Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Deborah Franklin, [14 July–15 August 1766]

From Deborah Franklin

AL (incomplete): American Philosophical Society

[July 14–August 15?, 1766]4

My Dear Child

On Satterday I wrote to you and in Closed a bill to you5 gave it to Mr. Foxcrofte to send as I did not know wather the Packit wold not Saile before this poste. Laste evening I reseved a line and halef from Salley to let me know that thay was returnd on Satterday night and was well the reste was a bought getting things for them as Lord Hope was to be thair to dine this day6 so for fair [fear] I shold not get up soon anevef [enough] I did not sleep all night and was up and ought att for [four] a Clocke for to helpe get things. Supose when Mr. Foxcrofte returnes I shall have a letter or Salley will Come home.

You menshon that our Polley is a ging to be marreyed7 I hope it is one that is deservin of her and one that Shee likes and her friend like also. It raines now and I fair will be a guste or else I shold go to our old friends Buriel Isack Norris he is bureyed from his Sister Debbeys. Mr. Finley is near his end and has bin as dead for several days.8 I thinke I did tell you that Joseph Shipen of Jormantown bureyed his only Son on Satterday.9

Yister day I wente with Sister1 to meeting and in the evening I sett more then an ower with her and this morning I was it her house. Shee is in a verey poor staite of mind. When Salley Cumes home I hope it will be better as shee will be with her or I shall be more so. I donte like to be from home as we air still open to the Stabel2 and abundans of pepel is going too and frow but we air in a fair way of geting of it dun as the brickes is a holing [hauling] to day and laste Satterday.

I am to tell you that my maid Susanah3 is a larning to Spin now that shee has not so maney arontes [errands] to go on. I wish that when you Come home you wold bring her sume litel thing to in-Carraig her. Maney ladeys old and young to inquier hough you due on Satterday Mrs. and Miss Suel.4 Senes I wrote the other Side I have had a deal to due amoungest our old friendes.5 Mr. Thomos whorton has loste his eldest son and the younges he followd them bouth to the Grave to gather. Mr. Crose is dede allso as is good old Passon Cammill and a Duch Poson all three lad Dead to gother and now I am to tell you that our Sister Franklin layes verey ill with the Same disordor and if shee dos not get relefe verey soon shee cante Live long. I have as much to dew as I Can dew att this time for I have but Jeste raised poor Gorge so as to set up a littel. He has bin verey ill a bove two weeks and handeled verey severly in deaid. I muste Say abought poor Sister that shee is so verey low [s]perrited that I thinke it will be as much as aney one can thinke shee will sirvive it and the wather is So verey warme that I Can hardly stir and you know I donte ofen Complain of the wather but the going back words and for words is all moste two much for me and I Cante be all way thair on a Counte of Gorge and Salley is much with Pegey Ross att Peel Hall6 poor dear child shee is all moste gon it is a wonder shee is a live I have bin to see her ones and shold go agen but Cante for I have not time I wonder I keep up and well god is verey good to me indead.

Poor Dear Sister is dead shee never was well of her harte in faling down staires and when dead that side of her showed shee had sufered much.7 Shee was bureyed in the same grave with Brother and Mr. Galloway and T Whorton ofred to Carrey her and get the other Jentelmen that Carreyed Brother I thanked them but declined it as not thinkin it safe but thay was at the buriol which was plaine. I shold tell you that for 8 nights I had not fore owers reste a nighte and the laste night I set all nighte all thow I had a Nuorse the laste 4 days as it was imposabel I Cold doe my selef aney longer for I was not abel to bair my waite on my feet. Billey Come down to the buriol and with his helpe I maid shifte to go. Capt. All8 wente with Salley and our relashons all Come to the bureyal and our good friends paid their laste regardes to her memerey. Shee had not don aney thing as to Brothers afaires all thow I ofen advised her to it and shee wold say that shee hope shee was amoungest her friends.9 I all ways ansered I hoped shee was and as to my parte I Cold a shuer her shee was and I have the satisfackshon to say I did all in my power to oblige and serve her and shee did me the Jestis to say to several of the good folkes that visited her after Brothers Deth that shee found her sister a mother.1 You know that I am quite a Strainger to thair Sir Cumstans in everey respeckte but I know that funereal Charges and Hous rente muste be paid and I know that as soon as the house is let that will leve near 20 shilins a week so I have had the house clened and shall let it as soon as posabel and as we have not rume to take in the [lumbring?] goods I thinke it beste to sell them but not Books nor what small mater of plaite and such as I Can packe up. Sister had given to Ephrem all Brothers Close and to her maid her one [own] morning and as thay behave verey well to me I sed I had not the leste obieckson to her maid shee gave a small bead and all that belonged to it.2 Shee is a going home in a week or two as is Ephrem but Comes back a gen. The littel Boy3 is to stay att your house tell his Brother retuerns a gen as he ses he knows his mother Cante maintaine him [remainder missing.]

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Isaac Norris died on Sunday, July 13, 1766, and was buried the next day; Pa. Gaz., July 17, 1766. DF’s statement in the second paragraph that the rain coming down while she was writing would prevent her attending the burial fixes the date of the first section of this letter as July 14. The first sentence of the third paragraph confirms that she was writing on a Monday. For the dating of other sections of the letter see later notes.

5DF’s letter not found. The bill of exchange was doubtless the one David Hall mentioned in his letter to BF of that Saturday; above, p. 332.

6See WF’s letter immediately above and its accompanying notes.

7BF’s letter reporting Polly Stevenson’s prospective marriage has not been found. On June 22, 1767, BF wrote that the match was “quite broke off.” The man has not been identified.

8Pa. Gaz., July 24, 1766, reported the death on July 16 of the Rev. Dr. Samuel Finley (1715–1766), president of the College of New Jersey; above, X, 224 n. An unusually long and laudatory obituary notice accompanied the announcement.

9Joseph Shippen of Germantown (1706–1793), known as “Gentleman Joe,” had seven daughters and one son, Joseph, who died unmarried, July 12, 1766, at the age of 22. Charles P. Keith, The Provincial Councillors of Pennsylvania (Phila., 1883), pp. (88)–(89).

1Mary Harman Franklin, whose husband Peter Franklin (C.9) had died on July 1.

2On the Franklins’ western property line, where building of the wall to shut off the stables of the Indian Queen tavern had been delayed pending the settlement of a dispute over the land title. DF had often mentioned her concern about the matter.

3In the previous fall DF had mentioned that her maid Susannah shared her bedroom; above, XII, 296.

4Probably the wife and daughter of either Stephen or Robert Shewell.

5This sentence begins a fresh page in the ms. It and the rest of this paragraph must have been written on or after August 9, when some of the deaths mentioned in it took place, but before the 14th, when Mary Franklin died. The deaths DF reports here were as follows: Joseph Wharton, 6 years old, and Franklin Wharton, less than 4 months old (named for BF, above, p. 252) were both buried on Aug. 1, 1766. PMHB, i (1877), 455. The Rev. Robert Cross (1689–1766), pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in the city, 1737–58, died August 9. The Rev. Colin Campbell (1707–1766), Anglican missionary at St. Mary’s Church, Burlington, N.J., since 1738, also died August 9. The “Duch Poson,” the Rev. Frederick Rothenbuehler (above, XI, 201 n) of St. George’s Church in the city, died August 7. On these three clergymen, see Frederick L. Weis, “The Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies,” Proc. Amer. Antiq. Soc., new series, lxvi (1956), 167–351, under individual names. The deaths of Cross and Campbell were reported with substantial notices in Pa. Gaz., Aug. 14, 1766.

6Margaret Ross, daughter of BF’s friend and political associate John Ross, and a friend of Sally’s, of nearly the same age. She died August 20. Pa. Gaz., Sept. 4, 1766.

7Peter Franklin’s widow, Mary, died on August 14 in her 70th year. Pa. Gaz., Aug. 21, 1766. This sentence and the remaining portion of the letter must have been written on the 14th, or more probably, a day or so later. Nothing further is known of the fall the effects of which contributed to her suffering. Ephraim Brown, Peter and Mary’s adopted son, mentioned later in this paragraph, wrote BF, Aug. 25, 1766, that Mary Franklin had died of “the Bloody Flux” (dysentery). DF’s earlier statement that Mary suffered from “the Same disordor” as that which had carried off several other Philadelphians, suggests that an epidemic form of dysentery was present in the city at this time. If so, it would account for DF’s unwillingness, mentioned in the next sentence here, to allow old friends to act as her sister-in-law’s pallbearers, since the actual means of transmission or dissemination of this and other diseases were not understood.

8Isaac All, a sea captain originally from Newport, R.I. (above, XII, 31 n), had married Elizabeth Franklin (C.11.6), niece of Peter Franklin and BF.

9Peter and Mary Franklin’s adopted son, Ephraim Brown, told BF that by Peter’s will he had left all his property to Mary, but that, her last illness having followed so soon after her husband’s death, she had not even made her own will; below, pp. 390–1.

1Peter and Mary Franklin had been living in Philadelphia only about two years, and before that time Mary and DF had had virtually no personal contact beyond occasional letters. Mary was the elder of the two women by about ten years; for her in her period of bereavement to speak of her sister-in-law as “a mother” testifies to the kindliness and warmth of DF’s heart.

2Writing to DF, Nov. 24, 1766, Jane Mecom expressed suspicion that Mary Franklin’s maid, perhaps with the connivance of Ephraim Brown, had taken more than she should have of these possessions. Van Doren, Franklin-Mecom, pp. 96–7. Later, DF seems to have sent some of Mary Franklin’s clothing to Jane Mecom. DF to BF, Oct. 19, 1767, APS.

3Possibly a younger brother of Ephraim Brown, but the editors can offer no explanation for this sentence.

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