Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Avery, 27 October 1781

From Jonathan Avery1

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Kinsale Prison 27th. October 1781.


On the 29th. Ulto: was captur’d by his Majesties Frigate Recovery & carried into this Port. I was on board the Brigg Wexford—Commanded by the Gallant Jno. Peck Rathburn Esqr. Captn: N.U.S. & was obligd to strike after firing a few Guns.2 I acted in the Capacity of Surgeon but am now a Prisoner & destitute of Money or Friends which obliges Me now to trouble You with these few Lines— You may be acquainted with My Name. I have a Cousin Member of Congress3 & another Secy: in the State of Massachusetts Bay. I am very well acquainted with Saml. Huntingdon Esqr. late Prest. Congress upon whom I will draw a Bill for whatever You may be kind enough to advance. I servd my Apprenticeship with Doctor Prentice of N: London with whom you are probably acquainted.

I have the Honour to be Sir Your most obedt. humble Servt:

Jonathan Avery

Addressed: His Excellency Benjamin Franklin Esqr. / Plenipotentiary from the United States / of North America to the / Court of Versailles

Notations in different hands: Avery 27 Oct. 1781. / venüe par Granville

1Probably the Jonathan Avery (b. 1762) who was a second cousin of John Avery (1739–1806), the secretary of the Mass. General Court: Jane G. (Avery) Carter and Susie P. Holmes, comps., Genealogical Record of the Dedham Branch of the Avery Family in America (Plymouth, Mass., 1893), pp. 83, 143–5.

2The Wexford carried twenty guns and a crew of 120. By the following Jan. 25, seventeen of the crew were dead at Kinsale Prison, Avery possibly among them as we have no further record of him: John A. McManemin, Captains of the Continental Navy (Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., 1981), pp. 373–4. For Rathburn see Claghorn, Naval Officers.

3Whose identity eludes us, unless he is referring to John Avery’s father-in-law, Thomas Cushing.

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