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James F. Mercer papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administration Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Arrangement
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: James F. Mercer papers
    Inclusive Dates: 1735-1872
    Bulk Dates: 1735-1763
    Collection Number: mssMercer
    Creator OR Collector: Mercer, James Francis, -1756
    Extent: 3 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The collection consists of over 120 letters, manuscripts and documents related to James F. Mercer and his death at Fort Oswego, New York, in 1756 and the settling of his estate after his death.
    Language of Material: The materials is in English.

    Administration Information


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], James F. Mercer papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Purchased by the Library Collectors' Council from William Reese Company, January 20, 2018. The letters were preserved by William Mercer's grandson, son of George Depster Mercer, the Treasurer of Hong Kong, a member of the Asiatic Society, and a minor author. It was then acquired by Eric C. Caren.

    Biographical Note

    James F. Mercer was Colonel of William Pepperell's 51st Regiment of Royal Americans, commanding Fort Oswego (Oswego, N.Y.). On August 11, 1756, French commander Louis-Joseph de Montcalm besieged the fort with 3,000 men, most of whom were Canadian militiamen and Indigenous people warriors. Mercer was killed on August 14 by a French cannonball, and the garrison quickly surrendered after his death. When the soldiers left the fort, the French-allied Indigenous peoples attacked them. The defeat for England became a subject of inquiry conducted by John Campbell, the 4th Earl of Loudoun, who had arrived just three weeks prior to the battle.


    The collection is arranged chronologically. It is housed in three boxes.

    Scope and Content

    A collection of over 120 letters, manuscripts, and documents (previously bound in three-quarter calf and paper-covered boards by "Seton Bookbinder Edinburgh" (Robert Seton III, 1844-1905)). The collection includes James F. Mercer's letters written during his travels in Europe, Jamaica, and North America (1736-1755). This includes five letters by Mercer from Fort Oswego (1755-1756). The collection also includes approximately 70 letters written in the aftermath of Mercer's death, including correspondence of Mercer's brother, William Mercer, friend James Grahame, and Grahame's 13-page account of the Battle of Oswego. Other authors include: Andrew Douglass, Joseph Austin, Colin Drummond, Charles Craven, Francis Lewis, James Robertson, and Stephen Sayre.
    Collection includes several documents regarding James F. Mercer's finances and belongings after his death. Also included is a copy of Papers relating to the first settlement and capture of Fort Oswego, 1727-1756 [Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co., 1849], with Mercer escutcheon pasted on the front inner cover.

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Craven, Charles
    Grahame, James, -1760
    Lewis, Francis, 1713-1802
    Mercer, James Francis, -1756
    Mercer, William, 1717-1786
    Robertson, James, 1717-1788
    Sayre, Stephen, 1736-1818
    Shirley, William, 1694-1771


    Families -- Scotland -- History -- 18th century
    Girls -- Education -- Great Britain
    Scots -- America -- History
    Scots -- Great Britain -- Colonies -- History
    Seven Years' War, 1756-1763

    Geographic Areas

    Flanders (Belgium) -- Description and travel
    Fort Oswego (Oswego, N.Y.) -- Capture, 1756
    France -- Foreign relations -- Great Britain
    Great Britain -- History -- George II, 1727-1760 -- Sources
    Great Britain -- History, Military -- 18th century
    Great Britain -- Colonies -- History -- 18th century
    Great Britain -- Foreign relations -- 1727-1760
    Great Britain -- Foreign relations -- France
    Perth (Scotland) -- History -- 18th century -- Sources
    United States -- History -- French and Indian War, 1754-1763


    Accounts -- Great Britain -- 18th century
    Letters (correspondence) -- Great Britain -- 18th century
    Letters (correspondence) -- Great Britain -- 19th century
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 18th century
    Manuscripts -- Great Britain -- 18th century
    Manuscripts -- Great Britain -- 19th century