Benjamin Franklin was only married once to a woman named Deborah Read. The circumstances surrounding the marriage of Benjamin Franklin are quite interesting.
Franklin knew Read from a very early age. At the age of 17, Franklin was boarding in the Read home and fell in love with the 15 year old Deborah. He proposed to her. Her father was deceased and Deborah's mother told him that he could not marry her daughter.
Deborah's mother was not necessarily wary because of her daughter's age, but she did not allow the wedding because she felt that Franklin was not financially secure or stable. Shortly after Franklin's failed attempt to wed Read, she wound up marrying a man by the name of John Rodgers. Rodgers turned out to be a liar and a thief, so that marriage did not last. However, since Read had already been married, certain laws prohibited her from marrying again.
Read and Franklin found each other again, but since she could not marry, they wound up establishing a common-law marriage. A common-law marriage is called a marriage generally because of cohabitation or some other special circumstance; but, they never had a marriage ceremony performed.
Therefore, technically, Franklin was never "married" in the traditional sense of the word. Yet he and Read lived as a married couple.
When their common law marriage was established on September 1, 1730, Franklin already had an illegitimate son named William. The Franklin/Read family took William in as one of their own. Franklin had only recently announced that William was in fact his son
Throughout Franklin and Read's 44-year common law marriage, they had two children together. Their first child was named Francis Folger Franklin and was born in October of 1732. Unfortunately, he passed away only four years later from smallpox. Sarah Franklin, their next child, was born in 1743. She lived a relatively normal life and grew up, got married, and had her own children.
The Franklins had eight grandchildren:
In the late 1760s and early 1770s, Deborah became quite ill and started to suffer from strokes. She eventually died of a fatal stroke in 1774 at the age of 66 years. At the time of Deborah's passing, Benjamin was on an extended trip to England.
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