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Seeking the Frances in Francestown

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FAMOUS NH PEOPLE

Every town name tells a story. In New Hampshire there was a burst of naming in the heady days just before the American Revolution. Francestown and Deering were gifts of love from the Portsmouth-based governor, the origins of which reveal a most intriguing woman. Reporter Deb McGrath tracks the tale.

 

 

 

 

A woman with four names, all of which became NH towns:
Frances Deering (Wentworth) Atkinson Wentworth.

MORE on Lady Wentworth  

Living in the Monadnock region I see the signs that say Francestown, NH was incorporated in 1772. But who was Frances? I set out to discover her.

I first checked the book Frances’ Town (1975) by John R. Schott’s, but despite the title, there were only two pages on Frances Wentworth. In 1769 she married royal governor John Wentworth of Portsmouth, a member of the richest and most powerful family in pre-Revolutionary New Hampshire.

John was a dashing figure and Frances was considered by some the most beautiful woman in the Colony.

Frances was the daughter of Samuel Wentworth, a prominent Boston merchant and the governor’s uncle. At the age of 16, she married her first cousin, Theodore Atkinson, who died young of consumption. Possibly she was involved in some hanky-panky with "his gracious lord" while her first husband lay dying. A widow at 24, Frances married her second husband only two weeks after their mutual cousin’s death.

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