Born on 17th January 1706, Benjamin Franklin was the fifteenth child and tenth son of a Boston candle maker. From these humble beginnings, Franklin emerged to be one of the greatest polymaths of his time. After developing a love for books and reading at an early age, his first profession was a Printer. On the back of his liberal education he flourished in the fields of science and electrics, diplomacy, statesmanship, civil activism, political theory and philosophy.
Franklin is perhaps best known as one of the Founding Fathers of America; he was one of three signatories of the American Declaration of Independence on the 4th July 1776. He worked tirelessly for civil liberties and on his political theory.
He was also a great scientist, and it is for his excellence in this field that the academic world most recognise him. On the 12th February 1759 The Senate of the University of St Andrews decided to award Mr Franklin an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree for his work in the electrical field. Having gone into the University archives, I was able to find the original minutes book where the awarding of this degree was recorded. They read as follows:
“Conferr’d the Degree of Doctor of Laws on Mr Benjamin Franklin famous for his writings on Electricity, and appoint his Diploma to be given him gratis…”
Further to this he was awarded the Freedom of the Borough in October 1759. After these two awards, Mr Franklin developed quite an affinity with the town and when he was here was often known to walk around town or on West Sands flying a kite. As a world-class polymath and a local St Andrews character, his addition to the Procession is most welcome.