Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Samuel Mix: Deed, 8 November 1753

From Samuel Mix:8 Deed

Copy: New Haven Land Records, Office of the Town Clerk, New Haven, Conn.

At about the time when Franklin was ordering a press and type from England for a printing office in New Haven, he bought a lot in the town from Samuel Mix. Presumably his purpose was to provide a site for the printing house in which he planned to install his nephew James Franklin, Jr. (see above, p. 82). The plot occupied a small piece of the present “Old Campus” of Yale University on College St. facing the Green. Part of Lawrence Hall now stands on it. Franklin never used the plot but sold it for 90 dollars, about 1757, to James Parker, whom he had persuaded to take over the press when his nephew declined it. But because Franklin never completed the transfer in legal form, no deed to Parker is to be found in the New Haven land records.9

November 8, 1753

Abstract: Samuel Mix of New Haven, Conn., bargains and sells to Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia for 94 Spanish pieces of eight (receipt of which is acknowledged) a lot or piece of land in New Haven near the courthouse, bounded eastwardly on the street by the Marketplace 50 ft.; southwardly on the land of Mary Todd, both the aforesaid sides being bounded by a fence; and northwardly and westwardly by Mix’s own land. The lot lies in a parallelogram 100 ft. in length and 50 ft. in breadth, containing about 18 square rods. Mix grants this land to Franklin, his heirs and assigns, in fee simple and warrants the title. Dated Nov. 8, 1753; signed and sealed by Samuel Mix; witnessed by Chauncey Whittelsey and Joseph Trowbridge. Acknowledged, Nov. 9, 1753, by Samuel Mix before Chauncey Whittelsey, justice of the peace. Recorded, Nov. 17, 1753, by Samuel Bishop Junr., town clerk.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Samuel Mix (1700–1755), B.A., Yale, 1720; schoolmaster, later an innkeeper; active in public business and the affairs of the College. Dexter, Biog. Sketches, 1, 229. He owned the northeast quarter of the present “Old Campus” of Yale and had his house and school at the corner of College and Elm Sts., where Battell Chapel now stands.

9In writing about this lot to Jared Ingersoll of New Haven, March 16, 1767, Parker explained: “I suppose, according to Law I could not sell it, tho’ I paid 90 Dollars for it about 10 Years ago: The Case being thus, Mr. Franklin bought it of Mr. Mix, and tis recorded in his Name: but when he sold it to me, not having Opportunity to make a Conveyance suitable to your Country, I have only his Acknowledgement in his own Writing, on the back of his Original Deed, that he had received the full Sum, and promised to make me a Conveyance as soon as an Opportunity offered: But that Time is not yet come; altho’ the Right is really mine. I hope he will return this Spring, and such Opportunity may be had.” New Haven Colony Historical Society Papers, IX (1918), 399. Parker bequeathed the property to his daughter Jane and her husband Gunning Bedford; they sold it in 1785 to Jonathan Ingersoll, state’s attorney for New Haven County, as the site of a jail; after building the jail Ingersoll transferred it to the county in 1791; and the county sold the lot and buildings to Yale College in 1799. Henry White, “The College Green,” William L. Kingsley, ed., Yale College. A Sketch of Its History (N.Y., 1879), 1, 203–5.

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