Hull Trinity House, BRN/YB, 1738–1805; Muster Rolls, vols. 20–22. On Sept. 13, 1779, the corporation requested Hartley to determine what steps were necessary to have Stephenson, now a prisoner in France, exchanged for a Frenchman of equal rank: HTH Outletters, 1777–86. Information kindly provided by the HTH archivist.

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