Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Deborah Franklin, 13 December 1766

To Deborah Franklin

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London, Dec. 13. 1766

My dear Child,

Since my last I have received your kind Letters of Sept. 28. and Oct. 4. I wonder you had not heard of my Return from Germany, as I wrote by the August Packet, and by a Ship from Holland just as I was coming over.8

It is not amiss that the Reverend Doctor refused that Privilege.9 We shall not want it. And it will be a good Reason for us to refuse him Conveniencies that incommode us. Only that his present Tenant is our good Friend Thomson, we might well object to their Back Gate opening thro’ our Lot. Allison will in time want to cut off the Tail of his Lot to build on, and to have a Passage to the Street thro’ ours: We may then remember his Civility. Now if he should change his mind and offer the Drain, I charge you not to accept of it.

Let me ask you once more if you have paid off Mr. Siddons, and got the Deeds recorded? I have several times asked this Question, and received no Answer.1

I want also to know what Money you receiv’d of Brother Peter on Account of the Post Office.2 Pray send me the Account directly, without delay. It is necessary for me to settle rightly here the Post Office Accounts.

I have fix’d in my Mind, God willing, to return homewards in [torn].3 But yet as something may happen to [detain me?] somewhat longer, I would have you continue [wr]iting as if I were to continue here. Let me know how your Tenants pay, and what Rents you receive? Whether the Wall is equally carry’d up on both sides your Ground?4 Whether you have insur’d the House?5 Whether any Use is made of the House Mrs. Broughton liv’d in?6 &c.

My Love to our Children and Relations, to Mr. Hughes and all Friends. I am, ever, Your affectionate Husband

B Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8None of the letters mentioned in this paragraph has been found.

9In the absence of DF’s letters to which this is a reply, the matter to which BF refers here must remain somewhat conjectural. It would seem that the Reverend Francis Alison, D.D. (above, IV, 470 n), owned land abutting the Franklins, probably at the southern or Chestnut St. end of their property; that Alison had leased this property to Charles Thomson (whom BF has several times mentioned as a neighbor); and that Alison had refused DF permission to run a drain from the Franklin land through his. The political hostility between BF and Alison would explain some of BF’s asperity here.

1The deed to the Syddon lot, Sept. 26, 1765, had certainly been recorded; see above, XII, 283–6. At the time the deed was signed Syddon gave his receipt for the whole £900 purchase price, but as DF told BF, Nov. 3, 1765, £400 of that payment was in the form of a bond on which John Hughes had been co-signer with DF; above, XII, 352. Whether she had paid off that obligation during the following year does not certainly appear from surviving records. She would presumably have answered this and the other questions BF asked below in some of her letters of February or March 1767, but no letters from her written in those months have been found.

2Presumably during Peter Franklin’s tenure of the Philadelphia postmastership, 1764–66, he would be expected to pay over to DF his net receipts. She might use the money for household and personal expenses, but BF would be required to account for it to the postmasters general in England as part of his receipts. While some of the Philadelphia office’s records during Peter’s incumbency survive (above, XI, 398–402), these are not his actual financial accounts and would be of little help in establishing the net monetary liability of his estate to the Post Office authorities.

3Unfortunately a hole in the ms here has caused the loss of words in this and the next two lines. Here the first letter appears to be “M” or “N” and the last letter to be “t.” Between is enough space for six or eight letters. One may surmise that BF wrote “March next” or “May next,” probably the latter.

4Building of the wall on the west side of the property had been delayed by a dispute among other parties as to the title.

5For the survey preliminary to the issuance of insurance, see above, pp. 379–80.

6The lady has not been identified, though she was possibly the person who had made the “silly Complaint” of July 3, above, p. 329. The house probably stood on one of the Philadelphia lots BF owned (see map, above, ii, facing p. 456), but it is impossible to say which one.

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