Francis March


Spelled variously, Francis March was a prominent member of the Afro-Albanian community throughout the first third of the nineteenth century.

This individual probably was born during the early 1770s. We seek information on his origins and early life.

By March 14, 1795, he had married Sarah, the slave of Elkanah Watson who freed her on that date and granted her husband Sarah's power of attorney.

In 1800, the household of "Francis March, a free negro," was enumerated on the census for Watervliet. At that time, two "other" free persons were the only souls living in his home. Beginning in 1820, subsequent censuses place him with the city limits. In 1820, his household counted three free [white] males of varying ages and one male free person [of color] aged 26-44. So, perhaps the latter householder was Francis March within that age range.

Beginning in 1809, he acquired lots in the South End of Albany.

Beginning with the first edition in 1813, he was listed in the city directory as a skipper with an address of 217 Washington then South Pearl Street. In 1815, his name was among those italicized denoting that he was a "free person of color." Subsequent editions identified him as an Albany mainliner and one of a number of Afro Albanian skippers and river people.

In June 1831, he joined Benjamin Lattimore and fellow skipper and neighbor Samuel Schuyler as delegates from Albany at a First Annual Convention of the People of Color in Philadelphia. The delegates were self-characterized as the "ablest Colored men in the country."

Francis March was dead by March 28, 1833 when his will passed probate. It mentioned his wife "Cornelia," so perhaps he had re-married.

With so many outstanding questions, we move on for now!

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Francis March is CAP biography number 1024. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. At this time, we begin to acknowledge material recently provided by Pam Molle of Cincinati, Ohio.

Name: His surname also has appeared as "Marsh."

first posted: 4/30/12; last revised: 7/24/12