Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Benjamin Waller, 6 June 1766

To Benjamin Waller1

ALS: Yale University Library

London, June 6. 1766

Dear Sir,

I hear with Pleasure from Philadelphia, that Billy Hunter behaves well and improves in his Learning;2 but I am concern’d to hear that Mr. Royle is dead, who manag’d the Printing house jointly for his Account, and that Mr. Holt, whom I wish’d to succeed there, as one from whom a greater Care might be expected of the Child’s Interest, does not incline to leave New York.3 If this is the Case, and no other Person is yet engag’d, I would recommend to you Mr. Towne, a young Printer now going to America, who is extreamly well recommended to me by Mr. Strahan one of the principal Printers here, and by Sir John Cust, Speaker of the House of Commons, and who is willing to undertake the Partnership, and execute it on the same Terms that Mr. Royle did.4 My Respects to Mr. Everard,5 and believe me, with great Esteem, Dear Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

B. Waller Esqr

1For Benjamin Waller of Williamsburg, Va., executor of the estate of William Hunter who had been BF’s former colleague in the Post Office, and for BF’s concern about Hunter’s young son Billy, see above, X, 317–18 and accompanying notes.

2The Hunter boy had been living in the Franklin house while attending school in Philadelphia. In October 1765 DF had reported that “Billey Hunter grows a fine Boy indead” (above, XII, 304); other letters, now lost, had probably also commented favorably on his behavior and progress in school.

3Joseph Royle, who had been carrying on Hunter’s printing business and newspaper in Williamsburg for the benefit of Billy Hunter, died in the spring of 1766. From time to time James Parker had sent BF reports on the confused situation in Williamsburg that had developed from Royle’s long illness and death; above, XI, 415–16, and this volume, pp. 108, 203. He reported further on May 6, but BF had probably not yet received that letter when he wrote Waller. In his reference to John Holt, a relative by marriage of Hunter, BF discreetly omitted any mention of Parker’s highly critical comments.

4Benjamin Towne (d. 1793), printer and journalist. He did not get a position in Williamsburg but worked briefly for David Hall and later for William Goddard on the Pennsylvania Chronicle. In 1775 he started his own paper, the Pennsylvania Evening Post, which began as a tri-weekly but was published somewhat irregularly; it changed sides during the Revolution depending on which army occupied the city. In 1783 it became the first daily in America but did not flourish and it ceased publication in 1784. DAB; Ward L. Miner, William Goddard, Newspaperman (Durham, N.C., 1962), p. 72; Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers 1690–1820 (Worcester, Mass., 1947), ii, 931–2. On Sir John Cust, see above, X, 32 n. He was a Lincolnshire man as was Towne.

5Thomas Everard of York Co., Va., was co-executor with Waller of the Hunter estate; above, X, 252 n.

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