Francis Lovelace

c. 1621-1675

Second Governor of New York, 1668-1673

Francis Lovelace, son of Sir William Lovelace of Bethersden in Kent, England, was born around 1621. The family was ardently royalist and, during the English Civil War, Colonel Francis Lovelace commanded the royal forces resisting the siege of Carmarthen Castle in Wales in 1644-45. He was forced to surrender following a fierce battle in which his brother was killed. Francis Lovelace fled to France and served in the French army. Many years later, in August 1659, Lovelace returned to England to further a royalist uprising, was arrested by Cromwell’s forces and imprisoned in the Tower of London, charged with treason. Shortly afterward, Cromwell was overthrown, Charles II was restored to the throne and Francis Lovelace was dubbed a Knight of the Royal Oak for his loyal service.

James, Duke of York, appointed Colonel Francis Lovelace as successor to Governor Richard Nicoll in 1668. In 1673, Lovelace instituted a monthly postal service between New York and Boston and established the first Merchants’ Exchange in New York. His official residence was at Fort James but he also owned a large estate on Staten Island.

The third Anglo-Dutch war broke out in 1672 and on July 30, 1673, Dutch ships sailed up New York bay and attacked Fort James while Governor Lovelace was at a meeting with Governor Winthrop in Hartford, and so absent from the colony. Lovelace’s deputy surrendered the fort, and New York came under Dutch control once again.

On his return to England, Lovelace was arrested and sent to the Tower of London on charges of “not having defended the colony and post of New York, according to his commission and duty.” While there, Lovelace fell seriously ill and upon his release on April 26, 1675, he went to live with family in Woodstock, near Oxford, and died there later that year.



Richard Henry Greene, et al., eds. The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Volume 51 (1920)


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