Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Noble Wimberly Jones, 5 March 1771

To Noble Wimberly Jones

ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

London, March 5. 1771


I duly received your several Favours of Oct. 9. and December 13. inclosing Bills of Exchange, viz.

On Greenwood & Higginson for £100 0s. 0d.
On Campbell for - - - - - - - - - 20 0s. 0d.
£120 0s. 0d.

which are paid and carried to the Credit of the Province Account. I am much obliged to you and the Assembly for so readily transmitting them, and it makes me very happy to understand that my Endeavours in their Service are in any degree acceptable.4

Notwithstanding the ample Recommendations brought over by Mr. Winter, the Bishop of London has refused him Ordination, for two Reasons, as I understand; his mechanical Education, and his Connection with Mr. Whitefield and the Methodists. I did not think either of these of so much Weight as to discourage me from attempting to get him ordain’d by some other Bishop, or to make so strong an Application to the Bishop of London as might overcome his Lordship’s Objections. Accordingly I endeavour’d to engage in his Favour the Associates of Dr. Bray, a Society of which I have long been a Member. As it was established for Purposes similar to that of Mr. Zouberbuhler’s Will, I hoped they would readily have afforded us the Weight of their Recommendation, on my laying before them a Copy of the Will, Copies of several Letters from you and Mr. Habersham, &c.5 But the Idea of his being a Methodist, and the Imagination of his neglecting the Negroes and becoming an Itinerant Preacher, disturbing regular Congregations, &c. &c. as soon as he should obtain Ordination, I found were thought sufficient Reasons to prevent their concerning themselves in the Affair.6 However I do not yet quite despair of it.

Mentioning Mr. Whitefield, I cannot forbear expressing the Pleasure it gave me to see in the Newspapers an Account of the Respect paid to his Memory by your Assembly.7 I knew him intimately upwards of 30 Years: His Integrity, Disinterestedness, and indefatigable Zeal in prosecuting every good Work, I have never seen equalled, I shall never see exceeded.

The enclos’d Paper has been put into my Hand by Mr. Maudit, a principal Man among the Dissenters here. I promised him to communicate it to you. The Dissenters were for complaining to Government, and petitioning for Redress; but Mr. Maudit advis’d that Mr. Frink should first be written to, as possibly he might be dissuaded from persisting in such Demands. I know nothing of the Circumstances but what appears in the Paper, nor am I acquainted with your Laws; but I make no doubt you will advise what is proper and prudent to be done in the Affair.8 The Dissenters in those Northern Colonies where they are predominant, have by Laws exempted those of the Church of England residing among them from all Rates and Payments towards the Support of the Dissenting Clergy; and methinks it would be a Pity to give them a Handle against re-enacting those Laws when they expire; for they are temporary, and their perpetual Laws tax all Sects alike. The Colonists have Adversaries enow to their common Privileges : They should endeavour to agree among themselves, and avoid every thing that may make Ill-Blood and promote Divisions, which must weaken them in their common Defence.

If the Laws of your Province are printed, I should wish to be furnished with a Copy; it must be some times of Use to me in the Management of your Business. With great Esteem and Respect, I have the Honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

P.S. I shall shortly write fully to the Committee relating to the Matters referr’d to in their Letter of May 23. 70. in the meantime be so good as to inform them that the Business has not been neglected. The Hurry in our Public Councils during the first Part of the Winter, occasion’d by the Expectations of an immediate foreign War, and the domestic Confusions that took place after the Convention,9 have been great Hindrances to proceeding in American Affairs.

Endorsed: B. Franklin 5th March 1771

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4See the preceding document.

5For Cornelius Winter and the bequest for missionary work among Zouberbuhler’s slaves see above, XVII, 299. The Associates of Dr. Bray were particularly interested in Negro education; see above, VII, 100 n and passim.

6The conservative’s distrust of ordained itinerant preachers went back to the origins of Methodism in England, when Wesley and his clerical companions had gone from parish to parish carrying their gospel of repentance and salvation; they had often convulsed the congregations and antagonized the clergy. George Whitefield, who had converted Winter in the first place, was instrumental in transforming Methodism from a revival within the Church of England to a movement outside it. The idea of reversing the process, even to the extent of ordaining one of his protégés, aroused understandable opposition in the establishment.

7The Assembly had voted money for putting Christ Church, Savannah, into mourning, for bringing Whitefield’s remains from Newburyport, where he had died, to his Bethesda Orphanage in Georgia, and for erecting a monument to him there. Candler, ed., Ga. Col. Recs., XV, 219–20. This action was reported in the London Chron., Jan. 8–10, 1771.

8The person who broached the affair to BF was Jasper Mauduit (1697–1772), a prominent London dissenter and former agent for Massachusetts, for whom see above, XII, 13 n. Neither BF here nor Jones in his reply (below, July 8) gives enough information to identify the paper, or the specific grievances for which the dissenters wanted redress; but both were products of a quarrel that had broken out in Savannah a year before between Presbyterians and Anglicans over burial fees, of which the Church of England claimed a monopoly. The chief protagonist on one side was John Zubly, pastor of the Independent Presbyterian Church, and on the other Samuel Frink (1735–71), rector of Christ Church. The squabble produced at least one pamphlet by Zubly, a law suit, and petitions by both clergymen to the Assembly, which considered various solutions but seems to have taken no final action. See Zubly to BF below, July 9; Candler, op. cit., XV, 178–81; XVII, 560–3; Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, XIV, 270–5; Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., VIII (1864–65), 217.

9The convention was the agreement with Spain, signed in January, that concluded the Falkland Islands crisis. The domestic confusions were probably the beginning of the excitement over the printer’s case, which a few months afterward brought the House of Commons into collision with the City of London; see BF to Galloway below, April 20.

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