Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from George McCall, 22 July 1778

From George McCall8

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Glasgow July 22d. 1778.


I take the liberty to address you with a true Account of the situation of the Bearers Messrs. Lawrance and Robert Brooke, Sons of Richard Brooke Esqr. of Smithfield Virginia; He was pleased in the year 1770 to send these young Gentlemen to my care here for their Education, and they have applied with that attention to their studies, and behaved so remarkably well since that time that they will be a comfort and Credit to their Parent and Friends, and an honour to their own, or any other country. And as they have now finished their Studies here are desirous to return to their Native Country via France as the most proper plan.9

My Sincere regard and duty to them demands my best services in their behalf, and as you have it most in your power to favour their intentions, I have ventur’d tho a Stranger to you (but having had the pleasure to enjoy some evenings in company with you in Virginia many years ago)1 to give the foregoing just Acct. of Messrs. Brook as they may be almost without Acquantances in Paris.

This Address from a Person to whom you may be an utter Stranger at this time requires evidence of the verasity of what I write, and the only security that at present occurs for this not being fictitious, Is, that William Alexander late of Edinburgh and William Lee Esqrs. are acquanted with my handwrite and may have Opportunity of ascertaining this, and whether the Charecter I sustain be sufficient for you to trust my representation respecting Messrs. Brooke, the Bearers; taking for granted that you will be satisfied of the above I have only earnestly to recommend these Gentlemen to your favour for promoting their safe return to their Friends in Virginia or doing them any other Service which they may Merit. I have the honor to be Very Respectfully Sir Your most obedient Servant

George McCall

Honble. Benjamin Franklin Esqr.

Notation: Geo McCall Glasgow concg. Messrs Brooke July 22 1778

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8A member of a prominent mercantile family in Glasgow who became a burgess of the city in 1766 and was currently engaged in the tobacco trade. He had recently signed a merchants’ petition urging settlement with America. Hardy B. McCall, Memoirs of My Ancestors … (Birmingham, 1884), pp. 10–12; Theodore M. Devine, The Tobacco Lords … (Edinburgh, [1975]), pp. 118, 182; Stevens, Facsimiles, XI, no. 1060.

9The Brookes, who matriculated at the University of Glasgow in 1773 and are said to have studied in Edinburgh, had noteworthy careers. According to family records, BF appointed Lawrence surgeon on the Bonhomme Richard; he served under Jones in 1779 and 1780 before returning to Virginia in 1783 to practice medicine. His brother Robert was later prominent in Virginia politics, serving as governor and attorney general in the 1790’s. St. George Tucker Brooke, “The Brooke Family,” Va. Mag. of Hist. and Biog., XVIII (1910), 454–5; XIX (1911), 320–4, 435–7; William I. Addison, The Matriculation Albums of the University of Glasgow … (Glasgow, 1913), p. 105; Morison, Jones, p. 203; Robert Sobel and John Raimo, eds., Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789–1978 (4 vols., Westport, Ct., [1978]), IV, 1624–5.

1Presumably during one of BF’s two visits on Post Office business, in 1756 and 1763.

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