Jane Mecom

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Jane Franklin Mecom (1712–1794) was the youngest sister of Benjamin Franklin. She wrote to him all her life and many of their letters survive.[1]

She was never sent to school.[2] She married a neighbor at age 15. Her brother Benjamin sent her a spinning wheel as a wedding gift.[3] Her husband, a saddler named Edward Mecom, became physically and possibly mentally ill, and their marriage lasted 38 years.[3]

She had 12 children in her life, but 11 died before she did.[2] One son, Benjamin, disappeared during the Battle of Trenton.[3] Two of their sons went insane. She struggled, and failed, to keep her children out of debtors' prison, the almshouse, and asylums. She took in boarders to earn money. In 1767, along with her daughters Jenny and Polly, she started a small shop to sell caps and bonnets they created using materials sent from London by a friend of her brother Benjamin.[4]

She wrote the story of her life, just 14 pages long, which she called her Book of Ages.[2]

When Benjamin Franklin died in 1790, he left Jane the house in which she lived in his will, and she continued to live there until she died. The house was later demolished to make room for a memorial to Paul Revere.[2]


  1. ^ Carl van Doren, ed., The Letters of Benjamin Franklin and Jane Mecom (Princeton University Press, 1950); Carl van Doren, Jane Mecom, or, The Favorite Sister of Benjamin Franklin: Her Life here first narrated from their entire surviving correspondence (NY: Viking Press, 1950)
  2. ^ a b c d Lepore, Jill (April 23, 2011). "Poor Jane’s Almanac". New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Scott, Anne Firor (1984). Making the Invisible Woman Visible. University of Illinois Press. pp. 5–8. 
  4. ^ Brouffard, James Charles (2007). The Entrepreneurial Ben Franklin, 2nd ed.. p. 61. 


  • Benjamin Franklin and Catherine Ray Greene: Their Correspondence 1755 - 1790 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1949. W. G. Roelker, editor.)
  • Jeremy A. Stern, "Jane Franklin Mecom: A Boston Woman in Revolutionary Times," Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal - Vol. 4, Number 1, Spring 2006, pp. 147–191, link to abstract
  • Jill Lepore, "The Prodigal Daughter," The New Yorker, July 8, 2013, available online

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