Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Joseph Lunier, 3 December 1780

From Joseph Lunier

ALS: American Philosophical Society

havre de grace the 3d. day of xber 1780 at the
Sign of the Sacrifice of abraham on the quay— h.

May it please your excellency

A Succession of four years misfortune and confinement puts me under the necessity of calling for your excellency’s protection and assistance. The 2d. day of January 1777 I embarked on board of the State brig the Notre dame Cap. Rob. Cockran5 bound to Charlestown South Carolina, the 31st of the Same month we took a prise, I went on board of her and the 8th following we (the prise) were taken and Carried into antigua and from there to England. Few months after I was committed to forton gaol where I have laid eversince till the 22d. ult. when after many unsuccessful attempts to get my liberty I slipt along the french prisonners of war and arrived Safe with them at la hougue6 in the dove Cartel Capt liley(?).

The Small stock of money I had has enabled me to get to this place where I expected to See an american agent who would procure me a Small Sum of money on my note upon Capt. Cockran in whose hands are actually and have been these four years a Small venture and all my effects. But being disappointed in my expectation and of course reduced to the most perplexing distress I lay under the necessity to address myself to your excellency for a succour Sufficient to get to Nants or to any place where there is any vessel belonging to the continent of america to whom I beg leave to offer my Services.

I dare to presume that your excellency will not question my Sincerity and integrity. However I here inclose a certificate of my long confinement and of the manner I have been taken signed by four american officers my fellow sufferers.7 I would have joined one from the Rev. mr Wren, had not my departure been So precipitate as not to admit to Ask the addition of that favour to the many I have received from that gentleman in the most anxious expectation of a speedy assistance I beg leave to Subscribe myself, of your excellency, the most devoted and most obedient humble Servant8

J. Lunier

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Robert Cochran, the father of BFB’s friend Charles Cochran: XXIII, 38n; XXVII, 262n.

6La Hogue (Hougue), a seventeenth-century fortress east of Cherbourg in a port now called St.-Vaast-la-Hougue.

7That certificate, signed by Robert Willcocks et al. and dated Nov. 3, is in XXXIII, 495.

8Lunier wrote again on Jan. 7, 1781: having heard nothing from BF, he was sending a second appeal via two Americans with whom he had been imprisoned, and who were traveling to Paris. APS. We have found no record of a response.

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