Francis Fontaine

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Francis Fontaine held the second divinity chair at William & Mary, which was frequently referred to at the time as the professorship in Oriental Languages, and served concurrently as rector of Yorkhampton Parish in nearby Yorktown, Virginia. Holding such concurrent positions was the norm for University instructors of the time and the Yorkhampton Parish position was frequently filled by members of the faculty.

The exact dates of Francis Fontaine's appointment to the University and arrival in Virginia is complicated by frequent confusion with his brother John Fontaine, a friend of Gov. Spotswood, and his father James Fontaine, a clergyman.

Rev. Francis Fontaine, son of James (nee Jaques) Fontaine and Anne Elisabeth Boursiquot, was born 16 September 1697 in Cork, Ireland. He graduated at Trinity College, University of Dublin, in the summer of 1716 and M.A. in the summer of 1719. Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XXII, 195, 197. He came to Virginia with his wife, Mary Glennison, in May 1721, and became Rector of St Margaret’s Parish, King William County. He later became Rector of Yorkhampton Parish in 1723. He was appointed Chaplain of the House of Burgesses and became Professor of Oriental Languages at William & Mary in 1727, positions which he held for twenty years. After the death of Mary, he remarried Susanna Barbar (nee Brush), daughter of Gov. Spotswood’s gunsmith. Francis became estranged from his siblings in Virginia (sister Mary Anne Fontaine Maury, and brother Rev. Peter Fontaine) on account of his treatment of his children by the first marriage. Rev. Francis Fontaine died in 1749. Left will York County, Virginia, made April 23rd. 1745, mentions the following: wife, Susanna Fontaine, and six children: oldest son Francis Fontaine whom he disinherits; Mary Fontaine; John Fontaine; Thomas Fontaine; youngest son James Maury Fontaine; Judith Barbar Fontaine. (Ressinger, Maury)


  • Morpurgo, J. E., Their Majesties' Royall Colledge : William and Mary in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
  • The Provisional List of Alumni
  • University Archives Faculty-Alumni File Collection.
  • Ressinger, Dianne W., MEMOIRS of the Reverend Jaques Fontaine 1658-1728, Huguenot Society New Series No 2, Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland, London, 1992.
  • Maury, Anne, Memoirs of a Huguenot Family, Translated and Compiled from the Original Autobiography of the Rev. James Fontaine and Other Family Manuscripts…, George P. Putnam & Co., New York, 1853.

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