Francis Lovelace

Lovelace and Loveless Family





The following information is excerpted from "Dictionary of American Biography," edited by Dumas Malone, 1933.


Lovelace, Francis (c. 1621-1675), second English governor of New York, was eighth in descent from John Lovelace, who founded Lovelace Place at Bethersden, Kent, in 1367. His father was Sir William (1584-1627) of Bethersden and Woolwich, son of Sir William, the elder, and Elizabeth Aucher. The family was only remotely related to the Lords Lovelace of Hurley. Francis' father was knighted by James I, on Sept. 20, 1609, and about 1610 married Ann, daughter of Sir William Barne, of Woolwich, and Anne Sandys, daughter of Edwin Sandys, archbishop of York in Elizabeth's reign, and sister of Sir Edwin Sandys of the Virginia Company and George Sandys the poet. The Barne and Sandys families were actively concerned in Virginia's colonization. In 1627 Francis' father was killed at the siege of the Burse, or the Groll, in Holland, and his mother died about 1633. They had five sons and three daughters, of whom Richard (1618-1658), poet and Cavalier, was the eldest, and Francis, the third son. both were bachelors. Two brothers, Thomas and Dudley, were in New York with their governor-brother. The eldest daughter, Anne, wife of the Rev. John Gorsuch, emigrated to Virginia with seven younger children about 1650.

Lovelace's immediate forebears were Royalists supporting the Stuarts. He himself served as a colonel for Charles I in the civil wars, and was active in Wales, where he was governor of Carmarthen Castle until it capitulated to Parliamentary forces in 1645. The death of his brother William in that siege was lamented in a poem written by Richard Lovelace, in Lucasta. For a while Francis and his brothers Richard and Dudley served Louis XIV on the Continent.

In 1650, Francis seems to have gone to Virginia for two years, probably to accompany and aid his sister, Anne Gorsuch. After December 1652 he was an exile on the Continent with Charles II and his retinue; but in 1658 he was back in England aiding the Royalist cause. On Aug. 5, 1659, he was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London, but he was freed upon the Commonwealth's collapse. He is mentioned by Pepys in his Diary, as being in London on Dec. 16, 1662, and perhaps was then employed in the Admiralty. On May 14, 1667, he is referred to as "appointed Governor of New York," in an English warrant to the Ordnance (Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, America and West Indies 1661-68, no. 1480, p. 466), and the earliest reference to his appointment appears in a newsletter as of Apr. 12, 1667. While waiting to go to America he was, on June 13, 1667, commissioned as lieutenant-colonel in a regiment raised by Col. Sir Walter Vane, with the Duke of York's approval. The evidences all point to his selection as governor as a reward for his royalist services and because he had been before in English-America.

The treaty of Breda was proclaimed in New York in 1668. Lovelace arrived in March and for several months was familiarized by Gov. Richard Nicolls with the administration. Lovelace had been instructed to continue unabated the policies of government that were in operation. About the middle of August 1668, he assumed full control. It was a time of epidemic diseases and deaths were numerous. He took hold of the situation with concern. he instituted regular sessions of his executive council on Sept. 2, 1668, and its minutes, to July 11, 1673, were the first regular English council minutes recorded in New York. Since their publication in 1910 it can no longer be justly charged that Lovelace was arbitrary or incompetent. He was a conscientious man, and in tolerance was the equal of his predecessor, from whom he had inherited unfulfilled promises, unsettled problems, and precedents in administration which the Duke of York required to be continued.

This made him cautious rather than phlegmatic in what he undertook. Yet, in his five years in office, he transacted much business by himself, with his councilors, in the high court of assizes, or by commissions appointed by him and under his control. He not only watched over his vast territory, but entered into every phase of its needs and difficulties. His administration was harassed, internally and externally, by Indian troubles, boundary disputes, an insurrection in the Delaware country, a rebellion in New Jersey, and the incompatibilities of a mixed population of Dutch, English, Swedish, and other nationalities. He interested himself in better ferriage, roads, and transportation by land and water; and the regulation of trade and extension of commerce. He instituted the first merchants' exchange and the first haven master of the port. He promoted shipbuilding and himself owned a fine ship, The Good Fame of New York. He extended settlements and laid out new villages and townships, and by purchase for the Duke freed Staten Island from Indian control. He was tolerant toward religious sects, even to Quakers. He was interested in Indian missions and though unsuccessful, made the first attempt to introduce the art of printing into the middle British colonies. He furthered the strengthening of fortifications and the raising of foot companies and troops of horse, keeping them in training. The drift whale, as well as sport fisheries, engaged his attention.

His intercolonial activities, especially with New England, are outstanding, for he instituted the first continuous post road between New York and Boston, under a postmaster. It was while on a visit to Connecticut to promote this laudable object, that his vigilance lapsed, and he lost New York to a Dutch naval squadron, July 30 - Aug. 9, 1673. Had he been at his fort and used all the meager resources he had, the capitulation could not have been prevented. The defenses of New York were not capable of withstanding an attack of a Dutch naval expedition, already encouraged by former triumphs. By the loss of New York Lovelace was impoverished and degraded. All his property was stripped from him, first by the Dutch, then by his countrymen, some for debts to the Duke of York, others for unpaid property or mortgages, or other private debts in New York. Litigation over these debts continued many years.

While traveling in the Mediterranean, in 1674, he was captured by Turks, taken to Algiers, and there stripped of his jewels and several hundred pounds. On being ransomed he returned to England, where he was pursued by the vindictiveness of the Duke of York, who claimed a debt of seven thousand pounds and was irritated by the loss of his proprietary province. In January 1675 he was imprisoned in the Tower, but he was released in April on security, on account of being "dangerously ill of a dropsy." Meanwhile he had been under examination, for the loss of New York, by a committee appointed by the King. His last months were spent in retirement at Woodstock, near Oxford, where he probably died in the latter part of 1675, as letters of administration were issued to his brother Dudley on Dec. 22 of that year. This administration was still unsettled in 1686, when Dudley died.

Other sources:
J. H. Pleasants, "Francis Lovelace, Gov. of N.Y.," NY Genealogy and Biographical Record, July 1920; includes sketches of Thomas and Dudley Lovelace.

E. C. Delavan, "Col. Francis Lovelace and His Plantation on Staten Island," Proc. Nat. Sci. Asso. of Staten Island, Mar. 10, 1900.

A. J. Pearman, "The Kentish Family of Lovelace," Archaologia Cantinina, vol. X (1876).

Minutes of the Executive Council of the Province of N.Y.: Administration of Francis Lovelace, 1668-1673 (2 vols., 1910), ed. by V. H. Paltsits, with collateral and illustrative documents.

"The Interment of William Lovelace," American Historical Review, April 1904.



Home | Newsletter & E-mail List Info | Researcher Listing | Origins

FAQ | Stories | Photo Index | Non Lovelace/Loveless lines | Document Index

Submit Family Line or Comments


Questions or comments about this web site?
Last modified: February 12, 2007

Photos courtesy of their submitters; not to be reproduced without permission of their owners.