Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Antill, 18 February 1774

To John Antill1

ALS (letterbook draft): American Philosophical Society

London, Feb. 18. 1774


Before I had an Opportunity of answering your Letter, I was displac’d from my Office, which puts it out of my Power to do you any Service in what you propose, and makes a more particular Answer unnecessary. I will however speak with Mr. Potts concerning his Letter,2 and acquaint you with the Result. Present my Best Respects to Mr. and Mrs. Colden,3 and accept the Good Wishes of Your most obedient Servant

B Franklin

Mr Antill

1Antill (born c. 1745) was a New Jersey lawyer and the son-in-law of Alexander Colden, whom he assisted for a time in the New York post office: above, XIX, 333 n. His missing letter had clearly asked BF’s help in obtaining a regular position in the post office, and this reply failed to discourage him. In the following summer, when Colden appeared to be dying, Antill left for England to try to secure such a position; one of his hopes was to succeed his father-in-law as surveyor general. But that ambition was thwarted by the redoubtable head of the clan, Cadwallader Colden, who on the death of his son Alexander saw to it that the post went to his younger son David. The Colden Letter Books … (N.-Y. Hist. Soc. Coll., [IX–X]; 2 vols., New York, 1877–78), II, 353, 375–7; The Letters and Papers of Cadwallader Colden (N.-Y. Hist. Soc. Coll., [L–LVI, LXVII–LXVIII]; 9 vols., New York, 1918–37), VII, 247, 262–3. Antill subsequently became a loyalist and raised troops for the British, then emigrated to Nova Scotia. William Nelson, “Edward Antill and Some of His Descendants,” 3 N.J. Hist. Soc. Proc., II (1897), 47–8; E. Alfred Jones, The Loyalists of New Jersey … (N.J. Hist. Soc. Coll., X; Newark, N.J., 1927), pp. 13–15.

2Samuel Potts was comptroller general of the Post Office; his letter perhaps had to do with the old issue of post horns, about which see above, XX, 73 n, 74.

3Alexander and Elizabeth Nicholls Colden. Alexander died on Dec. 12, 1774: N.-Y. Gaz.; and the Weekly Mercury, Dec. 19, 1774.

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