The Family of Jane Francis – by Teddy Hollis Sanford, Jr 31 Dec 2020

Jane Francis was born in Offwell, eastern Devon, and was christened at St. Mary’s Church on 16 June 1593 1 Her father was Christopher Francis and her mother was Christopher’s first wife Joanne. There is no evidence that Christopher and Joanne had any other children. While Christopher Francis never left the area of Offwell, at some point he lost his first wife Joanne. He then married his second wife, Anne. The couple only had one child, Dorothy who was christened at St. Mary’s Church in Offwell on 26 February 16362 The difference in age between the two half-sisters, Jane Francis and Dorothy, would have been 43 years, but Jane had died in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629 due to the brutal winter that took so many of them in the first year for the colonists.

Ten years before her death, Jane Francis was living in Bridford, central Devon. Bridford was 33 miles west of Offwell. At some point she became acquainted with John Endecott, one of the leaders of the Puritan movement. John’s family had come from Chagford which is only 9 miles from Bridford. They did not appear as a young couple. Jane Francis was 28 years old and John Endecott was 33 when they took their marriage vows at St. Thomas Beckett Church in Bridford on 26 November 1621 3

The marriage of Jane Francis and John Endecott did not produce any children. When the Abigail sailed from Weymouth on 20 June 1628 the childless couple and some 30 settlers were on board. After a crossing that took two months and sixteen days, the party landed at Naumkeag on 6 September 1628. John Endecott took charge of the fledgling colony as its first governor. Jane Francis did not survive the winter.4

For all Endecott descendants, this event dramatically changed all of our histories. Rather than the Francis family providing our first mother in America, that honor would go to Elizabeth Cogan who arrived with the Great Migration of 1630. She married Governor John Endecott on 17 August 1630. We all can trace our lines back to the second son of John and Elizabeth, Dr. Zerubbabel Endecott. But that is a story that we all know very well.


  • 1. Christening of Jane Francis, English Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, accessed 16 Sep 2014. Jane Francis. 16 Jun 1593; citing OFFWELL, DEVON, ENGLAND; reference; FHL microfilm 917209. Website Link
  • 2. Christening of Dorothy Francis, English Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 citing 18 September 2020, Christopher Francis in entry for Dorothy Francis, 1636. Website Link
  • 3. Marriage of John Endecott and Jane Francis. English Marriages, 1538-1973, index, Family Search ( accessed 16 Sep 2014. John Yendecott and Jane Francis, 26 Nov 1621; citing Bridford, Devon, England, reference: FHL microfilm 916822 Website Link
  • 4. Teddy H. Sanford, Jr. and Gordon S. Harmon. Family Legends and the Search for Anne Gower. Peabody Massachusetts. Essex Genealogist. Volume 34, Number 2. May 2014. 97-102