Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from John Taylor, 1 December 1782

From John Taylor5

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Circus, Bath 1st. Decr. 1782.

Dear Sir

The great friendship you have ever shewn me, produces a liberty which I trust you will forgive, as the subject is a matter of the utmost importance to me, and my family— I see in Freemans Philada. Journal of the 27th. february 17826 among the names of those who have forfeited their Estates, two John Taylors, and as I have not heard from my Agent Wm. West7 nor from any other person in Philada. since Decr. 1775 I am under the greatest anxiety least my property shoud fall under one of them— Pray tell me Sir is that unfortunately the case? If it is! what have I done to incur so heavy a punishment!—is my residing here the cause? — I did it to take care of a sickly wife, six small children, and an aged Mother. Or shou’d I have quitted all these tender Concerns and have gone an Individual to America? Surely that cou’d never be expected— I quitted it Sir with my good father8 in 1762 long before the beginning of the unhappy dispute— He was ever their warm friend and they told him he and his, shou’d ever have their love; and be assur’d good Sir not a thought ever enter’d my heart which cou’d give a shadow to suspect my warmest attachment and sincerest good wishes to that Country—but I need not take up your time with declarations of this kind— No man knows me and my family better than yourself; and may I add Dr Sir! my hopes that you will in consequence of it, think me worthy of your friendship and assistance in this distressfull business; and by your interest or advice point out to me such methods as I shou’d pursue, to reverse the forfeiture, if it has taken place, or prevent it at any future time.9

I shou’d have taken a Journey to intreat this great favor in Person; was not my wife in so precarious a state of health that I cannot think of leaving her. She desires and my Mother joins in most respectful Compliments to You and I am most truly and respectfully Dear Sir Your very obliged & obedt Servt.1

John Taylor

Endorsed: Answer’d by Mr Laurens—2

Notation: Tailor Mr. John, 1st. Decr. 1782.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Landscape painter and etcher (c. 1745–1806): XIV, 172n; XXXI, 439–42; Lewis, Walpole Correspondence, XXIX, 112n.

6The Freeman’s Journal, or, The North-American Intelligencer, Feb. 27, 1782, under the heading “Forfeited Estates.”

7This is probably one of the William Wests, uncle and nephew, of Philadelphia: IX, 291n.

8Abraham Taylor: III, 428n; XXXI, 440n.

9Taylor apparently retained his properties in Philadelphia. In May, 1783, he granted power of attorney over those estates to Francis Hopkinson and George Clymer, who presided over the auction of ten lots in early 1784. Taylor quarreled with both men over what he claimed was their mismanagement, and later published his grievances in a pamphlet: John Taylor, A Narrative of the Dispute between John Taylor, Esquire, and George Clymer & Francis Hopkinson, Esqrs. … ([Bristol], 1787); Pa. Gaz., Feb. 11, 1784.

1An undated fragment of a letter from John Taylor is among BF’s papers at the APS. It inquires about “restitution or reimbursement” to people who sustained losses by their trade with the Indians. As Taylor has been “a very considerable sufferer,” he asks how his claims should be pursued.

2Laurens left Paris for London and Bath on or about Jan. 11, 1783: Laurens Papers, XVI, 129n.

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