Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Peter Timothy, 14 June 1754

From Peter Timothy1

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Charles-Town, So. Carolina, June 14. 1754

Dear Sir

Your Favour of the 23th of April,2 by Capt. Robeson,3 has been received. Perhaps if you had been by when I read it, you would have pitied me; for my Concern was great, and very visible. I own you had some Reason to be so severe: But had you been in my Place, you might have acted as I did; Robeson came here under the Character of a professed Gamester; and Baddely’s Vessel is really bad; if there was so great a Risque in both; would it have been prudent in me to send by either? Then why did I not send by Haselton? He told me, he should sail on Monday; in the mean Time I endeavour’d to get a Bill, could get none; afterwards try’d for Dollars, of which there was hardly any to be seen, but got enough by Saturday Evening, the next Morning early he sail’d.4

But my Case had like to look’d worse now than ever. Three Days ago Mr. Sinclair5 told me that Robeson, tho’ enter’d out for Philadelphia, was not going there. It was thought he intended for Hispaniola, or Santa-Cruz, &c. This Morning I was inform’d he goes for Philadelphia certainly; the Dollars I got to send by Haselton were gone; Messrs. Austin and Laurens,6 who promised me a Bill, upon examining their Accompts, had not above £10 to draw for; and no Other Merchant in Charles-Town had Money due in your City. I was again obliged to hunt for Dollars; but Dollars, (which are every Day scarcer) were not to be found. All this, without any Thing more would have plainly worn the Face of a Pretence. But, while I was complaining of my Difficulty, a Gentleman who had with great Pains collected some Dollars for London, told me he would spare me 50: These I have got, and with 15 more, I send you by Rudeman Robeson, as you desire, for which I will take a Receipt from him.

Mr. Sinclair is to receive the Money for the 20 Reams of Paper by Ross, saying, “you have ordered a Remittance in Bills to London, that therefore, and as the Paper was shipp’d to him, ’tis most proper to pay him.” And it is much easier to get our Currency for him, than Dollars.

I have but 8 Reams of your Paper left; and, if I could get Dollars, I have not Money now to purchase them; Therefore can’t send to you for more Paper yet: (Money comes in very slowly in Carolina, especially to me.) But, if you’ll send 20 Reams more7 to Mr. Sinclair by the first Opportunity, I’ll purchase it of him, as you proposed to me in your Letter before the last. And for the next Parcel will send Money to you. I believe the 65 Dollars I now send, will about Ballance my Account. Please send me the whole Debit and Credit as it stands when you receive this. Mr. Griffith8 had 5 Dollars of me, for which he was to send me two Barrels of Beer: As he did not send the Beer, please receive to the Five Dollars of him. I am in the greatest Hurry imaginable, or would write to him; but you’ll be kind eno’ to present my sincere Respects to him.

You may judge of my Hurry, when I tell you I am, (and have been these 4 Months) the sole Inhabitant of my Printing-Office, (excepting a Negro Boy whom I’m teaching to serve me at the Press.) I discharged my villainous Apprentice;9 gave him two Years Time, quitted all Claims on him for Monies received and gamed away, for Loss of Time, and Charges for taking up &c. &c. &c. A Lad very capable of the Business, and might have been of vast Service to me, but for 3 Years has always pulled the Contrary Way; owing to an unhappy Affection for Drink, Play, and scandalous Company.

My best Respects to your Fire-Side, and believe Me to remain Dear Sir Your most affectionate and obedient humble Servant

Petr. Timothy

Lyall did not come in. And Dun, came into the Road one Afternoon, and sail’d the next Morning.1

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

1Peter Timothy (c. 1720–1781), son of Lewis Timothée (see above, I, 230 n), took over the printing business from his widowed mother, 1741, and printed the South Carolina Gazette, with some interruptions and a change of title, until his death. BF appointed him postmaster for South Carolina, 1756, and for the Southern District, 1766. He was clerk of the Assembly and secretary of the convention which drafted a state constitution, 1776. Taken prisoner when the British captured Charleston, 1780, he was sent to St. Augustine, exchanged, and died soon afterwards on a voyage to Antigua. Hennig Cohen, The South Carolina Gazette, 1732–1775 (Columbia, S.C., 1953), pp. 241–8.

2Not found.

3Capt. Rudiman Robeson appears as “Rattletrap” in the satirical comic opera The Disappointment, which was advertised to appear in Philadelphia in April 1767, but was withdrawn. The play was by “Andrew Barton,” who may have been Thomas Forrest. Evans 10,554; PMHB, XXIII (1899), 52; XXXV (1911), 58, 321; Watson, Annals, I, 268–70.

4Captain Robeson’s sloop Fancy from South Carolina was reported as having entered Philadelphia in Pa. Gaz., March 19, 1754; Robeson was reported as clearing for South Carolina in ibid., May 2. The schooner Enterprise, Capt. John Baddely, and the brig Sally, Capt. John Haselton, both from South Carolina, were reported as having entered Philadelphia in ibid., May 2.

5John Sinclair (or St. Clair), Charleston merchant. BF had shipped him 20 reams of Unicorn by Capt. John Ross, March 11, 1754. Eddy, LedgerD,” pp. 112–13; Pa. Gaz., March 19, 1754. Strahan spoke of him as “my particular friend,” whose death (1755) enabled the rival printer James Rivington to undermine Strahan’s business with the Charleston Library Society. Strahan to Hall, Sept. 11, 1756, MS, APS.

6Henry Laurens and George Austin were business partners, 1748–62; in the latter year Austin returned to England, where he died, 1774. For Laurens, see DAB.

7Writing to David Hall, Feb. 6, 1755 (MS, APS), Timothy acknowledged receipt of these 20 reams; ordered 20–30 reams of Elephant, 10 reams of Crown, and 10 reams of Propatria paper; and asked for six months’ credit. For a partial account of his business with BF, 1751–55, see Eddy, LedgerD,” pp. 122–3.

8Israel Griffitts. Eddy, LedgerD,” p. 122.

9Charles Crouch, who tippled, gambled, and was often absent from the printing shop. Cohen, South Carolina Gazette, p. 6.

1Capt. Fenwick Lyell of the American and Capt. Henry Dunn of the snow Charming Polly.

Index Entries