- David O. Whitten
Durnford, Andrew (1800–12 July 1859), free man of color, planter, and physician, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Thomas Durnford, an English immigrant and merchant, and Rosaline Mercier, a free woman of color. Thomas Durnford was a cousin of Colonel Elias Durnford (1739–1794) of the Royal Engineers, lieutenant governor of British West Florida. Andrew Durnford, reared by parents who were denied marriage by law, grew up in New Orleans’s free colored community with the comforts afforded the family of a successful merchant and speculator. His schooling, like most of his early life, is a matter of conjecture. In his adult years he revealed a working knowledge of written and spoken English and French, the rudiments of elementary arithmetic, and medical procedures. He apparently passed freely between the white community with his father and the free colored community with his mother and her family. For example, John McDonogh, a successful merchant and planter of New Orleans and Baltimore, had business ties with both Durnford and his white father. In 1825 Durnford married fifteen-year-old Marie Charlotte Remy, a free woman of color; they had four children, three of whom lived to adulthood. Thomas Durnford died in 1826, two weeks before his namesake, Thomas McDonogh Durnford, was born. In 1828 Andrew Durnford left New Orleans to build a plantation on lands purchased from McDonogh, where he resided until his death....