Francis Ormond French II (1888-1962)

"Frank" Francis Ormond French II, Stockbroker/Taxicab Driver/Salesman

Associated Houses

Tuck's Eden

Tuxedo Park

He was born at Tuxedo Park New York, a nephew of the former Mrs Elsie Vanderbilt and her sister Lady Cheylesmore. Francis started his career as the owner of a brick paving business, but this failed in 1914. He then became a stockbroker in New York City but in 1923 a series of poor decisions left him bankrupt and he shocked Gilded Age society - not to mention his family - by becoming a taxicab driver in New York. He was presumably bailed out by a relative as his career behind the wheel was not a long one, netting him just $17, but this wasn't good enough for his wife who divorced him that year. He was married again in Cincinnati in 1930 to the divorced Mrs Mary (Cleneay) Galvin of Boston, but three years later, his philanthropic great-uncle, Edward Tuck, refused to send him any more money for the simple reason that he thought him "a moron". By 1934, he was living at Dedham, Massachusetts, when his daughter Ellen, married John Jacob Astor VI. They were married for nine years and after their divorce she married Raymond Guest, the son of one of Winston Churchill's first cousins.

In 1937, Frank voluntarily declared himself bankrupt with assets of $300 and debts of $4,907 and the following year he started work in Boston as a salesman of golf clubs and accessories. But his situation did not improve and by the end of 1938 he had applied for Work's Progress Administration Relief, declaring that he was down to his last $15. He was living at 12 Catherine Street in Newport when his father died in 1941 and he was presumably rescued from destitution. Sometime after that he took up residence at 12 Club House Road, Tuxedo Park, where he died in 1962 and was described as a "Civic Leader". He had successfully raised funds for an educational building for St. Mary's Episcopal Church which was duly named the French House. He had two daughters from his first marriage.
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 13/10/2021 and last updated on 02/06/2023.