John Brown Francis

John Brown Francis (May 31, 1791 – August 9, 1864) was a governor and United States Senator from Rhode Island.[1][2]

John Brown Francis
RI Governor John Brown Francis.jpg
United States Senator
from Rhode Island
In office
January 25, 1844 – March 4, 1845
Preceded byWilliam Sprague III
Succeeded byAlbert C. Greene
13th Governor of Rhode Island
In office
May 1, 1833 – May 2, 1838
LieutenantJeffrey Hazard
George Engs
Jeffrey Hazard
Benjamin B. Thurston
Preceded byLemuel H. Arnold
Succeeded byWilliam Sprague III
Member of the Rhode Island Senate
In office
Member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born(1791-05-31)May 31, 1791
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedAugust 9, 1864(1864-08-09) (aged 73)
Warwick, Rhode Island, U.S.
Resting placeNorth Burial Ground, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Political partyWhig
Law and Order
Spouse(s)Anne Carter Brown
Elizabeth Francis Harrison
ProfessionPolitician, Manufacturer

Early lifeEdit

John Brown Francis was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 31, 1791, son of John Francis and Abigail Brown.[3] Francis' grandfather, John Brown, was a U.S. Representative from Rhode Island and a member of the family for whom Brown University was named.[4][5][6][7]

He attended the common schools of Providence, Rhode Island, and graduated from Brown University in 1808.[1]


He engaged in mercantile pursuits, attended the Litchfield Law School, and was admitted to the bar but never practiced. Francis was a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives from 1821 to 1829 and a member of the board of trustees of Brown University from 1828 to 1857. He was a member of the Rhode Island Senate in 1831 and 1842, and was the 13th Governor of Rhode Island from 1833 to 1838.[1]

From 1841 to 1854, Francis was chancellor of Brown University; he was elected as a member of the Law and Order Party to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William Sprague and served from January 25, 1844, to March 4, 1845. He was not a candidate for reelection; while in the Senate, he was chairman of the Committee on Engrossed Bills (Twenty-eighth Congress).[1]

Francis was a member of the Rhode Island Senate from 1845 to 1856, and then retired from public life and engaged in agricultural pursuits until his death at "Spring Green," Warwick, Rhode Island, in 1864; interment was in North Burial Ground, Providence.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1822, he married Anne Carter Brown (1794–1828), daughter of Nicholas Brown, Jr. (1769–1841) and granddaughter of Nicholas Brown, Sr. (1729–1791). Before her death in 1828, they had:[3]

  • Abby Francis (1823–1841), who died unmarried[3]
  • John Francis (1826–1827), who died an infant[3]
  • Anne Brown Francis (1828–1896), who married Marshall Woods (1824–1899), son of Alva Woods and Almira Marshall, in 1848.[3]

In 1832 he married his cousin, Elizabeth Francis (1796–1866), widow of Henry Harrison and daughter of Thomas Willing Francis and Dorothy Willing. Together, they had:[3]

  • Elizabeth Francis (1833–1901), who did not have children[3]
  • Sally Francis (1834–1904), who did not have children[3]
  • Sophia H. Francis (1836–1860), who married George William Adams (1834–1883), son of Seth Adams and Sarah Bigelow, in 1860, who did not have children[3]
  • John Brown Francis (1838–1870), who did not have children[3]

On August 9, 1864, John Brown Francis, aged 73, died in Warwick, Rhode Island.[3][1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "FRANCIS, John Brown - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Guide to the Francis Family Papers 1783-1901 (bulk 1783-1838)" (PDF). Rhode Island Historical Society. 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Isham, Norman M. (January 1918). Collections of the Rhode Island Historical Society Vol. XI (No. 1. ed.). Rhode Island Historical Society. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  4. ^ "John Brown (1736-1803) Papers". Rhode Island Historical Society Manuscripts Division. 1995. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  5. ^ "John Brown". Gaspee Virtual Archives. April 2013 [originally posted 2003]. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  6. ^ The Charter of Brown University (PDF), Providence, RI: Brown University, 1945, retrieved 27 January 2015
  7. ^ "Report of the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice" (PDF). Brown University. October 2006. Retrieved January 28, 2015.

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
James Fenner
Democratic nominee for Governor of Rhode Island
1833, 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837, 1838
Succeeded by
Nathaniel Bullock
Political offices
Preceded by
Lemuel H. Arnold
Governor of Rhode Island
Succeeded by
William Sprague III
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
William Sprague III
U.S. senator (Class 1) from Rhode Island
January 25, 1844 – March 4, 1845
Served alongside: James F. Simmons
Succeeded by
Albert C. Greene