Friday, 25 August 2017

French Park

THE BARONS DE FREYNE WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY ROSCOMMON, WITH 34,400 ACRES

The family of FRENCH, originally DE FREIGNE, or De Fraxinis, is of great antiquity, and was established in England by one of the companions in arms of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR.

In 1254, Will de Fraxinis was sent ambassador from HENRY III to Pope INNOCENT IV.

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 Ballymacoonoge, 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.

Fulke de Freyne, the descendant of Sir Humphrey, settled his manor of Ballymacoonoge, with remainder to his heirs, with various other remainders, in 1329.

He was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir Patrick, who died without male issue, leaving two daughters; the eldest, Ellen, with whom the moiety of the said manor went out of the family to her husband, Richard de Camelford.

The other estates went by another settlement to his second son, Oliver de Freyne, who was Senescal of Kilkenny, 1336, and was father of

SIR ROBERT FREYNE, who died leaving three sons, the third of whom,

JAMES FFRENCH, 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 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.

He married 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 of great wealth and unbounded liberality, and a munificent benefactor to 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, 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, County Roscommon, 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 Dr Edward King, Lord Bishop of Elphin, by whom he had by three sons and four daughters,
JOHN, his heir;
Dominick;
Patrick;
Mary, Margaret; Sarah; Anne.
Mr French was buried in Elphin Cathedral, where his monument is still to be seen.

He was succeeded by his son,

JOHN FRENCH, of French Park, called Tierna More, a colonel in the army who commanded a troop in the Enniskillen Dragoons at the battle of Aughrim, and was attainted on account of his Whig principles by the parliament held by JAMES II at Dublin, 1690.

Mr French represented Carrick-on-Shannon in parliament, 1695, became Knight of the Shire for Galway in 1703, and again in 1710, and was elected for Tulsk, of which borough he was patron in 1715 and 1722.

He wedded Anne, daughter of Sir Arthur Gore Bt, of Newtown, ancestor of the Earls of Arran, and had issue,
ARTHUR, his heir;
Robert;
John;
William;
Mary; Olivia; Catherine; Sarah.
Mr 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.

He was succeeded by his son, 

ARTHUR FRENCH, of French Park, who was elected Knight of the Shire for Roscommon in 1721, and strongly opposed the attempt of government, in 1729, to get the supplies granted for 21 years.

He espoused Jane, daughter of John Percival, of Knightsbrook, County Meath, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Robert;
ARTHUR, successor to his brother;
George;
Martha.
Mr French was succeeded by his eldest son, 

JOHN FRENCH MP, of French Park, 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.

Mr French wedded Alicia, daughter of Ralph Crawford, of Snowhill, County Fermanagh; but having no issue, was succeeded by his 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.

Mr French married, in 1763, Alicia, daughter of Richard Magennis, of Dublin, of the house of IVEAGH, by whom he had issue,
ARTHUR, his heir;
Richard;
John, in holy orders;
George;
Robert Henry;
William;
St George;
Jane; Alicia; Anne; Frances.
Mr French was succeeded by his eldest son,


ARTHUR FRENCH (c1764-1820), MP for Roscommon, 1785-1820, who wedded, ca 1784, Margaret, daughter of Edmund Costello, the representative of the Nangles, Lord McCostello, County Mayo, by Mary his wife, daughter of Francis, 21st Baron Athenry, and had issue,
ARTHUR, his heir;
John, in holy orders;
CHARLES, 3rd Baron de Freyne;
William;
Fitzstephen;
Mary; Louisa; Harriet; Elizabeth.
Mr French, who refused successively an earldom and a barony, was succeeded by his eldest son,

ARTHUR FRENCH (1786-1856), of French Park, MP for County Roscommon for several years, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1839, as BARON DE FREYNE, of Artagh, County Roscommon.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, the Hon Alexander James Charles French (b 1988).
Fulke Charles Arthur John, 8th and present Baron, lives in London. 


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.

1 comment :

Historic House Crawler said...

Not even a roofless ruin... It was demolished many years ago... the fate of so many great Irish houses, alas!