Deborah Franklin

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Deborah Franklin (Read)

Also Known As: "Rogers"
Birthplace: England, or, Philadelphia, Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Death: Died in Philadelphia, Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Cause of death: stroke
Place of Burial: Philadephia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John Read and Sarah Read
Wife of John Rogers and Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence"
Mother of Francis Folger Franklin; Sarah "Sally" Bache (Franklin); William Temple Franklin; Francis Folger Franklin and Sarah Franklin
Sister of John Read, Jr.
Half sister of Elizabeth Kettler

Managed by: Eilat Gordin Levitan
Last Updated:

About Deborah Franklin

Deborah (Read) Franklin (about 1708 – December 19, 1774) was the spouse of Benjamin Franklin, a prominent inventor, printer, thinker, revolutionary and Founding Father of the United States. He signed the Declaration of Independence and was also one of the 39 signers of the US Constitution.

She was the daughter of John Reed (Read) and Sarah White.


Marriage to Benjamin Franklin

  • Their marriage would have been legal, except that Deborah was already married to John Rodgers, who had fled to Barbados to avoid his debts, never to return.
  • When Franklin returned from a trip to England, he and Deborah began a common-law marriage in 1730.
  • They had two children together:
    • Francis Folger Franklin[1] (October 20, 1732 - November 21, 1736), who died of smallpox at age four, and
    • Sarah Franklin Bache, called Sally.
    • Together they also raised William Franklin, Franklin's illegitimate son and future Colonial Governor of New Jersey.

Find A Grave Memorial# 9405519;

Deborah Read Franklin

  • Birth: 1708 Marlborough, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Death: Dec. 19, 1774 Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Wife of Statesman, Benjamin Franklin,
  • Mother of Sarah(Sally) Bache, Francis Folger (died at age 4-smallpox).
  • Ben and Debbie where married on Sept.1,1730.
  • While Ben was abroad, Deborah kept the business going, collected on loans, and other issues.
  • Ben was on government business in London when Deborah died of a stroke.
  • Cause of death: Stroke
  • Family links:
    • Spouse: Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)
    • Children:
      • William Franklin (1731 - 1813)*
      • Francis Folger Franklin (1732 - 1736)*
      • Sarah Franklin Bache (1743 - 1808)*
  • Burial: Christ Church Burial Ground Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA, Plot: Section A, With husband Benjamin

Created by: Frank W Nichols, Record added: Sep 03, 2004

  • Deborah's first husband, John Rogers, deserted her in 1725.
  • In 1727, she heard of Rogers' death and began dating her former sweetheart, Ben Franklin.
  • Franklin had proposed to her when she was just 15, but her mother would not allow it.
  • She married Ben Franklin in 1730 (1 SEP 1728/9? ).
  • They had two children together, Francis Folger Franklin, and Sarah Franklin Bache.
    • They also raised William Franklin together, Franklin's illegitimate son.
  • She operated a general store out of the front of Ben's print shop.
  • Her fear of ocean voyages prevented her from traveling with Ben, so she spent many years alone in Philadelphia while Ben was in Europe.
  • In 1774, while Ben was on an extended trip to England, she died unexpectedly of a stroke.

Source: Updated from WikiTree Genealogy by SmartCopy: Mar 30 2015, 1:06:38 UTC

  • Deborah's Mother objected to her marrying Ben Franklin who was only 17 years old and penniless.
  • When Ben went away to england, Deborah was wooed by a Mr. Rogers who received Deb's parents permission to marry her.
  • Then it was learned that Rogers had a wife in England.
  • He escaped to the West Indies and died in 1728, two years before Deb married Ben Franklin.

  • Benjamin and Deborah first met in 1723 when Ben moved into her parents' boarding house.
  • Their wedding was on September 1, 1730.
    • Because of the uncertainty of Deborah's marital status, they had a common-law marriage.
      • Benjamin: "Our mutual affection was revived, but there were now great objections to our union. The match was indeed looked upon an invalid, a preceding wife being said to be living in englad; but this could not be easily proved, because of the distance; and though there was a report of his death it was not certain. Then, though it should be true, he had left many debts, which his successor might be called upon to pay. We ventured, however, over all these difficulties, and I took her to wife September 1st, 1730."
      • Source: Carl Van Doren. Benjamin Franklin. 1938. page 37.
  • During their 44-year marriage, Deborah and Benjamin Franklin were apart for eighteen years.
  • Throughout their marriage, Deborah remained loyal to Benjamin even though he apparently was unfaithful with "low women."
    • J.A. Leo Lemay on whether or not Benjamin was a notorious womanizer:
      • "False. Although Franklin was an inveterate flirt, and he sired an illegitimate child before his 1730 wedding to Deborah Reed Rogers, there is no evidence that he had any affairs during his marriage."
      • Source: Kathy Canavan. Ben Franklin—facts and Fallacies. UDaily. 6/15/2005.

Quotes About the Marriage of Deborah Read Rogers and Benjamin Franklin

  • Additional Resources:
Benjamin Franklin. Memoirs of the life and writings of Benjamin Franklin. The Pennsylvania State College Library. 1833.

    • J.A. Leo Lemay. "Benjamin Franklin: A Documentary History."

    • Source: Jerry Weinberger. Benjamin Franklin Unmasked: On the Unity of His Moral, Religious, and Political Thought. 2008.
"Benjamin Franklin." Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography: Colonization to the American Renaissance, 1640-1865. Gale Research. 1988.

More Colonial Women: 25 Pioneers of Early America page 44-53. By Carole Chandler Waldrup

This site has extensive family history with bibliography at the end.


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Deborah Franklin's Timeline

February 14, 1708
Philadelphia, Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
October 20, 1731
Age 23
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Age 22
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
October 20, 1732
Age 24
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
September 11, 1743
Age 35
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
September 11, 1743
Age 35
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
December 19, 1774
Age 66
Philadelphia, Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
December 19, 1774
Age 66
Philadephia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA