Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 24 June 1777

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Nantes 24 June 1777.

Dear and honored Sir

I recvd your kind favour of the 14th and 20th Inst. the first reccommending M. de Bretigny &c. to whom I will show every possible assistance and civility as far as is consistent with my orders, the last informing me of Mr. Deans absence and of the necessity of waiting his return. I hope he will be by this time at paris and that I may have some orders similar to those Mr. Montieu has given, or that Mr. Montieus orders may be recalled.

I did flatter myself that in your Letter you would have favoured me with a Line or two in answer to mine of the 8th Inst. I know I give you a great deal of Trouble in my concerns, perhaps too much, but there is one that grows upon me every day with such rapidity that I must either discontinue all sort of communication or at once discover my attachment; I am much mistaken if Mr. S’s second Daughter does not already understand as much as is in my power to tell her, all I ask is, whether you think with my present prospects I can honourably make an offer to her consistent with that regard for her Happiness which I ought to have. I may perhaps be mistaken, or perhaps may be too vain, but as far as I can allow myself to judge she is not displeased with my attention to her. In short Sir if I stay in this place I must hazard a Refusal or not see her any more. I beg your excuse and am with the greatest Respect and affection Honored Sir Your dutifull and affectionate Kinsman

J Williams Junr

The Letter you sent me inclosed is from aunt Johnson, she says that her son is returnd, & that nancy intends soon to return;3 this she desires me to tell you, with her Dutiful Respects. I write one in return which please to send to the post.

Addressed: Doctor Franklin

Notations: Jon Williams Nantes 24 June 77 / Mr Jona Williams

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Martha Harris Johnson, the daughter of BF’s half-sister, was in London, and her two children had been in Barbados. In 1770 Anne (Nancy) had married Peter Clarke, a naval captain whose family was prominent on the island, and had been living there with them and her younger brother Samuel: above, XVIII, 99–100. Her husband was tuberculous, and died in March, 1776. His will left her his slaves, household goods, and a legacy of £5,000 sterling, with smaller bequests of £300 to her mother and £100 to her brother: Barbados Archives, RB 6/20, pp. 133–5. Samuel seems to have been a protégé of the Captain, whose death may have accounted for the young man’s return to England. Anne did not follow him until years later, because she was involved in litigation over her husband’s estate. APS: Martha Johnson to BF, Oct. 18, 1781; Anne Clarke to BF, March 2, 1784.

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