Claims and Memorials
To the Honorable Commissioners appointed to Examine into the Claims of American Loyalists-
The Memorial of John BROOKS
That your Memorialist, who is a native of England reputably decended and Connected, transplanted himself some Years ago to North America, with a view to the advancement of his own fortune.
That a temporary Deputation from Colonel SKENE, in the midland Inspectorship of the Woods not claimed (or private property) being in the District of Quebec and that part of New York lying on Lake Champlain was in the mean time obtained and your Memorialist upon the pre-experience of his fidelity, was moreover inducted Agent for the Management & improvement of the Capital Estates of Skenesborough, while the Kings Service should continue to require the presence of that experienced Officer (the Owner) Elsewhere- and your Memorialist has every reason to conclude, he might have continued in an uninterupted enjoyment of that Lucrative Employ had not the unhappy Commotions on the Continent broke out.
That your Memorialist was taken Prisoner so early as the 8th of May 1775 (the night before Ticonderoga was taken) with Major SKENE and family, plundered of his property, and carried into New England, and was by their Assembly released, as not then belonging to the British Army; on the 16th of July following, was taken a 2d time at Goshen near New York, on a charge of Speaking against the usurpations of Congress and after a long examination acquited.
Your Memorialist then made his unhappy case known to Governor SKENE, who was at that time under a strong Guard on his way to Hartford in New England, who engaged your Memorialist to go in search of Secret Intelligence, who animated by an Ardent and unremitting zeal to his Sovereign and attachment to the English Constitution, to contribute by every means within the circumscribed limits of his humble powers to that End, and accordingly devoted his time and the small remains of his property, to establish such Secret Corrispondencies,as might enable him, and his consociate in the Design (Doctor John KEARSLEY, that Martyr to Loyalty) to furnish Government with Authentic Information, of the progressive designs of the Rebels, their Indian treaties, and Alliances, the interior State of Countries, together with the temporary and various views, dispositions, and inclinations of the different Classes of the Inhabitants, a Service in which the memorialist traversed more than 2185 miles, in the Execution of this delicate undertaking he was discovered by the treachery of a Servant and taken prisoner a 3d time Octob 5th 1775 in Philadelphia, in consequence of which the lives of all concerned were judged to be in the most imminent Danger, from the rage of an infatuated multitude, and without any legal Proof or skew of Trial the Doctor and your Memorialist were committed to perpetual Imprisonment debarr'd Pen and Paper, and the sight and Speech of mankind, and placed in a powder Magazine for Security.
That your Memorialist after suffering every Cruelty that could be inflicted to one in his Situation during 728 days, he by Stratagem broke Goal and after having suffered incrediable Hardships and dangers effected his Escape and by the Assistance of some Loyalists joined the Royal army in Philadelphia Octob 3d 1777.
That the Events of that long imprisonment & critical Escape having detached your memorialist from the membership of every Community and the Society of every description of Men within the usurped dominion of the Grand Assembly of Rebellion, and therefore put it totally out of your Memorialists power to offer his services to Government in the former, or any the like mode, on Account of his known Zeal in the Royal cause, he was on the 3d of May 1778 invited to accept a Warrant as Captain to raise a Troop of Light Dragoons in Lieut Colo Commandant Emmerichs Chasseurs, and was reported on the Strength of that Regiment & received pay accordingly but on a new Arrangement in the Provincial Corps taking place, that Regiment was drafted into other Corps, and your Memorialist was thereupon left unprovided-
Your Memorialist therefore returned to England and on reporting his situation to the Lords of His Majesty's Treasury, they in consideration of his Conduct and Sufferings in the Royal cause, were pleased to Order him £ 50 to defray his Passage to New York, and a Letter of recommendation directed to Sir Henry CLINTON, or the Commander in Chief for the time being, for a Commission, similar as your Memorialist conceived, to what he enjoyed before.
Your Memorialist in consequence of that Letter went to New York, and after waiting there Eighteen months, without any Commission was at length informed by Sir Guy CARLETON 'that the Appointments in the Provincial Corps were so full as not to admit of an Increase' this answer caused him to return a 2d time to England to submit as he now does his distressed Case to your Honors protection being under no pay or temporary relief from Government and having bore Arms against the combind Enemy-
Your Memorialist having been dispossessed of all his Books and Papers cannot Ascertain the Expences he was at in travelling 2185 miles in that Suspicious Country by the Order of Governor SKENE for Secret Intelligence, nor the expences he was at (being denied Pen and Paper) to purchase every necessary to Support a misserable Existance at the advance Price a merciless Goaler was pleased to charge his prisoner for 728 days, the Goalers usual Profit was to charge 25 Shillings for what cost him five- and One Dollar per Week for the indulgence of what he called Bed, nor can your Memorialist recollect what it cost him for seeing Pilots, hiring horses &c to bring him into the British Lines, but knows that he now Stands indebted for a considerable Sum on that Account, and Supporting himself since, and to enable him to raise his Troop.
Your Memorialist beseeches your Honors will take the promises under your humane consideration and grant him immediate Temporary Relief, to which he trusts he will be considered to have no unjust Claim, upon the perusal of the annexed Testimonials, and with the greatest Defference is willing to risk the merits of his Claim on the Justice of Government upon this Single Consideration- What Damages would an English Jury give to a person who was illegally so long Imprisoned and with such greivance as he Has?
N. B.- Captain BROOKS had £ 100 of the Treasury towards defraying the expence he had been at during the time he remained in England for his Support for 19 Months.
Sept 1, 1783
Great Britain, Public Record Office, Audit Office, Class 13, Volume 113, pt. 1, folios 145-147.
Click here for ---> More New York Claims
The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies