Benjamin Franklin’s Mother

Everyone knows Benjamin Franklin – one of the Founding Fathers of the United States as well as a popular author, printer, scientist, and diplomat. Most of what we know about his life before becoming the sixth president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania comes from his own account in his autobiography. However, there is one significant figure in Franklin’s life who is often left out of the story: his mother.

Early Life

Abiah Lee Folger (1667-1752) was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts on August 15, 1667 to Peter and Mary Morrell Folger. Her father was a miller and schoolteacher. Peter’s parents were reformist Flemish Protestants who fled to America to escape religious persecution in 1635. Later, he converted to Baptist Christianity. As such, Abiah was raised as a Baptist.

Her mother, Mary, also flees from England on the same ship as Peter’s family. At that time, Mary was working as an indentured servant for Rev. Hugh Peters and his family. Peter paid off Mary’s indenture, and the two were married soon after. She was the youngest of ten siblings and grew up in a religious household.

Married Life

When she was 21 years old, she moved from Nantucket to Boston to live with her married sister. It was in Boston that she met widower Josiah Franklin, a soap and candlemaker. They got married on July 9, 1689, in the Old South Meeting House, a congregational church, by Rev. Samuel Willard. The couple went on to have 10 children together:

1. John Franklin (born 1690)

2. Peter Franklin (born 1692)

3. Mary Franklin (born 1694)

4. James Franklin (born 1696)

5. Sarah Franklin (born 1699)

6. Ebenezer Franklin (born 1701)

7. A son who died young (born 1703)

8. Benjamin Franklin (born 1706)

9. Lydia Franklin (born 1708)

10. Jane Franklin (born 1712)

She supported her son Benjamin’s career aspirations but was not actively involved in politics herself. Not much is known about her personality or hobbies but according to Benjamin’s autobiography, Abiah was “a discreet and virtuous woman” who was “diligent in the discharge of her domestic duties” and “a good neighbor.”