« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
generality of men hate vanity in others, however
And here let me with all humility acknow-
One of my uncles, defirous, like myself, of
Franklin, which had formerly been the name of a particular order of individuals*
This petty estate would not have fufficed for their fubfiftence, had they not added the trade of blacksmith, which was perpetuated in the family down to my uncle's time, the eldest fon having been uniformly brought up to this employment: a custom which both he and my father obferved with refpect to their eldest fons.
In the researches I made at Eaton, I found no account of their births, marriages, and deaths, earlier than the year 1555; the parish register not extending farther back than that period.
* As a proof that Franklin was anciently the common name of an order or rank in England, fee Judge Fortescue, De laudibus legum Anglia, written about the year 1412, in which is the following paffage, to fhew that good juries might easily be formed in any part of England:
Regio etiam illa, ita refperfa refertaque eft possessoribus "terrarum et agrorum, quod in ea, villula tam parva reperiri "non poterit, in qua non est miles, armiger, vel pater-familias,
qualis ibidem franklin vulgariter nuncupatur, magnis di"tatus poffeffionibus, nec non libere tenentes et alii valecti "plurimi, fuis patrimoniis fufficientes, ad faciendum jura
tum, in forma prænotata."
"Moreover the fame country is fo filled and replenished with landed menne, that therein fo fmall a thorpe cannot be found wherein dwelleth not a knight, an efquire, or fuch ૯૯ a householder as is there commonly called a franklin, en"riched with great poffeffrons; and alfo other freeholders "and many yeomen, able for their livelihoodes to make a jury in form aforementioned."
Chaucer too calls his country gentleman a franklin, and after defcribing his good housekeeping, thus characterises
This worthy franklin bore a purfe of silk,
This regifter informed me, that I was the youngeft fon of the youngeft branch of the family, counting five generations. My grandfather, Thomas, who was born in 1598, lived at Eaton till he was too old to continue his trade, when he retired to Banbury in Oxfordshire, where his fon John who was a dyer, refided, and with whom my father was apprenticed. He died, and was buried there: we faw his monument in 1758. His eldest fon lived in the family houfe at Eaton, which he bequeathed, with the land belonging to it, to his only daughter; who, in concert with her husband, Mr. Fisher of Wellinborough, after wards fold it to Mr. Efted, the prefent proprietor.
My grandfather had four furviving fons, Thomas, John, Benjamin, and Jofias. I fhall give you fuch particulars of them as my memory will furnish, not having my papers here, in which you will find a more minute account, if they are not loft during my absence.
Thomas had learned the trade of blacksmith under his father; but poffeffing a good natural understanding, he improved it by study, at the folicitation of a gentleman of the name of Palmer, who was at that time the principal inhabitant of the village, and who encouraged in like manner all my uncles to cultivate their minds. Thomas thus rendered himself competent to the functions of a country attorney; foon became an effential perfonage in the affairs of the village; and was one of the chief movers of every public enterprize, as well relative to the county as the town of Northampton. A variety of remarkable incidents were told us of him at Eaton. After enjoying the efteem and patronage of lord Halifax, he died, January 6, 1702, precifely four years before I was born. The recital that was made us of his life and character, by fome aged perfons of
of the village, ftruck you, I remember. as extraordinary, from its analogy to what you knew of myself." Had he died," faid you, juft "four years later, one might have fuppofed a "tranfmigration of fouls."
John, to the beft of my belief, was brought up to the trade of a wool-dyer.
Benjamin ferved his apprenticeship in London to a filk-dyer. He was an induftrious man: I remember him well; for, while I was a child, he joined my father at Bofton, and lived for fome years in the house with us. A particular affection had always fubfifted between my father and him; and I was his godfon. He arrived to a great age. He left behind him two quarto volumes of poems in manufcript, confifting of little fugitive pieces addreffed to his friends. He had invented a short-hand, which he taught me, but having never made use of it, I have now forgotten it. He was a man of piety, and a conftant attendant on the beft preachers, whofe fermons he took a pleasure in writing down according to the expeditory method he had devifed. Many volumes were thus collected by him. He was alfo extremely fond of politics, too much fo perhaps for his fituation. I'lately found in London a collection which he had made of all the principal pamphlets relative to public affairs, from the year 1641 to 1717. Many volumes are wanting, as appears by the feries of numbers; but there ftill remain eight in folio, and twentyfour in quarto and octavo. The collection had fallen into the hands of a fecond-hand bookfeller, who, knowing me by having fold me fome books, brought it to me. My uncle, it seems, had left it behind him on his departure for America, about fifty years ago. I found various notes of his writing in the margins. His grandfon, Samuel, is now living at Bofton.
Our humble family had early embraced the Reformation. Theyremained faithfully attached during the reign of Queen Mary, when they were in danger of being molefted on account of their zeal against popery. They had an English Bible, and, to conceal it the more fecurely, they conceived the project of faftening it, open, with packthreads acrofs the leaves, on the infide of the lid of a clofe-ftool. When my great-grandfather wifhed to read to his family, he reverfed the lid of the close-stool upon his knees, and paffed the leaves from one fide to the other, which were held down on each by the packthread. One of the children was ftationed at the door, to give notice if he faw the proctor (an officer of the spiritual court) make his appearance: in that cafe, the lid was restored to its place, with the Bible concealed under it as before. I had this anecdote from my uncle Benjamin.
The whole family preferved its attachment to the Church of England till towards the clofe of the reign of Charles II. when certain minifters, who had been ejected as nonconformifts, having held conventicles in Northamptonshire, they were joined by Benjamin and Jofias, who adhered to them ever after. The reft of the family continued in the epifcopal church.
My father, Jofias, married early in life. He went, with his wife and three children, to New England, about the year 1682. Conventicles being at that time prohibited by law, and frequently difturbed, fome confiderable perfons of his acquaintance determined to go to America, where they hoped to enjoy the free exercise of their religion, and my father was prevailed on to accompany them.
My father had also by the fame wife four chil dren born in America, and ten others by a fe