From W. Masters5
LS: American Philosophical Society
Though I have not the honour of an intimate acquaintance with you, yet your character of humanity and benevolence, and the intimacy that subsisted between you and my Father, and especially the desire of contributing to the Peace and Happiness of an old Neighbour whom for several Years I have found an honest worthy industrious Man, imboldens me to give you the trouble of a Letter.
A Soldier in the Train7 has married his Daughter. The Army you know is far from being a School of Virtue. Besides the Miseries and Fatigues to which his Daughter will be exposed by following the Camp or living in Garrison, the old Man is exceedingly distressed at the prospect of his grand Children being brought up in the midst of vice and debauchery. His Son in law is desirous of quiting the Army, but can only be discharged by applying to the Marquis of Granby who is Capt. General.8 He has got a Petition drawn up but does not know to whom to send it. The Father in law being a poor Man has no acquaintance with Men in Trade; as notwithstanding his poverty I know him to be a deserving Man, I have at his earnest intreaty presumed to inclose the Petition to you, and to request the favour that you would get it presented; which shall be ever acknowledged by Your Friend and humble Servant
Addressed: To / Doctor Benjamin Franklin / Craven Street / London
Endorsed: Mr Masters with Petition of Thos Truck
5. We believe that this was William Masters (c. 1735–88), and that he was the same person as the W. Masters who was elected one of the managers of the Bettering House in 1766, and served as a justice of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and of the Orphans’ Court. above, XIII, 284; John T. Scharf and Thompson Westcott, History of Philadelphia (5 vols., Philadelphia, 1884), II, 1565, 1570. He died in Philadelphia on Aug. 5, 1788, and was buried in Christ Church cemetery: above, XIV, 282 n. His reference in this letter to his father suggests that he was the son of the William Masters who, when he died in 1760, left BF as an executor of his will. Samuel H. Needles, “The Governor’s Mill, and the Glove Mills, Philadelphia,” PMHB, VIII (1884), 293 n; see also above, IV, 193 n, 214; VI, 312 n. In that case the father must have had a son by an earlier wife, of whom we do not know, before he married Mary Lawrence (1725–99) in 1754; she bore him only daughters. Charles P. Keith, The Provincial Councillors of Pennsylvania … (Philadelphia, 1883), pp. 453–4.
6. So dated by I. Minis Hays, Calendar of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin (5 vols., Philadelphia, 1908), 1, 104. The presumable reason is that Masters, in a second letter below, July 17, 1770, thanked BF for his kind reply but repeated the request in this letter.
7. Thomas Truck: see ibid. He was probably with the artillery train of the army.
8. John Manners, Marquis of Granby (1721–70), was a brilliant soldier who had commanded the British contingent in Germany during the Seven Years’ War; in 1769 he was master general of the ordnance and commander in chief of the army. DNB.