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Original price £4,000.00 - Original price £4,000.00
Original price
£4,000.00 - £4,000.00
Current price £4,000.00

[Fenwick, Joseph, first U.S. consul in Bordeaux]: Mémoire pour le Sieur Jona: Jones, contre les sieurs Fenwick, Masson et Cie. Bordeaux, chez Pinard, 1809.
Mémoire à consulter, pour le citoyen Joseph Fenwick, fondé de procuration d’Abel Lunt, capitaine du brick Américain l’Union. [Bordeaux, de l'Imprimerie d'André Racle [1800]].
Joseph Fenwick à Monsieur Jona Jones, devant Messieurs les Juges de la
Cour d’appel de Bordeaux. Bordeaux, de l'Imprimerie de V.e Lacourt et Faye ainé [n.d.].
Joseph Fenwick à Monsieur Jona Jones, devant Messieurs les Juges de la Cour d’appel de Bordeaux [second copy, annotated and with signatures].
[Manuscript] Traduit de l’anglais. Copie par extrait de la lettre écrite par le sieur Madou au sieur Gabriac. George Town le 24 août 1795. [[Bordeaux] 1806].
[Manuscript] Traduction d’une lettre faite par moy M.r Cornyn interprète jugé du tribunal de commerce du district de Bordeaux [letter to Joseph Fenwick, dated Philadephia, 4 December 1794]. [[Bordeaux] 1806].
Explication des lettres du sieur Gabriac. [Bordeaux, chez Lavigne [n.d.]].

Dossier of papers (printed and manuscript) which concern and it appears belonged to Joseph Fenwick of Maryland (1762-1849), the first U.S. consul in Bordeaux. They show the disputes that came with the new French-American direct trade that was a product of American independence. The new transatlantic commerce was centred on the wine and shipping city of Bordeaux on the French Atlantic coast, where Fenwick was a leading merchant.

Fenwick was a co-owner of the Georgetown, Maryland company Fenwick and Mason. His business partner was a son of the “forgotten founder” and author of the Virginia Declaration of Independence George Mason IV (1725-1792). Fenwick was also from 1790 to 1797 America’s first consul in Bordeaux, a post that he was given by George Washington, whom he also obtained wine for. Collections like the present are particularly valuable witnesses to French-American trade because the archives of the Commercial Tribunal of Bordeaux have been destroyed. Besides two printed items known only in a single other copy, the group includes two printed titles and two texts in manuscript that are otherwise unlocated.

All but one of our papers concern a long dispute between Fenwick and another American in Bordeaux, Jona (Jonathan) Jones, a Quaker of Philadelphia. Jones chartered a ship from Fenwick’s company to move goods from French Indian Ocean colonies to France via America, which was neutral during the Napoleonic Wars. The British suspected what they were doing, and in 1794 captured the ship, laden with goods, on its journey to New York from Mauritius. The British took the boat to Halifax. An appeal was started in the London courts but in the meantime - and in order to avoid the discovery of compromising papers amongst the goods - Fenwick’s partner John Mason went to Canada and bought the cargo back. It was sold on at a loss, and how that was apportioned was the subject of years of proceedings between Jones and the Maryland business partners. The goods in question were the product of a slave economy (economic production in Mauritius was heavily based on exploitation of enslaved labour).

An initial judgment in the Fenwick-Jones dispute was made in Jones’ favour. Fenwick appealed against it by using an argument about his opponent’s Quaker faith, which had prevented him from making a judicial oath. The oath argument is contested by Jones’s side in the first of our papers, a long pamphlet published in 1809. Alongside discussion of facts of the case, this pamphlet has (33-70) an extended and interesting disquisition on why the Quaker affirmation (Quaker alternative to the oath) should be accepted in French law. This argument may be of interest for Quaker studies.

Reams of business correspondence were submitted in this case, and these letters are the subject of our remaining Fenwick-Jones papers - all unlocated. We have a pamphlet in two copies (the second with manuscript signatures and extra manuscript text at end), discussing letters including one of Georgetown, 24 May 1795, from Fenwick’s colleague Mason to a colleague called Gabriac. A manuscript copy of this actual letter, in French translation, is also in our collection. The colleague Gabriac’s letters are the subject of the final printed pamphlet in the group.

There is also a second manuscript French translation of a letter, this one dated Philadelphia, 4 December 1494, and addressed to Fenwick, again from Mason. The second manuscript is noted as translated by a “Mr. Cornyn, official interpreter to the Commercial Tribunal”. Cornyn, presumably American, is someone we have found no other record of, a new addition to a list of Americans in Bordeaux.

There is finally in our collection (item two) a pamphlet concerning a case of an American ship, the Union, captained by Abel Lunt. This had been captured in 1798 by a French ship as a prize, perhaps as a result of the Quasi-War between America and France (1798-1800). We learn from the text that following two sets of appeals, the value of the ship and cargo went, with interest, to Lunt - or actually to Fenwick as his proxy - and the judgment and the value owed is set out in our document. Lunt can be identified with Abel Lunt (1769-1806/7) of Newburyport, Massachusetts. He is believed to have died in Senegal on the west coast of Africa. This suggests he was involved in the slave trade, although we find no trace of him in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade database. Some of Lunt’s ships, including possibly the Union, were paid for by Andrew and Benjamin Frothingham, probably the brothers of Charlestown and Newburyport. Benjamin (1749-1806) was a famous cabinetmaker and a member of the Society of the Cincinnati.

Provenance of the papers: The items are in a folder of the time with a label inscribed ‘Joseph Fenwick’. This is probably Fenwick’s signature, as it is in the same hand as a signature found in the signed printed pamphlet which we refer to above. This suggests that this was a file of legal papers belonging to Fenwick. However, the first and third items (Mémoire Jones and the first copy of Fenwick à Jones) are inscribed respectively ‘Mr. Ravez rue du Loup No. 39’ and ‘Mr. Ravez’. This is likely to be Auguste Ravez (1770-1849), later a French national statesman, who at the time was a judge in Bordeaux. He was a participant in the cases as his name is found in one of the printed texts (item two). The fourth item (Fenwick à Jones copy two) is inscribed at front ‘à M. Thonneur’. Thonneur is it appears another participant in the court cases, as his name features in the two manuscripts. One can speculate that Fenwick collected documents from Ravez and Thonneur in order to help build his dossier, or that they didn’t need these copies so at his request they were given to him.


Seven items, printed and manuscript, pp. [2] 89 [1] (Mémoire Jones); 28 (Mémoire Fenwick); [2] 14 (Fenwick à Jones); [2] 14 (Fenwick à Jones copy 2); [4] (MS lettre George Town); [4] (MS lettre Philadelphie); 18 [2] (Explication Gabriac). All c.24.5 cms. x c.19.8 cms., quarto. The first listed manuscript written on blue paper. Browning, some soiling, peeling to spine of first item, all except the manuscripts stabstitched, all folded loosely into a contemporary blue card folder, white silk ties, white paper backing to spine, white paper label to front cover, with autograph of Joseph Fenwick (see discussion of this and other provenance evidence above). The folder may in a previous use have had a document stitched in. Fenwick à Jones copy 2 and the two manuscripts with tax stamps (inked and blind embossed).


Mémoire Jones: not in OCLC. This may be located at Bordeaux, Bibliothèque Municipale, shelfmark D 71213 (Factums).

Mémoire Fenwick: not in OCLC. Copy located at Bordeaux, Bibliothèque Municipale, shelfmark D 71217 (Factums).

Fenwick à Jones: not in OCLC. Not located in Catalogue Collectif de France.

Explication Gabriac: not in OCLC. Not located in Catalogue Collectif de France. Walter Goodwin Davis, The ancestry of Abel Lunt, 1769-1806, of Newbury, Massachusetts (Portland, Maine, 1963), 35-39. Silvia Marzagalli, 'Les modalités de règlement des conflits commerciaux entre la France et les Etats-Unis au tournant du XIXe siècle : Un révélateur du fonctionnement des réseaux marchands', in Albrecht Cordes and Serge Dauchy, eds., Eine Grenze in Bewegung / Une frontière mouvante (Munich, 2013), 207-219. Richard H. Randall jr., 'Benjamin Frothingham', Colonial Society of Massachusetts website (last accessed 24 September 2021). For various of the names here, see also database, People of the Founding Era.