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Deborah and Benjamin Franklin Marriage Profile

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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." Here is more information about their marriage.

Born:

Benjamin Franklin: January 17, 1706 (O.S. January 6, 1706) in Boston, Massachusetts.

Deborah Read Rogers: Abt. 1707-1708.

Died:

Deborah: Deborah died at the age of 66 in Philadelphia on December 19, 1774 from a stroke. Ben was in England at the time. According to Leo Lemay, Deborah and Benjamin had not seen one another for the last ten years of their marriage.

Benjamin: Benjamin died in his sleep on April 17, 1790 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the age of 84. The Old Farmer's Almanac wrote that an estimated 20,000 people attended Ben's funeral. Benjamin and Deborah were interred next to one another in Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia.

How Deborah and Benjamin Met:

Benjamin first met Deborah in the fall of 1723 in Philadelphia when he became a lodger at her family's home at 318 Market Street.
"Franklin saw his wife-to-be the first day he arrived in Philadelphia in 1723. He was walking down the street eating a fresh-baked bun when he spied Debbie in her father’s doorway."
Source: PBS.org

Wedding Date:

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.

Benjamin: "I pitied poor Miss Read's unfortunate situation, who was generally dejected, seldom cheerful, and avoided company. I considered my giddiness and inconstancy when in London as in a great degree the cause of her unhappiness, tho' the mother was good enough to think the fault more her own than mine, as she had prevented our marrying before I went thither, and persuaded the other match in my absence. Our mutual affection was revived, but there were now great objections to our union. The match was indeed looked upon as invalid, a preceding wife being said to be living in England; but this could not easily be proved, because of the distance; and tho' there was a report of his death, it was not certain. Then, tho' 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 1, 1730. None of the inconveniences happened that we had apprehended; she proved a good and faithful helpmate, assisted me much by attending the shop; we throve together, and have ever mutually endeavored to make each other happy. Thus I corrected that great erratum as well as I could."
Source: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Classiclit.about.com

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.

Children:

Benjamin had three children.
  • William Franklin: Born abt. 1728-1731. William's mother is unknown. william apparently was raised by Deborah and Benjamin. William married Elizabeth Downes and had one son. William became governor of New Jersey. William and Benjamin were on opposite sides of the American Revolution. Benjamin disowned him. William died in 1813.
  • "William’s mother has never been identified. All that is known is that after Franklin married Deborah Read, daughter of a Philadelphia family, the baby William was taken into the household."
    Source: Joan Paterson Kerr. "Benjamin Franklin's Years in London." AmericanHeritage.com. 1976.

    "His mother's name was never revealed. Some suggested that Deborah may have been his mother but that Ben took all the blame to protect her honor because they were not yet married."
    Source: The Franklin Institute.

  • Francis "Franky" Folger Franklin: Born October 20, 1732. His mother was Deborah Read. Francis died November 21, 1736 of smallpox.
  • Sarah "Sally" Franklin: Born on September 11, 1743. Her mother was Deborah Read. Sally married Richard Bache in 1767 and had seven children. Sally died in 1808.

Occupations:

Benjamin: Benjamin is most noted for his roles as politician, inventor, scientist, publisher, scholar, statesman, activist, diplomat, printer, and author.

Deborah: Deborah successfully managed Benjamin's store and other enterprises while he traveled.

Previous Marriages:

Deborah was previously married to John Rogers, a potter, in August 1725. John quickly deserted Deborah. It was rumored that John committed bigamy when he married Deborah. John was believed to have run away to the West Indies and in 1727 or 1728 and died there, but there was no proof of his death when Deborah and Benjamin started seeing one another again.

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." English.Udel.edu.
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.

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