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Francis Family Papers

Historical note

John Francis (1763-1796) was the son of Tench Francis and Anne (Willing) Francis (1733-1812) of Philadelphia. By 1787, he had settled in Providence. He married wealthy Providence merchant John Brown's daughter Abigail (1766-1821) in 1788, and entered into a mercantile partnership with Brown in 1792. They had two children: Anne W. (1790-1798) and John B. (1791-1864). John Francis died in 1796, at the age of 32.

John Brown Francis (1791-1864), son of John and Abigail, was born in Philadelphia but spent almost all of his childhood in Providence. After the death of his father, he was raised in part by his grandfather John Brown, who then died in 1803. He graduated from Brown University in 1808, and then managed the John Brown estate for several years. In 1821 he moved to the family estate at Spring Green in Warwick. He represented Warwick in the General Assembly as a representative from 1821 to 1829, and as a senator in 1831, 1842, and from 1845 to 1856. He served as governor of Rhode Island from 1833 to 1838, and finished out William Sprague's term as U.S. Senator from 1844 to 1845. He married first Ann Brown Carter (1795-1828), daughter of Nicholas; and then to his first cousin Elizabeth W. (Francis) Harrison (1796-1866). His children were : Abby (1823-1841), John (1825-1826), Anne B. (1828-1896) m. Marshall Woods; Elizabeth (1833-1901); Sally (1834-1904); Sophia H. (1836-1860) m. George W. Adams; John B. Jr. (1838-1870).

Only one of John Brown Francis's children had children of their own. Anne B. (Francis) Woods had two children, including Abby F. (Woods) Abbott, who went on to have John Francis's only great-great-grandchildren by blood. John Brown Francis's daughter Elizabeth, who never married, adopted a cousin named Alice Francis, who married Frank Hail Brown (no relation), and also went on to raise a large family.