Jean Thoreau (c.1754 - 1801)

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Birthplace: St. Helier, Isle of Jersey
Death: Died in Concord, Massachusetts, United States
Occupation: Moved to United States.
Managed by: Kimberly Ronson
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About Jean Thoreau

Jean Thoreau, anglicized name from Jean to John. Born about 1754, in St. Helier, Isle of Jersey in the English Channel. Emigrated to America in 1773, shipwrecked; privateer; served for a time as a private in the American Revolution under Paul Revere; merchant; m. (1) Jane (Jennie) Burns in 1781 (d. 1796); m. (2) Rebecca Kettell in 1782. In 1799, he bought part of what is now the Colonial Inn building in Concord and moved his large family there in 1800. He died there in 1801 possibly of tuberculosis; left a large estate but it was squandered by 2nd wife.

Parents: Philippe Thoreau and Marie Le Gallais

Children of Jennie Burns and Jean Thoreau included:

  1. Elizabeth (1782-1839)
  2. Jane (1784-1864)
  3. Mary (1786-1812)
  4. John (Henry Thoreau’s father; 1787-1859; m. Cynthia Dunbar 1812)
  5. Nancy (1789-1815; m. Caleb Billings 1810)
  6. Sarah (1790-1829)
  7. Maria (1794-1881)
  8. David (1796-1817)

Father told me about his father ...

... the other night, -- that he remembers his father used to breakfast before the family at one time, on account of his business, and he with him. His father used to eat the under crusts of biscuits, and he the upper. His father died in 1801, aged forty-seven. When the war came on, he was apprentice or journeyman to a cooper who employed many hands. He called them together, and told them that on account of the war his business was ruined and he had no more work for them. So, my father thinks, his father went privateering.

After the war he went into business as a merchant, commending with a single hogshead of sugar. His shop was on Long Wharf. He was a short man, a little taller than my father, stout and very strong for his size. ...

-- Henry David Thoreau, "I to Myself" [1]


  1. I to myself: an annotated selection from the journal of Henry D. Thoreau By Henry David Thoreau, Jeffrey S. Cramer Page 288



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Jean Thoreau's Timeline

St. Helier, Isle of Jersey
August 19, 1781
Age 27
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, USA
Age 28
October 8, 1787
Age 33
Boston, Middlesex, Massachusetts, USA
Age 47
Concord, Massachusetts, United States