Thomas Jefferson Papers

Deposition of Richard Riddy, 17 August 1786

Deposition of Richard Riddy

Paris in the Kingdom of France, to wit.

Richard Riddy esq. merchant of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but now resident at Nantes in the kingdom of France aforesaid made oath before me Thomas Jefferson minister plenipotentiary for the U.S. of America at the court of Versailles, that in the month of January in the year 1783 he was taken prisoner on the high seas by the English, and carried to New York; that while he was there, David Sproate Commissary general of prisoners to the British army informed him that upwards of eleven thousand American prisoners had died on board the prison ship the Jersey, and shewed him the registers whereby it appeared to be so.

Given under my hand and seal at Paris aforesaid this 17th. day of August 1786.

MS (DNA: PCC, No. 107, ii); entirely in TJ’s hand; on verso, in the hand of Henry Remsen: “No 72 There is a person living now on Long Island, who informed me that the number of american prisoners who were buried from on board the Jersey prison ship, along the shore on his land, could not be less in number than 10,000.—H.R.Junr.” MS is torn at bottom, and signature may have been removed thereby. This and the draft of a letter from the Commissioners to the King of Spain (undated) are the only MSS in TJ’s hand in PCC, No. 107, which is made up otherwise of transcripts of TJ’s letters to Jay, 1785–1787.

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