Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from the Earl of Buchan, 18 February 1783

From the Earl of Buchan9

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Edinburgh, 18th. February 1783.


You was entitled to a Civick crown on my account a great many years ago when at the University of St. Andrews you gave a turn to the carreer of a disorder which then threatned my Life.1

You have since that time done so much and Heaven has at last been pleased to bless & to Crown your endeavours with so much success that Civic Crowns of a more importent nature are due to you, and certainly await you if there is any such thing as Publick Gratitude on the face of the Earth.

Many of my acquaintance in this part of — seem disposed to seek for an asylum on the other side of the Attlantick and knowing my steady attachment and affectionate regard to a People who received my Great Grand Father when an exile or rather a fugitive from his Country during the Administration of Lauderdale in Scotland2 have applied to me for informations on the subject of Settlement in the Dominions of the United States.

Before the troubles commenced I had meditated a Settlement in the Estates of the Lord Fairfax in Virginia, but Lord Fairfax being since dead and my connections alterd in that family I have not thought of renewing my Inquiries in that quarter.3

What I wish to promote is the happy settlement of my Countrymen in N. America in the Territory of the United States, such Countrymen being Friends to the Principles which gave independence to that Country, Persons also of good characters & virtuous conduct who find themselves crampt & unhappy in a Country now very unfit for the residence of such individuals who have not very considerable fortune to attach them to home.

I forsee a spirit of Emigration, and I wish as much as possible to give it a direction which might tend to the happiness of those in whom from a similarity of Sentiment I must necessarily find myself very much interested.

I have the Honour & pleasure to be Sir with great respect & attachment your most Obedient & Obliged H: Servt.


Notation: Buchan 18 Feby. 1783

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9This is his first letter since 1774; see XXI, 203.

1For Buchan’s fever see our annotation of BF’s reply, March 17.

2Buchan’s great-grandfather was Henry Erskine, Lord Cardross (1650–1693), an ardent Presbyterian who opposed the administration of John Maitland, second Earl and first Duke of Lauderdale. He was imprisoned in Edinburgh for almost four years, beginning in August, 1675, and shortly after his release was accused by the Scottish Privy Council of misrepresentation. Cardross emigrated to South Carolina and established a plantation; when the Spaniards drove him out, he went to Holland, where he accompanied William of Orange to England during the Glorious Revolution: George E. Cokayne et al., eds., The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct, or Dormant (rev. ed., 13 vols., London, 1910–59), III, 19–20; DNB, under Henry Erskine and Maitland.

3Thomas Fairfax, sixth Baron Fairfax of Cameron and related to Buchan’s grandmother, died on Dec. 9, 1781, and Robert Fairfax became the seventh baron, inheriting the “Northern Neck” proprietorship: Stuart E. Brown, Jr., Virginia Baron: the Story of Thomas, 6th Lord Fairfax (Berryville, Va., 1965), pp. 187, 197–9; Burke’s Peerage, pp. 421–2, 977–8.

Index Entries