Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Robert Beverly Chew, 13 June 1781

From Robert Beverly Chew4

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Nantes June 13th. 1781

Dr. sir

Little did I Expect when I Left Paris to have troubled you again on so disagreeable a piece of Business as that of applying for more money, but there being no oppertunity for my Geting away from this place & not Obtaining any Relief from any private person That I am Compell’d to trouble you again for only as much as will pay my board since I have been here & untill Captn. Wells, Sails for Philadelphia which he tells Me will be in Six Weeks—my Landlord Says he must me [be] paid In a few days & how I am to do it without your assistance it is unknown to me. I have done Every thing in my power to obtain as much but all to no purpose, Owing to my being a Stranger & to the loss of my letters.— This I Hope will not hinder you as I Can assure you upon the word of an honest man that the money Shall be duly repaid on my arrival—or If you had rather, have it I will give you a bill & Leave it in the hands of Mr. Schweighauser & Dobree5 or Chas. Washington Esqr. of Fredericksburg Virga. who I have the honour to be in copartnership with.6

I Can assure you Sir It is Exceedingly Disagreeable to me to Trouble you, but I will only leave you to Judge of my present Situation, to be at Such a distance from home & a total Stranger without a Shilling in my pockett & Every day Expect to be Dunn’d for my Expences which have Risen only for the Support of nature— This unhappy Situation I bear with the greatest patience knowing the fortune of war to be the occation of it.

I do much lament that I have not money to carry me to L’Orient where there is a Ship will Sail for Philadelphia in fifteen days. She is a fine Ship— Several the americans who had it in there power have Set out for L’Orient in order to go home in this Ship.— There Leaving me & my not having it in my power to follow them, adds much to my Distress, but am [in] hopes you will relieve me & then I Shall be able to follow them. & am Dr. Sir your most Obedient & very Hbe Servt.

Robert Bevy. Chew

P.S. my board Lodging &c is 65 Lvs. per month

Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsieur Franklin Ecuyer / Ministre Plénipotentiaire / Des Etats-Unis de L’Amerique / Près Sa Majesté Très Chrètienne / A Passy

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Chew (d. 1791) resided in Spotsylvania County, Va., where he had inherited lands from his father, Robert, in 1778. He served as a 1st lieutenant in the Virginia State Regiment from February, 1777, to January, 1780. We do not know what brought him to France, but by August, 1782, he apparently was back in Virginia: William Armstrong Crozier, ed., Virginia County Records, (10 vols., New York, 1905–12), I, 32–3, 47, 368–69, 430, 452, 486; Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution (rev. ed., Washington, D.C., 1914), p. 153.

5On June 11, above, BF informed Schweighauser that he had already given money to Chew. Peter Frederick Dobrée was Schweighauser’s son-in-law: XXVI, 330n.

6George Washington’s youngest brother, Charles (1738–1799), lived in Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania County, and apparently was a neighbor of Chew’s. In 1780 Chew witnessed the sale of property when Charles was moving to Berkeley County. Several years later Chew inquired of Charles’s son George Augustine about some lots advertised for sale: Crozier, Virginia County Records, I, 353; W.W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, et al., eds, The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series, (10 vols., Charlottesville, Va., 1983–95), VIII, 304n; W.W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Confederation Series, (6 vols., Charlottesville, Va., 1992–97), I, 164n; III, 533n; John W. Wayland, The Washingtons and Their Homes (Staunton, Va., 1944; reprinted Berryville, Va., 1973), p. 157.

Index Entries