Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Michael Hillegas, 6 January 1783

From Michael Hillegas

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philada: January 6th. 1783

May it please your Excellency

The Bearer hereof Mr. William Wood of a reputable Family connected with your old Friend my Uncle Mr. Thomas Boude and the Newbolds in the Jerseys whom you have frequently heard of if not personally known to you—7 having an inclination to see the World as well as to do something with reputation to himself by endeavouring in the Commercial Way to increase his fortune, has thro his good Friend Mr. Matthew Clarkson whom you well know8 prevailed on me to trouble you with a few lines and to introduce him to your Acquaintance as a sober & discreet person; the pleasure we all know you have in encouraging Youth leaves us no doubt but you will shew him every favour your great avocations will admit of.— I wrote you sometime since9 at the request of the said Mr. Clarkson, to request you would please to enquire Whether a Compleat set of the Encyclopedia (as first published) is to be had, and what the price will be— You know him to be a man of genius and such we delight to encourage.—

I am with the greatest esteem imaginable Your Excellencys most Obedt. Servt,

M. Hillegas

His Excelleny B Franklin Esqr. &c. &c.

Notation: Mac Hillegas, Philada. Jany. 6. 1783.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Thomas Boude (I, 233n) and BF had both been members of St. John’s Masonic Lodge. Hillegas was married to Henrietta Boude; Thomas Boude must have been her father Samuel’s brother. Thomas married Sarah Newbold, from a prominent family of Burlington County in New Jersey: DAB under Hillegas; George DeCou, Burlington: a Provincial Capital … (Philadelphia, 1945), pp. 207–9; Whitfield J. Bell, Jr., Patriot-Improvers: Biographical Sketches of Members of the American Philosophical Society (2 vols. to date, Philadelphia, 1997– ), II, 305.

8Clarkson was a member of the APS and the Library Company and had speculated in Nova Scotia lands with BF. He was married to Thomas Boude’s daughter Mary: XVIII, 263n; Whitfield J. Bell, Jr., Patriot-Improvers, II, 305–11.

9On April 29, 1782: XXXVII, 239–40.

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