Franklin Surname Origin
Anciently, in England, a 'superior freeholder,' next below gentlemen in dignity, now called country Squires. Fortescue says (De Leg. Anglo), 'Moreover England is so filled and replenished with landed menne, that therein the smallest thorpe can not be found wherin dwelleth not a knight or an esquire, or such a householder as is there commonly called a Franklin, enriched with great possessions, and also other freeholders, and many yeomen, able for their livelyhood to make a jury in form aforementioned.' So Chaucer, in his Canterbury Tales; 'A Franklin was in this companie, White was his beard, as is the dayesie.'
Source: An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names With an Essay on their Derivation and Import; Arthur, William, M.A.; New York, NY: Sheldon, Blake, Bleeker & CO., 1857.
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