Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from the Managers of the Philadelphia Silk Filature to Franklin and John Fothergill, 8 November 1771

From the Managers of the Philadelphia Silk Filature to Franklin and John Fothergill

LS: American Philosophical Society

Philadelphia 8th. November 1771.


The Subscribers Managers of the Contributions for promoting the Culture of silk in Pennsylvania, having purchased in the course of the last Season and procured to be reeled at the Filature erected here such a quantity of Cocoons as have produced about 155 lbs. of raw Silk proper for Exportation, are encouraged from your known Partiality to the productions of this Province, and Disposition to promote whatever may advance its Interest or Reputation to commit this first Adventure to your Care and Disposal, requesting that the undermentioned Parcels may be presented as directed in such respectful manner as your good Understanding shall point out, and that the remainder be sold at either public or private Sale as you may think most conducive to the Benefit of the Institution.4 Inclosed is the Certificate required by Act of Parliament for obtaining the Bounty.

From the want of more Experience in this new Manufacture, we are not competent Judges of the Quality or Value; but upon comparing our own with the Samples of Silk we have received from other Parts of the World we apprehend some of it is not much inferior to them. If Persons of more skill with you should be of the same Opinion, we have little Doubt that the raising of Silk will soon become an Object of general Attention in this Province, and probably in time a considerable Remittance to our Mother Country; an Event in which we should have great pleasure; as a mutual Advantage to both.

We flatter ourselves that it is unnecessary to apologize for giving you this Trouble when we consider that benevolent Minds are never more agreeably exercised than in the Promotion of Public Good. We are, Gentlemen, with the highest Esteem, Your assured Friends and very humble Servants,5

Edwd: Penington Fra: Alison
Chas. Moore C: Evans
Isaac Bartram Tho Clifford
Wm Smith  Broker R Strettell Jones
Abel James Jos: Pemberton
Benjn. Morgan
No. 1 6 lbs. for the Queen
2 4 ” Lady Juliana Penn
3 4 ” the Relict of the late Honble Richd. Penn Esqr. deceased
4 4 ” the Lady of the Honble. John Penn Esqr.6

Drs Franklin and Fothergill

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4For the “institution” and the promoting of silk culture in Pennsylvania see the correspondence above between BF and Cadwalader Evans: Feb. 10, May 4, July 4 and 18. The receipt for two trunks of raw silk shipped to BF and Fothergill is in Franklin’s papers in the APS.

5The signers, managers of the silk filature, were for the most part prominent residents of Philadelphia. All but three, Bartram, Morgan, and Pemberton, have been identified in previous volumes; and not much is known about those three. Isaac Bartram (c. 1725–1801) was John’s second son by his first marriage: Hinshaw, Amer. Quaker Genealogy, II, 335. Frequent minor references to Benjamin Morgan may be found in the cumulative index (1954) of the PMHB; they indicate merely that he held a number of public positions. Joseph Pemberton (born 1745) was the son of the well known Quaker merchant, Israel Pemberton.

6The three Penn ladies, in the order of their listing, were Lady Julia Fermor Penn (1729–1804), the wife of Thomas; Hannah Lardner Penn, Richard’s widow and the daughter of Dr. John Lardner of London; and Ann Allen Penn, John’s second wife and the daughter of Chief Justice William Allen.

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