Charles Francis, the leading barrister at Trenton, and a member of the county council, is a native of this place, and was born January 22, 1838. His father, Robert Francis, a native of Ireland, came to Canada, with his wife and older children, about 1835. Having a contract on the St. Lawrence canal, he moved his family for a short time to St. Anne’s, Province of Quebec. A little later the family removed to Huntington, county of Hastings, Ontario, returning to Trenton in 1850. Robert Francis was a member of the town council of Trenton until his death in December, 1871; was also coroner and reeve for some time, and very prominent in local matters, being the prime mover in securing the incorporation of the town of Trenton.
The mother of our subject, before her marriage, was Delia Donalon, also a native of Ireland. She died in March 1872, only three months after her husband. Our subject was educated in the Grammar School of Trenton; studied law with John Bell, of Belleville, solicitor for the Grand Trunk Railway Company, and at the Law School of Toronto; became an attorney in 1860, and was called to the Bar the next year, and has practiced at Trenton steadily and successfully since 1861. He is well read, prepares his cases with great care, and his candor and clear logic, sincerity and earnestness, make a good impression on a jury; hence, in a large measure, his success at the Bar.
On the demise of his father, he became a member of the town council, there holding a seat for several years, and was a reeve in 1873, 1878 and 1879. For two years, prior to becoming a reeve a second time, he. was out of health; spent one winter in Florida, and a short time in Washington; became acquainted with President Grant and other U. S. government officials; visited most of the seaboard states, and completely recovered his health.
In politics he is a conservative; is president of the local association of his party, being its leading man in this part of the county of Hastings, and is a member of the United Empire Club of Ontario, a conservative political organization. He is Past Master of Lodge No. 38 of the Masonic Order, and his father before him was a prominent member of that fraternity. Mr. Francis was one of the delegates to present the farewell address of the municipalities of Ontario to Lord Dufferin at Quebec, September 5, 1878.
His religious connection is with the Church of England; for some years he was warden of St. George’s church, and is now a member of the Synod of Ontario. His moral standing, like his legal, is high.
His wife was Mercia Clarinda, youngest daughter of Col. Sheldon Hawley, who was an officer during the rebellion of 1837-38, and a prominent citizen of Trenton; married July 10, 1867. Mrs Francis accompanied her husband to Florida, and has traveled extensively in the United States.
Born when Trenton was a very small village, Mr. Francis has seen it gradually expand until it has between 3,000 and 4,000 inhabitants, with fine churches on either side of the Trent river, large school houses and commercial blocks, extensive manufactures, railroad connections with the east and west, and soon to have them to the north and south. Within eight miles from the mouth of the Trent, this stream, one of the largest in the Province, has a fall of 100 feet, with rapids all along the way, forming hydraulic privileges unsurpassed in these parts; and should Mr. Francis live a few more years, he will doubtless be called upon to aid in securing a city charter for his native town.