Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from G. Anquetil Brutiere, 7 June 1778: résumé

From G. Anquetil Brutiere

ALS: American Philosophical Society; copy: National Archives

<Granville in Normandy, June 7, 1778, in French: Last year I sent a ship to fish for cod on the Newfoundland Banks. On Sept. 17 she was boarded from the privateer Bellona out of Marblehead, Capt. Thomas Stevens,7 and forced to accept seven English prisoners who had no food or other necessities. These extra mouths forced her to return to France after less than three months on the Banks; otherwise she would have had more than four, and in that time would have taken 4–5000 cod, worth in France 4–5000 l.t. A young merchant weighed down by misfortunes, responsible for a large family, with his ships—or rather those that friends have put in his charge—lying idle, has a just complaint to put before you. I am confident that you will repair my loss.8>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7“Thomas Etienne de la Tête de Marbre.” What was apparently the same privateer, a brigantine, was still operating in 1778: Allen, Mass. Privateers, p. 79.

8The following September Brutiere called on BF, introduced by a M. Stadelle, merchant of Strasbourg, and aired his grievance in person. BF advised him to put it in legal form in triplicate, one for him and two to be sent to Massachusetts; the bondsmen of the privateer would be obligated to pay. Stadelle drew up the papers, and BF sent them off; that is all we know of the story. See Brutiere to BF, Jan. 5 and Feb. 21 (APS), and BF’s reply on March 13, 1779, Library of Congress.

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