David Franks (loyalist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the officer in the American Continental Army, see David Franks (aide-de-camp).
David Franks
Born 23 September 1720
United States New York City, United States
Died October 1794
England Isleworth, England
Nationality American
Occupation Merchant
Known for Loyalist

David Franks (born 23 September 1720 in New York City – October 1794 in Isleworth, England) was a loyalist in the war of the American Revolution.


He was born in New York City, 23 September 1720, the youngest son of Jacob Franks (1687–1769) and Abigail Franks, of a large and prominent Jewish family from England. As a young man, he moved to Philadelphia, where he became a successful merchant, engaging in land speculation, shipping, and fur trading. He was also a member of the Congregation Mikveh Israel. He was elected a member of the provincial assembly in 1748. Franks, with his wife Margaret Evans (1720–1780) of one of Philadelphia's Christian families, was socially prominent in the city.

During the French and Indian War, he was engaged by the government to supply the army with provisions. In 1755, upon the defeat of General Braddock, he helped to raise a fund of £5,000 for the further defense of the colony. In the 1760s, He signed the Non-Importation Resolution of 1765, but eventually his loyalist tendencies won over. During the revolution, he was the king's agent for Pennsylvania. Perceived as a threat to the security of the United States, he was jailed briefly in 1778 by order of Congress, and then imprisoned again in 1780.

From 1771 to 1781, he owned and occupied Woodford, a mansion in Germantown, now a National Historic Landmark, to which he added a second story and a rear two-story addition.[1]

After living in England for a time, Franks returned to Philadelphia in 1783, where he worked as a merchant.

By various accounts, he died in the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia,[2][3] where he was buried in Christ Church Burial Ground.[4] Others claim he returned again to England and died at Isleworth in October 1794.[5]


His wife died on 20 September 1780 and is interred at Christ Church Burial Ground.

His nephew, Col. David Salisbury Franks, a revolutionary who served as aide to Benedict Arnold, came under further suspicion because of his relationship with his loyalist uncle.

In 1768, his eldest daughter Abigail married Andrew Hamilton (1745–1813), elder brother of William Hamilton, well-known proprietor of "The Woodlands." His youngest daughter Rebecca became the wife of then British colonel (later General) Henry Johnson, and was one of the prominent young Philadelphians who attended the Mischianza Ball.


  1. ^ History of Woodford, Woodford official site
  2. ^ Article at JewishEncyclopedia.com
  3. ^ David Franks: colonial merchant, by Mark Abbott Stern, Penn State Press, 2010.
  4. ^ David Franks at Find a Grave
  5. ^ "Jewish Residents in Eighteenth-century Twickenham", by Hilda F. Finberg, read before the Jewish Historical Society of England on 19th June, 1947.

External links[edit]