From James Parker
ALS: American Philosophical Society
Newyork, May 12. 1769
Before this reaches you, I hope Mr. Foxcroft will be safe arrived with you, as he sail’d from Philadelphia the 20th of last Month.7 This covers the first of a Set of Bills for £100 Sterling which I purchased here with Money sent me by Mr. Vernon of Rhode-Island, who I have press’d hard for Payment.8 His Accounts, tho’ kept in Sterling when he sends Cash will not in general procure Sterling tho’ at this Time it has. The 2d Bill I shall send next Week by a Merchant Ship. Mr. Foxcroft will acquaint you with the Affair of Mr. Robinson,9 to whom I have by his Order paid Twenty Guineas, he is about to embark in a Week or two, but I am not certain yet what Vessel he goes in. I purpose to write fuller by him.
Mr. Foxcroft having given me Locks and Keys, with Orders to have them put upon all the Mails,1 I accordingly have sent them: but find both those from this City for Boston are neither good Portmanteau’s, or big enough, or have either Chains or Rings, in short, they were absolutely unfit, and the Riders carry the Mails chiefly in Saddle Bags; upon which I have ordered two new Portmanteau’s to be made with Chains and Rings fitting, as it is impracticable to carry on the King’s Service to good purpose without. On my writing to Albany, I received the inclosed Letter about it;2 and Major Skene, who lives near Crown-point,3 being down here, he told me, he was ashamed to see the Couriers have Nothing but an Ozenbrigs4 Bag to carry the Letters in, which could not screan them from wet, as he was a Friend to the Business, he thinks he had wrote to Mr. Foxcroft about it. But as I am assured this is the Truth, I have ordered two more Portmanteaus to be made here, One for Montreal, the other for Quebeck, which being absolutely necessary for the Good of the Service, and the Benefit of the Revenue, I hope it will be allowed me. I did not do this to shew any Authority, but purely because I think it just and reasonable, and flatter myself you will think so too, as I find others careless and dilatory about the Matter, tho’ at the same time dissatisfied.
Some Merchant Vessels sail in 10 or 12 Days hence, by whom I shall write again. I have only respectful Compliments, &c. from Your most obliged Servant
Addressed: For / Dr Benjamin Franklin / Craven-Street / London / per Packet
7. For John Foxcroft’s leave see his letter to BF above, Feb. 21.
8. Thomas Vernon was postmaster at Newport; see above, V, 451 n. Now that BF and Foxcroft were both absent, the northern district had no resident deputy postmaster general; and Foxcroft had clearly left Parker in charge of its affairs.
9. Robinson appears in three subsequent letters from Parker, but our best efforts have produced no information about him.
1. In the Post Office accounts discussed below under Jan. 3, 1770, BF noted a payment of £28 18s. in October, 1768, for “horns, locks, and mails.”
2. From John Monier, the Albany postmaster, dated May 1 (APS). He acknowledged the receipt of a key to lock the mail bags to New York, and wished that similar provision had been made for the bags to Canada. The latter went open, and the newspapers that were always a major part of the contents were sometimes lost.
3. Philip Skene, owner of a vast tract of land between Lake Champlain and the Hudson, founded the town of Skenesborough and—as a result of his interest in postal affairs, to which Parker refers—became its postmaster in 1771. See above, V, 452 n. Subsequently Skene, as a loyalist, played a prominent part in assisting Burgoyne’s advance during the Saratoga campaign.
4. Osnaburg, a kind of coarse linen cloth originally made in Osnabrück.