Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Balfour and Company, 26 March 1761

From John Balfour and Company9

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Edin[burgh]: March 26th 1761


The occasion of my giving you this trouble is to inform you that in the later end of December or the beginning of January last, I receivd a bill from Mr. David Hall, of which you have an exact double on the other side. This bill when presented at London was refusd to be paid, upon which it was returnd regularly protested.1 I did not chuse to send it back to Philadelphia, (as the expence will come very high) without first accquainting you, as I imagin’d you might probably take it up, for Mr. Halls honour. You will therefore be so good as [to] inform me in course, whether you incline to do this or not.2 I thought it my duty in civility to Mr. Hall, to make this tryall before I sent away the bill. My Respectfull Compliments to your Son, and believe me to be with great Esteem Sir Your most Humble Servant

John Balfour & Co.

PS The Books I sent to Mr. Hall has answerd his purpose very well, and he has wrote for another parcel. I have sent him out also a good Cargo of Bibles.

Addressed: To / Dr Frankline at his Lodgeings / in Craven Street in the Strand / London

Notations on address page in BF’s hand: Black Swan Court [Barking?] Lane—behind the Change  Cateaton Street opposite the Church3

Endorsed: Balfour Edinbh. Mar 26. 1761

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9John Balfour (d. 1795) was a bookseller and papermaker in Edinburgh, former apprentice of his brother-in-law Gavin Hamilton, with whom he published the Edinburgh Chronicle, 1759–60. BF probably met Balfour, a friend of William Strahan, during his Edinburgh visit of 1759. H. R. Plomer, G. H. Bushnell, E. R. Dix, A Dictionary of the Printers and Booksellers … from 1726 to 1775 (Oxford, 1932), p. 281. Some years later difficulties arose between Balfour and BF over a shipment of books to James Parker of N.Y., instigated perhaps by BF, perhaps by Strahan, which Parker did not want. See also J. Bennett Nolan, Benjamin Franklin in Scotland and Ireland (Phila., 1938), pp. 47–9.

1The bill in question was drawn by Scott & McMichael, Philadelphia merchants, on George and James Portis in London; see below, pp. 298, 302–3. In 1760 the Portises had refused for some time to pay two bills which Hall had bought from Scott & McMichael and sent to BF; see above, p. 34 n.

2For BF’s reply see below, p. 298.

3The reason for these notations is not clear. Cateaton Street (more properly Catte), parallel to and north of Cheapside, was later renamed Gresham Street.

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