Francis Lewis was born March 21, 1713 in Wales as the only son of a Reverend.
Both his parents died when he was young, leaving Lewis orphaned at an early age.
He was raised by an aunt and uncle, and was educated in Scotland before attending Westminster School in England.
Francis worked in a London counting house before joining a merchant house.
Drawn to the new world, he left England sometime between 1734 and 1738, settling in New York City.
Lewis became a wealthy merchant, then in 1745 married Elizabeth Annesly, his partner’s sister. Together they would have seven children.
Lewis exported goods all over the world and is believed to be the first American businessman to visit Russia.
He also served as a military aide to the British Commander of Fort Oswego, New York when the French and Indian War broke out in 1754.
In 1756, the French attacked the fort, capturing Francis Lewis and turning him over to the Native Indian allies of the French. The Natives wanted to kill Lewis, however Lewis somehow convinced them to spare his life.
One story has Lewis being shipped in a box to France, as just another exported item.
Then when the war ended in 1763, Lewis was released and returned to America.
For his war service, the British awarded Lewis 5,000 acres of land.
In 1765, when Britain passed the Stamp Act, he retired in protest from business and moved from New York City to Whitestone Long Island (Queens, New York today) where he settled on his 5,000 acres and became active in politics.
Lewis became a member of the Committee of Sixty, as well as a member of the New York Provincial Congress.
In April 1775, Lewis was elected to the Continental Congress, where he worked to supply the Army with weapons and supplies.
On July 4, 1776 Francis Lewis signed the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of New York.
In the autumn of 1776, the British approached his Long Island home, taking his wife prisoner and burning the home to the ground. Held in a damp, unheated, filthy prison, Elizabeth Lewis was denied of adequate food, became sick and died about two years later.
Their only daughter had married a British Navy Officer, and had settled in England, refusing to see or correspond with her parents.
In 1778, Francis Lewis signed the United States Articles of Confederation.
From 1779 to 1780, Lewis served as the Chairman of the Continental Board of Admiralty.
He went on to spend most of his life’s savings to purchase supplies for the American Army, and when the war ended Francis Lewis was virtually penniless.
Francis Lewis retired once more and lived with two of his sons until he died December 31, 1802 at the age of 89.
His son Morgan Lewis served in the army during the Revolutionary War and later held many offices in New York State, including Governor.
Now WE know em