Tristram Barnard to the Commissioners
As thier hath ben a moust Valueable Whale fishry discoverd by the people of England Since the preasent contest with America and a thing of the utmoust Consequence to the above poeple—if it is your minds to destroy it I Should be glad to give you all the information that is in my Power to affect the Same. I have ben in the busaness my self and was very Senceable I was doing Rong, therefore quited the busaness and Ackowledge, wich I trust your honours think more commendable then to proceed.
There is 15 Sail in the Employ, 5 Ships and 10 Brigg. Thay have all Saild by this time but 2, thay are moustly Americans and would be glad to git home if thay knowd any way.2 Thay Saild in company this Season 3d of Octo[ber] and allways stop at the Cape De Varda Islands3 outward bound and cruse betwen the Lattds of 26 Degrees South and 38 Do, in the Longd. from 46 to 62 West. As the Shore Extends NE by N and SW by S the bank lays as the Shore doath 40–50 and 70 Leagues from the Land and these Vessells are to be met with within about 6–8 or 10 Leagues of the bank.
The fishry is comonly over in all April and I am informd thay are Ordered to the Island Santeslena4 to com home with the Eastindia Men.
Any further information required on the Occation that is in my power to give I shall moust Willingly Comply With from your moust Obedent Servent
NB thay have no Guns, thay brought to England Last Season upon an average about 55 tuns5 of Oil moust of it Worth £70 per ton. At this preasent time it is worth in America £100 per ton as I am informed.
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble Commitionnes of the United States of America”; docketed: “C. Tristram Bernards Letter.”
1. Although listed in the Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. description begins I. Minis Hays, comp., Calendar of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin in the Library of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 1908; 5 vols. description ends (1:511) as being part of the letter from Barnard of 9 Oct. (above), the docketing and address indicate that it was a separate letter, probably written soon after the 9th. The Commissioners had just received detailed information on the British whaling fleet from Richard Grinnell (JA to Daniel McNeill, 9 Oct., and note 1, above) and it would have been natural for them to ask another person, experienced in the whale fishery, for comments.
3. Cape Verde Islands.
4. The island of St. Helena, run by the British East India Company.
5. A reference to the casks or tuns in which the oil was placed. Fifty-five tuns of whale oil would equal 13,860 old wine gallons (OED description begins The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1933; 12 vols. and supplement. description ends ). An old wine gallon contains slightly less than the U.S. gallon.