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Last name origins & meanings:

  1. English: status name from Middle English frankelin ‘franklin’, a technical term of the feudal system, from Anglo-Norman French franc ‘free’ (see Frank 2) + 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.
  2. The surname is also borne by Jews, in which case it represents an Americanized form of one or more like-sounding Jewish surnames.
  3. In modern times, this has been used to Americanize François, the French form of Francis.
  4. The American statesman and scientist Benjamin Franklin (1706–90) was the son of Josiah Franklin, a chandler (dealer in soap and candles), who had emigrated in about 1682 from Ecton, Northamptonshire, to Boston, MA, where his son was born.
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