Detail of Lewis Evans' Map of Delaware, 1755

Amelia Evans Barry came alive during research with my far cousin Hélène Koehl (descendant of Amelia). Together we solved a very complex mistery to unveil her identity. Keys to the discovery have been: the maiden name of one of her daughters Philotesia Jeannetta; Nicholas Brooke revealing the name of the authoress of  “Maria, a Persian slave” &  Ingamell’s Dictionary which was essential as well.

Hélène Koehl then wrote her story while I continued to search sources and documents and we finally published an article in French on the “Nuovi Studi Livornesi” periodical, published in 2007. See the index of 2007 issue.

Here’s the abstract translated from Italian:

Amelia Evans was born in Philadelphia in 1744, at a time in which Pennsylvania was still a British colony. Her father, Lewis Evans, the first geographer of the future United States of America, collaborated to the scientific researches of Benjamin Franklin. Amelia was a god-daughter of the Franklins and the death of her young parents tied up even more this relationship. The letters Amelia wrote to Franklin until his death in 1790 are a primary source of information on her life. Since her youth Amelia began to travel: at 18 she definitely left Philadelphia to study in England. At 22 we find her in Tunis, maid of the daughters of the British Consul Traill, where she married an Irish Merchant-Navy Captain, David Barry, whom she’ll follow in his journeys in the Mediterranean until Smyrna in Turkey. Economical difficulties finally take the couple to Livorno in 1778. They reside nearby, in Pisa, where David dies soon after, leaving a widow and many young children. Amelia is minute but very energetic, she’s cultivated, passioned by ancient history. She loves to write. The Livorno international merchant community will help her to become a writer. Her first novel, a sort of oriental-style chronicle with many references to Smyrna, is anonimously published in London in 1790. After two centuries of oblivion, research allowed to do justice to the author. The subscription list, which includes a hundred residents at Livorno, is like a picture freezed in time of the merchant activities, social and familiar relationships at the end of 18th century. Later on Amelia will leave Livorno for England, where she dies at an advanced age in 1835, while one of her daughters will stay in Livorno becoming Mrs. Schintz. The path of this woman allows us to get a sharp idea of the cosmopolitism of Livorno at the time of the “Porto Franco”.

◊ Read also this article talking about Amelia: Tales from the vault, by Kate Davies.

◊ See the transcripts of her letters in Benjamin Franklin’s Papers: 1766-1769 / 1777-1789

Here is an extract of subscribers to “Maria, a Persian Slave” from Livorno and Pisa


The Hon. Richard Annesley, Leghorn

Mr. Francis Antoni, ditto

Mr. James Antoni, ditto

Mr. Simon Allard, ditto


Mr. Bernhard Bawr, Leghorn

Mr. Barnet, ditto

Mrs. Barnet, ditto – 3 copies

Mr. Betts, Leghorn

Mr. William Broderick, ditto

Mrs Brooke, ditto

Mr. Brooke, ditto

Mr. Luke Brenan, ditto

Mr. Thomas Buckholm, ditto

Mrs. Burges, ditto

Mr. Blackall, ditto

Captain John Blackett, ditto

Mr. James Bird, ditto

Mr. Charles Bird, ditto

Sig. Gio. Buonsignori, ditto

Mr. Browne, ditto

Sig. Guis. Braccini, Pisa

Sig. Guis. Bracchieri


Mr. David Cacese, Leghorn

Mr. Thomas Cobley, ditto

Sig. J. B. Clannetti, ditto


Mr. John Darby, Leghorn

Mrs. Darby, Leghorn

Mr. Downson, ditto

Mr. John Drake, ditto

Mr. Anth. Desmaretz, ditto

Mr. William De Jeney


Mr. John Edge, Leghorn

Mrs. Earle – 10 copies


Mrs. Franck, Leghorn

Mr. Ab. Fonnereau, ditto

Mr. R. W. Filippi, Leghorn

Mr. J. S. Falke, ditto

Mr. R. Fulger, ditto


Mr. Green, Leghorn

Mr. Thomas Gerrard, ditto

Mr. Loyle Gibbs, ditto

Mr. Ab. Gibbs, ditto

Miss Robey, ditto

Lieutenant Colonel Rooke

Mr. Joach. Grabien, ditto

The Three Miss Gordons


Mr Thomas Hall, Leghorn

Mr. Henry Holst, ditto


Mr. Koster, Leghorn


Mrs. Leane, Leghorn

Mr. Latouche, ditto

Mr. Thomas Lord, ditto

Miss Eliza Lys

Miss Ann Le Marchant

Mr. Peter Le Marchant

Mr. Thomas Le Marchant

Mr. John Le Cocq

Mr. J. Lugan



M. Misler, Leghorn

Miss Martin, ditto

M. Mayer, ditto

M. Ann M. Martens, ditto

M. J. Montefiore, ditto

Mrs. Mordwinoff, ditto

Mrs. T. Maingy

Mr. N. Maingy

Miss Maingy

Mr. T. Maingy


Mr. Nolte, Leghorn


Miss Perryman, Leghorn

Mr. Thomas Panton, ditto

Mr. P. Polhill, ditto

Mr. Robert Porter, ditto

Mr. Richard Pryce, ditto

Mr. Charles Pfisher, ditto

Mrs. Partridge, ditto

Miss Purbeck, Leghorn

Mr. Priaulz, ditto

Mrs. Thomas Panton jun., ditto

Mr. Pietri, Pisa


Mr. Raguineau, Leghorn

M. Riltiet, ditto

M. Esh. Riesch, ditto

M. Elias Rabateau, ditto

Mrs. Renner, ditto

Mr. Geo. Renner, ditto


J. P. Schultesius, Leghorn

M. Smith, ditto

M. Ann Smollett, ditto

Mr. Sapte, Leghorn

Mr. Thomas Stefanelli, ditto

Mr. James Stuart, ditto

Mr. Stephen Sullivan, ditto

Mr. Jos. Streinerborg, ditto

Miss Sapte, ditto


M. Torngreau, Leghorn

Mr. James Thompson, ditto

Mr. Jos. Turner, ditto

Mr. David Trasler, ditto

Mr. H. Tupper

Mr. Geo. Tate


Mrs. Ulrich, Leghorn

Mr. John Udney jun., ditto

Mr. Udney (consul), ditto


Mr. Fred. Wienholt, Leghorn

Mr. J. R. Wilson

Captain P. W. Webber

Mr. John Woolfenden, Leghorn

Mr. Jos. Weinmann, ditto

M. L. D. Windsor, ditto


Marquis Zagarelli, Leghorn