Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Deborah Franklin, 24 March 1762

To Deborah Franklin

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London, March 24. 1762

My dear Child,

I condole with you most sincerely on the Death of our good Mother; being extreamly sensible of the Distress and Affliction it must have thrown you into.1 Your Comfort will be, that no Care was wanting on your Part towards her, and that she had lived as long as this Life could afford her any rational Enjoyment. ’Tis, I am sure, a Satisfaction to me, that I cannot charge myself with having ever fail’d in one Instance of Duty and Respect to her during the many Years that she call’d me Son. The Circumstances attending her Death were indeed unhappy in some Respects; but something must bring us all to our End, and few of us shall see her Length of Days.2 My Love to Brother John Read and Sister, and Cousin Debby, and young Cousin Johnny Read, and let them all know, that I sympathise with them all affectionately.3

This I write in haste, Mr. Beatty4 having just call’d on me to let me know that he is about to set out for Portsmouth, in order to sail for America. I am finishing all Business here in order for my Return, which will either be in the Virginia Fleet, or by the Packet of May next, I am not yet determined which.5 I pray God grant us a happy Meeting.

We are all well, and Billy presents his Duty. Mr. Strahan has receiv’d your Letter;6 and wonders he has not been able to persuade you to come over: Mrs. Stevenson desires her Compliments. She expected Sally would have answer’d her Daughter’s Letter that went with the Gold Needle.7 I have receiv’d yours by the last Pacquet, and one from our Friend Mr. Hughes.8 I will try to write a Line to him, if I have Time.9 If not please to tell him, I will do all I can to serve him in his Affair. Acquaint Mr Charles Norris, that I send him a Gardner in Bolitho.1 The Particulars of your Letters I shall answer in the same Ship.2 Tell Sally and Cousin Johnny that I receiv’d their Letters also.3

I can now only add, that I am as ever My dear Debby Your affectionate Husband

B Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

1On Dec. 7, 1761, Sarah White Read (F.3.2) “in a fit fell in the fire” and was burned to death. She was buried the next day. Isaac Norris, Jr., Diary, Rosenbach Foundation.

2She was about 86 at the time of her death.

3The in-laws BF mentions here are: DF’s brother, John Read (E.1.2.5), a wagonmaster under Gen. Edward Braddock (above, VI, 221 n), and his wife Martha Coyle Read; DF’s niece, Deborah Croker Dunlap (above, VIII, 305–6 n); and DF’s nephew, John Kearsley Read (1746–1805), whom BF entered in the Academy and College of Philadelphia in 1756, who later became a physician and mayor of Norfolk, Va., and who was a friend of John Paul Jones. Francis J. Dallett, “Doctor Franklin’s In-Laws,” Penn. Geneal. Mag., XXI (1960), 297–302; Montgomery, Hist. Univ. Pa., p. 548.

4For the Rev. Charles Beatty, who had been in England trying to raise funds for poor Presbyterian ministers and their families, see above, IX, 30 n.

5The Va. fleet, the merchant ships for Va. under convoy, was scheduled to sail from England on April 21, 1762. Pa. Gaz., May 13, 1762. BF did not leave England until about August 23; see below, p. 149.

6That of Jan. 24, 1762 (not found), in reply to one of Strahan’s of October 1761, urging DF to come to England, Strahan to David Hall, Oct. 6, 1761, March 13, 1762, APS.

7For mention of Polly Stevenson’s letter to Sally Franklin, written in October 1761, see above, IX, 377.

8DF’s letter, probably written in January 1762, and John Hughes’s letter have not been found; but on the latter, which probably related to his desire to buy some land in N.J. from the English heir of “one Dr. Barker,” see below, pp. 156–8, 163.

9No reply to Hughes has been found.

1In “Account of Expences,” p. [64] (not printed in full in Eddy, PMHB, LV, 100–32), is a list of BF’s charges against Charles Norris, the final entry in which is “1762 Cash advanc’d a Quarter’s Wages to Gardener £5.” While in the receipted bill to Norris printed below (p. 139) this entry reads less specifically “Cash advanc’d to Gardner £5 0. 0.,” it seems probable that BF had complied with a request from Norris to find and send him a competent English or Scottish gardener for his estate.

2If BF wrote DF by Bolitho, his letter has not been found.

3Not found.

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