We really never imagined we would make it thus far, but voilà, our blog has hit its second birthday. It has been a jolly ride and we hope it will continue to be so. There is much more about which to write and we have been greatly encouraged by the many kind words of praise sent by our admirable readers (though one has complained that our "sentences are too long"). In heartfelt gratitude, as we did last year, we wish to offer a gift.
We have written here previously about Napoleon’s English prisoners, known in French as the Prisonniers de Guerre Anglais, even though people of other nationalities were snagged in the round-up in the spring of 1803. It is a topic we enjoy studying in many of the archives of France, and our article on the subject appears in the latest issue of the Society of Genealogists publication “Genealogists’ Magazine” (vol. 30 no. 5, March 2011)
“Zealous” does not quite describe the French authorities’ commitment to arresting every British male who could be considered, even remotely, an enemy combatant. Something of the crazed, schizoid delirium of the Terror seems to have come into play for among those arrested were the elderly, mothers, daughters, children, babes in arms and so forth, many of whom could not possibly have been considered a combatant or spy.
Finding the names and documentation of these prisoners is a struggle for genealogists, and it is even more difficult when researching women. We thought that, in honour of our blog’s second anniversary, (and also, rather late, in honour of Women's History Month) we would offer a free list of the names of women who were among the prisoners. There are 237 names on the list. Though we have spent many hours researching it, it cannot be considered exhaustive, for the information in the archives is too chaotic for certainty. The names are taken from various indices and lists in the Service Historique de la Défense, including lists of those given passports to leave France soon after they were arrested and of those on whom correspondence or surveillance files were kept. If your family sagas contain a story of an ancestress held prisoner in Napoleonic France, it may contain some truth and this list may contain her name.
To receive the free PDF of “Foreign Women Prisoners in Napoleonic France”, please send an e-mail requesting it to amerigen (AT) yahoo (DOT) com. And -- as we find it the most appropriately named of all champagnes for such a topic -- break out the Veuve!
©2011 Anne Morddel