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This small estate would not have sufficed for their maintenance without the business of a smith, which had continued in the family down to my uncle's time, the eldest son being always brought up to that employment; a custom which he and my father followed with regard to their eldest sons. When I searched the registers at Ecton, I found an account of their marriages and burials from the year 1555 only, as the registers kept did not commence previous thereto. I however learned from it, that I was the youngest son of the youngest son for five generations back. My grandfather, Thomas, who was born in 1598, lived at Ecton, till he was too old to continue his business, when he retired to Banbury in Oxfordshire, to the house of his son John, with whom my father served an apprenticeship. There my uncle died and lies buried. We saw
est miles, armiger, vel pater-familias, qualis ibidem Franklin vulgariter nuncupatur, magnis ditatus possessionibus, nec non libere tenentes et alii valecti plurimi, suis patrimoniis sufficientes ad faciendum juratam in formâ prænotatâ.”
“ Moreover, the same country is so filled and replenished with landed menne, that therein so small a Thorpe cannot be found wherein dweleth not a knight, an esquire, or such a householder, as is there commonly called a Franklin, enriched with great possessions; and also other freeholders and many yeon.en able for their livelihoods to make a jury in form aforementioned.” - Old Translation.
Chaucer too calls his Country Gentleman a Franklin, and, after describe ing his good housekeeping, thus characterizes him.
“ This worthy Franklin bore a purse of silk,
Fixed to his girdle, white as morning milk.
Renowned for courtesy, by all beloved."
"A spacious court they see,
SPENSER's Fairy Queen. See APPENDIX, No. I.
his gravestone in 1758. His eldest son Thomas lived in the house at Ecton, and left it with the land to his only daughter, who, with her husband, one Fisher of Wellingborough, sold it to Mr. Isted, now lord of the manor there. My grandfather had four sons, who grew up; viz. Thomas, John, Benjamin, and Josiah. Being at a distance from my papers, I will give you what account I can of them from memory; and, if my papers are not lost in my absence, you will find among them many more particulars.*
Thomas, my eldest uncle, was bred a smith under his father, but, being ingenious and encouraged in learning, as all his brothers were, by an Esquire Palmer, then the principal inhabitant of that parish, he qualified himself for the bar, and became a considerable man in the county; was chief mover of all publicspirited enterprises for the county or town of Northampton, as well as of his own village, of which many instances were related of him; and he was much taken notice of and patronized by Lord Halifax. He died in 1702, the 6th of January; four years to a day before I was born. The recital, which some elderly persons made to us of his character, I remember struck you as something extraordinary, from its similarity with what you knew of me. “ Had he died,” said you, “four years later, on the same day, one might have supposed a transmigration.”
John, my next uncle, was bred a dyer, I believe of wool. Benjamin was bred a silk dyer, serving an apprenticeship in London. He was an ingenious man. I remember, when I was a boy, he came to my father's in Boston, and resided in the house with us for
See a letter to his wife, describing his visit to Ecton, in the year 1758; Vol. VII. p. 177.- EDITOR.
several years. There was always a particular affection between my father and him, and I was his godson. He lived to a great age. He left behind him two quarto volumes of manuscript, of his own poetry, consisting of fugitive pieces addressed to his friends. * He had invented a short-hand of his own, which he taught me, but, not having practised it, I have now forgotten it. He was very pious, and an assiduous attendant at the sermons of the best preachers, which he reduced to writing according to his method, and had thus collected several volumes of them.
He was also a good deal of a politician ; too much so, perhaps, for his station. There fell lately into my hands, in London, a collection he had made of all the principal political pamphlets relating to public affairs, from the year 1641 to 1717. Many of the volumes are wanting, as appears by their numbering, but there still remain eight volumes in folio, and twenty in quarto and in octavo. A dealer in old books had met with them, and knowing me by name, having bought books of him, he brought them to me. that my uncle must have left them here, when he went to America, which was about fifty years ago. I found several of his notes in the margins. His grandson, Samuel Franklin, is still living in Boston.t
It would appear
* These two volumes have been preserved, and are now before me. They belong to Mrs. Emmons, of Boston, great-granddaughter of Benjamin Franklin, their author. Some further account of them is contained in the APPENDIX, No. 1. – Editor.
† This grandson of Benjamin Franklin followed the trade of his father, which was that of a cutler. On the father's sign, suspended over the shop door, was painted a crown, with his name, “ Samuel Franklin from London.” It had also some of the implements of his trade. This sign was retained by Samuel Franklin the younger. At the beginning of the Revolution, the “ Sons of Liberty” took offence at this crown, and demanded the removal of the sign; but they finally contented themselves with daubing a coat of paint over the crown, leaving “ Samuel
Our humble family early embraced the reformed religion. Our forefathers continued Protestants through the reign of Mary, when they were sometimes in danger of persecution, on account of their zeal against Popery. They had an English Bible, and, to conceal it and place it in safety, it was fastened open with tapes under and within the cover of a joint stool. When my great-grandfather wished to read it to his family, he placed the joint stool on his knees, and then turned over the leaves under the tapes. One of the children stood at the door to give notice if he saw the apparitor coming, who was an officer of the spiritual court. In that case the stool was turned down again upon its feet, when the Bible remained concealed under it as before. This anecdote I had from uncle Benjamin. The family continued all of the church of England, till about the end of Charles the Second's reign, when some of the ministers that had been outed for their non-conformity, holding conventịcles in Northamptonshire, my uncle Benjamin and my father Josiah adhered to them, and so continued all their lives. The rest of the family remained with the Episcopal church.
My father married young, and carried his wife with three children to New England, about 1682. The conventicles being at that time forbidden by law, and frequently disturbed in the meetings, some considerable men of his acquaintances determined to go to that country, and he was prevailed with to accompany them thither, where they expected to enjoy the exercise of their religion with freedom. By the same wife my
Franklin from London," and the implements of cutlery. Time gradually wore off the paint from the crown, so as to make it faintly visible; and Mather Byles, who was as noted for his loyalty as for his puns, used to lament to Mrs. Franklin, that she should live at the sign of the half
father had four children more born there, and by a second, ten others; in all seventeen; of whom I remember to have seen thirteen sitting together at his table; who all grew up to years of maturity and were married. I was the youngest son, and the youngest of all the children except two daughters. I was born in Boston, in New England.* My mother, the second wife of my father, was Abiah Folger, daughter of Peter Folger, one of the first settlers of New England; of whom honorable mention is made by Cotton Mather in his ecclesiastical history of that country, entitled Magnalia Christi Americana, as “a godly and learned Englishman," if I remember the words rightly. I was informed, he wrote several small occasional works, but only one of them was printed, which I remember to have seen several years since. It was written in 1675. It was in familiar verse, according to the taste of the times and people; and addressed to the government there. It asserts the liberty of conscience, in behalf of the Anabaptists, the Quakers, and other sectaries, that had been persecuted. He attributes to this persecution the Indian wars, and other calamities that had befallen the country; regarding them as so many judgments of God to punish so heinous an offence, and exhorting the repeal of those laws, so contrary to charity. This piece appeared to me as written
* He was born January 6th, 1706, Old Style, being Sunday, and the same as January 17th, New Style, which his biographers have usually mentioned as the day of his birth. By the records of the Old South Church in Boston, to which his father and mother belonged, it appears that he was baptized the same day. In the old public Register of Births, still preserved in the Mayor's office in Boston, his birth is recorded under the date of January 6th, 1706. At this time his father occupied a house in Milk Strect, opposite to the Old South Church, but he removed shortly afterwards to a house at the corner of Hanover and Union Streets, where it is believed he resided the remainder of his life, and where the son passed his early years. — Editor.