Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Welsh, 20 October 1777

From John Welsh2

ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Portsmouth Octr. 20th. 1777


Excuse the Freedom of my Presumption, in Writing to you tho not Personally Acquainted. Still from the Charector you bear from every Loyal American, induces me to let you Know of my Misfortune of being taken Prisoner, and brought here from the Westindias, Where I commanded a Privatier fitted out by Wm. Bingham Esqr. Agent of the Honourable Congress of the United states.3 Am in a Distress’d Situation, the Particulars you’l Excuse as time does not permit. Begs your Assistance if Convenient and hopes you’l make Known to Congress, as we may Expect a Carteel some time tho’ God Knows when. However any service I may Recieve will be Greatly thankful, as Wm. Bingham or Richd. Harrison of Martinicoe Wood be Answerable. I am sir Yours

Jno. Welsh

N.B. Those letters you’l be Pleas’d to forward to Martinicoe: I mention to these Gentlemen in these letters of my application made to you, Which I hope will Reach them. If this Answers you’l Direct to Portsmouth at Fortune Goal I draw for 20 Guineas as per Note.4

Superscription thus To Capt. Jno. Welsh at Portsmouth in the Goal of Fortune

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2He had reputedly been an overseer on an estate in Tobago, who commanded a privateer out of Martinique and captured a prize: Naval Docs., VIII, 183. We know nothing about his own capture, but he was committed to Forton Prison a week before he wrote this letter: Kaminkow, Mariners, p. 202.

3For Bingham’s privateering ventures see Robert C. Alberts, The Golden Voyage: the Life and Times of William Bingham . . . (Boston, 1969), pp. 50–3. Harrison, mentioned below, was also involved in them; he was the Martinique agent for Maryland and Virginia: above, XXII, 447 n.

4BF presumably sent on these enclosures to Bingham and Harrison. Two others, undated, must have been with Welsh’s letter and are now in the APS. One asks M. “Delumperly” (Delongprey), at Cherbourg, to give the bearer four or five guineas for the trip to Paris. The other asks Mr. Floyd (no doubt John Floyd, for whom see Lee’s letter below under Oct. 30) to make out a twenty-guinea draft on Bingham for BF to forward to the prison, and to beg BF to arrange Welsh’s exchange.

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