Francois Alexandre (1809-1889)
Francois Alexandre, merchant and shipowner, was born in Jersey on 5 August 1809 and died in New York City on 8 June 1889. He was the youngest son of Josué Alexandre of Longueville, St Saviour, a farmer who had bought in 1798 the Fief de la Carrière in Grouville. His mother was Elizabeth Fauvel.
With an inclination for a sailor's life, he went to sea at an early age, and acquired an education by attending school during his stay in various ports and devoting the spare time on ship to reading.
At the age of twenty-one he took command of a vessel, which he directed for years, renouncing in favour of his sisters the estate which he had inherited from his father. When about 28 years old, the young captain settled in New York City, establishing a small commission house in South Street, paying at first an annual rent of $25.
In 1842 he established a line of sailing vessels between New York and Honduras, and subsequently between New York, Vera Cruz and South America. In this enterprise he succeeded so well that, in 1867, he sold the sailing vessels, substituted steamers, and for 19 years carried mails, freights and passengers between New York, Havana and Mexico.
Many remarkable ships were built for this line in subsequent years, including the City of Mexico, City of New York, City of Havana, City of Alexandria, City of Washington, City of Vera Cruz, and City of Pueblo. The business transacted was large and profitable. In 1888 the firm sold its vessels and Francois Alexandre retired from business.
In 1838 he had married Miss Civiles Cipriaut of New York, who died on 13 February 1882. Three sons, John, Joseph , and Henry survived him. They had been successively taken into partnership as they came of age, the great house taking the name of F. Alexandre and Sons.
The secret of his success lay in his industry, integrity, exactness and justice of method, and natural business ability. He enjoyed a high reputation among those with whom he was associated. His sons have since attained prominence in the social life of the city.