French was the name of my maternal grandfather and I have finally had a chance to look into this side of my family. The immediate reaction is "wow, what a lot of children."
- originally coming from, or belonging to France
- ethnic name for someone from France, Middle English frensche, or in some cases perhaps a nickname for someone who adopted French airs
- variant of Anglo-Norman French Frain
John Patrick French immigrated to Queensland Australia in 1855, arriving in Moreton Bay, Queensland with his wife Margaret Welsh and four children, even though they left England with only three. What an effort it must have been for Margaret to prepare for and take this voyage while pregnant and go through the whole birth experience at sea on a crowded ship. While the voyage is listed as lasting 111 days I have not yet found any indication as to when during this voyage their son was born.
John Patrick was born in about 1816 in co Wexford Ireland. He immigrated to Liverpool in England in about 1840 after marrying. It is not clear, at this point, if his parents and siblings all immigrated with him or it was just John Patrick and his wife Margaret. While in Liverpool, Catharine Mary Ann, John Joseph and Luke Lewis were born. What motivated the next big move for this French family is unclear, but they boarded the Ship Sabrina
in the middle of 1855 and arrived in Queensland, Australia, November 27, 1855. During the voyage Joseph Henry was born.
John Patrick's children all had many children of their own. Catharine May Anne married Nathaniel Hemmings and had 6 children. John Joseph married twice. With Mary Maguire and then Ellen Gertrude Gregory he had at least 14 children. The last (but not least) of these, Frederick William French, is my grandfather. Luke Lewis married Susannah Abay Robinson and had at least 10 children and Joseph Henry married Mary Jane Ring and had at least 10 children.
On the 1851 UK Census, while living in Liverpool, John Patrick's occupation is shown as Warehouse Porter. On his sons death certificate John Patrick's occupation is shown as Carpenter. Training he could have received in Australia. Both John Joseph French and my grandfather Frederick William French were carpenters.
The family name French seems to be prominent in co Wexford, Ireland and there are numerous references to this on the internet. Something to follow up on later. There are also lots of descendants of the 34 known French children from John Patrick's family and while I have met only a few of these, it provides lots of places to go researching.
If you have family history on this French family and want to share it with me please use the Contact button on the left to send me an email.