Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Grey Cooper, 29 November 1780

From Grey Cooper7

Copy, press copy, and transcript: National Archives

London, Novr. 29. 1780.


I have received the Honour of your Letter, in which you acquainted me that you understood that the Health of Mr. Laurens suffered by the Closeness and Rigour of his Confinement in the Tower, & after complaining of the Harshness of this proceeding, you request me to endeavour to obtain for Mr. Laurens such a Degree of Air and Liberty as may be necessary for his Health and Comfort 8 The Inclosed Letter which I received from the Lieutenant Governor of the Tower,9 will show that I have not been inattentive to your Request, and at the same time prove that the Intelligence you receive of what passes in this Country is not always to be depended on for its accuracy & Correctness. I have the Honour to be Sir, Your most Obedient and most Humble Servant

(signed) Grey Cooper

Endorsed: Copy of the Answer1

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7We strongly suspect that the now-missing recipient’s copy was forwarded by Beaumarchais, who wrote BF on Dec. 4 to present his respects and send a letter he had received from England (APS). Beaumarchais was a logical intermediary for Cooper to use. As secretary to the treasury board Cooper did not wish to communicate directly with either the Americans or French; Beaumarchais had unofficial connections with both governments, as the British well knew (see, for example, Stevens, Facsimiles, XIII, no. 1366).

8XXXIII, 506–7.

9Charles Vernon (1719–1810), who was a lieutenant general in the British army; Laurens said that, unlike Gore, the residing governor (XXXIII, 515n), Vernon, “behaved like a gentleman and a man of feeling”: Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, III, 582–3; “A Narrative of the Capture of Henry Laurens, of his Confinement in the Tower of London, &c. 1780, 1781, 1782,” S.C. Hist. Soc. Coll., I (1857), 28. Cooper enclosed a copy of a letter that Vernon had written him on Nov. 27, reporting that Laurens said “he had received every reasonable Indulgence since his Confinement” and his health had improved since he was given permission to walk within the confines of the Tower (National Archives). On Dec. 3, however, Laurens during his walk encountered Lord George Gordon and in consequence was confined for the next forty-seven days: “Narrative of Henry Laurens,” p. 29.

1From a notation on the enclosure we know that BF sent both it and the present letter with his May 14, 1781, letter to Samuel Huntington (Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, IV, 409–11). He also enclosed a copy of his Nov. 7 letter to Cooper (XXXIII, 506–7); hence this endorsement.

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