William Franklin

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William Franklin
13th Colonial Governor of New Jersey
In office
MonarchGeorge III
Preceded byJosiah Hardy
Succeeded byWilliam Livingston
As Governor of New Jersey
Personal details
Bornca. 1730
Died1813 (aged 82–83)[1]
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Downes, Mary Johnson d'Evelin
ChildrenWilliam Temple Franklin
ParentsBenjamin Franklin
Occupationsoldier, colonial administrator

William Franklin (c.1730 – November 1813) was an American soldier, attorney, and colonial administrator, the acknowledged illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin. He was the last colonial Governor of New Jersey (1763–1776). Franklin was a steadfast Loyalist throughout the American Revolutionary War.

Early life[change | change source]

William Franklin was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin, a leading figure in the city. His mother's identity is unknown.[2] In 1750, Ben told his own mother that William was nineteen years old,[3] but this may have been an attempt to make the youth appear legitimate.

William was raised by Benjamin Franklin and Deborah Read.

Marriage and family[change | change source]

As a young man, William became engaged to Elizabeth Graeme, daughter of prominent Philadelphia physician Dr. Thomas Graeme[4] and granddaughter of Pennsylvania's 14th Governor, Sir William Keith.

While in London, Franklin sired an illegitimate son, William Temple Franklin, who was born 22 February 1762. His mother has never been identified, and he was placed in foster care.

Later that year, Franklin married Elizabeth Downes on September 4, 1762 at St George's, Hanover Square in London.

Career[change | change source]

William Franklin completed his law education in England.

Governor of New Jersey[change | change source]

In 1763, William Franklin was appointed as the Royal Governor of New Jersey, due to his father's influence with the British Prime Minister. He replaced Josiah Hardy, a merchant and colonial administrator. As governor, Franklin signed the charter for Queen's College, which would develop as Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

References[change | change source]

  1. http://www.nj.gov/state/archives/docfranklin.html gives 13 Nov., http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/William_Franklin.aspx gives 16 Nov. and http://www.geni.com/people/William-Franklin-Colonial-Governor-of-New-Jersey/6000000007529267271 gives 17 Nov.
  2. "Franklin, Benjamin", Britannica Online, retrieved 16 November 2006.
  3. Randall 1984, p. 43.
  4. Thomas Græme, archived from the original on 2011-06-12, retrieved 2016-04-16