Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from [Anne-Rose?] Cologan, 11 May 1783

From [Anne-Rose?] Cologan6

AL: American Philosophical Society

dimanche. 11 mai [1783]7

Mde de Cologan est bien fachée de ne pouvoir pas avoir l’honneur de Dejeuner aujourdhui avec Monsieur franklin, quelle aime de tout son Cœur. Elle le prie daccepter quelques bouteilles de vin de Canaries des terres de Mr de Cologan. Les unes sont du Vidonia et les autres du Malvoisia, elle espere que Monsieur franklin les trouvera de son gout, aussi bien que, Bai, Bai &c.8

Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsieur franklin / a Passy

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Three partially dated letters in French survive from a “Mde de Cologan” who has ties to the Canary Islands wine trade. All are written in a familiar tone, and two of them seem to belong in 1783. We earlier identified her as the wife of Thomas Cologan, a member of a Canary Islands mercantile house (XXVII, 184, 553; XXXV, 153). Further research suggests that she was probably the wife of Thomas’ brother John Cologan (1746–1799). John came to France as a young man to study for the priesthood, and married in Paris Anne-Rose Coghlan, the daughter of an English general who was in the French service. Cologan established himself in London as a merchant and a banker. Anne-Rose Coghlan Cologan is known to have been in Paris in 1783, and died in that city in January, 1784: Jour. de Paris, Feb. 2, 1784; Gent. Mag., LIV (1784), 151; Courier de l’Europe, XV (1784), 113. If the “Mr. and Mrs. Cologan” who accepted BF’s dinner invitation in 1781 was this couple (their letter, presumably written by the husband, is in English and in a different hand: XXXV, 153), it would mean that the wife had known BF for years before writing the present note. For these Cologans see Francisco Fernández de Béthencourt, Nobiliario de Canarias … (4 vols., La Laguna de Tenerife, 1952–67), I, 275; Augustín Guimerá Ravina, Burguesia extranjera y comercio atlántico: la empresa comercial irlandesa en Canarias (1703–1771) (Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 1985), pp. 85, 91, 93.

7One of only two years during BF’s stay when May 11 fell on a Sunday. The other was 1777, which seems unlikely.

8Her two other letters are dated only “lundy 24” and “dimanche matin 24.” The first is probably from early 1783 (the two possible months are February and March). It is a request for BF to write a letter of recommendation for John Shaw, a merchant who is about to leave London with a cargo that he plans to trade for wines at Tenerife, which he will then sell in Philadelphia and other American ports. John Cologan, though he is not mentioned in the letter, was undoubtedly involved in this scheme as he was trying to export wine to the United States in the spring of 1783: Agustín Millares Torres, Historia general de las Islas Canarias (6 vols., Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1975–81), IV, 150. The second letter is impossible to date: she bids BF farewell, as she had not the courage to say “ses adieux” in person, and thanks him for all his kindness on behalf of herself and her husband. Both letters are at the APS.

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