Details
MELVILL, Allan (1782-1832). Autograph letter signed ("Allan Melvill") to Silas Deane of Newport, Boston, 20 November 1806.

One page, 237 x 176mm (soiled dampstains along folds affect several words).

Herman Melville's father at the outset of his troubled business career. Melvill writes that "While at Paris, from whence I have recently returned, Mr. Cargill speaking on the subject of the … Books &c in your possession belonging to him, desired that you would deliver them to be, to be sold on his account." In the event Deane could not deliver the books himself over the course of the upcoming winter, Melvill asks if he would send them "by some good Conveyance…." Instead of college, his father, Major Thomas Melvill, chose to send his son Allan to France where he learned to speak French fluently. On his return to America, he established himself in New York where he married a member of one of the most prominent Dutch families in the state, Maria Gansevoort, and established himself as an importer of "what we would call today 'accessories' … with the groundless optimism of someone proficient at deceiving himself. He was always counting on this or that 'confidential Connexion' to deliver a windfall, or assuring his creditors that some long-pending deal was about to close." (Delbanco, 19)

[With:] MELVILL, Thomas (1751-1832) – GELSTON, David (1744-1828). Document signed ("D Gelston Coll") as Collector of the Port of New York, New York, 3 January 1807. One page, 405 x 298mm. A certificate of ownership for the ship Elizabeth noting that the identify and type of vessel had been certified by "Thomas Melvill surveyor of the District of Boston and Charlestown." Melvill, a participant in the Boston Tea Party, served as the surveyor of the Port of Boston from 1786 until 1820. He was Allan Melvill's father and Herman Melville's great-grandfather.
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