Friday, June 3, 2011


[Ancestral Link: Lura Minnie Parker (Stagge), daughter of Minnie May Elmer (Parker), daughter of Mark Alfred Elmer, son of William Elmer, son of Sarah Peake (Elmer), daughter of Lemuel Peake, son of Jonathan Peake, son of Jonathan Peake, son of Jonathan Peake, son of Dorcas French (Peake), daughter of Thomas French.]

The French home of Thomas French and later belonging to his son John in Topsfield, Massachusetts, was built in 1675, and probably the second to the oldest standing French home in the country. The oldest French house in the United States is that of Richard French in Marshfield, Massachusetts. John was a tailor and moved to Topsfield, Massachusetts, about 1664. The house is located on Howlett Street.

Saint Edmund’s Church in Assington, County Suffolk, England, where most Frenches of this line were baptized. Photo by Mara French, 1994

Thomas French Sr. [1]., baptized 11 October 1584 at Bures St. Mary in Suffolk, not Essex, probably at St. Mary’s Church, son of Jacob, moved to Assington ca. 1585/86, married Susan Riddlesdale 5 September 1608 in Assington. Thomas was named after his grandfather. Susan baptized 20 April 1584 at Boxford, Suffolk County, England, daughter of John and Dorcas Riddlesdale, died August 1658, immigrated 1635 to Ipswich, Massachusetts, a few years after their son, Thomas Jr. and 3 older daughters immigrated. Thomas Sr. died before 5 November 1639 in Ipswich, Massachusetts (8 children). Thomas Sr. occupied a farm located in Assington called Garlands. It was owned by John Gurdon. The will of John GURDON, Esq., of Assington, made December 6, 1621, left to his grandson "the messuage or farm house wherein one Thomas FRENCH doth now inhabit, called Garland's." Brampdon Gurdon, Sheriff of Norfolk 1625-29, was born in Assington Hall and had at least one daughter, Muriel Gurdon, born 1613 [26]. Emigrated to Ipswich, Massachusetts before July 25, 1638 when a lot of his is mentioned as a boundary to land at the Reedy marsh. Four of his children had preceded him to America.

Thomas was married September 5, 1608 at Assington, Suffolk, England. Susan Riddlesdale - baptized April 20, 1584, Boxford, Suffolk, England; died August 1658, Ipswich, Massachusetts. On March 10, 1658/9, inventory of her estate was made, totaling L12.11.6. Daughter of John Riddlesdale and Dorcas. Susan was probably the aunt of Dorcas Riddlesdell, a witness in a case in Ipswich, Massachusetts court in March 1647. Thomas’ children: All Children baptised at Saint Edmund’s in Assington. All children immigrated to Massachusetts except Margaret who died young. "The will of John Gurdon, Esq., of Assington, made 12/6/1621, left to his grandson, 'the messuage or farm house wherein one Thomas French doth now inhabit, called Garland's' " Emigrated to Ipswich, before July 25, 1638 when a lot of his is mentioned as a boundary to land at the Reedy marsh. Four of his children had preceded him to America.

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Thomas French
Thomas was born before 1584 in Bures St. Mary's, Suffolk, England and married 5 September 1608 in Assington, Suffolk, England, Susan RIDDLESDALE the daughter of John RIDDLESDALE and Dorcas ________. She was born about 1584, in Assington, Suffolk, England, and died 1658 in, Essex, Massachusetts. Thomas died 5 November 1639 in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts. My ancestors in the Winthrop Fleet Passenger Lists The Great Migration Begins Sketches PRESERVED PURITAN THOMAS FRENCH[Note: For my purposes I would call this Thomas Jr his father Sr. and his son Thomas 3rd or III RF]

ORIGIN: Assington, Suffolk



REMOVES: Ipswich 1635

OCCUPATION: Tailor. John Stratton writes from Boston under date of 17 March 1633/4: "I have put my sister a suit of mohair to making at Goodman French's. She were best get the tailor to take her measure and send per Jno. Gallop" [WP 3:157]. Thomas French's inventory included eleven yards of homemade cloth.

CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: Admitted to Boston church as member #128, which would be no later than mid-1632 [BChR 14]; on 27 January 1638/9 "our brother Thomas French was with the consent of the congregation dismissed to the church of Ipswich" [BChR 22].

FREEMAN: 6 November 1632 [MBCR 1:367].
EDUCATION: He signed his will.

OFFICES: Essex grand jury, 28 September 1652 [EQC 1:260]. Petit jury, 30 September 1651, 31 March 1657, 28 September 1658, 29 March 1659, 27 March 1660, 25 March 1662, 27 September 1664, 26 September 1665, 28 September 1669, 24 September 1672, 31 March 1674, 30 March 1675, 24 September 1678 [EQC 1:232, 2:11, 111, 138, 195, 347, 3:182, 270, 4:175, 5:79, 269, 6:1, 7:82]. Coroner's jury on the body of Samuel Adams, Jr., 30 September 1676 [EQC 6:234].

Had service in the Pequod War. Proposed for Lieutenant, 25 March 1639 (but apparently not confirmed; in a letter of that date Daniel Dennison writes to John Winthrop "Our company wanting some officers, have according to their liberty, made choice of some, whom they desired me to propound to the Court or Council. They were willing to express their love and liking to Sergeant French and Sergeant Howlett proposing the former for Lieutenant, the other for Ensign" [WP 4:106]). On 18 May 1664 "Sergt. Thomas French deposed that being ordered by Major Genll. Denison to carry two soldiers who were stubborn off the field to prison, he went to them and persuaded them to submit themselves, promising to mediate for them" [EQC 3:140]. Appointed ensign at Ipswich 18 May 1664 [MBCR 4:2:106].

ESTATE: At a selectman's meeting 31 January 1660[/1] eight men, including Thomas French, were granted liberty to "clear and break up a parcel of land at Scott's hill to have two acres each for six years upon condition that they sow four bushels of good hay seed on every acre, to keep up the fence a year so that the English grass should get head, the hay seed to be sown with the last crop" [EQC 3:271].

In his will, dated 3 August 1680 and proved 28 September 1680, "Thomas French Senior of Ipswich ... being weak of body" bequeathed to "Mary my beloved wife the bed whereon I used to lie, with all the appurtenances and furniture belonging thereto"; to "my son Thomas French" clothing; to "my son John French" one cow "to make up the full sum of £30 which I formerly promised him for his portion"; to "my daughter Mary Smith" one cow; to "my son Samuel French" a bed and bedding; "my sons Thomas and Samuel French" in consideration of £20 paid to "my son Ephraim French" as the remaining part of his portion, "my two sons Thomas and Samuel" shall receive the Pequod lands and division lot of marsh to be equally divided betwixt them; to "my son Thomas French" my dwelling house and homestead, also my lot in Labour-in-vain fields of twelve acres, also the rest of my cattle, stock, and movable goods; to "my son Samuel" two acres of upland and two acres of meadow at Reedy marsh; "my son Thomas French" to give free liberty to "Mary my wife his mother" to dwell in the said house and to make use of any room or rooms thereof for her convenient accommodation ... likewise ... any such movables as I do now leave in the hands of my son Thomas"; after her [Mary's] decease, "my son Thomas" shall deliver to "my three children John, Samuel and Mary" three of the biggest pewter dishes; "my two sons Thomas and Samuel" to provide for "their mother's" comfortable maintenance, and if she is not satisfied, they to allow her £9 paid by Thomas and 20s. paid by Samuel annually; and if she suffers sickness and the aforesaid £10 does not suffice, "my two sons Thomas and Samuel" shall supply her with necessaries and my lot in Labour-in-vain fields and two acres of meadow at Reedy Marsh shall stand bound respectively to my said wife during her natural life as security for the true performance of this my will as respecting her maintenance by my two sons; "my son Thomas French" sole executor [EPR 3:379-81].

The inventory of Ensign Thomas French was taken 25 August 1680 and totalled £217 15s. 6d. including £150 in real estate: "his dwelling house and barn and homestead with the privilege belonging," £70; "twelve acres of land at Labor in vain," £60; "two acres of land by Scotes Lane," £10; and "two acres of marsh in the common field," £10 [EPR 3:380-81].

BIRTH: Baptized Assington, Suffolk, 27 November 1608, son of Thomas and Susan (Riddlesdale) French [Dudley Wildes Anc 64].

DEATH: Ipswich 8 August 1680.

MARRIAGE: By 1632 Mary _______; she died at Ipswich 6 May 1681.


i MARY, baptized Boston 23 September 1632 [BChR 278 (corrected from 1631)]; died soon.

ii MARY, baptized Boston 2 March 1633/4 [BChR 278]; married by 1657 Robert Smith (called Mary Smith in father's will) [Amos Towne Anc 25-27].

iii JOHN, born about 1635 (deposed aged "about forty-eight" about March 1682 [EQC 8:329] unless this is someone else); married by 1657 Phebe Keyes (son Thomas born Ipswich 25 May 1657), daughter of ROBERT KEYES.

iv THOMAS, born about 1636 (deposed aged 22 in 1656 [EQC 2:140], deposed aged "about forty-seven" in March 1683 [EQC 9:16], deposed aged "about forty-eight" about March 1684 [EQC 9:191]); married Ipswich 29 February 1659/60 Mary Adams.

v SARAH, born say 1638; on 30 September 1656 "Hackaliah Bridges, accused by Sarah French of his getting her with child, and bound over, being brought by Sergeant French, was discharged" [EQC 2:2]; if she was a daughter of Thomas French, she had apparently died without issue prior to 1680, as she is not named in his will.

vi SAMUEL, born say 1641; convicted for fornication, 26 March 1667 [EQC 3:398]; died Ipswich in 1688 (day and month not stated in town vital records), apparently unmarried.

vii EPHRAIM, born about 1643 (deposed in 1658 aged 15 [EQC 2:139]); died Enfield, Massachusetts (now Connecticut), in September 1716, unmarried [Amos Towne Anc 50].

ASSOCIATIONS: Thomas French and his sister Alice had arrived in New England by 1632, and their two next younger sisters, Dorcas and Susan, came in 1633. Their parents and younger siblings sailed for New England after 1633, and are not included in this phase of the study. [See Parker-Ruggles 412-29, Dudley Wildes Anc 63-64 and NEHGR 142:250-52, 143:213-20, 363-64 for the ancestry of this group of French siblings.] Alice married THOMAS HOWLETT and Dorcas married first CHRISTOPHER PEAKE and then GRIFFIN CRAFTS (sketches for these families will be found elsewhere in this work). Susan may have been a servant in the household of John Winthrop Jr. for a time, but otherwise left no record in New England.

In a letter dated Groton 14 March 1632/3 John Bluett asked John Winthrop Jr. to remember him to "my schollers Thomas French and John Clarke" [WP 3:108].

COMMENTS: With most of the adult male population of Ipswich, Thomas French signed the petition to keep Mr. John Winthrop Jr. in town, 21 June 1637 [WP 3:433].

Ensign Thomas French and Thomas French Jr. were sureties on the bond of Samuel French when young Samuel was charged with a misdemeanor with Lydia Browne, at court

Estate of Susan French of Ipswich Essex Probate Docket #10189
Administration of the estate of Susan French, deceased, granted 28: 7: 1658, to her son John French. Ipswich Quarterly Court Records vol 1, page 71.

Inventory of the estate of Susan French, widow, of Ipswich, taken March 10, 1658 by Robert Lord and Phillip (his (l) mark) ffowler:a fetherbed old and small, 2 fether pillows, one old couerlet and blankett, 2£, 18s.; her wearing apparell, 4£; one old chest and box without a lid, an old Hogshead, 8s.; a linen wheele and 2 chaires, 5s.; and old brase pot and a little ould skillet and little Iron pot, 10s.; 2 pewter dishes poringer and skimer, 8 s. 6d.; 2 paire of old shires, ould brase and other small things, 12s.; an old warmeing pan and frying, 6s.; 2 small trayes, earthen ware and other lumbar, 5s. 6d.; a cowe old, 3£;total 12 £ 11s. 6d.

Received in Ipswich court March 29, 1659. Essex County Probate Files, Docket 10,189

Printed "Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts; 1635 - 1681" In three volumes,The Essex Institute; Salem, Massachusetts; 1916, Vol I p.272 Essex County, Massachusetts,

Probate Index, 1638-1840

File File # Name Date Residence Type: 10190 Thomas French, Sr., 28 September 1600 Ipswich will extant but not proved

1. THOMAS Jr baptized 27 November 1608; Assington, Suffolk, England. married: About 1631; Massachusetts. Mary SCUDAMORE died: 8 August 1680; Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts.

2. ALICE baptized: 9 April 1610; Assington, Suffolk, England. married: About 1633; Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts. Thomas HOWLETT. died: 26 June 1666; Boxford, Essex, Massachusetts.

3. SARAH born: 1612; Assington, Suffolk, England. buried: 1 November 1615; Assington, Suffolk, England.

4. EDWARD born: About 1612; Assington, Suffolk, England. married: About 1627; England. Ann GOODALE. died: 28 December 1674; Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts.

5. DORCAS baptized: 31 July 1614; Assington, Suffolk, England. married: 3 January 1636; Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts. Christopher PEAKE married: after 1679; Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts. Griffin CRAFTS died: 30 December 1697; Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts.

6. SUSAN baptized: 22 April 1616; Assington, Suffolk, England

7. ANN baptized: 16 March 1618; Assington, Suffolk, England.

8. MARGARET baptized: 12 March 1619; Assington, Suffolk, England. buried: 25 November 1633; , Suffolk, England.

9. SARAH born: 1621; Assington, Suffolk, England. buried: 27 January 1621; Assington, Suffolk, England.

10. JOHN baptized: 16 May 1622; Assington, Suffolk, England. married: 1655; Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts. Freedom or Mary KINGSLEY. died: 1 February 1697; Deerfield, Franklin, Massachusetts.

11. MARY baptized: 6 Jan 1624; Assington, Suffolk, England. married: 1645; Massachusetts.. George SMITH

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Thomas French - Immigration
The Winthrop Fleet of 1630:

Thomas and his family came to America in 1630 as passengers of the Winthrop fleet.

The first five of eleven ships sailed April 8, from Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, and arrived at Salem June 13, and following days. The other half of the fleet sailed in May and arrived in July at various dates. They brought about seven hundred passengers to the New World.

From "the Winthrop Fleet of 1630", By Charles Banks.
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Letter regarding French Daughters
Letter of Thomas Gostlin to John Winthrop Jr. Loving Cosen . . . but for carpenters I could get none, nor husbandmen, such as weare fit for you, but as for maydes and a girle I could haue sent you enoug yf my brother Downing would haue payed for the passage, and therefore I haue sent you but one, because at this time I am shortned for mony, and Mr. Peerse would be payed downe, and would haue no lesse than fiue pound a passenger besydes 2s 6d for the surgion, wch I left wth yr vncle Downinge for him. She is one of the goodman Frenches daughters of Assington. I haue sent 2 of them, one for yr father, and the other for you. Yr father must take his choyse. The eldest must serve for 3 yeeres, and the youngest 4 . . . I praye let them be delt as well wth all as any of the same quallity. Groton this 11 June 1633.

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According to the FFA (French Family Association) Thomas and Susan immigrated in 1635 to Ipswich, just 5 years after their son Thomas, Jr. immigrated. All of the Frenches were baptized at St. Edmunds Church in Assington or at St. Mary's Church in Bures St. Mary. They came to America during the PURITAN GREAT MIGRATION 1620 to 1643. Most of them emigrating from the southeast of England and settling in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the busiest years of the Great Migration were during "The Eleven Year Tyranny" 1629 to 1640 during which time Charles the first tried to rule without calling the Puritan dominated parliment. When the King was forced to call the parliment in 1640 the Puritan Revolution began and the immigration to New England came almost to a complete stop. Since there are very few passenger lists that exist of the Great Migration; the names of ancestor's ships and their actual arrival and departure dates are unknown.

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Thomas French Sr., Notes
The following notes are taken from Massachusetts and Maine Families in the Ancestry of Walter Goodwin Davis. Vol. III. Neal-Wright. and from The Whitin Family: Historical Notes; Swift, Katherine Whitin, 1955. Also notes from

Thomas French Sr. occupied a farm located in Assington, Suffolk, England called "Garlands." It was owned by John Gurdon (the Gurdon family owned most of Bures St. Mary at that time).
He came to America before 25 July 1638 when a lot of his is mentioned as a boundary to land at the Reedy Marsh.

There is some conflicting information on when Thomas came to America. Some sources cite him coming over in 1630 with his entire family on the "Mary and John," one of 11 ships in the Winthrop Fleet that carried Puritans sailing from Yarmouth, Isle of Wright to Salem, Massachusetts. Motivated by politics, a wealthy group of leaders obtained a royal charter in March of 1629 for a colony at Massachusetts Bay. Thus forming the Winthrop Fleet, led by John Winthrop and financed by the Massachusetts Bay Company. These 11 ships carried 700 passengers, plus livestock and provisions, and sailed in two groups for America. The first group sailed 8 April 1630, arriving in June, and the other group sailed in May, arriving in July. Almost all passengers survived the journey aboard ship, however within six months over 200 of them had died after coming ashore. The Winthrop Fleet website and several passenger lists state that passengers Thomas French Sr., wife Susan Riddlesdale, children Anne, Mary, John, Susan, Thomas Jr., Dorcas and Alice all made this journey together. However, further research shows that the "Mary and John" was not one of those 11 original ships, instead making a separate journey earlier that year. Another source, states that Thomas Jr. came over by himself on the Winthrop Fleet, probably aboard the "Lion." and in the next few years three of his sisters (Alice, Dorcas Susan) also immigrated and then about 1637/38 his parents, Thomas Sr. and Susan Riddlesdale, and remaining siblings came.
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Last Will and Testament of Thomas French
Estate of Thomas French, Sr. of Ipswich Essex Probate Docket # 10190

In the name of God, Amen. I Thomas French Senior of Ipswich being weak of body yet of perfect understanding and memory doe in case of death make this my last Will and Testament. In the first place I commend my Soul into the hands of Almighty God who hath redeemed it by the precious blood of his Son; and I commit my body to the Earth, whence it was taken, to be buried in a Christian decent manner by my friends in hope of a blessed resurrection to eternal life. And as for my outward Estate which God hath graciously given me in this world I doe thus dispose of it: Imprimis, I give and bequeath to Mary my beloved wife the Bed whereon I use to ly, with all the appurtenances and furniture belonging thereto. Moreover, I give to my son Thomas French my cloak and close-coat. Also I give to my son John French one Cow, which is to make up the full summe of thirty pounds which I formerly promised him for his Portion. Also I give to my daughter Mary Smith, one Cow. And to my son Samuel French, I give and bequeath he bed where he usually lieth, together with the Bedding and Bedstead belonging to the same. Further, as concerning my lands at the Pequod lots, and my division lot of marsh at Plum Island, my will is that my sons Thomas and Samuel French for and in consideration of twenty pounds by them engaged according to to order unto my son Ephraim French as the remaining part of this portion (which summe of twenty pounds is almost all paid, and the remainder due upon demand), I say my Will is that those my two sonns Thomas and Samuel shall possess and enjoy the said Pequod lands, and division-lot of marsh to themselves and to their heirs forever, to be equally divided betwixt them. Furthermore, I give and bequeath to my sonn Thomas French my dwelling house and homested with all the appurtenances and priviledges thereof and belonging thereto, and also by Lot lying in Labour-in-vain fields containing twelve acres more or less; with all the rest of my cattell, stocke of all sorts and moveable goods (not disposed of by this my will and testament) and to my son Samuel I give and bequeath two acres of upland joyning to Joseph Quilter's and two acres of meadow-ground at Reedy marsh; to be possessed by them respectively after my decease, provided always and my will is that my son Thomas French doe give full and free libertie to Mary my wife his mother to abide ad dwell in the said house and to make use of any room or rooms thereof for her convenient accommodation therein; as likewise to make use of all or any such moveable as I doe now leave in the hands of my son Thomas (not disposed of) as my be necessary ad convenient for her use and occasions from time to time; and all these during the term of her natural life, and after her decease my son Thomas shall deliver to my three children John, Samuell and Mary three of the biggest pewter dishes which shall then be left and remain that is to say, to each of them, one. Provided also, and my will is that my two son Thomas and Samuel doe carefully provide for their mothers comfortable maintenance and livelyhood and what is requisit thereto during her natural life; each of them allowing thereto proportionally to that part of my Estate which shall be by them received by vertue of this my testament. And if through any neglect of failure, this way of maintenance should not be to their mother's satisfaction and content, my Will is, that those my two sons Thomas and Samuel shall allow to their mother ten pounds yeerly; nine pounds thereof to be paid by Thomas and twenty shillings by Samuel, in such pay as shall be suitable and necessary for her comfortable maintenance and livelyhood. And further, if it shall pleas God to exercise her with much prevailing weakness or continuing sickness that the aforesaid then pounds should not suffice to defray the charges of her expenses, my Will is that (over and above the ten pounds, and according to the like rate of proportion) those my two sons Thomas and Samuel shall supply her with necessaries suitable as her condition may require, that she be not exposed to suffering for want of what ought and might be procured for her. Also my Will is that my Lot in Labour-in-vain fields, and the two acres of meadow at Reedy Marsh shall stand bound respectively to my said wife during her natural like as securitie for the true performance of this my Will as respecting her maintenance by my two Sonns; and after he decease, the said lands (except what shall bee alienated (if any so be) by means of the securitie aforesaid) to remain to each of those my Sonns and to their heirs forever as is before mentioned and declared. And lastly, I doe name, appoint and constitute my son Thomas French to be the sole Executor of this my last will & testament.

August 3 1680

Witness: (no signatures)

Proved in Ipswich Court 28 September 1680, by Mary French and Samuel French

Source: Printed "Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts;1635 - 1681," In three volumes,The Essex Institute; Salem, Massachusetts; 1916

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Birth: 1584, Assington, Suffolk, England
Death: November, 1639, Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA

The son of Jacob and Susan (Warren) French of Assington, he married Susannah Riddlesdale on 5 September 1608 in Assington, county Suffolk, England.

Thomas French and his sister Alice had arrived in New England by 1632 ("Thom: ffrench" took the oathe of freemen on October 2, 1632). They removed to Ipswich by 1635, and their two next younger sisters, Dorcas and Susan, came in 1633. Their parents and younger siblings sailed for New England after 1633.
Find A Grave Memorial# 54658130
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1 comment:

  1. I have read the will of Thomas French Sr. several times. I seem to missing something. If Sr was born around 1884 and died in 1639. Why is his Will dated 1680. Susan Riddlesdale died 1658 so where did Mary in Thomas French Sr. come from. I am sure I am missing something. Can you help me get this straight ??? Sincerely, Richard Pitt.