Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Poor Wounded Man – John French

B. 1635 in England
M. (1) 21 Jun 1659 in Billerica, Massachusetts
Wife: Abigail Coggan
M. (2) 3 Jul 1662 in Billerica, Massachusetts
Wife: Hannah Burrage
M. (3) 14 Jan 1668
Wife: Hannah Rogers
M. (4) 16 Jan 1678 in Billerica, Massachusetts
Wife: Mary (Littlefield) Kittredge
D. October 1712 in Billerica, Massachusetts
Emigrated: 1635 on the ship Defence

John French experienced the hardships of living in 17th century New England, having three wives who died young, and later becoming wounded while fighting Indians. He was born in 1635 in England to William and Elizabeth French, their third child. When he was still a small baby, the family boarded the ship Defence, landing in Boston on October 8th. The family settled in Cambridge, where John grew up. His parents had six more children there.

In 1653, the French family moved to the new town of Billerica and on June 21, 1659, John married Abigail Coggan of Barnstable. She died less than three years later at the age of 23, on April 5, 1662. He quickly married again on July 3rd of that year to Hannah Burrage of Charlestown. She bore him two daughters, but died on July 7, 1667 also at the age of 23. John married a third time on January 14, 1668 to Mary Rogers. She had a daughter in 1670 and died on June 16, 1677. Finally, on 16 Jan 1678, he married a fourth wife, Mary (Littlefield) Kittredge, who had been widowed with five young sons. John and Mary had six children together.

John served as a corporal in the militia in Billerica during King Phillip's War. On August 2, 1675, the militia met up with Indians in a swamp near Billerica called Quaboag (or Brookfield) where several settlers were killed. John was in the fight, and after shooting an Indian, he got hit by return fire, which cut off one of his thumbs and seriously wounded his body near his shoulder.

After the war, John petitioned the town for financial help, describing himself as "a poor wounded man." He was exempted from paying taxes for several years. He was also permitted to sit "at the table with Capt. John Lane and Mr. Crosby" during church services, and his wife Mary was allowed to "sit in the front gallery with Mrs. Foster and those women placed there." It was said that he was "an influential citizen of Billerica and held many town offices from time to time." John died in October of 1712 at the age of 77.

Children by Hannah Burrage:
1. Hannah French – B. 14 Dec 1664, Billerica, Massachusetts; D. 9 Oct 1755, Tewksbury, Massachusetts; M. John Kittredge (1666-1714), 3 Apr 1685, Billerica, Massachusetts

2. Abigail French – B. 6 Dec 1665; D. 13 Mar 1723; M. Benjamin Parker (1662-?), 10 Nov 1697

Children by Mary Rogers:
1. Mary French – B. 4 Mar 1670; D. 21 Aug 1740, Billerica, Massachusetts; M. Nathan Shed (1669-?)

Children by Mary Littlefield:
1. John French – B. 15 May 1679, Billerica, Massachusetts; M. Ruth Richardson (1685-?), 13 Feb 1707, Billerica, Massachusetts

2. Elizabeth French – B. 24 Jul 1681, Billerica, Massachusetts; D. 30 Sep 1754, Andover, Massachusetts; M. Thomas Abbott, 25 Dec 1706, Billerica, Massachusetts

3. William French – B. 26 Nov 1683, Billerica, Massachusetts; D. 1685, Billerica, Massachusetts

4. Sarah French – B. 15 Sep 1685, Billerica, Massachusetts; M. Joseph Frost (1683-?)

5. Hannah French – B. 18 Feb 1693; D. 12 Dec 1769; M. (1) Jonathan Richardson (?-1720), 1713, Billerica, Massachusetts; (2) Benjamin Frost

6. William French – B. 8 Aug 1687, Billerica, Massachusetts; D. 25 Feb 1746; M. Mehitable Patten (1687-1743), about 1712

"Lieutenant William French and his Descendants," John M. French, The New England historical and genealogical register, 1890
The Kittredge Family in America, Mabel T. Kittredge, 1936
Billerica, a centennial oration by the Rev. Elias Nason, July 4, 1876, 1876


  1. John French is also a direct descendent of mine as well! Interesting information!

  2. John French was the bother of my paternal 9th GGF Jacob French. My name is Brian French