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Francis Madison (1753 - 1800)

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Francis Madison
Born in Mount Pleasant, Orange County, Virginiamap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in Orange, Virginiamap
Descendants descendants
Died in Prospect Hill, Madison County, Virginia, USAmap
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Profile last modified | Created 12 Nov 2008
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Categories: Siblings of US Presidents.


Francis Madison was born 18 June 1753 at the Madison familial plantation, Mount Pleasant in Orange County, Virginia, the second child of Colonel James Madison and Eleanor Rose "Nellie" Conway. He was baptized 01 Jul 1753 in Orange County with Francis Beale, Taverner Beale, Erasmus Taylor and Milly Taylor standing as his Godparents.

It seems that Francis was a private sort of person as a Madison family friend (Ralph Ketcham) described him as "a shadowy figure almost never mentioned in family correspondence". He didn't involve himself in political activities, like his father and brothers and whether by inclination or limited means, he seemed to lead a simpler lifestyle than his other Madison family members.

Francis married Susannah "Susan" Bell on 29 October 1772.

By deed of November 28, 1777, James Madison, Sr., of Orange County purchased 2,301 acres of the John Grymes patent from Charles Grymes, Benjamin Grymes and his wife, Sally, which was located on the north side of the Rapidan River in Culpeper County (later to become Madison County). Francis and Susan moved onto the property the following year. About 1780, Francis started construction on a 1 1/2 story frame home for his family. His plantation, which he named 'Prospect Hill', served him well. On 14 August 1784, James Madison Sr deeded 1000 acres of this property to Francis (including the section Prospect Hill was located on). Today, it's listed on the National Register of Historical Places and is known as 'Greenway'.

In the early 1790s, a partnership stylized as 'William Madison & Company', that included James Madison Sr, James Madison Jr, William Madison and Francis Madison applied for a permit to build a mill on 16 1/2 acres in the portion of the property on the Rapidan River. The family owned a grist mill and a sawmill but this was to be a commercial grain mill. It's noted in the permit application that Francis Madison was building the dam to accommodate it. The permit was issued in 1794 and "Madison Mills" was born.

Francis Madison and Susanna "Susan" Bell had the following children:
1. William Madison was born about 1778 in Virginia. He died between 1850/1860.
2. James Francis Madison was born in 1779 in Madison County, Virginia. It's believed he committed suicide. He died in 1830 in Prospect Hill, Madison County, Virginia.
3. Elizabeth Conway Madison was born in 1780. She died in 1850. She married Alexander Shepherd in 1798.
4. Nelly Madison was born in 1784. She died in 1819 in Petersburg, Fauquier, Virginia. She married William Wood on 31 October 1804.
5. Mary "Polly" Conway Bell Madison was born in 1786. She died in 1835. She married Thomas Smith after 1804. She married William Haslett Smith on 31 October 1804.
6. Reuben Conway Madison was born about 1786. He died in 1834 in Fulton County, Illinois. He married Winifred "Winna" Cotts in 1807.
7. Catlett M. Madison was born in 1790 in Madison County, Virginia. He died in 1860 in Madison County, Virginia. He married Winifred (Winny) Sydnor Routt on 17 February 1807 in Orange, Virginia, United States.
8. Catherine Bell Madison was born in 1791. She died in 1869. She married Dr. Alexander Spotswood Taliaferro in 1835.
9. Frances T. Madison was born in 1798 in Madison County, Virginia. She died on 25 March 1866 in Madison County, Virginia. She married James Thompson Shepherd on 21 December 1831 in Madison County, Virginia.

It's not known if Francis' wife, Susan Madison, made a deliberate choice to bury Francis at his plantation, Prospect Hill, or if it was simply a choice of expediency. He passed away on 5 April 1800. The weather had been very stormy, swelling the Rapidan River and limiting access to Montpelier, so it's possible that Susan couldn't get her husband's body across the river. Regardless of why, on 7 April, 1800, Francis was the first to be interred at Prospect Hill, thereby starting a new Madison Family Cemetery for many of his descendants.


1) Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940 (Provo, UT., Operations, Inc, 2014),,, Record for Francis Madison.
2) Online Resource, Editorial Notes.
3) "Who was buried in James Madison's Grave?"; C. Thomas Chapman, Montpelier Foundation.
4) Thomas Chapman, “Descendants of Ambrose Madison, the Grandfather of President James Madison, Jr.,” The Montpelier Foundation (2006)
5) Ralph Ketcham, James Madison: A Biography (Charlottesville, VA, 1995), Pg 370.
6) Burke's Presidential Families of the United States of America, p.140.

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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Francis by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Francis:

Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.


Francis is 18 degrees from SJ Baty, 16 degrees from Orville Redenbacher and 14 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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