Aaron French Genealogy

The genealogy of descendants of Aaron French, with few exceptions, has been compiled from unpublished records, public and private, from epitaphs and traditions. During the Revolutionary war, Aaron lived in a part of New Jersey which suffered much at the hands of the British. Many church, town and other records were then lost which, if preserved, would have been useful in the preparation of this work.

THE French family originated in France during the tenth century. The name is not taken from the French people but, as originally written (Frene, or De la Frene), signifies “ash tree.” Sir Maximilian de French was a direct descendent of Harlovan, son of Rollo, Duke of Normandy, and his wife, Gisella, daughter of Charles the Simple, King of France; he had a son, Sir Theophilus French (Freyne), who accompanied William, the Conqueror, to England, and was present at battle of Hastings, October 14, 1066. Shortly after the Norman conquest, others of this family appeared in England where, among the public records of the succeeding five hundred years, we find the name with many variations in spelling, including the following, to-wit: ffraunceys, Fraunceys, le Frense, Frense, Fraynshe, le ffrensshe, le Freynch, le Frensch, le French, Ffrenssh, Freynche, Frenshe, Frensch, ffrench and French.

THIS small volume contains a portion of the genealogical data which the writer has collected, at odd times, during several years past. The greater portion of that which refers to the French families of New England, and a few others, has been gleaned from books ; it is published herein because the compiler believes that some will be interested in such sketches of early settlers from whom have descended so many persons of the name French who now reside in the United States.

That Mary Clark was the name of the first wife of Aaron French, is traditional, but it is so generally believed that the compiler accepts it as true; she probably died December sixteenth, 1795. Other Clarks who have intermarried with Frenches, belong to several distinct families.

THOMAS FRENCH, from Eng., was in Boston, 1631/2; his name on list of passengers indicates he came on the “Lion,” with John Winthrop, s. of the Gov.; removed to Ipswich, Mass., 1634; d. before 1639; had s. THOMAS, JR., who d. 1660, and dau., MARY.

WILLIAM FRENCH (ffrenche, or Frenche) was b. Mar. 13-15,1603, Halsted, Eng.; d. Nov. 20, 1681, in Mass.; in 1635, with his w., Elizabeth, and four ch., came to Boston, ship “Defence,” from London, and settled at Cambridge; was Lt. of militia and first representative of Billerica, to which town he removed about 1653. of first m., Lt. William had 10 ch., including sons FRANCIS, JOHN, JACOB and SAMUEL, who m. Francis lived at Milford and Derby, Conn. Lt. William m. (2nd) Mary Lathrop, wid. of John Stearns, and had four dau. Daniel Chester French, sculptor, and Alice French, writer, are descendants of Lt. William French.

EDWARD FRENCH was b., 1590, in Eng.; d., 1674, at Salisbury, Mass.; m. Ann – and had ch., JOSEPH, JOHN, SAMUEL and HANNAH; came to Mass., 1636-7, and settled at Ipswich; removed, 1640, to Salisbury, where he was one of the earliest proprietors ; was selectman, 164648; in 1652 had greatest estate but two of any in that town. All the ch. named, m.

THOMAS FRENCH, who was at Charlestown, Mass., 1638, removed to Guilford, Conn., 1643-5O. Thomas of Guilford had many ch., but only EBENEZER and JOHN lived to middle age.

JOHN FRENCH was b. about 1612; d. Aug. 6, 1693; came to Mass., 1639; resided a short time at Dorchester; removed to Braintree about 1640; m. Grace – and had 8 ch., including JOHN, WILLIAM and SAMUEL who m.; m. (2nd) Eleanor -, wid. of William Veazie; no. ch., 2nd m. John of Braintree was probably born in Scotland; the coat of arms in possession of the family at an early date is, with a change in the tinctures, that of Frenches of Thorndikes and Frenchland, County Berwick.

PHILIP FRENCH (or Franck), b. in France, was a sea captain; settled at N. Y. City, where he became a prosperous merchant; was Speaker of General Assembly; had s., PHILIP, who, about 1740, bought a large tract of Indian land, at New Brunswick, N. J., where he resided many years; Philip of New Brunswick had daughters, one of whom, SUSANNAH, m. William Livingston, Gov. of N. J., 1776-9O.

JOHN FRENCH (ffrench) lived at Woodbridge, N. J., as early as 1670; owned lands there and on Staten Island; d. 1713, at Woodbridge. His will names his w., Susannah, dau., ANN (w. of James Leith), and sons, JOHN and RICHARD. John (John) lived in Middlesex Co. as late as 1721; Richard (John) settled near Springfield, Essex (now Union) Co.; Elston Marsh French, Plainfield, N. J., and others of that vicinity, are desc. of Richard.

THOMAS FRENCH (ffrench), who with William Penn and others, 1676, in London, signed the “Concessions and Agreements” under which was established the Quaker colony in West N. J., was b., 1639, in Northamptonshire, Eng.; d., 1699, in N. J.; m. (1st), 1660, Jane Atkins; in 1680, with his w., Jane, and 9 ch., he came in ship “Kent” and settled near Burlington, N. J. THOMAS, JR., (b. 1667, d. 1745), 2nd s. of Thomas, m. Mary Allen.’ JOSEPH, eldest s. of Thomas, Jr., m., 1722, at ‘Shrewsbury, Monmouth Co., and settled there. Mary, dau. of Joseph, m. James Farrell, of Freehold; names of other ch. of Joseph are unknown to the compiler, but he believes that Joseph who m., Jan. 3, 1749, Hannah Horn, of Raritan Landing (at which place one Joseph French owned a mill at a later date), and Francis of New Gretna, were sons of Joseph (Thomas, Jr., Thomas), of Shrewsbury.

FRANCIS FRENCH, who lived at New Gretna, N. J., was probably b., before 1740, in Monmouth Co. About 1777 he, his w. and ch., were passing out of Manasquan Inlet, in a sloop, when the vessel capsized, drowning all but Francis and one s., THOMAS, whom the father rescued. Thomas m. Hannah Johnson, of Atlantic Co., and had ch. WILLIAM, FRANCIS, JOSEPH, DAVID, JOHN, THOMAS, RACHEL, ANN, MARY, SARAH, ABIGAIL and ELIZA. Francis French (Thomas, Francis), m. and had 12 ch., including sons Thomas (d.), Lewis, Levi (d.), and Francis; Levi was clerk of Burlington Co., 1883-88, and was twice elected to the General Assembly.

AARON FRENCH,1 b. Sep. 8, 1739, lived at or near New Providence, N. J., as early as 1764, and in Essex Co. until shortly before 1790, when he removed to Pa.; he d. Aug. 31, 1805. It is said that he had two or more brothers, one of whom removed to N. Y., and another “went south.” The compiler believes that the latter was Francis of New Gretna, in the south of N. J.; and that Joseph of Raritan Landing, Francis of New Gretna, and Aaron’ of New Providence, were sons of Joseph (Thomas, Jr., Thomas), of Shrewsbury; however, Aaron 1 ma? have been s. or gr. s. of John (John) of Middlesex Co., whose desc., unlike those of Richard, the other s. of John of Woodbridge, have not been traced. The genealogy of descendants of Aaron French follows, in this volume.


French, Charles Newton. Aaron French and his descendants. Chicago: Priv. print., 1910.

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