Book order form Governor Francis Lovelace


For more than three centuries, the efforts of genealogists to understand the lineage, life and legacy of Colonel Francis Lovelace of Kent have been hampered by the persistence of several fundamental and inter-related factual errors. First made by 17th Century English journalists, and then perpetuated by several generations of English and American historians and genealogical archivists, these errors have continued to mislead genealogists in the United States to this day. In order of their cumulative impact, the errors in question include:

  1). Confusion over the lines of descent of the two major English lines of the family: the Lovelaces of Bethersden, Kent and those of Hurley in Berkshire.

  2). Confusion over the identities of the four “Francis Lovelaces” who lived at roughly the same time in either England or North America.

  3). Confusion over the identities of the two Lovelace Governors of New York Colony: Governor Francis Lovelace (tenure: 1668-1673) and Governor John Lovelace (tenure: 1708-1709).

  4).  Confusion over Colonel/Governor Francis Lovelace’s marital status; in particular the belief that he married and left behind direct descendents in North America.    

  The repetition of these errors in the United States for more than two hundred years can be explained by several factors, including: US genealogists’ general lack of understanding of English society (and especially its gentry and aristocracy), an excessive dependence by US researchers upon a few readily available sources of English/British genealogical documentation, and the eagerness of some Anglo-Americans to prove their descent from English nobility.

  The problem of establishing Colonel Francis Lovelace’s true identity goes back to the very first mention of him by English journalists. The earliest public announcement of his appointment to the New York Governor’s post (dated April 16, 1667) mistakenly identified him as ‘the brother of Lord Lovelace (of Hurley).” (Pleasants, “Francis Lovelace,” p. 178). This and other mistakes were echoed by a number of British (and later American) biographical summaries published during the next three centuries. For example, Gibbs, (Vol. VIII, pg. 235), claims that William Lovelace [1650-1676] was “The son of the Hon. Francis Lovelace, Gov. of New York, 1668-1673, who was the 2nd son of the 1st Baron [of Hurley],” and The National Encyclopedia of American Biography (Vol. 13) identified Governor John Lovelace as “the grandson” of Governor Francis Lovelace.

  The old Chinese saying, “When one dog barks a falsehood, ten thousand others take it up as truth” fairly well summarizes the impact of these “cascading errors” upon many Lovelace/Loveless genealogists over the years.   


I.  How many other Francis Lovelaces lived during the period 1620-1684?

  The identity of Colonel Francis Lovelace of Kent (1622-1675) has frequently been confused with that of three other prominent individuals named Francis Lovelace who lived in England or North America during the same time period. These individuals included:  

Francis Lovelace, the second son of Richard, Lord Lovelace of Hurley, Berkshire, (also known as “Francis Lovelace of Culham Court”) who was born about 1620, and lived an uneventful life in Berkshire until his death in 1672.  

 Francis Lovelace, the recorder of Canterbury, the son of Lancelot Lovelace (of Kent). Baptized in 1594, and buried about 1664, this Francis was removed from office in 1643 because of his Royalist sympathies, but was reinstated after Charles II was restored to power. On May 25, 1660 he gave a famous speech formally welcoming the returning Charles II and his Queen to Canterbury.  

Francis Lovelace, Gent.—a Baltimore County merchant and a cousin of the children and grandchildren of Anne (Lovelace) Gorsuch. His parentage and date of birth remain unknown, but he appears to have lived most of his life in the Colony of Maryland, where he died in 1684.  

II. How Do We Know Colonel Francis Lovelace Never Married? 

Evidence from several documentary sources indicates that Colonel Francis Lovelace never married or produced any direct descendents in either England or the “New World.” In addition to the specific reference to his “bachelor” status contained in English probate records at the time of his death, while serving as Governor, Francis once described his lack of married experience in his own words. In a June 21, 1671 letter to a Justice Wood suggesting a course of action in prosecuting a case of alleged rape, Governor Lovelace states:    

 “I received your lettre (sic) of the 19th instant, [   ] have considered every part of it, but cannot give [   ] u a full determinacion, which you in Charity will [   ]lieve when you reflect on my State and Condicion, as a Batchelor, and soe not verst in those Affairs relating to Man and Woman…” (Christoph and Christoph, pp. 426-427).  

Another event that took place during Governor Francis’s tenure in New York City also documents his unmarried status. A detailed first-hand description of the elaborate 1671 funeral ceremonies following the death of the Governor’s nephew, eleven-year-old William Lovelace, contains a list of those in the funeral procession. The list notes “Thomas Lovelace Esq., father to the deceased and his Lady in close Mourning,” and then lists “Coll. Ffrancis Lovelace p’sent Governor of New Yorke and uncle to the deceased in close Mourning single." Captain Dudley Lovelace, “uncle also to the deceased,” is described as attending “in like Mourning single.” (As contained in Eberlein, pg. 256). Neither Francis nor Dudley Lovelace was accompanied by “a Lady.”   

While the above evidence does not preclude the possibility that the Governor fathered some illegitimate children, either in England, on the Continent, or during his 1650-1652 visit to Long Island and Virginia, it does put him on record as a single man during the first four years of his tenure as Governor of New York. But, couldn’t this Francis Lovelace have been married prior to, or after the period 1668-1671? Apparently  ignorant of, or preferring to ignore, the information on Colonel Francis’s life and lineage unearthed by Pleasants and others during 1909-1920, some US genealogists have sought to answer this question in the affirmative.  

The most elaborate of these attempts was made by Florance Loveless Keeney Robertson in her privately-published volume entitled The Lovelace-Loveless and Allied Families. Published in 1952 in limited quantities, the book has done much to perpetuate the mythology of “the New York heirs of Governor Francis Lovelace.” Ms. Robinson claims that in 1659 Governor Francis secretly (his family allegedly was opposed to the match for “class” reasons) married (“in America”) a Maryland woman named Blanche Talbot. This marriage produced a son named Edward in 1662--a Naval Lieutenant who died in battle in 1714. Edward’s son John then came to North America in company with his uncle, New York Colonial Governor John Lovelace (1672-1709), and settled “on large tracts of land” in Dutchess County, New York. This John Lovelace is cited as the progenitor of those New York Lovelaces who later moved up the Hudson River to Albany and Saratoga, and west to the Syracuse area (Robertson, pp. 54-56).     

Ms. Robertson’s ignorance of the facts regarding Colonel Francis’s life is readily apparent, but difficult to comprehend given the extensive details on the subject available to her in 1952. The evidence she marshals to prove the existence of “Governor Francis’s marriage” does not hold up under scrutiny. The most credible historical and biographical information available shows that, after his 1650-1652 visit to Virginia, Colonel Francis did not return to North America until 1667. Between 1652 and 1658 he was in exile in France and Holland. In 1659-1660 he was a prisoner in the Tower of London. For the next seven years he lived in England. All of this suggests that Governor Francis had little opportunity to marry Blanche Talbot (or any other woman in “The Colonies”) during the period 1652-1667. During his tenure as Governor of New York, he claims to have been a bachelor, and no records from that time show him as espoused. Finally, after Francis Lovelace died in 1675 (Robertson provides erroneous death dates of either 1683 or 1686), his brother Dudley inherited his estate, and there were no claims made against it by any direct heirs.  

Ms. Robertson’s claim that Colonel Francis Lovelace was secretly married “when about 38 years of age” (i.e. in 1660-1661) to a woman who “was opposed by the Lovelace family as not being as closely associated with royalty as themselves” is rooted in her misreading of footnote “a” on page 235 of Volume VIII of Gibbs. Referring to the erroneous statement in the text above that confuses Governor Francis Lovelace with “Francis Lovelace of Culham Court,” the footnote states: “For his petition in 1661 in relation to his ‘being inveigled to marry without the privity (sic) of his relations, and much below his quality and condition,’ see Hist. MSS, Com., 7th Rep., p. 144.” Because Ms. Robertson had the wrong “Francis Lovelace” in mind, she came to the wrong conclusion.          

Ms. Robertson’s book claims that references to Governor Francis’s marriage to Blanche Talbot are contained in “records possessed by President Jefferson” held by The Library of Congress. The document in question--a December 6, 1669 letter from Governor Lovelace to Governor Sir William Berkeley of Virginia--deals with the guardianship arrangements for William Whitby Jr., (recently arrived from England) the son of Katherine Gorsuch (Governor Lovelace’s niece) and William Whitby (deceased) of Middlesex County, Virginia. The “Ruth” Gorsuch cited in some transcriptions of the letter is actually “Kath,” or Katherine Gorsuch.* The letter contains no references to Governor Lovelace’s marriage, to a son of his, or to Blanche Talbot (See: Pleasants, “Virginia in 1650-1652,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 17, no. 3 (July, 1909), pp. 288-291).       

*According to J. Hall Pleasants’ 1916 article in The Virginia Historical Magazine (now known as The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography), “William Whitby the elder, the husband of Ruth Gorsuch, lived in Warwick County, Virginia; he was Speaker of the House of Burgesses in 1653…The son lived in Middlesex County, Virginia and appears to have led an uneventful life and to have died unmarried. His will, filed as that of William Whitby of Pyanketank River in the county of Middlesex, “planter,” was dated July, 1676, and proved July 23, 1677” (Pleasants. “The Gorsuch and Lovelace Families,” pp. 81-93.)  

            Could Colonel Francis Lovelace simply been a homosexual who had no interest in relationships with women or the establishment of a nuclear family? Perhaps, but in the course of his research the author discovered at least one piece of evidence that suggests the contrary. Family Tree Maker’s “Virginia Colonial Records, 1600s-1700s” (CD#503) contains a transcript of the will of a young woman named Mary Digges, who died in May of 1643. She was a sister of Edward Digges (1620-1675), who later served as Governor of the Colony of Virginia (1655-1656). Among the heirs listed in her will is a “Mr. Francis Lovelace.” The full text of this will is reproduced below:  

            “MARY DIGGES of Chilham Castle, County Kent, virgin, youngest 
daughter of Sir Dudley Digges Knight, late Master of the Rolls, deceased.  
            Will 4 May 1643; proved 23 May 1643. To be buried in vault in Chilham  
            built by my father. To poor of Chilham 5pds. To Bridge 40s. To each of  
            my brothers 100pds. To Brother in law Arnold Brayning Esqre 140pds.  
            To kinsman Richard Thornhill Esqre 50pds.
To Mr. Francis Lovelace 10pds.
            To Dame Frances ye Lady of Sir Thomas Baker Knight 10pds. To sister in law  
            Mary Digges wife of my Eldest Brother Thomas Digges 20pds. To sister Ann  
            wife of Anthony Hammond Esq my jewels. To Joan Lovell , my maid servant  
            20pds. Executor: Anthony Hammond my Brother in law. Witnesses: Paul  
            Stroud, John Stroud. Sentence. Parties Anthony Hammond and Thomas Digges  
            of Chilham, Edward Digges gent, Leonard Digges gent, and Herbert Digges  
            gent Brothers. (Archdeaconry of Canterbury Liber, 1643, No. 35)    

            The map of County Kent contained in John Speed’s 1612 “Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain” (the earliest published atlas of the British Isles) shows “Chylham” as located some seven miles southwest of Canterbury and about twenty miles northeast of the village of Bethersden. The problem here is to determine which “Francis Lovelace” is being referred to in Mary Digges’ will: “Colonel” Francis of Bethersden, or “Francis, Recorder of Canterbury.” Both would have been about 20 years old in 1643, and both could have been socially acquainted with the youngest daughter of Sir Dudley Digges. Like the Bethersden Lovelaces, the Digges (along with the Sandys and other prominent Kentish families) had been early investors in The Virginia Company, and it is possible that their children were acquainted with each other.  

            The above record contains no information concerning Mary’s age, the cause of her death, or the nature of her relationship with “Mr. Francis Lovelace.” However, the fact that Mary placed him in the hierarchy of her will just below her two brothers and another “kinsman” is a strong indicator of her esteem. If this was the case, it is highly likely that young “Francis Lovelace” was a close friend of the unfortunate Mary Digges, and perhaps one of her principal mourners. We know nothing of the activities of Francis Lovelace of Canterbury at the time of Mary’s death, but by May, 1643 Francis Lovelace of Bethersden was a junior officer in the English Civil War. Such duty could easily have prevented him from attending her deathbed or funeral. If an amorous relationship did indeed exist between young “Colonel Francis” and Mary Digges, then her death may have been the great “romantic disappointment” of his life, and the cause of his celibacy.       


III. Did Thomas or Dudley Lovelace Produce any Surviving Children?

Because Governor Francis died without a direct heir, the question of whether his surviving brothers, Dudley and Thomas, left any heirs behind in “The Colonies” has been of great interest to Lovelace/Loveless genealogists in the United States. Along with the possibility that some cousins of Governor John Lovelace accompanied him to New York during 1708-1709, the possibility that Thomas or Dudley left some undiscovered children behind in the New York area offers the best chance of explaining “The Governors’ Puzzle”* that has long obscured the origins of the New York wing of the Lovelace family in North America.


Thomas Lovelace  

                Thanks to the groundbreaking work of Pleasants and the recent publication of records from Francis Lovelace’s tenure as a colonial Governor, we know quite a bit about the experience of Thomas Lovelace and his family in “The New World.” Documents from the period show Thomas as a member of the Governor’s Council of New York during 1669-1673, and he was one of a dozen signatories to the deed of sale for Staten Island in 1670 (Paltsits, pp. 340-341). He served in several other posts, and by 1672-73 was one of the justices of the city of New York (Pleasants, “Francis Lovelace,” pp. 188-189).  

By “pluck and luck” (he was able to postpone his deportation until the English had regained control of the colony) Thomas managed to hold onto his 340-acre plantation (known as “Lovelace Farme”) on the east end of Staten Island (See Christoph, Calendar of N.Y. Colonial Manuscripts, Indorsed Land Papers, p. 213) following the 1673 Dutch re-conquest, and he continued to reside and hold office (as High Sheriff of the County of Richmond) there until his death in late 1688 or early 1689 (See Christoph & Christoph, Books of General Entries of the Colony of New York, 1664-1688,  pp. 338-339).  

Although his wife’s name remains a mystery, Thomas Lovelace is known to have had at least one son, William Lovelace, who died at age eleven and was buried following an elaborate state funeral ceremony held at Fort James in 1671 (For a detailed description of this bizarre event, See: The American Historical Review, Vol. IX, (1904), pp. 522-525). Evidence that Thomas produced other children has remained elusive. Pleasants noted, however, that “there is no question that when Thomas Lovelace died…he was without issue surviving, and that “Lovelace Farme” passed to his niece Mary Duxbury.” However, Pleasants allowed for the possibility that Mary Duxbury might have been the daughter of Dudley Lovelace or his sister Katherine Hayne (Pleasants, “Francis Lovelace,” pg. 191).  

*This “puzzle” has been exacerbated by major gaps in the public records of New York Colony and New York State, principally caused by the destruction of the records of “Old” Trinity Church in a catastrophic fire that engulfed large parts of New York City in December, 1776, and the March 29, 1911 fire that destroyed 270,000 manuscripts and 450,000 books held at the New York State Library in Albany.


Dudley Lovelace


Sometimes known as “Dudley Posthumous Lovelace” (because he was born after his father’s death) and generally referred to in official documents as “Captain Dudley Lovelace,” Dudley’s role in his brother’s colonial administration was largely a military one, although he also served on the Governor’s Council and in the courts. He owned a plantation on Staten Island, as well as a grant of land near Hurley further up the Hudson River. When the Dutch fleet attacked Fort James, Dudley Lovelace was one of the fort’s three commanders. Unlike his brother Thomas, he was imprisoned and eventually repatriated to England. Neither he nor any of his immediate family ever returned to North America.  

There is no evidence that Dudley Lovelace was married prior to or during his service in New York Colony during 1668-1673. After his return to England, however, he appears to have married his cousin, a woman named Mary Lovelace, in 1678 and produced a daughter who died in 1679. The administration of his estate following his death in 1686 mentions no children, and the commission was issued to Dudley’s sister, Joan Caesar, rather than “his relict,” Mary Lovelace. (Pleasants, “Francis Lovelace,”  p. 194). There appears to be no concrete evidence, therefore, that Dudley Lovelace left any direct descendents in North America. Nonetheless, Pleasants and others have speculated that the “Francis Lovelace, Gent.” who died in Maryland in 1684 (his will was dated March 3, 1683-84 and proved May 19, 1684) might possibly have been Dudley or Thomas Lovelace’s son.


Daniel Lovelace  
Williamsburg, Virginia  
February, 2002

Full Table of Contents

Author’s Note
Scope and Purpose
Family Origins
Service in the English Civil War  
Overseas Service During the Commonwealth Interregnum
His Visit to Virginia in 1650-1652      
Colonel Francis’s Family Agenda in Virginia
In the “Secret Service” of the Exiled Charles II
   Service as a High Government Official, 1660-1667
How England Acquired the Colony of New York
“Jurat Coram Me”: Governor Francis as a Colonial Administrator
Governor Francis Lovelace as a Businessman 
Governor Francis and Nepotism: Thomas and Dudley Lovelace Help Govern New York
Military Surprise and Disaster    
Was Governor Lovelace Responsible for the Loss of New York to the Dutch?                              
Financial Disaster, Disgrace, and Death   
“Frank” Lovelace: A Summary
Epilogue: 1688: “The Revenge of the Berkshire Lovelaces” 
The Berkshire Lovelaces Produce a Second Lovelace Governor of New York
The Death and Partial Resurrection of the Lovelace Peerage   
How do we know that Colonel Francis Lovelace Never Married?
Did Thomas or Dudley Lovelace Produce Any Surviving Children?
Locations in the United Kingdom Associated With the Life of Colonel Francis Lovelace of Kent  
Primary Sources
Secondary Sources
Undocumented Portrait of Governor Francis Lovelace
Title Page of Richard Lovelace’s 1649 Volume of Poems "Lucasta: Epodes, Odes, Sonnets, Songs, &c.”
Abbreviated Genealogical Chart of the Lovelaces of Kent and Berkshire 
Map of Localities in England Connected With American History
Genealogical chart: Ancestors of Francis Lovelace, Governor of New York Colony 
Genealogical Chart: Descendants of William Lovelace, Of Woolwich, Kent    
Copy of an August, 1642 Broadside Entitled “The Parliament’s Resolution, Concerning the King’s Proclamation for Setting Up Of His Standard,” which mentions the capture of “Lord Lovelace.”
Detail from Captain John Smith’s 1612 Map of VirginiaPortrait of Virginia Governor Sir William Berkeley
Map Showing the Locations of Jamestown Island and Green Spring Plantation
Sketch of Green Spring Mansion made by Benjamin Latrobe in 1796
Map of Eastern Virginia, The Chesapeake Bay, and Maryland in the 18th Century
Photograph of Old Christ Church in Lancaster County, Virginia
Title Page of the May 25, 1660 Speech of Francis Lovelace, Recorder of the City of Canterbury, Welcoming King Charles II Upon His Arrival to Kent
Title Page of Samuel Holland’s “Panegyrick on the Coronation Of His most Sacred Majesty Charles II.”
Portrait of Charles II, by Samuel Cooper. 
Map of New York, the Lower Hudson River, and Long Island During the Early 1660s.
The Costello Plan of New Amsterdam in 1660.  
Autographs of the First Two English Governors of New York.
Signatures of Witnesses to the Indian Deed Conveying Staten Island in 1670.
Samuel Holland’s Poem “On the Death of My Much Honored Friend, Colonel Richard Lovelace.”
Title Page of “Lucasta: Postume Poems of Richard Lovelace Esq,” London, 1659. 
Dedication page of the 1659 “Lucasta” volume:  “To The Right Honorable John Lovelace Esquire.”  
Francis Lovelaces’s Portrait of His Brother Richard on the Frontispiece of the 1659 “Lucasta” Volume.
Broadside Entitled “Great News from Oxford, or an Exact Account of the Several Transactions of My Lord Lovelace, In a Letter to a Friend.” (December 9, 1688)
Genealogical Chart: Ancestors of John Lovelace, Governor of New York Colony.
Genealogical Chart: Descendants of John Lovelace, Of Berkshire.
Copy of Title Page of Governor John Lovelace’s Speech To the General Assembly of New Jersey, March 4, 1708.
Map Showing the Sources of Palatine Emigration in The German Rhineland.
Photograph of the Tombstone of Rev. Joshua Kocherthal in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, West Camp, N.Y.
Title Page of the Sermon Preached by William Vesey at the 1709 Funeral of John, Lord Lovelace, Baron of Hurley.
Portrait of Ada, Countess of Lovelace, as a Young Woman.