Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from James Walsh, 4 June 1783

From James Walsh3

ALS: American Philosophical Society

To His Excellency Benjamin Franklin Esqr.—

June, the 4th 1783 dunkirkque

The Humble Case and petition of James Walsh Moast humbley sheweth that he as Been a prisoner in England since the 4th Day of April 81 until the 1st. of Last Month I Got My Liberty & Made the Best of My way over to Calais, wheare the American Agent4 was good a nough upon Examanation to give Me a pass and 2 Livers 16 sous and when yr. Excellencys petitioner arived in Dunkirk, he Made his adress to Mr. Cofine,5 he told him to Do for himself, as he seen petitioner in a Deasent Aperl [apparel] and 2 or 3 Crowns in his pocket, which was sent poor petitioner from Ireland when sick in the English Hospital, I belive Mr. Cofine Helps Run a way English sailors By a great ads. and preference, before Americans, yr. Excellencys petitioner was taken in the Luzerne Letter Marque Belonging to Mr. Morris and Mr. Englsh6 in phillidelphia, and Commanded By Captn. Thos. Bell from Do. Bound For phillidelphia, from Leorent, and taken of the Wester Island By the Old Interprise Frigate and Brout Into Limrick in Ireland and from thence on Board the Lynox guardship at the Cove of Cork, and, then Carrid to England and sent on Board the Dunkirk guardship at plymouth7 wheare 4 more and yr. Excellencys Petitioner Cut a way the jolly Boat, and after Cut out a sloop in Coasten Bay with Intent to run Into france But the wind failing was taken a gain a Brought Back and kept in Irons for 3 months and after wards sent to Millprison, wheare petitioner took a Sevare fit of Sickness, and Missed of Geting Hoame a long with the rest of his shipmates,8 yr. Excellencys. Petitioner has Been out 4 times a gainst the Indians this War: Viz once with Collonell Daniel Broadhead from fortpit to the Shaneytowns and 2 along with Captn Bready to the Shaneytowns, once a long with Collonell gebson from Carlisle to the standing stoane frankstown, & Led Mines9 &c: &: the is the second petition yr. Excellencys Petitioner has wrote, and Moast humblely hopes, of some relief yr. Excellencys Petitioner, Diets and Lodges along with some of the rest of the americans, and Moast Humble hoapes that yr. Excellency will order the same allowance with rest for petitioner per Day and order some allowance for him to travil to Leorint from Hear or if yr. Excellency pleases He will go to paris or any wheare Else that hes orderd as thers no american ships hear, But Leorint is the surest port in france for them, and would wish to Be orderd there and yr. Excellency Does Not Relive yr. Poor petitioner, he will Sertainly Be Laid in Prison for his Diete and Lodging He humbly hopes yr. Excellency will pardon his Boldness in posumeing to writ to you, But hes is reduced to the lowest Extremity and has No other Recourese in the world, But to Lay His Case Before yr. Excellincy in hopes of some aid and assistance from the Chief governer and Commander of His Country Hear and Being Well Convinced of yr. Excellencys Humanity will rest Content until the Next return of poast after the rect. of this, when yr. Excellencys poor petitioner will Expect relief, from yr. hand, and a line or two Derected to him at Mr. Frances Hutchings in rutelet street, By one of yr. Excellencys Clarks, and will as in Duty Bound For Ever Pray

James Walsh

N:B: petitioner is Hear since the 11th May

Dunkirkque June the 4th. 1783

Addressed in another hand: A Monsieur / Monsieur de franquelin / ministre plenipotentiaire de / La Nouvelle amérique / En La Couer

Notation: James Walch, June 4. 1783—

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3This is the second of two petitions from a man who claims to be an escaped American prisoner. The first, written on May 20 (APS), covers the same ground but in less detail; the one difference is his mention in the first petition of being married in Bedford County. Neither appeal received a response, to the best of our knowledge.

4Probably Jacques Leveux: XXVI, 515; XXIX, 172–3.

5Francis Coffyn.

6The Chevalier de La Luzerne was owned by Robert Morris and William Bingham & Co.: Charles H. Lincoln, comp., Naval Records of the American Revolution, 1775–1788 (Washington, D.C., 1906), p. 253.

7The privateer may have been the Enterprize; the guardships were the Lenox and Dunkirk: David Lyon, The Sailing Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy Built, Purchased and Captured, 1688–1860 (London, 1993), pp. 67, 76, 86.

8Except for those too ill to travel, the American prisoners held in British jails were released and embarked for the United States in June, 1782: XXXVII, 447.

9For Daniel Brodhead (ANB), Capt. Samuel Brady, and John Gibson (DAB) see John B. B. Trussell, Jr., The Pennsylvania Line: Regimental Organization and Operations, 1776–1783 (Harrisburg, Pa., 1977), pp. 15, 63–4, 103, 105–6, 109; Heitman, Register of Officers, pp. 96, 100, 190. “Lead Mines” referred to Fort Roberdeau, outside present-day Altoona, Pa.

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