Catalogue description Archives of American Claims Commission (1794)

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Details of FO 304
Reference: FO 304
Title: Archives of American Claims Commission (1794)

This series contains records of the American Claims Commission. Comprises papers, minute books, awards, reports, etc. of the commissioners appointed under Article 7 of the treaty of 1794. Also included in this series are a minute book of the commissioners appointed under Article 5 and proceedings of the Board of Commissioners appointed under Stat. 43 Geo. III, c.39.

Date: 1796-1812
Related material:

For additional records of the commissioners under the Treaty of 1794 see:

T 79

FO 95/512

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

American Claims Commission, 1794-1812

Physical description: 35 bundle(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

In 1794 a treaty, commonly known as Jay's Treaty, was signed between Great Britain and the United States. The sixth article of this treaty provided for the settlement of all debts contracted with and due to British subjects prior to the peace of 1783. A seventh article provided for the payment of claims for compensation for losses and damages suffered by American merchants and citizens during the war by reason of irregular or illegal captures of vessels and property. Two boards of commissioners were established to carry these articles into effect. Each consisted of two British and two American commissioners with a fifth appointed by the other four. In 1799, deadlock having arisen in the settlement of claims under the sixth article, the British government, as a counter-measure, suspended its proceedings under the seventh article.

In 1802 a new convention was signed by the two countries for the mutual payment of claims. The board constituted under the seventh article of the treaty of 1794 resumed its work and the American government undertook to pay the sum of £600,000 in satisfaction of the money they might otherwise have been liable to pay under the terms of the sixth article.

To deal with claims under this article in respect of outstanding debts from British merchants and from Americans who had remained loyal to the Crown, three commissioners were appointed in Britain under the Distribution of Certain Monies Act 1803. Two of these commissioners had previously represented Great Britain on the former board established for this purpose under the 1794 treaty, while the third had sat on that board as its fifth member, having been chosen by lot in 1797.

Claims amounting to nearly £5 million were considered by these commissioners of which £1,420,000 were allowed to be good. Successful claimants received dividends pro rata from the money made available by the American government which, with interest, amounted to £659,493. The commission made its final adjudication on claims in 1811 and presented its last report to the Treasury in June 1812 when it wound up its proceedings.

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