This letter was written by John Fabyan Parrott (1767-1836), the son of John and Deborah (Walker) Parrott of Portsmouth. Like his father, John became a merchant and ship captain, trading with Europe and the West Indies until hindered by the Embargo Act of 1807. Turning to politics, Parrott became a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives (1809-1814) and also held various local offices. He was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1812 to the Thirteenth Congress but was elected to the House of Representatives for the Fifteenth Congress (1817-1819). He was then elected to the U. S. Senate (1819-1825) under the Democratic Republican ticket. Later (1826) he was postmaster of Portsmouth. He died in Greenland, New Hampshire, less than two years after this letter was written.
Parrott was married to Hannah Skilling Parker (1771-1850) and had several children. He mentions two of them in this letter: William Flagg Parrott (1808-1878) and Peter Pearse Parrott (1811-1896). Another son, Edward Moore Parrott died at sea on his passage from Surinam on 28 April 1834. A cryptic obituary says that he had been engaged in “mercantile pursuits” there for two years.
John F. Parrott wrote the letter to his brother, William Walker Parrott (1778-1858), a leading citizen and representative of the town of Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Addressed to William W. Parrott, Gloucester, Massachusetts
Greenland [New Hampshire]
21st October 1834
Since I wrote to you last I met the Collector in the street at Portsmouth and in conversation mentioned what you had written to me concerning the bounty. I told him that Mr. Beach was desirous of seeing Captain Shaw before he decided whether to pay the bounty or not. The Collector said that the cutter was in your harbor during the last trip — that he had seen Todd and conversed with him on the matter and thought the claim a fair one — that Todd was gone to the Eastward and he had advised him to travel into Cape Ann on his return and see Mr. Beach. If the cutter has been in perhaps Beach has seen Shaw. It is a pity that something could not be done and the whole transaction brought to a close and the vessel put in order as I understand he might be with the ____ of the bounty.
Two days ago I had a letter from Washington from Robert. Leland seen Mr. Law (Mr. Connell was absent). Mr. Law thinks there will be no difficulty in the final statement of the claims. He has no doubt that the premium of insurance and the freight on goods if recoverable at all may be claimed under the Memorials as they now stand. He thinks the premium will be allowed. Robert expresses a very favorable opinion of Mr. Law as a businessman. The great bulk of claims are now suspended for want of copies of proceedings of the French Courts. How long they will be delayed, no one seems to know at Washington. The Commissioners ought to decide not to wait for them. Otherwise the proceedings may be further postponed. They meet in a week from this time. I have no doubt that the indemnity stipulated by Treaty will eventually be paid. There appears, however, to be something mysterious in the conduct of the French Government in this transaction which cannot be accounted for upon any rational principle as the bargain is most palpably quite a favorable one for them.
The late elections so far as the result of them is known appear to be of rather a flattering character. Much, however, depends on New York. If that state should go well, there cannot I think be much doubt that the Jackson Party will go down. We have been so often deceived in our hopes and expectations in this particular that it will not do to be over sanguine beforehand. The people with whom I conversed in Portsmouth last week seemed to think the defeat of the Administration as settled.
We are all much gratified with the visit we had from John and Mr. Hughes and more recently from Elizabeth. We had a hope that Elizabeth would have made us a longer one but she felt compelled by letters from home to return and we parted with her most reluctantly. I understand that John thinks of trying his fortune once more in Surinam. Should he go out, I hope he will meet with the success he so justly merits. I was much pleased with Mr. Hughes. In his short visit to our house we became well acquainted at once and we considered him as one of us. I trust that his connection with William at Boston will be productive of material advantage and that prosperity and happiness are in store for them both.
However the elections may terminate at the present time I cannot believe that General Jackson can transfer his popularity to Van Buren. There seems indeed no chance for him. There will nevertheless be no difficulty in fixing upon a candidate to raise an opposition to him and an uncertainty as to the reception that will be likely to produce difficulty. Whoever the successful candidate may be against Van Buren, he will (in reference to the high-handed measures of Jackson) in the language of Mr. Jefferson “correct the procedure.” In such an event it should go hard if both you and myself were not brought forward. It is hardly worthwhile to anticipate these things — but let us not despair of the Republic nor of ourselves.
Our William will probably leave for New Orleans in the early part of November. Peter, I expect, will remain at home this winter. The rest of the family are well and all join in love and best wishes to you all with your affectionate brother, — John F. Parrott