Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Juliana Penn, 23 November 1782

From Juliana Penn6

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Spring Garden London. November 23d: 1782.


In consequence of Your obliging Permission, I loose no time in begging Your Assistance & Protection, in the recovery of the rights and Possessions of an unfortunate Family,7 who have so heavily felt the Misfortunes of this War,8 and who are likely still to be dreadful Sufferers, if They are not properly consider’d.

You, Sir, are so well acquainted with our losses, that it would be unnecessary to take up your time with relating them: I therefore Earnestly Entreat You to take them into consideration, and by restoring us to our rights and Fortune, confirm the great Character You have so justly merited; and to wch: I shall be proud to owe my Prosperity, and that of my Children and Family.

I know that Lord Shelburne has authorised Mr: Vaughan to back my application to You;9 but I flatter myself that the justice of my Cause alone will be sufficient recommendation to You. It is then to your feelings that I address myself; and in confidence of your well known Wisdom & Humanity, I adopt You for the Guardian of William Penn’s Grand Children, and remain with respect, Sir, Your Excellency’s Oblig’d and Obedient Humble Servant

Juliana Penn

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Lady Juliana Fermor Penn (IV, 320n) was the widow of Pennsylvania Proprietor Thomas Penn. She also wrote an appeal to Jay the same day: Morris, Jay: Peace, pp. 424–5.

7She had three surviving children, John (1760–1834), Granville (1761–1844), and Sophia Margaretta (1764–1847): DNB under Thomas, John, and Granville Penn; Howard M. Jenkins, “The Family of William Penn,” PMHB, XXI (1897), 346, 421, 439–42, 444.

8The Penn family’s proprietary holdings (but not their private estates) had been sequestered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1779: XXIX, 56n; Morris Papers, VII, 549n; Jenkins, “Family of William Penn,” p. 425.

9Benjamin Vaughan wrote Shelburne on Dec. 10 that her affair would be “taken up” and that his interest in the matter was understood: Charles C. Smith, “Letters of Benjamin Vaughan,” Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., 2nd ser., XVII (1903), 428. See also Samuel Vaughan’s letter of introduction, Dec. 16, below.

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