Ann Eliza French

1787 - 1835

Claimant or beneficiary


  1. Baptised in St Catherine, Jamaica, 22/05/1790: "Ann Eloisa French daughter of said Jane Charlotte Beckford Mulatto, aged 3." Baptised on the same day was her elder brother, "Robert French Son of Jane C. Beckford Mulatto aged 6" and her younger half-sister, "Thomasina, daughter of Jane Charlotte Beckford, Mulatto born 26 April [1789]."

  2. Charlotte Beckford had 2 other children with the surname French: "George French Quadroon son of Charlotte Beckford" born 09/06/1777 and baptised 16/12/1780 and "Edward French Son of Charlotte Beckford a free Mulatto" born 07/10/1782 and baptised 10/05/1783.

  3. Jane Charlotte Beckford and her sons George and Edward were granted with certain restrictions the rights and privileges of white people in an Act of Parliament of 1784. The act explains, "Whereas the said Jane Charlotte Beckford hath been Baptised Educated and Instructed in the principles of the Christian Religion and in the Communion of the Church of England as by Law Established and hath caused her said children to be Baptised the elder of whom hath been sent to England and where it is intended that the younger of them shall also be sent at a proper age to be brought up in the like principles and Educated in such manner as to make them useful to the Community which with the assistance that will be afforded them will raise them above the level of people of Colour in general..."

  4. There was clearly money and prestige promoting the interests of Jane Charlotte and her children. A likely candidate for her children's father is George Ffrench, Assistant Judge, Solicitor for the Crown and Clerk of the Peace in Spanish Town, St Catherine, in the 1780s. 2 years after the birth of Jane Charlotte's fourth child, George Ffrench married Ann Elizabeth Jackson, 31/01/1788. He died of dropsy in 1795; in his will he left everything to his wife and only surviving legitimate child, making no mention of Jane Charlotte or any illegitimate children.

  5. Jane Charlotte Beckford ran a lodging house called Miss Ffrench's in Spanish Town. She is mentioned in Lady Nugent's Journal: "July 11th [1803] At 10 [pm] we sent [the French gentlemen] to Spanish Town, where we had provided beds for them at Charlotte Beckford’s, and the Admiral with Captain Bayntun remained here." The lodging house was on the corner of Ellis Street and Whitechurch Street and still stands today. Jane Charlotte died 23/10/1825 age 66. Her executor was her daughter Ann Eliza who was presumably running the lodging house as well. The inventory of her belongings shows mahogany furniture for 6 bedrooms as well as 19 mahogany chairs, 2 "sofhas"[sic - sofas], table cloths, crockery, glassware, candlesticks and more to a total value of £132 7s 6d.

  6. Given her age at death, it is possible that Jane Charlotte was the same Jane Beckford who was born 11/07/1762 and baptised 13/12/1762 in St Catherine, Jamaica, illegitimate daughter of Ballard Beckford by Sarah Smith.

  7. It is very likely that Ann Eliza French was the same Ann French who had five children with John Swaby (q.v.) born between 1806 and 1821 and two children with Anthony Britton (possibly also q.v.) in 1827 and 1828. The children were Charles French Swaby (born 18/06/1806), Sarah Ann Swaby (born 15/11/1808), John Swaby (b.c. 1812), Horatio Swaby (b.c. 1816), Marie Antoinette Swaby (born 11/08/1821), Ann Jane Britton (born 25/01/1827) and John Britton (born 12/02/1828). Ann French of Manchester claimed compensation for Manchester claim no. 479 as guardian to Charles Swaby for an enslaved person on Redberry estate. Anthony Britton was an executor of the will of Ann Eliza French in 1836 and Redberry was registered to Anthony Britton in the almanacs of 1833 and 1840 and the compensation for Redberry was paid to Ann Eliza French. Another child, Eliza Thomasine Walsh French, christened 07/04/1808 with the mother's name given as A. E. French, was possibly the daughter of Ann Eliza French as well.

  8. Miss Ann French of Manchester, age 46, was buried in the churchyard of the Cathedral in Spanish Town, St Catherine, 13/10/1835. Her brothers Edward age 53 and Robert age 50 had been buried there, 07/09/1835 and 11/10/1835. The inventory of her estate shows the compensation received for ownership of 52 enslaved people and the value of their subsequent apprenticeships as well as the boarding-house furniture.

  9. Sarah Ann and Marie Antoinette Swaby were bequeathed £10,000 each in the will of John Swaby (proved 1826). Charles French Swaby was bequeathed £5,000 and an annuity of £40 per annum for life. John and Horatio Swaby inherited Spur Tree estate in Manchester, Jamaica.

  10. Several of Ann Eliza French's children lived in Britain. In 1832, the Chancery case Swaby vs. Swaby resulted in the removal of Marie Antoinette Swaby from the custody of her mother Ann Eliza French in Jamaica and her relocation to England; the Attorney General of Jamaica ruled that Ann Eliza French's living in a state of "concubinage" with Anthony Britton provided "the probability of [Marie] being educated in a manner ill-calculated to promote her future respectability and happiness." There may have been some difficulties in the relationship between Marie and her mother: when Edmund Francis Green (q.v.) was appointed to escort Marie to England, "Mr. Watkis, of Counsel with the infant female, rose, and stated that he was just instructed to mention to the Court, that the appointment of Mr. Green had not met with the concurrence of his client, inasmuch as Mr. Green, independent of his being an unmarried man, was too intimately connected with the parties in the cause, and particularly with Miss French, the mother of the young female." In 1839, Marie married Thomas Moyle of the 18th Royal Irish Regiment in Marylebone and in 1849 she remarried, to John Dunn, a widowed surgeon, in St Stephen's Coleman Street, London. She married for a third time in 1860, to Jonathan Tanner Sparke, in St James Westminster. Sparke's occupation in the 1861 census is given as "Secretary to Garrick Club London". Sarah Ann Swaby had married John Smith, a surgeon, in York in 1833 (her half-sister's husband Thomas Oxley was one of the witnesses).

  11. Charles [French] Swaby was living at 40 St Mary Axe, of independent means, in 1841, in the household of his brother-in-law John Smith and sister Sarah. By 1851, Charles, Sarah Ann and Marie were living at 8 Finsbury Place South in London with their half-sister Ruth (who had married Thomas Oxley in 1816 and had since been widowed) Sarah Ann's husband John W. Smith and their seven children as well as Marie's two-month-old daughter, a scholar named Christopher B. Limber age 18, four female servants and one male servant. Charles Swaby was a lodger at 4 Creed Place, Greenwich, in 1861. Marie's death was registered Q4 1863 in Islington and Charles died in January 1866 in Guy's Hospital. Horatio Swaby remained in Jamaica; he died at Spur Tree in Manchester in 1889.


For an account of the Ffrench/Beckford family with copies of birth and death records, transcripts of wills and a photograph of Miss Ffrench's lodging house see and [both accessed 21/05/2013].

  1., Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 [database online].

  2., Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 [database online].

  3. CO139/39 (590).

  4. [accessed 21/05/2013].

  5. Ibid. for a transcript of her inventory. Lady Maria Skinner Nugent, Lady Nugent's Journal: Jamaica One Hundred Years Ago (Institute of Jamaica, A. & C. Black, 1907) p. 219.

  6., Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 [database online].

  7., Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 [database online]. Jamaica Almanacs (1833 and 1840). T71/860 claim no. 479., London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1938. [database online].

  8., Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 [database online].

  9. PROB 11/1716.

  10. Jamaica Watchman Vol. 11 No. 78, 29/09/1832 pp. 1-3. Gentleman's Magazine Vol. 167 p. 202 (February 1840)., London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 [database online].

  11. 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses online. FreeUKGen, England and Wales Free BMD Database, Deaths, 1837-1983 [database online]., London, England, Deaths and Burials, 1813-1980 [database online]. See separate entry for Horatio Swaby.

We are grateful to Keith and Nancy (Ffrench) Atkinson, David Wood, and Roberta Wedge for their assistance with compiling this entry.

Further Information

[With John Swaby] Charles French Swaby (1806-), Sarah Ann Swaby (1808-), John Swaby (1812-), Horatio Swaby (1816-), Marie Antoinette Swaby (1821-). [With Anthony Britton] Ann Jane Britton (1827-), John Britton (1828-)


….for the Probate of Wills and granting Letters of Administration to John Farrell and John Atkinson both of the Parish of Manchester in the County of Middlesex and Island aforesaid planters these are in His Majesy's name to will and require you to inventory and appraise all and singular the goods and chattels rights and credits of Ann French late of the parish of Manchester deceased according as they shall be shewn unto you by Anthony Bretton of the same parish her executor which you know did belong to the said deceased at the time of her decease. This you are to perform according to the best of your judgments and consciences and thereof to make a due return, under your hands and seals into the Secretary's Office of the Island within six months after the date hereof or within such time as the Ordinary of this Island for the time being shall appoint for that purpose to the end the same may be filed and recorded. Given under my hand and seal at Arms at St Jago de la Vega this thirteenth day of November annoque domini 1835 Sig Illeg Passed the Secy's Office Lt G Stewart Secretary Jamaica Isl The due execution of the within warrant of appraisement appears by the Inventory hereunto annexed.Given under our hands & seals this 11th day of June 1836 Jno Farrell JnAtkinson

Inventory of the estate of Ann French decd entd 15 June 1836 Jamaica Is An Inventory and Appraisement of all & singular the goods and chattels rights and credits which were of Ann French late of the Parish of Manchester in the County of Middx & Island aforesaid Gentlewoman decd

4 Brood mares £80, 3 fallowers [sic - followers, young foals still reliant on their mothers] £36, 2 Horses £85-6-8 £201-6-8

Compensation for 52 slaves £1100 sterling equal to currency at 13% premium £1740-4-0

Remainder of apprenticeship term of 38 apprentices viz 30 1st class & 8 2nd class £918-0-0

5 mahoghany bedsteads with beds ye £50, 1 looking glass £2, 12 chairs £4 £56-0-0

5 small tables £1-13-4, 2 Chests of Drawers £6, 1 sofa £2, sundry wearing apparel £5 £14-13-4

12 silver tablespoons £6, 6 silver teaspoons £-15/-, 2 silver ladles £6, 2 silver salt spoons 3/4 £12-18-4

A gold watch with appendages £32, 2 pale sadells £10 £42 -0 -0


By virtue of the warrant of appraisement hereunto annexed we have inventoried and appraised all the goods and chattels rights and credits which were of Ann French late of the Parish of Manchester in the County of Middlesex and Island aforesaid Gentlewoman deceased.....amounting to £2985-2-4 current money of Jamaica ….etc

Lodging house keeper

Associated Claims (3)

£1,060 10s 9d
£26 12s 2d
£136 9s 8d

Relationships (3)

Extra-marital relationships
Extra-marital relationships
Mother → Natural Son