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Francis Hopkinson Declaration-Signer and U.S. Flag Designer Orders Attendance for Case Filed by Revolutionary War Naval Hero Joshua Barney

FRANCIS HOPKINSON, Document Signed, to Clement Biddle, Copy of Monition against William Simple, March 4, 1782, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 1 p., 12.75ʺ x 8.125ʺ. Significant discoloration affects one line of text; loss of paper at bottom right not affecting text; good.

In this writ of monition Judge Francis Hopkinson of the Admiralty Court of Pennsylvania orders Marshal Clement Biddle to summon William Simple as an agent of part of the crew of the warship Saratoga, whose First Lieutenant Joshua Barney had filed suit for his share of the value of ships captured by the Saratoga, brought to Philadelphia, condemned as prizes, and sold.

Joshua Barney (1759-1818) was born in Baltimore and went to sea as a child. He was a master’s mate on the USS Hornet, one of the first cruisers fitted out by the Continental Congress. For gallantry in action, he was made a lieutenant in June 1776. After being captured by the British three times and exchanged, Barney served aboard the sloop-of-war USS Saratoga. When the Saratoga captured the HMS Charming Polly and two brigs, Barney led the boarding party. The next day, while in charge of one of the prizes, Barney was again taken prisoner when the HMS Intrepid reclaimed the three vessels. He was confined in a Portsmouth prison until he escaped in May 1781. Recaptured, he again escaped and made his way to Philadelphia by March 1782, when he filed this suit. Promoted to captain, Barney was placed in command of the Hyder-Ally, fitted out by the State of Pennsylvania to combat British privateers in Delaware Bay. In April 1782, Barney’s ship captured British sloop-of-war HMS General Monk off Cape May after a severe fight. The Pennsylvania legislature presented Barney with a sword and made him commander of the captured ship, renamed the General Washington. Barney sailed for France with dispatches for Benjamin Franklin and returned with a large loan from the French government and news that the preliminaries of peace had been signed. During the War of 1812, Barney engaged in privateering before receiving a commission as a captain in the Navy and commanded a flotilla to defend the Chesapeake Bay. He was wounded severely and again taken prisoner in the Battle of Bladensburg in August 1814.

After Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789, admiralty jurisdiction transferred to federal district courts rather than state courts.

Complete Transcript:

Pennsylvania, Ss
The Commonwealth Pennsylvania To Clement Biddle Esquire Marshal of the Court of Admiralty of the commonwealth aforesaid Greeting you are hereby commanded that you forthwith cite and admonish William Simple of the City of Philadelphia Merchant Agent for the unrepresented Part of the Crew of the Ship of War Saratoga John Young Esquire Commander &c, and all other Persons concerned therein that they be and appear before me at a Court of Admiralty to be held at my Chambers in the City of Philadelphia on the seventh day of March Instant at Ten oClock in the Forenoon of the same day for the said commonwealth if it be a Court day; if not, the next Court day, to shew Cause if any they have, why by the definitive Sentence of the said Honorable Court it should not be decreed agreeable to the Claim and Prayer of Joshua Barney first Lieut of said ship Saratoga in his bill filed in the said Court in a certain Cause civil and maritime there depending for his Share in the several Prizes taken by the said Ship Saratoga and brought into this Port and legally condemned
Witness the Honorable Francis Hopkinson Esquire Judge of the said Court at Philadelphia the Fourth Day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty Two.
                                 Fras Hopkinson

Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791) was born in Philadelphia and graduated from the College of Philadelphia (now University of Pennsylvania) in 1757 with a bachelor’s degree and in 1760 with a master’s degree. In 1759, he became the first American composer of a secular song. He practiced law in Philadelphia from 1761 to 1766. After spending more than a year in England unsuccessfully seeking the office of Commissioner of Customs for North America, Hopkinson returned to Philadelphia, became a merchant, and served as Collector of Customs at New Castle, Delaware. From 1774 to 1776, he served as a member of the New Jersey Provincial Council and represented New Jersey in 1776 in the Second Continental Congress, where he signed the Declaration of Independence. He served in a variety of offices during the Revolutionary War, including member of the Navy Board (1776-1777), Treasurer of the Continental Loan Office (1778-1781), and Judge of the Admiralty Court of Pennsylvania (1779-1789). As an artist, Hopkinson created designs for Continental paper money, the first United States coin, and two early versions of the American flag, one for the United States and another for the U.S. Navy (both originally with six-pointed stars). He also contributed to the design of the Great Seal of the United States. In addition, he was a member of the Pennsylvania Convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution. In 1789, President George Washington appointed Hopkinson as judge of the new United States District Court for the District of Pennsylvania, a position Hopkinson held until his death nearly twenty months later.

Clement Biddle (1740-1814) was born in Philadelphia and became a merchant. A member of the Society of Friends, Biddle helped to organize the “Quaker Blues,” a company of volunteers, for service in the Revolutionary War. During the war, Biddle fought in the Battles of Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. At Valley Forge, he was the Commissary General under General George Washington. Biddle resigned from the Army in 1780 and served as Quartermaster General of Pennsylvania troops in 1781. He served as Marshal of the Admiralty from 1780 to 1789, then as U.S. Marshal for Pennsylvania from 1789 to 1793.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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