Adams Papers

Robert Murdoch to John Adams, 30 Jun. 1786

Dunkerque 30 June 1786—


The following narrative of a distressd Subject of the United States of America, was lately communicated to me by Letter from Jonathan Jackson Esqr. of Boston, by whose desire joind to that of Isaac smith Esqr. of said place, I take the liberty of laying before your Excellency having previously visited the Unhappy Man in prison & heard a Repetition of the Circumstances from his own Mouth—which are thus.

Alexander Grosse born at Cape-Cod in the Bay of Boston & bred a Seaman, Embarkd at Cowhasset in 1777 on board a Vessell bound to Iza-Cape, under the Command of his cousin Captain Samuel Grosse, was Captured by the Brittish and carried into Liverpool where he was pressd & put on board a Tender, conveyd to Plymouth & orderd on board the Duke Man of War of ninety Guns where he remaind four Years ’till at last he found an Oppertunity to Escape, deserting at once that Service & his Appointments dureing that period. He fled to Southampton & there got on board the Sloop charlotte bound to Corke, where he hoped to procure himself a passage out to America, but the Vessell was taken on the Voyage by the Comptesse d’Avaux Privateer Captain Cary of Boulogne sur Mer on the 29 february 1782 and Ransomd for the Sum of Two hundred Guineas—poor Grosse was given to Captn Cary as Hostage, to which he made no objection expecting to be soon released, when instead of returning to England he purposed to proceed by first oppertunity to America from Some Port in France. his notions were just & well considerd, but the Event has proved Unpropitious & proved his greatest missfortune.—He was landed here by Captain Cary and lodged in our Prison where Unfortunately he remains ever since; destitute of friends or Money, and without any hopes of regaining his Liberty but through your Excellencys clemency & interference, As according to the Report here, the proprietor of the Sloop Charlotte a Mr, Lockyer of Southampton, unable or perhaps unwilling to Satisfy his creditors or discharge the Ransom bill has fled his Country & them, and all their Researches to find him out hitherto have proved in Vain–Consequently this wretched prisoner has no prospect of relief from that quarter & I understand that his own familly are not in a Situation to advance a Shilling to assist him—The Captors allow him for Subsistance about a Brittish shilling pr. day but its to be feard their benevolence may cease on seeing themselves duped by Lockyer & induce them to Confine their bounty to the Prison allowance Shoud he remain much longer a burthen to them

I Shall not trouble your Excellency with any further comment on the Subject, being persuaded it’s enough On my part to lay the perticulars of his hapless Situation before you, to engage your Excellency to interfere in his behalf

I have the honour to Subscribe myself with the most profound respect / Your Excellency’s / Most obedient / very humble Servant

Robt Murdoch

RC (MHi: Adams Papers).

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