Benjamin Franklin Papers

The Privy Council: Order on Franklin’s Petition, 29 August 1759

The Privy Council: Order on Franklin’s Petition

Two copies: Historical Society of Pennsylvania8

At the Court at Kensington the 29th: day of August 1759.


The Kings most Excellent Majesty

Arch Bishop of Canterbury Earl of Hardwicke
Lord Keeper Viscount Falmouth
Lord President Viscount Barrington
Duke of Ancaster Lord Berkeley of Stratton
Earl of Cholmondeley Mr. Secretary Pitt.

Whereas Benjamin Franklin Esquire, Agent appointed by the Assembly of Pensilvania, did some time since present his humble Petition to His Majesty at this Board, relating to the Differences subsisting between His Majestys Subjects, and the Indians bordering upon the said Province, concerning large Quantitys of Land, which the said Indians alledge they have been deprived of, without their Consent, or Satisfaction made them for the same, particularly of the Lands which are included within the Forks of the River Delawar, and also of other Lands on both Sides the said River.9 His Majesty having taken the same into Consideration, and received the Opinion of the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations,1 and also of a Committee of the Lords of His Majestys most Honourable Privy Council thereupon,2 is pleased, with the Advice of His Privy Council, to Order as it is hereby Ordered, that His Majestys Agent for Indian Affairs, do examine thoroughly into the Complaints of the Delawar Indians, with respect to Lands which they alledge they have been defrauded of by the Proprietaries, and that for this Purpose he do take the earliest Opportunity of signifying to them, that he has, in Consequence of what passed at the Conferences in July and August 1757, received His Majestys Orders to enquire into their Grievances, and press them to appoint such time and Place, as shall be most convenient to them for that purpose; That he do likewise give timely Notice of such Meeting to the Commissioners appointed by the Proprietaries to act on their Part, to the End they may come properly instructed, and prepared, to support the Claims of their Constituents, and that when he shall have made a full and particular Enquiry into the Circumstances of the Case, and heard what all Partys may have to offer, he do transmit his Proceedings in this Business to the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, in order to be laid before His Majesty, together with his Opinion of what may be proper to be done thereupon. And the said Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations are to signify the same to His Majestys said Agent for Indian Affairs accordingly.3

Endorsed: 29. Augt. 1759 Office Copy Order of Councill on Benja. Franklins Peticon for the Indians agt. the Pensilva proprietrs

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8The one endorsed in Ferdinand J. Paris’ hand as “Office Copy” has been used here.

9For the background of the petition, the preliminary draft, and the final text as presented and as referred to the Privy Council Committee, Feb. 2, 1759, see above, pp. 264–76.

1For the Board of Trade report, June 1, 1759, see above, pp. 379–89.

2Acts Privy Coun., Col., IV, 402–3, indicates that the Privy Council Committee report of July 19 concurred in the Board of Trade’s recommendations.

3On March 1, 1760, Johnson asked Teedyuscung to set a date for a conference, but the chief declined, saying that he was about to set off “to the Wiandot Nation.” N.Y. Col. Docs., VII, 436–7. For two years Teedyuscung made no effort to bring his case to a hearing. Irritated, Johnson wrote again in February 1762, threatening to complain to the Crown unless a conference were arranged. Johnson Papers, III, 639. This letter resulted in a meeting at Easton, which began June 18, 1762. Teedyuscung still insisted that his people had been cheated at the Walking Purchase of 1737, but declared that if the governor would not help the true owners they would “leave their Right to be settled when they both appear before the Judge above that knows they are wrong’d.” The Indian announced that he would “bury under Ground all Controversies about Land” and was ready to sign a release for all the lands in dispute. Ibid., pp. 780, 786. Johnson reported this outcome to the Board of Trade, and on March 3, 1763, the Board advised the Privy Council that, since the affair had been happily concluded, no further action was necessary. Acts Privy Coun., Col., IV, 555–6. Thus ended the proceedings set in motion by BF’s petition of Feb. 2, 1759.

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