Benjamin FranklinCopyright of the image
Library of Congress


Benjamin Franklin's father, Josiah, was born in Ecton, Northamptonshire.

Papers revealing the family ties of a founding father of the United States with a village church in Northamptonshire could be returned after 250 years.

It was thought that Benjamin Franklin had borrowed the archives of Ecton, his father's birthplace, in the 1750s.

Peter Drummey of the Massachusetts Historical Society said that they first went to London and then to the United States in the 1800s.

He said that they "would treat appropriately" the return of documents dating from 1646.

Benjamin Franklin

  • Born in 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts; died in 1790 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Described as a founding father for his role in the American Revolution that ensured independence to Britain
  • He was one of the signatories of the four major documents of the United States Foundation: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Paris and the American Constitution.
  • He was also an author, inventor, diplomat and slave owner, who later campaigned for the abolition of slavery.

BBC History: Benjamin Franklin

Mr. Drummey, whose company currently holds the records, said Franklin was "very interested" in his family ties with Ecton and that during the summer of 1758, he went to village to meet his extended family.

He said that after reading the letters Franklin had sent to his wife, he "seemed to be proud of his roots" and that "the connection was very real".

It was believed that during the trip Franklin had taken this tithing at St Mary Magdalene Church.


Members of Benjamin Franklin's family are buried in Ecton Cemetery, halfway between Northampton and Wellingborough.

The tithing registers contain details of landowners and tenants, as well as the taxes they paid to support the local church.

Mr. Drummey stated that they were "not sure" of how the registers left the church, but they showed up in London in the 1800s.

He said that an engineer named Wake had bought them from an antiquities dealer in 1850 and sent them to the United States thinking that the connection with Franklin would spark interest.

"It would be impossible to determine how they ended up in the United States," he added.

"I do not think you can blame Benjamin Franklin for leaving Ecton."

Copyright of the image


The tithing discs were originally at St Mary Magdalene in Ecton

Currently, St. Mary Magdalene has a copy of the cover.

Mr. Drummey stated that they would now "explore" the restitution of recordings or the provision of a full copy.

Sally Bresnahan, chair of Ecton Parish Council, hoped that the archives would help to find the "Franklin House" in the village.

The house is mentioned in Franklin's letters, but Ms. Bresnahan stated that they were "not quite sure" of where the house was, but that the records should show which property or properties were the property of the Franklins.