- Arthur French, 5th Baron de Freyne
Arthur Reginald French, 5th Baron de Freyne (
July 3, 1879– May 9, 1915) was born in London, to Arthur French of Frenchpark, County Roscommon(1855-1913), 4th Baron de Freyne, and his wife Lady Laura Octavia Dundas (died 1881).
A graduate of Sandhurst and lieutenant in the
Royal Fusiliers, he incurred the wrath of his father when on November 18, 1902he married Annabelle Angus (the daughter of an innkeeper in Banffshireand the divorced wife of a brother officer, one Captain Alexander) and was cut off. The marriage appears to have been short-lived. Nevertheless, unable to keep himself in the style to which a British officer would become accustomed, he resigned his commission. He sailed on the steamship Umbria for the United States, where he intended either to join the North West Mounted Police, or to travel to the ranch of his uncle William French in Frenchtown near Cimarron, New Mexico.
Landing in New York in mid-January 1905, he checked into the Hotel St.-Denis at 799 Broadway at 11th. By the 19th he had disappeared from the hotel, leaving his substantial and expensive baggage behind. An uproar began, involving the
New York City Policeand the British consulate, which was widely reported in the press. In mid-February he was discovered nearby, at Fort Slocum, an island post in Long Island Soundjust off New Rochelle. On the 24th of January he had enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army, and was assigned to A Company, the 8th Infantry Regiment at Slocum, where he had reported 1 February. Known as “the Dook of Fort Slocum,” he was popular with the other troops, sponsoring dinners for his colleagues on post (by selling his civilian suits).
He remained with the regiment when it transferred to the
Philippines. He remained in the Philippines and enlisted there several more times (though contrary to legend, remained a private throughout his American service). On September 10, 1913, his father died, and he inherited the title; so in Mindanao on October 19 of that year, he purchased his way out of his American enlistment (a common and allowable practice from 1890 to 1940).
He died on
May 9, 1915, probably toward 16:00 hours, in the Battle of Aubers Ridge, fighting alongside his half-brother, the Hon. George Philip French, as a captain in the South Wales Borderers. He was succeeded as Baron de Freyne by another half-brother, Francis Charles French.
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