The son of John Francis and Mary Grant and a brother to J. D. Francis, he was born at Swansea in January 1814, was educated at its grammar school, and spent the whole of his active life there. In 1840 he married Sarah, the eldest daughter of John Richardson, a Northumbrian settled in Swansea; they had three sons. He died in London 21 April 1882, but was buried in his native town.
He was ceaselessly engaged in schemes for local improvements, of which it has been said that they were 'somewhat in advance of his time, and being always financially weak, met with an imperfect appreciation.' His enthusiasm, in fact, outran his discretion, but nevertheless he accomplished much. He helped to found the Royal Institution of South Wales (still in existence) in 1835, and presented to it his collections and his library. He was also a founder member of the Cambrian Archaeological Association in 1846. The restoration of Swansea's endowed grammar school was largely due to him, and so was the re-arrangement of the Corporation's archives, and the preservation of Oystermouth castle. He was mayor of Swansea in 1853-4, and raised and commanded the 1st Glamorgan Artillery Volunteers in 1859.
His antiquarian publications arose out of his local interests, and, being issued in small limited editions, are now extremely scarce. Among them may be mentioned: Original Charters and Materials for a History of Neath and its Abbey, 1845; The Free Grammar School, Swansea, 1849; Charters granted to Swansea, 1867; The Smelting of Copper in the Swansea District, 1867, with a second and enlarged edition in 1881.
Published date: 1959
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