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And here let me with all humility acknowledge, that to divine Providence I am indebted for the felicity I have hitherto enjoyed. It is that power alone which has furnished me with the means I have employed, and that has crowned them with success. My faith in this respect leads me to hope, though I cannot count upon it, that the Divine goodness will still be exercised towards me either by prolonging the duration of my happiness to the close of life, or by giving me fortitude to support any melancholy reverse, which may happen to me, as to su many others. My future for. tune is unknown but to him in whose hand is our destiny, and who can make our very afflictions subservient to our benefit.
One of my uncles, desirous like myself, of collecting anecdotes of our family, gave me some notes, from which I have derived many particulars respecting our ancestors. From these I learn, that they had lived in the same village (Eaton in Northamptonshire) upon a freehold of about thirty acres, for the space at least of three hundred years. How long they had resided there prior to that period, my uncle had been unable to discover; probably ever since the institution of surnames, when they took the appellation of Franklin, which had formerly been the name of a particular order of indi. viduals. *
As a proof that Franklin was anciently the common name of an order of rank in England, see judge Fortescue, De laudibus legum Anglie, written about the year 1412, in which is the following passage to show that good juries might easily be formed in any part of England:
«« Regio etiam illa, ita respersa refertaque est possessoribus terrarum et agrorum, quod in ea, villulatam parva reperiri on poterit, in qua non est miles, armiger, vel pater familias qualis ibidem Franklin vulgaritur nuncupatur, magnis ditatus possessonibus, necnon libere, tenentes at alii valecti plurimi, suis patrimoniis sufficientes, ad faciendum juratam, in forma prænotata."
“ Moreover, the same country is so filled and replenished with “ landed menne, that therein so small a thorpe cannot be found This petty estate would not have sufficed for their subsistence, had they not added the trade of blacksmith, which was perpetuated in the family down to my uncle's time, the eldest son having been uniformly brought up to this employment: a custom which both he and my father observed with respect to their eldest sons.
In the researches I made at Eaton, I found no account of their births, marriages and deaths, earlier than the year 1555 ; the parish register not extending farther back than that period. This register in. formed me, that I was the youngest son of the youngest branch of the family, counting five generations. My grandfather, Thomas, who was born in 1598, living at Eaton till he was too old to continue his trade, when he retired to Banbury in Oxfordshire, where his son John, who was a dyer resided, and with whom my father was apprenticed. He died, and was buried there : we saw his monument in 1758. His eldest son lived in the family house at Eaton, which he bequeathed, with the land belonging to it, to his only daugh
6 wherein dwelleth not a knight, an esquire, or such a householder
as is there commonly called a Franklin, enriched with great pos« sessions; and also other freeholders and many yeomen, able for " their livelihoods to make a jury in form aforementioned.”
Chaucer too calls his country gentleman a Franklin, and after describing his good housekeeping, thus characterises him:
This worthy Franklin bore a purse of silk,
ter ; who, in concert with her husband, Mr. Fisher of Wellinborough, afterwards sold it to Mr. Ested, the present proprietor.
My grandfather had four surviving sons, Thomas, John, Benjamin, and Josias. I shall give you such particulars of them as my memory will furnish, not having my papers here, in which you will find a more minute account, if they are not lost during my ab
Thomas had learned the trade of a blacksmith under his father; but possessing a good natural understanding, he improved it by study, at the solicitation of a gentleman by the name of Palmer, who was at that time the principal inhabitant of the village, and who encouraged in like manner all my uncles to improve their minds. Thomas thus rendered himself competent to the functions of a country attorney ; soon became an essential personage in the affairs of the village ; and was one of the chief movers of every public enterprize, as well relative to the country as the town of Northampton. A variety of remarkable incidents were told us of him at Eaton. After enjoying the esteem and patronage of lord Halifax, he died January 6, 1702, precisely four years before I was born. The recital that was made us of his life and character, by some aged persons of the village, struck you, I remember, as extraordinary, from its analogy to what you knew of myself. “ Had he died,” said you, “ just four years later, one might have supposed a transmigration of souls.'
John, to the best of my belief, was brought up to the trade of a wool-dyer.
Benjamin served his apprenticeship in London to a silk-dyer. He was an industrious man: I remember him well; for, while I was a child, he joined my father at Boston, and lived for some years in the house with us.
A particular affection had always subsisted betw my father and him; and I was his godson.
He arrived to a great age.
He left behind hiin two quarto volumes of poems in manuscript, consisting of little fugitive pieces addressed to the friends. He had invented a short-hand, which he taught me, but having never made use of it, I have now forgotten it. He was a man of piety, and a constant attendant on the best preachers, whose sermons he took a pleasure in writing down according to the expeditory method he had devised. Many volumes were thus collected by him. He was also extremely fond of politics, too much so perhaps for his situation. I lately found in London a collection which he had made of all the principal pamphlets relative to public affairs, from the year 1641 to 1717. Many volumes are wanting, as appears by the series of numbers; but there still remain eight in folio, and twenty four in quarto and octavo. The collection had fallen into the hands of a secondhand booksellor, who, knowing me by having sold me some books, brought it to me. My uncle it seems, had left it behind him on his departure for America, about fifty years ago. I found various notes of his writing in the margin. His grandson, Samuel is now living at Boston.
Our humble family had early embraced the Reformation. They remained faithfully attached during the reign of queen Mary, when they were in danger of being molested on account of their zeal against popery. They had an English Bible, and, to conceal it the more securely, they conceived the prospect of fastening it, open, with pack-threads across the leaves, on the inside of the lid of a close-stool. When my great-grandfather wish ed to read to his family, he reversed the lid of the close.stool upon his knees, and passed the leaves from one side to the other, which were held down on each by the pack-thread. One of the children was stationed ai the door to give notice if he saw the proctor (an officer of the spiritual court) make his appearance : in that case, the lid was restored to its place, with the
Bible concealed under it as before. I had this anecdote from my uncle Benjamin.
The whole family preserved its attachments to the Church of England till towards the close of the reign of Charles II. when certain ministers, who had been ejected as non-conformists, having held conventicles in Northampionshire, they were joined by Benjamin and Josias, who adhered to them ever after. The rest of the family continued in the episcopal Church.
My father, Josias, married early in life. He went with his wife and three children, to New England about the year 1682. Conventicles being at that time prohibited by law, and frequently disturbed, some considerable persons of his acquaintance determined to go to America, where they hoped to enjoy the free exercise of their religion, and my father was prevailed on to accompany them.
My father had also by the same wife four children born in America, and ten others'by, a second wife, making in all seventeen. I remember to have seen thirteen seated together at his table, who all arrived to years of maturity, and were married. I was the last of the sons, and the youngest child, excepting two daughters. I was born at Boston in New England. My mother the second wife, was Abiah Folger, daughter of Peter Folger, one of the first colonists of New England, of whom Cotton Mather makes honourable mention, in his Ecclesiastical History of that province, as "a pious 66 and learned Englishman,” if I rightly recollect his expressions. I have been told of his having written a variety of little pieces; but there appears to be only one in print, which I met with many years ago. It was published in the year 1675, and is in familiar verse, agreeable to the taste of the times and the country. The author addresses himself to the governors for the time being, speaks for liberty of conscience, and in favour of the anabaptists, quakers, and other sectaries, who had suffered persecution. To this persecution he attributes the wars with the natives, and other calamities which afflicted the country, regarding them as the judgments of