Francis The Chemist

JAMES FRANCIS was born about 1806 in the Broughton area, he married Winifred Davies who was also known as Gwen who was born about 1808.

Their son John Francis was born 4 Dec 1836 and baptised 12 February 1837 at Harwood Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Brymbo.

The family was living in Broughton in 1851, James had a grocers and druggist shop. They had 5 children, Hannah Jane bc 1841, Cordelia bc 1843, William Robert b 1845 and   Sarah Maria b 1847.

Their other 14 year old son John isn`t at home, he is lodging in Duke Street, Chester where he is a scholar. Another son James was born 1852.

James Francis died 17 October 1856 aged 50 in Cerni, his grave is in the Dissenters Burial Ground, Rhosddu.   Winifred stayed in the grocers shop in the Moss and in 1861 only Cordelia, Sarah Maria and James are with her. John has qualified as a Chemist and druggist and has his business at 13 Queen Street, Wrexham, his brother William Robert is his apprentice and their sister Hannah is also with them.

On 16 October 1861 John Francis married Mary Ann Williams in Rhyl, she was the eldest daughter of Mr. John Williams who was an ironmonger.

The youngest son William Robert Francis died on 27 October 1865, he was only 20, and he was buried with his father James in Rhosddu.

Winifred was still in the shop in Cerni, but had also become a farmer of 5 acres by 1871.  Sarah Maria is there, and two 2 grandchildren Ada Humphreys aged 6 and Mary W Humphreys 3, they are the daughters of Hannah Jane and David Humphreys.

Meanwhile in 1871 Hannah Jane is visiting her sister Cordelia who had married William Davies.  They are living on Hill Street in Cefn Mawr, where they are running the Plas Kynaston Shop, a grocers and drapers.

Gwen otherwise known as Winifred died 24 March 1876 at the Moss, she made a will which was proved by her son John Francis, chemist and druggist of Hope Street Wrexham. She left effects of under £300, and she was also buried in Rhosddu.

Her daughter Hannah Jane was a widow by 1881 and had taken over the Francis Grocers shop in Broughton. The family name still exists as there is a Francis Road in Moss.

JOHN FRANCIS had moved to Regis Place, Wrexham by 1871, his brother James is his assistant.

John and Mary Ann have 5 children, James Bridge b 1863, John Herbert b 1865 Cordelia M b 1867, William Robert b 1869 and Arthur Llewellyn b 1870


He later moved to 53 Hope Street where he was a pharmaceutical chemist, two of his sons – James Bridge and John Herbert are assistants.  John and Mary Ann had another 3 children, Walter Glynne b 1872 and twins Edward Saunders and Annie Louisa b 1879.

There was another branch at 22 Town Hill, and by 1884 “Francis the Chemist” was also selling “Henry Laurence’s Improved Spectacles”

John Francis died on 25 June 1884 at Hope Street, he was only 47. Mary Ann and her family moved to Bersham Road, by now James Bridge was registered as a chemist.

There was an announcement later that year in the Wrexham Advertiser.

“The business of the late Mr John Francis, Pharmaceutical Chemist. 53, Hope-street, Wrexham, will be carried on by his widow, Mrs M. A. Francis, under the management of her eldest son, James Bridge Francis, (Associate of the Pharmaceutical Society, London, qualified dispenser and compounder of the Society of Apothecaries, London). . In making this announcement Mrs Francis desires to thank the friends and patrons of her late husband for their past kind support, and trusts that the above legal qualifications and experience that her son has obtained, will be a sufficient guarantee of his fitness to manage the business, and to retain their past confidence.  The business Apothecaries Hall, 18, Town Hill, will as before be under the management of Mr H. Rowlands, Chemist and Druggist (late Liverpool Eye and Ear Infirmary.)”

John`s brother James Francis had moved to Carnarvon where he also set up a chemist business on Pool Street, and in October 1881  he married Margaret Mary Griffith at Moriah Chapel, Caernarvon. She was the daughter of William Griffith a bookseller also of Pool Street.

They lived in the same place for many years, had a family and in 1906 their silver wedding anniversary was announced in the Carnarvon Herald.

James Francis of Gwyndy, Carnarvon died at Dolavon, Llanberis on 30 December 1926 aged 75.


JAMES BRIDGE FRANCIS was registered as a chemist in 1884, he   took over the business and was later assisted by his younger brother John Herbert Francis   who was registered in 1886.

In 1899 James B Francis married Charlotte Agnes Adams in the Chapel en le Frith. His bride was from Buxton and was the daughter of Charles Adams, a master boot maker who had his own business in Buxton.  Her mother was Charlotte Agnes Wheatfield.  James B and Charlotte Agnes moved into 53 Hope Street and had a son Harold born in 1891.

On 30 October 1895 Charlotte Agnes died aged 27, at Ellerslie House, Grosvenor- road, Wrexham.

In 1897 James B married Eveline Schofield in St Mary Abbots, Kensington; he applied for a licence on 3 August probably as Eveline may have not been quite 21, she was also from Buxton and was the daughter of Alfred Schofield who was an accountant and Mary Jane his wife. Why did he have two wives from Buxton? Perhaps he visited the spa there in connection with his trade or just to “take the waters” which was very popular with the Victorians.


James B and his family moved to “Brooklyn” 24 Grosvenor Road. His mother Mary Ann and her other sons were living at “Olanda” which was next door. James B left the business and his brother John Herbert took over.

Mary Ann Francis died aged 80 at Melrose, The Fort, Rhyl she was buried in Wrexham on 23 January 1920

James B Francis died at “Brooklyn” on 22 January 1939, he left effects of £5348 17s 4d to Evelyn Francis. Evelyn Francis died 8 October 1965 at Brooklyn. Probate £27749


In September 1895 John Herbert Francis married his cousin Catherine Myfanwy (Katie) Jones, who was the daughter of Edwin Jones a doctor and Eliza Jones. Eliza was the daughter of the the Rev John Williams.  It was reported in the papers.

MARRIAGE “On Wednesday, a wedding was solemnised at the English Presbyterian Church. The contracting parties were Miss Katie Jones, daughter of the late Dr Edwin Jones, of Rhyl, and granddaughter of the Rev John Williams, Bodeuron, and Mr John Herbert Francis, son of the late Mr John Francis, chemist, Wrexham, and grandson of the Rev John Williams, Bodeuron. The bride was attired in a gown of ivory satin, the bodice of which was draped with chiffon looped with a spray of orange blossoms, and she carried a handsome bouquet of marguerites and maiden-hair. The bridesmaids wore dresses of white crepon, lace over gold coloured satin, the bodices being trimmed with guipure insertion, lined with gold coloured silk, and collars of gold coloured crepe de chine, over which fell fine pleatings of white lace. They wore picture hats of guipure lace trimmed with ribbons and yellow marguerite. Another little cousin of the bride attended as a page, and was dressed in a “Little Lord Fauntleroy” suit of bronze plush. The couple spent their honeymoon in Paris.”

The couple lived in Lyndhurst, Gerald Street for many years, they had no known children.  John Herbert took over the family business when his brother retired; it was still at 53 Hope Street.  Eliza Jones later came to live with John Herbert and Katie until her death in November 1920.

In 1935 John H ceased to be registered as a chemist, and the business was incorporated as a Limited liability company “Francis & Co Wrexham “53 Hope Street.

John Herbert died at his home on 28 October 1944, and left £9228 11s 8d.

Catherine Myfanwy remained at Lyndhurst, and died at the Nursing Home on Grosvenor Road on 4 January 1951. She left £14120 19s 11d.

Francis the Chemist had become a well-established business in Wrexham and it finally closed in 1976. The building at 53 Hope Street is still standing.

Francis Opticians was established originally as part of Francis the Chemist and it remained so until about 1939, when the Opticians became a separate company based on Town Hill. It later moved to Church Street and it is still trading under that name with a shop at 29 Chester Street. It is one of the oldest businesses in Wrexham.

Francis & co, 53 Hope Street, Wrexham.

Researched by Annette Edwards. October 2018.

Grave ref: Wrexham Cemetery





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