The family of FRENCH, originally DE FREIGNE, or De Fraxinis, is of great antiquity; and claims descent from Rollo, 1st Duke of Normandy, who married Gisela, daughter of CHARLES THE SIMPLE, King of France.
It was established in England by one of the companions of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, and was subsequently distinguished in English history.
In 1254, Will de Fraxinis was sent ambassador from HENRY III to Pope INNOCENT IV, who was then engaged in a project for the conquest of Naples; and undertook, for the assistance afforded to him by that king, to bestow the crown of that kingdom upon his second son, Edmond.In 1302, Gerard de Freyne was sent ambassador by EDWARD I to the Count of Holland.
Hugh de Freyne wedded Alice, daughter and heir of Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln, and claimed in her right that earldom.
He was summoned to parliament as a baron in 1336.
Alice de Lacy was first married to Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster; and secondly, to Eubulus, Lord Strange; the latter was Earl of Lincoln in her right.
SIR HERBERT or HUMPHREY DE FREYNE, who accompanied Strongbow in his expedition against Ireland, acquired large possessions in the province of Leinster, and settled in County Wexford.
He had two sons, Patrick and Nicholas, whose descendants gained early distinction, and ranked amongst the most powerful of the Anglo-Norman barons.
In 1303, Fulke de Freyne accompanied EDWARD I to Scotland, at the time he conquered that kingdom.
His lineal descendant,
SIR ROBERT FREYNE, died leaving three sons, the third of whom,
JAMES FREYNCH, was chosen to represent Wexford in the parliament of Westminster, in 1376.
He had a son,
OLIVER FRENCH, father of
PATRICK FRENCH, who was sent as a judge into the province of Connaught.
He wedded Mary, daughter of John D'Athi, a family of great antiquity long settled in that province, and was ancestor of
JOHN FRENCH, of Galway, born in 1489, a man great wealth and unbounded liberality and a great benefactor of the Church.
It is stated in the annals of Galway that he built, at his own expense, the north aisle of St Nicholas' Church, in that town, from the north pinnacle of the chapel of the Holy Sacrament; and also the great chapel on the south side of St Francis's Abbey, with the building which stands on the river-side, which has ever since borne his name, and is called "John French's Chamber". In this church, the French family, with two others, are alone entitled to the right of burial.His son and successor,
PETER FRENCH, Mayor of Galway in 1576, married Mary, sister of William Martin, and had five sons.
The sum of £5,000 was expended on his monument, which adorned the church there, until destroyed in CROMWELL's time, by Colonel Stubber, then governor of the town. The monument was executed in Italy, and is described in the annals of Galway to have been of "rayre sculpture and guilded with golde".His son,
FRANCIS FRENCH, of Gortrassy and Sessueman Castle, in County Sligo, wedded Una O'Conor, of the ancient race of O'Conor in Sligo; and dying in 1624, left a son,
STEPHEN FRENCH, to whom Sir Donogh O'Conor of Sligo made a device in his will, and Sir Charles O'Conor of Sligo made a grant of the lands of Rathborney, Ardueglass etc, dated 1622.
This Stephen married Marian Lynch, of the family of Le Petit, barons palatine of Mullingar, and was succeeded by his son,
PATRICK FRENCH, of Dungar, otherwise French Park,
whose great estates in County Sligo were seized by the Earl of Strafford, and partitioned amongst Sir Thomas Radcliffe, Sir Philip Perceval, etc. They were, however, subsequently restored by order of Parliament, but CROMWELL again dispossessed them.He wedded a daughter of Martin, of Dangan, in County Galway; and dying at Dungar, was succeeded by his son,
DOMINICK FRENCH, of French Park, and of Boyle, who wedded Anne, daughter of the Rt Rev Edward King DD, Lord Bishop of Elphin; and had by her three sons and four daughters, viz.
JOHN, his heir, MP;Dominick French was buried in Elphin Cathedral, where his monument is still to be seen.
He was succeeded by his son,
JOHN FRENCH MP, of French Park, called Tierna More, was attainted on account of his Whig principles by the parliament held by King JAMES II at Dublin, in 1690.
He wedded Anne, daughter of Sir Arthur Gore Bt, of Newtown, ancestor of the Earls of Arran; and by her had issue,
ARTHUR, his heir, MP for Roscommon;John French died at an advanced age in 1734, leaving £1,000 to be expended on his funeral; his body was laid in state in the park for three days and nights, and the county were feasted round it.
Olivia; Catherine; Sarah.
He was succeeded by his son,
ARTHUR FRENCH, of French Park, who was elected knight of the shire for Roscommon in 1721.
He espoused Jane, daughter of John Percival, of Knightsbrook, County Meath, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir, MP;Mr French was succeeded by his eldest son,
ARTHUR, successor to his brother;
JOHN FRENCH MP, of French Park (Shane Dhu),
who represented County Roscommon from 1743 until the time of his death in 1755, in which year he was drowned, together with his brother, Robert, on his passage from Dublin to Parkgate.He was to have been called to the house of peers as Baron Dungar.
He wedded Alicia, daughter of Ralph Crawford, of Snowhill, County Fermanagh; but having no issue was succeeded by his younger brother,
ARTHUR FRENCH, MP for County Roscommon (1728–99), Colonel of the French Park and Castlemaine Volunteers, who refused to accept the peerage promised to his brother.
He married Alicia, daughter of Richard Magennis, of Dublin, of the house of IVEAGH, by whom he had issue,
ARTHUR, his heir, MP;He was succeeded by his eldest son,
John, in holy orders;
ARTHUR FRENCH (1786-1856), of French Park, MP for County Roscommon for several years, who was raised to the peerage, in 1839, as BARON DE FREYNE.
Fulke Charles Arthur John, 8th and present Baron, lives in London.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son Hon. Alexander James Charles French (b. 1988).
- John French, 2nd Baron (1788-1863)
- Charles French, 3rd Baron (1790-1868)
- Arthur French, 4th Baron (1855-1913)
- Arthur Reginald French, 5th Baron (1879-1915)
- Francis Charles French, 6th Baron (1884-1935)
- Francis Arthur John French, 7th Baron (1927-2009)
- (Fulke) Charles Arthur John French, 8th Baron (b 1957)
FRENCH PARK, near Boyle, in County Roscommon, was formerly the ancestral seat of the Barons de Freyne.
The house, originally built in the mid-17th century before being rebuilt in the Georgian style in the 18th century, was demolished after the sale of the estate by the French family to the Irish Land Commission in 1952.
The Commission removed the roof of the buildings in 1953 and eventually demolished the remaining structures in ca 1975.
French Park was an early Palladian winged house of red brick, of three storeys with a seven-bay centre block (above).
Two-storey wings, five bays long and four deep, were joined to the main block by curved sweeps.
In 1952 Lord de Freyne sold French Park.
The great house and demesne had been in the French family since 5,000 acres were granted to Dominick French in 1666; prior to its dissemination during the Irish land acts, the estate comprised 36,000 acres.
Having sold the estate, the de Freynes moved to Oxfordshire. The present and 8th Lord de Freyne now lives in London.
The once-great mansion is now a roofless ruin.
First published in July, 2011.