James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Jacob Ridgway, 24 January 1805 (Abstract)

§ From Jacob Ridgway

24 January 1805, Antwerp. “Referring to the annexed duplicate of the Letter I had the honor to address you the 22d August last,1 I now transmit you, 1° A report List of the American Vessels enterred & Cleared at this Port from the 1st. July to 31st Xber: 1804 [not found].

2°. Sundry receipts N 1 to 6 of the Sums paid for the relief of Seamen in distress during the time I have been in Office, Say from 12th May last up to the 31st Xber [not found].
my Account Disbursments against the ship Mac2 of Charleston (Arrested & Libelled the 12h May 1803) amounting to $57.76—Carried to the Debit U: S:, & Sundry receits relative thereto N 1 to 10 [not found].
My Account Current with the U: S: Ballanced the 31 Xber: 1804 by $61.94c. in their favor, Creditted in N/A [not found].
5°. Copies of the Depositions of the Captain and a seaman of the Ship John Parish of Hamburgh relative to the Murder of three American seamen Which unfortunate event happened on the night of the 25th December and was the result of a quarrel between the Crew of the John Parish and those of a Spanish and Portuguese Vessel: The deed, however, bearing every feature of a premeditated murder, I wrote, in this Sense to the Prefet of this Department, requesting that the assassins should be delivered up into the hands of Justice, Copy of Which Letter I enclose, as also of that to the Spanish Consul & Copies of their Respective answers;3 Observing that the Murderers, One, who has fled, excepted, are now under Trial and that John Smith One of the three Victims has fortunately recovered and will come out of the hospital in three or four days.

“It now remains to inform you of the perishing state of the Ship Mac on the fate of Which I have as yet heard nothing; I would be the more Solicitous about the decision of this affair as I apprehend the Mac will be liable to the enormous new Basin Fees & will in Case of Sale hardly fetch wherewith to defray them and other Expences unless she be Sold very soon.”

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, CD, Antwerp, vol. 1). RC 2 pp. For surviving enclosures, see n. 3.

1PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (7 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends , 7:628–29.

2For the case of the Mac, see Isaac Cox Barnet to JM, 1 May 1803, John Bryant to JM, 30 May 1803, Barnet to JM, 13 June 1803, and John Robertson to JM, 1 July 1803, ibid., 4:564, 565 n. 4, 5:44–45, 94–96, 139–40.

3The enclosures marked “5°. (Duplicates)” (10 pp.; all but the two depositions in French; docketed by Wagner) are copies of the 26 Dec. 1804 deposition of Capt. James Ferrier of the Hamburg ship John Parish concerning a Christmas-night assault on four American crewmen; Ridgway to de Barrenechea Dutari, Spanish consul at Antwerp, 26 Dec. 1804, reporting that the suspected attackers were from a Spanish ship and asking his cooperation in discovering the guilty parties; Ridgway to P. F. Van Pelt, prefect of the department of the Deux Nêthes, 26 Dec. 1804, reporting the attack, informing the prefect that Ferrier’s deposition would follow shortly, and asking that the crews of two Spanish and one Portuguese ship be interrogated; de Barrenechea Dutari to Ridgway, 27 Dec. 1804, acknowledging receipt of Ridgway’s letter and stating that he had personally taken three Spanish sailors involved in the attack to the police commissioner for questioning; Van Pelt to Ridgway, 28 Dec. 1804, acknowledging receipt of Ridgway’s letter and Ferrier’s deposition and promising to do everything in his power to apprehend those responsible; the 27 Dec. 1804 deposition of Larnard (or Leonard) Peters, an American seaman wounded in the attack, giving the details of the assault and descriptions of two of the attackers; and Ridgway to Van Pelt, 28 Dec. 1804, acknowledging receipt of two letters from Van Pelt and enclosing Peters’s deposition, which he hoped would aid in discovering the culprits. The depositions state that there had been “some wrangling” on Christmas day between crew members of the John Parish and those of the Spanish brig Constantia that culminated at 11 P.M. in an attack outside a public house by sailors from the Constantia and the Spanish ship La Paix, both of Málaga, and the Portuguese ship La Andrina on four unarmed American seamen, in which William Fisher and Thomas Maryfield were stabbed to death, John Smith was seriously wounded and near death, and Peters was stabbed in the hand. Ferrier stated that a customhouse official had been present during the event, and Peters added that the local guard had forbidden the Americans to carry Fisher’s body on board the ship, ordering them to leave it in the street.

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