J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Benjamin Thompson: Worst Apprentice in the World, part 2

Yesterday I described how as a teenager Benjamin Thompson left his first apprenticeship in Salem at age sixteen and sought work in the Boston shop of Hopestill Capen, at the “Sign of the Cornfields.” His old master, John Appleton, evidently agreed to the equivalent of selling the indenture contract. On 19 Oct 1769 Benjamin wrote back with thanks:

I take this oppertunity to inform you that I am Come to Live with Mr Hopestill Capen. I like him and his Family very well as yet. I am Greatly obliged to you for your kind Recommendation of me to Mr. Capen, and shall always retain a Gratefull Sense of the many other Kindness’s I always Recd Whilest I remained with you.

Never shall I Live at a place again that I delighted so much as at your house nor with a Kinder Master. My Guardian says he will Come to Salem and pay you some money very soon, which he expects dayly. Sir I would beg of you not to Give yourself any Concern or Trouble about it as you may depend upon having the Money Very soon.
And he had just a few favors to ask.
Sir if you would Give yourself the Trouble to send Round my things that remain at your house I shall Be obliged to you, and if you will send down the two trunks which I improved [i.e., used] whilest at your house and Charge them to me I will send you the money; please to put up all my small things you can find, vizt scates, hautboy, some Blue paper, a box of Crayons, or dry Colours, some Books, Together with all my Things remaining at your house. Please to stow them in the Trunk that stands in the Kitchen Chamber and please to put that, that stands in the Garret on Board Mr West with it and desire him to Bring them down the first oppertunity. I shall Come to Salem the first opportunity that I can be Spared.
Meanwhile, Capen was probably teaching young Benjamin (who was obviously a boy of many talents) how to serve customers in his shop.

TOMORROW: And how did that work out?

1 comment:

Heather Rojo said...

I'm enjoying these posts about Benjamin Thompson. He is my first cousin many generations removed since his mother, Ruth Simonds, was sister to my ancestor, Caleb Simonds.