Benjamin Franklin Papers

Philadelphia Post Office Accounts, 1757–1764

Philadelphia Post Office Accounts, 1757–1764

MS account papers: American Philosophical Society

In addition to the Philadelphia Post Office Record Book described immediately above, there survives among Franklin’s papers a series of loose sheets, mostly but not all in his hand, relating to William Dunlap’s financial accounts, March 30, 1757, to July 11, 1764, and the operations of the Philadelphia Post Office during his tenure. The most important document is a balance sheet Franklin prepared from these and other records. It is reprinted here in full since it shows the gross business of this office during approximately seven and a quarter years. The other records on these sheets are described in footnotes but various arithmetical calculations used in preparing the entries are not specifically noticed.

[March 30, 1757]

William Dunlap Postmaster of Philadelphia

No. 1
To the whole Amount of unpaid Letters received into his Office from March 30. 1757 to Oct. 29. 1763 viz. 368039 dwt: 16 gr. at 5d. Currency is1 }
£7667 9 11
To undercharg’d Letters 78 dwt. is 1 12 4
No. 2 To the whole Amount of Paid Letters sent by him to other Offices 15568 dwt: 8 at Do. 324 6 5
To the Postage of Way Letters receiv’d by him 1452 dwt. at Do. 30 5 0
No. 3 To Postage of paid Letters from Aug. 18. 1763 to Oct. 6. omitted above 228 dwt: at Do. is 4 15 0
£8028 8 8
By the amount of Dead Letters return’d to the General Post Office 44201 Dwt. at 5d. is 920 17 1
By Letters overcharged 18780 Dwt. at 5d. is 391 5 0
By Letters forwarded 40273 Dwt. at 5d. is 839 0 5
By his Commissions at 10 per Cent on the net Proceeds £5877 6s. 2d. is 587 14 7
By Cash paid Riders to Michaelmas 1763 1297 10 0
4036 7 1
Ballance 3992 1 7
£8028 8 8
To the above Ballance 3992 1 7
To Postage receiv’d of Mr. Plowman for Letters sent to Baltimore Office2 22 8 9
To Ballance of the 3 Quarters from Oct. 1763 to July 6. 1764 491 18 11½
4406 9 3
By Cash paid Mrs. Franklin as per Account render’d to Mr. Hunter, from April 7. 1757. to May 17. 17614 }
2051 15 7
By Do. paid ditto at sundry times to Feb. 26. 1763 810 16 0
By Do. paid Ditto at sundry Times to July 11. 1764 501 16 9
By his Account for Mails and Bills 48 6 0
and 1 10 0
By Cash paid Hift, and Woolen a Gratuity from Postmaster General5 50 0 0
3364 4 46
Ballance 1042 4 11½
4406 9 7

1One set of figures also on these sheets shows, in pennyweight (dwt.) and grains and by quarterly report dates, the total quantity of unpaid letters received in the Philadelphia Post Office from June 25, 1757, through Oct. 1, 1763, the way letters (picked up by the rider along his route), the undercharged, overcharged, and forwarded letters, and the ship letters paid for, although the first and last of these categories are not entered for the whole period. The unpaid letters received—the most significant items in this set of figures—averaged 14,159 dwt. per quarter.

2Jonathan Plowman, a prominent merchant of Baltimore, was probably the local postmaster there at this time.

3An error; the total should read £4506 9s. 3½d.

4One sheet of these records, headed “Mr. Dunlap’s Payments to Mrs. Franklin,” lists, in columns, a series of 190 separate amounts. The only one dated is the last, marked May 17, 1761. Their final total, £2051 15s. 7d., is noted: “Sum total paid by Dunlap to Mrs. Franklin.” The payments ranged from a low of £4 to a high of £85; three-fourths were for £10 or less. For BF’s orders to make weekly payments see below, p. 169.

5The identity of the recipients and the occasion for the gratuity have not been discovered.

6An error; the total should read: £3464 4s. 4d. The balance due in the line below should remain the same, however, because this error and that in the total of the debit entries cancel each other out.

7The remaining sheet in this group, headed, in BF’s hand, “W. Dunlap’s Quarterly Accounts,” contains a column of figures in pounds, shillings, and pence for each quarter from June 25, 1757, through April 1761, with a total of £2105 18s. 2d. None of the amounts matches any of the others in these records. There is a parallel column of numbers of undetermined purpose. At the bottom of this paper are some entries in two columns headed respectively “Recd by B.F.” and “W H.,” (William Hunter) which total £1822 1s. 10d. sterling and £2381 17s. 4d. sterling, which include references to James Parker, the Philadelphia office, and Alexander Colden. None of these entries is precisely duplicated in BF’s “Account of Expences” (see below, p. 164).

Index Entries