Portrait of Benjamin Lay


This article discusses a portrait owned by Benjamin Franklin of Benjamin Lay. Some excerpts:

“Stories about our discovery appeared first in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and in January 1979 The Magazine Antiques published a story by Karen M. Jones about the discovery of a rare William Williams painting.” The story quoted a letter from Ben Franklin to Deborah Franklin in which he mentioned the painting. The story also noted an 1810 list of William Williams’s paintings that included a “small portrait of Benjamin Lay for Benjamin Franklin.”
…the portrait of Benjamin Lay was hung at the National Portrait Gallery. The National Portrait Gallery sent it back to Philadelphia in 1999 for the Worldly Goods exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; it is pictured in the catalog.”

Franklin as a British Subject

Franklin at the Court of St. James, beautifully colored

Two recent books about Dr. Franklin and the British Empire are reviewed in the [London] Times Literary Supplement.

Carla J. Mulford
978 0 19 938419 8
George Goodwin
 978 0 297 87153 8


Temple’s Grave, Women and Children

This page concerns William Temple Franklin, the son of William Franklin, and grandson of Benjamin Franklin. I follow the custom of calling him “Temple” to distinguish him from his father.

Temple died in Paris on May 25, 1823. In 2014, guided by this excellent webpage by L. David Roper, I visited Temple’s grave and took a few pictures.  Mr. Roper is a retired physics professor from Virginia Tech, and I found later that I took pretty much exactly the same pictures he took in 2009. Here are mine:


There are two graves marked with a single stone.  A close-up of Temple’s stone is here:

Temple_Grave_Inscription_IMG_3584 _Resized

The inscription reads:
Ci-GIT William Temple Franklin
MORT LE 25 MAI 1823




— translation —

Here Lies William Temple Franklin
Born 22 February 1762
Died 25 May 1823
Grandson of Benjamin Franklin

He has always been worthy of a name
that will disappear [die] with him.

His inconsolable widow erects this monument to him
as a sign of a pain that will never end
except with her life.

Rest In Peace.

I have added my pictures to the FindAGrave entry for Temple.

Reaching the Gravesite
I took a taxi to the Porte Gambetta on the Rue des Rondeaux, going east from the Avenue Gambetta, entered the cemetery through the Porte Gambetta, walked south till that road ends, took a left onto Avenue Transversale #1.
Metro instructions (from Mr. Roper’s page): to get to Porte Gambetta gate take the Metro (subway) #1 line (toward Chateau de Vincennes) to the Nation station, then take Metro #2 line (toward Porte Dauphine). Go beyond the the Philipe Auguste station one more stop to the Pere Lachaise station, then take the Metro #3 (toward Guallieni) to the next station Gambetta.


A Recent Question

I have been contacted through this site (the Friends of Franklin website, friendsoffranklin.org)  by a researcher who has traced her ancestry to Sarah Ann Franklin, born July 6, 1788 in Port Tobacco, Maryland. My correspondent found Sarah Ann reported as the daughter of William Temple Franklin and Abigail Brawner.

I believe Temple was in America and on his farm between 1785 and 1792, which is the correct side of the Atlantic, though his farm above Philadelphia is a long way from Port Tobacco on the Potomac, where this daughter was born.


Temple’s Women and Children

To clarify Temple’s women, I have assembled this timeline:

1781: [after 1781 attempt with Brillons] Temple rebounded by taking up with a married neighbor at Passy, Blanchette Caillot, with whom he had a natural son, Théodore. [source: APS]

1785-92: I believe Temple was in America, returning to England to his father in 1792 [source: APS]

1788: Sarah Anne Franklin born July 6 1788 in Port Tobacco, MD to Abigail Brawner, reportedly the father was Temple. I do not find this woman or child in the Franklin sources. See Pursuing Sarah, below.

1792, in England: another illegitimate child, Ellen, with the daughter of his father’s second wife. [per Elly, 1999:]  Ellen Franklin reached adulthood and married Capel Hanbury. They had a daughter Maria Hanbury, said to be living in Nice, France in the 1870s, who died unmarried, thus ending the line for William Franklin. [Source:  Elly Fitzig post to genealogy.com, 1999]

1790s: [per Elly Fitzig] According to Willard Randall, author of A Little Revenge: Benjamin Franklin & His Son, (Boston, Little, Brown and Company, 1984, p. 494), “Temple abandoned his mistress, William’s sister-in-law, and his illegitimate daughter Ellen and went off to Paris. There he sired another daughter by the wife of the British ambassador.” This child apparently died in infancy, as did Theophile.

1817-1823: He lived the last six years of his life with his English mistress Hannah Collyer (Born 1771 in England, age 46-52) whom he finally married [shortly] before his death in 1823. Noted as Hannah [Collyer] Johnson Franklin Delariviere, probably FEMME DELARIVIERE buried next to Temple.

1846: Hannah died, FEMME DELARIVIERE, A ETAMPES LE 12 DECEMBRE 1846, age 75), buried next to Temple. [WTF’s tombstone]. WikiTree has an entry for Hannah Collyer.


Pursuing Sarah

Sarah and Abigail were reported to me by my recent correspondent.  The Geni.com entry for Temple describes the FindAGrave entry as pointing to a fictional family.” The FindAGrave entry for Temple shows his father as William, with no entry for his mother, which is correct; the “fictional family” reference might be to the children listed for Temple:

1) Sarah Ann Franklin Cooper,  the subject of my recent correspondent’s inquiry, born February (rather than July) 6, 1788 in Port Tobacco, and also

2) another daughter of Temple and Abigail Brawner, Anna Jane Franklin Smith, born to Temple and Abigail Brawner on April 23, 1798, also in Charles County, MD.

Here’s the rub: Temple was in America in 1788, but he was in Europe in 1798. The George Fox Collection at the American Philosophical Society Library has some of his business correspondence during that time. This leads me to believe that the father of Abigail Brawner’s two children was maybe some other Franklin, but not William Temple Franklin.  The FindAGrave entry for Abigail Brawner does not list Temple as her husband, which is I think correct, and the listing of Temple as the father of Anna Jane seems incorrect, which leads me to doubt that listing for Sarah Ann as well.

An interesting side note is that Sarah named the first two of her 15 children here as Temple and William. William is a common enough name, but Temple? I cannot imagine someone named Franklin would bypass “the most famous man in the world” (quoting Benjamin’s sister Jane Franklin Mecom about Benjamin) to name a child after Benjamin’s grandson (Temple), but there it is.

Returning to Mr. Roper’s web page, I see his Franklin Surname listings page, which mention Abigail Brawner as the spouse of William Franklin born c. 1750. The Wikipedia page for Temple, as well as his tombstone pictured above,  has his birthdate as February 22, 1760, and his father William Franklin (son of Benjamin) was born around 1730 in England. Based on this, I think the father of Sarah Ann Franklin is another William Franklin, not descended from Benjamin.  I will forward this posting to FindAGrave moderators of the pages involved.

I’ve put the question to the Franklin Descendants, and will update as I hear further, and I would be happy to hear from anyone about this at marty.mangold@gmail.com

Final Note

A fictional, but historically constructed piece, “Temple’s Diary” by Claude-Anne Lopez is online at ushistory.org. Like all of Claude-Anne’s writings, it provides insight into the hearts of the people around Franklin, including his grandson.




Franklin in New Orleans

There are at least two statues of Dr. Franklin in New Orleans. The most public one is in Lafayette Square:


This is fully discussed at the Best of New Orleans website (content duplicated below). The article mentions that the original statue has been relocated to the Ben Franklin High School, where the incoming principal, Patrick Widhalm, can be relied on to send us a picture as he relocates to the Big Easy.

caption: This statue of Benjamin Franklin at Lafayette Square was a gift to the city from a Chicago resident who spent winters in New Orleans.

Why does New Orleans have a statue of Benjamin Franklin?

Blake Pontchartrain on the Franklin statue in Lafayette Square

Hey Blake,

Why did Henry Wadsworth Gustine dedicate a statue of Benjamin Franklin to the people of the Big Easy? Based on the quotes he elected to include on the plaque, it seems he was throwing some solid bronze shade at our laissez-faire lifestyle.


Dear Mac,

The statue of Benjamin Franklin that caught your eye sits on the Camp Street side of Lafayette Square in New Orleans’ Central Business District. While it is a handsome statue of the founding father, it seems out of place because Franklin had no direct connection to our city.

The statue of which you write actually is the second Franklin one to be placed in that spot. The first was erected in the center of the square in 1873 and was moved to a different spot in the park in 1900. It was replaced by a statue of Henry Clay that had been moved to Lafayette Square from Canal Street. Because of deterioration caused by the weather, Franklin’s statue was removed from the park altogether in 1909 and relocated first to the public library and later to Benjamin Franklin High School.

The second statue — the one that stands in Lafayette Square now — was a gift of Henry Wadsworth Gustine of Chicago, who spent winters in New Orleans during his retirement and always visited the Franklin statue. When the statue was removed, Gustine raised the money to create a new one, an exact replica of one in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. The new statue was unveiled on Oct. 20, 1926, which also was Gustine’s 89th birthday. He died the next year.

The pedestal on which the nearly life-size statue stands was donated by the New Orleans Typothetae, or printers’ association, honoring the impact Franklin had on the printing trade. It bears two quotes from Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack: “Save while you are young, to spend when you are old,” and “One penny saved is better than two pennies earned.”

Religion of Ignorance

A teacher friend noticed this quote:

“This will be the best security for maintaining our liberties. A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins. ”

This is found on American History Central. I don’t recognize this, nor do I find it searching The Papers of Benjamin Franklin (online).

I’ve emailed the American History Channel email contact address to see if they have source information. I would appreciate any such information.



Franklin’s Judaism Teachings

Shai Afsai, a researcher and writer from Providence, Rhode Island, presented a series of three lectures on January 16-17, 2015, including discussing Benjamin Franklin’s connection with the Jews of his day and his subsequent influence on Judaism’s mussar movement.

The lecture series was described, with photographs, in this report. We note with pleasure that the Franklin lecture was nicely timed to be given on Dr. Franklin’s 309th Birthday.

We are also happy to receive and offer an article by Mr. Afsai on that topic: Benjamin Franklin’s Way to Virtue, the American Enlightenment, and Mussar.

Thank you, Mr. Afsai!

The references in this article lead to further interesting reading: this response to this book review clarifies Franklin’s origination of this method, and describes the progress of Franklin’s technique of behavior modification.