Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 18 July 1774

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Manchester5 July 18. 1774

Dear and honoured Sir

I am thus far arrived on my Journey, and have met with every success I could possibly have expected. I have been introduced to the first Houses in Liverpool, and this place, and am likely to make very valuable connections. I do not mean to make any sudden engagements, but to establish a correspondence in every place, and in every manufacturing branch, which I may in future make use off.6 I find I can have goods shipped for me at 12 mo Credit, and save the whole profit I now give the London Merchants. Collonel Boyd proves himself to be a most agreeable companion, and faithfull friend, we pass our time merrily with prudence, and industriously when engaged in business, he introduces me in the kindest manner to all his friends and Connections,7 and in consequence of his notice I am kindly treated, and my correspondence is solicited, as he always speaks very obligingly of my integrity &c. I desire every person who I am likely to have any business with, to inform himself of my real Character, for an honest man does not fear strict enquiry, and is rather flattered with, than offended at it, therefore as I am conscious of the rectitude of my intentions I am rather forward in giving proofs, to prevent their being required of me, and finding your name universally respected, I have sometimes spoke of the honor of my alliance to you and occasionaly mentioned your knowledge of my Character. I have referr’d some persons to you for it, particularly Mr. Radcliffe and Mr. Philips of manchester,8 they are to send me patterns of their Goods and conditions of Business, which I have directed to your house, if they should enquire about me by letter, (for I leave with them a Letter to You,) I shall be highly obliged by your giving me such a character as you may think I deserve. I hope I shall not offend you by this liberty, I do not mean you should in the least lay yourself liable for my conduct, I only wish you would give your opinion of me, and if you should think me too presuming, your silence on the subject, will be the severest punishment. I shall be highly obliged if you will write a Letter of introduction for me to Leeds as perhaps the Gentlemen I knew there may not remember me.9

Please to make my best Respects acceptable to Mrs. Stevenson Mrs. and Miss Hewson Mrs. Blunt M. Barwell1 and all enquiring Friends I am (much hurried) Your dutiful and Affectionate Kinsman

Jona Williams Junr

Love to Temple

I find many friends to America, some warm ones, and some moderate ones, but even the Gentlemen who are on the side of the Ministry, do not fail to express their wishes for an amicable settlement.

I have given away some of the speeches one to Mr. Pringle of Liverpool and one to Mr. Hamliton of this place who are thinking good Men and men of property.2 The latter is very violent in our favour and very sensible.

Addressed: To / Doctr Benjamin Franklin / at Mrs Stevensons / Craven Street / Strand / London / (post paid)

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Jonathan had left Boston on May 21 on the Leopard, which arrived in England in late June: Mass. Gaz.; and the Boston Weekly News-Letter, May 26; Public Advertiser, June 27, 1774. On July 7 he and four other Americans left London for a tour of England and Scotland that was partly business and partly pleasure. The party traveled by way of Oxford, Birmingham, and Liverpool, and reached Manchester on the 16th. Jonathan noted in his MS journal (Yale University Library) that he wrote this letter to obtain “a Character” from his granduncle. Entry of July 18. The journal follows in the same volume that of 1771, for which see above, XVIII, 113–16.

6To further the scheme to eliminate the middleman that he had outlined to BF in the postscript to his letter above, Jan. 24.

7Little is known about George Boyd (1732?–87) except that he was from New Hampshire and served for a time on its Council. For gossip about him see Charles W. Brewster, Rambles about Portsmouth … (Portsmouth, N.H., 1859), pp. 164–6, and for a short paragraph Sabine, Loyalists, I, 247. Two letters of his during this English tour have survived; they indicate that he was a shipbuilder and merchant, that in his opinion he either knew or was introduced to every one in England who was any one, and that he had never learned to spell. Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., XLVIII (1914–15), 335–41. He claimed relationship with the Earl of Erroll, who accepted the claim: Williams to BF below, Aug. 10. In Boyd’s company Williams may have behaved as he said, but by himself he could be more merry than prudent. When returning somewhat drunk from a party in Liverpool, he recorded in his journal under July 13, he kissed a prostitute in the street and was promptly assaulted by two thugs, whom he drove off with his cane.

8Edmund Radcliffe and John Phillips were Manchester manufacturers, one of velvets and printed cotton, the other of silk and cotton. “A List of Gentlemen we gain’d an acquaintance with,” following the journal for 1774.

9From his visit with BF in 1771: above, XVIII, 115. BF obliged with his note below, Aug. 1, to Thomas Wolrich.

1About Barbara Hewson, one of Polly’s sisters-in-law, we know almost nothing; Dorothea Blunt and Mary Barwell were old members of the Craven Street circle.

2Williams described Hugh Pringle, in the list of acquaintances cited above, merely as a Liverpool merchant, and Hamilton as a manufacturer of “all kinds Checks Cottons Velvets etc.” The speeches were undoubtedly copies of the same Shipley pamphlet that BF had sent to Rhoads on June 30.

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