Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Deborah Franklin, 11 October 1770: Four Letters of Introduction

From Deborah Franklin

ALS: (1) Historical Society of Pennsylvania; (2) and (4) American Philosophical Society; (3) Yale University Library

In early October, 1770, four young men left Philadelphia together for London, two to study law and two to seek ordination in the Church of England.3 All were family friends of the Franklins, and for each Deborah wrote a note of introduction to her husband. The notes were written on the same day, and we have arranged them in the alphabetical order of the bearer’s last name. She fully realized what a remarkable group it was (“I donte remember such a wortheyer Cargo never wente from this plase”), and she was confident that Franklin would appreciate its arrival.

Ocktober the 11 1770

My Dear child

the bairer of this is the Son of Dr. Phinis Bond his only Son and a worthey young man.4 He is a going to Studey the Law he desired a line to you I beleve you have Such a number of worthey young Jentelmen as ever wente to gather. I hope to give you pleshuer to See such a number of fine youthes from your one [own] countrey which will be an Honour to their parentes and Countrey. I am my Dear child your Afeckshonet wife

D Franklin

Addressed: To / Benjamin Franklin Esqr / Craven Street / London / per favor of / Mr Bond

ocktober the 11 1770

My Dear Child

the bairer of this is Mr. T Hopkinson5 Son of your old friend and a young man as is as good as lives he asked a line to you from me his mother and he dranke tee on Satter day laste. I supose he has letters to you from his friends to you he will tell you a boute your Grand son as he is a quinted with him. I am your Afeckshonet wife

D Franklin

Mr Hopkison

Endorsed: Hopkinson Recommendations of White, Bond, Hopkinson and Rush

Ocktober the 11 1770

My Dear Child

the bairer of this is Dr. Rushes Brother6 a young [man] of a good Carreckter live with Mr. Dickison7 severel years is Coled a hones young man heard his friends desierd I wold write to you. I have told I Cold not write as I am not Capabel of writin a boute my selef8 I Cold not deney him and his relashons and severel young nabors is a going in Capt. Folkner. I am your afeckshonet wife

D Franklin

Mr Rush

Endorsed: Rush

ocktober the 11 1770

My Dear Child

the bairer of this is Mr. White the only Son of our Nabor White.9 I beleve he is as worthey a young Jentelman as ever wente over to Ingland he desired a line to you tell good Mrs. Stephen Son I donte remember such a wortheyer Cargo never wente from this plase I hope thay will be a credit to us I am your Afeckshonet wife

D Franklin

Mr. White

Addressed: To / Benjamin Franklin Esqr / Craven Street / London / per favor of / Mr White

Endorsed: White

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3They cleared from Chester on Oct. 15 in the Britannia, Nathaniel Falconer’s ship, along with a number of other Philadelphians. Pa. Gaz., Oct. 18, 1770. The four between them carried a total of eight letters of introduction to BF; see the following notes.

4For the father see above, II, 240 n. The son, Phineas Bond, Jr. (1749–1815), graduated from the College of Pennsylvania in 1766 and studied for the bar; he was going to England to complete his studies, and carried a note to BF from Galloway as well: below, Oct. 12. He returned in 1773, subsequently became a Loyalist, and left for England in 1778. In 1786 he returned again, this time as British consul for the Middle Atlantic States, and held this position until the outbreak of war in 1812. Joanne L. Neel, Phineas Bond, a Study in Anglo-American Relations, 1786–1812 (Philadelphia, [1968]).

5For young Thomas Hopkinson, a candidate for holy orders, see his mother’s letter to BF above, Sept. 6. Hopkinson also carried a noncommittal note of introduction from Richard Bache: below, Oct. 14.

6Jacob Rush (1748–1820), was the younger brother of Benjamin, from whom he also carried a letter of introduction to BF: below, Oct. 14. In addition he had one from Galloway: below, Oct. 12. Jacob graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1765, and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1769. After two years at the Middle Temple he returned to America, served in the Continental Congress and later in the Pennsylvania Assembly, and eventually became a circuit judge in Pennsylvania. See Lyman H. Butterfield, ed., Letters of Benjamin Rush (2 vols., [Princeton,] 1951), I, 44 n.

7Possibly John Dickinson, the author of the Farmer’s Letters.

8DF’s meaning, as so often, is conjectural. None of the other notes indicates that she considered a letter of introduction as “writin a boute my selef”; perhaps what she was declining to do was to send a personal message to her husband by young Rush.

9Young White also had a letter of introduction to BF from Joseph Galloway: above, Oct. 10. He and DF were befriending a young man who came to be one of the best known American clergymen of his day. William (1748–1836), the son of Col. Thomas White (for whom see above, III, 428 n), graduated from the College of Pennsylvania in 1765 and presumably studied for the ministry, because he was ordained a deacon almost immediately after reaching London (Dec. 23, 1770). He was admitted to the priesthood in 1772, returned to Philadelphia to be curate of Christ Church, became its rector during the Revolution, and retained this position until his death. In the 1780s he took a leading part in organizing the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, and was chosen to be the first Bishop of Philadelphia. He became Presiding Bishop on the death of Samuel Seabury in 1796, and held that office for the next forty years. DAB.

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