Matthew H. FRENCH

February 2, 1737-1814

Father: John C. FRENCH (1710-1750)
Mother: Martha UPSHUR (1715-?)

Wife: Sarah PAYNE (c.1740-?)

Children :
James Wilburn FRENCH (1763-1789) *married Susan HUGHES on October 18, 1789
Martha FRENCH (c.1765-?) *married Jacob STRALEY on June 16, 1785
Isaac FRENCH (December 20, 1765-December 15, 1848/50) *married Elizabeth STOWERS
Mary FRENCH (1767-?) *married Isaac HATFIELD on May 13, 1788
David FRENCH (1772-?) *married Mary DINGESS on June 8, 1787
Annie FRENCH (September 21, 1776-November 2, 1850)
John FRENCH (1760-1810) *married Obedience CLAY on January 16, 1787

 John C. FRENCH|
|                           |________________________|
|--Matthew H. FRENCH
|                            ________________________|
|Martha UPSHUR

From A History of The Middle New River Settlements and Contiguous Territory, by David E. Johnston
The ancestors of this family lived in Scotland, thence removed to Wales, and from thence, long prior to the American Revolution, came across the Atlantic and settled in the Northern Neck of Virginia--Westmoreland County, within the grant to Lord Fairfax. It was in Westmoreland, about 1735, that John French married a lady of Welsh extraction. Among the children born to them was a son, Matthew, in 1737. Settlers were pressing across the Blue Ridge and on to the south branch of the Potomac, and on and along the Big and Little Cacapon. As information came back from these people of the wonderland they had found, others became interested and made up their minds to go; among them John French and his family, in about 1750, made their way up the Rappahannock and over to the south branch of the Potomac, locating at a place since well known as French's Neck, a beautiful and valuable body of land on the south branch of the river mentioned. John lived but a short while after reaching his new home, and his widow shortly after his death married Captain Cresap. The district in which John French settled soon became the County of Hampshire. There were several sons in the family other than Mathew, among them William and James, and a daughter Esther, who married John Locke.
Matthew and his step-father soon had differences of such a nature as to lead to their estrangement and separation; Matthew, who had not yet attained his majority, sold out his interest in his fathers estate to his step-father, Captain Cresap, and went back over the mountains to Culpeper, where he married an Irish girl whose name was Sallie Payne. In 1775 Matthew, with his wife and seven children, four sons and three daughters, crossed the Alleghanies into the New River Valley, and settled at what is now known or called the Boyd place, on Wolf Creek, in Giles County, then Fincastle. The names of the sons of Matthew were John, Isaac, James, and David; the latter, the youngest child, was born in Culpeper in 1772; the daughters were Martha, Mary and Annie. John, the son of Matthew, married Obedience Clay in January, 1787; Isaac married Elizabeth Stowers for his first wife; his second was a Mrs. Fillinger; James married Susan Hughes, a half sister to the elder William Wilburn; his second wife was Margaret Day; David married Mary Dingess.
Martha, the daughter of Matthew, married Jacob Straley; Mary married Isaac Hatfield; Annie married General Elisha McComas.
The following are the names of the children of John French and his wife Obedience Clay French, viz: William, Ezekiel, Charles C., James, George P., John, St. Clair, Hugh and Austin, and the daughters, Annie, Sallie, Orrie, Obedience, Nancy and Rebecca.
Isaac French and his wife, Elizabeth Stowers French, had the following named children, viz: Sallie, Elizabeth, Docey, and Isaac.
The children of James French, by his first marriage, were three sons, Isaac, Rueben, and Andrew; and five daughters, Mary, who married Daniel Straley; Sallie, who married William Hare; Elizabeth, who married James Rowland; Isaac married Sallie Straley; Reuben married Miss Meadows, and Andrew L. married Miss Day; and by the second marriage James had two daughters, Esther Locke, who married Kinzie Rowland, and Martha, who married William Milan.
The names of the children of David French and his wife, Mary Dingess French, are as follows, viz: Guy D., who married Araminta D. Chapman; Napoleon B., who married Jane Armstrong; Dr. David M., who married Miss Smoot, of Alexandria, Virginia; Rufus A., William H., and James H., who died unmarried; the daughters, Cynthia, who married Judge David McComas; Harriet, who married Samuel Pack; Minerva, who married Colonel Thomas J. Boyd.
Matthew French died on Wolf Creek, in Giles County, in 1814. Mrs. Sallie Fletcher, a grand daughter of Mathew French, and 95 years old in 1892, gave to the author in writing a personal description of Mathew French and his wife, whom she well recollected, being a married woman and about seventeen years old at the date of the death of her grandfather. Mrs. Fletcher says: "Matthew French was a small, spare made man, light hair and blue eyes; his wife was a very large woman, quite fleshy, fair complexion, light hair and blue eyes."
Matthew French and his eldest son, John, were American soldiers in our War for Independence, and served in Colonel William Preston's Battalion of Montgomery County Militia, of which Joseph Cloyd was Major, and Thomas Shannon the Captain of the company to which the Frenches were attached. They were with their company in the battle of Wetzell's Mills, March 6th, 1781, and again at Guilford Count House, on the 15th of the same month.
The names of the children of Guy D. French and his wife, Araminta D. are as follows, viz: Henley C., who married Miss Harriet Easley (both now dead) ; Mary, who married William B. Mason (both now dead) ; Fannie, who married J. H. D. Smoot (the latter dead) ; Sarah, who first married Dr. W. W. McComas (killed in battle of South Mills) , and secondly married Captain F. G. Thrasher; Susan, who married Dr. R. T. Ellett (the latter dead).
Captain David A. French first married Miss Williams, for his second wife Jennie C. Easley; William A. married Sarah E. Johnston; Charles D. married Annie C. Johnston. Opposite this page is a photograph of Hon. William A. French, a great grandson of Matthew the Settler. William A. died in April, 1902
The descendants of Matthew French are scattered far and wide over the South and West. Among them were many brilliant men and women; the men have been magistrates, sheriffs, clerks, lawyers, judges, statesmen and soldiers. David McComas, one of the descendants of Matthew French, was an eminent jurist; William McComas, another, was a member of Congress from 1833 to 1837; Dr. W. W. McComas was a distinguished physician and gallant Confederate soldier; Colonel James Milton French, now of Arizona, served his country with devotion and honor both in military and civil life.



HTML created by Colleen Fair Keenan on 11/13/2005 .