Thomas Parnham Franklin was born in Walthamstow, Essex, England on 9 May 1874 the eldest child and only son of Thomas Franklin (b. 1842), a warehouseman in a silk factory, and Jane Amelia Greaves (b. 1847), both natives of Stepney, Middlesex who had married in 1872. He was christened on 14 June 1874 in St. Saviour Church in Walthamstow, Essex (his middle name was listed ''Parnhaus''). He had four sisters: Jenny Martha (b. 1877), Edith Maud (1881-1938), Marian Ruby (1887-1928) and Grace Minnie (1890-1959, later Jennings).
He first appears on the 1881 census living at 27 Black Horse Lane in Walthamstow and at 51 Black Horse Road on the following census. By the time of the 1901 census his father had passed away (possibly in 1895) and the family were still living at 51 Black Horse Road, Thomas, like his father, working as a silk warehouseman and his sister Edith as a tea packer. Thomas had moved up in the world when he was recorded on the 1911 census, now described as a commercial traveller in the silk trade and by now living at 17 Ceylon Road, Westcliffe-on-Sea, Essex. He was unmarried and still living with his widowed mother and his three youngest sisters.
Thomas boarded the Titanic at Southampton on 10 April 1912 as a first class passenger (ticket number 113778 which cost £26, 11s), occupying cabin D-34, and he was en route to Manhattan. He sent two postcards during the voyage, postmarked at Queenstown, one of which was to his mother where he described having spoken to Bruce Ismay regarding the ship. Both postcards survive.
Thomas died in the sinking. His estate, worth £1826, 17s, 9d, was administered to his accountant Alfred James Batley on 18 July 1912.
His mother remained in Essex for the rest of her life and died on 21 June 1943 aged 96.