Item Ref:  BSL - John Bull Commission

Signed by Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Denny and Rev. Richard Peters, Co-Founder, with Benjamin Franklin, of University of Pennsylvania, for John Bull who later served with distinction during the Revolutionary War.


French & Indian War (1754 -1760)

John Bull (1730-1824)

A commission of John Bull, Esquire, to be Captain of a company of the 3rd Pennsylvania Battalion Regiment of Foot, dated April 29, 1759, signed under the paper and wax seal at the upper left by Pennsylvania Lt. Governor and Commander in Chief, William Denny, and countersigned by Rev. Richard Peters, a close friend of Benjamin Franklin with whom he founded the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Library, and the Pennsylvania Hospital. Bull went on to lead the Pennsylvania Battalion in the Revolutionary War with distinction and was chosen for special Assignments by the Continental Congress. Probably printed by Benjamin Franklin as he was at the time printing Government Notices for Governor Denny. A real rarity as French and Indian War officers’ commissions are difficult to find. That the officer became a person of note and the signatories were prominent adds great interest.

Historical Note on John Bull Commission

A Commission on vellum of John Bull, Esquire, to be Captain of a Company of the 3rd Pennsylvania Battalion Regiment of Foot. Bull was a farmer and mill owner who during the French & Indian War served at Fort Duquesne, had Command at Fort Allen and was instrumental in the negotiations with the Indians in his sector. Bull went on to lead the First Pennsylvania Battalion in the American Revolutionary War with Distinction and was chosen for special assignments by the Continental Congress. Officer's Commissions from the French and Indian War are extremely scarce and this one is particularly desirable because of Bull's later importance in the American Revolution.

One page Document – Signed and Dated: April 29, 1759
Text as Follows:

By the Hononourable
William Denny, Esq
Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief of the Province of Pennsylvania,
 And the Counties of New Castle, Kent and Sussex on Delaware
To John Bull Esquire, Greeting

Reposing especial Trust and Confidence in your Loyalty, Courage and Conduct, I do by virtue of the Powers and Authorities unto me given Nominate and Appoint you to be Captain of a Company in the Third Battalion of the Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot in the Pay of this Province, to be rais'd for the ensuing Campaign. You are therefore to take said Company into your Charge and Care as their Captain and duly to exercise as well the Officers as Soldiers thereof in Arms, and to use your best Endeavours to keep them in good Order and Discipline. And I hereby command them to obey You as their Captain. And You are to observe and follow such Orders and Directions from Time to Time as you shall receive from me or any other your superior Officer, according to the Rules and Discipline of War, in Pursuance of the Trust hereby reposed in you.
Given under my Hand and Seal at Arms, at Philadelphia, the twenty ninth Day of April in the Thirty Third Year of His Majesty’s Reign Anno Domini, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty Nine.

Signed William Denny
By his Honours Command Richard Peters, Secretary

In November 1775, Congress was active in recruiting and authorized the formation of battalions in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. On November 25th 1775 the Journal of the Continental Congress states that it elected field officers for the Pennsylvania Battalion and that "John Bull, Esq. was elected Colonel." This was the senior command position of the Battalion. Bull was then 45 years of age and a natural choice for command. After his election by Congress Bull immediately began organizing and training Pennsylvania troops. On December 4th 1775, he received personal orders from John Hancock, as President of the Continental Congress, to prepare three Companies to immediately march to the aid of Virginia, in what was perhaps the first official act taken by the now United Colonies in sending formal military aid from one colony to another. Subsequently on January 19th, 1776, Congress ordered Bull's Pennsylvania Battalion to head for Canada to assist General Schuyler. However, although the men went, Bull did not; he had another more important mission and resigned his commission effective January 22nd. On February 8th, 1776 Congress voted $250,000 for the payment of Washington's fledgling Army. Upon the personal recommendation of John Hancock, Bull was chosen by Congress to "Take Charge" of the money and personally deliver it to Washington. This was an enormous responsibility and the continued existence of the Army depended upon his success. Hancock then wrote a letter of recommendation for Bull to Washington on February 12th, entrusting him with the task of carrying money from the Treasury in Philadelphia to General Washington at Cambridge, Massachusetts and advancing him $150 for personal expenses. Later during the war Bull was a commissioner at the Indian Treaty in Easton in 1777 and then became Adjutant General of Pennsylvania. He returned to command the 2nd Pennsylvania Brigade and set up defenses on the Delaware River to protect Philadelphia. He had an active career after the war and served in the Pennsylvania Assembly. He died in 1824 at the age of 94. A Rare Document of the French & Indian War and the first Commission of John Bull who followed his patriotism and not his namesake to play his part in the Revolution for America.

An envelope addressed to Bull from Benjamin Franklin with Franklin's signature on it as a "free frank" sold for $30,000 in a November 2004 auction. Here was a quiet patriot that knew Hancock, Washington and Franklin personally and went determinedly about the business of building a country.

Document Specifications:  Good Document on Vellum signed by "William Denny" as Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief of the Province of Pennsylvania, counter-signed by "Richard Peters" as Secretary on April 29, 1759. Document Measures 7˝" tall x 14˝" wide (370mm x 190mm). Three vertical and 1 horizontal file folds some heavy, some soiling, mildew and stains, small hole at fold and normal vellum wrinkles. Waxed paper seal folded back to show full signature of Denny.

 Offered by Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd. .................................  $ SOLD

End of Item - BSL - John Bull Commission

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