This interesting old status name has its origins in the feudal system of medieval England. It derives from the Middle English "frankelin", from the Anglo-Norman French "franc" meaning free, in the sense of liberal and generous, plus the germanic suffix "ling". The status of the Franklin varied somewhat according to time and place in medieval England; in general, he was a free man and a holder of fairly extensive areas of land, a gentleman ranked above the main body of minor freeholders, but below a knight or a member of the nobility. The surname dates back to the late 12th Century, (see below). One, Luke le Franckeleyn is registered in the Cambridgeshire Feet of Fines (1234). In the modern idiom the name has six spelling variations, Frankling, Francklyn, Francklin, Franklen, Franklyn and Franklin. On February 11th 1560, George Franklin married Agnes Hills, at St. Dionis Backchurch, London. The American statesman and scientist Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), was of British descent. His father, a maker of soap and candles, had emigrated in about 1682, from Ecton, Northamptonshire, to Boston, where his son was born. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Frankelein, which was dated 1195, in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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