FRANKLIN, Sir John (1600-1648), of Dollis Hill, Willesden, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.) - 24 Mar. 1648

Family and Education

b. 22 Apr. 1600, o.s. of Richard Franklin of Willesden and his 2nd w. Frances, da. of Francis Roberts of Willesden. educ. Peterhouse, Camb. 1614; G. Inn 1615. m. ?by 1626, Elizabeth (bur. 21 Nov. 1660), da. of George Purefoy of Wadley, Berks. 10s. (3 d.v.p.) 7da. (1 d.v.p.). kntd. 2 Oct. 1614; suc. fa. 1615.1 d. 24 Mar. 1648. sig. John Francklyn.

Offices Held

J.p. Mdx. 1625-42;2 commr. knighthood fines, Mdx. 1630,3 oyer and terminer, Mdx. 1636-at least 1645, London 1644,4 charitable uses, Kent 1637-at least 1639;5 gov. Queen Elizabeth’s g.s. Barnet, 1637;6 collector, coat and conduct money, Mdx. 1640;7 commr. assessment, Mdx. 1641,8 1643-4, Mdx. and Westminster 1645-d.,9 sequestration of delinquents, Mdx. 1643, levying money 1643, vols. 1644, maintenance of army, 1644, New Model ordinance 1645,10 sewers, Mdx. 1645, London 1645.11

Commr. archery, 1637,12 exclusion from sacrament 1646.13


Although Franklin’s paternal grandfather described himself as a mere yeoman in his will of 1585, he leased the manor and farm of Perrycroft, in Willesden and Harlesden from All Souls College, Oxford,14 and was wealthy enough to act as surety for his neighbour Sir William Fleetwood I* when Fleetwood was appointed receiver-general of the Court of Wards in 1594. Following Fleetwood’s disgrace in 1612, this bond, worth £200, was forfeited, but the loss barely dented the fortunes of his son Richard, who succeeded to Perrycroft in 1596.15 Richard acquired a house on Dollis Hill, styled himself ‘esquire’ in his own will of 1606, and obtained a university education and a knighthood for Franklin.16 The knighthood seems to have enabled Franklin to escape the perils of wardship, for when Richard died in July 1615 Franklin was still a minor.

In March 1617 Franklin’s sister Mary married Sir John Smythe II†. Franklin provided a dowry of £4,000,17 although his father had set aside only £2,000 for this purpose.18 This generosity may have caused Franklin some temporary hardship, for in June 1618 he borrowed £200 from a London Haberdasher, perhaps to enable him to renew his lease of Perrycroft later that year.19 However, Franklin evidently sustained no long-term damage to his finances for, as his surviving accounts reveal, his standard of living was hardly frugal. On 14 Nov. 1624, for instance, he spent 4s. on ‘banqueting stuff’, while on 29 Mar. 1625 he laid out 11s. 6d. on a dinner ‘at the Wool Sack’.20 In 1628 he contributed £100 towards building a chapel at Peterhouse, his old Cambridge college.21

Franklin was aged only 23 when he suffered defeat at the hands of the comptroller of the Household, Sir John Suckling, in the Middlesex election of January 1624. His supporters, who included his neighbour and uncle Edward Roberts, Member for Penryn, initially complained to the committee for privileges and returns that Suckling had been ‘unduly returned in his stead’, but they subsequently withdrew their petition, claiming that they were now ‘better informed and advised than when their petition was first preferred’.22 By the autumn of 1624 Franklin was staying in London and moving in exalted circles, for in November he tipped the marquess of Hamilton’s trumpeters and the porter at Count Mansfeld’s lodging.23 It was probably at about this time that Franklin met the royal favourite, George Villiers, duke of Buckingham, to whom he turned in 1625 when he again sought election to Parliament.24 On 11 Apr. Buckingham, lord warden of the Cinque Ports, recommended Franklin, ‘a deserving friend’, to the corporation of Rye.25 However, the duke also nominated his steward Thomas Fotherley, and instructed that he should receive preferential treatment. As the 4th earl of Dorset (Sir Edward Sackville*) also wanted a place for his cousin, John Sackville, this left no room for Franklin, who once again turned to the voters of Middlesex. On 17 Apr. he spent £6 9s.10d. in buying votes, and a further 16s. on beer and tobacco for the freeholders at Hickes’s Hall, where the election was held.26 Once again his opponent was Sir John Suckling, but this time it was Franklin who triumphed. Yet, despite the persistence with which he had pursued a seat at Westminster, Franklin left little mark on the parliamentary record in 1625. He made no speeches and was named to only two committees, one of which concerned a bill to make it easier to obtain licences to alienate land (25 June) and the other lands belonging to the earl of Dorset (8 July).27

Franklin was again returned to Parliament in 1626, this time for the Wiltshire borough of Wootton Bassett, which lay roughly ten miles west of his father-in-law’s seat at Wadley, in Berkshire. Once again he made little impression on the parliamentary record. On 14 Feb. he was named to a bill for preserving the rights of lay patrons of benefices. His only other committee appointment, on 18 Mar., concerned a measure to enable the sale of the Hertfordshire and Middlesex lands of the late Sir James Altham the younger.28 Franklin’s nomination was probably linked to the former friendship between his and Altham’s fathers.29 On 30 Mar. he paid 2s. to the keepers of the House of Lords, which suggests that he attended the meeting at the Painted Chamber of the committee of Both Houses that morning. The same day he also paid to see the tombs in the former abbey of Westminster.30

Franklin was expected to contribute £450 towards the a Privy Seal loan in the summer of 1626.31 This loan, which appears never to have been levied, was generally targeted at those Members of the 1626 Parliament who had criticized Buckingham. However, Franklin, who had previously enjoyed friendly relations with the duke, may have been singled out simply because of his wealth. Franklin was again returned to Westminster for Wootton Bassett in 1628. As before, he remained in the parliamentary background. He was not named to any committees, with the possible exception of the committee for the bill to naturalize James Freese (7 May), when he may have been confused by the clerk of the Commons with William Frankland. On 12 May Franklin obtained a few days leave of absence after his father-in-law fell ill.32 There is no evidence that he returned, however, or that he took part in the 1629 session.

Franklin’s surviving accounts indicates that he was something of a sightseer. In August 1627 he viewed the lions in the Tower, while in May 1629 he gave 2s. ‘to the man which showed the vineyard at my Lord of Salisbury’s’. The accounts also shed light on his other interests. On 23 July 1628, for instance, he spent 9s.5½d. on six bow strings, a brasier, seven butt shots, five ‘prickshots’ and the repair of arrows.33 As well as archery he also enjoyed music, an interest he may have acquired at Peterhouse, for on Christmas Day 1624 he gave no less than £1 5s. to ‘the musicianers’. 34

Having served out his parliamentary apprenticeship in the 1620s, Franklin played a more active role in Parliament during the 1640s when, as a Member for Middlesex once more, he sided with Parliament against the king. He died on 24 Mar. 1648 and was buried at St. Mary’s Willesden. His bequests included an annual gift of £20 to the library of his landlord, All Souls College Oxford.35 He was succeeded by his son Richard, who was granted a baronetcy and sat for Hertfordshire in 1661.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Mdx. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lxv), 3; Environs of London ed. D. Lysons, iii. 622; T.A. Walker, Biog. Reg. of Peterhouse Men ii. 286; GI Admiss. (incorrectly described as John ‘Franckling’ of ‘Wilseen, co. Westmorland’); Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 154; ‘Extracts from a MS Bk. of accts.’ Archaeologia, xv. 157.
  • 2. Foedera ed. T. Rymer, viii. pt. 2, p. 11; APC, 1630-1, p. 132; C231/5, f. 533.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 342.
  • 4. C181/5, ff. 57v, 230, 246v.
  • 5. C192/1, unfol.
  • 6. F.C. Cass, ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Sch.’ Trans. London and Mdx. Arch. Soc. v. 53.
  • 7. CSP Dom. 1640, p. 543.
  • 8. SR, v. 153.
  • 9. A. and O. i. 93, 140, 536, 636, 970, 1087.
  • 10. Ibid. 149, 232, 383, 400, 623.
  • 11. C181/5, ff. 262, 266.
  • 12. CSP Dom. 1637, p. 66.
  • 13. A. and O. i. 854.
  • 14. PROB 11/87, f. 141; C.T. Martin, Cat. of Archives in Mun. Room of All Souls’, 138.
  • 15. WARD 9/631, p. 52.
  • 16. PROB 11/126, f. 31.
  • 17. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 62; Environs of London, iii. 622.
  • 18. PROB 11/126, f. 31v.
  • 19. LC4/199, f.40. The bond was for £400. For the renewal of the lease, see Martin, 138.
  • 20. Soc. Antiq. ms 133, ff. 2, 5v.
  • 21. Walker, ii. 286.
  • 22. Lansd. 485, f. 25v.
  • 23. Archaeologia, xv. 158.
  • 24. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 543.
  • 25. Procs. 1625, p. 698.
  • 26. Archaeologia, xv. 158.
  • 27. Procs. 1625, pp. 246, 349.
  • 28. Procs. 1626, ii. 34, 312.
  • 29. PROB 11/126, f. 32v; Mdx. Peds. 158.
  • 30. Archaeologia, xv. 163; CJ, i. 843a.
  • 31. E401/2586, pp. 437, 459.
  • 32. CD 1628, iii. 300, 367.
  • 33. Add. 6316, f. 30.
  • 34. Archaeologia, xv. 159.
  • 35. PROB 11/204, f. 287v.