Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Ann Penn, 20 November 1766

To Ann Penn

MS not found; reprinted from Albert H. Smyth, ed., The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, iv (New York, 1906), 466–7.1

London, Nov. 20, 1766.

Dear Madam,

I received yours of the eleventh Instant,2 and condole with you most sincerely on the loss of your Son—my amiable young friend.3

It must have been a heavy loss to you; For he was truly a good Child; His last Will is only the last Instance of the affectionate dutiful Regard he always paid you, and of a peace with the rest.4 I waive the common Topics of Consolation used on such Occasions. I knew that to a Person of your good Understanding they must all have occurred of them selves and I know besides by Experience, that the best Remedy for Grief is Time.5

I shall as you desire transmit the Account and Copy of the Will to Mr. Pennington.6 The Power of Attorney you send him must be acknowledged, or proved before the Lord Mayor of Dublin, and should be drawn with an express Clause enabling him to Sell Land;7 in other respects the common form is sufficient. The Will should be a Certified Copy from the Office where wills are recorded. If in anything there or here I can do you acceptable service, it will be a Pleasure to Receive your Commands; being with great Esteem and Respect Dear Madam, Your most obedient Humble Servant

B. Franklin

1Smyth noted that the ms was then in the possession of Miss Frances M.F. Donnel of Sunbury, Pa. In 1924 the ALS. was offered for sale in the Stan V. Henkels Catalogue, No. 1343 (Jan. 17, 1924)p. 31, as item 193. The present editors have been unable to trace the letter since then.

2Not found.

3Springett Penn died at Dublin early in November of tuberculosis; he had been seriously ill since at least September; see above, p. 417.

4Springett devised all of his real and personal property to his mother. Howard M. Jenkins, “The Family of William Penn,” PMHB, xxii (1898), 183.

5For another expression of the same sentiments, see above, XII, 385.

6Edward Penington, a Quaker merchant and judge in Philadelphia, had looked after Springett’s interests there. He was, in fact, a distant relative of the young man; see above, IX, 315 n. He replied to BF’s notification on April 5, 1767.

7Mrs. Penn changed her mind about selling her son’s property in Pennsylvania after she married Alexander Durdin, a Dublin attorney, in February 1767. See Jenkins, “The Family of William Penn,” pp. 183–4.

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