To John Hunter4
ALS: Library of Congress
London, Octobr 9. 1761
I am extreamly concern’d at the News of the Death of my dear Friend Mr. Hunter, with whom I had so long liv’d and transacted Business with the most perfect Harmony.5 It was the more surprizing to me, as his last Letters mention’d an entire Freedom from his old Complaints, and a perfect Establishment of his Health.6 His Death is not only a Loss to his Friends; I think it a great one also to his Country. For he had Abilities for Publick as well as private Business, an excellent Understanding with the best Dispositions in the World. I would write to poor Polly7 on the melancholly Occasion, but at present—I cannot; tho’ I condole with her most sincerely. I purpose to be in America early in the Spring, when a Settlement may be made more easily between his Executors, (one of which I imagine you are) and myself.8 But in the mean time, as I may possibly be detained longer than I expect, it will be a Satisfaction to have a Line here from you on the State of our Accounts which I think you can easily obtain, as I know he was always very exact and regular in them. My best Respects to good Mrs. Hunter, and believe me, with the sincerest Esteem, Dear Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servant
Addressed: To / Col. John Hunter / Mercht / Hampton / Virginia / Free / B Franklin
Endorsed: London Benja: Franklin 9 Octor: 1761
4. See above, VI, 223 n, for Col. John Hunter, Va. merchant, agent for Thomlinson & Hanbury of London, who were contractors for transferring funds to the British forces in America. This and previous volumes contain many references to bills of exchange he had drawn on his principals which Norris or Hall bought and sent to BF.
5. William Hunter, BF’s colleague as deputy postmaster general, and a printer of Williamsburg, died at his house Aug. 12, 1761. The notice from Williamsburg printed in Pa. Gaz., Sept. 10, 1761, described him as “a Gentleman endowed with many amiable Qualifications, which render his Death much regretted by all who had the Pleasure of his Acquaintance.” His exact relationship to John Hunter has not been determined.
6. After a long sojourn in England for his health he had returned to Va. in the spring of 1759. Above, VIII, 324, 340. No letters from him to BF thereafter survive, but in one to DF, July 22, 1759, among BF’s papers (APS), Hunter reported that “I have at length happily succeeded in the Recovery of my Health, having been perfectly well for a Twelve Month past.”
7. Hunter’s unmarried sister Mary, who had been his traveling companion in England.
8. BF settled Hunter’s post office accounts with the executors in the spring of 1763; he then collected and remitted to England the balance due amounting to “more than £400 Sterling.” BF to Anthony Todd, June 1, and BF and John Foxcroft to Todd, June 10, 1763, both in Yale Univ. Lib. The settlement of Hunter’s personal and printing accounts with BF, which took much longer, is discussed in a series of letters from James Parker to BF printed in 2 Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., XVI (1902), 193–220. BF also took charge of the education of Hunter’s natural son William, Jr., boarded him at the Franklin home, and enrolled him in the Academy in Philadelphia. In DF’s and BF’s Memorandum Book, 1757–1776 (described above, VII, 167–8), are several entries regarding payments by Hunter’s executors in settlement of postoffice business and others concerning Billy Hunter’s expenses.