John French (judge)

John French (1670 – October 25, 1728) was a Scottish-born colonial American judge who served as a justice of the Colonial Delaware Supreme Court from 1726 to 1727.

John French
Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court
In office
Preceded byJasper Yeates
Succeeded byDavid Evans
Personal details
Died(1728-10-25)October 25, 1728
New Castle, Delaware


Though his exact date of birth is unknown, French was born about 1670 in Scotland. He emigrated to North America in 1703, settling in the colony of Delaware. Shortly afterwards, French was elected to the position of Delaware high sheriff. When Delaware was given its first separate assembly from Pennsylvania, French was a member of it and later was its speaker. When a militia was requested from Pennsylvania and Delaware, the latter responded and he was given the position of Colonel.[1]

French later became an ambassador between the colony of Delaware and local native Americans. As sole ambassador, he helped signed a peace treaty in 1719 with the Mingo, Shawnee, Delaware, and Conawage indians.[1] When there were territory disputes between Delaware and Maryland, French was appointed "Guardian of the Marches of the Province", and negotiated with agents of Lord Baltimore.[1] He also bought four acres of land along the Christiana River, and opened a grist mill, which, with his political positions, helped him become a wealthy individual, according to The Morning News.[1]

In 1717, Sir William Keith was appointed governor, and became good friends with French. Keith gave him positions as register of wills for New Castle County and justice of the peace.[1]

When Patrick Gordon was made a successor to Keith, French was given a position on the Delaware Supreme Court as top justice on July 25, 1726.[2] He was removed one year later, when documents were shown that alleged he made derogatory comments about the Penn Family. He died one year later, on October 25, 1728, in New Castle.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Wilson, W. Emerson (April 8, 1965). "Col. John French was soldier, miller, jurist". The Morning News – via  
  2. ^ Scharf, John Thomas (1888). History of Delaware: 1609-1888. Richards, L. J. p. 562.
Political offices
Preceded by Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court
Succeeded by