Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Rice, 4 May 1761

From John Rice1

ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

4th May 1761


Agreable to your Orders I have bought for to morrow £5000. 3 per Cents Consolidated at 87½ per Cent,3 which I hope you’l Approve off, the 4 per Cents are at a 100½4 but in my Opinion they will come down to your price, being oblige to attend Sir Thomas Robinson5 on particular Business to morrow hope you will accept of my friend Mr. Trigg,6 if not back in proper time to attend your Acceptance. I am Sir Your Humble Servant

Jno Rice

Addressed: To / Benjamin Franklin Esqr. / in Craven Street / Strand

Endorsed: Letter from J. Rice Broker (1761)

[Also on cover another notation almost illegible:] Turtile [?]

1John Rice was a respected broker in New John’s Street. In 1762, however, he was nearly ruined by ill-advised speculation and the dishonesty of some of his customers. To recoup his losses he forged powers of attorney and embezzled his clients’ stocks until, discovery being imminent, he fled to Cambrai, France, in December 1762. He was arrested, extradited, and hanged at Tyburn, May 4, 1763. Gent. Mag., XXXII (1762), 599; XXXIII (1763), 207–10; London Chron., May 3–5, 1763.

2The initials I.N. have been added just below the salutation, indicating that either at this time or later BF submitted this letter to Isaac Norris, the speaker.

3On May 5, 1761, BF recorded payment of £4375 for these annuities plus £25 for Rice’s commission “on this and the former Provincial Stock, being in all £20,000 at ⅛ per Cent.” “Account of Expences,” p. 60; PMHB, LV (1931), 130. Rice’s signed receipt of the same date, among BF’s papers in Hist. Soc. Pa., contains an error in addition, acknowledging a total of only £4399, instead of £4400 as shown in BF’s record.

4The 4 per cent annuities of 1760. London Chron., May 2–5, 1761.

5There were two Sir Thomas Robinsons prominent in London in 1761. One (1695–1770) had been ambassador to Austria, 1730–48, secretary of state for the Southern Department, 1754–55, and subsequently master of the wardrobe to George II; he was created Baron Grantham April 7, 1761. The other (1700?–1777), called “long Sir Thomas,” had been governor of Barbados, 1742–47, and was an amateur architect and bon vivant. See DNB for both men. Because of the former diplomat’s recent advancement to the peerage when this letter was written and the former governor’s frequent financial difficulties, it seems probable that “long Sir Thomas” was Rice’s client.

6Not identified, but probably a business associate of Rice.

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