From Edmund Jenings
Brussels May. 16. 1782
I take the Liberty of writing to your Excellency this Letter, expresly to recommend my Friend Mr Ridley to your Excellencys Notice. I Knew Him long in England and Ever found Him warm, Active and Affectionate to the Cause of America, we left the Ennemys Country together. He has since been in America where He signalized Himself, in being very instrumental in providing Vessels for transporting Genl Washingtons Troops, from the Head of Chesepeak to York Town, and in raising a Body of 80 Horse, in which He acted as Adjutant and Treasurer refusing any higher Post. He had the Honor of Chacing Tarllton. He has the Esteem of General Washington Lincoln and the Marquis de la Fayette, and indeed He is most intimate with the Latter and has the Confidence of the State of Maryland, from which He has now a Commission of some Trust.
I need not perhaps have mentioned the preceding circumstances to recommend my Friend to your Excellencys Acquaintance. I Know not either your Excellency or Him, if He does not recommend Himself more strongly, to your Approbation and Esteem, than any words of mine can do; for I think you will find in Him a Knowledge of Men and Things, an Integrity Firmness and Candor, not usually met with. He has a great respect for your Excellency and He Knows other people.1
I am with the greatest Consideration Sir your Excellencys Most Obedient Humble Servant
RC (Adams Papers).
1. Matthew Ridley was an English-born merchant who had gone to America in 1770 and settled in Baltimore. Returning to England in 1775, he had been active, with Edmund Jenings among others in efforts to aid American prisoners. JA already knew Ridley, having met him at Paris in 1778, and JA’s diary records a meeting with Ridley and other merchants at Nantes on 12 March 1779, shortly before Ridley returned to America. Jenings’ information on Ridley’s activities before Yorktown cannot be verified, but he sailed for France in late 1781 on the French frigate that brought news of Cornwallis’ surrender. He arrived at Paris in Dec. 1781 with a commission from Maryland to raise a European loan. However, it was his lack of success in raising a loan in France that brought him to the Netherlands in May 1782 (Herbert E. Klingelhofer, “Matthew Ridley’s Diary During the Peace Negotiations of 1782,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 20:95–133 [Jan. 1963]; vol. 7:85; JA, D&A description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:356). For Ridley’s arrival at The Hague on 19 May and his meeting with JA on the 20th, see JA’s letter of 21 May to Lafayette, note 1, below.