To Abbot Upcher2
Draft: American Philosophical Society
Cr. Street London, Oct. 4. 17663
Since my Return from abroad I have been inform’d of your good Purpose to purchase a land[ed?] Estate in America of the Value of One Thousand Pounds and to apply the Rents and Profits thereof to the Support of Schools for the Instruction of Negro Children. And I have been desired by the Associates to consider the Matter, and give my Opinion where, and in what Manner the Purchase may best be made. I do accordingly acquaint you, that I think the best Province to make the Purchase in is Pennsylvania, where Titles are generally clear, and that it would be well to impower three Persons in Philadelphia to purchase Ground Rents within that City and other safe and profitable Estate in or near the same, as Bargains may offer, in Trust for the Purposes you mention; drawing for the Money here from time to time as the Purchases are made; the Money remaining at Interest here till so drawn for. And the Rents as receiv’d by such Trustees to be applied as you direct. Any farther Advice or Assistance that I can give in the Choice of Trustees or otherwise,4 shall not be wanting: being respectfully, Reverend Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant
2. Abbot Upcher (1722–1770), B.A. Cambridge, 1741; ordained deacon, 1745; rector (or vicar) of St. Gregory’s and St. Peter’s, Sudbury, Suffolk; J.A. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses, Part i, iv, 290; C.F.D. Sperling, A Short History of the Borough of Sudbury (Sudbury, 1896), p. 124. On June 28, 1766, Upcher wrote the secretary of the Associates of the late Dr. Bray (above, VII, 100 n) that he proposed to donate £1000 to buy real estate in America, the income to be used for Negro education. At the meeting of July 24 (BF being in Germany at the time) the Associates accepted the proposal and asked that BF acquaint Upcher “with the Circumstances of purchasing Lands in America.” Richard I. Shelling, “Benjamin Franklin and the Dr. Bray Associates,” PMHB, lxiii (1939), 289.
3. The first meeting of the Bray Associates that BF attended after his return to England from America was one on Oct. 2, 1766, two days before he wrote this letter. PMHB, lxxiii (1949), 39.
4. In the spring of 1767, when Upcher had paid in the second £100 of his gift, the Associates asked BF to buy improvable lands under the trusteeship of himself, Jacob Duché, Jr. (and in succession to him the future rectors of Christ Church), Francis Hopkinson, Edward Duffield, and David Hall. Ibid., lxiii (1939), 289.