Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Deborah Franklin, 27 July 1757

To Deborah Franklin

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London, July 27. 1757

My dear Child

We arrived here well last Night, only a little fatigued with the last Day’s Journey, being 70 Miles.8 I write only this Line, not knowing of any Opportunity to send it; but Mr. Collinson will enquire for one, as he is going out.9 If he finds one, I shall write more largely. I have just seen Mr. Strahan, who is well with his Family. Billy is with me here at Mr. Collinson’s, and presents his Duty to you, and Love to his Sister. My Love to all. I am, my dear Child, Your loving Husband

B Franklin

Mr. Collinson says there was a Vessel going to New York, if not gone this Line will go by her.1

Addressed: To / Mrs Franklin / in / Philadelphia

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8BF remembered in the autobiography that on their 300-mile trip from Falmouth he and WF “only stopt a little by the Way to view Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain, and Lord Pembroke’s House and Gardens, with his very curious Antiquities at Wilton.” He added that they “arriv’d in London the 27th of July 1757,” but this letter makes clear that they actually reached the city on the evening of the 26th. Par. Text edit., p. 410. He spent £32 13s. on the journey and for “some expences” in London. “Account of Expences,” p. 2; PMHB, LV (1931), 102.

9As early as June 5, 1757, BF had been “dayly” expected by Collinson, either at his place of business “in Grace Church Street at the Red Lyon” (near London Bridge), or at Ridgeway House at Mill Hill near Hendon, eight miles northwest of London, where Collinson lived and maintained his superb garden of botanical curiosities. This letter suggests that BF and WF were Collinson’s guests their first night in London or that they called upon him the morning after arrival. There is an entry, July 27, in his account book of £22 13s. 6d. “for expences at the Bear Inn till provided with lodgings.” This was a famous tavern at the Southwark end of old London Bridge (torn down in 1761). The lodgings, arranged for by the Pennsylvania agent Robert Charles, were at the home of Mrs. Margaret Stevenson, No. 7 Craven Street, where BF paid 11s. 5d. for dinner on July 30, when presumably he moved in. Mrs. Stevenson’s house was on the right side of Craven Street as one walked from the Strand towards the Thames; it was near Charing Cross, the government buildings in Whitehall, and the Houses of Parliament. “Account of Expences,” p. 3; PMHB, LV (1931), 102; Colden Paps., V, 150, 154; Henry B. Wheatley, London Past and Present (London, 1891), I, 135–6, 472–3.

1The ship was probably the St. George, Capt. James Johnston, which had arrived at Deal by August 1, sailed under convoy to Portsmouth on the 7th, and waited there another month for a westbound convoy. She arrived in New York on December 4, also carrying a letter from Collinson to Cadwallader Colden asking him to inform DF of BF’s safe arrival. London Chron., Aug. 2 and 9, and Sept. 8, 1757; Pa. Gaz., Nov. 24 and Dec. 8, 1757; Colden Paps., V, 211–12.

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