Alison, Francis

honorific(s): Dr.
Birth: 1705 in Leck, County Donegal, Ireland
Death: 1779-11-28 in Philadelphia

New London Academy; Newark Academy; Academy of Philadelphia


University of Edinburgh, Master's degree in 1733






minister; teacher

  • New London, PA (from 1737 to 1752)
  • Philadelphia, PA (from 1752 to 1779)
Marital status

Married Hannah Armitage in 1737; they had six children, two of whom died in infancy.


Francis Alison was an "Old Side" or more conservative Presbyterian minister and eminent classical scholar important as an educator who brought Scots-Irish Englightenment thought to colonial America. He was born the son of a weaver in 1705 in Ulster County, Ireland, and educated at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. In 1737 he emigrated to Pennsylvania where he opened a classical school for young men in New London, PA, with a curriculum based on the moral philosophy of Francis Hutcheson. He later brought this curriculum to the Newark Academy (which would become the University of Delaware) and the College of Philadelphia (which would become the University of Pennsylvania), educating a generation of men who would help create the new nation. He was part of a vigorous network of Presbyterian ministers in the Philadelphia area who supported Wheelock's missionary work and hosted Occom on several tours, collecting funds from their congregations for the Brothertown cause.

Further reading

Pears, Jr., Thomas C. "Francis Alison." Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society. 29, 4(December 1951): 213-225.