Francis Lewis

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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
Elizabeth Annesley
(m. 1745; her death 1778)
Francis Lewis signature.png

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.

Early life[edit]

Lewis was born in Llandaff, Wales on March 21, 1713. He was the only child of Morgan Lewis and Anne (née Pettingale) Lewis.[1][2] His father and maternal grandfather were both clergymen.

He was educated in Scotland and attended Westminster School in England.[3]


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.[4] After two years in Philadelphia, he returned to New York.[5]

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.[5]


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.[5]

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.[5]

Personal life[edit]

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

On June 15, 1745, Lewis was married to Elizabeth Annesley (1715–1778), the younger sister of his business partner.[3] Together, they were the parents of seven children, only three of whom survived to adulthood, including:[6]

  • Ann Lewis (1748–1802), who married Capt. George Robertson (1742–1791) of the British Royal Navy, against her father's wishes, and immediately thereafter, left for England, never to speak or see her family again.
  • 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),[7] daughter of Gabriel Ludlow, Esq.[4]
  • Morgan Lewis (1754–1844), who married Gertrude Livingston, the daughter of Judge Robert Livingston of Clermont.[8]

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.[9][10]

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


Through his son Morgan, he was a grandfather of Margret Lewis, who married New York lawyer and politician Maturin Livingston and became parents to twelve children.[8] Through his son Francis Jr., he was a grandfather of Gabriel Ludlow Lewis.[11]

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 tend to refer to as "Franny Lew," 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.


  1. ^ "LEWIS, Francis, (1713 - 1803)". The Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress.
  2. ^ Williams, Prof. David. Welsh Biography Online. "Francis Lewis (1713–1802)" National Library of Wales (2009) Accessed May 13, 2013. [1]
  3. ^ a b "Elizabeth Lewis". History of American Women. 9 April 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b Scoville, Joseph Alfred (1885). The Old Merchants of New York City. T. R. Knox. p. 105. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d "Francis Lewis". The Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. 11 December 2011. Retrieved 17 July 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. ^ "Died". The Evening Post. 17 Jan 1831. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  8. ^ a b Belinsky, Stefan. "Morgan Lewis". Retrieved 2015-05-24.
  9. ^ "Francis Lewis, New York". Signers of the Declaration. National Park Service. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ 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.

External links[edit]