Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, 19 October 1767

From Jonathan Williams8

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Boston Octr. 19th. 1767

Honoured Sir

I Received yours per Mr. S. Barrett9—your kind Condolance of my late Misfortune by Fire1 and Good Opinion of my Industry and ability to recover the same Gives me Pleasure; I am verry Sensible its Wise not to be Concern’d about What I Cant Help more. Especially for What I niver may want, and I am Satify’d I Shall niver Want to buy an Old House to Repair again, or Buld a New One, as long as I Can Hire one of the Best Houses in Town for about one per cent. I now live in my own Hired House as Happy as ever —the Same application to Buisness with the blessing of Providence that rais’d me from Small Beginnings to an American Estate will I Doubt Not Save me from being Reduc’d to my Native State again and if I Should its no Such Mighty Mortifying Consideration When I Consider that that the Greatest Wisest and Best of Men Came Naked into Life and What ever Honours Riches or Power thay may acquire thay are liable to loose.

Poor Aunt Mecom has meet with a Verry Severe affliction in the Death of her Daughter Polly Who Died in Nantucket at her Cousin Coffins about the Same time our youngest Daughter Sally Was Seiz’d With a Fever and Died also2—our Remaining Children and Friends are all Well we Flatter our Selves we Shall have the Pleasure of seeing you here in Boston Next Spring. My Children Give their love to you Especially /torn]3 Who Says he longs to See you. My Wife Joins With your [torn] Dutifull Nephew and Most Humble Servant

Jona Williams

Addressed: To / Benjamin Franklin Esqr / at Mrs: Stevenson Cravinstreet / London / per the Brig Polley / Capt [illegible]

Endorsed: Cousin Williams Boston Oct. 19. 67

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Boston merchant; husband of BF’s niece, the former Grace Harris (C.5.3). For some years he had handled BF’s business affairs in Boston.

9Not identified. On Dec. 1, 1767, Jane Mecom also acknowledged BF’s most recent letter as having been brought by “Mr. Barrett.” Neither of these letters from BF has been found.

1On the night of Feb. 3, 1767, fire broke out in a Boston bakehouse. A high wind spread the sparks and many houses over a wide area were ignited, some of them several times. The fire raged from a little after 10 P.M. to about 3 A.M.; “the large mansion-house of Mr. Jonathan Williams, merchant, was the last that was entirely consumed.” Altogether, it was estimated that about 20 dwelling houses were destroyed and between 40 and 50 families were “deprived of their habitations.” The extended and vivid account in Pa. Chron., Feb. 23, 1767, Postscript, concludes with a note that this was the second or third time that the operator of the bakehouse had “been deprived” of it by fire.

2On the death of Polly Mecom, see above, p. 279. Boston birth records do not include the date of birth of this Williams child, though they list two other daughters, Elizabeth, born in 1754, and Ann(e), born in 1759, both of whom survived to adulthood and marriage. “Sally” was probably the child born in 1766, soon after Jane Mecom wrote DF, February 27, that “Cousen williams Looks soon to Lyin she is so big [I tell] Her she will Have two.” Van Doren, Franklin-Mecom, p. 90.

3The missing name is almost certainly that of the blind son Josiah, identified by his father’s underlining of the word “See.” BF had taken a special interest in the musical talent of the young man (now aged 20) and had been planning to get an armonica for him; above, XI, 179 n, 426 n.

Index Entries