- FRANKS, English family, with an important branch in America. BENJAMIN FRANKS (c. 1649–c. 1716), son of an Ashkenazi merchant from Bavaria, was born in London but moved to the West Indies in the last decade of the 17th century. His checkered career took him to New York and Bombay where he made a deposition which was used in the piracy trial of Captain Kidd. He returned to London in 1698 and seems to have stayed there until his death. ABRAHAM (NAPHTALI HART) franks FRANKS (d. 1708–09) was a founder of the London Ashkenazi community admitted to the Royal Exchange in 1697. His son AARON (1685 or 1692–1777) attained great wealth as a jeweler, and was said to have distributed £5,000 yearly in charity without distinction of race or creed. At his country house in Isleworth near London he gave musical receptions and entertained members of the aristocracy. Like other members of the family, he was closely associated with the affairs of the Great Synagogue. He took the lead in 1745 in the attempt to secure the intervention of the English court on behalf of the Jews expelled from Prague. His brother jacob franks (1688–1769) was head of the American branch of the family, some members of which in due course returned to England and played a part in communal and public life. (See the chart, "Franks Family.") -BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. Roth, The Great Synagogue, 1690–1940 (1950), passim; Oppenheim, in: AJHSP, 31 (1928), 229–34; L. Hershkowitz and I.S. Meyer (eds.), Letters of the Franks Family, 1733–48 (1968). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: T. Endelman, Jews in Georgian England, index; Katz, England, 220–23, index. (Cecil Roth)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.