Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 10–11 August 1774

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Edinburgh Augt 10[–11]. 1774

Dear and honoured Sir

I am just arrived, and this instant favoured with yours of 25th July. I can’t express my obligations for the obliging Letter enclosed,4 and you may depend Sir that as far as my abilities extend, I will never do wrong to your reccommendation. I am determined that all my undertakings shall be honest ones, for but upon that principle I will undertake nothing. I expected to have been here a week ago, but on our way we learn’d that Lord Erroll, (whom Mr. Boyd came to Scotland to see, supposing himself related to him,) had proceeded to Slains Castle, we immediately changed our route, and overtook him at Aberdeen. He received us both with great politeness, and insisted on our accompaning him home, which we accordingly did, and never in my life did I experience a more friendly and polite entertainment. We stay’d there 3 days and then return’d to this place.5 These last 10 days have past without any commercial advantage but I thought it would have been unkind, to have parted with Collonel Boyd, after coming so farr; and I have experienced the greatest pleasure, for tho’ I neither wish or expect any favours from administration, yet the intimate footing I was upon, with a Man of his (Lord Errolls) rank, could not fail of affording me great satisfaction.

Augt 11. 1774

I have delivered your Letter to Mr. Alexander, who expressed the greatest respect and esteem for you, and of consequence received me in a very friendly manner. I am to dine with him to day.6 I am very glad I am likely to have the pleasure of seeing you at my return, which I fear will not be sooner than a fortnight.

Our expences do not amount to more than 7 guineas per week, and I hope that the whole time I shall be out, will not cost me more than the sum I allow’d for 5 Weeks which circumstance, together with an advantagious prospect of making more connections, induces me to stay longer than I at first intended, besides, my Business does not suffer by my absence, and was I in London I should be in the way of idle expences, without making any advantage of my time. I hope you will see this matter in the same light, for without your approbation I do not wish to do any thing. Let me continue to enjoy your good opinion, and I will at all times do my best endeavours to prove to you, how much I am Your dutifull and affectionate Kinsman

J Williams Junr

My best Respects to Mrs Stevenson and all enquiring Friends if you should happen to see my uncle7 please to give my duty to him.

Collonel Boyd desires his best Respects

Addressed: To / Doctr Benja Franklin / at Mrs Stevensons / In Craven Street / Strand / London

Endorsed: St C per[?] R. Forbes [?]

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4BF’s letter and its enclosure are missing; the latter is discussed below.

5For his companion, Col. Boyd, see Williams to BF above, July 18. The travelers had pursued Lord Erroll from Falkirk, where they had hoped to find him, to Aberdeen, where they did. They labored long over Boyd’s letter announcing their arrival, to judge by the amended and interlined draft in Williams’ MS journal (Yale University Library); it announced the supposed relationship and the purpose of Boyd’s journey, and begged leave to introduce Williams as his particular friend. Erroll and his brother immediately called on them, acknowledged the family connection, and the next day carried off the two to Slains Castle, where they stayed not three days but almost five. Williams piled ecstatic adjectives upon the Earl and Countess: “all that is noble generous hospitable polite and good is justly Lord Errolls due and all that is virtuous obliging tender and condescending is conspicuous in his Lady.” Journal entry, Aug. 6; see also July 31–Aug. 7. The Earl (1726–78) had been born James Boyd; he was the son of the Jacobite Earl of Kilmarnock, attainted and executed for complicity in the Forty-Five, but as a young man served in the army that suppressed the rising. On succeeding to the earldom of Erroll he changed his name to Hay, and in 1770 he was elected as a representative Scottish peer in Westminster. George E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage … (13 vols., London, 1910–40), V, 100. Col. Boyd believed that his grandfather and Erroll’s had been brothers: Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., XLVIII (1914–15), 340.

6With his letter of July 25 BF obviously enclosed a note of introduction to one of the Alexander brothers, Robert or William, both of whom had been friends of his for many years: above, VIII, 444 n. Robert died on Sept. 10: The Scots Mag., XXXVI (1774), 503. We believe, nevertheless, that he was Jonathan’s host; for his name appears, as his brother’s does not, in “a List of Gentlemen we gain’d an acquaintance with” at the end of his MS journal of the tour, cited above. The dinner was his first introduction to the family, as far as we know, and he subsequently improved upon it: five years later he married William’s daughter Mariamne.

7John Williams, the customs inspector.

Index Entries