Francis Martin Drexel

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Francis Martin Drexel
Born April 7, 1792
Dornbirn, Vorarlberg, Austria
Died June 5, 1863
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Occupation Banker
Spouse(s) Catherine Hookey
(m. 1821; his death 1863)
Children Mary Johanna Drexel
Francis Anthony Drexel
Anthony Joseph Drexel
Joseph William Drexel
Heloise Drexel
Caroline Drexel

Francis Martin Drexel (April 7, 1792 – June 5, 1863) was a Philadelphia banker and artist. He was the father of Anthony Joseph Drexel, the founder of Drexel University and the grandfather of Saint Katherine Drexel.[1]

Early life[edit]

A portrait of Blas Cerdeña by Drexel.
A portrait of San Martín by Drexel.

Francis Martin Drexel was born in Dornbirn, in the Austrian Vorarlberg in 1792. In 1803, he was sent to study Italian and the fine arts in a Catholic institution near Turin. When he returned in 1809, he found Austria invaded by the French, and to escape conscription he crossed the border into Switzerland and then went to Paris, France. In 1812, he returned to the Tyrol incognito. Conscription was still in force, so he went to Bern and continued his study of painting.[2]


In 1817, he sailed for the United States from Amsterdam, and settled in Philadelphia. After a few years, he went to Peru and Chile, painting portraits, including one of General Simon Bolivar.[3] Drexel visited South America twice as well as Mexico.[2]

Drexel & Co.[edit]

In 1837, after his permanent settlement in Philadelphia, he founded the banking house of Drexel & Co. which became one of the largest banks in the United States. The original business of Drexel & Co. was discounting privately issued bank notes, the value of which was largely dependent on the character of the principal officers of the issuing bank. The exposure to the principals gained from portrait painting is said to have given Drexel inside knowledge.[2]

After his death in 1860, the Paris firm, Drexel, Harjes & Co., was founded in 1868, and the New York firm, Drexel, Morgan & Co., was founded in 1871.[2]


Drexel married Catherine Hookey (1795–1870) at the Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church at Sixth and Spruce streets on April 23, 1821.[4] They had the following children:[5]

Drexel died in 1863, a result of injuries suffered in a train accident,[12] and was buried in The Woodlands Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Through his eldest son, Francis Anthony Drexel, he was the paternal grandfather of Saint Katharine Drexel (1858–1955).[13] Through his son, Joseph William Drexel, he was the paternal grandfather of Elizabeth Wharton Drexel (1868–1944), a prominent socialite who married John Beresford, 5th Baron Decies (1866–1944).[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Francis Anthony Drexel". CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA. Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d Stiefel, Jay Robert. "Francis Martin Drexel (1792-1863), Artist Turned Financier" (PDF). Maine Antique Digest. Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  3. ^ "Francis Martin Drexel, Journal of a Trip to South America | The PACSCL Diaries Project". Drexel University Archives. October 9, 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  4. ^ (dead link)
  5. ^ Rottenberg, Dan (2001). The Man who Made Wall Street: Anthony J. Drexel and the Rise of Modern Finance. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 185. ISBN 9780812236262. 
  6. ^ Paulsen, Frederik (1 September 1901). "JOHN D. LANKENAU.". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  7. ^ "JOHN D. LANKENAU DEAD.". The New York Times. 31 August 1901. Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  8. ^ Larkin, Tara Elizabeth. "Drexel, St. Katharine Mary", Pennsylvania State University, Fall, 2006
  9. ^ Rottenberg, Dan (May 22, 2006). The Man Who Made Wall Street: Anthony J. Drexel and the Rise of Modern Finance. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 081221966X. Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  10. ^ "John G. Watmough.". The New York Times. 12 October 1913. Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  11. ^ "WATMOUGH WILL PROBATED.; Maid to Get $100,000, Friends $400,000 and Kinsmen Nothing.". The New York Times. 4 January 1914. Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  12. ^ "Schwarz Gallery - Francis Martin Drexel". Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  13. ^ Katherine Drexel profile,; accessed October 19, 2014.
  14. ^ "Lady Decies, Widow of Irish Peer, Dies; Former Elizabeth Drexel of Philadelphia Was Once the Wife of Harry Lehr". New York Times. June 14, 1944. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 

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