Jane Mecom

Jane Franklin Mecom (1712–1794) was the youngest sister of Benjamin Franklin. She wrote to him all her life; their letters and an account of her life are preserved in Carl van Doren's The Letters of Benjamin Franklin and Jane Mecom (Princeton University Press, 1950) and in his Jane Mecom, or, The Favorite Sister of Benjamin Franklin: Her Life here first narrated from their entire surviving Correspondence (Viking Press: NY, 1950). She married at age 15 and had 12 children in her life, but 11 died before she did. She was never sent to school. Her husband, a saddler named Edward Mecom, became physically and possibly mentally ill; two of their sons went insane. Jane Mecom struggled, and failed, to keep them out of debtors’ prison, the almshouse, and asylums. She sewed bonnets and took in boarders to earn money. She wrote what she called her “Book of Ages,” a story of her life, only 14 pages long. When Benjamin Franklin died in 1790, he left Jane the house in which she lived in his will, and she continued to live there until she died; however, later her house was demolished to make room for a memorial to Paul Revere.

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