William Temple Franklin - Early Life and Education

Early Life and Education

William Temple Franklin, called Temple, was born in 1760, the illegitimate (and only) son of William Franklin, who sired him while a law student in London. His mother is unknown, and the infant was placed in foster care. His father William was the illegitimate but acknowledged son of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and raised in his household. William Temple Franklin's middle name is said to have been derived from his having been conceived while his father was studying at the Middle Temple.

Later in 1762, William married "respectably", to Elizabeth Downes in London, the daughter of a wealthy Barbados planter. After passing the bar, he returned to North America, but he continued to pay for the upkeep and later education of Temple.

In 1763, with the aide of his father Benjamin Franklin, William Franklin was appointed as the last colonial governor of New Jersey and went to North America. He left Temple in foster care. William's position as a Loyalist later put him at odds with his father, and they broke permanently over it. William Franklin was imprisoned during the Revolution and afterward forced into exile in Britain.

Benjamin Franklin learned of his grandson Temple (his only grandson through the male line) while on an extended mission in London, when the boy was about four. He became fond of the young boy, but at first did not tell him of his full identity. He eventually took over custody, returning with the youth to the United States in 1775, and acknowledging their blood relation. A widower by then, Franklin raised the boy in his household.

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