James  Franklin

James Franklin (1697 - 1735)

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James Franklin
Born in Boston, Massachusettsmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in Boston, Massachusettsmap
Died in Newport, Rhode Islandmap
Franklin-84 created 28 Feb 2010 | Last modified
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James Franklin was born at Boston, Massachusetts on Feb. 4, 1696, son of Josiah Franklin [1] and Anne Child. [2]

He was sent by his parents to England to learn the printer's trade. In 1717, he was able to bring a printing press and typesets from England to Boston. His younger brother Benjamin was indentured as his apprentice and they set type for the Boston News Letter. [3] [4]

In 1719, he was employed to print the Boston Gazette, the first issue released that December,. He continued the employ for about another year, when a different publisher was chosen. [4] [5]

The Hell-Fire literary group formed by Benjamin Franklin and William Douglass often met at the printing offices of the Courant, and members contributed writings to the publication, adding the practice of long editorials within it's contents. [6]

In 1723, James Franklin was arrested, and censured and for a month by a Speaker's warrant for the outspoken political nature to one of his articles, while James refused to divulge the author. [3] [4]

The younger brother Benjamin, his apprentice, was made publisher as the court had restrained James from publishing the Courant, or any pamphlet or paper of a similar nature, unless approved by the Secretary of the province. This allowed publication, evading the court order on James. [5] [6] [7] However, for Benjamin to be publisher, the indenture agreement had to be canceled, and another one was written, but kept in secret. [3] [4]

James expected Benjamin to act in the manner of obedience and service of any apprentice, while Benjamin sought indulgence and leniency and they often argued. Benjamin eventually publicly let out the 'secret' indenture resulting in their final quarrel and left for Phildadelphia. [3] James wife Ann took over the responsibility as assistant printer and shopkeeper at the Courant, becoming one of the first woman printer's in the New England colonies. [6] [4]

As interest in the paper declined at Boston, James' brother John advised him that there was a good prospect for a printer and newspaper at the seaport of Newport, Rhode Island, so James moved his operation there in about 1727, being the first Rhode Island printer. [5] [7]

In 1730, James was chosen by the Newport Assembly to publish a new edition of colonial laws. [3]

On September 27, 1732, he published the first edition of the Rhode Island Gazette, but the paper lasted just six months. [3] [4]

In 1733, he published the schedule for the General Assembly. [3] He continued his printing business by publishing Almanacs and works for various authors, as well as printing on linens and fabrics, a trade he learned in England.

James died at the age of 38 in Newport on Feb. 4, 1734/5 and his widow Anne continued the printing business for another 13 years until her son James Jr. took over the operation. She took on a partner, Samuel Hall, said to be her son-in-law. [5] [3]

He is buried in the Common Burial Ground at Newport. [8]

He married Anna Smith at Boston on Feb. 4, 1723. [9] Anna was born there on Oct. 2, 1696, daughter of Samuel and Anna Smith. [2]

His widow Ann died on April 19, 1763 and is buried with James. [10] She survived all her five children. [5]


Anne born about 1727; died on November 2, 1730 aged 2 years and 8 months. [11]
James Jr. born ___ (c 1730); died on April 21, 1762. [5]
Abiah born ___; died before 1763.[5] (may have married George Buckmaster at Newport on July 17, 1743 and died on Oct. 15, 1754)
Elizabeth (sometimes called Sarah Ann) born ___ ; died before 1763. [5](possibly the wife of Samuel Hall)
Mary born ___ ; died before 1763. [5]

Source notes

Boston Births/Baptisms

1696: James of Josiah and Abiah Franklin born Feb. 4. (p. 226)
1696: Anna of Samuel and Anna Smith born Oct. 2. (p. 228)[2]

Boston Marriages

James Franklin & Ann Smith were married by Mr. John Webb, Presn., Feb. 4, 1723. (p. 113)[9]


  1. James was mentioned in his father's Will dated October 1, 1744, Will of Josiah Franklin (https://www.wikitree.com/photo/png/Franklin-84)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Appleton, William S. City Document 130. Boston Births, Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths 1630-1699, Registry Dept. City of Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, Rockwell & Churchill Printers, 1883
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Chase, A. C. editor. The Inter Ocean Curiosity Shop for the Year 1892, The Inter Ocean Publishing Co., Chicago, Illinois, 1893, p. 153-5
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Derby, George & James T. White. The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Being the History of the United States, Volume 8, J. T .White, publisher, New York, New York, 1898
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 James, Edward T. et al. Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary, Volume 2, Harvard University Press, Boston, Massachusetts, 1971 p. 662
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2
  7. 7.0 7.1 Roberts, Oliver A. History of the Military Company of the Massachusetts, Now Called the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts. 1637-1888, A. Mudge & Son, printers, Boston, Massachusetts, 1897 p. 9
  8. Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Database: Newport, Common Burial Ground. http://www.rihistoriccemeteries.org/newgravedetails.aspx?ID=144645
  9. 9.0 9.1 McGlenen, Edward W. compiler. City Document 150: A Report of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston, containing Boston Marriages from 1700 to 1751. Municipal Printing Office, Boston, Massachusetts, 1898.
  10. Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Database: Newport, Common Burial Ground. http://www.rihistoriccemeteries.org/newgravedetails.aspx?ID=144646
  11. Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Database: Newport, Common Burial Ground. http://www.rihistoriccemeteries.org/newgravedetails.aspx?ID=141897

See also: * Archaeologia Americana (American Antiquarian Society, 1820-1909) Vol. 5, Page 109

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Memories: 1

On 18 Feb 2012 Lois Hirsch wrote:

Birth: Feb. 4, 1697

Boston Suffolk County Massachusetts, USA Death: Feb. 4, 1735 Newport Newport County Rhode Island, USA

Printer. Older brother of Benjamin Franklin. Ben served as his apprentice from ages 12 to 17. James founded the New England Courant, for which Ben secretly wrote letters under the pen name Silence Dogood. When James learned Dogood's true identity, he was displeased with Ben, who then ran away to Philadelphia. James married Ann Smith on his 26th birthday in 1723. When the Courant was shut down 4 years later, the couple moved to Rhode Island and started a new publication, the Rhode Island Almanack. On his 38th birthday and 12th wedding anniversary, James died after a long illness. (bio by: Collins Crapo)

Family links: Parents: Josiah Franklin (1657 - 1745) Abiah Folger Franklin (1667 - 1752)

Spouse: Ann Smith Franklin (1696 - 1763)

Children: Ann Franklin (1728 - 1730)*

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Burial: Common Burying Ground Newport Newport County Rhode Island, USA

Maintained by: Find A Grave Originally Created by: Collins Crapo Record added: Oct 10, 2010 Find A Grave Memorial# 59899116

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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with James by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA test-takers in his direct paternal line. Mitochondrial DNA test-takers in the direct maternal line:

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Images: 3
James Franklin Tombstone
James Franklin Tombstone

Common Burying Ground Cemetery
Common Burying Ground Cemetery

Will of Josiah Franklin
Will of Josiah Franklin


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