Saturday 24 October 2009
One of the greats of world history, Ben Franklin was a giant of the American Revolution, who had strong roots in England. In his autobiography he describes the home of his ancestors in Ecton, Northamptonshire - and his heritage as a "rebel"
"This obscure family of ours was early in the Reformation, and continued Protestants through the reign of Queen Mary, when they were sometimes in danger of trouble on account of their zeal against popery. They had got an English Bible, and to conceal and secure it, it was fastened open with tapes under and within the cover of a joint-stool. When my great-great-grandfather read it to his family, he turned up the joint-stool upon his knees, turning over the leaves then under the tapes. One of the children stood at the door to give notice if he saw the apparitor coming, who was an officer of the spiritual court. In that case the stool was turned down again upon its feet, when the Bible remained concealed under it as before."
He was to visit the church at Ecton, where his relatives graves can still be seen - and the site of the family home. That is now the Three Horseshoes pub in the High Street.
Close to Westminster is "Ben Franklin's House" - where he lived for nearly sixteen years, prior to the American Revolution. One afternoon I will take a walk up to the House to visit it!