Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Osgood Hanbury, Silvanus Grove, and James Russell, 6 September 1780

From Osgood Hanbury, Silvanus Grove, and James Russell7

ALS:8 American Philosophical Society

London 6t: September 1780


The not having had it in our power to transmit to you sooner a precise answer to your several favours has given us much concern; We trust you will not impute any intentional delay to us when we assure you that for our Guidance in the business we took the earliest opportunity of having a fair and impartial State of our Case, as Trustees, prepared and laid before Mr. Wallace9 his Majesty’s Attorney General, and Mr: Mansfield,1 Who it is expected will be appointed Solicitor General, whose opinions we have the honour to inclose you;2 upon the perusal of which we persuade ourselves you will readily see that in the very particular situation in which we stand, as Trustees under the several Acts of Assembly, we are compell’d to the disagreeable necessity of refusing to comply with the Request made to us by your favor of the 20th: of May. We yet beg leave to observe that when the favorable Opportunity occurs that we can discharge our Trust with honor and fidelity we shall have the greatest satisfaction imaginable in so doing; In the interim we hope that from your Candor and that of your Governor and State of Maryland our conduct will receive the most friendly interpretation. We have the honor to be with the highest Esteem and respect Sir, Your Most Obedient humble Servants

Osgood Hanbury
Sil: Grove
James Russell

P.S. We also inclose you the Act you transmitted to us agreeable to your desire.

B Franklin Esqr

Notation: Osgood Hanburg. Silas Grove & James Russell 6 Sept. 1780

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7In answer to BF’s of May 20 (XXXII, 401) requesting that they as trustees for the state of Maryland see the stock it owned in the Bank of England and pay its bills; for details see XXXI, 336n.

8In Grove’s hand.

9James Wallace (1729–1783), a friend of Alexander Wedderburn’s, was solicitor general from 1778 to 1780 before becoming attorney general (1780–82, 1783): Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, III, 593.

1James Mansfield (1734–1821) replaced Wallace as solicitor general in September. He served until the fall of the North government in March, 1782, and again in 1783: DNB; Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, III, 109–10.

2Dated Aug. 28, their joint opinion warned that the trustees could not “with safety” sell the stock or pay the bills: Jacob M. Price, “The Maryland Bank Stock Case: British-American Financial and Political Relations before and after the American Revolution,” Aubrey C. Land, Lois Green Carr, and Edward C. Papenfuse, eds., Law, Society, and Politics in Early Maryland (Baltimore and London, 1977), p. 8. Maryland threatened to seize the trustees’ property in that state if they refused to pay bills of exchange drawn on them: ibid., p. 9; Morris L. Radoff, ed., Calendar of Maryland State Papers. No. 2: The Bank Stock Papers (Annapolis, 1947), pp. xv–xvi.

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