Last Colonial Governor of New Jersey. The illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin, he remained loyal to England during the American Revolution, leading to a virtually complete break with his famed father. Raised in Philadelphia, the identity of his mother remains a matter of conjecture; she was probably either a prostitute, or Franklin's future wife, Deborah Reed. He was well educated under his father's direction, became a captain of militia during King George's War, and assisted Dr. Franklin in the persuit of land grants, and in the famous kite experiment. While in England to finish his education, William was admitted to the bar, and married Elizabeth Downes (deceased 1777); his only son, William Temple Franklin, was to be raised by, and later become an aide to, his grandfather. William returned in 1763 with an appointment as Royal Governor of New Jersey. While in office, he signed the charter for Queen's College (now Rutgers), and remained loyal to the Crown despite the growing spirit of independence. Arrested in 1776, he was held prisoner in Connecticut for two years, then became active in the Loyalist community of New York City. William fled to England in 1782, never to return. An attempt to patch up relations with his father via letter in 1784 came to nought. The two met for a final time in London in 1785, the meeting devoted mainly to business arrangements; thereafter, correspondence was polite, but scant. William was left little in Dr. Franklin's will, lived out his days in London, and died essentially broke.
Bio by: Bob Hufford