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William French Jr. (abt. 1606 - 1681)

Captain William French Jr.
Born about in Halstead, Essex, Englandmap
Brother of and [half]
Husband of — married [date unknown] (to 31 Mar 1668) in Englandmap
Husband of — married 6 May 1669 in Billerica, Middlesex, Massachusettsmap
Descendants descendants
Died at about age 75 in Billerica, Middlesex, Massachusetts Bay Colonymap
Profile last modified | Created 6 Jan 2010
This page has been accessed 9,722 times.
The Puritan Great Migration.
William French Jr. migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1620-1640). (See The Great Migration (Series 2), by R. C. Anderson, vol. 2, p. 588)
Join: Puritan Great Migration Project
Discuss: pgm


William French Jr. is related to US President George Bush. Here is the trail.

William French was born in 1605 or early 1606 and baptized on 06 April 1606, Halstead, Essex. [1]. This would have made him 30 years old when embarked on the ship Defence in 1635 (and that is exactly the age that is recorded on the passenger list). His age was inflated about 3 years over his actual age when he made his will much later in life. His mother (first wife of William French Sr.) is unknown, but is sometimes said to be Elizabeth. Source:

(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. [2]

Children (by Elizabeth Unknown):

  1. Elizabeth, b. abt. 1629, m. Dedham, MA 19 Sep 1650 Richard Ellis, d. Dedham 21 Oct 1694
  2. Mary, b. abt. 1633, d. Cambridge 27 May 1672, m. Jonathan Hyde, b. abt. 1626, d. Newton, MA 5 Oct 1711
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. Hannah, b. Cambridge 12 Apr 1641, d. 20 Jun 1642
  7. Hannah, b. Cambridge 16 Feb 1644, m. Billerica, MA 6 Sep 1661 John Brackett. Died Billerica 9 May 1674.[3]
  8. Samuel, b. Cambridge 3 Dec 1645, d. 15 Jul 1646
  9. 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):
  10. Mary, b. Billerica, MA April 3, 1670, m. ____ Sharp
  11. Sarah, b. Billerica Oct. 29, 1671, m. May 6, 1691 Joseph Crosby
  12. Abigail, b. Billerica April 14, 1673, d. April 13, 1674
  13. 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:

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


“French, Capt. William, 1604-1681, Cambridge and Billerica, Mass. Lieut., 1647. A. & H. A. Co., 1638. Junior Sergt., 1643. First Sergt., 1646. Ens., 1650. Representative, 1660-’63. Capt. Of Art. Co., 1681."[5]

In 1639, member[5] of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts[6]


  1. Baptismal Record, Essex [(]
  2. French Family Association Website
  3. Vital Records of Billerica, p. 345.
  4. French Family Association Family Tree
  5. 5.0 5.1 General register of the Society of colonial wars, 1899-1902; Society of colonial wars. New York: H. K. Brewer & co. 1902. p. 573.]

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Comments: 17

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French-2051 and French-20 appear to represent the same person because: It is generally accepted that William French-20 of Cambridge and Billerica, was the brother of John French-742, and the half brother of Francis French-1835. French-3509 and French-2080 each have a son William (French-20 and French-2051).

I am recommending that French-3509 and French-2080 be merged, and then that their duplicate sons William, French-2051 and French-20 be merged.

This will have the net effect of making William French-20 the brother of John French-742 and half brother of Francis French-1835

posted by Kay (Johnson) Wilson

The origins of William French are unknown. I quote another researcher: "There are so many discrepancies and suppositions concerning the English ancestry of William FRENCH that it is best to omit all references to possibilities until such time as the conflicts are resolved." He definitely was not the William French reported in earlier genealogies as baptized in Halstead, Essex, England, on 15 Mar 1603; as a 1637 London, England, will for another William French has been found and proved to be the one born in Halstead. See NEHGR 65:284-86 and TGM.

posted by Steven Losey
edited by Steven Losey
Baptism record if someone would like to add it. Essex, England. rather than Essexshire. Son of William.

Halstead : St Andrew : Register of unspecified type : "Parish Register" database, FreeREG ( : viewed 14 Mar 2021) baptism William French 06 Apr 1606

posted by Michael Christmas
Done. Thanks Michael !

Possibly 'Essex' location is contemporary to the record, and 'Essexshire' was of the Baptismal time?

posted by Norm Davis III
Essex has never been a "shire"; Wikipedia has a very good overview and explanation of shires and non-shires at .
posted by Christopher Childs
Please mark daughter Mary French-176 as PGM, she emigrated 1635 on the "Defense" with her parents Em & Elizabeth as per GM book Vol II page 588
posted by Beryl Meehan
done, thank you Beryl........................ :-)
Two FAG Links William French and also here Captain William French

One is sponsored the other isn’t and no gravestone photo unfortunately

posted by Andrew Simpier
edited by Andrew Simpier
No photo so really cannot be used as source, unfortunately.
Jill—in the absence of any new information, I do not believe a change is in order. Your comment can stand as a sign that the information on this profile may be incorrect, which was already noted before you made your suggestion.
posted on French-2051 (merged) by Bob Nichol
Anderson states that Richard "was probably related to William and John in some way." I think he should be detached until further evidence is obtained.
posted on French-2051 (merged) by Jill (Neibaur) Olson
Someone did post this on French-742, which makes a good case for William being the father of both, but not of Richard. (DNA results are different.)

posted by Cathy (Kies) Bennett
There is a WikiTree profile for William French's brother John: French-742. But the two men have different fathers. According to Anderson's Great Migration Directory, page 122, the origins of the 2 men are not known. Should we remove William's "parents", French-3509 and Unknown-349728, and add Unknown French-2080 as his father, in order to show that the two men are brothers?
posted by Kay (Johnson) Wilson
Thanks Cathy. What's your source for this info ?
posted by Jillaine Smith
I believe that the Sarah that married John Trull was actually born in Oct 1637 and was the daughter of William's brother John.
posted by Cathy (Kies) Bennett
William French is said to have been born in 1605 or early 1606 and baptized on 06 April 1606, Halstead, Essexshire. His mother (first wife of William French Sr.) is unknown. Source:
posted by Kenneth Kinman