Among the published manuscripts of the Earl of Dartmouth is the summary of a letter from Brigadier General James Robertson, datelined 13 June 1775 in Boston. It described the situation in the besieged town and enclosed another note: “A Gentleman lately sent to Philadelphia brought me the inclosed, which I consider as the best Intelligence he brought.”
That enclosure was dated 25 May and said to be written in Philadelphia. The published collection summarizes it as follows:
The affair at Lexington has given such ideas of New England prowess that the Americans will listen to no terms but such as they themselves shall dictate. Delegates from the New England colonies declare openly against any Law of Parliament binding them in any respect. Congress proceedings. “It was said, and I believe truly, that Dr. [Benjamin] Franklin came out as an agent from Lord Chatham, to propose certain Terms, which he would push at home . . . We fear Lord Chatham: he is for having the supremacy acknowledged. . . . Lord North’s Motion would be slavery.” The taking of Ticonderoga has given great spirit to the Americans. New York has out-heroded Herod; its delegates are still the ablest in Congress. They hate the New Englanders. Strange and fabulous stories told of the provincials and the troops.Who sent this intelligence?
My first thought was Dr. Benjamin Church, Jr., who was “A Gentleman lately sent to Philadelphia” by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in May 1775. But the timing doesn’t quite seem to fit. He left Massachusetts on 20 May and evidently returned after 16 June, which makes him unlikely to have arrived in Philadelphia in time to gather intelligence and write the letter by 25 May, or to have “brought” it to Robertson by 13 June.
Furthermore, the phrase “sent to Philadelphia” probably refers to someone the Crown authorities sent there.