The Good Intent, June 1777

A letter from Governor Le Mesurier to Mr Stephens, dated Alderney June 7 1777. Benjamin Franklin and John Adams considered Guernsey men as 'artful enemies.' The French, however, called the Channel Islands 'nids de guêpes'—'wasps' nests.'

From Naval Documents of the American Revolution, published by the American Naval Records Society. For a similar report from Peter Le Mesurier see The Capture of L'Epervier.

I think it incumbent on me to acquaint their Lordships that Andrew Nastel [Naftel?] Mate and Six Men, lately belonging to the Brig Good Intent of Guernsey, Paul Bieuvenu [Bienvenu] Master, are just arrived from Cherbourg and report that they were boarded by an American Privatier the 5th Instant about 4 o'Clock in the Afternoon, in Sight, and not two Leagues off this Island, and the next morning carried in the Harbour of Cherbourg, where they were put on Shore. The Brig was Loaded with Ginn and Oil, and bound from Rotterdam to Guernsey. The Privatier is a small black Schooner about 25 Tons, long built but very low, and when they want to fight they ta[ke] up their Hatches fore and aft and Stowd in the Hold. They carry Two Carriage Guns (4 Pounders) & Six Swivels with 32 Musquets, and had on board 26 Men, One of them a French Pilot. None of the Guernsey Men knows the name of the Captain, who took them,1 but they say that the vessel is called the Montgomery belonging to Maryland, from whence they have been out five Months and had taken four Prizes, besides this; One of which th[ey] sent to America with four of their Men on board. The Capt of the Privatier set out Yesterday afternoon, in a Post Chaise, for Paris to obtain Leave from the Court to sell his Prize; and Bieuvenu remains at Cherbourg 'till he knows if his Vessel will be condemned or not.

In July of the following year Franklin and Adams sent a letter to Captain Whipple exhorting him to 'Use your utmost Endeavours, to take, burn, sink and destroy all Privateers of Jersey and Guernsey, and all other British Cruisers, within the Command of your Force, as you may have Opportunity' and to 'leave all the Prisoners in such place, and in the Custody of such Persons, as Mr. Schweighauser shall advise.' Schweighauser was the business partner and father-in-law of Guernseyman Peter Frederick Dobrée in Nantes; Dobrée, who was regarded with suspicion by the French and Americans, despite having left Guernsey at the age of two, appears to have become a French citizen by 1795, and went on to amass enormous wealth. Both were agents for American captains.


1 See [?]State Papers 42/50, 182-83.2, Captain John Burnell, Papers CC (Ships' Bonds Required for Letters of Marque and Reprisals) for the eventual fate of Bienvenu and his ship. Burnell is soon captured at Cherbourg in June 1777; this letter contains the reference to the 'artful Enemies from Dover or Guernsey.'