Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from James Parker, 23 November 1764

From James Parker

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Woodbridge, Nov. 23. 1764.

Honoured Sir

When you embarked at Chester, I purposed to return that Night, but I could not: However, I got to Philadelphia next Day before Noon: I immediately applied to Dunlap’s Affair, as McCleave had arrived before me:2 I found all the Security Dunlap had was McCleave’s Bond, and McCleave could give no other Security. So I at last took his McCleave’s Bond for £44 15s. 10d. payable next October, with Interest, as he affirmed he could not pay any sooner as he had nothing to support him but his Wages: Dunlap was willing to give a Deed for that Land, but not being willing to be at the sole Cost, I sat down, and wrote one myself on Parchment, from the other, with the same Reserves, for Dunlap could not grant more than he had, and as he could not redeem the Mortgage from Strettel. That was mentioned also, and Credit then was given for the Surplusage—the said Mortgage with its Interest to that Time amounted to £134 12s. so the Bond is credited for £215 8s. 6d. which makes the £350. and I told Dunlap if he would redeem those Mortgages, he should have Credit for them: but he was not then able: I got him and his Wife to acknowledge the Deed before the Mayor, but his Deed has not been recorded, nor have I got either of them recorded, as I had no Orders so to do, as I suppose that may be done any Time, and Dunlap gave up his Deed to me, so I have both of them in keeping. I left Philadelphia before your Letter from the Capes arrived,3 with Advice of your leaving the Capes on Friday, tho’ as we had the Wind Saturday Night and Sunday Morn at East, we were in pain for you, however as it cleared off at West Sunday Noon, and blew so a few Days after, we supposed you a good Way on your Voyage. Dunlap said Nothing to me about Col. McNott,4 but I will write to him, Mrs. Franklin having sent to me that part of your Letter. I have not heard from Mr. Foxcroft since you departed, but have wrote to him the Transactions with Dunlap. Assoon as I got home, I sent off my Son to bring home Lady Jane.5 Mrs. Franklin had some Thoughts of coming with her here, but she has declined it, as finding it would be inconvenient to her other Affairs.

I take the Freedom to inclose this to Mr. Strahan, to whom I also write, and send him a small Bill for £8 11s. 5d. which with a small Bill for £10 sent some Time ago, is all I can, or I fear able to get from Mr. Holt, and as I should be glad to close with Mr. Strahan in Conformity to your Promise, I trust you will pay him off the Ballance, and such Part thereof as shall remain unpaid to you at this Time, I shall freely pay you Interest for, and then I shall bring all my Debts into one Place.6 Assoon as you have done it, wish you would send me Word of it. I purpose to go early in the Spring, if please God I live so long, to Philadelphia, and do all I can in your Affair,7 and wish I may be able to do it to your Satisfaction.

I hope this will meet you safe arrived, and that you may have your desired Success. I heard yesterday from Philadelphia where they were all well, but you may possibly have later Letters than this of mine, as I send this to New York to go by a Merchant ship about to sail soon, and so may be full early, but I would not miss: I have had my Health since my Journey pretty well, and flatter myself with some Continuance. All Friends here remain much as they were—I do not recollect any Thing more material at this Time, so with all Respects remain Your most obliged Servant

James Parker

Addressed: For / Benjamin Franklin, Esqr / at / London

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2“Dunlap’s Affair” refers to the land in Kemblesville, New London Township, Chester Co., which he had offered to turn over in settlement of his post-office account; above, pp. 419–20. This property originally belonged to a tavern keeper and post rider, George McCleave. In 1762 McCleave had given mortgages to two tracts, totaling about 216 acres, to Philotesia and Amos Strettell, executors of the estate of Robert Strettell, to secure debts amounting to £120. On May 3, 1763, he had given a second mortgage to the two tracts to William Dunlap as security for a debt of £110. The mortgages are entered in the Chester Co. records. This information has been generously supplied to the editors by Dr. Carl R. Woodward of Kingston, R.I. Apparently Parker, acting for BF and the Post Office, now took a deed to the tracts and, since McCleave appeared unable to make any further payments of principal or interest on his debt to the Strettell estate, and those mortgages still encumbered the title, the obligation to pay devolved on BF as deputy postmaster general. Unfortunately, Parker failed to leave the deed with DF, or even to inform her of the transaction, so she was completely surprised when in January 1766 Amos Strettell dunned her for £18 interest. DF to BF, Jan. 12, 1766, APS. That BF regarded the whole matter as a postoffice transaction, not a personal one, is shown by entries in his Journal, 1764–1776, and Ledger, 1764–1776 (both described below, pp. 518–20). The final entry in the Journal, p. 61, dated October 1776, reads: “General Post-Office Dr. To sundry Sums paid Amos Strettell Interest on the Mortgages of Land £36 Pensils Currency is Sterling £21 12s. not settled.” In the debit column of the General Post Office account in the Ledger, p. 11, is the following “Memorandum, Oct. 21. 1776 This day obtained from Mr. Amos Strettell an Account of Cash paid by Mrs. Franklin in my Absence in Discharge of Interest due on Mortgages of some Post-Office Land, amounting to £36 Pensilva. Currency which must be deducted from the above Ballance, being Sterling £21 12s. 0d. B.F.

3Not found.

4Col. Alexander McNutt, a Virginian, was promoting schemes for speculation in Nova Scotia lands and settlement there. Several Philadelphians, including BF, were interested in his projects, and later volumes in this edition will contain further references to the matter. See William O. Sawtelle, “Acadia: The Pre-Loyalist Migration and the Philadelphia Plantation,” PMHB, LI (1927), 244–85, esp. 269–83. McNutt was in Philadelphia at the time BF left for England. Theodore G. Tappert and John W. Doberstein, eds., The Journals of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, II (Phila., 1945), 143.

5Parker’s daughter Jane, most commonly called “Jenny.” The son was Samuel Franklin Parker.

6See above, p. 414, and below, p. 520.

7The settlement of BF’s accounts with David Hall; see above, pp. 441–3.

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