Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Francis Coffyn, 16 October 1781

From Francis Coffyn

ALS: University of Pennsylvania Library

Dunkerque 16. octor. 1781.

Hond. Sir

I beg leave to refer to the letter I had the honour of addressing your Excellency the 24th. Sepber. last, per which I Sent two receipts for £.672.—.— paid to Sundry american prisoners, and advised your Excellency of my draft for £.1530. 3. 9. in favour of Vandenyver freres & Cie.1

A Severe attack of the gout which has kept me confined to my room for near two months has prevented me Sending Sooner the following receipts for money I paid to sundry prisonners who arrived here in distress from England, Vizt.

£. 240.—.—. to Thos. Beer, the person who was obliged to flee from England on account of the assistance given to the prisonners,
“360.—.—. to Eliphaleth Smith, Jo. Weatherspoon, and John Howland Richard.
“72.—.—. to John Wood
36 —. —. to William Cooch
& 240.—.—. to Mr. Wm. Richardson, of maryland, who with his son & a Servant will sett off in a few days.
£. 948.—.—. Together, charged to your Excellencys account.2

I take the liberty to inclose a Copy of a letter I received from the Hble. John Adams Esqr. dated Amsterdam the 19. octor.3 by which your Excellency will observe that he does not find it eligible for the prisonners to be Sent that way, not only because there is more risk in a passage from thence to america then from France, but likewise because he has no money in his hands belonging to the american publick, for the relief of the prisonners. Thus I shall be under the necessity to Send those who may arrive here in future, to Paris, unless your Excellency will indicate me a more eligible way.

I Judge by what M. Adams mentions respecting Wm. Beer who is the person your Excellency order’d me to pay 10. Louis d’ors, that this poor man is in greater distress then he was before he left this place, and that there is nether a chance of a passage for him with his little familly to america, nor any hopes of getting employ’d at Amsterdam, as your Excellency will observe by the enclosed letter I received from him.4

I have the honnour to remain very respectfully. Your Excellencys most obedient & most humble Servant

F. Coffyn

Notation: Coffyn 10. Oct. 1781.

1Coffyn’s letter of Sept. 24 is missing. Account XXVII (XXXII, 4) shows payments that he made to the following names since his last report, dated July 29: R. Billings (Aug. 4), Henry Rutter and Step. Cook (Aug. 24), Tho. Kelly, Jacob Milligan, John Bartleboy, W. Granbray, Peter Coffin, Geo. Mitchell, F. Ellerton, and Den. Butler (Sept. 11). On Sept. 24, in addition to the names Coffyn goes on to list in the present letter, he also made payments to Rich. Honiwell, Wm. Marshall, W. Davis, George Lehman, Lau. Harriman, J. Candell, and D. Daffy. Many of these men also received assistance from BF: Editorial Note on Promissory Notes, above.

2Cooch, who received assistance from BF on Oct. 11, accompanied WTF part of the way on his journey to the Chaumont estate: WTF to BF, Oct. 18, below.

3Although the numeral is unmistakable, both here and on the copy of JA’s letter (University of Pa. Library), it is obviously an error. JA also noted that Beer’s arrival had been delayed and his finances exhausted by the illness of his children during the journey.

4BF issued the order for a payment to Thomas Beer on Aug. 22, above. The Englishman’s plight is described in JA’s letter cited imediately above, a letter from Beer to Coffyn written some time in October (University of Pa. Library), and JA to BF, Oct. 18, below.

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