Benjamin Franklin’s Siblings Ranked Oldest to Youngest

Benjamin Franklin’s 16 Siblings Ranked Oldest to Youngest

Benjamin Franklin needs no introduction, but a refresher course on this iconic and instrumental historical figure never hurts! He is the quintessential renaissance man – a writer, inventor, statesman, political philosopher, and among other things, a notorious womanizer and infamous for his raunchy humor. Now that’s something they won’t teach you in any high school textbook! 

Understandably, Benjamin commands the majority of the spotlight within the family. It wouldn’t be unusual to be met with surprise when finding out he is only one member of a 17-sibling family.

Today we’ll learn more about this historical family as we rank Benjamin and his siblings from oldest to youngest!

17. Elizabeth Douse (March 2, 1678 – August 25, 1759)

Age (at time of death): 81 years, 5 months, 23 days
Born: Northamptonshire, England

Elizabeth Douse was the eldest of the Franklin siblings. Personal and professional information on her is scarce, but amongst her family and friends, she was “Berry.”

16. Samuel Franklin (1681 – March 31, 1720)

Age (at time of death): Approx. 39
Born: Oxford, England

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Personal and professional information about Samuel Franklin is mostly unknown. He married a woman named Elizabeth Tyng on May 16, 1705.

15. Hannah Cole (May 25, 1683 – April 3, 1723)

Age (at time of death): 39 years, 10 months, 9 days
Born: Oxford, England

Personal and professional information about Hannah Cole is unknown. She married Thomas Cole on June 22, 1710.

14. Josiah Franklin Jr. (August 23, 1685 – 1715)

Age (at time of death): Approx. 29
Born: Boston, Massachusetts

Personal and professional information on Josiah Franklin Jr. is unknown. He died at 29 years old after becoming lost somewhere in the China sea.

13. Joseph Franklin I (January 5, 1687 – February 1688)

Age (at time of death): 13 months 
Born: Boston, Massachusetts

Information on Joseph Franklin I is unavailable as he passed away just 13 months after birth. The cause of death is unknown.

12. Anne Harris (January 5, 1687 – June 15, 1729)

Age (at time of death): 42 years, 5 months, 10 days
Born: Boston, Massachusetts

Personal and professional information about Anne Harris is unknown. She married William Harris on July 10, 1712, and they remained together until her death. They shared two children – Anne and Grace Harris.

11. Joseph Franklin II (June 30, 1689 – Unknown)

Age (at time of death): N/A
Born: Boston, Massachusetts

Personal and professional information on Joseph Franklin II is unknown. Joseph II also died young, but the day or details surrounding his death are a mystery.

10. John Franklin Sr. (December 7, 1690 – January 30, 1756)

Age (at time of death): 65 years, 1 month, 23 days
Born: Boston, Massachusetts
Occupation: Soap and Candle Maker

John Franklin Sr. was a craftsman who learned under the tutelage of his father. He worked as a soap and candle maker in Rhode Island and Boston in his later years. He was married to Elizabeth Franklin, but it’s unclear if they had children. 

9. Peter Franklin (November 22, 1692 – July 1, 1766)

Age (at time of death): 73 years, 7 months, 9 days
Born: Boston, Massachusetts
Occupation: Merchant, Shipmaster

Peter Franklin was a merchant and shipmaster in Newport, Rhode Island. He married Marry Harman on September 12, 1717, but it’s unclear if they had any children.

At the time of his death, he held a distinguished title as Deputy Postmaster of Philadelphia.

8. Mary Holmes (September 6, 1694 – June 3, 1759)

Age (at time of death): 64 years, 8 months, 28 days
Born: Boston, Massachusetts

Personal and professional information on Mary Holmes is unknown. She was married to Robert Holmes and shared two children.

7. James Franklin (February 4, 1697 – February 4, 1735)

Age (at time of death): 38 years 
Born: Boston, Massachusetts
Occupation: Author, Printer, Publisher
Known For: Publisher of the New England Courant

James Franklin was the first to show that entrepreneurial, innovative spirit his younger brother Benjamin likely took inspiration from! He was an accomplished author, printer, and newspaper/almanac publisher.

Apart from being the brother of one of the most instrumental figures in world history, he’s best known for publishing the New England Courant — one of the oldest American newspapers and considered one of the first independent papers. 

He passed away at 38 years old on his birthday and wedding anniversary after suffering from an unspecified illness. He was married to Ann Smith, and they shared five children. Ann took over the printing business and continued to print books, pamphlets, etc., until she died in 1763.

Did You Know?

James published much of his work under the pseudonym “Poor Robin,” a 17th and 18th-century satirical almanac series. He was the son of Josiah and Abiah Lee Franklin.

6. Sarah Davenport (July 9, 1699 – March 23, 1731)

Age (at time of death): 31 years, 8 months, 14 days
Born: Boston, Massachusetts

Sarah Davenport married James Davenport on May 3, 1722. They remained married until their death and shared five children.

5. Ebenezer Franklin (September 20, 1701 – February 5, 1703)

Age (at time of death): 1 years, 4 months, 16 days
Born: Boston, Massachusetts

Personal and professional information on Ebenezer Franklin is unavailable, as they passed at just 1 year old. The cause of death is not known.

4. Thomas Franklin (December 7, 1703 – August 17, 1706)

Age (at time of death): 2 years, 8 months, 10 days
Born: Boston, Massachusetts

Personal and professional information on Thomas Franklin is unavailable as he also passed away at 3 years old.

3. Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790)

Age (at time of death): 84 years, 3 months 
Born: Boston, Massachusetts
Occupation: Writer, Scientist, Inventor, Statesman, Philosopher
Known For: Drafter/Signer of the United States Declaration of Independence

Benjamin Franklinphoto source:

Benjamin Franklin held every job under the sun. More impressively, he performed each one exceptionally well. He was a writer, statesman, diplomat, and public intellectual.

Among his wide breadth of contributions that have impacted our lives hundreds of years later, he was a major player in the study of electricity and is credited as the inventor of the lightning rod and bifocals. 

His accomplishments are so vast, with an element of randomness, that it’s as if someone had written him as a character in sci-fi fiction. For example, the founder of the lightning rod also founded Philadelphia’s first fire department! He is a Founding Father, with his name etched into the fabric of America for as long as it should stand.

Throughout his lifetime, he had either written or received over 30,000 letters or other documents which offer a very intimate portrait of the man behind the adulation and awe-inspiring achievements. Some of which are too risqué to repeat here! 

The collection of these materials is known as The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. They do a great job of humanizing the larger-than-life figure by circumventing the watered-down curriculum many of us saw in grade school.

Did You Know?

Benjamin Franklin was married to Deborah Reed until she passed in 1774. They shared three children – William, Francis, and Sarah.

2. Lydia Scott (August 8, 1708 – 1758)

Age (at time of death): Approx. 49
Born: Boston, Massachusetts

Personal and professional information on Lydia Scott is unknown. She was married to James Robert Scott.

1. Jane Mecom (March 27, 1712 – May 7, 1794)

Age (at time of death): 82 years, 1 month, 11 days
Born: Boston, Massachusetts
Occupation: Shop Owner, Homemaker
Known For: Sister of Benjamin Franklin

Jane Mecom was the youngest of Benjamin Franklin’s siblings!

Not only was Jane Mecom the youngest, but it’s well-documented that she and Benjamin maintained a very close relationship, corresponding consistently for 63 years. Although many of their letters were lost, the ones discovered suggested that she actively participated in her brother’s political life.

Did You Know?

Jane Mecom passed down what was left to her granddaughter, Jenny Mecom. These were published and became a substantial part of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. 

Jane shared 12 children with her husband, Edward Mecom, three of which died young. “Sorrows roll upon me like the waves of the sea,” she wrote in an expression of grief.


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