Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Franklin Name
Franklin Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
This is an Anglo-Saxon occupational surname meaning “the franklin”, which means “the freeholder”, deriving from the Middle Engliush word frankelein, and earlier the Old French fraunclein, with the letter G becoming excrescent. The was feudal title during medieval times and the Middle Ages, which generally referred to a person who a freeman and holder of sizeable areas of lands, a gentlemen who ranked above the minor class, but was not as high as a knight or member of the nobility/aristocracy. Another source claims they were the equivalents of squires and meant a “superior freeholder”. In his book, Patronymica Britannica, Mark Anthony Lower, writes the following on this surname: “Properly the son or descendant of a vilein, who had become rich; but the term was also applied to farmers and country gentlemen of inconsiderable property”. A franklin was a person who owned land but was not entitled to call himself a Lord. The family first held lands and titles in Buckinghamshire, England. The Frankland family first held death in Yorkshire, where they were the Lords of the manor of Thirkelby.
It should also be noted the surname Frankland was the name of the land of the Franks (parts of modern day France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Hungary, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, and other countries in Europe) given to the area by the Saxons.
Frankland and Franlands are the names of locales in Devonshire, and Cumberland, England, respectively.
Common spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include Frankland, Franklyn, Francklin, Franckland, and Francklyn. Rarer variations include Franklind, Franklain, Frankllin, Ffranklin, Frankulin, Franklen, and Frankling.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Franklin ranks 236th in popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following nine states: Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois, Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The spelling variants rank in the same census as follows: Franklyn (32,791st) and Frankland (36,246th).
The surname Franklin frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (390th), Scotland (1,102nd), Wales (504th), Ireland (1,603rd) and Northern Ireland (1,392nd).
In England, it ranks highest in Oxfordshire. In Scotland, the Franklin surname rankest highest in Caithness. In Wales, it ranks highest in Merionethshire. In Ireland, it ranks highest in county Wexford. In Northern Ireland, it ranks highest in Tyrone.
The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (1,101st), New Zealand (468th), Australia (440th), and South Africa (2,843rd).
The 1890 book Homes of Family Names by H.B. Guppy, states the following in regard to this surname: “Oxfordshire has been for ages one of the principal homes of the Franklins. The name, which in early times, as well as in those of Shakespeare, often signified a freeholder, is also established in Bucks, Berks, Beds, Herts, Essex, and Northamptonshire, so that it may be said to occupy a somewhat circumscribed and continuous area. In the 13th century its usual forms were Frankelayn, Frankeleyn, Fraunkelayn, Fraunkeleyn, sometimes preceded by “Le” and “De,” Frankelin being rare (H. R.); it was then especially numerous in Oxfordshire, and also in fair numbers in Bucks and Wilts (H. R.), so that it would appear that in those early times, as in our own day, Oxfordshire and Bucks stood foremost amongst the English counties for their proportion of the Franklins”.
Early Bearers of the Surname
The earliest known bearer of this surname was Ralph Frankelein who was documented in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire in 1195 AD. A one Luke le Franckeleyn was documented in the Cambridge Feet of Fines in 1234 AD. The Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, a census of Wales and England, known in Latin as Rotuli Hundredorum lists two bearers of this surname: Robert le Fraunkelyn (Buckinghamshire) and Simon le Fraunkeleyn (Berkshire). William le Fraunkelayn was documented in county Somerset and Richard le Fraunkelyn was recorded in county Warwickshire during the reigns of Kings Henry III and Edward I of England according to the Testa de Neville, sive Liber Feodorum. William Fronkeleyn was recorded in county Somerset in 1327 AD in Kirby’s Quest. An early marriage involving this surname was Thomas Franclyn to Frideswide Watwood at St. Michael, Cornhill in 1561 AD. Early baptisms involving this name were Helen, daughter of James Francklen at St. Jamies Clerkenwell in 1581, and Peter, also son of James, the following year.
Franklin Family Tree & Franklin Genealogy
Frankclin of Gonalston
John Liell Francklin Esquire, was Justice of the Peace of Gonalston, county Nottingham and Great Barford, county Bedfordshire, who was born in 1844. In 1868, he married Honorable Alice Maud, daughter of Viscount St. Vincent, and had children with her, including a son named John, born in 1872. The genealogy traces back to Robert Francklin, Esq. of Skipton-upon-Craven, county York, who was the father of William, of Thurleigh, who married Margaret, daughter of Risley of Ravensdon, having the following issue with her: Thomas, Richard, William, and John. The eldest son was John, who married Elizabeth, a daughter of Barry of Thurleigh, and had a son with her named John. This John Francklin was Esquire who married Elizabeth, daughter of Halle of Mildham, and had two sons (John and William) and a daughter with her. He later married Anne, daughter of Edward Copley of Southill, and had three issue with her: George, Reverend Edward (born 1548, Rector of Kelshull), and Thomas (Alderman of London). The eldest son of his second marriage was Geroge Francklin, married Anne, daughter of Styles of Langley, Kent, and had the following issue with her: Elizabeth (married Thomas Basse of Berton), Anne (married Richard Gery of Bushmead), Margaret (married Thomas Bacan of Burton), Edmond (married Elizabeth Charnock), George, and two other sons. His son George Francklin was an Esquire of Maverne, county Bedford, born in 1590. George married Dorothy, daughter of William Halsey of Gaddeston, and had issue with her: Anne (married Richard Daston), George, William (married Countess of Donegall), and Sir John Francklin, Master in Chancery, who married twice, but did not have issue. Upon his death in 1707, the estates devolved to his kinsman, Reverend John Francklin, who was born in 1666. In 1695, this John married Sarah, daughter of John Neale of Wisbech, and had issue with her. The eldest son of this marriage was John Francklin, Esq. of Great Barford, county Bedford, England who was born in 1697. He married Anne, daughter of Sandra Foster, had two children with her: Anne (died 1794) and John (born 1736). The Francklin Coat of Arms (erroneously called the Francklin Family Crest) is blazoned in heraldry as follows: Argent, on a bend engrailed between two lion’s heads erased gules, a dolpin hauriant between two parrots or. Crest: A dolphin’s head or, erased gules between two olive branch vert. Motto: Sinceritate. This family was seated at Gonalston, near Southwell, Notts, and Great Barford, county Bedford.
Sir James Assheton Frankland, 12th Baronet, of Thirkleby, county York, was born in 1943 and succeeded his father the following year. The lineage of this family traces back to William Frankland, a Clothworker of London, of Rye House, Hertsfordshire and of Roche Abbey, Thirkleby, Blubberhouses and Fewston, York. He married a woman named Margery and had three children with her: Henry, William, and Joyce. He died in 1576 and was succeeded by his brother, Richard, who was in turn succeeded by his eldest son, Hugh Frankland. Hugh was of Thikleby and Rye House, who was heir to his uncle William. He married a daughter of John Foxall and later Joan Trappes, daughter of John Trappes. He was succeeded by his brother Ralph. Ralph was succeeded by his son William. This William Frankland was of Thirkleby and was a Member of Parliament for Thirsk from 1627-40. He married Lucy, daughter of Sir Henry Boteler of Hatfield Woodhall, Hertsfordshire, who had several issue with her including Henry, William, and Frances (married Sir Hugh Bethell of Ellerton). The eldest son, Sir Henry Frankland, of Thirkeby, was born in 1609 and Knighted in Dublin, Ireland by the Earl of Stratfford in 1636. He married Anne, daughter of Sir Arthur Harris of Cricksey, and had an only son with her. This son was Sir William Frankland, the 1st Baronet, of Thirkleby, a member of parliament for Thirsk from 1671-1681. He was created a Baronet in 1660, and in 1662, he married Arabella, daughter of Henry Bellasys, and had three issue with her: Sir Thomas (2nd Baronet), Henry (of Sowerby, Clerk of Peace, died in 1736), Reverend John (Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University and Dean of Ely), and Anne (married Leonard Smelt of Kirkby-Fletham). Sir Thomas, the 2nd Baronet, obtained a considerable estate at Chiswick, by deed of gift from his Uncle Thomas, Earl Fauconberg. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Russell, and had several issue with her including: Sir Thomas (3rd Baronet), William (Consul at Biscay and Treasurer of the Stamp Office), Henry (Governor of Bengal, married Mary Cross), and Frederick Meinhart (Member of Parliament, Governor of England, married Elizabeth, widow of Adam Cardonnel and later Ann, daughter of the 1st Earl of Scarborough).
Other Franklin Pedigree & Family Trees
Henry Franklin was born in Queens County, New York around 1670. He married Dorothy Bowne and later Sarah Cock, leaving two issue: Sarah and Thomas. His son Thomas was born in 1704 and married Mary Pearsall in Long Island, NY, and had eight children with her: Henry, Joshua, Mary, Walter, Sarah, John, Thomas, and Samuel. His son Walter Franklin was born in 1729. He married Maria Bowne and had three issue with her: Maria (Clinton), Sarah, and Hannah (Clinton).
William Franklin was born in Mileham, Norfolk in 1538. He married Dorothy Coke and had a daughter with her named Elizabeth.
William Franklin was born in Mileham, Norfolk, England in 1544. He married Anne Cornell and had a son with her, also named William. This William was born in 1570 and was the father of a daughter named Elizabeth who married Thomas Laughton in 1611 and had issue with him.
John Francklin was born in Tittleshall, England in 1628. He married Frances Skippon and later Jane Lang, having the following issue: Jane, Elizabeth, John, Philip, Frances, Francesca, Rbecca, and Edward.
William Frankland was born in Rye, Hertfordshire, in 1573 AD. He married Lucy Boteler and had a son with her named Henry.
John Franklyn was born around 1518. He married a woman named Joan and had a son with her named John. This John was born in Peasemore, Berkshire, in 1538, and married Alyce Crosse, with whom he had a daughter named Jone Franklyn, born in Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire in 1568.
Early American and New World Settlers
Jonathan Franklin, age 17, came to the Barbados aboard the Alexander in May 1635.
Thomas Franklin came to the New World aboard the Supply in March 1679.
Thomas Franklyn (or Franclyon or Frankcklyn) was a convicted rebel who came to the Barbados in the late seventeenth century. Nicholas Francklin was buried in the parish of St. Michael, Barbados in June 1679.
The book Genealogical Guide to the Early Settlers, mentions two bearers of this last name:
1) Josiah Franklin, of Boston, born in Eaton, Northamptonshire, England, 1657, came to America around 1683 with his wife Ann and three children: Elizabeth, Samuel, Hannah. He was a soapboiler and maker. He had more issue named Josiah (1685), Ann (1687), Joseph (1688), John (1690), Peter (1692), Mary (1694), James, Sarah, Ebenezer, Thomas, Benjamin (the famous Founding Father), Lydia, and Jane. He died in 1745.
2) William Franklin of Ipswich, 1634, came aboard the John & Mary, and moved to Newbury. He married a woman named Alize, daughter of Zobert Andrews, and was a blacksmith, who moved to Boston and had Elizabeth. His second wife was named Joanna, and had had two issue with her: John (1642) and Benjamin (1643).
Early settlers in colonial America bearing this surname who arrived in the seventeenth and eighteenth century include Henry Franklin (Virginia 1634) , Henry Franklyn (Maryland 1649), John Frankland (Virginia 1700) Robert Franklyn (Virginia 1705), William Franklyn (Virginia 1705), Cesar Franklin (Maryland 1740), and a Mr. (first name unknown) Frankland (Philadelphia 1775).
In Canada, one of the first bearers of this name was Thomas Franklin who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750. In Australia, Thomas Franklin, a convict from Middlesex, England, was one of the first bearers of this surname, arriving in New South Wales (then a penal colony) who came aboard the Almorah in 1817. In New Zealand, one of the first bearers was Edmund Franklin, a harness maker, who came aboard the Lord William Bentinck in 1841 at the age of 28, arriving in the city of Wellington.
Early Americans Bearing the Franklin Family Crest
Charles Bolton’s American Armory (1927) contains two entries for this surname:
1) Arg on a bend bet 2 lions’ heads erased [gu] a dolphin embowed arg [bet 2 martlets or]. Impaling: Arg 3 pales gu (Downes). Memorial tablet to Elizabeth, wife of Wm. Franklin, Gov. of N. J., in St. Paul’s chapel, Broadway, N. Y. She d. 1778. Seen 20 May, 1920, in dim light.
2) Arg on a bend bet 2 lions’ heads erased gu, a dolphin embowed of the field bet 2 martlets close or. Crest: a dolphin’s head in pale arg, erased gu, finned or, bet 2 branches vert. Motto: Exemplum adest ipse homo. Bookplate John Franklin, brother of Benjamin. J. Turner, sc. Benjamin Franklin used this coat as his shield, and later William Franklin, Gov. of N. J., used it. Vermont Amer. Heral., pp. 18, 165.
Crozier’s General Armory (1904) contains two entrues for this name:
1) Josiah Franklin of Massachusetts, 1655, came from Ecton, Northampton. Argent, on a bend between two lions’ heads erased gules, a dolphin embowed of the field, between two martlets close, or. Crest: A dolphin’s head in pale argent, erased gules, finned or, between two branches vert. Motto: Exemplum adest ipse homo.
2) Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, same arms as above.
Matthew’s American Armoury (1907) and Bluebook contains one entry for this name:
1) Dr. Benjamin Franklin. Argent on a bend engrailed between two lions’ heads erased gules, a dolphin between two martlets or. Crest: The head of a fish erased gules between two sprigs vert.
I have identified two Franklin/Frankland/Flanklyn/Frankcklin family mottos :
1) Exemplum adest ipse homo (An example is the man)
2) Libera terra, liberque animus (A free earth and a free mind)
3) A’lo hecho Pecho (What can’t be cured must be endured)
4) Pro rege et patria (For my king and county)
5) Anchora labentibus undis (Amid the drifting currents an anchor)
6) Sinceritate (By sincerity)
We have 16 coats of arms for the Franklin surname depicted here. These 16 blazons are from Bernard Burke’s book The General Armory of England, Ireland, and Scotland, which was published in 1848. The bottom of this page contains the blazons, and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it. People with this last name that bore an Franklin Coat of Arms (or mistakenly called the Family Crest)
1) Hugh Frankland (or Francklyn), gentlemen, of Nessinge, Yorkshire, 9 November 1566, by Flower
2) William Franckland of Rye, Hertsfordshire, crest granted 3 March 1568-9 by G. Dethick, Cooke, and Flower
3) Franklin of Willesden, Middlesex, by Camden, Argent, on a fesse azure 3 dolphins embowed of the field. Crest, a dolphin embowed gules, transfixed by two fish hooks saltirewise, etc.
4) Henry Francklin, son of Rowland, then upon his travels, grant 20 May/June 1592, by W. Dethick
5) Richard Franklin of York, gentleman, 25 February 180 by G. Dethick
6) William Franklin, dean of Durham, 1580, by T. Tonge
There are hundreds of notable people with the Franklin surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include: 1) Benjamin Franklin (1705-1790) who was one of a politician, printer, author, freemason, scientist, diplomat, and Founding Father of the United States, as well as the 6th President of Pennsylvania, 2) Clarence LaVaughn Franklin (1915-1984) who was an American Baptist minister and civil rights activist born in Mississippi who was active in Detroit, 3) Hugh Arthur Franklin (1889-1962) who was a British suffragist and Politian who was born in London and was from a wealth Anglo-Jewish family, 4) Jane Franklin (1791-1875) who was also called Lady Franklin, the wife of Sir John Franklin, an English explorer and Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen’s Land, 5) Kenneth Linn Franklin (1924-2007) who was an American astronomer born in Alameda California who was the chief scientist at the Hayden Planetarium from 1956-1984, 6) Nobia A. Franklin (182-1934) who was a Texas entrepreneur and beautician who sold beauty products targeted toward black women, 7) Pamela Franklin (1950) who is a British actress who appeared in films from 1961-1976, as well as in American television during the 1970s, best known for her role in the 1969 movie The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, 8) Rosalind Elsie Franklin (1920-1958) who was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer, born in Notting Hill, London, best known for her contributions to NA and RNA, 9) Sir Edward Frankland (1825-1899) who was a British chemist that was a pioneer of organometallic chemistry and valence, 10) William Frankland (1573-1640) who was an English politician who served in the English House of Commons in 1628, and 11) Milton J. Franlyn (1897-1962) who was a musical composer and arranger who worked for Warner Brothers on scoring animated cartoons and was born in New York City.