1691: Bursting a genital boil claims Benjamin Franklin’s uncle

Josiah Franklin (1657-1745) was the father of Benjamin Franklin, pre-revolutionary British America’s most famous citizen. In 1717, Franklin Senior penned a short essay about his family. He focused mainly on his father, Thomas, and his six older brothers. Josiah wrote most affectionately about one of his brothers, John.

Going by Josiah’s account, John Franklin was an intelligent and charming conversationalist, a generous philanthropist and quite popular with the ladies. He was also a mentor to Josiah, taking him in as an apprentice in 1666 and acting “as a father to me and helping me through my troubles”.

According to Josiah, John Franklin met an unfortunate end in June 1691:

“The cause of his death was a boil or swelling which came by a hurt he got while mounting a horse… It being in his privities, and thinking to keep it secret, he opened it with a needle before it was ripe, which caused gangrene up into his body. It killed him in three day’s time.”

Josiah Franklin emigrated to New England in 1683 and heard about his brother’s unfortunate demise by mail. Benjamin Franklin was born in 1706, 15 years after a gangrenous boil ended his uncle’s life.

Source: Josiah Franklin, “A Short Account of the Family of Thomas Franklin of Ecton”, June 21st 1717. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2019-23. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.