Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Are You Related to Benjamin Franklin? I Don't Think I Am

On this Independence Day, I woke up wondering if I am related to Benjamin Franklin, one of the fathers of American Independence.  It would be cool if I was, and my grandchildren would have another famous relative to dazzle their teachers and classmates with.  Heck, I, and my brothers and my cousins would love it too.

1)  I looked on the collaborative FamilySearch Family Tree.  Here is Ben Franklin's profile:

I can find my relationship to Ben by clicking on the "View My Relationship" link at the top left below the name.  A popup window opened showing the relationship:

From this, I can estimate that I am a third cousin 9 times removed of Benjamin Franklin.  The common ancestor is John James Joanes (1535-????).  My line on the Family Tree goes through his daughter, Mathan Joanes who married Thomas Young.  While the Family Tree has this couple, I don't have them in my RootsMagic database.  I don't have the son John Young (1589-1649) either.  I have a different birth date and place for my John Young (1624-1691) than the Family Tree has.

So - this is possible, but I need more information.

2)  On (a commercial collaborative tree owned by MyHeritage), I searched for Benjamin Franklin and found him, and the program quickly searched for a relationship to me. says that my relationship to Ben is "8th great-grandfather's wife's fourth cousin once removed."  Huh?  Not a blood relationship.  My "line" goes back to Susan Lawrence, and Ben's line is from Margaret Lawrence.

My line goes back to John Kenyon (1647-1732), and I do not know who his spouse(s) is(are).  Some published works say she was Anna Mumford because in 1712 John Kenyon called neighbor Peleg Mumford his brother-in-law. says that my John Kenyon was related to the "Wife of John Mumford" (meaning, I think, that perhaps John Kenyon had married her), but was not a descendant of the "Wife of John Mumford."  The "Overview" tab on John Kenyon's profile provides information about the family relationships.

This has been a genealogy problem for over a century, and it has not yet been solved, and may never be solved.  So, this is a possibility, but not a very strong one, in my opinion.

3)  On, I easily found the Benjamin Franklin profile:

I clicked on the "Franklin-1" link at the top right of the profile, and the dropdown menu opened, and I clicked on the "Relationship to Me" item.

WikiTree found my relationship to Ben to be "5th cousins 9 times removed."  The common ancestor is Agnes (Holmes) Lawrence, mother of Susan (my line) and Margaret Lawrence (Ben's line).

I note that this line indicates that the mother of John Kenyon (1682-1735) is Anna (Mumford) Kenyon, presumed wife of John Kenyon (1647-1732).

The profile for John Kenyon (1647-1732) on WikiTree provides a detailed Biography section that explains in great detail the research challenges concerning the spouse(s) of John Kenyon.  I have posted several notes on John Kenyon's profile relating my concerns.

Again, I think that this relationship to Benjamin Franklin is possible, but not very strong.

4)  So I have two possible relationships to Benjamin Franklin, but I don't believe either one is rock solid, supported by records, or even by "experts."  

Too bad, my grandkids will be disappointed, as am I.  Everybody wants Benjamin Franklin to be their relative.

Are you related to Benjamin Franklin?  Have you checked?


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1 comment:

Unknown said...

He is my 6th great grandfather, it is all documented, pretty cool if I say so myself.