Josiah Franklin

FACTS ABOUT JOSIAH FRANKLIN: THE FATHER OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

"My father, Josiah Franklin, was a tallow-chandler and soap-boiler; a business he was not bred to, but had assumed on his arrival in New England, and on finding his dying trade would not maintain his family, being in little request.
He was, in many respects, a remarkable man. He had an excellent constitution of body, was of middle stature, but well set, and very strong; he was ingenious, could draw prettily, was skilled a little in music, and had a clear, pleasing voice, so that when he played psalm tunes on his violin and sung withal, as he sometimes did in an evening after the business of the day was over, it was extremely agreeable to hear.
He had a mechanical genius too, and, on occasion, was very handy in the use of other tradesmen's tools; but his great excellence lay in a sound understanding and solid judgment in prudential matters, both in private and public affairs."

—Benjamin Franklin

Josiah Franklin, a 17th century English immigrant, pursued an ordinary trade in colonial Boston yet profoundly shaped American history by instilling in his son Benjamin Franklin the Puritan values that would inspire a founding father.

Though humbly making candles and soap to provide for his sizable family, Josiah passed on the resilience, dedication to craft, and thirst for moral betterment that kindled Benjamin's legendary ingenuity and leadership.

While history remembers Benjamin's revolutionary accomplishments, behind them stands his father Josiah—not a famous man, but the quiet spark that lit the fire of American independence.

HE HAD A HUGE FAMILY

Josiah Franklin's family
© History Oasis

Josiah was the proud father of 17 children, and though I jest not, I reckon it would have been quite the feat to remember all their names, especially when the dinner bell rang!

His most famed offspring, Benjamin Franklin, the apple of his eye, was the 15th child and his youngest son.

To have so many children was not entirely unheard of in his day, but it sure does make our modern family gatherings look tame by comparison.

HE LIVED TO THE AGE OF 87

old Josiah Franklin
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Another curious fact about our dear Josiah: the man was a veritable Methuselah of his time.

He lived to the ripe old age of 87, a hearty age that would be considered a fair innings even by today's standards.

In his time, when life was often cut short by disease and hardship, such longevity was a rarity indeed. Perhaps it was the daily wrestling with so many children that kept him hearty and hale.

HE WAS AN IMMIGRANT FROM ENGLAND LIVING IN BOSTON

Boston 1700s
© History Oasis

Though he is primarily known for his American son, our good Josiah was not a native of this land.

No sir, he was an Englishman, born and bred in Ecton, Northamptonshire.

Imagine the change, the courage it took to transplant himself to the New World, carrying his old-world craftsman skills to Boston, Massachusetts. It was these same skills that would provide the foundation for his family's prosperity.

HE WAS A PURITAN

puritans
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Josiah was a devout man, a Puritan in fact. For those who don't know, Puritans were a passionate lot, seeking to purify the Church of England of what they considered unnecessary fripperies inherited from the Catholic faith.

This religious fervor crossed the ocean with him, shaping the ethos of his family and leaving an indelible mark on his famous son.

HE WAS A TALLOW CHANDLER & SOAP BOILER

© History Oasis

Josiah Franklin was a tallow chandler and soap boiler.

For the uninitiated, this means he made candles and soap. This might not sound particularly glamorous to our modern ears, but let me assure you, dear reader, in a world lit only by fire and where hygiene was a luxury, his trade was as important as a heart surgeon today.

HE WAS POOR

Josiah Franklin's home
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Despite the essential nature of his work, Josiah often found himself wrestling with the wolf at the door.

His large family, though a source of joy, was also a drain on his resources.

But he faced his challenges with courage and resilience, traits that his son Benjamin inherited and held in high esteem.

JOSIAH INFLUENCED HIS SON BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

portrait of Benjamin Franklin
© History Oasis

It was this fortitude, this dedication to work, and his strong religious beliefs that shaped the young Benjamin Franklin.

The experiences and lessons of his childhood, guided by his father Josiah, played a crucial role in making Benjamin the man we remember: a leader of the American Enlightenment and a founding father of the United States.

THE FRANKLIN STOVE WAS NAMED AFTER JOSIAH

Franklin Stove
© History Oasis

The Franklin Stove, a remarkable invention of Benjamin, was not named after its inventor as one might assume.

No, it was named in honor of Josiah.

Benjamin's respect for his father was profound and enduring, as shown by this tribute.

The Franklin Stove warmed many a hearth and home, just as Josiah had provided warmth and comfort for his large family.

JOSIAH FRANKLIN DIED & WAS BURIED IN BOSTON

© History Oasis

The final resting place of Josiah Franklin lies in the Granary Burying Ground in Boston, Massachusetts.

But if you go looking for his name upon the tombstones, you may come up short. His grave is marked not with his own name, but as the father of Benjamin Franklin.

Even in death, Josiah remains somewhat overshadowed by his illustrious son. Yet, I wager he would not have minded.

His satisfaction, I suspect, came from seeing his children, especially Benjamin, succeed and contribute to the world in ways he could only have dreamed.

There you have it, dear reader—the life of Josiah Franklin, the father of a founding father.

A man who may have led an ordinary life for his time, but whose influence was anything but ordinary.

An Englishman in Boston, a Puritan, a skilled craftsman, a struggling yet resilient family man, and a father whose teachings shaped one of the most influential figures in American history.

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