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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Loan Notes Witnessed at Mill Prison

There are several very interesting notes or letters in Nutter's notebook that appear to be unrelated to him. How or when they were put in the notebook are questionable and whether these were original documents or just copies is unknown. For example, here is one with several interesting aspects...

It reads:
"From a Single bill for money with Payment, Be it known unto all men by these Presents that I John Brown of Derby in the County of Derby gentleman Do owe and Stand Indebted unto John Da... (possibly Davis) of Chester in the County of Chester the Sum of twenty Pounds of lawful money of England and to be Paid the Said John Brown his heirs Executors Administrators or assigns at and upon the Seventeenth Day of September next Ensuing the Date here of Which Payment will and truly to be made.  I bind Myself my heirs Executors and administrators to the Said John brown his heirs Executors Administrators Or assigns in the Penal Sum of forty Pounds of the Like money firmly by these Presents.  In witness There of I Set my hand and Seal the Second Day of June in the forth year of the reign of our Suvring lord the Congres of the States of Amaricka and in the year of our lord 1778.  Signed Sealed and Delivered.
John Dimond
Henery Lunt Witness"

Clearly this is some sort of loan note originally written on 2 June 1778.  I have trouble making sense of this whole affair.  It appears that John Brown is borrowing 20 pounds from John Da... but that the sum borrowed will not be paid until the 17th of September 1778.  Davis? was also bound to eventually pay double if he did not make the 20 pound load as agreed.  It was common for prisoners at Mill Prison to borrow money from others to assist in their escape.  Is this the reason for the loan?  Did Jacob Nutter participate at all in this transaction or was this note written in the notebook before he purchased it, possibly in August of 1778.

There is also the interesting mixture of English money and reference to the Congress of the United States.  Perhaps this is due to the two American witnesses to this transaction.

Who John Brown was I do not know.  There are at least two references to John Brown I have run across, one of them being an english sailor later on the Bonhomme Richard.

If the second party listed in the note was truly John Davis, then it might make sense.  There was a John Davis, identified as an Englishman, on the Lexington, and he is listed in Nutter's book as being in the first gang that was released from prison 5 October 1778 to join the British Navy.

Henry Lunt is was one of the Dolton's crew originally sailing with Jacob Nutter who eventually went on to serve as one of the lieutenants of the Bonhomme Richard under John Paul Jones.

John Dimond was a Marblehead man and part of a prize crew from the brig Freedom.  Their prize ship was captured 29 April 1777 and this is how Dimond came to be at Mill Prison.

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