Historical Note on John
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.
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
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
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.
by Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd. .................................