William Franklin

Colonial Administrator
Born 1731

William Franklin was an American soldier, attorney, and colonial administrator, the acknowledged illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin. He was appointed as the last Colonial Governor of New Jersey (1763-1776). Franklin was a steadfast Loyalist throughout the American War of Independence. As his father was one of the most prominent Patriots and a Founding Father of the United States, their differences caused an irreconcilable break between them.… Read More

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1730 Birth Born in 1730.


1750 20 Years Old In 1750, Ben told his own mother that William was nineteen years old, but this may have been an attempt to make the youth appear legitimate. … Read More
1752 22 Years Old Although often depicted as a young child when he assisted his father in the famed kite experiment of 1752, William was 21 years old at the time. … Read More
1759 29 Years Old Neither family approved of the match, but when William went to London to study law about 1759, he left with the understanding that Elizabeth would wait for him.


1762 32 Years Old 1 More Event
While in London, Franklin sired an illegitimate son, William Temple Franklin, who was born 22 February 1762. … Read More
1763 33 Years Old In 1763, William Franklin was appointed as the Royal Governor of New Jersey, due to his father's influence with the British Prime Minister. … Read More


1776 46 Years Old William Franklin continued as governor until January of 1776, when colonial militiamen placed him under house arrest, which lasted until the middle of June. … Read More
1777 47 Years Old William Franklin's wife Elizabeth died in 1777 while he was imprisoned as a Loyalist during the American Revolutionary War. … Read More
1778 48 Years Old When finally released in a prisoner exchange in 1778, he moved to New York City, which was still occupied by the British.
1779 49 Years Old Active in the Loyalist community of New York, Franklin became President of the Board of Associated Loyalists. In 1779, he had learned through his friend, the poet Jonathan Odell, and British Secret Service chief Major John André, that Benedict Arnold was secretly defecting to the British.


1782 52 Years Old 1 More Event
While in New York, Franklin tried to encourage a guerrilla war and active reprisals against the rebels but was frustrated by British Commander-in-Chief General Clinton, who did not support this. In 1782 Franklin was implicated in the Loyalist officer Richard Lippincott's hanging of Joshua Huddy. … Read More
1783 53 Years Old In 1783 he visited Scotland and was asked to be a founding member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. … Read More
1784 54 Years Old 1 More Event
William Franklin sent a letter to his father, dated 22 July 1784, in an attempt at reconciliation.
1785 55 Years Old William saw his father one last time in 1785, when Benjamin stopped in Britain on his return journey to the United States after his time in France. … Read More
1788 58 Years Old 1 More Event
In his 1788 will, Benjamin left William virtually none of his wealth, except some territory in Nova Scotia and some property already in William's possession. … Read More


1813 83 Years Old William died in 1813, and is buried in St Pancras Old Church churchyard. … Read More
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