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Francis Lewis (March 21, 1713 – December 31, 1802) was a merchant and signer of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of New York.

Francis Lewis
Francis Lewis.jpg
Born(1713-03-21)March 21, 1713
DiedDecember 31, 1802(1802-12-31) (aged 89)
Resting placeTrinity Church Cemetery, New York City
EducationWestminster School
OccupationMerchant, politician
Known forSigner of the United States Declaration of Independence
Spouse(s)
Elizabeth Annesley
(m. 1745; her death 1778)
Signature
Francis Lewis signature.png

Early lifeEdit

Lewis was born in Llandaff, Wales on March 21, 1713. He was the only child of Morgan Lewis and Anne Lewis (née Pettingale) of Newport.[1][2]

Lewis was educated at Westminster School in London.[1]

CareerEdit

He entered a mercantile house in London until he turned 21 and inherited some properties left by his father. Lewis sold the properties and used the proceeds to acquire merchandise, then set sail for New York City, arriving in 1734 or 1735. He left some of the goods in New York to be sold by Edward Annesley, his business partner, and brought the rest to Philadelphia.[3] After two years in Philadelphia, he returned to New York.[4]

Lewis made several trans-Atlantic trips, visiting several northern European ports, St. Petersburg in Russia, northern Scotland and Africa. He was taken prisoner while serving as a British mercantile agent in 1756 and sent to France for imprisonment. On his release and return home, he became active in politics.[4]

PoliticsEdit

He was a member of the Committee of Sixty, a member of the New York Provincial Congress, and served as a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1775 to 1779. In 1778, he signed the United States Articles of Confederation, and in 1779 served as the Chairman of the Continental Board of Admiralty.[4]

He helped his son Francis Lewis Jr. open a dry goods business named Francis Lewis and Son. Morgan served in the army during the Revolutionary War and later held many offices in New York State, including Governor.[4]

Personal lifeEdit

 
Richard Stockton, Francis Lewis and John Witherspoon in the background of John Trumbull's painting Declaration of Independence (1819)

In 1745, Lewis married to Elizabeth Annesley (died 1779), a sister of his business partner.[5] Together, they were the parents of seven children, only three of whom survived to adulthood:[6]

  • Ann Lewis (1748–1802), who married Capt. George Robertson (1742–1791) of the British Royal Navy,[7] against her father's wishes, and immediately thereafter, left for England, never to speak or see her family again.[citation needed]
  • Francis Lewis Jr. (1749–1814), who served as churchwarden of St George's Parish in Flushing from 1791 to 1794. He married Elizabeth Ludlow (d. 1831),[8] daughter of Gabriel Ludlow, Esq.[3]
  • Morgan Lewis (1754–1844), who married Gertrude Livingston, the daughter of Judge Robert Livingston of Clermont.[9]

In 1775, Lewis acquired and relocated his family to an estate located in Whitestone, in present day Queens. The home was later destroyed in the American Revolutionary War by British soldiers, who also arrested his wife, Elizabeth, and denied her a change of clothing or adequate food for weeks while in captivity. Her hardships in captivity ruined her health and led to her death in 1778 after being released in a prisoner exchange.[10][11]

Lewis died on December 31, 1802, although his memorial in Trinity Church Cemetery gives his year of death as 1803.

LegacyEdit

 
Memorial to Francis Lewis at Trinity Church Cemetery, New York City.

Through his eldest surviving daughter Ann, he was a grandfather to Marianne Robertson (1779–1829), who married John Bird Sumner, the Archbishop of Canterbury and brother of Charles Richard Sumner, bishop of Winchester.[12]

Through his son Morgan, he was a grandfather of Margret Lewis (1780–1860), who married New York lawyer and politician Maturin Livingston and became parents to twelve children.[9] Through his son Francis Jr., he was a grandfather of Gabriel Ludlow Lewis.[13]

In Queens, New York, Francis Lewis High School and P.S. 79 "The Francis Lewis School" are named after Lewis. The Francis Lewis Boulevard, which locals sometimes refer to as "Franny Lew" or "Franny Lewie," stretches almost the entire north/south length of the borough. Francis Lewis Park is located under the Queens approach of the Bronx Whitestone Bridge. A Masonic Lodge, Francis Lewis #273, is located in Whitestone.[14]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "LEWIS, Francis, (1713 - 1803)". The Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress.
  2. ^ Williams, David. "Lewis, Francis (1713-1802), one of the signatories of the American Declaration of Independence". Dictionary of Welsh Biography. National Library of Wales. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Scoville, Joseph Alfred (1885). The Old Merchants of New York City. T. R. Knox. p. 105. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d "Francis Lewis". www.dsdi1776.com. The Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. 11 December 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  5. ^ "To George Washington from the Board of War, 8 November 1776". National Archives. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  6. ^ Reynolds, Cuyler (1914). Genealogical and Family History of Southern New York and the Hudson River Valley: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Building of a Nation. Lewis Historical Publishing Company. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  7. ^ "Robertson, Thomas Campbell". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/23813. the youngest son of Captain George Robertson RN, who was offered a knighthood by George III for his intrepid conduct at the battle of the Dogger Bank in 1781, and of Anne, daughter of Francis Lewis of New York, formerly of Llandaff, south Wales.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. ^ "Died". New York Evening Post. 17 Jan 1831. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  9. ^ a b Belinsky, Stefan. "Morgan Lewis". New York State Museum. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
  10. ^ "Francis Lewis, New York". Signers of the Declaration. National Park Service. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  11. ^ Hirshon, Nicholas (July 3, 2011). "Francis Lewis' descendants want tribute to Queens signer of Declaration of Independence". New York Daily News. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  12. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Sumner, John Bird" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  13. ^ Revolution, Daughters of the American (1908). Lineage Book - National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Daughters of the American Revolution. p. 73. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  14. ^ "History". Queens Masonic District. Retrieved 7 August 2019.

External linksEdit