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Letter from Jermiah Bierdan to the New-York Congress


NEW CITY-HALL, May 22, 1776.

MAT IT PLEASE THE HONOURABLE COMMITTEE: Honourable gentlemen: We, the prisoners of his Majesty' s ships the Phenix and Savage, humbly implore of your Honours to allow us a proportion of provisions to live upon. The keeper, McCleef, gives us but sixpence sterling per day; we are almost perished, for it is impossible for us to live at this rate. We cannot say, gentlemen, had your Honours been notified before, you would make us a sufficiency of provisions; therefore, gentlemen, here follows, for instance, the proportion of provisions that is allowed to prisoners taken by his Majesty' s ship of war, from the honourable Congress: The proportion per week, Bread, 7 lbs˙; Beef, 7 lbs˙; Pease, 1 quart; Oatmeal, 1½ quarts; Brandy, 1¾ quarts; Butter,¾lbs˙; Flour, 3 lbs˙; Suet, ½lb.

Now, honourable gentlemen, compute; the current price of provisions never deviates from the above proportion on board his Majesty' s ships, by whatsoever nation he takes prisoners from, much more a natural fraternity, as we all can' t say to the reverse. The market in this port is so that by it we can' t live. The midshipmen taken with us, you allow eighteen shillings per week, and we are to live upon sixpence sterling per day. Had the highest Commander of France or Spain been taken by his said Majesty, have no more of provisions to be allowed them than the seamen on board the respective ships. Had any Commander-in-Chief been taken at this your honourable cause' s side, there would be no proportion of provisions made than the said proportion. Now, gentlemen, consider this. Have been myself steward and clerk in the naval service these six years.

I am your Honours' humble servant,


To the Honourable Congress, at New-York.