French Family Association
The Official Website of the Surname French
Chart #IREH, ffrenches of Monivea Castle,
Co. Galway, Ireland
Last updated by Mara French on 11/20/08. Numbers in brackets [ ] refer to the bibliography at the end of this chart. An asterisk (*) shows continuation of that line. Send corrections or additions to Mara French. Revised 1989, 2008.
This is a very extensive ffrench family. There is so much information online about them that I plan to include only a small part here. I am mainly trying to research the connection of the French, ffrench, and de Freyne families born in Ireland who immigrated to America. With this particular line, one family immigrated to Australia in the 19th century, and one family immigrated to Canada in the 20th century.
Children of Robert Ffrench and Nicholas Browne, 8.1
9.1 Robert Percy Ffrench, b. 9 Oct 1833, succeeded in 1876, d. in Naples in1896, attache to the British Embassy at Paris . He m. Sophie Alexandrovna Kindiakoff, the daughter of a Russian landowner Col. Alexander de Kindiakoff, in 1863. She was an Orthodox Catholic and of great wealth. He converted to her Faith, bringing the family back to Catholicism. He eventually became a Knight of St John of Jerusalem . His only child was Miss Kathleen Emily Alexandra Ffrench, b. 1865, d. 1938. The Ffrenches continued to hold sway in the Big House at Monivea which had 10,121 acres of land in 1876. The winds of change were coming when the last of the line, Robert Percy Ffrench, took over in 1876. He followed a high-flying career with the British Foreign Service. Robert served as secretary to Embassy at Vienna.
Robert Ffrench was employing the trappings of their wealth to extend his family's high social connections, travelling round Europe and coming home with a Russian bride of noble blood. It was also this Robert who built the mausoleum as a lasting legacy of his family's wealth. His tomb is in pride of place in the centre of the chapel, marked with a marble statue of the very highest quality, carved by a leading Italian sculptor of the day, while the stained glass windows were crafted by the same firm as those in Armagh cathedral. There were to be no half-measures . (I have a photo of the crypt and marble statue which I will add later. Mara)
Robert Percy Ffrench died in Naples in 1896. The mausoleum at Monivea was built to receive his remains. This architectural gem is one of the proudest possessions of Monivea. It is a magnificent building, which connects the village to the outside world. A connection which, in the hands of the present inhabitants of the village, is going to be remade and strengthened .
Rosamund Ffrench, Kathleen’s cousin, is buried outside the Mausoleum because she was Catholic, – one can see a cross to the right. Inside are buried in the crypt Robert and his daughter Kathleen Ffrench’s (Protestants) remains are in the basement. The lids are decorated with various branches. A narrow stone staircase leads to the crypt where there is no light. I will post photos of the two boxes when I have time (Mara).
Nestling in a clearing in the trees of Monivea Wood is what at first appears to be a tiny castle, perhaps 25’ wide and 30’ high. Its rough stone blocks bring to mind a Norman church, while the castellations round the top and tiny turret hint at a more martial inspiration. The religious nature of the building becomes clear when you walk round to the back and see a large stained-glass window. Returning to the front and the stately oak doors, it is possible to take a peek through the iron-clad keyhole and into the room beyond, gaining beautiful and tantalising glimpses of the coloured light that streams into the marbled interior. This might seem to be a chapel, but in fact its function is more sombre; it is the mausoleum of the Ffrench family, who used to own this whole estate . The Ffrench Coat of Arms is cast in stone above the front door. I walked on the roof, climbing up a ladder, and could see places that desperately need repair due to collection of rainwater. (Mara)
The wood today is enjoyed by people for walks and recreation away from the hustle and bustle of every day life, freedom to roam and the enjoyment of outdoors and fresh air activity. It is known internationally for both its unique flora and archaeology. The Monivea Wood is widely regarded as being one of the most interesting, diverse and sensitive parts of East County Galway. Apart from the partially completed felling of the Coillte crop, it remains for the moment, largely undisturbed as a quite meditative place.
9.2* Acheson-Sydney-O’Brien ffrench, b. 8 May 1843 . He m. Annie Blake . They had 3 children.
Children of Robert Ffrench and Evelina Kirwan, 8.1
9.3 Patrick Ffrench, eldest son, inherited the lands of Derryglassam, Kilbeg. He was of Corendoe, which he had received “by transplantation”, obtained from his mother, Lady Evelyn, when she remarried Sir Oliver Ffrench . The names Digby and Robert French also appear at Kilbeg.
9.4 Valentin Ffrench
Children of Acheson Ffrench and Anna Watton, 8.11
The family changed the spelling of their name in Australia from Ffrench to French.
9.5 Amy French , b. 4 Sep 1844 in Hamilton, Melbourne, Australia , ancestor of Ref. ’s husband. She m. Anthony Pearson Rudd . She was claimed to be the first white child born at The Grange townsite. She m. 9 Jul 1863 to Anthony Pearson Rudd . Issue four sons and three daughters, five of whom did not reach adulthood . Anthony Rudd d. in 1882 and Amy m2. In 1884 to James Richard Barklie and had one son. Amy d. at Melbourne in 1925 .
9.6 Nichola-Frances French , b. 19 Jul 1845 in Hamilton, Melbourne, Australia . She m1. John Venour in England and had one daughter. She m2. General Oscar Dayton. She d. before 1938 .
9.7 Harriet-Maria French , b. 26 Feb 1847 in Hamilton, Melbourne, Australia . She m. Robert Power in 1876 and had one son. She d. in 1938 at age 93 in Melbourne .
9.8 Acheson-Evelyn French, b. 9 Feb 1849 , in Hamilton, Melbourne, Australia , m. Marion Christina Wilson in 1874 , dau. of Alexander Wilson of Mount Emu, Victoria, Australia. Their son, Evelyn, m. Blanche Watson .
9.9 Edward-Victor French, b. 15 Dec 1850 , in Hamilton, Melbourne, Australia, d. 7 Oct 1907 . He m. a widow, Florence Adele Rogers, nee Manton, in 1888 . He d. at Broken Hill in 1906. Issue 2 sons and 2 daughters .
9.10 Lucius French, twin of Mary, b. 9 Jul 1852 , in Hamilton, Melbourne, Australia . He d. in W. A. in 1899 .
9.11 Mary French . Twin of Lucius, b. 9 Jul 1852 in Hamilton, Melbourne, Australia . She m. John Watton Conolly in 1893 (they were first cousins). She d. at Melbourne in 1943, age 90. Issue one son .
9.12 Alice French, b. 25 Apr 1856 in Hamilton, Melbourne, Australia . She m. Frederick Henry Moore in 1885, she d. at Sydney in 1948, issue one daughter .
9.13 Emily French, b. 21 May 1858 in Hamilton, Melbourne, Australia, d. 30 Jun 1859 at one year old .
9.14 John Ludlow French, b. 18 Feb 1860 in Hamilton, Melbourne, Australia . He m. Adelina Page. He d. at Bendigo in 1935. Issue one daughter .
9.15* Henry Albert DeFreyne O’Brien, b. 6 Mar 1862 in Hamilton, Melbourne, Australia . He m. Winifred Thursby overseas in 1890 . She was b. 11 Nov 1868 at Leighton Hall, Shopshire, England, dau. of Major James Legh Thursby and Harriet Mathilda Johnston . Photo from Ref . He d. in 1933. Issue 3 sons and 1 daughter; descendants live in England, Canada, and Europe .
9.16 Robert Percy French, b. 23 May 1864 in Hamilton, Melbourne, Australia . Unmarried, he died at Melbourne in 1939 .
9.17 Anna French, b. 25 Dec 1866 in Hamilton, Melbourne, Australia . Unmarried, she d. at Melbourne in 1959 .
Child of Robert Percy Ffrench and Sophie Alexandrovna Kindiakoff, 9.1
10.1 Kathleen Emily Sophie Alexandra Ffrench, only heir of Robert Percy Ffrench, b. 1864, d. 1938. Lady Kathleen Ffrench left Monivea to the people of Monivea and the nation in 1938 when she died. She stated the 400 acres of beech woodland would be left "until the trees rot in the ground". The newly-established independent Irish government had decreed that when a landowner died, 90% of their lands should be given to the local people, to break the old English feudal systems. This meant that the size of the Monivea demesne would be reduced from 10,000 acres to just 1000 - not nearly enough to sustain the baronial lifestyle and castle. So it was that the land was left to the fledgling Irish nation, and the mausoleum in the care of the Catholic Church, as it remains today.
By the 1950s the trees were cut down by the land commission/forestry board and replaced with a conifer plantation, which is now ready for clear felling, hence the sale. Coillte now have control over the forest.
In 1938 the last member of the main branch of the family Ms. Kathleen Ffrench bequeathed it to the Irish nation as ‘a home for indigent artists.’ This bequest was abrogated with the neglect and demolition of the main house leaving only the medieval castle portion and outbuildings and the break-up of the Estate. However the main woodland area including the area adjacent to the village passed to the Forestry Commission, subsequently Coillte, and has been a long established public amenity.
Robert had only one child, a daughter, Kathleen. Kathleen was a determined woman who never settled into the Victorian ideal of husband, home and hearth. Instead, she took on the task of restoring her family's Russian lands as her forefathers had restored those in Ireland. For many years she lived in Russia, organising the workers on her land, and gradually the estate returned to profit. But just as she was finishing her task there and beginning to reap the rewards, she almost lost her life in the Russian revolution. The lands were all seized, and in the end she was lucky to escape with her life .
Although so much had been lost, Kathleen still had the Irish lands to fall back on. During her years away after her father's death, the estate had been managed by her cousin Rosamund, and with Kathleen's return it was hard for Rosamund to revert to playing second fiddle. The two women fell out, so badly that Kathleen never settled there, eventually returning overseas and seeing out her days in China. After her death, her body was returned and buried in the crypt underneath the chapel, directly below her father's tomb - but now there was not enough money in the family coffers to embellish it with sculpture, nor anyone to organise such a memorial; for within weeks Rosamund also died. It seeming wrong to bury her alongside the cousin with whom she had so implacably feuded, Rosamund was laid to rest in a plot next to, but outside, the mausoleum's walls . The Ffrench Mausoleum and Chapel is located in Monivea Wood. Robert and Kathleen Ffrench’s remains are contained in a crypt in the basement of the Mausoleum.
Neither woman having produced an heir, there was no obvious successor to the Ffrench family estates. What is more, the newly-established independent Irish government had decreed that when a landowner died, 90% of their lands should be given to the local people, to break the old English feudal systems. This meant that the size of the Monivea demesne would be reduced from 10,000 acres to just 1000 – not nearly enough to sustain the baronial lifestyle and castle. So it was that the land was left to the fledgling Irish nation, and the mausoleum in the care of the Catholic Church, as it remains today .
I plan to add more about Peg Moyles and her family who helped me greatly in my research. Peg was the gatekeeper of the grounds. It seems there was something else to write about across the street from the gate and Peg’s small house, but I can’t remember what it is. To me it seemed as though the town was very small, only about 2 blocks long. (Mara)
Children of Acheson-Sydney-O’Brien ffrench and Annie Blake, 9.2
10.2 Rosamund Nichola ffrench . Rosamund Ffrench, Kathleen’s cousin, is buried outside the Mausoleum at Monivea because she was Catholic.
10.3 Annie Christine Cecilia ffrench .
10.4 Charles ffrench .
10.6* Conrad O’Brien-ffrench, b. 19 Nov 1893 in London, England, d. 23 Oct 1986 in Loveland, Colorado, m1. Maud Baratier, m2. Roseline Baker in 1945 in Banff, Alberta, Canada. He moved to Sunrise Ranch, Loveland, Colorado in 1972.
Also see Conrad O’Brien-ffrench of the Monivea ffrench family.
Conrad’s great-grandfather, Robert ffrench, Esq. of Monivea Castle and High Sheriff of County Galway, m1. Nichola-Maria O’Brien in 1799, the eldest daughter of Sir Lucius O’Brien, who was Bart. of Dromoland, and had a daughter, Christine. She was also Robert’s first cousin. Conrad kept these two surnames (O’Brien and ffrench) in honor of their royalty. Conrad m2. Roseline and had a son, John.
‘The Life of Conrad O’Brien-ffrench’’ brought out his spiritual life; it also brought out Mara French, from San Jose, California. An exhibition of some of Conrad’s more than 2,000 paintings and drawings was viewed at the Loveland Museum and Gallery, Loveland Colorado, Aug 1 through Sep 19, 1987. Conrad died in Oct 1986 at 92, but his buoyant spirit and creativity still are having an impact through his art and his personal influence on many lives. He was an artist, soldier, poet, adventurer, spy, raconteur, teacher, lecturer, philosopher, and humanitarian. He was also the man generally acknowledged to have inspired his friend, Ian Fleming, to create the fictional sensation, James Bond. For Your Eyes Only.
Roseline Baker ffrench, Conrad’s second wife
Fairholme, Canada, home of Conrad O’Brien ffrench
Since Kathleen Ffrench’s departure, things had not gone well. All monies from Kathleen had stopped and the house was in disrepair. Conrad sent a letter to Kathleen in Harbin, Russia, offering to take things in hand and restore the estate for her. He shared this action with Rozzie, a bad move; she treated him with suspicion thereafter. He had always secretly held aspirations to have Monivea but this letter saw an end to any hopes he had entertained in that respect. He returned to London and had a meeting with Menzies in White’s gentleman’s club. He expected to be returning directly to Austria but SM had different ideas. Conrad was bound for Harbin using a visit to Kathleen as cover. He returned to Kitzbühel packed his bags and headed for Berlin and the Manchuria express. After a long and largely uneventful journey across Russia and Siberia, Conrad arrived at his destination. Harbin was of ill repute an “evil city”. It had over 200,000 Asiatic and 65,000 Europeans living under a tyrannical Japanese rule. It had been little more than a village until the Russians had built a massive bridge over the Sungari River a few years earlier, since then it had mushroomed into the crowded and squalid city Conrad found. He booked himself into the Hotel Modern. Then he contacted the British representative so he may acquaint him of the local conditions. They took a launch up the Sungari so they could be certain of not being overheard. One could only venture six miles upstream as any further would have taken them into bandit country. He recalls seeing a Japanese officer beheading some malefactor as they passed then just letting his body fall into the river. This was a barbaric place. Conrad was left in no doubt of that on his first day. When they returned he made his way to Kathleen’s residence at 16 Bolshoi Prospect. It was a large villa shared by Kathleen and her friend and ladies companion a Princess Uhtomski and a largely unseen Russian orthodox Abbess. It was Conrad’s luck that Kathleen despite her relative poverty still entertained regularly and it seems her villa had become a focal point of political discussion if not intrigue in Harbin. Her supper parties were often attended by the British French and Italian Consuls. Another visitor was a Latvian man who became a valuable contact and provided him with much information. He introduced him to Ivan a Russian working for the Japanese at their military headquarters. Ivan provided him with maps and documents and gave him the exact details and disposition of Japanese troops in Manchukuo. This was a scoop beyond his hopes Conrad was soon making plans for his return. He had tried and failed to get Kathleen to discuss Monivea. He reluctantly accepted that hopes of tenure there for him were unlikely. Conrad also tells of a Japanese’s plot against western morals in Harbin. They provided cheap heroin to the many Russian addicts which inhabited the place. On a night the Hotel porter would use his pass key and let young once prosperous Russian girls, now reduced to earning their living through prostitution, into the rooms of single men. He awoke one night to the sound of a key in the door and shouted out “Go to the devil!” to the unseen female intruder. She replied in perfect English “That’s just what I thought I was doing.” Before she left he had gained much knowledge of this plot against western ethics and morality. It was time for him to leave. He went to see Kathleen for the last time. She gave him a set of golden Russian enamelled spoons as a parting gift. Conrad would never see her again, she would end her days in Harbin despite harbouring hopes to return to Monivea to die. He was making ready to leave for the station the following morning when the Latvian came to him. They went for a drink of coffee. Ivan, he was told, had been arrested for espionage, he tells us in his book .
A paperback book on The Honorable John ffrench’s (8th generation, 8.5) uncle (Conrad O’Brien-ffrench) may be bought from Penquin Books, Ltd., 625 Madison Ave., NY, NY 10022 for $2.95. Book is Hermit of Peking, the Hidden Life of Sir Edmund Backhouse, by Hugh Trevor-Roper, 1978. Other bookshops are Penquin Books, Ltd., Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England. Penquin Books, Australia Ltd., Ringwood, Victoria, Australia. Prices: U.S. $2.95. UK 1.25 Pounds. Australia $3.95. Canada $2.95. This book has been republished in 1986, hardbound, for about $12 from Fromm Int’l Publishers, 560 Lexington Ave., NY, NY 10022, 1-800-526-7626. Available through Campmann & Co., 9 E. 40th St., NY NY 10016 for $10.95 plus $1.25 shipping. Info at (212) 308-4010. Conrad O’Brien-ffrench was the model for James “007” Bond, being a spy in Salzburg during WWII for the British, and a friend of Ian Fleming, who at that time worked as a journalist for Rutgers. Conrad says this myth was just conjecture, as witnessed on a video of him on the following website: http://00bien.tripod.com/. Mara French went to his funeral-reception at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO, in about the year 1988, and even gave a presentation about his genealogy. She even had the privilege of spending the night in Conrad’s son’s room, John.
Here's what the Catholic Who's Who and Yearbook,
1930 edition, has to say about him:
ffrench, Capt. Conrad T. O'Brien- (des Marquis de Cashel-thomond), b. 1893, e. son of Henry, Marquis de Cashel-thomond, of Bolsena, Italy. Educ. in Italy and at Wellington. 3rd bn Royal Irish reg. 1912; served Great War; Capt. 16th Queen's Lancers 1922. Asst mil. attaché Stockholm 1919-20; at Helsingfors 1920-21. AdC to H.E. the Governor of the United Provinces of India 1922; ret. 1926. Kt of Malta. 73 Bedford-gardens, London W8 .
10.7 Yvonne O’Brien-ffrench, lived in London.