Benjamin Franklin Papers

James Pearson and Benjamin Franklin: Agreement for Sale, 18 August 1764

James Pearson and Benjamin Franklin: Agreement for Sale

DS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

This agreement provided for the sale by James Pearson to Franklin of a lot and two buildings on Pewter Platter Alley, Philadelphia. The actual deed seems never to have been recorded, and the parchment original has disappeared. Some additional details are found, however, in two other deeds: one from Israel and Mary Pemberton to Franklin, December 13, 1775, relating to the ground rent;4 the other executed by the seven heirs of Franklin’s daughter Sarah Bache, January 14, 1812, whereby they distributed among themselves the real estate she and her husband had inherited from her father.5 The latter document establishes that the deed which fulfilled the present agreement was dated August 25, 1764.

These deeds show that the lot had a frontage on Pewter Platter (or Jones’s) Alley, as measured in 1812, of 37 feet 9 inches and a depth of 60 feet. It was bounded on the east by a house and lot of Thomas Biles (or Ryles), deceased; on the south partly by a lot formerly belonging to Thomas Hine, sold to Franklin in 1761,6 and partly by a lot formerly belonging to Sarah Read and later to John Lynn; and on the west by a house of Robert Grace.7 The property had been sold to Pearson, June 6, 1760, by Israel and Mary Pemberton and was subject to an annual ground rent, payable to Pemberton quarterly, of “Fifteen Pistoles of fine Spanish Coined Gold each Pistole weighing four Penny weights and six grains or so much lawful money of Pennsylvania as will purchase fifteen such Pistoles.”8

Memorandum, August 18. 1764. That it is this Day agreed between James Pierson on the one Part, and Benjamin Franklin on the other, that the said James Pierson shall convey to the said Benjamin Franklin his Lot and Houses on Pewter Platter Alley, (the Workshop excepted which is to be removed); and that the said Benjamin Franklin shall pay the said James Pierson for the same Three Hundred and fifty Pounds, besides discharging the Groundrent of Fifteen Pistoles per Annum to Israel Pemberton. The said Lot is about 38 Feet front, and 60 feet deep, with one Brick and one wooden Tenement thereon. To compleat this Agreement as soon as possible, the Parties bind themselves hereby, and their Executors and Administrators. Having set hereto their Hands and Seals

Witness B Franklin
Mary Pitt:s James Pearson
John Foxcroft

Receiv’d the same Day, Ten Pounds in Part of the above Sum of £350 per me

Jas. Pearson

Endorsed: Agreement Jas Pearson B Franklin Lot and Houses on Pewter Platter Alley Aug. 18. 1764

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Department of Records, Recorder of Deeds, City of Philadelphia, Deed Book I 16, pp. 175–7.

5Ibid., Deed Book I C, 19, p. 3. This property is there listed as the ninth parcel of Franklin-Bache real estate to be distributed; in the partition among the heirs it is designated as plot no. 35, allocated to BF’s granddaughter Sarah Bache (D.3.8); ibid., pp. 12, 19.

6For BF’s acquisition of the former Hine lot, July 11, 1761, see above, IX, 328–30.

7For BF’s lease in 1745 of the Grace property, which extended through from Pewter Platter Alley to Market Street, see above, III, 50–1. The Franklin & Hall printing office stood on the southern part of the Grace lot.

8Earlier deeds of adjacent property mention that the Pearson lot had belonged to Griffith Jones in 1702 and to Sarah Read in 1750. 3 Pa. Arch., IX, 556–60. Apparently BF became somewhat dilatory in paying the ground rent. On Oct. 10, 1770, Pemberton submitted a statement showing that in the five years from Sept. 25, 1765, to Sept. 25, 1770, a total of £101 5s. sterling had been due, of which BF had paid only two installments of £30 each, both in 1769. Hist. Soc. Pa. Again behind five years later, BF settled a new account, Nov. 23, 1775, by a payment of £105. Memorandum Book, 1757–1776, p. 24. On Dec. 13, 1775, Pemberton and his wife sold to BF all future rights to ground rent for £350 Pa. currency. BF paid this amount plus a final quarter’s rent then due on March 5, 1776. Ibid., p. 26.

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