The Letters of Benjamin Franklin & Jane Mecom

By Carl Van Doren; Benjamin Franklin et al. | Go to book overview

P.S. It was not kind in you to imagine when your Sister commended Good Works, she intended it a Reproach to you. 'Twas very far from her Thoughts.


"The true way to get friends"

[Printed first, from a manuscript now missing, in Sparks, Familiar Letters, p. 10, from which it is here reprinted. It is there undated, but it is assigned to 1743 in the Index to Sparks, Works. The more probable date is 1744-1745, because of Franklin's reference to his father's sickness. Josiah Franklin died January 17, 1745, and his children did not remember him ever to have had any sickness except the last. Moreover, Benjamin Mecom would have been barely eleven at the end of 1743 and would hardly have been sent away from home at that age, even with Franklin's New York partner James Parker. Though this letter, with others concerned with Benjamin Mecom, was addressed to both his father and mother, Edward Mecom seems to have been included chiefly as a matter of form. He was a saddler, but his earnings did not support his large family, and his wife had begun by 1742, if not before, to take boarders. The only trace of any other occupation Edward Mecom had is the record of his appointment on March 6, 1729, as one of the clerks of the Boston public markets. Boston Registry Records, XII (Town Records, 1729- 1742), 7, where the month is mistakenly given as May. Edward Mecom became a communicant of the Brattle Street Church in 1730, at least three years after he had been married to Jane Franklin by the church's minister and a year after the baptism of the first Mecom child. The will of Josiah Franklin, made October 20, 1744, bequeathed to Jane Mecom a ninth part (or equal share with her brothers and sisters) of their father's "house and land and goods." Josiah Franklin left to his "loving wife Abiah Franklin all the incomes or rents of my whole estate and goods and the use of the two rooms we now live in allowing the Lodgers to be in as is used she allowing out of it the interest that will be due to my Creditors while she lives." As his house was actually four "tenements," and as the inventory of his estate in the Registry of Probate, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, shows him to have died possessed of a great many beds, it seems virtually certain that the houses were occupied by lodgers from whom Josiah Franklin's income was derived rather than, at his late age, from his trade of tallow chandler. And it is nearly as certain that the Edward Mecoms occupied one of the tenements, close enough for Jane Mecom to be in regular attendance upon her aged parents. The estate of Josiah Franklin was not finally administered till after the death of his widow in 1752; and John Franklin's final account, in the Registry of Probate with the date February 25,

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