Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Kentisbear, 11 November 1778

From William Kentisbear

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Marselles Prison November. 11th. 1778

Honoured Sr.

As a subject to the united states of America & Origanlly from Marblehead in the Province of Massachusets, have a wife & four children, induces me to Sollicit your Excellency on this present Occasion, imploring your protection in my unhappy situaition, having been taken by the fate of War by the ambuscade frigate7 & carried to Hallifax were I made my escape with some others, But meeting with the Visisitudes of fortune in endeavouring to get to my family but to no Effect, was unluckily on Board a Ship Bound to Barcelonia as chief Mate but to be Dismissed the first oppurtunity that presented to my View, But of Alicant unluckily was taken by a privateer of Marselles & brought to this Port, have made application of the above to the commissary but Was advised to Address you of the above narrative, hoping by your Excellencies distinguished & Extensive, Character & Power, will be Pleased to Mediate for my Releasement.8

Should be Exceeding happy to be on Board any of our Cruizers if any in france, or Otheways As Your Goodness shall think most Expedient, Have Been in the Character of Master of a Vessell, these ten Years past out of Piscataqua in the province of New Hampshire, Your compliance with the above & a Line by order of your Excellency Will be Gratefully Acknowled by Sr. With profound Respect Yr. Very Humble Servant

Wm. Kentisbear

Should you honnour me With an answer please to direct for me at Mr. andrew Chester Interprete du Roy à Marseille

Notation: Prisoners

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7The 32-gun frigate, Capt. John Macartney, cruised off Halifax between June and September, 1777: Naval Docs., IX, 4, 15, 20, 293, 869–70.

8By January, 1779, he was in Toulon with only his small prisoner’s allowance, waiting to board a French man-of-war. He wrote on the 24th and 26th for help in securing his freedom, adding in the second letter that he neither spoke nor understood French. A final request dated July 5, 1779, found him a prisoner on parole at Aix-en-Provence. All letters are at the APS.

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