Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Nathaniel Falconer, 2 September 1772

From Nathaniel Falconer3

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Downes September the 2d, 1772

Dear Sir

I am Sorrey to Trouble you with aney Triflings matters of mine but as it is uncertain that I shall Return Directly to London or go Elswhere I must beg the Favor of you to Call on mr. Samuel wharton when the Grant is made for my Right for Forty Thousand acres for which he has already Received Fifty pounds Sterling of mildreed & Roberts where his order to Trent and Trents Recpt Lays4 if aney more on my part is Nessarey on my part you will be So Good as to pay it your Frendly assistance in this matter will much oblige your most obident Humble Servant

Nath Falconer

Addressed: To / Docter Franklin / in / Craven Street / in the Strand / London

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3BF’s old friend, at this time master of the Britannia.

4Falconer was anxious to secure his interests, we assume, because he had heard while in England of the Privy Council’s recent decision in favor of the Walpole grant; he was now outward bound, carrying a number of BF’s letters written on Aug. 22. The firm of Mildred and Roberts, Quaker merchants in London, was connected with two other friends of BF: it was part owner of James Sparks’s ship, the Mary and Elizabeth, and Daniel Mildred (above, XVI, 169 n) was associated with Dr. Fothergill. PMHB, XXVII (1903), 495; Betsy C. Corner and Christopher C. Booth, eds., Chain of Friendship: Selected Letters of Dr. John Fothergill … (Cambridge, Mass., 1971), pp. 258, 263. For William Trent, Wharton’s associate, see above, XIV, 266–7; XVI, 38 n, 133 n. Once these details are disposed of, the question remains of how or whether Falconer was involved in the Walpole Company. The easy answer, that he had a whole or fractional share, is suspect. A share did not at this stage entitle the holder, as far as we know, to any specific acreage; if the Company had obtained the 20 million acres for which it was applying, each of the 72 shareholders would have acquired not 40,000 but 277,777. By 1772 even fractional shares were selling at fantastic prices: Peter Marshall, “Lord Hillsborough, Samuel Wharton and the Ohio Grant, 1769–1775,” English Hist. Rev., LXXX (1965), 733. Falconer could scarcely have afforded to buy at that time, and his name was not on the list of original shareholders in Lewis, Indiana Co., p. 88 n; even if he had been one of the group, his assessments to date would not have come to £50. The most likely explanation, though we have no supporting evidence, is that Wharton was selling rights in advance to parcels of the land that he expected to obtain for his five shares.

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