Henry Biddall Swanzy.

The families of French of Belturbet and Nixon of Fermanagh, and their descendants online

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of the executors therein named, and whereas there is by the order
of Dr. Dudley Loftus, Judge or Commissary of the said court, the words

(by reason he was one of those persons who stole & took away all my
cash in the time of my great fitt of sickness) also omitted in the will
engrossed & annexed to the probate granted to the sd. John Warburton.
If therefore the said John Warburton, Esq. shall save keepe harmlesse,
& indemnifyed the sd. most Eevd. Father in God his substitute his
Register & all other officers of the said Court from any danger or trouble
that may arise by reason of the omission aforesaid that then this
obligation to be void or else to be in full force and virtue in law.

" Jo. Warburton.
" B. Burton.
" John Molaneux."

Mathew French, married at St. Catherine's, Dublin, 8 July, 1644,

Elinor, dau. of Johnston, and widow of Daniel Desminieres, of

Dublin, 2nd son of Robert Desminieres, of Roueji, freeman of Dublin,
1639, and brother of John Desminieres, Lord Mayor of Dublin, 1666.*
By her he had five children : —

I. RICHARD, see Chapter II., p. 7.

II. MATHEW, ancestor of the famiHes of Pigott, Nixon, Swanzy.

Reynolds, etc. See Chapter III., p. 17, and pp. 83-127.
III. DANIEL, ancestor of the famihes of Britton, Le Hunte, and
Stanford, see Chapter IV., pp. :26-33.

I. MARY, m. 1672, John Warburton, M.P., ancestress of the
Athlumney family, see Chapter V., pp. 34-7.

II. ELINOR, m. 1682, James Tisdall, M.P., ancestress of the families of
Voules, Tisdall, Marlay and Rutland, see Chapter VI., p. 38.

* Pedigree of Desminieres, by the Rev. W. Ball Wright, in The Irish Builder,
1 Dec., 1887. Mrs. Matthew French had by her first marriage, besides John and
4nne, who d. young, a son Robert Desminieres. b. 16 July. 1640, married widow
of — Hunter of Sligo, and d intestate there in 1693.


KiCHARD French axd his Dfsckndants.
" The Good Lord Mayor."
The eldest son of Mathew French, senior, was : —

RICHARD FRENCH, of DubUn, merchant, J.P., Co. Cavan, 5 May,

1681, {Liber Munerum), bapt. at St. Catherine's, Dublin, 6 July, 1645

married, deed dated 24 March, 1675, Mary, dau. of Major Humphrey

Perrott,* of Dromhonie, Co. Cavan, High Sheriff, Co. Cavan, 1660 and

1661, by Elizabeth, dau. of Brockhill Taylor, of Ballyhaise,-f Co. Cavan,

M.P., Cavan borough 1634-6. Richard French made his will 25 Dec,

1686. It was proved 7 Jan., 1686-7. He left his brother Mathew,

" my black gelding, Imbroydered saddle, and best Silver hilted sword."

He left by his wife (who afterwards { m. Christopher Caldwell,§) with

three other children, buried at St. Michael's, Dublin, four sons : —

I. Mathew French, of Ballyhubback, Co. Wicklow, m. Elizabeth

Lenthall, granddau. || of WilUam Lenthall, the famous Speaker

of the English House of Commons, and niece ^ of Catherint-

Talbot, of Knaresborough, Yorkshire, widow. Mathew

French made his v»dll 4 July, 1731, and d. soon after. It

was delivered to the Depuity Registrar, 12 Feb., 1731-2, and

is on record in the Registry of Deeds, (lands of Killelahard,

Co. Fermanagh, deed no. 47602). In an Exchequer Bill,

Rouse V. French, 24 Dec, 1739, it is stated that Mathew

French, " a gentleman of good Fortune " had married Betty

als. EUzabeth his wife, without any fortune. Mrs. Talbot, who

d. in 1733, left her property to her niece to make up for this.

They had issue two sons and five daus. : —

I. Richard French, of Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow, merchant,
will dated 29 Aug., 1781, proved 19 March, 1782. He

*In a Chancery Bill, 12 Nov., 1681, Burton v. French, it is stated that Elinor
Meade was a relation both of Matthew French, senior, and of Humphrey Perrott.

■j" The Ballyhai&e property descended through the Taylors to Colonel Brockhill
Newburgh, M.P., Co Cavan, 1715-27, and High Sheriff. 1705. In the Williamite
war he raised an independent company for William's interest, which afterwards
became a marching regt., General Stewart's. {Particulars relating to the Life and
clmracter of the late Brockhill Newburgh, Esq.; Wrote at the instance of several of his
surviving Friends, 1761, T.C.D., Lib.)

% She apparently married also, before the latter marriage, Samuel Morrison,
of Dublin. Gent., whose will, dated 14 April, 1690, was proved 1691. He mentions
his wife Mary, widow of French, and her sons, Mathew, Daniel, and Richard

§ Exchequer Bill, 13 May, 1707, Daniel French v. Mathew French, Mary Caldwell
and another.

li Gilbert's History of Dublin, Vol. I., p. 227.

f Exchequer Bill, 24 Dec., 1739. v. French.


desires to be buried at Donaghmore without any pomp,
and that the old tomb standing over his father, late of
Ballyhubback, should be taken down and re-built when
he should be interred. He mentions his wife, Jane,
and his niece Jane Hodson, as well as his only son,
Humphrey, daughter in law Ahce, and grand- daughter
Margaret Rebecca, now an infant. His only son was : —

Humphrey French, of Dublin, m. licence bond, dated
10 June, 1779, AUcia Harris, of the parish of Taney,
Co. Dublin, spinster. The following notice of him
is in a letter written during the Emmet Insurrection
by Sir Richard Musgrave to the Lord Lieutenant,
Lord Hardwick.* " July 29th, 1803, My Lord. . . .
I have been frequently asked since last Saturday
night whether I had not given information to Govern-
ment of the intended rebellion before its explosion,
and I uniformly declared what I now say, that I had
no suspicion of it until I saw Mr. Humphrey French,
a wine-merchant in Dame Street, about nine o'clock
on that night, and he informed me that he fell into
the hands of a body of pikemen, near the Canal,
that they stopped and threatened him, and that he
believes they would have murdered him, but that
he falsely told them he was a Papist." He had a
dau. : —

Margaret Rebecca French.
2. WilUam French.

1. Mary French, m. Simon Rouse, of Dublin.

2. Catherine French.

3. AUcia French, m. 1731, George Duplex, of Newabbey,

Co. Kildare.

4. Harriet French, m. WilUam Hawker, of Dublin, and

had three daus. : — |

(1.) Frances Hawker.

(2.) Susanna Hawker, m. John Mowlds, of Churchtown,
Co. DubUn, and d. 19 Feb., 1788, aged 46, having
had by him, who d. 4 March, 1787, with other
issue, of whom Henrietta, Susanna, and Charlotte
are buried at Donnybrook, a dau. : —

Anne EUzabeth Mowlds, d. 28 April, 1842,
aged 78.

* The Viceroy's Post- Bag, London. 1904, p. 307.
t Exch. Bill," 19 Jan., 1762, Mowlds v. Hawker.

(3.) Elinor Hawker.

5. Elizabeth French, m. John Sherwood, of Teniplelusk,
Co. Wicklow, and d. before 1739.

TT. HUMPHREY, of whom presently.

III. Daniel French, of Dublin, bapt. St. Michael's, 18 Jan., 1681-2,

bur. there 23 Feb., 1711-2, will pr. 1736, had by Mary
his wife : —

1. Mathew French, of Dublin, ironmonger, Churchwarden of

St. Audoen's, ?/?. at St. Michael's, 15 Sept., 1744, Rebecca
dau. of Thomas Beaumont, of Summer Hill, Dublin, and d.
11 Feb., 1755, "a Man of a very good Character."

2. Richard French, bapt. at St. John's Dublin, 25 Jan.,

1706-7, evidently d. young.

1. Mary French.

2. Elinor French, bapt. at St. John's 1 Jan., 1707-8.

IV. Richard French, bapt. at St. Michaels, 3 June, 1686.
The 2nd son of Richard French and Mary Perrott was : —
HUMPHREY FRENCH, Sheriff of DubUn, 1711-12, Lord Mayor

of Dublin 1732-33, M.P. for Dublin 1733-6, LL.D. {Hcmcrru Causa)
T.C.D., 1734, bapt. at St. Michael's, Dublin, 8 May, 1680. This
eminent man was widely known in his day as " The Good Lord
Mayor." On 30 Sept., 1732, he was sworn Lord Mayor before Chief
Baron Marlay. A month later we read of him in Pue^s Occurrences,
Dublin, for 31 Oct. " Yesterday, being the Anniversary of His present
Majesty's Birth Day, the same was observed here with the greatest

Solemnity It is remarkable that the Lord Mayor made the

greatest Appearance that ever was known on such an Occasion. His
Lordship rode in his State Coach drawn by Six Horses, whose Tails
and Mains were tied with blue Ribbons, their Ear knots the same, and
before him his Body Coach with two Horses, attended by several
Footmen, on each Side of the Coach, with blue Cockades in their Hats."
But he had more solid claims for remembrance than this. He at
once set himself to reform abuses in the city, and dealt out justice and
mercy firmly and impartially. Three months had not passed before
we find that on 15 Jan., 1733, " at a Meeting of the Merchants of this
City, it was Resolved that besides the usual Present of a Piece of Plate
of 50 1. Value, commonly given by their Corporation to the Lord Mayor
of this City, a Gold Box should be presented to the Rt. Hon. Humphrey
French, Esq., our present Lord Mayor, in Consideration of his un-
common Zeal and Eadeavours for the PubUc Service, and as a Mark
of their particular Esteem." (Pwe, 16 Jan.). In August " the Rt. Hon.
the Lord Mayor was presented with his Freedom of several Corporations
of this City, and was handsomely entertained by each Corporation."


{Pue, 11 Aug.). He continued his efforts till the very end of his
mayoralty. " Saturday last, the Rt. Hon. the Lord Mayor seized
in the several Markets of this City, great Quantities of light Bread,
and unmerchantable Provisions, which he distributed amongst the
poor Prisoners in the Marshalsea ; particularly in Newgate-Market,
his Lordship seized several Carcasses of Mutton, for being blown, and
committed one of the Butchers to Newgate." {Pue, Tuesday, 25 Sept.).
During the following week he " gave Money to the several Church
Wardens, to be distributed among the Poor in their respective Parishes,
which Money arose from Fines and Forfeitures this Year from several
Persons for Offences." On Sept. 28 a great many false barrels and
other measures were burnt before the Tholsel by his orders, but the
same day we find him discharging, at his own expense, several poor
prisoners out of the City Marshal, who had been confined there on his
warrants. {Pue, 29 Sept.). The Corporation of Coopers gave him his
freedom in a box, engraved with the ensigns of their corporation, with
this motto : —

" Set this Mau down as one of your Flock or Corporation
And believe him to be a Man of Courage and Honesty."

In an address to him, published in Pue, 2 Oct., they give the reasons
for their gift : — " Your constant and impartial Administration of Justice,
your vigilant Care of the Markets, your putting the Laws in Execution,
your daily Charity to the Poor, hath made this Year deservedly famous
& has set such a worthy Example to your successors, that he will gain
the greatest Glory, who will endeavour to imitate your Lordship the
most." He concluded his mayoralty by giving, on 29 Sept., 1733, a
magnificent entertainment, " his Grace the Lord Lieutenant honouring
him with his Company, with many of the Nobility, and Persons of
Distinction." The Trinity Guild of Merchants gave hini a gold box,
engraved with their arms, and several other corporations gave him
silver boxes and other pieces of plate " with their several Addresses of
Thanks for the great and many Services done to this City during his
Administration." {Pue, 2 Oct.). On the 1st Oct. the new Lord Mayor,
Thomas How, was sworn before Lord Chief Baron Marlay, '" who made
an eloquent Speech on the Occasion, in which he was pleased to bestow
the highest Encomiums on the late Lord Mayor for his equal Administra-
tion of Justice, etc." {Pue, 2 Oct.). There is a quotation from the
Chief Baron's eulogy in The Gentleman's Magazine for Oct., 1733.
Under current news a laudatory account of French's actions is given,
while in the poetical section is the following : —

" N.B. — We have received four very good Pieces from Dublin, in
praise of their late active Lord Mayor, Humphry French, Esq. ; who
used very frequently to visit the Markets, Bakers-Shops, Prisons,
&c. in Person ; but not having room for more than one, we prefer the


following, as it touches with a masterly hand the Subject of Elections,
now the chief topick of this Kingdom.

•' An ODE addres'd to the Citizens of Dublin, on Occasion of their
late worthy Lord Mayor, HUMPHKY FRENCH, Esq., standing
a Candidate to represent that City in Parliament.

How long must ye be deaf and blind ?

Hear, citizens, these lines, or read 'em.
For what were Parliaments design'd,

But to support the nation's freedom.

Is there a sage and ample mind

Whose breast with innocence is arm'd ;
Whose sense by virtue is refiu'd.

Whose vii'tue by religion warm'd V

Whose soul, by prejudice unmoved.

No frauds nor vices can connive at ;
Who acts as reason hath approv'd.

And makes the publick good his f)rivate ?

Who in a vile corrupted age,

The sword of justice bravely draws,
Restraujs the giddy rabble's Rage,

And animates the dying laws ?

Whose conduct, faithful to his trust,

All precedents so far exceeds.
His successors, however just.

Can only imitate his deeds.

In words, which Athens well might hear.
While Marlay prais'd liim from the bench.

Who would not wish to lend an ear ?
Who would not glory to be FRENCH ?

* " Not Rome could boast in all her pride.

One juster to the pubhck cause

Tho' deathless Tully was her Guide,

Tho' Cato sanctified her laws."

For laws and liberty he fights,

Enfist yourselves beneath his banners ;
Who better can defend your rights.

Than he who has reform'd your manners.

In the previous July French had issued a remarkably modest election
address, (Pue, 16 July, 1733) :— " There being a Vacancy in Parliament
for the City of Dublin, by the death of Alderman Samuel Burton,
and being desired by several of the most Eminent Free-holders and
Citizens thereof ; I do therefore intend to stand a Candidate to Represent
the said City in Parliament, at the ensuing Election. And do request
the Votes and Interest of all Free-holders and my Fellow-Citizens.
H. French, Lord Mayor of Dublin."

But what he would not say for himself, others announced with no

* " These Lines allude to a passage in the Lord Chief Baron's Speech."


uncertain voice. He had on his side the powerful influence of Dean
Swift, who issued a broadside to the freemen of Dublin asking them
to vote for French, both on account of the fact that he held no govern-
ment position, and therefore would vote fearlessly, and also on account
of his personal integrity. " He has shown more virtue, more acti^dty,
more skill, in one year's government of the city, than a hundred years
can equal. He has endeavoured with great success to banish frauds,
corruptions, and all other abuses from among you. A dozen such men
in power would be able to reform a kingdom." Surely nobler testimony
to a man'b devotion has been seldom paid ; it is of greater value, as
coming from the caustic Dean, who was usually more inclined to blame
than praise.

The election day drew near. Thomas How, the new Lord Mayor,
opposed him, instead of Maccarrell, who had first come into the field,
and on 27 Oct., French was leading by six votes, out of a total poll,
to that date, of 682. The students of Trinity were enthusiastically
on his side. " Last Wednesday," says the Dublin Gazette of 27 Oct.,
" a dozen Coaches, with Scholars of our University, came to the
Tholsel in full Change, and both spoke and presented to Alderman
Humphry French, our late Lord Mayor, an Address of Thanks for the
many and great services he did this City and Kingdom during his
Mayoralty. Each Scholar had an Orange Coloured Ribbon tied to his
button hole." Finally, his great popularity made success certain.
The result was declared in Piie^s Occurrences for 30 Oct. " The Election
of a Member of Parliament for this City continued till Yesterday in
the Afternoon, when the Rt. Hon. the Lord Mayor, finding his Interest
too weak to oppose the great Number of Freeholders and Freemen
ready to poll for Alderman French, his Lordship gave up the Election
and Alderman Humphrey French was declared duly elected, and carried
to the Parliament House, amidst the Acclamations of many thousands
of People ; All the Bells in this City rung, and the Night concluded with
Bonfires, Illuminations, and such Rejoycings, as were never known
on the like Occasion."

The University of Dublin recognized his merits by conferring on him
the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws at the Spring Commencements,

Jonathan Swift seems to have regarded him not only with admiration,
but with afiection. Even before the time of his Mayoralty, the Dean
had sounded his praises in private correspondence. As early as 15
June, 1732, Lady Catherine Jones, in a letter to Swift, added the
postscript : — " Your opinion of Mr. French is just, and his due."

One of Swift's most pleasing poems is addressed to Humphrey French.
It is a paraphrase of the 19th Ode of the 4th Book of Horace,
and is a strange contrast to the biting sarcasm in many of the great
Dean's other works.


Addressed to Humphry French, Esq., late Lord Mayor of Dublin.-'

Patron of the tuneful throng

O ! Too nice and too severe
Think not that my country song

Shall displease thy honest ear.

Many valiant chiefs of old
Greatly lived and died before

Agamemnon, Grecian bold,

Waged the ten year's famous war.

But their names unsung, unwept.
Unrecorded, lost and gone.

Long in endless night have slept.
And shall now no more be known.

But. O Humphry, great and free.

While my tuneful songs are read.
Old forgetful Time on thee

Dark oblivion ne'er shall spread.

When the deep-cut notes shall fade
On the mouldering Parian stone,

On the brass no more be read
The perishing inscription.

Still thy labour and thy care.

What for DubUn thou hast done.
In full lustre shall appear.

And outshine th' unclouded sun.

Large thy mind, and not untried.

For Hibemia now doth stand.
Through the calm or raging tide.

Safe conducts the ship to land.

Falsely we call the rich man great.

He is only so who knows
His plentiful or small estate,

Wisely to enjoy and use.

He m wealth or poverty.

Fortune's power alike defies ;
And falsehood and dishonesty

More than death abhors and flies :

Flies from death ? No. meets it brave.

When the suffering so severe
May from dreadful bondage save

Clients, friends, or country dear.

This the sovereign man complete :

Hero : patriot ; glorious ; free ;
Rich and wise ; and good and great ;

Generous Humphry, thou art he !

But the end of this useful life was not far ofi. He died 13 Oct.,
1736. Pue's Occurrences for Saturday, 16 Oct. announces :" Wednesday
last died, after three Day's Illness, Humphry French, Esq., Alderman,
and one of the Representatives in Parliament for this City. His Death


is universally lamented, being one of the best Magistrates that ever any
City was blest with." He was buried on the 16th. " Satiirday last
the Corps of Humphry French, Esq., was decently Inter'd in St.
Michael's Church, where an Excellent Funeral Sermon was Preached
by the Rev. Dr. Owen." {Pue, 19 Oct.). The Gentleman's Magazine
(which erroneously gives the date of death as the 18th) states that
Alderman French had been chosen M.P. for Dublin " without a Penny
Expence, that City having resolved not to be treated on these
Occasions." The next number of the same magazine, Nov., 1736,
pubHshes the following : —

To the Memory of the laic Alderman FRENCH of IhMin.

O Thou ! Eblana's tutelary chief.
So late her triumph and so soon her grief.
Accept her tears : her sons, by duty led.
That hail'd thee living, now lament thee dead.
Such was the joy, that thro' his native Rome
Acclaim'd Marcellus in his martial bloom :
Such was the sorrow, in its pious turn,
That wail'd liim, snatched to his untimely urn.
Alas : 'tis all the great, the good can have,
A short-liv'd honour, and a lasting grave !

If chaste Astrea, since the golden age
Descended ever to this mortal stage,
To guide be-wilder'd man with rays divine,
And animate a form, that form was thine.
Which knew no partial love, no servile fear,
A Cato, not the praetor of one year.

Thus we commit thy reliques to the dust.
Thy fair example to the futiu-e just.
While from this grov'ling earth thy spirit flies.
To grace the bright repubhck of the skies,
And Ireland trembles at the vTath in store
When Swift shall die, and freedom be no more.

Swift intended to write a biography of Humphrey French. Some
time after the latter's death the Dean wrote as follows to George
Faulkner, the printer : — " Deanery House, Dublin, January 6, 1738.
Sir. — I have often mentioned to you an earnest desire I had, and still
have, to record the merit and services of the lord-mayor, Humphrey
French, whom I often desired, after his mayoralty, to give me an
an account of many passages which happened in his mayoralty, and
which he has often put oif on the pretence of his forgetfuness, but in
reality of his modesty : I take him to be a hero in his kind, and that
he ought to be imitated by all his successors, as far as their genius can
reach. I desire you, therefore, to inquire among all his friends whom
vou are acquainted with to press them to give you the particulars of
what they can remember, not only during the general conduct of his
life, wherever he had any power or authority in the city, but particularly
from Mr. Maple, who was his intimate friend, who knew him best, and
could give the most just character of himself and his actions.


" When I shall have got a sufficient information of all these particulars,
I will, although I am oppressed with age and infirmities, stir up all the
little spirit I can raise to give the pubhc an account of that great patriot ;
and propose him as an example to all future magistrates, in order to
recommend his virtues to this miserable kingdom. I am. Sir, Your
very humble servant.

" Jonathan Swift."

But the time was past, Swift was too old to carry out the work, and,
faiUng a biography by the great Dean, we are compelled to gather
what scanty notes we can from the newspapers and periodicals of the
day. But we can discover enough to know that Humphrey French was
a man who would shed lustre on any family.

The only memorial of him, says Sir John Gilbert in his History of
Dublin, is a large mezzotint portrait inscribed — " The Good Lord
Mayor." A copy of this is in the National Portrait Gallery, Dublin ;
another, from which the illustration (frontispiece) is taken, was formerly
in the possession of the late Rev. William RejTiell, R.D., and now
belongs to the Rev. H. B. Swanzy, who also has a small oil painting
of him, said to have been in the collection of Sir Compton Domvile,
at Santry Court.

Humphrey French ni. Anne, sister of Richard Le Hunte, M.P. for
Enniscorthy, 1713-47, of Thomas Le Hunte, M.P. for Wexford borough,
1735-68, and for Newtown, Co. Down, 1768, and of Francis Le Hunte,
M.D. (who m. Susanna French, see p. 27), and eldest dau. of George Le
Himte, (by Alice, dau. of Colonel William Legge), son of Colonel George
Le Hunte, M.P. for Cashel 1661. He d. intestate, leaving considerable
property,* but it seems to have disappeared, as his son Robert was
in 1753 in great want of money. He had five sons and three daus : —
I. Richard French, bapt. at St. Audoen's, Dublin, 15 Sept., 1718,
d. V. p. under age.f

II. Robert French, bapt. at same 14 Aug., 1719, petitioned the
Corporation of Dublin to be appointed one of the overseers
and directors of the Pipe Water works, because he was left
destitute, and had a wife and five children. He got the
position 5 June, 1753. He d. Dec. 1759 (" In Barrack Street,
Mr. French, overseer of the pipe-water," Public Gazetteer,
Dec. 11, 1759) and his widow Letitia petitioned for a pensioji
for her helpless family. The Corporation ordered on 18 April,
1760, that she should receive £20 per ann. during the City's
pleasure, and give up to Sedborough Mayne the house she
occupied within one month after her child should be born.
No trace has been discovered of his children or descendants.

* Exch. Bill, 7 April, 1747, Harford v. Le Hunte and French.
i Rid.


III. Humphrey French, (Rev.), D.D., Rector of St. Mary's, Drogheda
(collated 6 Aug., 1774) and head master of a very considerable
school at Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath, (see Post Chaise Companion,
p. 94). He was bapt. 15 Jan., 1721, and entered Trinity
College, Dublin, 21 April, 1739, Scholar, 1742, B.A., 1743,
M.A., 1746, and was a fellowship prizeman in 1747 and 1748.
The unusual honour of D.D., honoris Causa, was conferred on
him 6 Sept., 1768, when John, Duke of Bedford, was installed
Chancellor of the University. Dr. French m. Susanna English,
and d. 1788, (will dated 9 May, proved 1 Aug.). His successor

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Online LibraryHenry Biddall SwanzyThe families of French of Belturbet and Nixon of Fermanagh, and their descendants → online text (page 2 of 21)