Thomas French, Son of Jacob French and Susan French born October, 1584 in Assington, Suffolk, England and married Susan Riddlesdale French, daughter of John Riddlesdale and Dorcas Riddlesdale also of Assington. The largest contingent to arrive in Ipswich from the same village were 15 men and women from Assington, where the Rev. Nathaniel Rogers, who would become a minister in Ipswich, had been the minister just prior to his emigration to the New World. This group included Thomas French Jr. and his father, Thomas French. Sr., John Proctor, Mark Quilter, and John Wyatt. Thomas French Sr., a tailor, took the freeman’s oath at Boston, relocated to to Ipswich January 27, 1939. He was granted a house lot on today’s Washington St. between Thomas Scott and Robert Mussey.
Thomas Franklin Waters wrote the history of the lot: “The house of Thomas French was inherited by his son Thomas, the Constable of the Town, who was arrested with the Andros resistants, and was imprisoned and fined for his participation in that affair. John Stiles and Mary, and Esther French, seamster, all of Boxford, sold Dr. Samuel Wallis “the homestead of our father French, two acres” Aug. 1, 1718 (34: 198). The widow, Sarah Rust, daughter and heir of Wallis, sold this lot to Nathaniel Rust, bounded west by Nathaniel Farley, Jan. 4, 1794 (158: 219). Rust sold to Aaron Kimball, and he conveyed to Robert Kimball, and Ebenezer 3d, March 1, 1814 (203: 32). Ebenezer conveyed his interest to Robert, Sept. 29, 1836 (295: 68) and it was called the “Rust lot, ‘ ‘ in a conveyance (291 : 289). Captain Robert Kimball included this lot in the sale to the Eastern Railroad Co. of the whole corner, Oct. 21, 1836 (295:116).” This establishes the exact location of the Thomas French homestead near the intersection of Depot Square and Washington St., formerly Bridge St. (Map)
Thomas French Sr. died November 05, 1639 in Ipswich and his wife Susan died August 10, 1658. The children of Thomas and Susan French were:
- Thomas French Jr., married Mary Scudmore in Gloucester, England
- Alice French Howlett, married Sgt. Thomas Howlett whose first lot was on Agawam Ave. by the Town Wharf. They relocated to Topsfield. She died June 26, 1666 in Topsfield. Howlett St. in Topsfield is named for the family, as was the location of a house constructed for John French about 1675.
- Amee French Gage married Sgt. John Gage, died in Ipswich. The first board of government in Ipswich consisted of Mr. John Winthrop, Mr. Bradstreet, Mr. Denison, Goodman Perkins, Goodman Scott, John Gage and Mr. Wade, chosen to order business for the next three months.
- Dorcas French Craft widow of Christopher Peake of Roxbury; married second Griffin Craft, of Roxbury
- Susan French Kingsbury, married Henry Kingsbury, Jr. The long house at 52-54 High St. is on the lot granted to Henry Kingsbury.
- Ann French Hardy wife of Thomas Hardy and Thomas Hardy, II. Died in Bradford (part of Haverhill). Thomas Hardy was apparently indentured to John Winthrop Jr. and had a house lot at the end of today’s Agawam Ave., with Thomas Howlett’s lot north.
- Margaret French, (died young)
- John French relocated to Dorchester and married Grace Kingsley and Freedom Mary French, died in Northampton in 1697.
- Mary Smith, wife of George Smith of Ipswich, died February 01, 1696, buried in Deerfield, Franklin County, Massachusetts
- Gapinski Ancestry
Thomas French 2 was a leader in the revolt against Governor Andros for which Ipswich is known as the “Birthplace of American Independence.” Warrants for their arrest were issued, and the first was against the Constable Thomas French, John Appleton Moderator and town clerk John Andrews, the “Disaffected & evil Disposed persons within ye said Town as yet unknown on ye 23rd day of August last past, being met & assembled together at Ipswich aforesaid; who Did in a most factious & Seditious & Contemptuous manner then & there vote & agree that they were not willing nor would not Choose a Commissioner as by a Warrant From his Majesty’s Treasurer & Receiver General in pursuance of ye laws of this his Majesty’s Dominion to ye Constable & Selectmen of ye said Town.”
Warrants were soon issued for Samuel Appleton, William Goodhue, Robert Kinsman, the Rev. John Wise of Chebacco, Clerk, and William Hewlett of Ipswich, Husbandman. From the deposition of Thomas French, he and his associates were taken to Boston when arrested, examined by the Governor, and then committed to the stone jail in Boston, where they were kept until their examination before the Council, and then returned to it, awaiting their trial. Thomas French was sentenced not to bear office: fined £15 and released on £500 bail subject to good behavior for one year.
Sources and further reading:
- Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by Thomas Franklin Waters
- Hammatt Papers: Early inhabitants of Ipswich, Mass. 1633-1700 by Abraham Hammatt
- Bob Waite, The Local News
- Geni: Thomas French
- Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts; 1635 – 1681
- Waters: Thomas French lot
- Arrival of the English, excerpts from Crotchets of Division by Alison Vannah
3 thoughts on “Thomas and Susan French of Ipswich, their sons and daughters”
Gordon, I am emailing to ask if you can unsubscribe me from Historic Ipswich. I have enjoyed it for more than a year, but I am paring down my subscriptions. I have tried unsubscribing several times, but WordPress doesn’t list Historic Ipswich as one of the sites I subscribe to so I can’t unsubscribe. Thanks so much and continued success with the site.
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We would be amiss if we were not to comment on how much we enjoy the stories that you choose to post on Historic Ipswich. Every one of them has been interesting. The most recent article about the French family was particularly fascinating to us in that my husband, who is currently authoring a book called “Footprints into Newport Township,” has been able to connect the French and Riddlesdale families that you mention, with his own family who had settled in Ipswich in early 1600s, i.e., the Heard/Hurd families. We have inherited records that had been kept hidden (explained in the book) from that period, to today, by the Heard/Hurd families and has not been shared with any university or historical association to our knowledge. The dash between the dates of birth and death on a tombstone means nothing until it is brought to life. That is what his book is about — the settling of Newport Township by the Leaders and Associates with their families who settled in a virgin forested area of land known at the time as Lower Canada. In 2019 we were in Ipswich to do some research and wish we had assigned a longer time frame. There is so much to take in.
Please keep your fascinating articles coming in your Historic Ipswich postings.
If you wish to see some details of the French/Riddlesdale/Heard connections, please contact us separately via email.
Sincerely, Sandra Hurd
Thank you for this well-written, well-researched concise article (and especially thank you for the references). As a descendant of the French and Howlett families, it is rare to come across such detail.