Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Henry Wyld, 15 September 1782

From Henry Wyld

ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Londonderry 15th. sepr. 1782

Most Excellent sir,

Yours on the 31st. April duly came to hand with those inclosed, addressed to M. —— E—— C6 our London friend, I desire to be forgiven respecting forms, all I have to say, is that on our arrival at L,Derry we were apprehended and committed to Goal,7 we are now liberated upon giving security for our appearance when called for, what the End may be I cannot say, but our determinations are still the same ’tho frustrated at present,8 and in hopes of meriting a Continuance of your Friendship on future Occations, am Your excellency’s Most obedient humble servant

Henry Wyld

Addressed: Mr. Ferdinand Grand Mercht. / Paris

Notation: Henry Wyld 15 Sept. 1782.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Edmund Clegg.

7The group was betrayed by John Swindell, who turned informer in early August; see XXXVII, 742–3. On Sept. 12 Swindell wrote directly to the mayor of Londonderry with an updated version of intelligence he had already disclosed to Whitehall: Wyld would be carrying BF’s passport and recommendation concealed either in the binding of his bible, in the lining of his boot, or in a cavity in the head of his crutch. On Sept. 14 he added that William Schofield, “being a weak man in his intellects,” would likely turn evidence, and that Mr. Wood, who had arranged for their ship, had fled soon after the emigrants were seized. PRO.

8David Young of Londonderry posted bail for the prisoners, and they were released in two days. The legal charges against them were eventually dropped when it was determined that their desire to emigrate to Pennsylvania did not constitute smuggling industrial secrets to a foreign nation: Young to Edward Newenham, Dec. 13, 1782, APS; and see Robert Glen, “Industrial Wayfarers: Benjamin Franklin and a Case of Machine Smuggling in the 1780s,” Business History, XXIII (1981), 316, 324. The men were soon hired by Robert Brooke for his newly established textile manufactory in Prosperous, near Dublin. According to British intelligence, the emigrants surrendered to Brooke BF’s passport and recommendation (which had eluded the officers’ searches, and which are now missing): Lord Lieut. Temple to Thomas Townshend, Sept. 25 [1783, i.e. 1782], British Library.

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