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REMARKS ON THE ORIGIN AND GENEALOGY OF THE FRANKLIN FAMILY.
The origin of the name of Franklin, in England, may perhaps be traced to a different source from the one supposed by Dr. Franklin. The name Francquelin or Franquelin, is found in France; and, while he resided there, he received letters from several persons bearing that name, who claimed relationship, as having the same ancestry. It was said, that the name could be traced back at least to the fifteenth century in Picardy, and that the records of the town of Abbeville contained the names of John and Thomas Franquelin, woollen-drapers, who were inhabitants of that town in the year 1521. From this part of France, the emigrations to England at that time and previously were frequent, and it was inferred, that one or more families of the name of Franquelin were among the number, and that in England the orthography of the name was changed, according to a common usage. In the absence of direct proof on the subject, this conjecture is perhaps worthy of some consideration.
Dr. Franklin seems to have taken much pains to search out the history of his immediate ancestors. He traced them back four generations to Thomas Francklyne of Ecton, in Northamptonshire. His grandfather had nine children, of whom his father, Josiah, was the youngest. Josiah Franklin emigrated to Boston, New England, in the year 1684, or in the early part of 1685.
By the Record of Births in Boston, it appears, that there was a family by the name of Franklin among the early settlers. In 1638 the birth of Elizabeth, daughter of William Franklin, is recorded. There were other children, one of whom was Benjamin, who also had a son of the same name. The descendants of this family were numerous. It is likewise probable, that one or two other families, of the name of Franklin, settled in Boston some time afterwards; but it is believed that no relationship can be traced between any of these families and that to which Dr. Franklin belonged. When Josiah Franklin established himself in Boston he had three children, born at Banbury, in Oxfordshire. After the birth of four others, his first wife died. He then married Abiah Folger, daughter of Peter Folger, of Nantucket, probably in the early part of the year 1690. By this marriage he had ten children, making seventeen in the whole; ten sons and seven daughters. BENJAMIN was the youngest son, and the fifteenth child, his sisters Lydia and Jane being younger. All the brothers and sisters of Josiah Franklin lived and died in England, except Benjamin, who emigrated to Boston in the year 1715. His son, Samuel, a cutler by trade, had preceded him. This Benjamin was born March 20th, 1650. At the age of sixteen he began to learn the trade of a silk-dyer, and served an apprenticeship of seven years. He afterwards set up that business in London, and followed it there till he removed to America. He was married to Hannah Welles, daughter of Samuel Welles, a clergyman of Banbury, on the 23d of November, 1683. In one of the manuscript volumes of poems, mentioned by Dr. Franklin, is the following printed advertisement. —“Wrought things, printed English or India calicos, cloth, silk, and stuff, scoured; linen, cloth, silk, and stuff, dyed, printed, or watered ; and black cloth, silk, and stuff, dyed into colors; by Benjamin Franklin, at the Indian Queen, in Princes-Street, near Leicester Fields.” — He had ten children, six sons and four daughters. They all died young, except Samuel, the eldest. His wife died on the 4th of November, 1705. From a brief account of himself, preserved in manuscript, and from some of his pieces in rhyme, he seems to have had many afflictions. Poverty, adversity, and sickness pursued him through life. When he left England, his wife and all his children, except his eldest son then in Boston, had been dead several years. After his arrival in Boston, he lived with his brother Josiah four years, till 1719, when he went to reside with his son, who had recently been married and become a housekeeper. The manuscript volumes of poetry, before mentioned, are curious. The handwriting is beautiful, with occasional specimens of short-hand, in which Dr. Franklin says his uncle was skilled. The poetical merits of the compositions cannot be ranked high, but frequently the measure is smooth and the rhymes are well chosen.
His thoughts run chiefly on moral and religious subjects. Many of the Psalms are paraphrased in metre. The making of acrostics on the names of his friends was a favorite exercise. There are likewise numerous proofs of his ingenuity in forming anagrams, crosses, ladders, and other devices. The specimens below were written to his nephew and namesake; the first two, when he was four years and a half old.
Sent to his Namesake, upon a Report of his Inclination to JMartial Affairs, July 7th, 1710.
“Believe me, Ben, it is a dangerous trade,
“Be to thy parents an obedient son;
“Fraud and all falsehood in thy dealings flee,
The following piece was sent when his Namesake was seven years old. It would appear that he had received from him some evidence of his juvenile skill in composition.
Sent to Benjamin Franklin, 1713.
When hanging sleeves read, write, and rhyme like men.
These lines are more prophetic, perhaps, than the writer imagined. He continued to make verses, and to turn the Psalms into rhyme, after he came to New England. The precise time of his death is not known. He was living in 1727, and probably died the year following, at the age of seventy-eight. His son, Samuel, had a son of the same name, born October 21st, 1721. He was an only child. He followed the trade of his father, and died in Boston, February 21st, 1775, leaving four daughters. 1. Eunice, married to Benjamin Callender. 2. Hannah, married to Samuel Emmons. 3. Sarah, married to Jerome Ripley. 4. Elizabeth, married to William Clouston. The last three are now living, in 1839. The ancestors of Abiah Folger, the mother of Dr. Franklin, emigrated from England to America. In a letter to his sister, dated in London, January 13th, 1772, he says: “No arms of the Folgers are found in the Herald's Office. I am persuaded it was originally a Flemish family, which came over with many others from that country in Queen Elizabeth's time, flying from the persecution then raging there.” For the following facts relating to the family in America, I am chiefly indebted to Mr. William C. Folger, of Nantucket, who has made a diligent search in the early records of that Island and of Martha's Vineyard. There is a tradition in the family, that John Folger, and his son Peter Folger, (the name was then written Foulger,) crossed the Atlantic in the same vessel with Hugh Peters, in the year 1635. They came from Norwich, in the county of Norfolk, England. Peter was then eighteen years old, and of course was born in the year 1617. The father and son settled at Martha's Vineyard. The time is not exactly known, but it is supposed to have been very soon after they came to the country. It has not been ascertained whether John Folger's wife came with him, or whether she had died in England, and he married again in America. The name of his wife, Meribell, is mentioned in the records of Martha's Vineyard. He died about 1660. His wife was living in 1663. Peter was his only child. In the year 1644, Peter Folger married Mary Morrell, who had been an inmate in Hugh Peters's family. He resided at Martha's Vineyard till 1663, when he removed to Nantucket, being among the first settlers of that Island. He was a man of considerable learning, particularly in mathematical science, and he practised surveying both in the Vineyard and Nantucket. He was one of the five commissioners first appointed to measure and lay out the land on the Island of Nantucket; and it was said in the order, that “whatsoever shall be done by them or any three of them, Peter Folger being one, shall be accounted legal and valid.” This mode of wording the order shows the confidence that was placed in his integrity and judgment. He acquired the Indian language, and served as interpreter, both in affairs of business, and in communicating religious instruction to the Indians. He rendered assistance in this way to the Reverend Thomas Mayhew, the distinguished missionary at Martha's Vineyard. Mr. Prince, in his account of Mayhew, says, that he had “an able and godly Englishman, named Peter Foulger, employed in teaching the youth in reading, writing, and the principles of religion by catechizing; being well learned likewise in the Scriptures, and capable of helping them in religious matters.” “ He is said to have preached on some occasions. There is a long letter from him to his son-in-law, Joseph Pratt, containing religious counsel, with much use of Scripture, according to the practice of those times. Indeed his poem, entitled A Looking-Glass for the Times, published in 1676, shows that he was not only well informed in theology, but in political affairs, such as they then were in New England. He died in 1690, and his widow in 1704. The children of Peter and Mary Folger were, 1. Johannah, who married John Coleman. 2. Bethiah, married John Barnard, February, 1668–9. They were both drowned four months afterwards by the upsetting of a boat, while crossing from Nantucket