Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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LEWIS , FRANCIS ( 1713 - 1802 ), one of the signatories of the American Declaration of Independence

. Julia Delafield (his great-granddaughter), in her Biographies of Francis Lewis and Morgan Lewis ( New York , 1877 ) speaks of him as being born at Llandaff , the son of the ‘ Rector of the Parish ,’ his mother being ‘the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Pettingal , also a clergyman of the Established Church and settled at Carnarvon .’ The Dictionary of American Biography , on evidence supplied by one of his descendants, gives his date of birth as 21 March , and states that he was ‘the only child of the Rev. Francis Lewis , rector of Llandaff , Glamorganshire , Wales , and Amy Pettingal of Caernarvon .’ The ‘Parish’ of Llandaff is an obvious error, and no Dr. Pettingal is known as vicar of Llanbeblig , the parish within which the borough of Caernarvon was then situated. An alderman Francis Pettingale of Newport, Mon. (d. 1726 ), had children: Francis , vicar of S. Woollos (who also d. in 1726 ); his son, Dr. John Pettingal , was a celebrated antiquary (see D.N.B. )); Richard , alderman of Newport ; Mary , the residuary legatee and sole executrix under his will (who ‘d. a spinster in 1740 ); Anne , m. to Morgan Lewis ; and others. Mary Pettingal , by her will dated 9 April 1740 , bequeathed the bulk of her property to her nephews, Francis Lewis and Hanbury Pettingal . Both cousins were named as executors , but the will was proved by Hanbury Pettingal only (which would be consistent with Francis Lewis 's departure for New York some five years earlier). Mary Pettingal also left £200 to Charles Griffiths of Llanaravon in the parish of Llanvrechva, Mon. , and John Cadogan of Newport , to be placed at interest, such interest to be paid to her sister Anne Lewis , during her life, and then to her two nephews. (It may be that the above authorities have misread Caernarvon for Llanaravon. ) There is little doubt that Francis Lewis was the son of Morgan and Anne Lewis of Newport .

Francis Lewis was educated at Westminster . He emigrated to America (in 1734 according to Delafield , in 1738 according to Dict. Amer. Biog. ) and established himself as a merchant , undertaking several voyages for commercial reasons. He took an active part in revolutionary agitation and appended his signature, as a delegate from New York , to the Declaration of Independence , his being the only signature of a native of Wales . He d. 31 Dec. 1802 .

Sources:

  • Julia Delafield and Dictionary of American Biography as above;
  • copies of wills and entries in parish registers in the possession of the late J. Llewellyn Morgan of Llandaff.

Author:

Emeritus Professor David Williams, D.Litt., (1900-78), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959