Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Allcock, 6 May 1782

From William Allcock5

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Amnear [Amiens] May the 6th. day 1782


This Comes to Enform you that I have Come from americay from Newborn [New Bern] Department in Northcarolina age 32 I further Inform you that I have servd in americay Service at the head of a company I first was a recruting Officer to the tenth Redgment at kingstown [Kinston] in Northcarolina Raised in the year 1777 Commanded by Corronal Sheperd6 I futher inform you that I have Servd five years all most in the Contanettal and meleshe [militia] amerecan Servise I further inform you that I was under Genrall Retherford near the affair at Brear Creek7 I further Inform you that I was in gates Defeat8 and many others Ingagements that I was in and I had Retired home and Come to Eadontown [Edenton] to See my frends and tuck a noshon to go a voige to See to Refresh my Self in the Brig frends Commanded By Capten John Norcom Bound to Sentomases [Saint Thomas] left Northcarolina March the 13th. day on the 26th day to the Eastord of Permudus twelve aclock at Nite I was made A prisnor by a letermark from Santlezey [Saint Lucia] Bound to liverpool Commanded By Capten Jorge Brown on the 27th day she Brought a dun too from Sandecruce Bound to ostend she was a Brig Commanded By Mr. Capten Vaile which she put my self and ten more on Bord the Dean [Dane?]9 Aprill the 26th day we landed at Celles [Calais] I heir Obtained a pass to travell to parress I further Inform you that I Receivd four guineas which was to carey me In a carrage to parress which having my Money and Clothes taken from me By the Inglish which Caused me to make use of Part of my Money for Neaseareys that I could not Do with Out which Obliged me to under take to walk which Could travil no further than Bullin [Boulogne] I their Payd Very Dear for a carrage to Amnear which I am in Veary Disagreable situation and I beg that you would not forget a distressed amerecan in a strainge Cuntray as I have not Money to Cary me any further and I hope when I see your Onour I shall be able to give a full account of my Self like wise the offairs of americay so no more at Preasent so I remain your frend to Serve

William Allcock

May the 6th day 1782

[Note by Thomas Price:]1 These men where taken prisoneurs & brought to Callis along with mr. Wm. Allcock the writer of this Letter.

James Tew Born’d at Eadenton in north Caroline Bread a farmer.

aged 19
Zakeriah Webb from the same place 22
Thomas Britton2 do do 21.
Robert Dolison do do 24.
Thomas Simons do do 22

Notation: William Allcock

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5This is the first extant letter in a correspondence concerning Allcock and his companions that began some days earlier. Allcock, as he says here, landed at Calais on April 26. Having obtained a loan and a pass to travel to Paris, he got as far as Amiens before running out of money. BF evidently received word, from both Calais and the Amiens merchant N. Leleu l’aîné, that the Americans needed assistance. Discrepancies in the stories aroused his suspicions, however, and he expressed them to Leleu in a letter of May 3 (now missing). Leleu received BF’s letter on May 6. He may then have counseled Allcock to write the present account, which he forwarded to BF on May 7 along with his own letter of that date and one from Thomas Price vouching for the sailors’ honesty (both below). Allcock and his fellow seamen, as well as Capt. John Norcom of the Friends (whom he mentions below), received aid from BF when they arrived at Passy: Editorial Note on Promissory Notes, above.

6Allcock enlisted as a private in the 10th North Carolina Regiment of the American army under Col. Abraham Shepard on Aug. 31, 1777, and deserted about five months later: William L. Saunders, Walter Clark, et al., eds., The Colonial and State Records of North Carolina (30 vols., Raleigh, 1886–1914), XVI, 1006.

7In March, 1779, N.C. Brig. Gen. Griffith Rutherford was posted a short distance from Briar Creek, S.C., where a detachment of Gen. Lincoln’s troops were defeated: Mark Mayo Boatner III, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution (New York, 1966), p. 953.

8Gates had some 2,000 N.C. militia under his command during the disastrous Camden campaign in August, 1780: ibid., pp. 161–70.

9According to Leleu’s May 7 letter, the Americans were deposited at Calais by a Danish vessel to which the letter of marque had transferred them.

1See Price’s letter of May 7, below.

2Probably the Thomas Britten of Edenton who became a North Carolina citizen on Jan. 23, 1779: Saunders and Clark, North Carolina Records, XIII, 654.

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