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The Samuel and Ann Francis Family of Baltimore County, MD

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Samuel Francis was in Baltimore County by at least 1763, when his name appeared on an account of Jeremiah Johnson, the Deputy Sheriff. Between 1780 and 1790, Samuel Francis and his wife Ann recorded the births of three children in the register of St. James Episcopal Parish, in Monkton, MD, one of the oldest churches in Baltimore County. Only one Samuel Francis was listed in the 1783 tax list for Baltimore County; he was listed in the Middle River Upper Hundred and Back River Upper Hundred. These Hundreds include the area where St. James Church is located and the area which later became the 2nd District of Baltimore County, where members of the Francis family lived between 1830 and 1850. There is no evidence that Samuel Francis took the Oath of Allegiance (to the Colonial Government rather than the British Crown) or fought in the Revolutionary War.

The children whose births were registered at St. James were: Charles, born 12 May 1780, William, born 20 October 1782, and Sarah, born 23 August 1790. Other children are believed to be: Samuel Francis, possibly the eldest; James Francis, born about 1785; Thomas Francis, born 18 June 1787; and possibly Susanna Francis. If these identifications are all correct, there may have been seven children in all.

Some early records spelled the surname "France" or sometimes "Frances." Later, "Francis" seems to have become the more common spelling. There is one explanation that in England, all of these similar surnames referred to a person who originally came from France (Elsdon C. Smith, American Surnames, New York: Chilton, 1969). Oral tradition in Wayne Francis's family (William's line) says that both "Francis" and "France" were used interchangeably up to fairly recent times.

Francis men worked and lived at Hampton, the plantation and iron furnace owned by the Ridgely family, now a National Historic Site located near Towson, MD. A Samuel Francis appeared in a number of transactions in February and March 1790, buying large quantities of fish, pork, and beef and paying for them by cutting 39 cords of wood. It seems likely that this man was the same one whose children were recorded at St. James.

Later, accounts for Samuel, William, Charles and Thomas France appear in Ridgely family ledgers from 1806 until the 1830s. While some of the earlier accounts may refer to Samuel the father, these entries probably refer to the Samuel's sons. In addition to their employment, Thomas and William also rented farms from the Ridgelys. Later, in the 1830s, William's sons James and Augustus later appear in the ledgers as both renters and employees. Augustus continues to appear through 1870. In 1871, a "Charley France," possibly Augustus's son Charles, is mentioned in a letter from the estate manager to Ridgely. Thus, it seems likely that four generations of Francis men worked at Hampton from 1790 to 1871.

Samuel's sons interrupted their work at Hampton to serve in the War of 1812: William, Samuel and James in the Maryland Militia, Randall's Rifle Battalion, Captain Henry Fowler's Rifle Company; Charles and Thomas in the 41st Regiment, Captain Joshua Taylor's Company. Thomas's widow, Priscilla Chenoweth Francis, applied several times for a War of 1812 pension in Thomas's name.

We do not know who the elder Samuel's parents were or where he came from. Presumably, he was English. An 1897 genealogy of Richard C. Francis (a son of Thomas Francies) says (without evidence) that "Samuel Francis was born in England, and was one of five brothers who came to America, settling in Baltimore County." There is an oral tradition in Wayne Francis's family (descends from William, born 1782) that Samuel was one of five brothers from England and that he settled in Baltimore County, while the other four went west.

There is also a possibility that Samuel was one of three orphan boys - Henry (aged 16), William (14), and Samuel (9) - who were indentured to Dr. Orlando Griffith in Frederick County, MD in March 1749/50. Dr. Griffith had taken in the boys and their mother Mary and she died in his care. Court records say that Griffith petitioned for the indenture of the boys to repay him for his efforts. Later, in 1761, the same Dr. Griffith petitioned the court for reimbursement of the terminal expenses of a John Francis who also died in the doctor's care after an illness of 30 days. We do not know whether the orphans and John were related. Some of the descendants of Revolutionary War hero Captain Henry Francis of Virginia believe that he was the eldest Griffith orphan. According to colonial Virginia records, this Henry Francis apparently had brothers named John and William.

The names William, Charles, and James recur in the early generations of the family. (There are, however, no Henry's.) Early members of the family often lived near each other. For example, in the 1850 census, Charles' sons Charles, Jr., Joshua, and Isaac were living in the 2nd District of Baltimore County. In the 1860 census, William's son James W. and Charles' son Isaac were living near each other in the 9th District. In 1870, Isaac, Charles, Jr. and James W. lived near each other in the 9th District. In 1880, Charles, Jr. and James W. both lived in Woodberry in the 9th District.

In the first few generations, Francis family members married spouses with surnames: PICKETT, PLOWMAN, CARTER, PROCTOR, HANCOCK, BALDWIN, SIMMS, BLAKELY, CHANCE, BISHOP, AKEHURST, MULLEN, MARSH, CHENOWETH, WILLINGHAM, GRAY, and HOOPER. William's children, James W., Augustus, Elizabeth, and Berthier, seem to have married four siblings from the Richard and Elizabeth (Corbin) Blakely family between 1844 and 1851. Many Francis family members are buried in Methodist country cemeteries in northern Baltimore County: Fork Chapel, Waugh Chapel, Camp Chapel, and Providence Burying Ground.

Children and Grandchildren of Samuel and Ann Francis

  • (1) Samuel Francis and Ann ? married before 1780
    • (2)Samuel Francis and Nancy Pickett married 1799
    • (2)Charles Francis 1780 - 1855
      • (3)Joshua Francis 1805 - 1888 and Eliza Jane Plowman 1812 - 1885, married 1834
      • (3)Charles Francis, Jr. 1815 - ? and Sarah A. Carter 1823 - ?, married 1842 -
      • (3)Isaac Francis 1821 - 1900 and Maria Proctor 1823 - 1904, married 1847 -
    • (2)William Francis 1782 - 1840 and Elizabeth Hancock 1790 - 1850, married 1804
      • (3)William Francis ? - 1852 and Elizabeth R. Baldwin 1817 - 1878, married 1846
      • (3)Mary Ann Francis 1811 - 1878 and John Simms 1807 - 1894, married 1836
      • (3)James W. Francis 1817 - 1908 and Sarah A. Blakely 1822 - 1909, married 1844
      • (3)Augustus Francis 1820 - 1903 and Elizabeth Blakely 1831 - 1899, married 1848
      • (3)Elizabeth Francis 1823 - 1911 and John Blakely 1820 - 1911, married 1848
      • (3)Berthier Francis 1827 - 1904 and Joshua Corbin Blakely 1826 - 1913, married 1851
    • (2)James Francis 1785 - 1858 and Sarah Chance, married 1811
      • 3)Samuel Francis 1817 - 1861 and Elizabeth Ann Bishop 1816 - 1903, married 1846
      • (3)Alexander Francis 1824 - 1904 and Louisa Akehurst ? - 1886, married 1855
      • (3)Jane Matilda Francis 1828 - 1907 and Michael Mullen 1832 - 1912, married 1859
      • (3)Elijah Francis 1831 - ?
      • (3)James Francis, Jr. 1820 - 1898 and Elizabeth Marsh 1821 - ?, married 1854
    • (2)Thomas Francies 1787 - 1832 and Priscilla Chenoweth 1792 - 1885, married 1811
      • (3)George W. Francies
      • (3)Maria Francis Francies 1814 - 1903
      • (3)Thomas Francies 1816 - ? and Ann 1820 - ?
      • (3)Priscilla Francies 1823 - ?
      • (3)Richard C. Francis 1827 - 1929 and Eleanor 1832 - 1914
      • (3)Mary J. Francies 1830 - ?
      • (3)Charles Francies 1832 - 1892 and Martha A. Willingham 1842 - 1942, married 1868
      • (3)Sarah Eliza Francies 1824 - ? and Daniel Gray 1824 - ?, married 1844
    • (2)Sarah Francis 1790 - ? and James Hooper ? - 1846, married 1821
      • (3)No issue
    • (2)Susanna Francis and Zachariah Hancock, married 1801

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