Born 3 September 1780
Died 30 August 1861
Active: 1806 - 1861
Country of birth and death: England
Born in Lincoln, Lincolnshire. Francis began his working life as a farmer in Norfolk. On the advice of a member of the Vernon family he began training as a sculptor in London after 1806.
Francis was a pupil of Samuel Joseph and Francis Chantrey. Around 1830 he secured the patronage of the Duke of Sussex and probably through this connection became a favourite portrait sculptor to members of the Whig party.
Francis had a number of pupils in his studio including Joseph Durham, Matthew Noble and Thomas Thornycroft. The latter married Francis's daughter, Mary who later became a successful sculptor. Another daughter of John Francis, Georgina (born c.1821 in Thornham, Norfolk) was an apprentice sculptor in about 1851.
John Francis died at his home at 56 Albany Street, Regents Park, London and was buried in Highgate cemetery. His will was proved on the oaths of Thomas Thornycroft, Matthew Noble and James Bradley Chamberlain.
Wealth at death: £1,500 0s. 0d.
Probate date: 4 April 1862
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Exhibitions, Meetings, Awards and other Events
Exhibited at The Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts (Summer Exhibition), 1768-
1820 - 1857
Exhibited 31 times (6 times from 1851), an average of three works per year.
Exhibited at Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations (London), 1851
Personal and Professional Connections
Apprenticed Joseph Durham
Grandmother/grandfather/grandparent to William Hamo Thornycroft
Mother/father/parent of Mary Thornycroft
Pupil of Francis Legatt Chantrey
Pupils included Matthew Noble
Pupils included Thomas Thornycroft
1835 - 1839 (Circa)
Descriptions of Practice
Listed under Sculptors Post Office London Directory, 1851 Post Office/Kelly London Directories
Listed under Sculptors Post Office London Directory, 1860 Post Office/Kelly London Directories
Occupation given in Census Returns of England and Wales, 1851
'Sculptor', also Matthew Noble, lodger, 'Sculptor' and Georgina Francis, daughter, 'Sculptor Ap[prentice]'
Occupation given in Census Returns of England and Wales, 1841
'Sculptor' and his son-in-law, Thomas Thornycroft, 'Sculptor'
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1841
HO107 piece 684 folio 13/10 page 14
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1851
HO107 piece 1493 folio 391 page 17
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966
Name: John Francis Probate Date: 4 Apr 1862 Death Date: 30 Aug 1861 Death Place: Middlesex, England Registry: Principal Registry
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
L. A. Fagan, ‘Francis, John (1780–1861)’, rev. Adam White, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/10074, accessed 14 Dec 2009]
Citing this record
'John Francis', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib7_1206707396, accessed 27 Feb 2017]