Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Mary Hewson, [late October? 1771]

From M[ary] H[ewson]

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Friday Night [late October, 1771?7]

My dear Sir

My Mother desires me to tell you that there are two Letters from New York and one from Philadelphia and three Packets of News Papers but she is afraid to send them as you have not receiv’d that Mr. Hewson sent you. I write in great Haste. We are all well. Yours affectionately


[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7The note might at first glance be dated at any time when BF was away from London between Polly’s marriage in 1770 and his departure for America in 1775. But internal evidence shows that on this occasion his absence was a long one, and suggests that his itinerary was uncertain: he must have been informed by letter that mail had been forwarded to him, and replied by letter that he had not received it, all before Polly wrote; and her mother was still not sure of reaching him on his travels. These circumstances fit only one trip, his tour of Ireland and Scotland from the end of August to the end of November. We have tried to narrow the dating within those three months, but can only offer a flimsy guess that Polly was writing in the last weeks of October. Although the mail waiting for BF is unidentifiable, a packet arriving at that time might well have brought it: the Earl of Halifax sailed on Sept. 9, and arrived in mid-October. N.Y. Gaz.; and the Weekly Mercury, Sept. 16; London Chron., Oct. 12–15. The disappearance of mail forwarded earlier increases the likelihood, to our mind, that Polly was writing while BF was in Ireland.

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