Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from W. Hick, 23 May 1763

From W Hick3

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Lancashire Furnace 23d. May 1763.

Dear Sir

It gives us great pleasure to hear of your good Health, but are no less Mortified than you in not having the pleasure to see you, and do assure you that Mrs. Hick was so afraid of being out of the way when you call’d, that I could not prevail with her to go abroad for this three weeks past: but has now given up all thoughts of seeing you, for this year at least. I thank God we still continue to enjoy a good State of Health and are always glad to hear the same from our Friends.

I observe a proposal in the Pennsylvania Gazette of the 21th April to settle the Ohio,4 and should be glad of your Opinion as to an Adventure in making a Purchase there, a Young Man who lives in our Company’s Employ whose time (he Engag’d for) is nearly expir’d has an Inclination to go there and become a Proprietor, especially if he thought there was any probability of Iron Lead or Copper Mines. If it is your Opinion there is, as I make no doubt but you are Acquainted with that Country by Information from those that have been there: Three of us propose taking up five Thousand Acres, not in one Body but as Three Proprietors, which is one Mr. Phillips, Mr. Smith and myself;5 how far such a Scheme may Answer I can’t pretend to say, but if you give us Encouragement Intend to send Mr. Smith to the Ohio, as he is a Regular Miner, brought up in Mr. Tysington’s employ,6 and at present lives with me: He is really a very Ingenious Young Man and a good Mechannic. Should you approve of our Undertaking, your Advice how to Proceed will greatly oblige us.

I must beg you will be so obliging as to give me Directions for putting up the Iron Rod, Mrs. Hick is much more uneasy at the Smart Thunder we have had, then in case it was put up, and is very anxious to have it up.7

Mrs. Hick Joins me in Compliments to you Mrs. Franklin and Miss Franklin. And am Dear Sir Your very Humble Servant

W Hick

Addressed: To / Benjn. Franklin Esqr. / In / Philadelphia

Endorsed: Lanc Furnace May 23d 1763 from Mr. Hick to B Franklin Esqr8

May 23d 1763 Mr Hick about Ohio

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Probably the (William?) Hick whom William Allen employed about 1764 to manage his forge at the Union Iron Works in Hunterdon Co., N.J., on the recommendation of the London merchant Capel Hanbury (above, VI, 223 n). For the three previous years Hick had worked for the Principio Co., managing its Lancashire Furnace near the Patapsco River in Baltimore Co., Md. Allen was dissatisfied with him, writing Dec. 15, 1765, that he was “entirely unacquainted” with a forge, however experienced he might be with a furnace, and that he was “tho’ a young man, weakly, and troubled with the Gout and Rheumatism, and from bodily Infirmities not able to go through the active Life that Business requires.” Lewis B. Walker, ed., The Burd Papers ([Pottsville, Pa.], 1897), p. 69; PMHB, XI (1887), 196. BF may have met Hick at the Lancashire Furnace on his journey to Va. in April 1763 and, from what Hick says in the first paragraph, he may have expected BF to call again on his return trip. BF recorded in his Memorandum Book, 1757–1776, p. 17, having received, June 14, 1764, “from Mr. Hick £10 5s. in full of 6 Silver Spoons sent him sometime since.”

4Lieutenant Webb’s proposal; see above, p. 256 n. Webb had already rescinded it more than three weeks before Hick wrote.

5Presumably Phillips was the Francis Phillips (d. 1769), manager of the Kingsbury Furnace of the Principio Co., near the Lancashire Furnace. A few months before his death he was put in charge of the company’s Lancashire Furnace and North East Forge. Henry Whitely, “The Principio Company,” PMHB, XI (1887), 196, 289. Nothing is known about Smith (apparently the young man whose time was soon to expire) beyond what Hick says in this letter.

6On Anthony Tissington, mineralogist of Derbyshire, see above, IX, 42 n.

7Apparently the erection of one of BF’s lightning rods would quiet Mrs. Hick’s fears. William Allen spoke rather scornfully of her in the letter quoted in the first note to this letter: “He has a Wife quite unfit for Iron Works, as she appears to be a fine Lady and expects to live with a Delicacy not common in these parts of the World, especially at Iron Works, either in England or here—The Mistress of such a Family as ours ought not to wear Silks, nor spend much of her time in decking her person, or dressing her head, but rather by Care endeavour all she can to promote Oeconomy and Frugality.” Burd Papers, pp. 69–71. It was doubtless at her request that Hick got BF to send the silver spoons.

8This much of the endorsement is in Richard Jackson’s hand. BF probably sent him this letter as further evidence of the great interest in western settlement.

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