Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Ringgold, 2 [May?] 1753

From Thomas Ringgold6

ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Chestr-Town May [?] 2d 17537


One Patrick Caron with us is the Man that took up Kelly one of the Murderers of Davis and This same Man has been taken up with us on Suspicion of being a Confederate in that affair but from all the Testimony that cou’d be procured to two severel Grand Jurys at our November and March Courts nothing is found against him and he is discharged, so that, no Imputation can be against him further.8 But be that as it will in such Cases Faith must be kept with those Person’s or no Discoverys wou’d be made, were he guilty. But the Matter as I said appears otherwise. He has applied to me to get the Money due as the Reward published to be given to the Person that shou’d take any one of those Men. I shall be much obliged if you’l do me the Favor to inform by the Return of the Post what step is necessary for him to take to get the Money. He has a Certificate from the Justice of the Peace before whom Kelly was carried, whether an Order with that will not be sufficient and on whom it must be drawn.

I am Sir your Humble Servant in Haste the post waiting

Th Ringgold

Addressed: To  Benjn. Franklin Esqre  Philada.

Endorsed: Mr Ringolds Letter concerng. Karon

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Thomas Ringgold (1715–1772), planter and merchant of Chestertown, Md. He was BF’s agent on the Eastern Shore to collect debts due the Pennsylvania Gazette, 1754. Eddy, LedgerD,” pp. 110–11. He was a member of the Assembly, 1762–68, and a representative to the Stamp Act Congress, 1765. Raymond B. Clark, Jr., “The Abbey, or Ringgold House, at Chestertown, Maryland,” Md. Hist. Mag., XLVI (1951), 81–92.

7Ringgold appears to have written “April” first, and “May” over it. The latter date seems therefore more likely the correct one.

8John Thomas and Eleanor Davis of Tredyffrin, Chester Co., Pa., were brutally murdered and a third person seriously wounded, Aug. 1, 1752, by three armed robbers from Kent Co., Md. Governor Hamilton issued a proclamation and the Assembly voted £150—£50 a head—for their arrest. Pa. Gaz., Aug. 6, 1752. In late September one of the murderers, Thomas Kelly, an indentured servant, was delivered to justice by his master Patrick Kearns, of Kent Co. In his confession, October 4, Kelly identified his companions as James Rice, alias Dillon (said to be a runaway servant of George Washington) and Byron Doran. Rice was arrested in early October. Ibid., Oct. 12, 1752. Both he and Kelly were tried at Chester, Pa., November 27, sentenced and hanged December 9 and 16 respectively. Meanwhile Kearns and two others were implicated as accessories after the fact, but the grand jury refused to indict Kearns, who then claimed the reward for seizing Kelly. Ibid., Nov. 30, 1752; Votes, 1752–53, pp. 11–12. The Assembly voted, September 7, that it be paid Kearns through BF, “he being impowered by a Letter of Attorney to receive the same.” Ibid., p. 41.

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