Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Oliver, 8 October 1779

From Thomas Oliver5

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London 8th Octr. 1779

Dear Sir/

Notwithstanding I have not the honor of a personal acquaintance with you. I am no stranger to the Rank you hold in Europe.

I pray the favor to introduce myself to you by this Letter. You are acquainted with the Capture of the Island of Grenada, & its Dependencies: and with the Terms that Monsieur Le Compte de Durat has been pleased to lay the Inhabitants and Absentees under.6 It does not become me to remark now upon them. But such is the situation of Proprietors of Estates there, absolutely paid for; that if the Court of Versailles, will not relax the proclamations of Monsieur Le Compte, the concerned must materially suffer. My Brother Mr Richd Oliver, and my particular Friends Mr Wm. Smith & Mr. Tooke7 are very much interested in that Island. But the property They hold there, is totally unincumber’d with any Debts in the Island, or to any, to Subjects of the King of France, or united States of Holland. This being their case, I take the liberty to write to you in their behalf; & to solicit (if not repugnant to yr. other great concerns) your Interest in their favor. As I am so nearly connected with the late Alderman Oliver,8 I trust that may be my apology for this Letter. I am Dr Sir Your most obed. humb Serv.

Thos. Oliver

Addressed: A Monsr. / Mons. F / a Passy, / pres de Paris.

Notation: Thomas Oliver 8 Oct 79

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5A West Indian merchant born in Antigua, Oliver (1740–1803) lived in London and Leyton, Essex. He was the cousin, brother-in-law, and business partner of Richard Oliver, M.P., who was married to his sister, Mary. Vere Langford Oliver, The History of the Island of Antigua … (3 vols., London, 1894–99), II, 318–19. This letter was probably enclosed in Benjamin Vaughan’s of Oct. 10.

6Jean-François, comte de Durat (1736–c.1824) was made major-general and head of the division by d’Estaing for the attack on Grenada; he was then appointed governor of the island. DBF. In retaliation for having inflicted injury on the island’s residents, the British were enjoined by the Regulations of July 7 from receiving any further payments on mortgages or other debts due them from the inhabitants. Gaz. de Leyde, no. LXXIV (Oct. 19, 1779); see George Brizan, Grenada Island of Conflict … (London, 1984), pp. 43–6.

7Richard Oliver’s cousin, William Smith, owned estates and still resided in Grenada; Smith became his co-heir in 1784: Oliver, History of the Island …, III, 94. John Horne Tooke (XXIII, 332) and Richard Oliver were old political allies, both having fallen out with John Wilkes in 1771: DNB under Tooke.

8Richard Oliver resigned from office on Nov. 24, 1778: Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, III, 225.

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