George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from John Fenton, 6 July 1775

From John Fenton

Medford [Mass.] 6 July 1775. “Tho’ I am quite a Stranger to your Excellency, yet the peculiarity of my Situation induces me to request that you will indulge me so far as to take me under your protection at Head Quarters.” He wishes to explain his reasons in person.

ALS, NjMoHP; Sprague transcript, DLC:GW.

John Fenton (d. 1785), an active and outspoken New Hampshire Loyalist, was seized by a Patriot mob in Portsmouth, N.H., on 13 June 1775. The colony’s provincial congress declared on 29 June “that Colo John Fenton is not a friend to this country” and two days later sent him to the headquarters of the New Hampshire forces at Medford, Mass. (Bouton, N.H. Provincial Papers description begins Nathaniel Bouton, ed. Provincial Papers. Documents and Records Relating to the Province of New-Hampshire, from 1764 to 1776 . . .. In New Hampshire Provincial and State Papers, vol. 7. 1873. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 7:543–44). An Irishman, Fenton served as a captain in the British army during the French and Indian War. He married an American, and when his regiment was reduced at the end of the war, he left the army and settled in Massachusetts. In 1771 Fenton moved to New Hampshire, where he had been given a large grant of land. By allying himself closely with the colony’s royal governor, John Wentworth, he soon became a prominent political figure, holding among other offices a colonelcy in the New Hampshire militia and the clerkship of Grafton County. GW responded to Fenton’s plea for protection from his New Hampshire enemies by sending him to Hartford as a prisoner on parole. On 19 Sept. the Continental Congress directed GW to release Fenton “on his giving his parole of honour to proceed to New York, and from thence to Great Britain or Ireland, and not to take up arms against the good people of this Continent” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 2:255). See also Hancock to GW, 26 Sept. 1775. Fenton sailed to England soon afterwards and never returned to America.

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