Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Isaac Norris, 22 October 1760

From Isaac Norris

Letterbook copy: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

October 22d 1760.

Since the above, Duplicate of my Last,2 I have received yours by the Packet of the 22d and PS 23d of August 3 with the inclosed Papers which bring us down to a preparation for a Hearing upon our Acts on the 27th.4 where, on this Side the Water, we must leave the Issue under Providence to your Care of which we have no Doubt; I am, however, pleased that the Attorney and Solicitor General have given their Opinion that our Acts cannot be repealed in part;5 The Contrary of which must have been attended with fatal Consequences and palpable Absurdities.

Our last sitting produced an Order of the House to receive the Distributive Share of the Parliamentary Grant.6 The proceedings upon it and the Governor’s refusing to affix the Great Seal to the appointment of our Agents this Year is referr’d to the Committee of Correspondence who will transmit to you, no doubt a full Account of that Transaction.7

The Governor’s Apprehensions seem to arise from the Report of the Board of Trade “that the Mony distributed in the other Colonies in consequence of the Votes of Parliament has frequently been received by the Agents of those Colonies under their general Powers of Agency only.”8 Tho’ I presume even that has been with the concurrence of the Governors of the respective Colonies; will you take the trouble of explaining this minutely for our future Conduct with respect to the further Parliamentary Grants.

I am sorry my very ill State of Health prevented my attendance at the House on Governor Denny’s passing that Act,9 it would have been, had the Act been properly drawn and well considered, a fine provision against the Confusion the repeal of our Mony Grants to the Crown must introduce should we be so extreamly unfortunate as to have those Acts disallowed—which God forbid.1 I hope the Order of the House which you will receive by this Vessel will be effectual for the Mony already allotted to this Province, and if so I think it might be convenient to get Copper Plate Bills of Exchange struck and sent over for the Use of the Trustees.2

The Commissioners and Assessors of Cumberland County assert, and it is known to be the constant Decission in our Courts of Justice, that a Warrant to survey a Tract of Land from the Proprietarys who at the Time of granting Their Warrant receive above One third Part of the Purchase Mony, and a regular Return of that Survey into the Surveyor General’s Office, does give a just Title to that Land and the Land it Self, whatever Transfers are made from Hand to Hand remains (in the nature of a Mortgage) and Security for the remaining Purchase Mony.3 This was the Opinion of T. Francis when Attorney General under the Proprietor4 and all the Justices Judges and Lawyers here generally regulate their Decisions accordingly.

I perceive the Lords of Trade pretty openly conclude their Report with recommending to the Crown a resumption of the Proprietary Grant, when they assert “that the Rights of his Majesty have been gradually departed from by the Proprietarys and which must always be invaded while the Prerogatives of Royalty are placed in the feeble Hands of Individuals and the Authority of the Crown is to be exercised without the Powers of the Crown to support it.”5 This Resumption, to me, appears at no great distance; when a sufficient part of the Odium is taken off by the intermediate Powers, which are to be supported for that Purpose. “Then Aaron shall lay both his Hands upon the Head of the live Goat and confess over him all the Iniquities of the Children of Israel and all their Transgressions and all their Sins, putting them upon the Head of the Goat and shall send him away by the Hand of a fit Man into the Wilderness”6 where, if I judge right, he7 will never be able to leave his Posterity such Marks of skill in peopling and cultivating it, as his Father has left to him and his Family, at least in so Short a Time. I now inclose a 2d Bill of Exchange for £100 Sterl N 1798 drawn by Colonel Hunter on Messrs. Thomlinson &c. which please to receive.8 I sent a Power of Attorney by Chas. Beatty9 as I apprehended you requested it but I can see no use of that Power as I am perfectly satisfied that my Stock continue in your Name,1 ’till your Return, or other Accident may Make it necessary to transfer it, in which Case, after returning my Complements to Sampson Lloyd junior2 and his Brother Osgood Hanbury for their kind offer be pleased to transfer it to them in my Behalf. I am Your Affectionate Friend


B. Franklin
To BF. by Captn Budden3

By T. Lloyd4 to whom I gave a Separate Letter to B.F.5 with a Credit for about £100—if he (TLl) should have Occasion for it. The order dated 8 br. 22. 1760

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2See above, pp. 233–5.

3Not found.

4The hearings before the Privy Council Committee, Aug. 27–8, 1760, on the disposition of the 19 acts passed by the Pa. Assembly, 1758–59; see above, p. 198.

5For the law officers’ opinion, Aug. 19, 1760, on the question of whether some parts of a colonial statute might be disallowed, other parts confirmed, see above, p. 197.

6On the deadlock over this matter, see above, p. 225 n.

7On Oct. 15, 1760, the day after the new Assembly convened, it adopted resolutions reappointing BF agent to transact the colony’s business “in Pursuance of the Powers and Instructions given to him by the last Assembly, and of such further Instructions as may be hereafter given him by this House,” and reappointing Robert Charles as agent to assist BF during the latter’s stay in Great Britain, and thereafter as sole agent. The House then ordered its clerk to prepare and send to England copies of these resolutions under the great seal (which was always in the governor’s custody). 8 Pa. Arch., VI, 5159. Hamilton refused to affix the seal, explaining to the Assembly, October 18, that he did not know what instructions had been given the agents, but that he suspected these instructions might have empowered them “under these general Powers of Agency” to receive the province’s share of the parliamentary grants, thereby by-passing the governor and his right to a voice in the matter. He offered to certify the appointments only if the Assembly would amend the resolutions to include “an express Prohibition” against the agents’ receiving any money from the parliamentary grants without a specific law for the purpose and the governor’s consent in writing. Ibid., pp. 5164–6. Immediately upon receiving this message the Assembly ordered its clerk to have the original resolutions certified by a notary public and to prepare an affidavit of the governor’s refusal of the great seal. Then the House adopted resolutions indignantly denouncing the Hamilton’s refusal of the seal, contrary to precedent, and ordered that BF receive the money due under the 1759 grant, as empowered under the act of that year, and deposit it in the Bank of England under the names of himself, Charles, and four designated London merchants, the survivors among them, their heirs, and assigns. The order empowered the trustees of the General Loan Office to draw upon these men personally (not directly on the Bank) for transhipments to America. Ibid., pp. 5165–7. No letter to BF from the Committee of Correspondence with “a full Account of that Transaction” has been found. On Sept. 19, 1761, the Assembly noted that no word had yet arrived indicating that BF had ever received these resolves of Oct. 18, 1760, “though transmitted by different Opportunities.” Ibid., p. 5263.

8A quotation from the Board of Trade report, June 24, 1760; see above, p. 165.

9The act signed by Governor Denny on Sept. 29, 1759, empowering BF to manage Pa.’s share of the parliamentary grant for 1758; see above, VIII, 442 n. For Norris’ illness at that time, see above, VIII, 436–7.

1Norris had not yet heard that the Privy Council had allowed the Supply Act of 1759 to stand under the conditions BF and Charles had agreed to. See above, pp. 205–8.

2For BF’s endorsement of this suggestion, see below, p. 254.

3In a representation to the governor and council, April 3, 1760 (above, pp. 192–3 n), Richard Hockley and Richard Peters had contended that, among other reasons, the proprietary tax in Cumberland Co. was unfair because the assessors and commissioners there had levied it on quitrents which they assumed the proprietors received from persons holding land by warrant of survey, when in fact these warrants vested no legal title in the occupants, who were not therefore obliged to pay rent and seldom did. The address of the assessors and commissioners, in which they defended themselves against Hockley and Peters’ charges, was read before the Assembly on Sept. 23, 1760. 8 Pa. Arch., VI, 5140.

4Tench Francis (d. 1758) was provincial attorney general from 1741 to 1755.

5See above, p. 173.

6Leviticus 16:21.

7Thomas Penn.

8For this bill, see above, p. 234 n.

9See above, pp. 31–2.

1For BF’s investments on Norris’ behalf, see above, VIII, 147–8.

2Sampson Lloyd III (1728–1807), customarily called junior, managed the family iron business and with his brother-in-law, Osgood Hanbury (1731–1784), founded the banking firm of Taylor, Lloyd, Hanbury & Bowman (1770). Samuel Lloyd, The Lloyds of Birmingham (3d edit., London, 1909), pp. 55–6. Arthur Raistrick, Quakers in Science and Industry (N. Y., 1950), p. 120.

3Pa. Gaz., Oct. 30, 1760, reported the clearance of the Philadelphia Packet, Capt. Richard Budden.

4See above, p. 27 n, and VI, 380 n.

5Not found.

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