« AnteriorContinuar »
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 learnt from it, that I was the youngest son of the youngest son for five generations back. My grandfather Thomas, who was born 1598 lived at Ecton, till he was too old to continue his business, when he retired to Banbury in Oxfordshire, to the house of bis son John, with whom my father served an apprenticeship. There my uncle died and lies buried. We saw his grave-stone 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.
• The following is a copy of an original letter, which is in the hands of the publisher in Philadelphia; it is a curious relique, and was found among the wreck of Dr. Franklin's papers, several years ago.
From Josiah to B. Franklin.
LOVING Sox. AS to the original of our name there is various opinions; some say that it came from a sort of title of which a book, that you bought when here, gives a lively account. Some think we are of a French extract, which was formerly called Franks; some of a free line; a line free from that vassalage which was common to subjects in days of old: some from a bird of long red legs. Your uncle Benjamin made inquiry of one skilled in heraldry, who told him there is two coats of armour, one belonging to the Franklins of the north, and one to the Franklins of the west. However our circumstances have been such as that it hath hardly been worth while to concern ourselves much about these things, any farther than to tickle the fancy a little.
'The first that I can give account of, is my great grand father, as it was a custom in those days among young men too many times to goe to seek their fortune, and in his travels he went upon liking to a taylor; but he
Thomas, my eldest uncle, was bred a smith under his father, but being ingenious, and encouraged in learning, (as all my brothers were) by an esquire Palmer, then the principal inbabitant of that parish, he qualified himself for the bar, and became a considerable man in the county; was chief
kept such a stingy house, that he left him and travelled farther, and came to a smith's house, and coming on a fasting day, being in popish times, he did not like there the first day; the next morning the servant was called up at five in the morning, but after a little time came a good toast and good beer, and he found good housekeeping there; he served and learned the trade of a smith.
In queen Mary's days, either his wife, or my grandmother, by father's side, informed my father that they kept their bible fastened under the top of a joint-stool that they might turn up the book and read in the bible, that when any body came to the dore they turned up the stool for fear of the aparitor, for if it was discovered, they would be in hazard of their lives. My grandfather was a smith also, and settled at Eton in Northamptonshire, and he was imprisoned a year and a day on suspicion of his being the author of some poetry that touched the character of some great man. He had only one son and one daughter; my grandfather's name was Henry, my father's name was Thomas, my mother's name was Jane. My father was born at Ecton or Eton, Northamptonshire, on the 18th of October, 1598; married to Miss Jane White, niece to Coll White, of Banbu. ry, and died in the 84th year of his age. There was nine children of us who were happy in our parents, who took great care by their instructions and pious example to breed us up in a religious way. My eldest brother had but one child, which was married to one Mr. Fisher, at Wallingbo. rough, in Northamptonshire. The town was lately burnt down, and whether she was a sufferer or not I cannot tell, or whether she be living or not. Her father dyed worth fifteen hundred pounds, but what her circumstances are now I know not. She hath no child. If you by the freedom of your office, makes it more likely to convey a letter to her, it would be acceptable to me. There is also children of brother John and sister Morris, but I hear nothing from them, and they write not to me, so that I know not where to find them. I have been again to about seeing ...... but have mist of being informed. We received yours, and are glad to hear poor Jammy is recovered so well. Son John received the letter, but is so busy just now that he cannot write you an answer, but will do the best he can.
Now with hearty love to, and prayer for you all, I rest your affectionate father. Boston, May 26, 1739.
morer of all public-spirited enterprizes 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 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 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 remains 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. It would appear 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.
Our humble family early embraced tlie 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 EngJish bible, and to conceal it, and place it in safety, it was fastened open with tapes under and witbin 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 cbildren 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 rcmained 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 II. reign, when some of the ministers that had been outed for their nonconformity, holding conventicles 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 their meetings, some considerable men of his acquaintance 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 wifo my father had four children more born there, and by a second wife ten others; in all seventeen; of which 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 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 ecclesiasti. cal history of that country, entitled Magnalia Christi Americana, as “a goodly 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 sectarians, 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, so contrary to charity. This piece appeared to me as written with manly freedom and a pleasing simplicity. The six last lines I remember, but have forgotten the preceding ones of the stanza; the purpose of them was, that his censures proceeded from good will, and therefore he would be known to be the author.
“Because to be a libeller (said he)
I hate it with my heart;
My name I do put here;
It is Peter Folgier. My elder brothers were all put apprentices to different trades. I was put to the grammar school at eight years of age, my father intending to devote me, as the ty the of his sons, to the service of the church. My early readiness in learning to read (which must have been very early, and I do not remember when I could not read) and the opinion of all my friends, that I should certainly make a good scholar, encouraged him in this purpose of his. My uncle Benjamin, too, approved of it, and proposed to give me his short-hand volumes of sermons to set up with, if I would learn shorthand.
I continued however at the grammar school rather less than a year, though in that time I had risen gradually from
Sherburne in the island of Nantucket.