Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Francis Bernard, 30 October 1763

From Francis Bernard1

Letterbook copy: Harvard College Library

Boston Octo. 30. 1763


As you was so kind as to tell Mrs. Bernard2 that you would take care of my Son3 if he came in your way, I am encouraged to trouble you with particulars concerning him. By a letter dated Octo.9 We learn he is at Bellhaven:4 and as his Mony must be all spent, and he is not provided with any Papers of credit, I apprehend he may be necessarily detained there. I must therefore desire you will procure him credit and assistance to return to Philadelphia; and that you will procure him a passage by Sea from Philadelphia to Boston. If that cant be conveniently had, I must desire that you would return him home by way of New York. I should be glad that he may be concerned as little as possible in the expenditure and conduct of his journeys, that Delays and Deviations may be avoided as much as can be. Mrs. Child5 in third Street Philadelphia has directions from him. All charges will be thankfully paid. I am &c

Fra B

I have inclosed a Letter for him which you will be so good as to forward.

Benjm Franklin Esqr.

1Francis Bernard (1712–1779) was appointed governor of N.J. in 1758 through the influence of his wife’s cousin Lord Barrington and served there until 1760, when he became governor of Mass. Bernard’s nine years in the Bay Colony were stormy and they culminated in his removal by the British government after the Mass. Assembly had preferred charges against him, charges which were later adjudged “groundless, vexatious, and scandalous.” Created a baronet on April 5, 1769, he spent the remainder of his life in retirement in England, after resigning the sinecure post of commissioner of customs in Ireland in 1774. DAB.

2The governor’s wife was the former Amelia Offley of Norton Hall, Derbyshire, niece of John Shute, first Viscount Barrington, and cousin of William Wildman, second Viscount Barrington (1717–1793), secretary at war, 1755–61, 1765–78; chancellor of the exchequer, 1761–2; and postmaster general, 1782. Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, II, 55–9.

3Bernard’s eldest son, Francis (1743–1770), was a highly promising scholar at Westminster, 1757, when in traditional celebration of an award to him his fellow students tossed him in a blanket. Unfortunately, he fell on his head and sustained a serious injury. He matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, 1761, and received his B.A., 1764 (Foster, Alumni Oxoniensis, 1752–1886, 1, 100), but suffered permanently in health and apparently in capacity for responsible action. He seems to have been visiting his family in America while still enrolled at Oxford when the difficulties referred to in this and later letters arose. After graduation he returned to Boston and died there more than a year after his father had gone back to England but before his mother and other children had sailed. Mrs. Napier Higgins, The Bernards of Abington and Nether Winchendon A Family History (London, 1903–04), I, 209, 218–19; II, 69–71, 225, 226.

4What is now named Alexandria, Va., was once called Belhaven, though for some time either name seems to have been used. The present Belhaven is a small community about two miles south of the center of Alexandria.

5Not identified.

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