Thomas Jefferson Papers

Memorial from George Hammond, 26 June 1793

Memorial from George Hammond

The Undersigned, his Britannic Majesty’s Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States, has the honor of submitting to the Secretary of State the annexed deposition of Michael Pile, late Master of the British brigantine Fanny and the protest of the said Michael Pile and part of the crew of the abovementioned vessel.

From these papers it appears that on the 8th. of May last the British brigantine Fanny was captured by the Schooner le Sans Culottes J. B. A. Fery Commander at the distance of four or five miles from Cape Henry in the state of Virginia, and consequently within the territory and jurisdiction of the United States. Upon this principle the Undersigned presumes to hope that the executive government of the United States will consider this act as an aggression on its sovereignty and will pursue such measures as it may deem the most efficacious for procuring the restitution of the British brigantine Fanny, now lying as a prize in the harbour of Philadelphia, to its rightful owners.

The Undersigned esteems it his duty to add that the evidence of the facts of this capture is necessarily not so complete as the testimony which he has had the honor of adducing in former similar instances—in consequence of the unwarrantable conduct of the person commanding le Sans Culottes, who in opposition to the common usages of war forced the crew from the vessel he had taken, and set them on shore in a neutral country, viz. at Lynhaven in the state of Virginia, not far distant from the place where the vessel was captured. The greatest part of these unfortunate individuals thus deprived of their property were compelled to recur to some immediate means of gaining a subsistance, and were thence of necessity incapacitated from proceeding to this city, for the purpose of offering, in defence of their rights and in the endeavor to recover their property, their testimony; the prevention of which it is more than probable has been the motive that instigated the oppressive and unjustifiable treatment they have experienced. For these reasons the Undersigned cannot but indulge the persuasion that the Secretary of State, so far from allowing these circumstances to invalidate the evidence submitted to him will consider them as additional acts of aggression on the part of the person commanding le Sans Culottes, and as additional inducements to afford every degree of redress which the case may appear to deserve.

Philadelphia 26 June 1793.

Geo. Hammond

RC (DNA: RG 59, NL); in the hand of Edward Thornton, signed by Hammond; at foot of first page: “Mr Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 27 June 1793 and so recorded in SJL, which describes it as a document of that date; with later notation by TJ:

“Brig Fanny.

taken, by the Sans culottes. proscribed

before June 5. i.e. May 8.”

FC (Lb in PRO: FO 116/3). Tr (same, 115/ 2). Tr (same, 5/1). Tr (Lb in DNA: RG 59, NL). Enclosures: (1) Deposition of Michael Pile, David MacIntosh, and John MacCattie, Norfolk, 13 May 1793, stating, as master, mate, and sailor of the Fanny respectively, that after leaving Lucia, Jamaica, on 14 Apr. 1793 bound for Baltimore with a cargo of rum and sugar the Fanny was hailed on 7 May by a schooner about seven leagues off Cape Henry and told there was a pilot on board for the Chesapeake; that on the following day it was captured in eight fathoms of water “four or five miles” off Cape Henry by the same schooner, which turned out to be the Sans Culotte, a French privateer with four guns and two swivels and a crew of forty-five men commanded by J. B. A. Ferey; and that after being detained aboard the privateer for three days the deponents were set ashore at Lynnhaven Bay in Virginia (Tr in DNA: RG 59, NL, with deponents’ protest of 13 May 1793 against the privateer and its crew for all losses incurred by any one interested in the Fanny and its cargo appended by Norfolk notary public John Nivison, and certification of 14 May 1793 by John Hamilton, British consul in Norfolk, all in Thornton’s hand; PrC of Tr in DLC, in the hand of George Taylor, Jr.; Tr in NNC: Gouverneur Morris Papers; Tr in DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.; PrC in PRO: FO 97/1; Tr in Lb in DNA: RG 59, NL). (2) Deposition of Michael Pile, Philadelphia, 24 June 1793, reiterating the substance of No. 1 and adding that the Fanny was a London ship; that the Sans Culottes had been commissioned a privateer by the French consul in Charleston; that the captors had sent the Fanny to Philadelphia; and that the deponent had come there alone to reclaim the ship and cargo because lack of friends and money had forced his officers and crew to sign on with other vessels in Virginia (MS in DNA: RG 59, NL, in the hand of Phineas Bond, signed by Pile, attested by Philadelphia alderman John Barclay; PrC of Tr in DLC, in Taylor’s hand; PrC of another Tr in DLC, in a clerk’s hand; Tr in NNC: Gouverneur Morris Papers; Tr in DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.; PrC in PRO: FO 97/1; Tr in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL; Tr in Lb in same, NL; Tr in PRO: FO 5/1). Enclosed in Memorandum to George Washington, [11–13 July 1793].

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