Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Balfour, 2 September 1765

From John Balfour7

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Edinb: Septr. 2d 1765

Dear Sir

I am favourd with yours of the 9th Current giving me an Account of Mr. Mecoms affairs,8 which is indeed very bad, however the young Gentleman is much to be pitied, as it woud appear that his Circumstances in a good measure have gone wrong thro an Act of Providence. I am not uneasy with respect to myself, but am a little so with respect to Mr. Hamilton, who is not so well able to bear this loss, tho he woud not be pleasd if he knew I said so. I do think indeed Sir that you have acted generously, in suffering Mr. Mecoms effects to be equally divided amongst his Creditors; most willingly I give you power to act for us as you think proper, where coud we have our Affairs in better hands. I shall be glad to know if it is necessary to send up Mr. Mecom’s letters, the last I had from him settled the Account, which I admitted in his own way, after various deductions which I did not lay my Account with.

I shoud be very much obligd to you, if you woud recommend to me an honest Attorney at N York. One James Parker there owes us a good deal of money and there will be a Necessity for prosecuting it, if you coud indulge me in this it woud be very oblidgeing.9

Your Friend Mr. Robert Alexander stands a Candidate for the Burghs of Anstruther, in the room of Sir Harry Erskine,1 and is likely to succeed.2 I shall be very glad to hear from you with your Conveniency and am with great Esteem and Regard Dear Sir Your most Humble Servant.

John Balfour

Addressed: To / Dr B. Franklin / London / [and in another hand:] Dr Franklin, at Mrs Stevenson’s / in Craven Street / in the Strand

Endorsed: Barflour [sic]

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7For John Balfour and his brother-in-law, Gavin Hamilton (mentioned below), booksellers, papermakers, and publishers in Edinburgh, see above, IX, 295 n.

8Balfour must have meant a letter of August 9; no such letter has been found. From what follows in this paragraph BF must have written pleading strongly on behalf of his insolvent nephew Benjamin Mecom, perhaps indicating that he would not press any prior claims on the assets he might himself have but would stand equally with all other creditors; see above, XI, 240, 332.

9This matter concerned some books sent to Parker, which he said he did not want. They became involved in Parker’s account with John Holt, and the debt to Balfour and Hamilton remained unsettled at Parker’s death in 1770. On Nov. 5, 1771, Balfour wrote BF again asking for help in collecting something on the debt. APS. See also Beverly McAnear, “James Parker versus John Holt,” N.J. Hist. Soc. Proc., LIX (April, 1941), 83–4 n, 86 n.

1Sir Henry Erskine, Bart. (?1710–1765), who had sat for this constituency since 1754, died on August 9. Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, II, 402–4.

2Robert Alexander (VIII, 444–5 n), supported by Bute interests, contested the seat for Anstruther Easter Burghs in 1765–66 with Sir John Anstruther, Bart., supported by the Rockingham ministry. The campaign was “unprecedented for bribery and chicanery,” the councils of the five burghs involved each putting up its votes for delegates at auction to the highest bidder. Anstruther eventually gained a narrow victory and was seated after Alexander’s petition to the House of Commons challenging the election was defeated by a vote of 148–137. Ibid., I, 498–500; II, 24.

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