Lieut. William French or Frenche, tailor, son of Thomas and Anne French, born 15 March 1603 at Halstead, Co. Essex, England, died 20 Nov 1681 aged 78 Billerica, Middlesex Co., Ma. William married 1st in England, Elizabeth ( ), born 1603 Canturbury, England and died 31 March 1668 at Cambridge, Ma. The Abridged Compendium of American Genealogy by F. A. Virkus, v. 7, p. 852 says William French's wife was Elizabeth Godfrey. William married 2nd to Mary (Lathrop) Stearns, the daughter of Thomas Lathrop of Barnstable, and the widow of John Stearns, she later married Isaac Mixter. William, as shown by the record in the custom house, came with his family in the Defense from London, England in 1635 when he was aged 32, wife Elizabeth 30, Francis
10, Elizabeth 6, Marie 2 1/2, John 5 mo's. In the winter of 1634 he sailed in the "Defense" from Hartwick, but the vessel was driven back by storms and the journey was postponed until summer. Sailing once more proved perilous for the ship sprang a leak, but arrived safely at Boston, Ma. on October 3rd, 1635. Admitted freeman 1636. Educator. He settled first at Newtown where he purchased land in 1639, now called Cambridge. When the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in Boston was organized William was an early member and held the rank of Junior Sergeant in 1643, First Sergeant in 1646, and Ensign in 1650. He also became a member of the militia company at Cambridge of which he was made Lieutenant on March 26, 1647, and later Captain. In 1652/3 he removed to Billerica, eighteen miles north of Boston, where he was one of the original proprietors. Appointed to solemnize marriages. He held many offices of trust, showing that much confidence was placed in him when to hold office was to bear great responsibility. In 1659 he was chosen "to sit in the Deacon's seat", and appointed comitioner to establish the cuntry rates. In 1660 he was one of the first selectmen and served nine years. In 1661 he served on a committee to examine children and servants in "reading, religion, and the catechism." In 1660 he was the first Deputy or Representative of Billerica in the General Court at Boston, taking his seat in 1663. Evidence of his activity in the cause of Indian instruction is found in a letter written by him to "a godly friend in England," the famous tract entitled "Strength out of Weakness" published in London and re-printed by the Boston Historical Society, (Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 3d S. vol. iv. p. 149-196) in which he gives a detailed account of the testimony
of an Indian convert. His land in the town amounted to two hundred and fifty acres, which were increased by subsequent allotments in later divisions.
Children: of William and Elizabeth French
FRANCIS b. Eng. abt 1624, m. Lydia Bunnell
Elizabeth b. Eng. abt. 1629, m. Robert Eliot of Dedham
Mary b. Eng. abt. Jan 1633, m. Nathaniel Dunkler
John b. Eng. abt Feb 1635, bp. by Mr. Hooker in Cambridge
m. Abigail Coggan
Sarah b. Cambridge March 1638, prob. d. young
Jacob b. Cambridge 16 March 1640, d. 20 May 1713 aged 73 Billerica, m. Mary Champney
Hannah b. Cambridge 12 April 1641, d. 20 June 1642
Hannah b. Cambridge 16 Feb 1644,
m. 6 Sept 1661 John Brackett, had nine ch.
Samuel b. Cambridge 3 Dec 1645, d. 15 July 1646
Samuel b. abt 1648, m. Sarah Cummings
Children: of William and Mary French
Mary b. Billerica 3 Apr 1670, m. Mr. Sharp
Sarah b. 29 Oct 1671, m. Joseph Crosby, had twelve ch.
Abigail b. 14 Apr 1673, d. 13 Apr 1674
Hannah b. 25 Jan 1676, m. John Childs