Capt. William French

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William French

Birthplace: Halstead, Essex, England
Death: Died in Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
Place of Burial: Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas French of Halstead and Anne (Agnes) French
Husband of Mary French; Elizabeth French and Mary Mixer
Father of Samuel French; Francis French, Sr.; Elizabeth Ellis; Samuel French; Mary Hyde and 9 others
Brother of Margaret Hill; Jemima French; Judith Wygott; Thomas French, IV; Mary Bacon and 12 others
Half brother of Steven French

Occupation: Captain
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Capt. William French

  • William French
  • M, #39963, b. 15 March 1603, d. 20 November 1681
  • Father Thomas French b. c 1562, d. 27 Jan 1613
  • Mother Anne (Agnes) Olmstead b. c 1565, d. 11 Feb 1624
  • William French was born on 15 March 1603 at Halstead, Essex, England. He married Elizabeth Symmes on 20 November 1628 at Halstead, Essex, England.1,2 William French married Mary Lathrop, daughter of Rev. Thomas Lathrop and Sarah Learned, on 6 May 1669 at Billerica, Middlesex, MA. William French died on 20 November 1681 at Billerica, Middlesex, MA, at age 78.
  • Family 1 Elizabeth Symmes b. 1603, d. 31 Mar 1668
  • Children
    • Elizabeth French+2 b. 5 Sep 1629, d. 21 Jun 1697
    • Mary French+1 b. 1633, d. 27 May 1672
    • Francis French+ b. c 1636, d. 14 Feb 1691
    • Sarah French+1 b. Mar 1638, d. 14 Oct 1694
    • Jacob French b. 16 Mar 1640, d. 20 May 1713
  • Family 2 Mary Lathrop b. 4 Oct 1640, d. a 1735
  • Child
    • Sarah French+ b. 20 Oct 1671, d. Jul 1727
  • Citations
  • [S61] Unknown author, Family Group Sheets, Family History Archives, SLC.
  • [S11597], Submitted Stephen Anderson.
  • From:


  • FRENCH, William
  • b. ABT MAR 1602/3 Halstead, England
  • d. 20 NOV 1681 Cambridge, Middlesex, Mass.
  • Family:
  • Marriage: ABT 1623 England
  • Spouse: GODFREY, Elizabeth
  • b. 1606 England
  • d. 31 MAR 1668 Cambridge, Middlesex, Mass.
  • Children:
    • FRENCH, Elizabeth b. ABT 1631
    • FRENCH, Mary
    • FRENCH, John
    • FRENCH, Sarah
    • FRENCH, Jacob
    • FRENCH, Hannah
  • Family:
  • Marriage: 6 MAY 1669
  • Spouse:LOTHROP, Mary
  • Children:
    • FRENCH, Sarah
    • FRENCH, Abigail b. 14 APR 1673
    • FRENCH, Hannah
    • FRENCH, Mary
  • From:


  • Genealogy of the French family Published 1903
  • Pg.3
  • of Wetheisfield, Essex Co., England, died 1599. In his will mentions wife, three children and grandson John, son of son Thomas, and gives to poor of Halsted, of West Wratting, Snetisham, Little Birdsfield and Arkesden.
  • Children.
  • Thomas* m. Anne ; Mary m. John Collins ; Elizabeth m. John Meade
  • of Halstead, Essex Co., England, died Jan. 27, 1613. Left wife Anne, six sons and several daughters.
  • Children
  • Thomas* m. Miss Wood ; John ; Edward ; Robert ; William ; Francis
  • of Halstead, Essex Co. Married a daughter of Wood.
  • Children
  • William* born Mch 15, 1603 m. Elizabeth ___ ; Francis Bapt June 29, 1606 ; Jerrymya Bapt Nov. 21, 1607
  • Lieut. WILLIAM FRENCH (or Frenche)
  • who was was our earliest ancestor in the direct line in America, was born in Halsted, Essex Co., England, March 15, 1603. He married Elizabeth ___ , and had four children born in England. He came to America with Rev. Thomas Shepard and his brother Samuel, Roger Harlaksuden, and George and Joseph Cook, in the ship "Defence" in the summer of 1635. He settled first in Cambridge, Mass , and in 1652 was one of the original proprietors and earliest settlers of Billerica, Mass. He was a Lieutenant of the militia and afterwards Captain. Was chosen "to sit in the Deacons seat" 1659. "Comitioner to establish the county rates" the same year ; one of the first selectmen, 1660, and served nine years. Committee to examine children and servants in "reading, religion and the catechism," 1651 ; the first Deputy or Representative of Billerica in the General Court at Boston, 1660, taking his seat in 1663. Evidence of his activity in the cause of Indian instruction is found in a letter wiitten by him to "a godly friend in England," published in London in the famous tract, "Strength Out of Weakness," and afterwards republished in the Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll. 3d S. vol. 4, pp. 149, 196, in which he gives a detailed account of the testimony of an Indian convert. His wife died March 31, 1668, and he married 2d, Mary, daughter of Thomas Lathrop of Barnstable and widow of
    • ( ) Numbers in parenthesis indicate the generation.
    • * Names marked with the star show the direct line of descent of the family in Camden.
  • John Stearns of Billerica. He died Nov. 20, 1681, and his widow afterwards married Isaac Mixter of Watertown as his third wife.
  • By wife Elizabeth he had ten children :
    • 1 Francis, b. England, 1624 ; m. Lydia Bunnille of Milford
    • 2 Elizabeth, b. England, 1629 ; m. Richard Ellis of Dedham
    • 3 Mary, b. England, 1633 ; m. Jonathan Hides
    • 4 John, b. England, 1635 ; m. Abigail Coggan
    • 5 Sarah, b. Cambridge, March, 1638 ; m. Jonathan Cheak
    • 6 JACOB,* b. Cambridge, March 16, 1640 ; m. Mary Champney
    • 7 Hannah, b. Cambridge, Apr. 12, 1641 ; d. June 20, 1642
    • 8 Hannah, b. Cambridge, Feb. 16, 1644 ; m. John Brackett, Sept. 6, 1661, had 9 children
    • 9 Samuel, b. Cambridge, Dec. 3, 1645 ; d. July 15, 1646
    • 10 Samuel, b. Cambridge, abt. 1648 ; m. Sarah Cummings
  • By wife Mary he had :
    • 11 Mary, b. Billerica, Apr. 3, 1670 ; m. 1st Robert Sharp: 2d Nathl. Duncklee
    • 12 Sarah, b. Billerica, Oct. 29, 1671 ; m. Joseph Crosby of B., May 6, 1691
    • 13 Abigail b. Billerica, Apr. 14, 1673 ; d. Apr. 13, 1674
    • 14 Hannah, b.Billerica, Jan. 25, 1676 ; John Child of Watertown
  • Francis French (2) (Lieut. William) (1)
  • Born in England, 1624, came with his father in the "Defence"; removed to Milford, Conn., about 1650, and four years later was one of the first settlers in Derby, Conn. He married, Apr. 10, 1661, Lydia Bonnelle of Milford and died Feb. 14, 1681. His widow died Apr. 1, 1708.
  • They had :
    • .... etc.


William French

Born: 15 MAR 1603   - Halstead, Essex, England
Marr: CA 1623       - England  			
Died: 20 NOV 1681   - Billerica, Middlesex, Massachusetts

Father: Thomas French Mother: Anne (Agnes) Olmstead Other Spouses: Mary Lothrop

Wife: Elizabeth Symmes

Born: 1603/1605     - Of Sandwich, Kent, England 
Died: 31 MAR 1668   - Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts  

Father: William Symmes Mother: Mrs Symmes

Children (total) = 14

Children with Elizabeth Symmes (10):

Francis French

Born: 1625          - Halstead, Essex, England
Died: 14 FEB 1691   - Derby, New Haven, Connecticut

Elizabeth French

Born: 1625          - England
Died: 27 MAY 1672   - Dedham, Norfolk, Massachusetts

Mary French

Born: 1632/1633     - England
Died: 27 MAY 1672   - Newton, Middlesex, Massachusetts

John French

Born: 1635          - Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Died: 7 OCT 1712    - Billerica, Middlesex, Massachusetts

Sarah French

Born: MAR 1638      - Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Marr: 1657(other spouses) - Jonathan Peake
Died: 14 OCT 1694   - Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts

Jacob French

Born: 16 MAR 1640   - Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Died: 20 MAY 1713   - Billerica, Middlesex, Massachusetts

Hannah French

Born: 2 FEB 1642    - Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Died: 20 JUN 1642   - Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts

Hannah French

Born: 16 FEB 1644   - Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Died: 9 MAY 1674    - Billerica, Middlesex, Massachusetts

Samuel French

Born: 3 DEC 1645    - Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Died: 15 JUL 1646   - Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts

Samuel French

Born: 3 DEC 1648    - Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Died: 4 NOV 1727    - 

Children with Mary Lothrop (4):

Mary French

Born: 3 APR 1670    - Billerica, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Died:               - 

Sarah French

Born: 29 OCT 1671   - Billerica, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Died:               - 

Abigail French

Born: 14 APR 1673   - Billerica, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Died: 13 APR 1674   - 

Hannah French

Born: 25 JAN 1676   - 
Died:               - 


Held the military title of Captain. Still researching.



Immigrant in the "Defence" 1635 from Hartwick

Lieut. William French or Frenche, tailor, son of Thomas and Anne French, born 15 March 1603 at Halstead, Co. Essex, England, died 20 Nov 1681 aged 78 Billerica, Middlesex Co., Ma. William married 1st in England, Elizabeth ( ), born 1603 Canturbury, England and died 31 March 1668 at Cambridge, Ma. The Abridged Compendium of American Genealogy by F. A. Virkus, v. 7, p. 852 says William French's wife was Elizabeth Godfrey. William married 2nd to Mary (Lathrop) Stearns, the daughter of Thomas Lathrop of Barnstable, and the widow of John Stearns, she later married Isaac Mixter. William, as shown by the record in the custom house, came with his family in the Defense from London, England in 1635 when he was aged 32, wife Elizabeth 30, Francis 10, Elizabeth 6, Marie 2 1/2, John 5 mo's. In the winter of 1634 he sailed in the "Defense" from Hartwick, but the vessel was driven back by storms and the journey was postponed until summer. Sailing once more proved perilous for the ship sprang a leak, but arrived safely at Boston, Ma. on October 3rd, 1635. Admitted freeman 1636. Educator. He settled first at Newtown where he purchased land in 1639, now called Cambridge. When the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in Boston was organized William was an early member and held the rank of Junior Sergeant in 1643, First Sergeant in 1646, and Ensign in 1650. He also became a member of the militia company at Cambridge of which he was made Lieutenant on March 26, 1647, and later Captain. In 1652/3 he removed to Billerica, eighteen miles north of Boston, where he was one of the original proprietors. Appointed to solemnize marriages. He held many offices of trust, showing that much confidence was placed in him when to hold office was to bear great responsibility. In 1659 he was chosen "to sit in the Deacon's seat", and appointed comitioner to establish the cuntry rates. In 1660 he was one of the first selectmen and served nine years. In 1661 he served on a committee to examine children and servants in "reading, religion, and the catechism." In 1660 he was the first Deputy or Representative of Billerica in the General Court at Boston, taking his seat in 1663. Evidence of his activity in the cause of Indian instruction is found in a letter written by him to "a godly friend in England," the famous tract entitled "Strength out of Weakness" published in London and re-printed by the Boston Historical Society, (Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 3d S. vol. iv. p. 149-196) in which he gives a detailed account of the testimony of an Indian convert. His land in the town amounted to two hundred and fifty acres, which were increased by subsequent allotments in later divisions.

Children: of William and Elizabeth French

FRANCIS b. Eng. abt 1624, m. Lydia Bunnell

Elizabeth b. Eng. abt. 1629, m. Robert Eliot of Dedham

Mary b. Eng. abt. Jan 1633, m. Nathaniel Dunkler

John b. Eng. abt Feb 1635, bp. by Mr. Hooker in Cambridge

m. Abigail Coggan

Sarah b. Cambridge March 1638, prob. d. young

Jacob b. Cambridge 16 March 1640, d. 20 May 1713 aged 73 Billerica, m. Mary Champney

Hannah b. Cambridge 12 April 1641, d. 20 June 1642

Hannah b. Cambridge 16 Feb 1644,

m. 6 Sept 1661 John Brackett, had nine ch.

Samuel b. Cambridge 3 Dec 1645, d. 15 July 1646

Samuel b. abt 1648, m. Sarah Cummings

Children: of William and Mary French

Mary b. Billerica 3 Apr 1670, m. Mr. Sharp

Sarah b. 29 Oct 1671, m. Joseph Crosby, had twelve ch.

Abigail b. 14 Apr 1673, d. 13 Apr 1674

Hannah b. 25 Jan 1676, m. John Childs

Contact: Susan Dorris


He was living in Billerica, MA at the time of the marriage of his son.


William was probably from Essex and arrived in Boston with Harlakened in 1635, in the "Defence" after a 34-day journey from London. Rev. Hooker was a fellow passenger. He was a freeman at Cambridge 3 Mar 1636, a first settler of Billerica, where he was granted 150 acres in 1652. At Billerica he was a Selectman from 1660-69. He was a member of the committee to examine children and servants in reading, religion and catechism in 1661. He was the first representative of Billerica to the General Court at Boston in 1663. He was lieutenant and captain in the militia. It was thought William was the son of Thomas French of Halstead, Co of Essex, England bap. there in 1603, but this was disproved by Elizabeth French in her article for the NEHGR, "Genealogical Research in England", vo. 65 (July, 1911). William was the author of the Indian tract "Strength Out of Weakness", London 1652, reprinted in 3 Mass Hist Coll, IV; 103. In this letter, written to a "godly friend in England", he details the testimony of an Indian convert to Christianity. He had a brothers, John and Richard, both also of Cambridge and Billerica.In his will dated 5 Jun 1679 he left bequests to his grandchildren, having provided for his children during his lifetime: "to the eldest son of John ffrench to Wm the son of Jacob ffrench to Elizabeth ye Daughter Richard Ellis to Jonathan ye Son of Jonathan Hides, to ye Eldest Daughter of Jonathan Peake, to Marah ye Daughter of Jno Brackett, which are all my grand children". His second wife, Mary, and son, Jacob were executors. Following his death on 20 Nov 1681 an inventory of his estate was taken by Jonathan Danforth, Sr. and Patrick Hill which amounted to ?231.12.10. His will records him as "aged abt. seaventy & six years" and the inventory as "being in his 78 year of his age" at the time of his death. B to check: "NEHGR", Vol. XLIV, 1890, p. 367-372, "Lieutenant William French and his Descendants", John M. French, M.D.

HintsAncestry Hints for William French

   7 possible matches found on 

Marriage 1 Elizabeth Symmes b: ABT 1605 in Cambridge, Middlesex Co


Birth: 1605 Essex, England Death: Nov. 20, 1681 Billerica Middlesex County Massachusetts, USA

There are many discrepancies regarding William's parentage, so it is best not to speculate.

He is an immigrant ancestor who arrived aboard the "Defence", Edward Bostock, Master, which had left England after 18 July 1635 and arrived in Boston 8 October 1635.

WILLIAM FRENCH, came to New England in the ship Defence in 1635, with his wife Elizabeth and four children, Francis aged 10, Elizabeth 6, Mary 2 1/2, and John 5 months. William French is entered on the passenger list as servant to Mr. Harlakenden, "no doubt for purposes of deception," Savage says. Emigration at that time was not the unrestricted right of English Puritans. The child John was baptized on their arrival at New Towne (Cambridge) by the Rev. Thomas Hooker, a fellow-passenger whose name does not appear on the shipping list, since his departure, had it been known to the authorities, would no doubt have been prevented.

In the French family at Cambridge other children were born: Sarah, Jacob, two Hannahs, a Samuel who died young, and a second Samuel, whose birth is not recorded.

William French was made a freeman of the Massachusetts Bay Colony the 3rd of March 1635/6, and a member of the Ancient & Honorable Artillery Company in 1638. His home in Cambridge was on what is now the westerly side of Dunster Street about midway between Harvard Square and Mt. Auburn Street. He bought this property in 1639 and sold it to William Barrett June 10th, 1656.

Settlement of Billerica (Shawshin) was begun about 1653 and William French was one of the first proprietors. The town was incorporated in 1655 and in the printed account of the celebration of the two hundredth anniversary it is stated (giving as reference Rec. Massachusetts vol. iv, pt. 2, p. 383) that in 1659 Lt. French, for Billerica and Chelmsford, was empowered to join in marriage within those towns or limits such persons as shall desire the same, being authorized by law. In March 1659/60, when the first selectmen (townsmen was the old name) were chosen, he was one of the five. As Lieutenant in the local militia he did garrison duty during King Philip's war.

Family links:

 Elizabeth Symms French (1605 - 1668)
 Mary Lothrop Mixer (1640 - ____)*

 Elizabeth French Ellis (1629 - 1697)*
 John French (1635 - 1712)*
 Sarah French Peake (1638 - 1694)*
 Jacob French (1640 - 1713)*
 Hannah French Brackett (1644 - 1674)*
  • Calculated relationship

Burial: Unknown

Maintained by: Jerry Ferren Originally Created by: Mary Jo C. Martin Record added: Mar 02, 2010 Find A Grave Memorial# 49030458 _________________________________________________

ID: I15388 Name: Capt. William (Immigrant, 1635 "Defence") !!! French Sex: M Birth: BEF 15 MAR 1603 in of Halstead, Essex, England Christening: 15 MAR 1603 Halstead Parish, Essex, England Death: 20 NOV 1681 in Billerica, Middlesex Co., MA Occupation: Tailor Note:

Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, U.S. Congresswoman Emily Taft Douglas, Civil War Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, sculptor Charles Eugene Tefft, author Richard Hildreth, Walt Disney, inventor Samuel Morse, cowboy movie star Tom Mix and actress Bette Davis are descendants.





SELECTMAN, 1660-4 and 1670-3.

William and Elizabeth French immigrated in 1635 on the ship "Defence" and settled in Cambridge, MA, in 1635. His will was dated 5 June 1679 and proved 20 Dec. 1681.

"William French was born in England, perhaps 15 March 1603, at Halstead, Essex, although this has not been proven. He may also have been son of William of Bures St. Mary, Suffolk Co., England; see 'Thomas French of Assington, Suffolk, England & Ipswich, MA,' NEHGS 'Register,' Vol 142, pg. 250. According to custom house documents, he was born in Essex Co. in 1605. William French migrated on the ship 'Defense' which sailed from London 10 July 1635. He is listed on the passenger list as servant to Roger Harlakenden, likely a ruse because of immigration restrictions of the time.. He eventually settled at Cambridge where he was a tailor. He a proprietor of Cambridge 1635-36. He was confirmed as a lieutenant 26 May 1647. He removed to Billerica, MA. in about 1652. At Billerica, he was an original proprietor and settler and first deputy or representative from Billerica to the general Court of Massachusetts at Boston, 1663-1666. He was the author of a famous tract called 'Strength out of Weakness.'" --Mary Beth Wheeler

WARNING: His parentage is in dispute. Some show this couple married 31 Mar 1623, others 20 Nov 1631 in England.

Three exclamation points (!!!) indicates a problem entry: his parentage is in dispute.

Notes on this website are authored by Larry Overmire, unless noted otherwise. Permission of the author is required to reproduce elsewhere.


(from French Page ) William French was married in England where four of his children were born. He emigrated to America in the summer of 1635 in the ship Defence. Mr. Shepard, in his autobiography, says he set out for New England with a group "in the year 1634, about the beginning of winter" and embarked at Harwich. They were driven back by stress of weather and the voyage was abandoned. However, they embarked again on August 10, 1635 "and so the Lord after many sad storms and wearisome days and many longings to see the shore, brought us to the sight of it upon Oct. 2, 1635". They landed at Boston on the third. Two days later the congregation moved to Cambridge where they found many empty homes and people willing to sell because of the exodus of Reverend Hooker's flock to Hartford. The Cutter family may also have been among this group especially based on their stories of a difficult voyage. William first settled in Cambridge, where he resided on the westerly side of Dunster Street about midway between Harvard Square and Mt. Auburn Street, which estate he bought in 1639 and sold to William Barrett June 10, 1656.

William French was one of the original proprietors of Billerica and was granted lot 24 of 150 acres in the Shawshine grant in 1652. He was referred to as Liet. William French. The Shawshine Plantation later became the town of Billerica, the name change coming by order of the court on May 23, 1655. He settled there early and was a captain in the militia. He became a deacon in 1659 and was also a commissioner to establish country rates. In 1660 he was elected a Selectman, a seat which he held for nine years. In 1661 he was one of a committee to examine children and servants in reading, religion, and catechism. William French was the first Deputy (i.e. representative) of Billerica to the General Court.

William died in Billerica on Nov. 20, 1681 in his 78th year. His death record lists him as Lieutenant. His will was dated June 5, 1679 at which time he called himself "aged abt. seaventy & six years". William had already provided for his children prior to the time of writing his will. However he did make bequests to his grand children. These bequests were: "to the eldest son of John French to Wm the son of Jacob French to Elizabeth ye Daughter Richard Ellis to Jonathan ye Son of Jonathan Hides, to ye Eldest Daughter of Jonathan Peake, to Marah ye Daughter of Jno Brackett, which are all my grand children". His wife and son Jacob were made executors. The will was witnessed by Samuel Whiting, Jr. and Jonathan Danforth, Sr.. "Inventory of the Estate of Lt. Wm French of Billerica who deced. 20 November 1681 being in his 78 year of his age" was taken by Jonathan Danforth Senior and Patrick Hill and amounted to 231.12.10. Division of the estate was made to the widow and to daughters Mary French (now Sharp), Sarah French, and Hannah French.

William had a brother John in Cambridge who was buried Feb. 16, 1645-6. John's wife Joanna was buried Jan. 20, 1645-6. They had children born from about 1635 through 1643. John was also a tailor. William French of Billerica administered upon the estate and sold the homestead to Robert Browne in 1657. Richard French of Cambridge was probably also a brother to William. His wife was Martha, and they had a son Samuel, born July 13, 1653. He bought land on Jan. 26, 1651-2 and sold it Oct. 8, 1654, after which time there is no further record of him.

Francis French is *not* William's son, though he is often attributed to him, but is his youngest brother, a half brother by William's step-mother, Elizabeth Symmes. She died birthing Francis, and William helped raise him as there were nearly 20 years that separated them. [1]

Children (by Elizabeth Unknown):

Elizabeth, b. abt. 1629, m. Dedham, MA 19 Sep 1650 Richard Ellis, d. Dedham 21 Oct 1694 Mary, b. abt. 1633, d. Cambridge 27 May 1672, m. Jonathan Hyde, b. abt. 1626, d. Newton, MA 5 Oct 1711 John, b. abt. 1635, d. Oct 1712, m(1) 21 Jun 1659 Abigail Coggan, d. 5 Apr 1662, m(2) 3 Jul 1663 Hannah Burrage, d.7 Jul 1667, m(3) 14 Jan 1667-8 Mary Rogers, d. 16 Jun 1677, m(4) 16 Jan 1677-8 Mary (Littlefield) Kittresge, d. 1719 Sarah, b. Cambridge, MA 1638, d. 1694, m. Roxbury, MA 15 Aug 1660 Jonathan Peake (son Jonathan Peake and Dorcas French), b. 17 Dec 1637, d. Roxbury 2 Jun 1700 Jacob, b. Cambridge 16 Jan 163940, d. 20 May 1713, m(1) 20 Sep 1665 Mary Champney (dau Richard Champney), d. 1 Apr 1681, m(2) 30 Jul 1685 Mary Convers, d. 18 Jun 1686, m(3) Mary ____, d. 9 Jun 1709, m(4) Ruth ____, d. 6 Nov 1730 Hannah, b. Cambridge 12 Apr 1641, d. 20 Jun 1642 Hannah, b. Cambridge 16 Feb 1644, m. Billerica, MA 6 Sep 1661 John Brackett. Died Billerica 9 May 1674.[2] Samuel, b. Cambridge 3 Dec 1645, d. 15 Jul 1646 Samuel, b. abt. 1648, d. Dunstable, MA 4 Nov 1727, m. Cambridge 24 Dec 1682 Sarah Cummings (dau John Cummings and Sarah Howlett), b. Dunstable 28 Jan 1661 Children (by Mary): Mary, b. Billerica, MA April 3, 1670, m. ____ Sharp Sarah, b. Billerica Oct. 29, 1671, m. May 6, 1691 Joseph Crosby Abigail, b. Billerica April 14, 1673, d. April 13, 1674 Hannah, b. Billerica, MA Jan. 25, 1676, d. Jan. 2, 1766, m. Sept. 5, 1693 John Child, b. Watertown, MA April 25, 1669, d. Waltham, MA before 1748

Mary's children by John Stearns:

Isaac Stearns, b. April 17, 1658, d. Oct. 9, 1659</br> Samuel Stearns, b. Sept. 3, 1659, d. 1735 Isaac Stearns, b. Dec. 23, 1661, d. 1739, m. Mary Merriam, b. June 4, 1664 Nathaniel Stearns, b. Nov. 30, 1663 Thomas Stearns, b. Dec. 6, 1665, d. Feb. 9, 1696, m. June 20, 1688 Rebecca Chamberlain, b. Feb. 25, 1662


↑ French Family Association Website ↑ Vital Records of Billerica, p. 345. A GENEALOGICAL MEMOIR OF THE LO-LATHROP FAMILY-1884, PAGE 45, MARY (#16) GENEALOGICAL NOTES OF BARNSTABLE FAMILIES, VOLII, PUB. 1890, PAGE 163 [| Find A Grave] accessed 6 January 2012. The Learned Family in America 1630 - 1967 by Eugenia Learned James, Setco Printing Co. Inc., 1967. Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900. Operations Inc; Provo, UT, USA; 2004 Filby, P. William, ed, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s, Farmington Hills, MI, USA: Gale Research, 2010 New England Historic Genealogical Society. Massachusetts, Town Death Records, 1620-1850. Operations Inc; Provo, UT, USA; 1999 Edmund West, comp. Family Data Collection - Births. Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2001. Gary Boyd Roberts. Notable Kin, Volume One. Carl Boyer, 3rd; Santa Clarita, California; Date: 1998 Published in cooperation with the New England Historic genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts A Genealogical History of the French and Allied Families by Mary Elizabeth Queal Beyer. Accessed via Google Books. New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial: A Record of the Achievements of Her People In the Making of Commonwealths , and the Founding of a Nation, Vol 2 by by William Richard Cutter. Accessed via Google Books. Genealogies of the State of New York: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation, Vol 1 by Tunis Garrett Bergen. Accessed via Google Books. "A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England..." by James Savage "Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts, including Waltham and Weston" by Henry Bond Norris Taylor website Mary Beth Wheeler website Michael Roman website William Dills, Jr. website French Family Association Official Website


William Frenches of the Halstead Area in Essex, England As you can see below, whenever a death or marriage or child baptism is mentioned, it is very difficult to figure out which William they are talking about. It is like figuring out a huge puzzle with all the pieces the same color and shape. If anyone has any documents on William French in England, please let me know, Christening Dates · William French, chr. 15 Mar 1602/3, son of Thomas, in Halstead, Essex (died in London in 1621) – FFA Chart #EB · William French, chr. ca. 1554 in unknown location, lived in Gosfield, Essex · William French, chr. 25 Jul 1580 in Bures St. Mary, Suffolk – FFA Chart #E1 · William French, chr. 6 Apr 1606 in Halstead, as the son of Willia[m] French (immigrated to Billerica, New England)

William French the Emigrant We know that the William we are looking for who immigrated to Billerica, MA, was born in 1605/6 in Halstead and I have that record. He married a woman named Elizabeth, as listed on the passenger list of 1635. Other researchers say her maiden name was Godfrey or Symmes, but I find nothing conclusive of the sort. In fact, William’s father, also named William, married Elizabeth Symmes as his last wife. William emigrated with four children from London in July 1635. They were Francis b. 1624/25 (he was William’s youngest brother by his father William French and Elizabeth Symmes); Elizabeth b. 1629; Maria b. 1633; and John b. 1635 (dates according to ship records). They were probably all baptized in America as they were hiding out in England. This is why I was looking in London, but I also heard that they could have taken a ship from Harwich Essex to London because the captain of that ship was first on that ship, and then on the ship Defence that went from London to New England. I uncovered some of these unknowns on my trip to all these villages in Essex in June 2010.

Halstead, Gosfield, Great Maplestead, Little Maplestead, plus other villages where Frenches resided: Sible Hedingham, Castle Hedingham, Greenstead Green. Possible Ancestors of William French These are the Charts involved for DNA Group 6 Ancestry: · Thomas French, b. ca. 1520, FFA Chart #E1 (line immigrated to New England – DNA Gp 6). · William French, b. 1606, FFA Chart #E2 (line immigrated to New England – DNA Gp 6). · John French, b. ca. 1599, FFA Chart #E3 (line immigrated to New England – DNA Gp 6). · William French, b. ca. 1554, FFA Chart #EA. · Thomas French, b. ca. 1504, FFA Chart #EB. · Christopher French, b. ca. 1560, FFA Chart #EC. · Robert French, b. ca. 1555, FFA Chart #ED.

William immigrated during the summer of 1635 on the Defence [14] from St. Gabriel Fenchurch, London (an area and nowadays a street, not a church), England. Ship list says William was 30 in July 1635. Because his christening date is only 6 days from the Old Calendar year of 1605 which ended the last day in March 1605, William’s age of 30 when he immigrated to America in 1635 would fit perfectly. It is, however, clearly marked in the parish register as one of the first entries for 1606; he could have been born in 1605 and christened a week later. Because William was had expertise working with his father in a Leete position in the Greenstreet court, he was a great asset to Roger Harlakenden when emigrating to New England, and also including William’s skills as a weaver. Reverend Thomas Shepard was born in Towcester near Northampton (or Northumberland???) on 5 Nov 1605, a contemporary of William French who accompanied each other on the ship Defence to New England. John Shepard was a pseudonym for Thomas Shepard. Having, accordingly, preached his farewell sermon at Newcastle-upon Tyne, Northumberland, England, Rev. Thomas Shepard (who accompanied William French to the new world) went in disguise to Ipswich, Suffolk County, England, and thence to Earl’s Colne, Essex County, England, where Roger Harlakenden lived; whence, accompanied by Mr. Norton, he went to Yarmouth, intending to embark there for New England. Pursuivants, however, were employed to apprehend him. These pursuivants having discovered Mr. Shepard’s quarters, had, by a sum of money, obtained a promise, from a boy belonging to the house where he lodged, to open the door for them at a certain hour of the night. But by the singular providence of God, the design was frustrated. Some serious expressions of Mr. Shepard being uttered in the hearing of this boy, he was struck with horror at the thought, that he should be so wicked as to betray so good a man; and, with tears, discovered the whole plot to his pious master, who took care immediately to convey Mr. Shepard out of the reach of his enemies [45].
 Toward the close of the year 1634, Mr. Shepard embarked at Harwich, Essex. Mr. Shepard in his Autobiography gives the following: "Divers people in Old England of my dear friends desired me to go to New England there to live together, and I saw divers families of my Christian friends who were resolved thither to go with me. Accordingly in the beginning of the winter 1634 we started. (They embarked at Harwick.) We were driven back by stress of weather and the voyage was abandoned. But about August 10, 1635, we again embarked in the ship 'Defence' and so the Lord after many sad storms and wearisome days and many longings to see the shore brought us to the sight of it upon October 2, 1635 [after 54 days at sea], and upon Oct. 3, we landed at Boston." For more, see The Works of Thomas Shepard: First Pastor of the Church of Cambridge MA, on Google Book Search and The AutoBiography of Thomas S.hepard by Nehemiah Adams. After Mr. Shepard’s embarkment at Harwich, in a few hours the ship was driven back into Yarmouth road, where arose one of the most tremendous storms ever known. The ship was almost miraculously saved, but so materially damaged that the proposed voyage was relinquished. Mr. Shepard, after spending the winter at Bastwick (I assume this is in Norfolk), went, in the spring, to London, where, by a removal of his lodgings, he again narrowly escaped his pursuivants. In July, he sailed from Gravesend (on the Thames River just east of London, but in Essex County), and, on the third of October 1635, after a hazardous voyage, he arrived at Boston. His friends at Newtown (now called Cambridge) soon conducted him to that infant settlement, destined to be the field of his future labours [45[. William French (age 30) and his wife Elizabeth (age 32) were sworn in on the ship Defence on 4 Jul 1635. William’s children were also sworn in on the ship on 4 July 1635: Elizabeth (age 6), Marie (age 2), Francis (age 10), and Jo (of John) (age 5 mos), along with Elizabeth French (age 30). This second Elizabeth was a caretaker for the children. My thought is that she was a close member of the family, maybe a sister or William, born in 1605 (but then they would be twins and no Elizabeth is listed for William’s family in the parish register. They boarded at the same time as Roger Harlakenden and his family. Also in this group was Robert (an adult man, last name unknown) and Sarra Simes, age 30, both servants of Roger Harlakenden who boarded right after William and Elizabeth French in the same group. Some genealogists believe Sarra Simms, 30, also listed, was Elizabeth’s sister. But most important is that two others besides William and Eliza French are listed as servants of Roger Harlakenden, and they are: Robert, a man Servant; and Sarra Simes 30 Servant. Many passengers who sailed on the Defence originally started out on another unknown ship from Ipswich or Harwich, Essex in 1634. The ship ran into a terrific storm in the North Sea and the main mast was chopped down to save her from foundering, and they drifted into Yarmouth almost a wreck – is this Isle of Wight or Norwich? Rev. Thomas Shepard of Dunstable, England, was on this first ship and later concealed himself and changed his name to John Shepard and sailed with Roger Harlakenden, who was originally from Earls Colne, Essex (with whom he had been hiding in London), on the Defence which arrived in Boston on 2 Oct 1635. Shipmaster was Mr. Edward Pearce who later changed his name to Thomas Boylson and was from the Minister of St. Gabriel Fenchurch, London, age 20 [15] [16] [14] [3]. There are no French vital record in Earls Colne where Roger Harlakenden resided [24]. Passengers boarded the Defence from 20 Jun - 18 Jul 1635. The Ship Defence indicates the ship sailed at the end of July 1635 and arrived at Boston Oct 8, 1635. The British History Online lists the inhabitants of St. Gabriel Fenchurch in 1638, only 3 years after William French departed. Thomas Boylston who emigrated with William French in 1635 on the Defence is listed at this church. Before 1665, London shows 97 parishes within the city itself. St. Gabriel Fenchurch was one of them. It was situated in the middle of Fenchurch Street until 1665 when the city lay in ruins and 86 churches were destroyed by fire. St. Gabriel Fenchurch was never rebuilt. The church was first mentioned in 1321. No French is listed at St. Gabriel Fenchurch [35]. The following record is from the Public Record Office (PRO), Chancery Lane, London WC2A, 1LR and ask for document XPO430, 28-9-90, Ref. E157/20. Note that the listing for Robert following Eliza shows that he was a man gentleman, therefore not a child. No surname is given.

Was William an Indentured Servant? William French did not immigrate as an indentured servant. As he had Leete (Court) status over the jurisdiction in southern Halstead very close to where Roger Harlakenden resided in Earls Colne, he probably accompanied Roger on the Defence in anticipation of using those skills in the New World. The Colonial Travelers of 1635 [29] describes this idea quite well:

Anne Wood mentioned above was chr. 22 Apr 1611 in Leyton, Essex, the dau. of Toby Wood, so she was 24 years old when she immigrated. Joseph Cooke was chr. in 1608 in Pebmarsh, married Elizabeth in 1642 in Cambridge, MA, and d. May 1699 in Pebmarsh in his homeland. George Cooke was chr. 18 Jun 1611 in Great Whelentham, Suffolk, and was the son of William Cooke. It is strange that William’s children who boarded the next day are not mentioned in the above article. Perhaps they were actually his brother John’s children. This needs more research. Who Was the Other Elizabeth French on the Ship Defence? On July 2?, 1635, William French and his wife Elizabeth boarded the ship Defence. He was age 30 and she was age 32, listed as his wife. On July 4, 1635, Elizabeth French, age 30, boarded the ship Defence with 4 children whom we will deal with later as to whom they belonged to. This Elizabeth French was born in 1605 as she was 30 in 1635. Because her surname is “French”, she must have been: 1. A very close family member acting as “au pair” for the 4 children 2. William’s sister. William had a sister, Ellen, born in 1603, but not much is known about her. He did not have a sister named Elizabeth. 3. The wife of one of William’s brothers or other relatives 4. The daughter of one of William’s relatives 5. The mother of one of the 4 children Other Passengers on the Ship Defence On July 4, the London port clerks dutifully inscribed the names of a group of eleven men and women who traveled together, bound for New England aboard the ship Defence. This collection of neighbors, relations, master, servants, and patron were headed by Roger Harlakenden, a 23-year old gentleman and a second son from Earls Colne, essex. The Harlakenden family was a distinguished one in Essex. The Harlakenden family had offered protection to the nonconformist clerk Thomas Shepard after he fell foul of the Laudian regime. With Roger Harlakenden was his wife, Elizabeth, and his younger sister, Mabel. Accompanying the privileged Harlakendens were eight other people: five men and three women, identified as their servants. And three of them, Anne Wood, Sarra Simes, and one Robert (with no reported last name), probably were servants. But the other five were not. They included the brothers Joseph and George Cooke, the yeoman sons of an Essex neighbor; William French and his wife Elizabeth; and one Samuel Shepard. This Samuel Shepard was, in fact, the brother of the former Earls Colne minister Thomas Shepard. Disguised as servants and protected by a gentleman, Shepard, French, and the Cooke brothers, all nonconformists, were able to secure permission to depart England, permission they could not obtain on their own behalf. Journeying with friends, neighbors, and a wealthy protector, these men and women made their way to London from Earls Coln with some trepedation about their experiences at the port, but buffered by their kin. Roger Harlakenden died soon after his arrival in New England; within three years, he fell victim to smallpox, leaving behind his wife and daughters [57]. Joseph Cocke was a passenger on the ship Defence with William, b. 1608 in Pebmarsh, m. Elizabeth in 1642 in Cambridge, MA. Joseph d. May 1699 in Pebmarsh in his homeland. George Cocke was also a passenger, from Great Whelentham, Suffolk, b. 18 Jun 1611, the son of William Cocke. Anne Wood, chr. 22 Apr 1611 in Leyton, Essex, dau. of Toby Wood. Sarra Simes may have been regarded by the Harlakenden family as a maidservant of sorts, but she was also a family friend with well-placed relations. She referred to John Stedman and William French as her brothers in her will (Genealogical Gleanings, NEHGR 48 [1894], p. 126 [57]. 4.4 Thomas French, bp. 10 Nov 1606 in Twinstead, son of William (Wm) as shown below. He was probably named after his uncle, Thomas French. D/P 212/1/1, Image 28.

Thomas was an adult in 1624 and perhaps married and had children. This family could very well have been the Thomas French of Stisted. The research on the French family of Stisted will be added by the end of the year 2010. Well, after some research, it seems he is not the correct Thomas French; baptisms for Thomas French in Stisted start in 1618, which is too early, and baptisms of this Thomas of Stisted continue until 1631. See Parish Records in England. 4.5 Jacob French, bp. 17 Jan 1607/08 in Twinstead, son of William (Wm) as shown below. There are only these two Frenches mentioned in Twinstead Baptism Parish Register [11] [14]. The name “Jacob” was a very unusual name for a French ancestor, as hardly any Jacob French existed in early records of Essex; therefore, it is assumed that Jacob was named after his grandfather, Jacob French. D/P 212/1/1, Image 28.

Children of William of The Leete and Elizabeth French, 3.1 4.6 Francis French, chr. 5 Apr 1625 in Halstead, born 17 years after William’s last child. He immigrated with his older brother, William, on the ship Defence in 1635 to New England when he was 10 years old. He m. Lydia Bunnell on 10 Apr 1661 in New Haven, New Haven Co., CT, and he d. 14 Feb 1691 in Derby, New Haven Co., CT. He was the ancestor of the large group of Frenches who migrated down the Ohio River to Beaumont, TX, where 7 generations of the French family live there today. This line continues with FFA Chart #8. Francis had 8 children: Lydia, named after his wife; Elizabeth, named after his mother; Anna; Mary; Lydia after the first daughter died; Samuel; Susanna; and Francis. Fifth Generation Listed here are only the children born in England. To continue this ancestry, also go to FFA Chart #2. Children of William and Elizabeth French, 4.1 William’s first 4 children were born in England, but we do not have those records of births. William, his wife Elizabeth, and these 4 children immigrated to Cambridge, MA in Jul 1635. Passengers boarded the Defence from 20 Jun - 18 Jul 1635. The Ship Defence indicates the ship sailed at the end of July 1635 and arrived at Boston Oct 8, 1635. "Now one cause of our going at this time of winter was, because we were persecuted in Old England for the truth of Christ, which we profess here. We durst not stay to make ourselves known, which would have been at the baptizing of the child. Hence we hastened for New-England." Because of this statement, few baptisms were accounted for at this time. NOTE: Francis French, christened in 1624/25, listed as age 10 on 5 Jul 1635. No birth record has been found. Ref [19] lists Francis as the son of William and Elizabeth French, born in London, but he was not the son of William the emigrant to Billerica, but the son of his father, William French. Francis imigrated to America at 10 years old in 1635 [13] with his brother, William [18]. Francis moved from Billerica, MA to Milford and then Derby, CT. Edward Wooster and Francis were the first two landowners in Derby, CT [12]. "Now one cause of our going at this time of winter was, because we were persecuted in Old England for the truth of Christ, which we profess here. We durst not stay to make ourselves known, which would have been at the baptizing of the child. Hence we hastened for New-England." (This chart is continued with FFA Chart #8). William French specifically says in his will that he is giving to all his children and/or grandchildren; however, Francis, who had a large family in Derby, CT, at his father’s death, was not mentioned. Note: Edward Wooster (varied spelling) was the brother of Rev. William Worcester according to “Genealogy of Woosters in America” Ref. [17]. Edward Wooster accompanied Francis French (FFA Chart #8) to Connecticut from Boston, and they were the first two settlers of Milford, CT, and later Derby, CT. Francis French emigrated on the ship Defence with William French, FFA Chart #2, and was thought of as a relative, but not a son. This needs further research. Furthermore, Edward French (FFA Chart #4) married Anne Worcester and immigrated to Massachusetts. These French and Wooster families emigrated from London to Massachusetts during the Puritan Great Migration.

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Capt. William French's Timeline

July 25, 1580
Bures St. Mary,Suffolk,England
July 25, 1580
St. Mary, Bures, Suffolk, England
July 25, 1580
St. Mary, Bures, Suffolk, England
July 25, 1580
St. Mary, Bures, Suffolk, England
July 25, 1580
St. Mary, Bures, Suffolk, England
March 15, 1603
Halstead, Essex, England
March 15, 1603
Halstead, Co Essex, England
March 15, 1603
Halstead, Co Essex, England
March 15, 1603
Halstead, Co Essex, England