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Francis Lovelace (1623-1675)
Born: 1623 at Hurley, Berkshire
Governor of New York
Died: 1675 at Lovelace Plantation, Staten Island, USA

Francis Lovelace, the Governor of New York, was the fourth and youngest son of Richard, 1st Baron Lovelace, by his second wife, Margaret, only daughter and heiress of William Dodsworth of London. He was born at Hurley in Berkshire in 1623. Like his brother, John, 2nd Baron Lovelace, he was a devoted Royalist and attended King Charles II during his travels. In May 1650, he obtained a license from the Council of State to pass, with six servants, to Long Island on his way to Virginia. Two years later, he was selected by the Governor to convey, to the King, an account of the surrender of the colony to the parliamentary commissioners. After the Restoration, he appears to have attached himself to the Duke of York and, owing to his influence, was, either in 1664 or 1665, appointed Deputy-Governor of Long Island and, in 1607, Lieutenant-Colonel of one of the regiments raised in that year, his Colonel being Sir Walter Vane. In 1668, he succeeded Colonel Richard Nicholls as Governor of New York and New Jersey.

Lovelace’s task, as Governor, was to bring the preponderant Dutch population quietly, but surely, under the newly established English authority. He adopted a paternal policy, establishing toleration in religious matters, buying lands of the red men and starting a regular post between New York and Boston. The prosperity of his capital was measured by its possession of four hundred horses. On the other hand, he resisted all demands for popular representation, decreed a severe tax for defensive purposes and ordered to be burnt the protest which the Long Island towns preferred against it. So, when a hostile Dutch fleet under Admiral Eversen anchored off Fort James in July 1673, the inhabitants showed themselves indifferent or inclined to fraternise with the Dutch. Lovelace, who was absent at Newhaven at the time, hurried back to find that his lieutenants had struck down their flag and that New Netherlands was again the name of the colony, while the city had become New Orange. He made his way to Long Island, where he was arrested, ostensibly on account of a debt owing to the Duke of York and sent back to England on 30th July 1673.

On 2nd March 1674, Lovelace was examined at the Cockpit respecting the surrender of New York. His answers were found unsatisfactory and he was re-examined on 9th March. It is not known with what result. He is said to have died shortly afterwards. New York was restored to the English in October 1674. By his wife, Mary, daughter of William King of Iver, Buckinghamshire, "a person much below his quality and condition, whom he was inveighled to marry without the privity of his relations", he had a son, William, the father of John Lovelace, the 4th Baron. The Governor of New York must be carefully distinguished from Francis Lovelace (d. 1664), the Recorder of Canterbury, and also from Colonel Francis, brother of Richard Lovelace the poet.

Edited from Sidney Lee's 'Dictionary of National Biography' (1893)

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