French, NICHOLAS, Bishop of Ferns, Ireland, b. at Ballytory, Co. Wexford, in 1604, his parents being John French and Christina Rosseter; d. at Ghent, August 23, 1678. He studied at Louvain and appears to have been president of one of the colleges there, and on his return Ireland in 1640 he was Minted parish priest of Wexford. During the Confederation War in Ireland he joined the Confederate party and took an active part in the deliberations of the Kilkenny Assembly. He was appointed Bishop of Ferns and was consecrated in November, 1645. Though opposed to the party of Preston he favored the peace of 1648 against the Nuncio Rinuccini, but in the synod at Jamestown in 1650, he bitterly opposed the Ormond faction. In 1651 he went on a deputation to the Duke of Lorraine to solicit his assistance against Cromwell, and to offer him the protectorship of Ireland, but this mission having proved a failure he remained on the Continent. It is not clear whether it was at this particular period or later that he officiated for a while as coadjutor Bishop of Paris. He retired to Santiago in Spain, where he assisted the Archbishop of Santiago, and where he wrote his book, “Lucubrations of the Bishop of Ferns in Spain“. At the Restoration period he was about to return to Ireland, but being greatly disliked by Ormond on account of his attitude at the conference at Jamestown, the permission that had been given was withdrawn, and he remained in different parts of the Continent, notably at Paris and Ghent. During this portion of his life he published many pamphlets on Irish affairs, which are extremely valuable for the elucidation of the history from the outbreak of the war till 1675. In his last years he appears to have officiated as assistant to the Bishop of Ghent, and in that city he died, aged seventy-three years. There, too, a magnificent monument was raised to his memory.
He was a man of great literary activity as is evident from his numerous works. Besides a course of philosophy still in manuscript in March’s Library, Dublin, he published “Queeres propound by the Protestant Party in Ireland concerning the peace now treated of in Ireland” (Paris, 1644); “A Narrative of Clarendon’s Sale and Settlement of Ireland, etc.” (Louvain, 1668); “The Bleeding Iphigenia” (1674), and “The Unkind Deserter of Loyal men and true friends”, i.e. Ormond (Paris, 1676). An edition of his works was prepared by Samuel H. Bindon and was published at Dublin, in 1846.