Benjamin Franklin Papers

Sarah Sober to Richard Peters and Benjamin Franklin: Trust Agreement, 25 June 1754

Sarah Sober9 to Richard Peters and Benjamin Franklin: Trust Agreement

DS: Franklin Institute; transcript: Department of Records, Recorder of Deeds, City of Philadelphia

June 25, 1754

Abstract: An indenture by Sarah Sober of Philadelphia, widow (called in this abstract the settlor) and Richard Peters and Benjamin Franklin (called the trustees). Whereas the settlor has assigned to the trustees two bonds, one dated Aug. 17, 1753, from Stephen Shewell and Hannah Fordham1 for £100 lent by her to him at interest, the other, dated Oct. 1, 1751, from Dr. John Redman2 for £50 also lent by her to him at interest; it is mutually covenanted and agreed that the two bonds are made over in trust for the following purposes: that the trustees, the survivor of them, and his executors and administrators will keep the said £150 at interest and reinvest the interest until one or more of the following contingencies occurs:

First, the settlor’s son John Sober has a natural son by Elizabeth Justice, widow; if this child should at any time be neglected by its parents, or not educated or provided for to the trustees’ satisfaction, the trustees shall apply so much of the interest (not the principal) to the maintenance and education of the boy, or the putting him out to apprenticeship, as they think proper. Second, if John Sober “thro’ Misfortune or Misconduct lose or Squander his Estate and Fortune and be reduced to Poverty,” the trustees shall have power to apply the whole principal and interest (or as much of it as they think proper) towards his support. Lastly, upon the death of John Sober the trustees shall pay over the unexpended principal and interest as follows: two thirds to the first child of the settlor’s daughter Mary, now the wife of Dr. John Redman, or for want of such issue, to the said Mary herself, her executors or administrators, or to such person as she may direct by her deed or last will; one sixth of the residue to the Academy of Philadelphia; the remaining one sixth to such person or persons and to such uses as the settlor has now ordered and directed by a private memorandum under her hand.

The trustees, the survivor of them, or his executors or administrators, shall not be answerable for any loss arising through defect in the securities now or hereafter taken for the moneys, nor be accountable for any more of the moneys than actually come into their hands severally and individually, nor be chargeable for the receipts of any of the others of them. Signed and sealed by Sarah Sober, Richard Peters, and Benjamin Franklin in the presence of John Paschall and John Morgan.3 On Feb. 8, 1759, John Morgan, “Practitioner in Physic,” appeared before Isaac Jones, justice of the peace, and made oath to having witnessed the signing and sealing by the settlor and the trustees and to having himself signed as witness.4

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Sarah Sober was the widow of John Sober, merchant, common councilor, charter member of the Library Co., 1742; one of the managers of the Second Philadelphia Lottery, 1748. See above, II, 347; III, 164, 296, 351 n.

1Stephen Shewell, Philadelphia merchant, father-in-law of the artist Benjamin West. Hannah Fordham has not been identified.

2John Redman (1722–1808), a leading Philadelphia physician, one of the first staff members of the Pennsylvania Hospital, 1752; president of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 1787. He was the husband of Mary Sober, mentioned in this document. DAB.

3John Paschall and John Morgan were Philadelphia physicians. Morgan had been a pupil of Dr. John Redman. DAB. Peters and BF must have signed at a later date since they were both in Albany on June 25.

4In her last will, dated February—, 1756, Sarah Sober ratified and confirmed this indenture and bequeathed her property to her daughter Mary Redman and Mary’s children, providing for her son John Sober only a mourning ring. She appointed her daughter Mary, BF, and Peters executors. The will was witnessed by Deborah Franklin and John Morgan. DS in APS.

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