William Franklin

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This article is the New Jersey Governor, William Franklin. For the opera singer, see William Franklin (opera).
Missing image
WilliamFranklin.jpeg
Portrait of Franklin

William Franklin (1730-1813) was the last Royal Governor of New Jersey. He was born in Philadelphia, the illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin. His mother's identity is unknown: he was raised by his father and Deborah Read. He accompanied his father on several missions, including his trips to England.

He completed his education in England, and was admitted to the bar. He also married Elizabeth Downes on September 4, 1762 and had one illegitimate son, William Temple (mother unknown). When the family returned from England in 1763, he carried a commission from George III to be the Colonial Governor of New Jersey.

Owing to his father's pivotal role as a Founding Father of the American Revolution, the relationship between father and son was strained to say the least. In his will, Benjamin Franklin left his son William virtually none of his wealth, stating that had England won the war, the elder Franklin would have had no wealth to leave to his son anyway.

William remained as governor until he was arrested by the rebels in 1776. For two years he was held as a prisoner of war. When finally released, he fled to New York City which was still occupied by the British. He later left with other loyalists for England, and died there in 1813.

Preceded by:
Josiah Hardy
Governors of New Jersey Succeeded by:
William Livingston
(the first revolutionary Governor of New Jersey)
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