The English surname Franklin is a status name from the Middle English term frankelin ‘franklin’, a technical term of the feudal system, from Anglo-Norman French franc ‘free’ + 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. The first written reference to the name was in 1195 when Ralph Frankelein is recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire. The American statesman and scientist Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), was of British descent. His father, a maker of soap and candles, had emigrated in about 1682, from Ecton, Northamptonshire, to Boston, where his son was born.