Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Deborah Franklin (I), 16 May 1767

From Deborah Franklin (I)

ALS: American Philosophical Society

May 16, 1767

My Deares Child

I hear that Capt. Sparkes is to saile to morrow or next day. I set down to chatt a littel to you, and in close a letter, which I had sente to N yorke but the vesill was gon. I wente up to see our Children att Burlinton on Satterday and Billey Come doune with me on munday and returnd yisterday and Salley wente up with him and I expeckte her down this day or to morrow.5 I was the reder [readier?] to let her go as shee is not verey well and looks verey paile so as to give me much uneseynes but shee all way looks ill in summer and 2 or 3 day Changes her but I thinke shee has bin maid unesey a bought her Brother who was chalinged on Munday night.6 I shold not a sed one word to you but I thinke sumbudey will tell. The Chaling was sente by young Hickes brought by young Dr. Kersly verey much in drinke.7 Salley was verey much scaired and wold not let her Brother go withoute her.8 So you see this dafter of ours is a mear Champin and thinkes shee is to take Cair of us. Her Brother and shee is verey hapey togather indead but I long to see her back a gen as I Cold not live a bove another day with ought her as I am sir cumstansed [circumstanced] a mind flutered sum times glad then depresed and so on. O that you was att home but be ashuered that no littel famely ever had more hormoney in it than youres has and I truste will have.

[May the 24 17679]

Senes I wrote the above I have wrote to you by Mr. Tenche Fransis and lefte this tell Capt. Friend Sailes which will be to morrow morning.1 If Mr. Fransis is a rived he will have told you his misforten but I hope it will end better then he thinkes att presant.2 I say nothing a bought Mr. Beach as he writes to you himselef. On frey day laste Salley and my Selef was asked over the river to a tortel [turtle] Billey and Mrs. Franklin and the Mair of Burlinton and his Ladey the whol Wharton famely the Ducke3 was my Gallant. We spente a plesant afternoon and when we talked of partin we Cold not so our Children and thair Nabors Came over with us and staid tell within this quortor of an over and as Salley is better I have given her leve to go up with them and thay air to send her down to morrow. Thay say it will be of servis to her.

My old friend Debbey Norris has lefte us.4 She was one of my first play maites and I raly Loved her. I wente to the bureyal and I desire to visit Mrs. Norris soon.5 With sum Dificalty I have got a Bill to send to you but I shold explain it. I did all I Cold as did young mr. Foxcroft and mr. Thomson but David Potts got it att laste. This afair has made everey bodey quite amaised and as several vesiles has sailed it was quite difical to get a Bill. I see it is for more then the money menshoned in the drafte but as I have bin so much ingaed I Cold not see mr. Potts.6 Due my Dear if you Can Comfort mr. Franses for he standes in nead of a friend as dus some others but I say lose of substans is not lose of repeytashon and it is sed what is is beste but what is I know I Cante helpe and so muste indever to thinke and make the Beste of it. The afaire I menshon this failer [failure] of the merchant that has hurte Mr. Franses but I truste that Same God whos marseys is over all his workes will never leve him nor aney other to suefer and be deprest. Polley Ashmaid7 is here and sendes her love to you.

Laste evening Mr. Foxcrof Came to town in Companey with Governer Wantworth.8 I saw him and this day thay was with Billey in our Parler but I did not see him as I was not fitt to be seen.

I supose Mr. Foxcrof writes by Friend or the Packit. My love to good Mrs. Stephenson to my Dear Salley Franklin to mr. and mrs. Strahan to Capt. Orrey and Ladey and Dafter to Mrs. Weest and I shold a sed Mr.Weest. I am in hopes Salley will be in town time eneuef to write. I wold say sumthing a bought the Ring and letter hough like your selef it is and what pleshuer it has given to maney of our friends. Mr. Ross wanted Salley to let him have it but as he Spook to me I sed thay mought send to you to get them one.9 I rely wish that you wold get two of your shaids dun one for Mr. Robortes and one for Billey.1

It is all moste night I muste bid you adue and am my Dear Benney your Afeckshonat wife

D Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5The days DF gives here for these journeys between Philadelphia and Burlington differ somewhat from those Sally gives in a letter dated May 14 to Richard Bache, then in New York. ALS, Musée Nationale de la Coopération Franco-Américaine, Blérancourt. All that can be said with reasonable certainty is that WF was in Philadelphia on the evening of Monday, May 11, when he received the challenge from Hicks, and that Sally went back to Burlington with him when he returned home.

6A letter in Pa. Chron., March 16–23, 1767, signed “Lex Talionis,” defended BF, Galloway, and their party and vigorously attacked under fictitious names some of their political opponents. One of these men, William Hicks (1735–1772), a lawyer and later a proprietary official, who had been called “Lawyer Poney” in the Chronicle letter and charged with having beaten his father, entered into an extended newspaper row with Goddard and also addressed several strong letters to WF for refusing to reveal the identity of “Lex Talionis.” Hicks contended that WF had made a “positive engagement” to identify this writer, if Hicks fulfilled certain stipulations, but the two men could not agree as to whether Hicks had met WF’s conditions. In the last letters of the exchange, both apparently written on Saturday, May 2, Hicks warned the governor: “I shall consider myself obliged to remind your Excellency of your engagement, whenever I may have an opportunity of meeting you out of your province.” WF had replied that “whenever pleasure or business may call me out of my province, I shall not postpone going on account of your menaces.” He was “not at all concerned at any thing you may have to say to me when we may happen to meet.” Pa. Gaz. and Pa. Jour., May 7, 1767.

7The carrier of the challenge was Dr. John Kearsley, Jr. (d. 1777), reputedly a somewhat boisterous young man; later a Loyalist. None of the newspapers reported this challenge.

8In her letter to Richard Bache, cited above, Sally wrote: “I wish you had been here to have gone with us as I know it gives you Pleasure to show your Friendship for the Family, and I was very much afraid Hicks would attack him on the Road, however he is safe and on that account my mind is easier.” No duel ever took place between WF and Hicks, nor did Hicks ever physically assault WF.

9DF put this date line at the very close of the letter, but for the sake of clarity it is transferred here, the place where the second installment obviously begins.

1The letter sent by Tench Francis is the document immediately below. Pa. Chron., May 24, 1767, confirmed that the Carolina, Capt. Friend, would sail for London “tomorrow.”

2On Tench Francis and his troubles see the letter immediately below.

3Joseph Wharton was popularly known as “The Duke.”

4Deborah Norris (1705–1767) was the eighth child of the elder Isaac Norris (1671–1735), and sister of the Isaac Norris (1701–1766) who was speaker of the Assembly during most of BF’s membership in that body. She died unmarried. Pa. Gaz., May 21, 1767, and Pa. Chron., May 18–25, 1767, reported the death of “Mrs. Deborah Norris” on the 17th and her largely attended funeral the next day.

5This “Mrs. Norris” was probably the next elder sister in the family, Elizabeth (1704–1779), also unmarried, whom DF would certainly have known well in childhood.

6BF acknowledged receipt of this bill of exchange, August 5, and directed DF to return “the Overplus” to Potts; below, p. 224.

7“Polley Ashmaid” (Mary Ashmead) has not been positively identified. She may have been the “Mrs. Ashmead” who later served as nurse to the Bache children. Van Doren, Franklin-Mecom, pp. 119–20, 187, 314.

8Pa. Chron., May 18–25, 1767, and Pa. Gaz., May 28, 1767, reported the arrival on May 23 of the recently appointed governor of New Hampshire, John Wentworth, from South Carolina. Deputy Postmaster General John Foxcroft “and several other Gentlemen of Distinction” had accompanied him from Virginia. John Wentworth (1737–1820), last royal governor of New Hampshire, had been appointed in succession to his uncle, Benning Wentworth, in August 1766, while in England. He took the oaths as governor in June 1767. On both parents’ sides he was connected with some of the wealthiest and most influential families in New Hampshire. DAB; Lawrence S. Mayo, John Wentworth Governor of New Hampshire 1767–1775 (Cambridge, Mass., 1921).

9In her letter to Richard Bache, cited above, Sally wrote: “This Morning I had the Pleasure of receiving a letter from my Paper, with the Ring I sent for.” Neither BF’s letter to his daughter nor hers asking for a ring has been found, but in his accounts is an entry, March 9, 1767, “To Cash paid Mayo for a Ring per his Bill Sally Franklin £7 7s.” Journal, 1764–1776, p. 11; Ledger, 1764–1776, pp. 5, 7. Joseph Mayo was a jeweler in Craven Street. [Henry] Kent’s Directory For the Year 1770 (London, 1770), p. 121. BF’s friend, John Ross, was the father of Sally’s deceased friend, Margaret (“Peggy”) Ross, and of Catherine (“Kitty”), who had recently been one of Sally’s guests at a card party. On Aug. 5, 1767, BF entered in his accounts a charge against John Ross for £7 7s. “paid for a Mourning Ring per Bill.” Journal, 1764–1776, p. 13; Ledger, 1764–1776, pp. 14, 28. It seems probable that both rings were mourning rings to be worn in loving memory of Peggy Ross.

1Probably a reference to the Wedgwood medallions after Grosset’s wax profile of BF; above, p. 140 n.

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