The French Family

The French family have a long association with our communities - important farming and commercial family with active involvement in local civic duties. Farming from Batteries (Mill Lane) and New House Farm (Lynsted Lane) and butchery business in Barrow Green/Teynham. Business interests extended wider still.



James French of New House Farm

East Kent Gazette of 1st January 1921

As briefly announced in our last week's issue, on the eve of Christmas the death occurred of Mr James French, J.P., of New House Farm, Greenstreet. Only a few days before Mr French seemed to be in the best of health and spirits. He attended the Sittingbourne Fat Stock Show on the previous Friday, and chatted with various friends in his usual bright manner. On the next day there was no sign of impending illness. On the Saturday evening Mr French was at the Red Triangle Institute, Teynham, in which he took a keen interest, and it was noticed that he was as cheery and bright as ever. On Sunday morning he had breakfast, and that day he had a preaching engagement at Oversland, near Faversham, in the afternoon. He was about to go through the correspondence that had arrived y the morning postal delivery, when he dropped to the floor of the breakfast room, stricken down with an apoplectic seizure. The maidservant heard the fall, and hurrying in found Mr French helpless on the floor. Aid was summoned, and Drs Selby and Henderson were quickly in attendance. Mr French was got to bed, and the services of a trained nurse were requisitioned. From the first, however, the case was of an exceedingly grave nature. Mr French retained semi-consciousness until a few hours before the end, and he passed away at ten a.m. on Thursday in last week, after five days' illness.
His death cast quite a gloom over the Christmas season at Greenstreet, for the whole of his life had been passed in the district, and he represented all that was bright and inspiring in the community. The Greenstreet district has sustained a severe loss in his death.
Mr James French, who was in his 60th year, was the third son of the late Mr James French, of Barrow Green, Teynham, who died in January, 1889. Like his father and brothers (the late Messrs. William and Charles French) Mr James French was brought up to the farming and fruit growing industry. In addition, he started business as a butcher, and had shops at Greenstreet and St Mary's-road, Faversham. The Greenstreet butchery business he disposed of some years ago to Mr F.B. Filmer, but he carried on the Faversham business at the time of his death. As a farmer and fruit grower Mr French was very successful. He acquired New House Farm, Lynsted, and here and at Bogle he had a large acreage under fruit, stocked with valuable trees. He gave close attention to this side of farming, and was known as one of the best growers in the district. Mr French took an active interest in introducing the co-operative principle of trading amongst the farmers and fruit growers of this district. He was chairman of the Sittingbourne Branch of the Sevenoaks District Farmers, Limited, which started under successful auspices a little over a year ago. Then there was a branch started for the Faversham district, and the Ashford branch also came into existence. With the growth of the movement the name of the Association was changed to the more comprehensive title of Kent and Sussex Farmers, Limited, with headquarters at Sevenoaks, and Mr French was appointed a director. He was one of those who put in a lot of spade work in establishing the movement in this district on a businesslike footing. Mr French also acted as steward of Sir Walter Berry's orchards at Norton.
In recognition of his public work Mr French was some years ago appointed a Justice of the Peace for Kent, and he sat on the Faversham Bench. He was a manager of the Lynsted Parish Council.
Mr French had always taken a great interest in the social life of the place, and lost no opportunity of introducing brightness and happiness into the community. Last winter, when the Greenstreet Amusements Association was started, Mr French ably supported it, and was chairman of the Association. From the first he took the keenest interest in the Red Triangle Hut scheme, and when the Institute was opened, and since, he was one of its staunchest supporters. He was chairman of the committee, and was a regular visitor at the Institute. It was very gratifying to him to see the good result of the work of his coadjutors and himself.
In politics Mr French was a staunch Liberal and in previous elections had taken an active part in electoral contests. But the rapid development of the Labour Party, and its aims and objects – which went farther than he could visualise – acted as a deterrent to Mr French's political enthusiasm, and, like other Liberal colleagues, Mr French was content to keep an eye on current events; to watch and wait.
Perhaps Mr French will be best known for the prominent position he occupied in the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Ever since he was a young man he had been an active layman; he was the best known local preacher in the district, and, perhaps, in Kent. Gifted with a wonderful memory, possessed of a flow of eloquence, with a solid foundation of the simple truths of Christianity. Mr French was a lay preacher whose services were in request all over Kent, and he had often occupied the pulpits of London churches. Wherever he preached people were always eager to hear him again. He was a man who took religion into his everyday life, and his sincerity, zeal, and brightness rendered him a great layman in the Wesleyan Church. He was a trustee of the Wesleyan Chapel at Greenstreet, and was also treasurer of the trust fund. But Mr French was as well known in the Sittingbourne and Faversham district as he was at Greenstreet, and his services were not exclusively confined to Wesleyan churches, for he has frequently occupied pulpits of Nonconformist churches other than Wesleyan.
He was a man of kind heart and broad views, and his outlook on life was shred and far seeing. He was always ready to give advice to any who sought it; and if anyone in real trouble or distress sought his help, it was instantly forthcoming. Mr French was a man of high character, and any confidences reposed in him were regarded as a sacred trust. He was a friend to everybody, and his death is mourned by the Greenstreet district generally.
Mr French married Miss Johnson, of Greenstreet, and he had a family of two sons and a daughter. Both sons, Reginald and James, were killed in France and Belgium, and tried to glean some information about his boys; but he was unsuccessful. The death of his sons was a heavy blow to the father. The daughter is the wife of Mr R.W. George, of Woodthorpe, Greenstreet. Much sympathy is felt for the bereaved family.
There was a remarkable and spontaneous expression of public sympathy and respect at the funeral, which took place on Monday afternoon. For the time being the village of Greenstreet was in Mourning There was service in the Wesleyan Chapel, where the congregation took up the whole of the seating space on the ground floor. A large number of those who had attended to pay their last tribute of respect to the memory of the departed had come from various parts of the district. The pulpit was draped in black, but the gas standards were relieved with clusters of white chrysanthemums. The service was conducted by the Rev. G. McNeill, Superintendent minister of the Faversham Wesleyan Circuit, assisted by the Rev. J. E. Harlow, Canterbury), Chairman of the Kent Wesleyan District, and the Rev A.W. Mason, the junior Circuit minister.
The Rev G. McNeill recited the opening sentences of the Burial Service as the Coffin, almost hidden beneath beautiful flowers, was borne into the chapel, and placed before the communion table.
The hymn, "O God, our help in ages past," was sung, after which the Rev A.W. Mason offered prayer. The 30th Psalm was read, followed by the singing of the hymn, "peace, perfect peace," after which the Rev J.E. Harlow said a few sympathetic words. As he understood there was to be an in memoriam service there he said he should say only a few words. Mr French was widely and affectionately known throughout the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Kent. They always looked upon him as a man of independent character, courageous in expressing his views; and they always knew where he was. It was a great help to Methodism in Kent to have a man like James French. The speaker said he first met Mr French about ten or eleven years ago, when he came from Gravesend to take a service at Greenstreet one Whitsuntide. Mr French drove him through his orchards, beneath the fruit blossom, and that was always a sweet memory to him. The things of the spirit were what was essential to Mr French. He held a prominent place in the public life of Greenstreet, and his death was a great loss. Speaking for the Church they represented, in the comprehensive outlook on things spiritual which Mr French took, it was that that made his loss so severe to Kent Methodism. He carried his spiritual life into all walks of life. He was therefore the very type of man that England needs, that Kent needs, that Greenstreet and Faversham need today. Mr Harlow's closing words were: In the name of all, with great humility and thankfulness to God for a useful life, we pay our deepest tribute to his memory; and in memory of the dead we salute Mrs French and family.
The hymn, "Brief life is here our portion," was sung, and the solemn service was concluded with the Grace. The singing was led by the choir. Miss Lavars presiding at the organ.
The funeral cortege was then re-formed, and at a walking pace, followed by a procession of mourners in motor cars and on foot, proceeded to Teynham Church, fully a mile distant, where a portion of the Burial Service was conducted by the Vicar, the Rev W.A. Purton. The fine old church was filled with a large concourse of mourners, many of whom had awaited the arrival of the cortege.
The hymn, "Abide with me," was sung, and after the service the coffin containing the remains of the deceased was borne outside and committed to the grave, near the bodies of other members of the family who are buried here. The committal prayer was offered by the Rev G. McNeill. After the committal the choir of the Wesleyan Church, led by a violin, sang the hymn, "For ever with the Lord"; and this was the closing scene of a most impressive service.
The chief mourners were the Widow and Mr Percy French (nephew), Mr R.W. George (son in law) and Mrs Read (sister), Mr W. French (nephew) and Mrs C. French (sister in law), Mr Bert French and Miss Marion French (nephew and niece), Mr Theo French (nephew), Mr and Mrs R.G. Abbott, Faversham (niece and husband), Mr W. Johnson (brother in law) and Mr P. Johnson. The employees of the deceased walked behind the chief mourners, and amongst those who were present were Sir Walter Berry, J.P., Mr Stanley Berry, Mr Newton D. Berry (Hernhill), Colonel J.F. Honeyball, J.P., and Mrs Honeyball, Dr Prideaux Selby, Dr and Mrs Henderson, Mr G.H. Dean, J.P, Mr Henry Payne, J.P., C.A., Mr J.D. Maxted, J.P., Mr W. Roper Dixon, J.P., Mr Leslie Doubleday, Mr B.R. Dixon, Mr C. Cremer, J.P., (Faversham), Mr G. Johnson, J.P. (Faversham); Mr F.G. Johnson, Mr W.J. Coe, Mr W.W. Tritton, Mr R.B. Tritton, Mr G.W. Videan, Mr T.W. Ratcliffe, Mr H. Cremer, Mr J.F. Etherington, Mr F.C. Cooke, and Mr W.I. Gould (all of Faversham). The Kent and Sussex Farmers, Limited, were represented by Mr A. Dyson Laurie, Mr R. Mitchell (managing director), and Mr H.W. Christie (all of Sevenoaks). From Gillingham were Mr W.H. Thornton, J.P., Mr Griffiths, Mr W.T. Woolcock, and Mr T. Page, with Mr F.G. Thornton (Ramsgate). From Boughton were Mr G. Branchett, Mr H. Judges, and Mr W.H. Wilson. Faversham Gospel Mission was represented by Messrs. W.J. Juniper, C. Wise, and Hills. Representing the North-East Kent Liberal Association (of which Mr French was a vice-president) were Mr L.A. Spong (Sittingbourne), and Messrs W.H. Thomsett and W. Streetfield (Greenstreet). Mr R.W. Philpott, Mayor of Ramsgate, was among the mourners, and from the Sittingbourne Wesleyan Circuit were the Rev A.C. Lywood (superintendent minister), Mr C.J. Trowell, Mr Herbert Hales (Hartlip), and Mr John Buggs (Sittingbourne). Others present included the Rev T.J. Sewell (vicar of Lynsted), Mr Ashley Stevens (Luddenham Court), Mr Howard Stevens (Wye). Mr and Mrs Potter Oyler, Mr H. Jackson, Mrs R.G. Eacott, Mr W.J. Pullen (Sittingbourne), Mr Stanley J. Read, Mr H. Carrier, Mr A.H. Lavars, Mr F.B. Filmer, Mr P. Dalton, Mr F.W. Dalton, Mr J. Thomas (Nouds), Mr W. Thomas, Mr W.G. Ray, Mr C. Matthews (stationmaster at Teynham), Mr G.W. Baker (Hempstead, Bapchild), Officers of the Greenstreet Salvation Army, Mr J. Henniker (Milton Regis), Superintendent W.G. Lawrence, K.C.C. (Faversham), and others. The Y.M.C.A. was represented by Messrs P. Bunting and C. Noble. There were several hundreds of people present at the funeral.
The floral tributes, which were very beautiful, came from the following:-
"In loving memory," from his broken-hearted Wife (harp with broken cord).
"In ever-loving memory of Dad," from Flo and Dick (wreath).
"To my Darling Grandpa," from little Joan (cross).
"From his loving Sister" (cross).
"From Percy and Lillian" (wreath).
"From Auntie, Nephews, and Nieces of Spring Grove" (cross).
"From his sister Carrie" (wreath).
"From Will and May" (wreath).
"From Mr and Mrs Johnson and Family" (wreath).
Other tributes came from Sir Walter and Lady Berry (sheaf of arum lilies), Colonel and Mrs Honeyball (cross), Mr Philpott, Mayor of Ramsgate (wreath), from his Brother Local Preachers (wreath), Greenstreet Wesleyan Church and Choir (wreath), from the employees (wreath), from the Justices of the Faversham Division (wreath), from the Justices of the Faversham Division (wreath), Mr and Mrs D.H. Evans and family (wreath), Dr and Mrs Selby (cross), Mr H. Cremer (Faversham), and Mr and Mrs E. Bishop (Sittingbourne) (wreath), from the Faversham Gospel Mission Band (wreath), Mr and Mrs Oyler and Family (wreath), the members of the Teynham Red Triangle Club (heart), the Committee of the Whitehall Red Triangle Club "To the Chairman" (wreath), Mr W. Roper Dixon (wreath), Mr R. Montague Mercer (wreath), the Employees of the Norton and Rushett Estate (wreath), Mr and Mrs S. George and Family (wreath), Mr and Mrs G.W. Baker and Family (wreath), Mr and Mrs P. Dalton and Family (wreath), Mr and Mrs E.C. Millen and Family (cross), Mr and Mrs J.S. Read (wreath) Mr and Mrs Carrier and Raymond (wreath), Mr and Mrs G.W. George (wreath), Mr and Mrs Hunt and Family (wreath), Mr Ackermann and Grace (wreath), Mr H.J. Watts (wreath) Mr F.B. Filmer (wreath), Mr and Mrs Eacott (wreath), Mr and Mrs Whittle and Family (wreath) Mr and Mrs Dives (wreath), Mr and Mrs and Miss Dunn (wreath), Mr and Mrs F. Clark (wreath), Sevenoaks Farmers' Club (wreath).
The coffin was polished, with brass furniture, and the breastplate bore the following inscription: "James French, Died Dec. 23, 1920, aged 59 years."
The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs S. and G. George, Greenstreet.

French Family Connections

Parish Record 1777-07-05 FRENCH - MAY: John French of Lynsted (bachelor) and Jane May of the same (widow), at Lynsted. Marriage East Kent Gazette 1875-01-16 TEYNHAM. FATAL ACCIDENT.- A sad accident occurred here on Friday, the 8th instant. A labourer named John Wildish, aged 62, in the employ of Mr French, was engaged in loading some straw on the top of a wagon, at a brickfield at Barrow Green, when the horse suddenly started and he was thrown heavily to the ground, head foremost. Concussion of the spine followed upon the injury. He was at once removed to his home, where he died on the following day - 36 hours after the accident. An inquest was held on Tuesday by Mr Coroner Delasaux, when Henry Wildish, son of the deceased, deposed to the above facts, and Dr Pritchard, who was called in to deceased soon after the accident, gave evidence to the effect that deceased died from the injuries he received in the fall. A verdict of "Accidental Death" was recorded. Accident Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald 1880-07-17 TEYNHAM.  July 7, at St. Mary's Church, Charles, second son of Mr. J. French, Lynsted, to Elizabeth Caroline, fifth daughter of Mr. Leonard White, Teynham. Marriage Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald 1881-01-29 FAVERSHAM PROSECUTING SOCIETY.- The annual meeting of this Society was held at the Ship Hotel on Wednesday last; Mr. Baker Murton in the chair. The business was entirely of a routine character. The following members were elected on the Committee for the ensuing year:- Messrs. Julius Fairbeard, George French, Edward Hogben, Henry Minter, C. Murton, the executors of the later F. Murton, Robert Murton, William Murton, C. Neame, Edwin Neame, W. and R.Payn, J.Rayfield, and J. Strouts.  A vote of thanks to the Chairman closed the proceedings. Legal East Kent Gazette 1883-01-13 TEYNHAM. TO TIMBER MERCHANTS, BARGE BUILDERS, AND OTHERS. Messrs. Nethersole & Honeyball. Are favoured with instructions from Messrs H.T. Bensted and J. French to SELL by AUCTION, on THURSDAY, 25th January, 1883, at Twelve o’clock, on the spot
32 ELM TREES, of exceptionally fine quality and size, several containing nearly 100 feet, lying in a field adjoining the road leading from Teynham Station to Greenstreet, and within a quarter of a mile from the Station.
Also, 2 WALNUT TREES, lying in an Orchard near the Court Lodge, Teynham.
Catalogues, with full particulars, to be obtained of the AUCTIONEERS, Deal and Teynham, and at the East Kent Markets.
The Auctioneers respectfully call attention to this splendid lot of Timber, rarely to be surpassed, and to the favourable circumstances in which it is placed for getting away.
AUCTION Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald 1887-06-18 SWINE FEVER - slaughter three diseased and eight healthy, the property of Mr James French, Lynsted. Agriculture Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald 1889-04-13 OVERSEERS IN FAVERSHAM UNION.-At the County Petty Sessions on Thursday last, the annual appointments of overseers were made. The following are those for the several parishes in the Faversham Union. Doddington, J. Johnson and H. Norrington; Lynsted, J. Howe and T. Back; Newnham, G. Wiseman and J.M. Weeks; Norton Captain J.H. Howard and C. Howland; Oare, G.W. Finn and S. Dan; Ospringe, H.S. Tett and J.P. Barnes; Teynham, W.R. Dixon and W. French Poor Law Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald 1890-04-12 FAVERSHAM BOROUGH PETTY SESSIONS.  OVERSEERS IN FAVERSHAM UNION.- Overseers appointments. Doddington, James Jackson and H. Norrington; Luddenham, Henry Collard and E.W. Shove; Lynsted, T. Tack and R.M. Mercer; Newnham, G. Wiseman and J.M. Weeks; Norton, Captain Howard and C. Howland; Oare, S. Dan and R. Murton; Stone, H.Collard and W.Millen; Teynham, W.R.Dixon and W.French.
COUNTY PETTY SESSIONS. Thursday.  Before Mr.Serjeant Spinks, chairman, viscount Throwley, J.Rigden, Esq., Colonel Tyler,, Captain Hooper, and J.Rigden, Esq. 
THE DOG MUZZLING ORDER.  Gilbert Howard was charged with allowing a dog to go unmuzzled at Teynham, on the 3rd March, and P.C.Mills having proved the case, defendant was fined 1s. and 9s. costs.
Poor Law Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald 1891-04-11 OVERSEERS IN FAVERSHAM UNION.-At the County Petty Sessions on Thursday last the usual appointments of overseers were made.  The following are those for the several parishes in the Faversham Union:-  Doddington, James Jackson and H.Norrington; Luddenham, Henry Collard and E.W.Shove; Lynsted, T.Tack and R.M. Mercer; Newnham, George Wiseman and J.M. Weeks; Norton, J.H.Howard and C.Howland; Oare, S. Dan and G.W.Finn; Ospringe, S.Hawkins and William Millen; Stone, William Millen and H.Collard; Teynham, W.R.Dixon and William French.
ELECTION OF GUARDIANS.- Subjoined is a list of the nominations for the annual election of guardians for the Faversham Union:- Doddington, Rev.W.J.Monk; Luddenham, Mr.Edward W. Shore; Lynsted, Mr.W.R.Dixon; Newnham, Mr.A.W.Coultrip; Norton, Capt.J.H.Howard; Oare, Mr.William Culver; Ospringe, Mr. James P.Barnes and Mr.William Clark; Stone, Mr.H.Collar; Teynham, Mr.H.T.Bensted.
Poor Law Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald 1893-04-08 FAVERSHAM. ELECTION OF GUARDIANS for the Faversham Union. Lynsted, Mr William Roper Dixon (sitting guardian) and Mr James French.  Oare (which has been unrepresented during the past year), Mr.William Culver. .... It will be seen that for Faversham there are five candidates for the three vacancies, and that in five other parishes, represented by one guardian each, there are duplicate nominations, viz., Leaveland, Lynsted, Oare, Ospringe, and Preston.  Any candidate is at liberty to retire at any time before the collection of the voting papers, which is fixed for the 10th April. Poor Law






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