An American Family History

Henry French


Henry French was born about 1759 in Stratford, Fairfield, Connecticut. He was the son of John French and Elizabeth Nichols.

Charles French (1774),
Lucy French (1778, married John McLean),
Francis French (1785, married Jane Sills),
Mary French (1788, married Melvin Buker),
Abigail French (1790)
David French (1794)
John French (1796, married Polly Mallory), and
Eunice French (1800, married Ira Patterson).

In 1812, Charles French was in the Leeds County Militia. On February 6, 1813, Charles was taken prisoner in a raid by the Americans and taken to Ogdensburg.

Henry died in 1855.

United Empire Loyalists were Americans who remained loyal to King George III and the British Empire. They moved to Canada after the American Revolution.



from Ancestors And Descendants Of Samuel French, The Joiner Of Stratford, Connecticut by Mansfield Joseph French

Henry French, the Loyalist
In the Vital Records and Biographies, Henry French, the Loyalist, is given as Henry, son of John and Elizabeth (Nichols) French and grandson of Samuel, the joiner, and Mary (Price) French....

In 1908 Albert French of Ottawa, Canada, a great-grandson of Capt. Jeremiah French of Cornwall, Ontario, stated that

Corporal Henry French comes, as you read in history, and disappears; we know nothing about him in our family, and yet he belonged to the same Regiment as my Great Grandfather. He has always been a mystery to me.

An old French family chart received in 1931 from Herbert Greer French of Cincinnati, Ohio, made either by his uncle, John Betts French of Cleveland, Ohio, or the latter father, Jeremiah French, great-grandson of Samuel French, the Joiner, gives a Henry French, son of John and grandson of Samuel French, the Joiner. From the birth or baptism records of the other ten children of John, the birth of Henry French, according to the order of the names in the chart, must have occurred in 1754 or 1755. Henry was probably named for his step-grandfather, Henry Hawley. . .

His [John's] son Henry is supposed to have Joined the 3rd. Company of the Loyal Rangers under Capt. Justus Sherwood of Newtown. The muster roll gives June 25, 1777 as the date of enlistment of Henry French the Loyalist. According to the military records he served throughout the Revolutionary War. He states, in his second petition for military lands in Canada, dated March 1, 1791 at Matilda, now Iroquois, in Dundas Co., Ontario, that he was a soldier in Major Jessup's Corps, having Joined the Royal Standard under General Burgoyne in August 1777; that he was taken prisoner at the Capitulation, evidently the defeat at the Battle of Saratoga. After his release, he returned to the British army and, in 1780, is on a list of soldiers at Point au Fer, near Montreal. In November 1781 he is listed as a corporal at Veschere.

After the Peace, in 1782, he may have returned to the United States. He married in 1782 or 1783, but the name of his wife is unknown. Evidently he was living with his family in Canada before 1790, as his name has not been found upon the rolls of the first United States Census, taken in that year.

He states, in his petition of 1791 to the Canadian Land Commissioners, that he has received, on his petition of Oct. 6, 1790, only 200 acres of land for himself and family of three children and he prays that the commisioners grant him 400 acres more.

His third petition dated Oct. 12, 1797 gives his residence as Augusta (Township of Augusta in Grenville Co., Ontario) and states: "Your Memorialist has a wife and three children born before 1789 who never drew lands from the Government."

He asks for 200 acres of land in the Eastern District of Ontario. While this application was promptly confirmed, the only grant, or deed of land to Henry French recorded in the Office of the Crown Lands of Ontario, or in any County Record Office, is for 200 acres, being Lot No. 25 in the 10th Concession in the Town of Kitley, Leeds County, Ontario. The surveyor's record, locating this land is dated Feb. 24, 1801.

Henry French sold this land to Zenas Lee May 9 1805. Between the years 1806 and 1824, Charles, Mary Buker, Lucy McLean, Abigail, Francis, David, Eunice Patterson and John, children of "Henry French, Loyalist, of the Town of Augusta" were each granted 200 acres of land upon petitions previously filed, stating that the applicant was twenty-one years of age and had taken the oath of allegiance to the Canadian Government.

The records indicate that Henry French and family lived on the north bank of the St. Lawrence River between the present village of Iroquois, Dundas Co., and Maitland, Town of Augusta, Grenville Co. Ontario, about twenty-two miles apart, for over thirty years, yet careful search of the Canadian records has failed to reveal any other trace of Henry French or his wife as residents, or the exact location of their home. It would seem impossible that Henry French could have lived there, apparently from 1790 to 1820, without some record of land transfer, legal action, church record or Town notice, that would lead to the location of his home and determination of his wife's name.

Three of the daughters were married when they petitioned for land;
Mary had married Melvin Buker,
Lucy married John McLean and
Eunice's husband was Ira Patterson of the Town of Yonge, Leeds Co.

The 1861 Census record gives John French, 65 years of age, and his wife, Polly, aged 54 years, living in Mallorytown, Township of Yonge, Leeds Co., Ontario. His affidavit, made In 1817, upon applying for 200 acres of land, states that he is the son of Henry French, Loyalist, of the Town of Augusta, that he is twenty-one years of age and over? and resides in the Township of Raleigh (Kent Co, Ontario) and was formerly a resident of the Township of Yonge, (Leeds Co., Ontario. He made the affidavit in the Town of Elizabethtown (Leeds County), now the City of Brockvllle, about twelve miles east of Mallorytown.

Henry's eldest son, Charles, is believed to have been that Charles French of Elizabethtown, now Brockville, who served as a private In the 2nd Regiment of Leeds Co. Militia in the War of 1812 and, on Feb. 6, 1813, was, 212 with others at Elizabethtown, taken prisoner by Captain Forsyth and his American troops. The Department of Public Records and Archives of Canada in Toronto states that Charles, son of Henry French the Loyalist, lived in 1810 In the Township of Bastard, Leeds Co., served in the War of 1812, returning to Bastard that year. The name of his wife and records of their deaths have not been found. . .

Is it possible that Henry the Loyalist tried to establish a home in the Mohawk Valley of New York State? Consider this circumstantial evidence. In the United States Census of 1800 for the Town of Charlestown, Montgomery Co., New York, adjoining the Town of Johnstown on the west, is the enumeration of Henry French and family consisting of

one male, the head of the family, between 26 and 45 years of age;
one male between 16 and 26 years of age;
three male under 10 years;
one female between 26 and 45 years,
one female between 16 and 26 years and
two females under 10 years of age.

If one daughter of Henry the Loyalist was born after 1800, or the enumerator made one error, as was frequently done in the early years, we have a remarkable coincidence in families. The land and probate records at Fonda, the present county seat of Montgomery Co., at Schenectady and at Albany, N. Y, , contain no record of Henry French. . .

In 1807 Gershom French, a nephew of John French, assumed to be the father of Henry, the Loyalist, was granted one thousand acres of land one mile north of Charleston and Charleston Lake. We may assume that Henry, the only son of John French to espouse the British cause, desired to return to the old allegiance. Yet, when he realized, after 1786, that he and his children were entitled to land grants In Canada, he became reconciled to frontier life north of the St Lawrence River.

No record of his parents has been found after the Revolutionary War period. They may have settled north of the Mohawk River and Henry may have visited the Mohawk Valley. The enumerator of the 1800 census may have known that Henry and his family were living north of the St Lawrence River and recorded them as living in the Town of Charlestown .. .

Dr. Harley Ellsworth French and Dr. Burton Lee French, grandsons of John and Polly (Mallory) French, recall that their father, David Scott French, born in 1833 in Rossle, St Lawrence Co., N. Y. told of seeing his grandfather, Henry French, the Loyalist, a little old man, wearing a peculiarly shaped red cap, while seated on the porch of his home; that he died at about ninety-four years of age, when David was in his teens. Assuming that David was fifteen when his grandfather died, Henry was born about the year 175?. David said his family visited kinsmen in Vermont.

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©Roberta Tuller 2023
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