Benjamin Franklin and William Hunter: Commission to Thomas Vernon
Printed form with MS insertions in blanks: New York Public Library
[December 24, 1754]
Benjamin Franklin, and William Hunter, Esquires, D.3
Post-Masters-General of all His Majesty’s Provinces and Dominions on the Continent of North-America.
To All to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting, Know Ye, That We having received good Testimony of the Fidelity, and Loyalty to His Majesty, of Mr. Thomas Vernon of Newport in Rhodeisland, Gent.4 and reposing great Trust and Confidence in the Knowledge, Care, and Ability of the said Thomas Vernon to Execute the Office and Duties required of a Deputy Post-Master, have Deputed, Constituted, Authorized, and Appointed, and by these Presents do Depute, Constitute, Authorize, and Appoint the said Thomas Vernon to be our lawful and sufficient Deputy, to Execute the Office of Deputy Post-Master for the Town of Newport aforesaid to have, hold, use, exercise and enjoy the said Office, with all and every the Rights, Privileges, Benefits and Advantages, to the same belonging, from the twenty-fifth Day of December. 1754 for the Term of three Years, unless sooner removed by us, under such Conditions, Covenants, Provisoes, Payments, Orders and Instructions, to be faithfully observed, performed, and done, by the said Deputy, and Servants, as he or they shall, from Time to Time, receive from Us, or by our Order.5 In Witness whereof, We the said Benjamin Franklin, and William Hunter, have hereunto set our Hands, and caused the Seal of our Office to be affixed: Dated the 24th Day of December 175 4 in the twenty-eighth Year of His Majesty’s Reign.6
3. “D.” added by pen.
4. Thomas Vernon (1718–1784), partner in Grant & Vernon, merchants, was a son of Samuel Vernon, silversmith, the friend of John Franklin for whom BF collected a debt in Philadelphia in 1724 and then made free with the sum—“one of the first great Errata” of the latter’s life, which he corrected by repayment. Par. Text edit., pp. 78, 82, 84–6, 164. Thomas Vernon remained postmaster of Newport until 1775, and was register of the Court of Vice-Admiralty, warden of Trinity Church, and secretary of the Redwood Library. As a Loyalist he was banished from Newport for several months in 1776. “The Diary of Thomas Vernon, a Loyalist” and “The Vernon Family and Arms,” R.I. Hist. Tracts, No. 13 (1881), esp. pp. 4, 130–1.
5. For the instructions issued to Vernon with his commission, see above, pp. 161–77.
6. The editors have not made an exhaustive search for other post-office commissions issued by BF and Hunter, or later by BF and John Foxcroft, Hunter’s successor, but they have located commissions on similar printed forms issued to the following: Woodward Abraham, Marblehead, Mass., April 10, 1758 (APS); Thomas MacKreth, Charles Town, S.C., July 11, 1760 (N.Y. Pub. Lib.); Abraham Hunt, Trenton, N.J., Jan. 10, 1764 (Theodore Sheldon, Chicago, 1955); William Ellery, Hartford, Conn., Oct. 22, 1767 (Yale Univ. Lib.); and Philip Skene, Skenesborough, N.Y., June 5, 1771 (Fort Ticonderoga Museum). In the commission to Ellery, after the word “Hartford” is written in: “allowing him for his trouble 20 per Cent on the Net proceeds of his Office.” In the commission to Skene the words “with all and every the Rights, Privileges, Benefits and Advantages, to the same belonging” are omitted, leaving a blank in the printed form, in which has been inserted in ink: “with liberty of charging 20 per Cent on the Net proceeds of said Office for his trouble.” None of these commissions will be reprinted in this edition at their respective dates.