Francis Lewis

Like his fellow New York signer, William Floyd, Lewis came from Welsh stock, a hardy and intrepid soul. Orphaned at an early age and raised by an aunt in Wales, he managed to acquire an education in Great Britain and an apprenticeship as a clerk. With a small inheritance he purchased goods in Europe to sell in America and struck out to seek his fortune. He was shipwrecked twice and, during service in the and Indian War, was captured at Fort Oswego along with 1700 British subjects by the French under General Montcalm. Lewis escaped the ensuing massacre of some of the captives; some historians have made the doubtful claim that his safety resulted from speaking Welsh to the Indians and they understood him. He survived imprisonment for seven years by the French. Upon his release Lewis received a grant of 5,000 acres on Long Island for his hardship in the war. He returned to his wife and seven children and rebuilt his fortune.