Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Charles Collins, 29 March 1780

From Charles Collins5

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Shearburg March the 29 1780


As you are the gentleman orethersed to hear and Redress the Complants of those americans who has Bin presners In England I make Bold to Rite to your honer as a Child wold to a father for I hop Sir you wold Be a father to me at this presant time. I wold Informe your honer that I was taken the 9 of September In the yer 1778 In a Contenantle Brig Resestance mounten 18 guns William Burk Capten. I was In Compasity of a mid shipman on Bord Bound with Exprest for Counde Eastin [Estaing] who Being at that tim at Rhodisland the 14 day I was put in Rhodisland preson with 9 pepole with me the 22 day I was taken out on Bord the Culloden an English 74 gun Ship while I was on Bord wee tuck Sevrel Verseles and one the Brig Standley Mr. degrass Capten. In Sight of the french fleet I was on Bord till wee arive at milford haven and the 15 Day of december wee was put on Shore In pembrock prison wile I was on Bord I was used very Barbrosly and always Intisening me to Enter But I Refused after Being In preson 12 months and 6 day I and 20 americans Brok out of preson tuck a Small Sloop 7 mile up the Rever past By Sevrel firgets and tenders and Came Safe to france after Being at Sea 3 days without water or pervisens and as ther Being no Contenantle Ship as I Cold go on Bord of for I had not money to last me to aney plase ware thear was aney for I had no more then what I Sold the prise for I thought proper to go on Bord the Black prences Cuter I wold Be glad to Informe your honer of my transaxanes But I have not time when I Came to france I had no Clothes I hope your honer will Be Pleased to let me have a little money for what little I had I Bought Clothes with and if your honer Shold Command me to go on Bord of a Contenantle Ship I am at your Sarves.6 The Black prences is holed up and I am partley agred to go with Capten Wile In another Cuter of 20 guns at Shearburge In Compasity of thir leutanent. Sir I am your most obedant humble Sarvent

Charles Collins

To the Right honoreble Docter fraclen

Addressed [in another hand]: To / His Excellency Doctor Franklin / at Paris

Notation: Collins Charles March 29. 1780.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Collins had written from Pembroke Prison in Wales the previous summer on behalf of several Americans who were confined there. He came to Cherbourg to sail with Edward Macatter on the new Black Princess: XXX, 71–2; Clark, Ben Franklin’s Privateers, pp. 108–9, 131; Kaminkow, Mariners, p. 42.

6Collins wrote again on April 26, acknowledging BF’s letter of April 20 (missing). Since there is no continental vessel in France that he can board for America he will content himself with serving on the Black Princess. Will BF mention his name in letters to Boston so that his former captain and parents will know he is free? Torris is at Cherbourg and expects to go to Paris soon. APS.

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