The songwriting brothers William and James Francis joined the music publisher David Day to start the firm in 1877. Three years later Harry Hunter joined. Much later, in 1900, David Day started the Musical Copyright Association in order to fight pirate editions.
The firm expanded abroad in the 1900 to 1930 period: New York (1905), Paris (1920), and Berlin (1928). In New York Francis, Day & Hunter bought, in 1908, a one-third share of T.B. Harms, the biggest U.S. popular music publisher. T.B. Harms' catalog included the composers Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Vincent Youmans, Richard Rodgers, and Cole Porter. The arrangement lasted until 1920.
The firm purchased B. Feldman & Co., one of its major rivals in popular music publishing, in 1945. In 1972 Francis, Day & Hunter became a part of EMI Music Publishing Ltd.
The imprint was often abbreviated as follows: FdH; F., D. & H.; FDH; FD & H; F.D. & H. Ltd; F. D. & Hunter.