Sunday, October 27, 2013

THE FALCONER'S DAUGHTER Part 2: Frances Comes to America 10th GGM

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
Very little is known about the woman, Frances.  All that we can learn about her life is in relation to the men she was born to, married, and mothered.
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. 
The Clarke's youngest child married another future governor, Caleb Carr.  (James Barker married Frances' daughter Barbara Dungan and later served as a Rhode Island deputy governor.  James and Barbara are my 9th great-grandparents.)
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 the widow of an influential Rhode Island statesman and wife of a prominent Newport preacher, we must assume that Frances was well-known and respected by the community in which she lived and raised her large family.  William died in August of 1677 and his wife, the falconer's daughter, outlived him by only weeks. 
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:

Deputy or lieutenant governors who are direct descendants:

Governors who are related by marriage:

Deputy governor related by marriage:

  • James Barker, Rhode Island deputy governor 1678-1679  [my 9th GGF, husband of Barbara Dungan and son-in-law of Frances]

‘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"


  1. Nice to meet you. I am also a descendant of Frances Latham.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Thanks for your insight. My uncle Cora Dunagan said we were relatives of Frances through her son Thomas, a fact I questioned because of the spelling but upon my taking a DNA test I found out my names is indeed Dungan and I have many African American cousins through my gg grandfather John Cook Dungan.

    1. Hello, I am also related to Cora and Thomas, Frances is my 10th great grandmother, I’d love to have a chat sometime