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Richard French's family

A primer on French lines in America


Lines are: Land Patents in Orange County

 Ms. Carol Willis of Newark, Ca. has very graciously provided me with a copy of Charles Newton French's compilation- Aaron French and his descendants.
Privately printed & copyrighted 1910, Chicago.

 While I think a copyright is good for only 16 yr., I have abridged rather than copied the content.

 Charles identifies 9 or 10 various  French lines:

  *William , b. Mar. 13/15 1603 Halsted England. Came  on the "Defence" Lived
at Cambridge. moved to Billerica. in 1653. 10 children incl. sons Francis, John, Jacob & Samuel .These sons were from His first marriage; all 4 daughters are from the second .Daniel Chester French is from this line.  Francis moved
to Darby, Conn.
 (I consider it within the realm of the possible that Samuel - or any of his
brothers xcept Francis - may have moved west to New York.)

Other lines are

* Thomas: from England , in Boston 1631/2. came on the ship Lion with John Winthrop, son of the Gov. 
 Thomas d. before 1639.

  *Edward, b. 1590. In 1640 moved to & d. 1674 at Salisbury Mass. Children are:
Joseph, John, Samuel and Hannah.  All children married.

  *Thomas was at Charlestown, Mass 1638; moved to Guilford, Conn >
1643-1650<  Of many children, Only Ebenezer and John lived to middle age.

  * John b.~1612 (prob. b. in Scotland) came to Dorchester, Mass. in 1639 .
Moved to Braintree 1640. 8 ch. incl. sons John, William & Samuel . His coat of Arms is like that of the French's of Thorndike and County Berwick.

  *Phillip Settled in NYC. A sea Captain. Son Phillip bought land at New Brunswick NJ.  Son Phillip , only  Dau. Susanna m. NJ. Gov. Wm. Livingston.
(I do not think any living French's come from this line)
And now- our potential line(s):
  *John French. Lived at Woodbridge NJ as early as 1670 d. 1713 Sons John and Richard. John lived at Middlesex; Rich'd at  Springfield, Essex, now UNION Co.
A Mr. Elston Marsh French of Plainfield and "others" are  noted to be desc. of Rich'd.

  *Thomas- signer of the Concessions- establishing the Quaker 's in West Jersey-  b. 1639 Northamptonshire, Eng. d. 1699 NJ. came in ship "Kent", settled near Burlington NJ.

  Thos. Jr. b. 1667 d. 1745. Sons Joseph (oldest)  married & lived at Shrewsbury; 2nd son  Thomas Jr. m. Mary Allen.

  {Writer believes Joseph who married Hannah Horn of Raritan Landing NJ ( and~owned a mill) and Francis were sons of Joseph.}

 * Francis lived at New Gretna NJ. b.<1740 Momouth Co. All his family drowned ina boat accident in 1777 except Francis and son Thomas.  Son Thomas 's children : William, Francis, Joseph, David, John , Thomas + Dau. Rachael, Ann, Mary, Sarah, Abigale & Eliza.   Younger Francis had 12 children apparently all in the early to mid 1840/50's

 * Aaron. b. Sept. 8 1739. Lived  New Providence NJ as early as 1764. Moved to Pa. < 1790. d. Aug 31 1805.
(NOTE: This is apparently a different Aaron than the one with a wife from Walpack, Sussex NJ)
French continues-
 (This is where the three brothers story started.)
 "One went South." He believes this refers to Francis of New Gretna;
he thinks "South" merely means S. Jersey.

He thinks Joseph of Raritan Landing, Aaron of New Providence & Francis of
New Gretna are brothers, sons of Joseph of  Shrewsbury.
 However,he allows Aaron might be a son of descendants of John of Middlesex.

 The booklet continues with a dissertation of Aaron's descendants.
 I think our line is descended from John French, Mason.

(1) Kreger, John M., Township of Woodbridge, New Jersey, 1669-1781, Colonia, NJ: St. George Press, 1976, pp. 1-9:






No City, Township or Community of any size should feel more honored in this Bi-Centennial year of 1976 than the Township of Woodbridge, New Jersey.


Why do we make this statement? For the very true fact is that our Township had an active part in the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War which severed the original thirteen Colonies from the control and domination of the British Crown.


As a matter of historical fact the Township of Woodbridge had its beginning over one hundred years prior to the Declaration of Independence.


It is believed that there is no spot in our nation no replete with historic lore than our town of Woodbridge.


The early history of New Jersey was closely tied to the rivalry for overseas possession between European nations during the so-called "Age of Exploration." In the seventeenth century, three powers, England, Sweden and Holland, established settlements in the Middle Atlantic area of what is now the united States.


England believed it had first claim to this territory. In 1498, only six years after Columbus discovered America, Cabot, an Italian explorer, in the employ of England had sailed along the Atlantic coast of North America, and claimed all of the land for his employer, England.


The English delayed over a century of time before taking any action to claim or settle any part of this land.


During the so-called "Age of Exploration" the English settled at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, and at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620.


The Hollanders or Dutch opened a settlement or trading post in New Amsterdam, now New York City, in 1624.


The Swedes, encouraged by their brilliant King Augustus Adolphus, founded in 1638 a settlement near Wilmington, Delaware and purchased from the native Indians in 1640 vast tracts of land from the present Cape May northward toward New Salem, New Jersey.


In 1658, Governor Peter Stuyvesant of New Amsterdam sent an expedition southward and forced the surrender of the Swedes to the Dutch.


The English throne looked with more than intense disfavor upon this intrusion of a foreign power between the English settlements in Massachusetts and Virginia.


The result of the ensuing conflict resulted in the founding of the English Colonies in New York and New Jersey, since in 1664 a fleet of four English frigates sailed into New York Bay ready for action against the Dutch.


Old Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch Governor, pounded his wooden leg against the floor, thrust two pistols in his belt and with pleading, then anger, demanded a stalwart defense. His fellow Dutch council shuddered at the prospect of bloodshed and left the meeting dodging through narrow lanes and alleys, starting at every dog bark and mistaking lamp posts for British grenadiers. Stuyvesant shouted until veins bulged on his forehead. The Dutch citizens nailed up their doors and a awainted [sic] their inevitable conquest by English, surrendering without a blow or a tear.


A General Nicols, a leader of the English forces in this conquest took charge of the territory in New Jersey from 1664 until the coming of Governor Philip Carteret in the late summer of 1665.


In 1660, Charles II ascended the English throne as poor as a royal church mouse could be. He gradually paid off his creditors as best he could and was also, particularly generous to his brother, James, the Duke of York. He gave his brother the land in America bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Delaware River on the west and south. This land was called New Jersey.


New Jersey was divided into two sections--East Jersey and West Jersey. East Jersey was that part east of a line drawn from down near Little Egg Harbor on the east coast in a northwesterly direction up to the Delaware Water Gap.


The Duke of York gave East Jersey to his friend, Lord George Carteret and the western section to Baron John Berkeley.


Prior to the coming of Carteret to East Jersey transactions had already taken place involving land purchase.


An indenture or agreement was made in 1664 between certain Indian Chiefs of Staten Island of one part and John Bailey, Daniel Denton and Luke Watson of Jamaica, Long Island on the other part for the purchase of a "parcel of land bounded on the south by a river commonly called the Raritan, on the east by the Kil Van Kull, to run north up the Kill to the first river, the Passaic. and run west into the country twice the length as it is broad".


The price paid the Indians was twenty fathoms of trading cloth, (a fathom equals six feet in length), two tailored coats, two guns, two kettles, two bars of lead, twenty handfuls of powder, and one year following the entry of Bailey, Denton and Watson into the area an additional four hundred fathoms of white wampum (cylindrical beads made from shells, pierced and strung, used as money and for ornaments, by North American Indians).


Shortly after 1664, Denton and his associates "made over" their purchase to Governor Carteret and John Ogden.


Sir George Carteret to whom the Duke of York had given East Jersey had made a relative, Philip Carteret, the Governor.


Governor Carteret did not arrive at his government of East Jersey until the end of the summer of 1665 at which time, as stated previously the province was under the jurisdiction of General Nicols.


On Carteret's arrival he summoned a council, granted land and administered the government on the plan of General Concessions, and took up his residence at Elizabethtown.


With Carteret came about thirty people, some of them servants. They brought supplies of various kinds including goods proper for the planting of a new country. On December 11, 1868 Governor Carteret sold the tract on which Woodbridge was settled to Daniel Pierce and a group of associates from New England.


Governor Philip Carteret wanted settlers to come to Woodbridge. He journeyed to Long Island and sent representatives to Connecticut and Massachusetts endeavoring to get settlers from those areas to come to East Jersey. He much preferred to have families who already had experience in the hardship of settling a new, raw area, over inexperienced folks from across the seas. He was successful in his endeavors and pioneer families from New England, especially from Massachusetts came down.


The agreement entered into by Carteret in December of 1666 was confirmed by a deed dated December 3. 1667 and on the same day Daniel Pierce was commissioned as a deputy surveyor to run the boundary lines and lay out the lands to the different associates.


On June 1,1669 a charter was granted and "thankfully accepted", which erected the tract, called Woodbridge, said to contain six miles square, into a Township to comprise not less than sixty families and by a resolution adopted in that day, "this number was not to be exceeded unless by special order of this town."


It has been recorded that the Charter given Woodbridge "was one of the most liberal over given in America". . . .


Some of the landmarks by which the boundaries were designated are, of course, unknown but a general idea of Woodbridge may be obtained from the following:


The line began at the mouth of the Rahway River (called Rawack) and followed the stream as high as the tide flowed to a fresh-water brook running west, north-west, "where there stands a beech tree that is marked on the four sides of it." From this tree the line ran straight west through one large swamp and two small ones until it reached a walnut stake in an open field. This stake was marked with two notches and a cross. The distance from the beach tree to the stake was five and one-half miles. The line turned sharply to the south from this point, running through what was known as "Dismal Swamp" and striking the Raritan River at a distance of seven and one half miles from the walnut stake aforementioned. The line now comes within ten chains west of two red cliffs on the opposite side of the river. (a chain length is about seventy feet).


The Charter then gives the general bounds, with allowance for waste places and highways. The Township was to contain six miles square which amounts to 23,040 acres, English measure.


The proprietors reserved to themselves half of the gold and silver found in any New Jersey mines.


Freedom of religion was guaranteed by the Charter and land was set aside for the maintenance of a free school. In addition. land for building a church thereon; for use as a church yard; for the erection of a school house; for a market place; and other public places were donated to the Township and forever exempted from taxes. The creation of a township court was authorized. Sections in the articles in regard to free trade, war, election of deputies, liberty to sell and move from the place were all substantially adopted in this generous Charter.


Of the first group of New Englanders coming to their new home, the majority came from the vicinity of Newbury, Massachusetts. They named their new home Woodbridge in honor of Reverend John Woodbridge, the assistant pastor of their Congregational Church.


"An acknowledged author of early New Jersey history relates that Reverend John Woodbridge came to the then unnamed Woodbridge area accompanied by five men from Massachusetts in the year 1661, three years earlier than any other related incident pertaining to our Township."


"The men who accompanied Reverend Woodbridge were John Martin, Hopewell Hall, John Pike, John and Charles Gilman. They built five log cabins and a many sided log house to he used as a church meeting place. These houses were constructed in an area which several years later was known as the "Kirk Green". When the building activities were completed, the group returned to Massachusetts."


"ln 1663 they returned to this area bringing their wives end children. They sailed by boat to Elizabethtown and then set out on foot carrying bedding, furniture and household equipment. It was a difficult journey over very rough overgrown terrain. Darkness overcame them before their arrival and when they reached the log house, weary and worn they retired forfeiting an evening meal."






Governor Philip Carteret called together in 1668 a council and assembly for the purpose of publishing laws for the government of the province. John Bishop and Robert Dennis, both of the earliest Woodbridge settler group were members of the assembly. Some of the first laws as published were in substance:


That persons resisting authority should be punished at the discretion of the Court.

That men from sixteen to sixty years of age, should provide themselves with arms on penalty of one shilling for the first weeks neglect, and two shillings for each week after.


That for burglary or highway robbery, the first offense, burning in the hand, the second offense burning in the forehead, in both to make restitution, and for the third offense death.


For stealing, the first offense, treble restitution, and the same for the second and third offense: with such increase of punishment as the court saw cause, even to death, if the thief appeared to be incorrigible; but if not, and unable to make restitution they were to be sold for satisfaction or to receive corporal punishment.


That undutiful children smiting or cursing their parents except provoked thereunto for self preservation, upon complaint of, and proof from their parents or either one of them should be punished with death.


That for night walking and reveling after the hour of nine, the parties to be secured by the constable or other officers till morning and then not giving a satisfactory account to the magistrate, to be bound over to the next court, and then receive such punishment as should be inflicted.


That no son, daughter, maid or servant should marry without the consent of his or their parents, master or overseer without being three times published in some public meeting or kirk near the parties abode or notice being set up in writing at some public house near where they lived for fourteen days before, then to be solemnized by some approved minister, justice or chief officer: who, on penalty of twenty pounds, and to be put out of office were to marry one who had not followed those directions.






Grants of land were made to the settlers--a grant of 100 acres was called a farm, a larger grant was known as a plantation.


We repeat the list of Freeholders of Woodbridge supposed to comprise actual settlers to whom patents were granted in 1670. or thereabouts, with the amount of land each man recieved [sic]. No doubt the land was laid out in plots and selection was made by the drawing of lots as was suggested in the Charter. Occupancy of a grant for seven years entitled the occupant to ownership.


                                    Acres                                        Acres

John Adams                  97         John Smith, Millwright*   512

Ephraim Andrews           98         John Smith                    176

Thomas Auger               167       Abraham Tappen            95

Obadiah Ayres               171       Israel Thorne                  96

Samuel Baker                170       John Watkins                92

Joshua Bradley              171       John Whitaker               91

John Bishop*                 470       John Allen, Minister        97

John Bishop Jr.              77         Wm. Brugley                 186

M. Bunn                        165       Hugh Dun                      92

Thomas Bloomfield         326       John French                  15

Thos. Bloomfield Jr.        92         Daniel Grasse                164

John Bloomfield             90         Jonathan Haynes           97

John Conger                  170       Henry Jaques*   }           368

John Cromwell               173       Henry Jaques Jr.}

Wm. Compton               174       Henry Lessenby             88

Robert Dennis*              448       George Little                  100

John Dennis                  107       David Makany                168

Samuel Dennis              94         Matthew Moore              177

John Dilly                      94         Elisha Parker                 182

Jonathan Dunham          213       Daniel Pierce*                456

Rehobeth Garnett           448       Joshua Pierce*              30

Samuel Hale                  167       Robert Rogers               91

Elisha Ilsey                   172       Samuel Smith                103

Stephen Kent*               249       Isaac Tappen                 172

Stephen Kent Jr.            104       John Taylor                    92

Hugh Marsh*                 320       Robert Vanquelin           175

Samuel Moore               356       Nathan Webster             93

Benj. Parker                  105       Richard Worth               172

John Pike*                     308       Capt. Philip Carteret       313

John Pike Jr.                 91         John Ilsey                      97

Daniel Robins                173       Jahn Martin, Sr.             255

John Trewman               97         For the Ministry             200

Lords Proprietors           1,000    Maintenance of Schools 100


*This asterisk denotes the nine original associates who were granted 240 acres of upland and 40 of meadow, in addition to the regular allotment.


Of the nine original associates families, five of the nine have burial plots in the White Church Cemetery that are still recognizable. They are as follows:


Kent--The Kents are descendants of Stephen Kent of Newbury, Massachusets, who came from Southampton, England in the ship "Confidence" in 1638 with his wife, Margery and four or five servants. The interments in the Kent plot date hack to 1761.


Marsh--Hugh Marsh, carpenter, came from Newbury, Massachusetts. Both Hugh and his son Geroge are mentioned in the town records as early as 1667. The name of Mary Marsh, a daughter of Hugh, is recorded in the marriage registry of March 27, 1691 when she became the wife of Isaac Tappen.


There are sixteen interments in the Marsh plot.


Pike--Captain John Pike of Newbury came to Woodbridge in 1665 and was one of its most prominent men. He was appointed a judge and was on Governor Carteret's staff for many years. He died in January 1688 or 1689. No monument marks his grave but the grave of his son, Judge John Pike who died in August 1714 is marked and well preserved as are those of six other members of the family interred in the Pike plot.


Major John Pike of Revolutionary War fame and General Zebulon Montgomery Pike, famed explorer and army officer were of this family. Pike's Peak in Colorado is named after General Zebulon Montgomery Pike since he discovered and mapped it in 1806. He was killed in 1813 while fighting against the British in the "War of 1812."


An interesting anecdote is on record regarding Captain John Pike. "He (Captain John Pike), filled several offices and was an active citizen in Newbury. On one occasion, in May 1688, it is recorded that "John Pike shall pay two shillings and six pence for departing from this (town) meeting without leave contemptiously."


These early settlers were a stern, disciplined, rules-abiding folks.


Jaques--The birth of several children to Henry Jaques was recorded between 1874 and 1679. Henry was probably the son of Henry Jaques, Sr. of Newbury who came there in 1640 [sic].


In passing, and for future records. it is of interest to note that a part of the tract on which the new Woodbridge Shopping Center between old Metuchen Avenue and Route 9 is built was for many years identified as the Jaques Farm, later as the Jaques Clay Bank and through the years up to about 1960 was the production source of millions of tons of sand and first quality fire clays.


There are twenty six interments in the Jaques plat in the White Church cemetery going back to 1722, and there are also additional members of this family interred in the Trinity Episcopal Churchyard.


Smith--It is difficult to determine whether the Smiths whose name are found in the records are all of the same family.


One of the earliest settlers was John Smith, Millwright. He was quite a prominent and active citizen. He acted as Moderator of the first town meetings which were held in his home and he was afterward Deputy of the Assembly and an Associate Judge. He was one of the original Associates and is named in the Agreement as "John Smith of Barnstable."


In 1643, John Married Susann Hinckley, whose brother Thomas later became Governor of New Jersey. Their children were Samuel born April 1644 and twelve others, born between 1644 and 1668, viz. Sarah, Ebenezer, Mary, Doreas, John, Shuball, John, Benjamin, Ichabod, Elizabeth, Thomas and Joseph. Samuel, Thomas and Ichabod Smith all had children whose births are recorded in the old Woodbridge records.


In 1677, after residing in Woodbridge for approximately twelve years, John returned to New England having exchanged his house and land here for a house and lot in Barnstable belonging to Nathaniel Fitz Randolph. Thus, a noted first settler left Woodbridge and another arrived which was to play an important role in the early town history.


(2) Dally, Joseph W., Woodbridge and Vicinity, New Brunswick, NJ: A.E. Gordon, 1873, p. 20:


Ancient Woodbridge seems to have been well supplied with mechanics. Among them we notice five carpenters, viz.: John Ilsly, Samuel Hale, John Bishop, Henry Jaquis, and Hugh March; one shoemaker, John Watkins; four blacksmiths, John Crandel, John Robinson, Daniel Pierce, and John Taylor; one mason, Benjamin Cromwell; two tanners, William Elston and John Mootry; and three weavers, Samuel Dennis, John Robeson, and Adam Hude. John French was a dealer in bricks, and was elected a Freeholder, on condition that he should furnish the Woodbridge men with bricks in preference to all others. He was a mason by trade, and no doubt plied his vocation. Good-natured John Smith was a millwright. There was another man bearing this name (as there always will be), and the neighbors tried to keep them unmixed by addressing the latter as John Smith, Scotchman. Benjamin Parker was a joiner. "Benony Blacklich," who came into the settlement in 1671, was a shoemaker. Elisha Parker is mentioned as a merchant. Two doctors of medicine prescribed for the ailing--George Lockhart and Peter Dessigny.

 But why did our French get only 15 acres of the original grants????



French marriages in NJ  (from Distant Cousin)

  • French, Benjamin ~ 1742 + Hall, Martha / (Bordentown) /  29-Jan 1742
         French, Charles ~ 1783 (Gloucester County) + Stoakes, Sabella 27-May 1783
  • French, Hannah ~ 1792 Evans, Nathan / (Burlington County) 7-Mar 1792
  • French, Jackson Brown ~ 1790 (Burlington County) +Lawrence, Catherine  
    1-Oct 1790
  • French, James ~ 1779 (Burlington County) +Ferguson, Sarah 12-Oct 1779
  • French, Jemimah ~ 1790 +Borton, Jacob / (Burlington) / [N/A] 21-Apr 1790
  • French, Joseph ~ 1749 + Horn, Hannah / (Raritan Landing) 3-Jan 1749
  • French, Mary ~ 1751 + Farrell, James / (Freehold) / 11-Sep 1751
  • French, Mary ~ 1759 + Creighton, Hugh / (Gloucester) / 10-Aug 1759
  • French, Thomas ~ 1733 + Mason, Isabel / (Salem) / 13-Jul 1733
  • French, Thomas ~ 1746 + Elkenton, Jamimah (Burlington)8-May 1746
  • French, Thomas ~ 1774  Peasner, Hannah (Cape May) 14-Nov 1774
  • French, Uriah ~ 1771 + Ingersall, Rachel 29-Jun 1771
  • French, William ~ 1742 (Middlesex County) + Seabring, Antie / (Middlesex County) / 28-Dec 1742
  • French, William ~ 1748 + Taylor, Lydia / (Bordentown) 20-Sep 1748