Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Franklin, 12 June 1772

From William Franklin

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Burlington June 12th. 1772

Honoured Father,

Soon after I received your Letter enclosing a Copy of a Grant of Lands in Pennsylvania to Major Robert Thompson, which you received from Mr. Whately, I happened to meet with our Friend Mr. Galloway, and mentioning the Matter to him, I found he was perfectly acquainted with every Circumstance relative to the Grant, owing to his having been formerly Attorney to the West Jersey Society, who purchased Dr. Coxe’s Right to Lands in Pennsylvania, taken up with other Lands granted at the same time to Sir Matthias Vincent and Major Thompson.3 I therefore requested Mr. Galloway to give me in writing what he knew concerning the Affair, which he has done in the enclosed Letter. It is not improbable, he thinks, but that Major Thompson may have disposed of his Right, as he finds (he says in his Letter) “this Tract is called in a Map of Original Purchasers by the Name of Sir Matthias Vincent, Major Thompson, and Adrian Vrouzen.” Here I believe he has inserted, by mistake, Major Thompson’s Name instead of Dr. Coxe’s; for I have one of Holmes the Surveyor’s Maps of Original Purchases, in which the names on the Tract of thirty Thousand Acres mentioned by Mr. Galloway are placed as follows vizt.

On Enquiry, perhaps, it may be found that the Major sold to Vrouzen and Furlow, or to one of them; and I have heard it suggested that Mr. Peters pretends he purchased the Right of some Dutchman in Holland, and afterwards exchanged it for Lands with the Proprietors of Pennsylvania.4 However, if there is any Heir of Major Thompson’s living, no Time should be lost in putting in his Claim, as otherwise perhaps the possessors may avail themselves of the Statute of Limitations. I am Honoured Sir Your Dutiful Son

Wm: Franklin

To Benjn. Franklin, Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Robert Thompson, Matthias Vincent, and Daniel Coxe were all late-seventeenth-century Englishmen who speculated in American lands. Thompson was from Newington Green, Vincent a London merchant knighted in 1685, and Coxe the court physician to Charles II and Anne; the tracts in question were two townships named after Vincent in Chester Co., Pa. Charles P. Keith, Chronicles of Pennsylvania … (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1917), I, 131–3; W. A. Shaw, The Knights of England (2 vols., London, 1906), II, 261; and the following articles from the PMHB: G. D. Scull, “Biographical Notice of Doctor Daniel Coxe, of London,” VII (1883), 317–37; Frederick Sheeder,”East Vincent Township …,” XXXIV (1910), 75; Wayland F. Dunaway, “The French Racial Strain in Colonial Pennsylvania,” LIII (1929), 330–1. Mr. Whately was William, the London banker, who was Thompson’s direct descendant and who had initiated BF’s inquiry; see Smyth, Writings, VI, 285, and the headnote on BF to Cushing below, Dec. 2.

4“Holmes” was Thomas Holme (1624–95), William Penn’s first surveyor. Adriaen Vroesen or Vrouzen (1609–1706), Burgomaster of Rotterdam, acquired five thousand acres in Pennsylvania in 1682. WF’s “Furlow,” who became “Benjn. Fuller” on his map, was Benjamin Furly (1636–1714), Penn’s chief European salesman for American lands. Furly himself acquired extensive tracts; the one to which WF was referring was in Chester County, between the present townships of East and West Vincent. See Oliver Hough, “Captain Thomas Holme, Surveyor-General of Pennsylvania …,” PMHB, XIX (1895), 413–27; XX (1896), 128–31, 248–56; Nieuw nederlandsch biografisch woordenboek … (10 vols., Leyden, 1911–37), III, 1365; J. Smith Futhey and Gilbert Cope, History of Chester County, Pennsylvania … (Philadelphia, 1881), p. 209; Julius F. Sachse, “Benjamin Furly,” PMHB, XIX, 277–306. “Mr. Peters” might have been either the Rev. Richard Peters of Christ Church or his brother William, or possibly the latter’s son, who in 1790 claimed a tract originally belonging to Vroesen: Pa. Col. Recs., XV, 481, 485; XVI, 523, 526, 529, 532, 534, 539.

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