Papers of John Adams, volume 6

The Commissioners to Jonathan Williams

From J. C. Champagne

31 Francis Coffyn to the Commissioners, 13 April 1778 Coffyn, Francis First Joint Commission at Paris JA Francis Coffyn to the Commissioners, 13 April 1778 Coffyn, Francis First Joint Commission at Paris Adams, John
Francis Coffyn to the Commissioners
Hond. Gentlemen Dunkirk 13th. April 1778

Craving your referrence to the letter I had the honnor of writing to you yesterday, I take the liberty to inclose a Copy of an other of same date which I address'd to Mr. Silas Dean,1 as I have this day learn'd from M. Nesbitt2 that said Gentleman has left Paris; I humbly beg you would be pleased to give me your Sentiments on the contents, and confirm the orders which Mr. Dean has formerly given me in your name, to provide for the american prisonners and Seamen which may in future arrive here, and likewise mention wether I may continue to value on Mr. Grand the money I have allready disburs'd and may advance hereafter. Interim give me leave to congratulate your Hble. Colleague Mr. Adams on his Safe arrival in France, hopeing that he will be pleased to favour me with the Same confidence you have honnor'd me with, which I shall ever Strive to merit by the respectfull Sentiments with which I have the honnor to remain Hond. Gentlemen Your most obedt. and most devoted Humble Servant

Frans. Coffyn

RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “To the Hble. Dr. Benj. Franklin, Arthur Lee, & Adams Esqrs. at Passy”; docketed: “Coffyn Frans. 13. April 1778.”


The letter from Coffyn to the Commissioners has not been found, but the copy of his letter to Silas Deane, which he enclosed, is in the Franklin Papers ( Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 4:255).

Francis Coffyn, merchant and American agent at Dunkirk, was described by Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Jay dated 14 Nov. 1788, as “an American, and good man, appointed by Doctr. Franklin” (Jefferson, Papers , 14:60). JA may have dined with Coffyn on 10 May, for although JA does not name him in his Diary entry for that day, William Greene, whom JA does mention, records in his travel journal Coffyn's presence ( Diary and Autobiography , 2:311; MHS, Procs. , 54 [1920–1921]: 104).


Very likely Jonathan Nesbitt, banker at Lorient and associate of Silas Deane, who had landed at Dunkirk in 1775 (Wyoming Historical and Geological Society [Penna.], Proceedings and Collections, 8 [1902–1903]:221, note 100).