Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Fottrell, 29 October 1781

From John Fottrell

LS:6 Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Ostend 29th. October 1781


I seize with pleasure the opportunity, which the Inclosed Letter of Mr Wm. Robeson affords me,7 of having the honour to write your Excellency; and at Same time take the Liberty to acquaint you, of my Intention to fitt out a fast Sailing vessell for Some port of the united provinces of North America, Loaded with Such articles as I Can Learn will make the Best returns.

If your Excellency would be pleased to favour me with his advice, (pr. Mr Guillaume DeClerck Bearer hereof) what port and what articles would Best Suit at present Venturing in America; I Should be under the Greatest obligation.8

I apprehend But Little Danger, in this Voyage, as the Vessell I intend for it, is remarkable for an Extraordinary fine Sailer.—

I have the honour to be with the Greatest respect Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble Servant

John Fottrell

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6In the hand of the bearer of this letter, Guillaume de Clerck, who appears to have been an employee of Fottrell. He also brought a note of Fottrell’s, dated Oct. 26, asking that a sum of three guineas be paid to James Fottrell, Jr. Below this request, the other Fottrell on Oct. 29 requested that the sum instead be paid to de Clerck. Finally, de Clerck wrote “pour acquit” and signed it (Hist. Soc. of Pa.). On Feb. 21, 1783, Fottrell described this as “a Draft on your Excellency for a Trifling Sum advancd to one Mr Robeson” (APS). William Robeson had written BF on Aug. 9 from Ostend to ask him to repay Fottrell (above) and de Clerck’s receipt indicates the payment was made.

7Probably Robeson’s letter of Aug. 9.

8BF gave him a list “of Such articles as were then most In Demand in the united States of America”: Fottrell to BF, Feb. 21, 1783. APS.

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