Francis Noyes Balch - Lawyer & Scientist

Francis Noyes Balch (November 23, 1873-1960?) was born to Francis Vergnies and Ellen Maria (Noyes) Balch. For his early education Francis attended the Roxbury Latin School located in Boston, Massachusetts [3]. Later Francis attended Harvard University and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree (an AB Degree at Harvard) in 1896, a Master's Degree (AM Degree) in 1897, and finally a Law Degree in 1900 [6].

Work in the Law:

Francis was admitted to the Bar in 1900 and would begin practicing law at Dunbar and Rackemann [3]. Later, in 1905, Francis would join Carleton Hunneman to practice law in the Hunneman and Balch law firm. This partnership would last until April 1, 1913 when they "amicably dissolved" the partnership [3]. Practicing law alone until January 1, 1914 he then formed the partnership of Ellis and Balch with David A. Ellis. In November and December of 1915 "emergency law business" took Francis to London where he experienced the war conditions brought on by World War I.

Interest in Zoology:

In a report, for the Harvard College Class of 1896, Francis states that he gave up his "ambition to be a professional zoologist and went into the law instead." It is clear, from later activities and writings, that Francis continued to have a great deal of interest in Zoology. A publication known as the Proceedings of the Malacological Society of London indicates that Francis was a member of this society in 1909. Malacology is the study of various forms of sea life or mollusks. In a publication known as The Nautilus, dating from May 1908 to April of 1909, Francis wrote on a variety of sea life.

Interest in Eugenics:

In addition to his interest in sea life he seems to have had a great deal of interest in what is now largely a discredited science known as Eugenics. Eugenics reached the peak of its influence in the early decades of the twentieth century and only began to wain in influence after the Nazis used it to justify their campaign against the Jews. Francis appears to have held a very different view, from the Nazis, that emphasized the mixing of races and peoples to avoid the "stagnation" of humanity. Francis was a member of the American Eugenics Society (one source shows him being a member in 1925) and wrote at least one book devoted to the subject. The quote below helps illustrate his perspective on Eugenics;

"I tell you signs are not wanting that if the fine old New England blood despises the ignorant foreigner and stands aloof from him, there will soon be another interesting example of a fine old stock…making a pathetic and unedifying end."

Interest in Historical Preservation:

In addition to his scientific interests Francis seems to have had a great deal of interest in historical preservation. Francis was a member of the Old Planters Society and on June 29, 1905 in conjunction with the Balch Family Association held a meeting at the sight of John Balch's first settling in 1635. Francis is mentioned in the minutes of this meeting, at Beverly, Mass., and the minutes indicate that he warned the other attendees to not view themselves as superior to those who had "mixed blood" or had recently settled in America. Later, on June 8, 1916, Addie Herrick, the owner of the land containing and surrounding the "Balch House", signed over the title to Francis and several other members of the Balch Family Association. It was with the acquisition of the Balch House that the group would begin their work toward the restoration of the house built by John Balch.

Political Involvement:

Francis also had a great deal of involvement with politics. Sources indicate he served on the Boston Finance Commission until June 1912. In addition he served with the Boston Charter Association, the Good Government Association, and the Chamber of Commerce Committee on Metropolitan and Municipal Affairs [3].

Family and Final Years:

Francis married Pauline Katherine Bulson, June 22, 1904, and together they had five children. Little information seems to be available regarding Francis' family life and the later years of his life.

Genealogy of Francis Noyes Balch:

Father: Francis Vergnies Balch
Mother: Ellen Maria Noyes

Wife: Pauline Katherine Bulson
Married: June 22, 1904


1. Francis
2. Katherine Noyes
3. Francis Vergnies
4. Robert Stone

Primary Sources/Links


Genealogy of the Balch Families in America - By: Galusha Balch [2]

Harvard College Class of 1896 secretary's fifth report By Harvard College (1780- ). Class of 1896 [3]

The Nautilus: A Monthly Journal Dedicated to the Interests of Conchologists [4]

Proceedings of the Malacological Society of London - 1909 [5]

The Nautilus [6]

Social register, Boston By Social Register Association (U.S.) [7]

Who's who in New England, Volume 1 By Albert Nelson Marquis [8]

Wikipedia - Conchology [9]

Wikipedia: Eugenics [10]

Wikipedia - Nudibranch [11]

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