Rhode Island Stampless Covers & Letters
August 29 1815 Letter to Joseph L. Tillinghast - Attorney in Providence
Concerns Share of Prize money for Privateer "Young Wasp" 

(Documents include Letter, Power of Attorney & a pre-written receipt of payment)
Scroll Down for Background History, Biographical Information and Letter Text

This Stampless Folded Letter with enclosures was sent from Philadelphia to Joseph L. Tillinghast in Providence, Rhode Island at twice the War Time Rate established by the Postal Act of December 23, 1814, (effective February 1, 1815) which increased the regular rates of 1799 by 50 percent. The rate was 17 cents plus the 50% surcharge for a total of 25.5 cents for mail traveling a distance of 150 to 300 miles, (Philadelphia to Providence) and with an enclosure (2 sheet rate) was 2 x the standard rate or 51 cents as indicated on the cover above. 

The red-brown Philadelphia CDS (Circle Date Stamp) was used from 1798 to 1816. There are several different varieties of this marking.
VIEW Complete Text of Letter

The letter is from an attorney in Philadelphia, (I couldn't make out the name) and is a reply to the request by Joseph L. Tillinghast acting on behalf of the ordinary seaman Joseph Emerick for compensation at the rate of 3/4 of a share for prize money earned by said sailor while serving on board the 1st voyage of the Privateer, "Young Wasp." The complete text of the letter and other documents is linked at the bottom of the page.
The second document is a Power of Attorney giving Joseph L. Tillinghast the power to act as the legal representative of Joseph Emerick in the collection of prize money earned while serving as an ordinary seaman on the Privateer Young Wasp.

The Prize Agent, a Mr. Currier produced another power of attorney he had given to his wife showing three receipts on the reverse; the last of which was a "paid in full." Personally, I tend to believe that the seaman was cheated out of his due. It was a common practice of the times to short-change the crews of privateers. At any rate, the Philadelphia lawyer returned the power of attorney and receipt that Tillinghast had prepared and sent for collection inside of this letter and the sailor, (as far as is known) received nothing.
VIEW Complete Text of Power of Attorney

The third document is a receipt drawn up and signed by Joseph Tillinghast with the name of the cashier/prize agent and the amount to be paid left blank. It was interesting to note, especially in the case of the Power of Attorney, that the "legalese" was just as complicated, incomprehensible and obtuse in 1815 as it is today.

VIEW Complete Text of Receipt

Joseph Leonard Tillinghast was born in Taunton, Massachusetts in 1791. He was a fifth generation descendant of Pardon Tillinghast, one of the original proprietors of Providence, Rhode Island. Joseph Tillinghast was a United States Representative from 1837 to 1843.
SEE: November 1817 Joseph Tillinghast Letter for additional Biographical Information

Most of my maritime historical data deals with Rhode Island shipping and I could not locate any direct history on the Philadelphia Privateer, "Young Wasp." There were, however several references to the ship, to whit:

The British Full-Rigged Ship, "Clarendon" was captured by the privateer Young Wasp, off the Cape of Good Hope in January of 1815, while bound from Batavia to London. The ship was taken to Baltimore and there condemned as a prize of war.

Another reference has the Young Wasp cruising with the Prince de Neuchatel in the Irish Channel and making life miserable for British merchant shipping during a six month period.

The third reference is to the British Brig "Penguin" commanded by Captain James Dickenson. The report states that she received 12 additional marines from the "Medway," a 74 gun "Ship of the Line" and that she was then dispatched on special assignment against the American privateer Young Wasp, which had been causing great havoc among homeward bound Indiamen.

It appears from the foregoing, that Young Wasp was a very successful privateer.

Rhode Island ships and crews were also very much involved in the War of 1812 and the most successful of all the private armed ships was the privateer "Yankee" owned by James DeWolf. The Yankee was a former slaver and returned to the trade after the war.

VIEW: The Complete Text of the Letter 
Text of Power of Attorney 
Receipt for Payment - Signed Joseph L. Tillinghast 

ALSO SEE: DeWolf Family Letters

RI Historical Society
Stampless I
Stampless II

Stampless III
Stampless IV
Stampless V
Stampless VI
Brown & Ives Letters
The Hazard Family Letters
Joseph Tillinghast
Free Franked Letters
DeWolf Family Letters

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