FRANCES, "Mother of Governors"
LATHAM (10th GGM)
(Illustration from 1932 well-intended
but uninspiring 'biography'
of Frances that I purchased and
read, hoping to gain deeper insight into
the life of my immigrant ancestor. Sadly, I did not.
|Image courtesy of ancestryimages.com|
As daughter of Lewis Latham, royal falconer, she carried a portrait of her father to America where it has been passed down through the generations.
As wife of William Dungan, London perfumer, she gave birth to four (or maybe five) children including my 9th GGM, Barbara who was born in 1630 and christened in St. Martin in the Fields parish, Westminster, London.
Upon William's untimely death at the age of 29, this young mother soon married another London merchant, Jeremy Clarke, and in 1637, packed up her family and emigrated to America with him. Little did she know that this journey destined her to be known centuries later as Rhode Island's "Mother of Governors."
As wife of Jeremy Clarke, Frances had seven additional children of whom one, Walter, would become future colonial governor of Rhode Island. Their oldest daughter married John Cranston who would also become governor; their son Samuel would serve in that role for thirty years.
Following her second husband's death in 1652, Frances married once more. Frances' new husband, the Reverend William Vaughn, was one of the original members of the First Baptist Church of Newport, RI, and would soon become the first minister of the Second Baptist Church there. A poet and distinguished scholar, Vaughn would spend the remaining twenty-one years of his married life with Frances as the spiritual leader of that schism congregation. (Frances' son, Thomas Dungan studied for the ministry under both Roger Williams and his second step-father, Vaughn.)
|(see inscription below)|
As wife, mother and mother-in-law, Frances would be recognized for the legacy of leadership she nurtured including the following list from Wikipedia of governors, deputy governors, or lieutenant governors [who] either descend directly from her, or married one of her descendants:
Governors who are direct descendants:
- Walter Clarke, her son, Rhode Island governor 1676-1677, 1686, and 1696-1698
- Samuel Cranston, Rhode Island governor 1698-1729
- William Greene, Jr., Rhode Island governor 1778-1785
- Nehemiah R. Knight, Rhode Island governor 1817-1821
- Henry Lippitt, Rhode Island governor 1875-1877
- Charles C. Van Zandt, Rhode Island governor 1877-1880
- Charles W. Lippitt, Rhose Island governor 1895-1896
- John R. Rogers, Washington governor, 1896-1902
- John Chaffee, Rhode Island governor, 1963-1969
- Lincoln Chaffee, Rhode Island governor, 2011-
- John Gardner, Rhode Island deputy governor 1754-1755 and 1756-1764
- Samuel G. Arnold, Rhode Island lieutenant governor 1852-1853 and 1861-1862
- William Greene, Rhode Island lieutenant governor 1866-1868
- Jeremy Clarke, her husband, Rhode Island president 1648-1649
- John Cranston, Rhode Island governor 1678-1680
- Caleb Carr, Rhode Island governor in 1695
- William Wanton, Rhode Island governor 1732-1733
- William Greene Sr., Rhode Island governor for 11 years from 1743-1758
- James Barker, Rhode Island deputy governor 1678-1679 [my 9th GGF, husband of Barbara Dungan and son-in-law of Frances]
In her 1908 book, An historic strain of blood in America. Frances Latham -mother of governors , Louise Tracy states:
‘Of Frances (Latham) Clarke's personal appearance or character, no
word has come down to us through the generations, except in the lives
of such distinguished descendants as few women have given to the world.
Lowell says that every man is a bundle of his ancestors;
of her, we might say that she lives in her descendants.
It is said:
"The hand that rocks the
cradle, rules the world,"
and with the birth and care of her eleven children,
giving them the careful training of those days, besides the keeping of the
home, and entertaining the noted men and women of the times,
her life must have been a very full one.’
|"Here Lyeth ye Body of Mrs. Frances Vaughan, Alius Clarke, ye mother of ye only children of Capt'n Jeremiah Clarke. She died ye 1 week in Sept., 1677, in ye 67th year of her age"|