Benjamin Franklin Papers

Provincial Commissioners: Orders for Payment, 8 November 1763

Provincial Commissioners: Orders for Payment

DS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

On Oct. 22, 1763, two weeks before Franklin returned to Philadelphia, Governor Hamilton approved an Assembly bill appropriating £24,000 “for the defense and protection of this province” in the emergency created by the Indian uprising. In order to avoid controversies such as had plagued previous supply bills and had prevented the passage of a much needed measure at the end of the last Assembly’s session in September, the new act imposed no additional taxation, called for no fresh emission of bills of credit, and introduced no unacceptable new details of any sort. Half of the £24,000 was to come from available bills of credit received in connection with the transfer to the colony of its share of parliamentary grants; the remaining £12,000 was to be made up from the unexpended balances of three other, smaller funds previously established for various purposes.2

Following the practice of other supply acts since the beginning of the war with France, the act of 1763 named seven provincial commissioners—two councilors and five assemblymen—who, “with the consent and approbation of the governor or commander in chief of the province for the time being and not otherwise,” were to order and direct the expenditure of the £24,000 appropriated. Franklin was one of the commissioners appointed.3 Thus, three days after reaching home from his long trip to New England, he found himself at a meeting of the provincial commissioners engaged in a task with which he had become thoroughly familiar during the busy months of 1756: considering and passing on applications for funds required for a military emergency.

The procedure followed seems to have remained essentially unchanged: any four or more of the commissioners might sign an order to pay a specified sum to the person who had furnished supplies or services or was about to incur expenses for provincial defense. The payee then presented the order at the General Loan Office, received the money, and receipted the order. This document then became part of the records of the Loan Office.4

During the remaining weeks of 1763 the provincial commissioners issued fifteen orders, of which Franklin signed ten. Following the practice of earlier volumes these orders are listed below, showing the date, the name of the payee, a summary of the purpose, and the amount of each.5 The orders which BF failed to sign are indicated by an asterisk (*) following the date. Orders issued after the beginning of 1764 will be similarly listed in the next volume.

Date Payee Purpose Amount
November £ s. d.
8  Robert Levers Victualling troops 320 0 0
12* Asher Clayton Recruiting Capt. Nicholas Haasacre’s Co. 150 0 0
14  Maj. Asher Clayton Recruiting advance for Northampton Co. 50 0 0
14* John Jennings For bringing Moravian Indians to Philadelphia6 107 18 2
16* Joseph Fox To support Moravian Indians at Province Island 100 0 0
16* Timothy Horsfield Indian expenses and expresses 78 14 5
28* Dorcas Buchanan, Widow Billeting soldiers 16 4 2
29  John Bissell 47 tomahawks for new forces 5 5 9
29  William Coleman Pay as assistant judge 100 0 0
29  Robert Levers Provisions for troops in Northampton and Berks Cos. 400 0 0
29  Phillip Shilling Powder horns for troops in Northampton Co. 3 2 6
29  Jeremiah Warder Wampum, bar lead, and duffels for new troops 50 1 0
7  Robert Erwin Expence servant Benj. Roads enlisting in King’s service 11 13 4
7  Joseph Shippen Pay as Clerk to the Council. ordered Sept. 30, 1763 22 17 6
12* Robert Callender Provisions for provincial troops 3,352 10 0
[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Statutes at Large, Pa., VI, 311–19, 546–7; Votes, 1763–64, pp. 6, 7, 8, 9.

3The other commissioners were: Lynford Lardner (above, III, 12) and Thomas Cadwalader (above, I, 209 n) of the council; Joseph Fox (above, VI, 284 n), John Hughes (above, VI, 284 n), Joseph Galloway (above, VII, 29 n), and John Baynton (above, VII, 37 n), from the Assembly. All these men had served previously as commissioners.

4For an extended account of the workings of the system and reproduction of a pay order, see above, VI, 392–4.

5See above, VI, 395–6, 438–40; VII, 3–5, 25–8.

6The next volume will contain many references to these Indians and the strenuous efforts of BF and others to protect them from massacre by enraged whites.

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