Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Ellicott, 23 June 1764

To John Ellicott

ALS: The London Hospital

Philada. June 23. 1764


Since the Receipt of your Letter of Jany. 8th. 1763.9 I have been twice at New York, and at York in Virginia; at both which Places I made all the Enquiry I could, in the time I was there; after the Elizabeth Holland mention’d in Capt. Holland’s Will; but not learning any thing, I desir’d Mr. Colden, Postmaster of New York, and Col. Hunter of Virginia,1 to make farther Enquiry as they had Opportunity, which likewise produc’d no Information. At length I put Advertisements in the Gazettes of both those Provinces, as you will see by the inclos’d; and they were continu’d in the Papers for several Weeks successively.2 I also engag’d a Gentleman, Mr. Foxcroft, my Brother Postmaster General, who lives in Virginia to make what Enquiry he could at the General Court there, in April last, when the Gentlemen assemble from all Parts of that Province at Williamsburg. He did so accordingly, and informs me, that he could hear of none of the Name there, but those mention’d in the enclos’d Memorandum,3 viz. one Richard Holland and Rebecca his Wife, who have a Daughter Lucy which is all the Information my Advertisement and his Enquiry has produc’d from thence, and amounts to nothing. From New York came a Person to me, in behalf of one Elizabeth Waldron, whose maiden Name was Holland. I told him, that in order to intitle her to the Claim, she must send me authenticated Certificates of her Father and Mother’s Names, what Children they had, and other material Circumstances relating to the Family, that might evince her being the Person enquir’d after. On which I receiv’d from her the enclos’d Letter,4 by which I think it appears that she cannot be the Person, for she seems to know nothing of a Brother Capt. William Holland. However I send it, that you and the Gentlemen concern’d may judge of it. It is all the Light I have been able to obtain by the Steps taken. And if you would have any thing farther done in the Affair, I shall readily obey your Commands.

The Reason of my making Enquiries in Virginia, was, that James River is in Virginia, and there is a York not far from it; and I apprehended that the New York might be a Mistake for that Virginia York.

I hope Mrs. Ellicot and your valuable Son and Daughters continue well. Please to present my Respects to them, and to the Gentlemen at the George and Vulture in whose Company I spent so many agreable Hours.5 With great Esteem, I am, Sir, Your most obedient Servant

B Franklin

Mr. Ellicot

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Not found. It undoubtedly dealt with the same subject as correspondence of the previous year. Ellicott, a leading clockmaker of London and a strong supporter of the London Hospital, had asked BF to locate an Elizabeth Holland, mentioned in the will of her brother, Capt. William Holland. Ellicott seems to have believed that she lived in New York, but the will mentioned that the Hollands” father was “of James River,” and so would have placed him in Virginia. BF had promised to have inquiries made in both colonies. See above, X, 248–50.

1Alexander Colden, eldest son of Lieut. Gov. Cadwallader Colden (above, VI, 113 n), and Col. John Hunter of Hampton, Va. (above, VI, 223 n).

2Eleven issues of The Virginia Gazette and one of The New-York Gazette; or, Weekly Post-Boy were preserved at the London Hospital until 1936, when they were presented to the city of Williamsburg, Va. They were probably either the ones BF sent to Ellicott with this letter or copies he procured in 1771 and 1772 with affidavits that the advertisements had not succeeded in locating the missing woman. BF to Alexander Colden, BF to John Dixon, both dated Oct. 7, 1772. Lib. Cong. The advertisement printed in N.-Y. Gaz., April 26, 1764, reads as follows: “If Elizabeth, Daughter of William Holland and Agnes his Wife, formerly of James River, and, as it is said, lately of New-York, be living, she may, by Inquiry of B. Franklin of Philadelphia, hear of something greatly to her advantage. And if the said Elizabeth is deceased, and hath, or hath not left Issue, those who are acquainted with such Circumstances are requested to give Information thereof to the said B. Franklin.”

3Not found.

4Not found.

5On the Monday Club at the George and Vulture Tavern, see above, X, 250 n.

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