From Jonathan Williams, Jr.
ALS: American Philosophical Society; copy: Yale University Library
Nantes June 26. 1782.
Dear & hond sir.
I send inclosed Copy of a Letter I have just recvd from Brest to which I request your kind attention.2 There cannot be a doubt but the Prize in Question belongs to the Captors, or at least that whatever the Rigour of the Law may be, the Custom in such Cases is to give them up. The Ordonnances of the Marine confiscated all prises made without a Commission, but the Admiral always gives them back to the Captors. In the present Case the Ordonnances of the Marine are out of the Question, as Prises made by Americans have particular Laws relating to them. I shall be much obliged if you will please to interest your self for these men, and I am sure you cannot fail of Success. A State of the Fact to M. de Castries would answer the purpose, I would have done it myself & saved you the Trouble but it would be presuming to Act when I have no right to do.
I am as ever yours most dutifully & affectionately
Jona Williams J
Notation: Jona. Williams June 26. 1782.
2. The letter, dated June 17, was from Richmond Springer, a Rhode Islander who had been captured aboard the Wexford on Sept. 29, 1781, and imprisoned at Kinsale. He escaped in April, he wrote, and met five other Americans in Cork, three from his own ship and two from the Essex. On May 5, they boarded and seized the cutter Bourke, which carried a load of provisions, and sailed to Brest. They engaged Pierre Rïou to write BF for help in condemning the prize but have received no answer. Enclosing a list of their names and an invoice of the cargo, they ask JW to contact BF on their behalf. APS.