Sep 28, 2023 - Sale 2646

Sale 2646 - Lot 153

Price Realized: $ 3,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
(COLONIAL WARS.) "Round robin" letter addressed to the captain of the Prince Edward, "Private Ship of War." Manuscript Letter to Capt. John Seaward of the privateer Prince Edward, signed by 37 crew members in two or three concentric circles around the text of the letter (so that no single name appears first). One page, 12 1/4 x 7 1/2 inches, plus integral address leaf with no postal markings, docketed "Round robin 1757"; folds, minor foxing and wear. No place, 1757

Additional Details

Round-robins were controversial letters or petitions signed in a circular pattern to protect the persecution of ringleaders. Their usage in the British navy dates back to at least 1731. This letter was addressed by the crew of a New Hampshire-based privateer during the French and Indian War, after they realized that bringing their poorly equipped vessel through the French blockade of Halifax, Nova Scotia would amount to a suicide mission. In full:

"Capt. Seaward, sir: The whole ship's company begs the favour of you that you w'd proceed home to Portsmouth, for to go into Halifax we are not willing, as knowing that if we do, that a man of war will be our portion & if you do intend to go in there, we will not take up arms against our enemies if in case we shoud have occasion. Neither will we lend a hand to work the vessell. Sir, if you do go into Halifax, the cruize will certainly be broke up, for there is not one of us all that will come out in her again. Sir, you know how the case is as well as we, that the vessell is not fiting for the business that she was intended for. We, only eating the owner's provision, spend'g our time for nothing, we have entered(?) suit already & we coud not go after them by reason that we coud not carry suit."

We can find only one passing reference to this ship in the historical literature, in "Perspectives '76, being a Compendium of Useful Knowledge about Old-Time Vermont and New Hampshire," page A165: "In 1757, during the French and Indian Wars, the schooner Prince Edward, armed with ten guns and carrying a crew of picked men, sailed out of Portsmouth against the French privateers which were interfering with our ocean commerce. John Seaward was its commander." We are not aware of anything similar at auction.