Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Sarah Franklin, 23 March 1766

From Sarah Franklin

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philadelphia March th 23 [1766]

[Honoured]9 Papa

Our dear Friend Mrs. Smyth after an illness of 5 months and 6 days Expired Yesterday morning.1 In the whole time she had not been out of bed a quarter of an hour at a time, so thankfull she was for any thing her friends did for her and patient to a Miracle. Poor Mrs. Dufield2 and poor Mama are in great distress, it must be hard to lose a Friend of 50 Years standing, but when we saw her in such extreame pain it would have been selfish to wish her stay, when so much happyness await’d her.

Miss Greame has lost her only Sister Mrs. Stedman who died a Week or two ago.3 I write the bad news first as it is upermost in my thoughts.

Brother and Sister4 is to be in town next Monday and stay some time with us, they are both well he was in town last Saturday.

March 25

I meet Mr. Read of Burlington last evening he told me he had been down to Capt. Egdons Wreck and among the things he saw a parcel of nice Wax work fruit, which the Capt. told him was put on board by Dr. Franklin for his Daughter.5 He then had a box made for it (for the things had been strangely hawld about) packed it Carefully and it was coming round. I told him I was much obliged to him for his kindness, but did not think it belonged to me, as I was sure you would have mentioned it, if you had sent it.

We have heard by a round about way that the stamp act is repeal’d, the People seem ditermined to beleave it, tho it came from Ireland to Maryland.6 The bells rang we had bonfires and one house was illumanited, indeed I never heard so much noise in all my life the very Children seem distracted. I hope and pray the news may be true. As your time is now taken up so [much] a short Letter will be more agreable than a long one. I beg leave therefore [to] Conclude with my love to Mrs. Stevenson and Miss, and my Love and [duty] to you. I am as ever Your Dutiful Daug[hter]

S Franklin

Addressed: To / Benjamin Franklin Esqr / in / Craven Street / London / per Packet

Endorsed: Mrs Franklin and Sally, from Nov. 1765 to March 1766 —answered7

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Tears in the upper left and lower right corners of the sheet have caused the loss of some words. These have been supplied in brackets from William Duane, ed., Letters to Benjamin Franklin, from His Family and Friends. 1751–1790 (N.Y., 1859), pp. 28–9.

1Mrs. Mary Smith, usually referred to as “Goody Smith” in letters between BF and DF from 1755 on, was a good friend of DF. The latter had mentioned Mrs. Smith’s illness several times in recent months.

2Mrs. Edward Duffield. Her husband advertised in Pa. Gaz., April 17, 1766, calling upon all debtors or creditors of Mrs. Smith’s estate to bring him as executor their payments or claims “without further Notice.” Later he was also one of BF’s executors.

3Ann Græme Stedman, sister of Elizabeth Græme (whom WF had jilted; above, VII, 177 n), died March 3, 1766. Her husband, Charles Stedman, owned and operated an iron furnace in Lancaster Co.

4WF and his wife Elizabeth.

5Charles Read was secretary of New Jersey; above, X, 313 n. The new ship Ellis, Capt. Samuel Richardson Egdon, drove ashore in a storm at Absecon (or Absecum) Beach, near Egg Harbor, N.J., with a cargo valued between £20,000 and £30,000. Two lives and the vessel were lost. Although a large part of the cargo was saved, it was subjected to serious plundering, and WF, as governor, issued a proclamation for the apprehension of the plunderers and the recovery of their loot. Pa. Gaz. and Pa. Jour., March 13, 1766.

6On March 24 (the day before Sally wrote this part of her letter) word reached Philadelphia of the arrival at Oxford, Md., of a ship with a Cork newspaper reprinting a paragraph from one published in Dublin that contained a letter of late January from a member of Parliament in London saying that American affairs were settled and “the Stamp-Act was repealed.” Pa. Gaz., March 27, 1766. The news was as premature as it was “round about”; the ship had a 40-day passage, so it must have left Cork even before BF’s Examination in the House of Commons had taken place.

7This endorsement probably applied to a small bundle of letters from BF’s wife and daughter, of which three from DF and this one from Sally are now known.

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