Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Sr., 19 September 1771

From Jonathan Williams, Sr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Boston September 19 1771

Honoured Sir

Your favour of the 10th of June I duly received note the Contents. When I wrote you of receiving the Money of Hall in august I thought I might depend upon it as I not only had his Promise, but a mighty good Character of him from some Gentlemen Who Were aquainted With him. I have Since inquir’d into the Circomstances of the Bondsman Edward Thurston Junior. Mr. Mumford the Post tels me that he is Safe, tho’ at present I Cant think but Hall is good for the Sum, and I Will make a point of Settleing it as Soon as Possible.9 Circomstances and your Letters Convince me that my Zeal in favour of a Person of Real Merit has carred me (prehaps) beyond the Bounds of prudence tho’ I hope the honesty of my intentions will Plead my excuse.

We most hardy thank you for determining our Sons India Voyage as his usefullness to himself our Famley and Friends for 7 or ten years to Come in our Opinion is off more Value then the Chance of an East India fourtune.

I likewise receiv’d your kind favour by our Son Who through the goodness of God is ariv’d Safe and Well, is now Entering into Business with the utmost Diligence Care and Industary and With the Blessing of Heaven We Doubt not but he Will Rise in Life With Honour to himself Justice to his Creditors and a Credit to his Connections and Friends, to facilitate Which nothing in my Power Shall be Wanting.1 We are Very happy to find you advise our Son Josiah (God Bless him) Stay untill he has accomplished himself as We know with your advice he Will be easeey and Happy.

As to the indorsment on your Bond of £22 10s. Sterling Received by John Cooke Who (as I am inform’d) Was Impowered by Mr. Howard to Receive the money and it apears to me Mr. Howard is the Person that ought to be accounted for he Could not With any manner of Propriety Receive the Bond of Mr. Cook Without at the Same time Receiving the Money or some Obligation for it, as the Receipt on the Bond Cant be a Voucher to Soport a demand against Cook When the Bond is Discharg’d so that I conceive Mr. Howard is under a necessity of either paying the Money or Producing the Obligation to Clear himself and then it may appear Whether Cook acted for himself or you for the Words Attorney for Mr. Benjamin Franklin Dose not appear to be Wrote by Cook. You have a Copy of the Receipt as it Stands on the Bond as follows Viz

Boston 22 June 1768

Receiv’d twenty two pounds ten Shillings Sterling Money of Great Britain in part of the Within Bond.

Jno. Cooke attorney for Mr Benjm Franklin2

The Balance of your Account was £282 11s. 10½d. Sterling after Giveing me Credit for the first Bill of Nathl. Wheatley for £100. Since I have Sent you another Bill for £100 of Nathl Wheatley, more one of Thomas Symmes, for £100 and Abram. Lemmers Draft for 1000 Gilders and I now Inclose you two more Due Bills they are 3d Bills the first and Second not Come to hand yet, one of them is for 975 Gilders and the other 779 Boath 1754 is £160 16s. 0d.3 in the Whole Since the Balance you have

£459 16s. 8 d.
Deduct the Balance 282 11s. 10½d.
£177 4s. d.

All our Friends are Well in perticular my much Esteem’d Aunt Mecom and her Daughter. Please our Best Respects to good Mr. Stanley Love to Josiah and Brother our most Respectfull Compliments to good Mrs. Stivenson &c. My Wife Joines in Duty to you With my Children. I am With the Greatest Esteem Your Dutyfull Nephew and Humble Servant

Jona Williams

NB You have Inclosd Likewise N Wheatley 2d and Thos Symmes 2d Bills and Abrm Limmers 2d a Duch Bill for 100 Gilders the first of thease I have Inclos’d to you before.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Samuel Hall, BF’s nephew by marriage, had been indebted to him for years, and BF now wanted the money for Jane Mecom; see above, X, 358 n; Williams to BF, Jan. 19, 1771; and BF to Williams below, Jan. 13, 1772. Hall had moved to Salem from Newport; his bondsman may well have been the Edward Thurston whom Ezra Stiles subsequently mentioned several times as a Newport Loyalist: Franklin B. Dexter, ed., The Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles... (3 vols., New York, 1901), II, 132, etc. Benjamin Mumford was the post-rider between Newport and Boston: ibid., 1, 507 n.

1On Sept. 9, 1771, the Boston Gaz. reported young Jonathan’s return. For the rumor of his voyage to India see his father to BF above, Aug. 5.

2This problem, as complicated as Williams’ syntax, appears to have grown out of the effort to collect Samuel Hall’s debt. In 1764 Martin Howard, Jr., a Newport attorney, had offered help in getting money from Hall for BF, but during the Stamp Act disturbances had had to flee from Rhode Island. Above, XI, 459 n, 461. He had left his papers, and doubtless a power of attorney, with an agent in Newport, John Cooke, who had collected but not sent him some money due BF; instead Cooke added it to his debt to Howard. Howard to BF, Aug. 12, 1775 (APS). We assume that this money was the £22 10s., and that it came from Hall in partial repayment of what he owed BF—who clearly had not seen a penny of it. The question was from whom to try to recover. Williams was arguing that Howard was liable, because he had received either the cash or a promissory note (the “obligation”) from Cooke. The affair dragged on for another four years and was probably never settled.

3The bills from Wheatley, a Boston merchant, have not appeared before; for the others see Williams to BF above, July 12, Aug. 5. BF recorded the Wheatley bills in August, and entered the 1,754 guilders as £162 11s. 6d.: Jour., pp. 36–7.

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