Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from ——— Sieulanne, 30 July 1778: résumé

From ——— Sieulanne

Copy: American Philosophical Society

<Ste. Croix de Teneriffe, July 30, 1778, in French: Having captured and brought into Palma, one of the Canary islands, the English brigantine The Countess of Mouton, Capt. Conyngham, of the Revenge, asked me to bring her to Martinique. We settled on conditions. As I was about to sail on July 19, I was accosted by an armed sloop sent by the Governor of Palma acting on orders from Marquis de Travallosos, Commander-in-Chief of the Canaries. The instructions were to stop my ship and arrest me, as well as Capt. Conyngham who was still in sight of the port. I was abused and eventually told to address myself to an English merchant in Orotava, named Thomas Cologan.4

His answer, enclosed, proves that my arrest was really a reprisal against Conyngham.5 Could you please obtain from the court of Spain a reimbursement for the five hundred piastres this delay is costing me? The sum should be remitted to the French consul who will forward it to me. As to the insult to the flag, I am certain you shall obtain redress.>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4In the enclosed copy of his letter to Cologan, July 27, Sieulanne suggested that they settle the affair amicably even though he was aware that Cologan had requested his arrest.

5Cologan’s answer, of July 29, denied that he sought the arrest: he had never heard of Sieulanne and had no grievance against him. But Conyngham, behaving like a pirate, had seized a Swedish ship laden with cargo belonging to inhabitants of the Canaries and that cargo should not be allowed to proceed. (The Countess of Mouton did eventually reach Martinique: Neeser, Conyngham, facing p. 152). By 1783, Mrs. Cologan, living in Paris, was on friendly terms with BF to whom she sent some wine grown on their Teneriffe estate.

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