Jacob van Braam

Jacob Van Braam (c1729-unknown) Dutch—having arrived in VA from Holland around 1753. He is reported to have served in the Dutch army. An accomplished swordsman (George Washington’s fencing instructor) who had served in the British army with George Washington’s brother Lawrence. He was with Washington and Gist on the trip to Fort Le Boeuf as their French translator and was a company commander at Fort Necessity. Translated the French word “l’assassinat” as “the death of” or “the killing of” instead of its more sinister meaning in the surrender document. This “translation” episode carries historical weight and might be traced to van Braam’s learning French as a Dutch speaker—thus when he translated French to English he may have made the mental translation from French to Dutch and then Dutch to English. Van Braam and Robert Stobo were given as prisoners to be held until the French captives from “l’affaire Jumonville” were returned to Fort Duquesne. The exchange wasn’t made and the French held van Braam for six years first at Fort Duquesne and then in Canada.

Apparently had a strong dislike of William Trent.

//Another of Lawrence [Washington]'s campaigning comrades was Jacob Van Braam, a Dutchman by birth; a soldier of fortune of the Dalgetty order

[1]; who had been in the British army, but was now out of service, and, professing to be a complete master of fence, recruited his slender purse in this time of military excitement, by giving the Virginian youth lessons in the sword exercise.
Under the instructions of [Lawrence and Van Braam] Mount Vernon, from being a quiet rural retreat, where Washington, three years previously, had indited love ditties to his "lowland beauty," was suddenly transformed into a school of arms, as he practised the manual exercise with Adjutant Muse, or took lessons on the broadsword from Van Braam.//

Curiously other biographers (notably, John Marshall) mention Van Braam only as 'an interpreter' brought along on the preliminary diplomatic expeditions leading up to the culmination of his earlier actions against the French, and not as a long time associate and instructor who campaigned with his brother and schooled George Washington in the art of the sword and other military matters. At the Battle of Great Meadows in July of 1754,

The fort was handed over on July 4 and the bulk of British garrison were allowed to return to Maryland honorably. Two British prisoners, Robert Stobo and Jacob Van Braam, were retained by the French as a guarantee of compliance with the terms of surrender. The French burned the fort and returned to Fort Duquesne.

He later joined the 60th Rifles and fought in the American Revolutionary War, resigning his commission in 1779. He then settled in France.

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