Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Holme, 9 January 1759

From Thomas Holme7

ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Jan: 9th. 1759.


As I am inform’d that you are still in London, I therefore take the Liberty to acquaint you with the Death of Mr. Richard Fisher of this Town on the 12th. Ulto. He left his whole Estate Real and Personal to the Amount of about £5000 between his three Neices:8 except a clear Rent Charge of £45 per Annum to his Wife for Life, and £100 in Cash to be paid to her in three Months after his Decease; She survived him only Thirteen Days, and was never during that Time capable of making a Will; So that the said £100 devolves to her Administrators and accordingly Administration has been granted to Ann Farrow of the Parish of Castlethorpe in the County of Bucks, but subject to Distribution to all of equal Degree in Kindred: We know of no Relations so near as own Cousins besides your Self, Ann Farrow aforesaid and Eleanor Morris in London;9 and as the two last, as we are informed here, are but in poor Circumstances; and the said £100 after Deduction of Funeral and other Charges will be reduced to about £701 it is expected you will not insist upon you Share in the Distribution, but let them take the Benefit of it.2 But if not, or if you know of any other Relations of equal Degree,3 it will be esteem’d a Favour if you’ll send such Intelligence either to the Revd. Mr. William Fisher the sole Executor of Richd. deceased, or to Sir Your very humble Servant

Tho: Holme. Vicar of Wellingborough.

P.S. I had wrote the above before I received Yours,4 and which in a great Measure will I hope answer your Enquiry: the £100 was bequeath’d to Mrs. Fisher in such Terms as to rest in Her on his Decease, tho not payable till 3 Months after, so that there is not the least Doubt of its belonging to her Representatives. Mr. Fisher beside what I mention’d above, gave his Wife the Use of all his Houshold Goods, Linnen and Plate for her Life and the Dwelling House to live in Rent and Tax free; but ordered the said Goods &c. after her Decease to be divided equally between his Neices and the Legacies to Mrs. Fisher were on this Express Condition that she relinquished all Claim to Thirds.5 And he Left no other Legacies whatsoever except to his Neices to the Value of so much as a Shilling. Mrs. Fisher’s wearing Apparrel (Which as I am told were of no great Value)6 have been divided between Mrs. Farrow and Mrs. Morris, and her Share7 is in the Hands of One Mrs. Whitebread who was a very intimate Acquaintance of the late Mrs. Fishers. I shall be very ready to give you any further information with Regard to this Affair that you may think necessary and am Sir Yours very sincerely

Tho: Holme.

Endorsed: Revd Mr Holme Jan 9. and 11 1759 answerd

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7See above, p. 121 n. Many of the matters dealt with in this letter are elucidated in other letters, above, pp. 221–2, and below, pp. 237–9, 288–9.

8Not identified. In contradiction to this statement, a published summary of Richard Fisher’s will records that he left his house and land in Wellingborough to his nephew and executor, Rev. William Fisher. Henry I. Longden, Northamptonshire and Rutland Clergy from 1500, V (Northampton, 1940), 49.

9BF, in his missing letter to Richard Quinton, had called attention to his cousin Eleanor Morris, whose kinship to Mary Fisher, however, appears to have been already known at Wellingborough.

1The exact figure was £79 18s. 4d.

2As Holme expected, BF divided his share between his elderly cousins.

3In answer to this query, or to a similar one by Anne Farrow on Jan. 19, 1759, BF supplied the names of Mary Fisher’s four surviving first cousins in New England: Samuel Franklin (A., Elizabeth Douse (C.1), Peter Franklin (C.9), and Jane Mecom (C.17).

4Not found, but obviously prompted by Richard Quinton’s letter of Jan. 4, 1759.

5At common law, a wife, upon the death of her husband, got “the third of all the lands and tenements whereof he was seized during coverture, to hold to herself for the term of her natural life.” William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (4th edit., Oxford, 1770), II, 129.

6Her apparel was valued at £11 0s. 6d.

7Presumably Eleanor Morris’ share, she not having been in Wellingborough as Anne Farrow was.

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