Friday, December 28, 2012

A Most Respectable Meeting

In the London ward of Cornhill On December 24, 1777,  a number of Londoners gathered in the King's Arms Tavern.  American newspapers reprinted the report from London news sources:

In consequence of the advertisement for the relief of the American prisoners, a most respectable meeting was yesterday held at the King's-Arms tavern, Cornhill.  The sense of the meeting was then taken, and it was resolved to open an immediate subscription for their relief.  The subscription amounted in a very short time to more than eight hundred pounds.  A committee was nominated, of which four City Representatives are members.

Historian Sheldon S. Cohen wrote that two American expatriates were the primary organizers of the meeting at the King's Arms, Marylanders Thomas Digges and Matthew Ridley.  Cohen explained the Cornhill meeting appointed a committee of twenty members.  The most prominent London merchant in attendance was William Hodgson, a pro-American British merchant to whom Cohen dedicated an entire chapter in the book, British Supporters of the American Revolution, 1775-1783: The Role of the 'Middling-Level' Activists (Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2004).

Boston newspaper The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser carried the London story in the 26 March 1778 issue.  For Cohen's description of the Cornhill meeting, check Cohen, British Supporters of the American Revolution, page 31.  For Cohen's identification of Digges and Ridley as Marylanders, see Sheldon S. Cohen, Yankee Sailors in British Gaols: Prisoners of War at Forton and Mill, 1777-1783 (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1995), page 84.  For "gaol" as a British term for "prison," see the post "Distress and Misfortune."  For the importance of British sympathy in saving the lives of Americans detained in the Britain, please visit the brief entries, "Britain as a Nation," "English Reverend Helps American Prisoners," and "November 11."
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