Francis Bond Head

Sir Francis Bond Head, 1st Baronet KCH PC (1 January 1793 – 20 July 1875), known as "Galloping Head", was Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada during the rebellion of 1837.

Sir Francis Bond Head
Francis Bond Head.jpg
6th Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada
In office
MonarchWilliam IV
Preceded bySir John Colborne
Succeeded bySir George Arthur
Personal details
Born1 January 1793
Higham, Kent
Died20 July 1875(1875-07-20) (aged 82)
Croydon, Surrey, England
Spouse(s)Julia Valenza Somerville
ProfessionCommissioned Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers


Head was an officer in the corps of Royal Engineers of the British Army from 1811 to 1825; as such he earned a Waterloo Medal. Afterwards, he attempted to set up a mining company in Argentina. He married Julia Valenza Somerville in 1816, and they eventually had four children. Head was born to parents James Roper Mendes Head and Frances Anne Burgess. He was descended from the Spanish Jew Fernando Mendes, who accompanied as her personal physician Catherine of Braganza in 1662 when she came to England to marry Charles II. His grandfather Moses Mendes married Anna Gabriella Head and took on the Head name following the death of his wife's father.

Sir Francis Bond Head in 1873, aged 80.

In 1834, Head was appointed as an assistant Poor Law Commissioner in Kent. While serving in this capacity, he drew up a document called Plan of a Rural Workhouse for 500 Persons, which established separate areas for males and females but mingled sick and well, young and old, sane and insane.[1] He argued that provisions for the poor should not be superior to those earned by the independent labourer. The rooms, for example, were to hold eight residents in a 15' x 10' space,[2] and the diet was to be strictly for subsistence, resulting in the kind of gruel portrayed in the workhouse scenes of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.[3]

Head was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada in 1835 in an attempt by the British government to appease the reformers in the colony, such as William Lyon Mackenzie, who wanted responsible government. He appointed reformer Robert Baldwin to the Executive Council, but that appointment was opposed by the more radical Mackenzie. In any case, he ignored Baldwin's advice, and Baldwin resigned; the Legislative Assembly of the 12th Parliament of Upper Canada then refused to pass any money bills and so Head dissolved the government. In the subsequent election campaign, he appealed to the United Empire Loyalists of the colony, proclaiming that the reformers were advocating American republicanism. The Conservative party, led by the wealthy landowners known as the "Family Compact", won the election to the 13th Parliament of Upper Canada.

In December 1837, Mackenzie led a brief and bungled rebellion in Toronto. Sir Francis Bond Head later boasted that despite the evidence that poured in from every district in the province, he allowed Mackenzie to prepare a revolt. He further claimed that he encouraged the outbreak by sending all the troops from the province, laying a trap for Mackenzie, despite there being no troops, and the York Militia had been preparing for an attack.[4] Head sent the colonial militia to put down the rebellion, which they did within four days. In response to the rebellion, Britain replaced Head as Lieutenant-Governor with Sir George Arthur and then Lord Durham. Head returned to England and settled down to write books and essays.

In later life Head lived at Duppas Hall, overlooking Duppas Hill in Croydon, where he organised protests against the proposed outlawing of horse-riding in the area. He was appointed to the Privy Council in 1867.


Several places in Ontario are named for Sir Francis Bond Head:


  • Life of Bruce (London, 1830), a biography of Scottish traveler James Bruce
  • Bruce, James, Travels (1830), an abridged version of the 1790 work, edited by F. Bond Head.
  • Head, Francis Bond. (1826). Rough Notes Taken during some Rapid Journeys across the Pampas and among the Andes. Murray (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2009; ISBN 978-1-108-00161-8)
  • "Bubbles from the Brunnens of Nassau, by an Old Man" (1834), travel in Germany
  • Head, Francis Bond. (1846). The Emigrant. London: John Murray.
  • Head, Francis B[ond]. (1852). A Fortnight in Ireland.
  • The Defenceless State of Great Burray, 1869.


  1. ^ Sanders, Areta. "The Victorian Workhouse: Bastille or Pauper Palace?". UBC Theses and Dissertations. University of British Columbia. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  2. ^ Sanders. "Victorian Workhouse".
  3. ^ Hamlett, Jane; Hoskins, Lesley; Preston, Rebecca, eds. (2016). Residential Institutions in Britain, 1725–1970: Inmates and Environments. New York: Routledge. p. n.p. ISBN 9781317320258. Retrieved 27 January 2019. {{cite book}}: |first3= has generic name (help)
  4. ^ Peppiatt, Liam. "Chapter 87: The York Militia". Landmarks of Toronto Revisited.
  5. ^ "Bond Head". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Bond Head". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  7. ^ Toronto and area street guide. MapArt. 2010. p. 280. ISBN 978-1-55198-213-7.

External linksEdit

Government offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada
Succeeded by
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Rochester, Kent)
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Chancellor of King's College
Succeeded by