Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Deborah Franklin, 21 March 1756

To Deborah Franklin

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Frederictown,5 March 21. 1756

My dear Child

We got here yesterday Afternoon6 and purpose Sailing to day, if the Wind be fair. Peter7 was taken ill with a Fever and Pain in his Side before I got to Newcastle; I had him blooded there, and put him into the Chair, wrapt up warm, as he could not bear the Motion of the Horse, and got him here pretty comfortably. He went immediately to bed and took some Camomile Tea; and this Morning is about again and almost well. I leave my Horses at Mr. Milliken’s, a Gentleman that lives on Bohemia River.8 Among the Government Orders I left with you, are two written ones drawn on Mr. Charles Norris for considerable Sums; You did not tell me when I ask’d you, what Money you had in hand; if you want before my Return, present one of those Orders to Mr. Norris, and he will pay the whole or a Part, as you have Occasion.9 Billy will also pay you some Money, which I did not care to take with me from Newcastle.1 Be careful of your Accounts, particularly about the Lottery Affairs. My Duty to Mother, Love to Sally, Debby, Gracey, &c. not forgetting the Goodey.2 Desire Dr. Bond to send me some of those Pills per Post; I forgot to take any with me.3 Let Mr. Parker know I received the Money he sent me, on the Post Office, and Money-Paper Accounts.4 I forgot to write it to him, tho’ I fully intended it. If there is Peace, I shall probably not come home so soon, as I purposed to do, in case the Ships from England bring a Declaration of War, or in case the Uncertainty continues. I am, my dear Child, Your loving Husband

B Franklin

Addressed: To / Mrs Franklin / Philadelphia

[In another hand:] Forwarded by, yr. Most humb: Servt: / Slator Clay5 New: Castle / March 26: 1756

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5In Cecil Co., Md., on the north bank of the Sassafras River on the Eastern Shore, about thirty miles southwest of Newcastle, Del. Hulbert Footner, Rivers of the Eastern Shore (N.Y., 1944), pp. 339–42. Not to be confused with Frederick near the Monocacy River in the present Frederick Co.

6When BF left Philadelphia, March 19, on this trip to Virginia on post-office business he was escorted to the ferry by the officers of his militia regiment, mounted, uniformed, and with drawn swords. This honor angered Governor Morris and Richard Peters. BF wrote of the affair to Collinson, Nov. 5, 1756; see also Par. Text edit., p. 376. He arrived in Williamsburg March 24 and remained in Virginia for at least a month before returning to Philadelphia.

7In his will (April 28, 1757), BF wrote: “And I will that my Negro Man Peter, and his Wife Jemima, be free after my Decease.” Peter accompanied BF to England in 1757, and is occasionally mentioned in letters to Deborah from there.

8The route from Newcastle crossed the Bohemia River by ferry about five miles north of Fredericktown. BF probably left his horses with Mr. Milliken before taking the ferry.

9See above, pp. 395–6, for several orders in favor of BF drawn on the General Loan Office by the Provincial Commissioners. On May 3, 1756, a week before BF’s return from Virginia, Deborah cashed the order for £97 5s. 7d. signed on March 13. Norris Papers, Hist Soc. Pa.

1Apparently William Franklin had accompanied his father as far as Newcastle.

2In addition to BF’s mother-in-law, Sarah Read, and his daughter, Sarah, the persons mentioned were: “Debby”: probably Deborah Croker Dunlap (1732–1775) daughter of Deborah Franklin’s sister Frances Croker, and wife of William Dunlap (d. 1779), printer in Lancaster, 1754–57, later bookseller, printer, and postmaster in Philadelphia, ordained an Anglican clergyman, 1766, and minister in Virginia 1768 to his death. The Dunlaps had probably removed temporarily to Philadelphia from Lancaster because of the Indian troubles, for their first child, Francis, was baptized in Christ Church, Feb. 26, 1756. “Gracey”: an unidentified girl or young woman often mentioned in BF’s letters at this time when he was away from home. “Goodey”: Mrs. [Mary?] Smith, probably a household servant or friend of the Franklins.

3Either Thomas Bond or his brother Phineas. BF had been suffering from dizziness when he left Philadelphia. See below, p. 429.

4James Parker (see above, II, 341 n), associated with BF in both postal and printing business.

5Slator Clay was a resident and official of “Stonum,” Newcastle. J. Thomas Scharf, History of Delaware, 1609–1888 (Phila., 1888), I, 568–9; Delaware Federal Writers’ Project, New Castle on the Delaware (Newcastle, 1936), pp. 47, 98.

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