Franks, Jacob

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FRANKS, JACOB (1688–1769), New York City merchant and founder of a prominent mercantile family. Franks, born in London, arrived in New York in 1708 or 1709. He became a freeman of New York in 1711. A year later he married Abigail Bilhah Levy, daughter of Moses *Levy, one of New York's wealthiest Jews. The couple had nine children, three of whom – Moses, David, and Naphtali – became successful merchants in England and the provinces. A daughter, Phila, married Oliver De Lancey in 1742, thus linking the family with New York aristocracy. Franks' vast trade activities, engaged in part with Moses Levy and Nathan Simpson, as well as his sons, included dry goods, liquor, and slaves. Other partners in trade were members of the Van Cortlandt, Philipse, and Livingston families. Franks was elected constable of the Dock Ward in New York City in 1720, but declined to serve. He did serve in the militia during the French and Indian Wars. Franks contributed to the building of the steeple on Trinity Church in 1711. Much involved in the congregational affairs of Shearith Israel in New York, he served in a variety of offices, including that of president (1729). He was a founder of the congregation's Mill Street synagogue, and also helped to purchase the congregation burial ground off present-day Chatham Square. Frank's interest in religious affairs was not continued by his descendants, and the family disappeared as Jews by the end of the 18th century.


L. Hershkowitz and I.S. Meyer (eds.), Letters of the Franks Family (1733–1748) (1968).

[Leo Hershkowitz]