James S. and Frances M. Bradford Collection

Mss.B.F85.bra

Date: 1749-1898 | Size: 0.5 Linear feet

Abstract

The James S. and Frances M. Bradford Collection contains a wealth of letters to and from Polly Stevenson Hewson, intimate friend of Benjamin Franklin. At the heart of the collection are approximately 40 letters from Mary Stevenson to Franklin with a smaller number in return. Friendly, increasingly intimate, these provide a glimpse of the domestic life of Franklin and his warm personal relations with the Stevensons and Hewsons. Among the noteworthy individual items is the manuscript "Craven Street Gazette" (Sept. 22-26, 1770), the mock newspaper Franklin produced while in London. The collection also contains a series of unrelated miscellaneous manuscripts that includes correspondence from William Bradford, Patrick Henry, and George Washington.

Background note

During the 17 years he served as colonial agent for Pennsylvania in London, Benjamin Franklin developed a strong attachment to the family of his landlady at 36 Craven Street, Margaret Stevenson. Margaret's daughter, Mary (usually called Polly) became a particular intimate, so much so that Franklin connived to marry her off to his son, William. Although nothing came of these efforts, Franklin's intentions did little to impair the friendship with the Stevensons, and Franklin's domestic circle at Craven Street eventually grew to include his grandson William Temple Franklin and Sarah Franklin, daughter of an English cousin.

In 1770, Polly married the distinguished surgeon and anatomist William Hewson in what was to be a tragically short pairing. Hewson died in 1774 after contracting septicaemia from a cut he received while dissecting a cadaver in his basement, leaving Polly to care for their daughter and two sons to raise, one of whom was Franklin's godson. Recognizing the difficulty of her situation, Franklin stepped in to assist his old friend, further strengthening their bond. After Franklin left England on the even of the Revolution, he and Polly continued in regular correspondence, and after the Revolution ended, Polly arranged to renew their friendship face to face, visiting Franklin at Passy in 1785. In the following year, she followed him when he returned to Philadelphia, and was at Franklin's beside when he died in 1790. In his will, Franklin recognized Polly with a silver tankard he had "marked for her use during her life," acknowledging her daughter Eliza as well, and leaving books to her sons William and Thomas.

Scope and content

The James S. and Frances M. Bradford Collection contains a wealth of letters to and from Polly Stevenson Hewson, intimate friend of Benjamin Franklin. At the heart of the collection are approximately 40 letters from Mary Stevenson to Franklin with a smaller number in return. Friendly, increasingly intimate, these provide a glimpse of the domestic life of Franklin and his warm personal relations with the Stevensons and Hewsons. Among the noteworthy individual items are the manuscript "Craven Street Gazette" (Sept. 22-26, 1770), the mock newspaper Franklin produced while in London, Franklin's "Scheme for a new alphabet" (1768), and his parable on brotherly love (1774).

The Bradford Collection also includes a number of interesting letters between Hewson and Dr. John Hawkesworth, as well as a few miscellaneous letters from important Americans owned by the Bradford family, including two from George Washington and two from Patrick Henry. A self-educated miscellaneous writer, Hawkesworth was associated with Samuel Johnson (until a falling out in about 1756) and was a contributor to the "Gentleman's Magazine," the "Adventurer," which he edited with Johnson), and other publications, and edited a volume describing Captain Cook's voyage to the South Seas. He and his wife were close friends of Hewson and of Franklin.

The collection also contains a series of typescripts of letters written between Hewson and Franklin, several of which appear in the original in the collection.

Frances Margaret Bradford presented a third series of papers in 1960. In addition to further correspondence and estate material concerning Margaret Stevenson and Mary Hewson, this series also contains some miscellaneous, and unrelated, correspondence from William Bradford, Patrick Henry, and George Washington.

Arrangement

Series I. is physically arranged in order of correspondent, but is presented here in chronological order.

Digital objects note

This collection contains digital materials that are available in the APS Digital Library. Links to these materials are provided with context in the inventory of this finding aid. A general listing of digital objects may also be found here.

Collection Information

Provenance

Gift of James S. and Frances M. Bradford, 1956 and 1960.

Preferred citation

Cite as: James S. and Frances M. Bradford Collection, American Philosophical Society.

Processing information

Recatalogued rsc, 2003.

Separated material

The Bradford Family Collection included several items that have been transferred to the Curatorial Department or Department of Printed Materials. These include: Miniature chess set and board used by Mary Stevenson Hewson, Memorial ring "John Hawkesworth,LLD ob 17 Nov. 1773 art 58" formerly owned by Hewson, Pluche, Noel Antoine, "Spectacle de la nature...," 8th ed. (London, 1753-1757). Presentation copy from Franklin to Hewson, 500 P72s.8 v.1-7.

Related material

Polly Hewson appears as a correspondent in several other collections at the APS, including: Benjamin Franklin Papers (B F85); Benjamin Franklin Miscellaneous Collections (B F85x); Bache Family Papers (B B121);Sarah Franklin Bache (B B1245);Hewson Family Papers (B H492).

Other Benjamin Franklin Collections
Benjamin Franklin PapersView Collection
Franklin-BacheView Collection
Miscellaneous Benjamin Franklin CollectionsView Collection

Early American History Note

The Bradford Collection contains a signficant portion of Franklin correspondence. It includes a miscellany of Franklin writings that includes things like vocabularies and a mock newspaper he composed in 1774. The bulk of the collection contains correspondence Franklin had with the Stevenson and Hewson families, especially with Polly Stevenson Hewson.

Indexing Terms


Genre(s)

  • Family Correspondence
  • General Correspondence

Personal Name(s)

  • Bradford, Frances Mary
  • Bradford, James S.
  • Bradford, William, 1719-1791
  • Cadwalader, John, 1742-1786
  • Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790
  • Hawkesworth, John
  • Henry, Patrick, 1736-1799
  • Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, Marquis de, 1757-1834
  • Washington, George (1732-1799)

Subject(s)

  • American Revolution
  • Colonial Politics
  • Craven Street Gazette
  • Great Britain -- Social life and customs -- 18th century
  • International Affairs
  • Marriage and Family Life
  • Social Life and Custom


Detailed Inventory

B F85.bra Franklin - Stevenson - Hewson Papers
1749-179481 items
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
Opinion and conjectures...
1749 folder 6
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1760 January 14 folder 10
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1760 June 6 folder 11
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1760 June 23 folder 12
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1760 [September] folder 13
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1760 September 16 folder 14
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1761 January 13 folder 15
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1761 April 27 folder 16
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1761 May 19 folder 17
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1761 July 8 folder 18
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1761 July 30 folder 19
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1761 September 10 folder 20
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1761 November 9 folder 21
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Dr. John Hawkesworth
1761 December 16 folder 60
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Dear Cousin
1761 December 17 folder 67
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1762 March 10 folder 22
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1762 June 11 folder 23
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Polly Stevenson Hewson
1762 June 21 folder 1
Hawkesworth, Mrs..
to Mary Stevenson
1762 July 25 folder 68
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1762 August 5 folder 24
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1763 March 11 folder 25
Hawkesworth, Mrs..
to Mary Stevenson
1763 August 28 folder 69
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1763 August 30 folder 26
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1763 November 25 folder 27
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1764 May 24 folder 28
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1765 January 17 folder 29
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1765 February 8 folder 30
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1765 July 28 folder 31
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Polly Stevenson Hewson
[1765?] December 31 folder 3
Sun Fire-Office, Cornhill.
Proposals...
1766 January 16 folder 79
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1766 March 9 folder 32
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1766 September 26 folder 33
Stevenson, Margaret.
to Benjamin Franklin
1766 November 22 folder 51
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Polly Stevenson Hewson
1767 June 15 folder 2
Stevenson, Margaret.
to Deborah Franklin
1767 September 18 folder 55
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Polly Stevenson Hewson
1768 July 20 folder 4
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
[Scheme for a new alphabet...] Remarks
[1768] folder 7
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1769 December folder 34
Hawkesworth, John.
to Mary Stevenson
1770 February 28 folder 72
Marriage settlement of Mary Stevenson and William Hewson
1770 July 9 folder 56
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
Craven Street Gazette
1770 Sept. 22-26 folder 8
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1771 October 31 folder 35
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1771 November 2 folder 36
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1772 July 6 folder 37
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1772 October 22 folder 38
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
Parable on brotherly love
[1774] folder 9
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1779 January 11 folder 39
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1779 May 30 folder 40
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1781 December 23 folder 41
Briscoe, A..
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1782 March 27 folder 76
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
ca. 1782 folder 41a
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1783 September 28 folder 42
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1784 April 2 folder 43
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1785 April 26 folder 44

(also letter from J.Williams to BF)

Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1785 May 8 folder 45
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1786 October 17 folder 46
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
1789 August 14 folder 47
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
Will
1794 June 7 folder 57
Fortin, John.
Notes on Matthew 13:30
n.d. folder 77
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Polly Stevenson Hewson
n.d. folder 5
Hawkesworth, John.
to Mary Stevenson
n.d. folder 73
Hawkesworth, John.
to Mary Stevenson
n.d. folder 74
Hawkesworth, John.
Miscellaneous notes - 5 pieces. Explanation of Proverbs 27, 14.
n.d. folder 75
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Mrs. Lynn
n.d. (Friday night) folder 59
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
Miscellaneous notes - 3 pieces
n.d. folder 78
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
n.d. (Friday night) folder 48
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
n.d. folder 49
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Benjamin Franklin
n.d. folder 50
Hawkesworth, Mrs..
to Mary Stevenson
n.d. folder 70
Hawkesworth, Mrs..
to Mary Stevenson
n.d. folder 71
Stevenson, Margaret.
to Benjamin Franklin
n.d. (August 4 Tuesday evening) folder 52
Stevenson, Margaret.
to Benjamin Franklin
n.d. (August 5 Thursday) folder 53
Stevenson, Margaret.
to Benjamin Franklin
n.d. folder 54
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Dr. John Hawkesworth
n.d. folder 61
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Dr. John Hawkesworth
n.d. folder 62
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Dr. John Hawkesworth
n.d. folder 63
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Dr. John Hawkesworth
n.d. folder 64
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Dr. John Hawkesworth
n.d. folder 65
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Dr. John Hawkesworth
n.d. folder 66
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Mrs. Margaret Stevenson
n.d. (Sunday evening) folder 58
B F85.bra1 Transcripts of Hewson-Franklin Correspondence
1758-189838 items
Ford, Paul L..
to Charles [S.] Bradford
1898 March 30 folder 1
Ford, Paul L..
to Charles [S.] Bradford
1898 July 15 folder 2
Hewson, William, 1739-1774.
Introduction . .George Gulliver
n.d. folder 3
Correspondence
  folder 4
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1758 Aug. 20 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1760 Feb. 14 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1761 July 7 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1762 May 10 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1762 May 24 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1762 June 21 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1763 June 27 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1764 May 4 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
[1764 Dec.] 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1765 Jan. 9 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
[1765? Dec. 31 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1767 March 26 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
[1767?] May 16 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1767 May 16 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1768 Oct. 20 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1770 July 18 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1772 July 8 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1780 Jan. 10 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1780 Dec. 7 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1782 May 13 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
[1782?] 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1783 Jan. 8 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1783 July 12 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1784 Jan. 1 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1784 April 29 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
June 15 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
Wednesday morning 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
Wednesday P.M 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
Friday morning 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
Friday 2 P.M 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Mary Stevenson Hewson
n.d. 
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
Marriage settlement
1770 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Brown, Collinson, etc
1780 Jan. 10 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
to Woodmason
1780 Jan. 10 
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to Mr. Viny
1784 May 10 
B F85.bra2 Miscellaneous Manuscripts
1777-189610 items
Washington, George (1732-1799).
to [Philemon] Dickinson
1777 August 27 folder 1
Bradford, William.
to Thomas [Bradford]
1779 May 4 folder 2
Lowth, Robert, 1710-1787.
Letter of administration of Margaret Stevenson's estate to Mary Stevenson Hewson
1783 January 16 folder 3
Washington, George (1732-1799).
to [John] Cadwallader [sic]
1784 December 11 folder 4
Hewson, Mary Stevenson, 1739-1795.
to [Mrs. Sarah Franklin Ba]che
1785 April 13 folder 5
Blunt, James.
Declaration of trust of estate of Mary Hewson
1796 November 2 folder 6
Bradford, William, 1719-1791.
La Fayette - a song
1824 September 6 folder 7
Hart, Charles Henry.
to Charles S. Bradford
1896 September 21 folder 8
Henry, Patrick, 1736-1799.
to [John] Cadwalader
n.d. folder 9
Henry, Patrick, 1736-1799.
to [John] Cadwalader
n.d. (Thursday morning) folder 10