Capt. William French

Is your surname French?

Research the French family

Capt. William French's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


William French

Birthdate: (78)
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 Elizabeth Godfrey; Elizabeth French and Mary Mixer
Father of Francis French, Sr.; Elizabeth Ellis; Samuel French; Mary Hyde; John French and 9 others
Brother of Thomas French, IV; John French; Margaret Hill; Jerrymya French; Robert French and 10 others

Occupation: Captain, tailor
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


Came over to New England on the ship "Defence" with Shepard 1635. In 1652 he went to Billerica, MA. He was a Lt. and Capt. in the militia. nine children with Elizabeth Symmes.

First man chosen to "Deacon's seat" in 1659. Commissioner for country rates 1659. Selectman 1660 (served four years) On committee to examine children and servants for reading, religion, and catechism 1661 first rep. or deputy to general court in Boston 1663. Wrote "Strength Out of Weakness" published first in London, England and then republished in Mass. It is in the Historical Society collection.

He married second Mary Lathrop widow of John Stearns May 6, 1667 and had 4 more children

From: History of the Town of Surry, Cheshire County, New Hampshire, 1769-1922, With a Genealogical Register and Map of the Town, 1925, pp 634

"Lieut. WILLIAM FRENCH, Halstead Mar 15, 1602/3; d. Nov. 20, 1681. He came to America, 1635 in the "Defence"; settled a Cambridge, Mass.; subsequently he rem. to Billerica that state where he was on of the original settlers," and where he was a leading citizen in religious and town affairs. In 1660 he was the first deputy elected to represent that town in General Court at Boston. He was the first deacon in the town chrch, 1661."

view all 66

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