Amos Tuck French (1863-1941)

Vice-President of the Manhattan Trust Co., New York

Associated Houses



Tuck's Eden

Tuxedo Park

He was born at Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up between New York City and Newport. He was the brother of Mrs Elsie Vanderbilt and Lady Cheylesmore. He graduated from Harvard (1885) where he was a member of the Porcelain Club and then became a member of the New York Stock Exchange. His father was President of the Manhattan Trust Company and in 1888 he was made Treasurer before retiring in 1900 as Vice-President but maintaining his seat on the board until 1908, when he turned down an offer to succeed as President due to the economic climate. He was a Director of the Northern Securities Company; Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad; Northern Pacific Railroad; and, the Lying-In Hospital. He was a leader of Gilded Age society and served as Governor of the Knickerbocker Club, the Tuxedo Club, and the Breeder's Club of New Hampshire. He was also a member of the Turf & Field Club and the Newport Casino.

Before World War I, he dedicated his private life to yachting, hunting, breeding horses, playing polo and attending operas and balls. During this same period, he travelled to Europe at least once every year to visit his sister, Lady Cheylesmore, at Cooper's Hill among other houses, and their famously philanthropic uncle, Edward Tuck, at the Domaine de Mont-Vert, Paris, Cannes, or Monte Carlo. Amos was his uncle's business agent in the States, eg. travelling with James J. Hill to inspect the Great Northern Railroad.

From 1888 French lived at "Saddlerock" in Tuxedo Park that he described as, "a moderate-sized house" that he built and from where he commuted into Wall Street everyday by train. He had quipped that he was happily settled there and did "not expect to move again until I go to the White House". He didn't get to the White House, but the next house he moved into - Tuck's Eden still in Tuxedo Park - was certainly of Presidential proportions. For some years he took a summer house in Newport near to his mother's, Harborview, but from 1902 he began to take an interest in Chester, New Hampshire, from where his ancestors hailed. With his mother's help, he began buying land and property there and after his sister, Ellen, divorced Freddy Vanderbilt in 1908, she also became interested in the venture. They ended up owning adjacent properties with three or more houses that they used as summer homes. French perhaps appropriately named his final home (bought from his relatives, the Richardsons) "Journey's End," where he died.

In 1884, he married "Lena" daughter of Stuyvesant LeRoy, of Tuxedo and Newport, and they were the parents of six children. Whereas he led an active social life, Lena rarely joined in and the invitations that arrived for balls, dinners etc. were more often than not only ever addressed to him. Neither did she accompany him on his annual trips to Europe, preferring to stay with her mother in Newport - a place French soon began to dislike.

Their second daughter, Julia, shocked society by eloping with their chauffeur, Jack Geraghty, but this being real life and not a scene from Downton Abbey, it caused such a rift in the family that it helped to precipitate her parents perhaps inevitable divorce in 1914. In the same year that his wife divorced him for neglect, it became clear where Amos had been focusing his attentions: In November, 1914, it was his turn to take society by surprise when he married (without any engagement) Martha, sister of Rhode Island's Governor R. Livingston Beeckman and sister-in-law of Louis Lasher Lorillard. The last shock foisted upon society by the French family came in 1923 when Amos' eldest son, Frank, became a taxicab driver after having made some unwise decisions as a stockbroker.

During World War I, Amos and Martha ran a Red Cross Rest Station in Tours, France. After the war, through the 1920s and 1930s, they spent increasingly more time in Europe and increasingly less time at Tuck's Eden, eventually retiring to "Journey's End".  


Contributed by Mark Meredith on 16/11/2019 and last updated on 19/10/2021.
The New York Times & the Amos Tuck French Papers