You May Now Purchase Recordings of Our French Genealogy Lectures

Learn French Genealogy

Many of you, Dear Readers, expressed regret at not being able to take our online French genealogy courses offered a few months ago with the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research (which has, sadly, ceased operating). Each of those two courses consists of four lectures of an hour and a half each; to take them was rather a big commitment. Now, you can purchase the recordings* of the eight lectures separately, enabling you to learn at your own pace and to select only the lectures that you think you may need, in whatever order you prefer to hear them.

The lecture titles are:

Series 1 - First Steps in French Genealogy

  1. The History and Development of French Parish and Civil Registrations - The purpose, structure and requirements of the registration of population data changed over the centuries of the Ancien Régime, through the Revolution and into modern times. What information was written, how and why, are covered, as are the non-Catholic registrations of populations such as the Jewish and Protestant peoples.
  2. Birth and Death Registrations - While French death registrations normally provide very little information, birth registrations, particularly from the mid-nineteenth century onward, are often a rich source of detail. How to find, interpret and use this information is explained.
  3. Marriage Registrations - French marriage registrations often run to two full pages in the registers, with a wealth of information. Their format is explained and examples are examined.
  4. Online Resources and How to Use Them - There are dozens of French websites of use to the genealogist, most of which are free to use. However, most are in French. This session discusses them and gives guidelines for the non-French speaker in how to navigate them.

Series 2 - French Notarial Records

  1. History and Definitions - The course begins with an explanation and history of notaires and notarial records and with a discussion of their importance to French families. The six degrees of relationship, so important in French inheritance law, are explained. The case study family is introduced.
  2. The Death Inventory and Wills - The structure and format of the death inventory is explained and discussed, followed by a discussion of French wills. Examples from the case study are examined, showing how such documents not only reveal much about a life but can also provide much genealogical information.
  3. The Marriage Contract - Marriage contracts have been common in French families for centuries. Why this is so is explained, as are the main types of contract. The structure and format are explained and examples examined. Because an entire family is usually involved, these contracts can be of enormous genealogical value and should never be ignored. Two marriage contracts from the case study family are examined.
  4. How to Find Notarial Records Online - Finding notarial records is complicated. This session explains how they are stored, how the indices to them are structured, and how to find the record sought. The unique case of Parisian notarial archives is also explained.

The price for each recording is $15. This includes the syllabus.

The recordings are MP4 files and can be played with Quicktime and a number of other programmes.

The files are quite large (70 to 90 MB) and will be shared with you via DropBox, so you will need to be able to access DropBox.

To purchase a recording, write to us at TheFGB(AT)protonmail(DOT)com .

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

*We are most grateful to the VIGR Director and eminent genealogist, Michael Hait, for the suggestion and permission to make our lectures available in this way.


Improve Your Knowledge of French History

Clovis

We have come upon the admirable effort of a young man keen on French history, The French History Podcast. Gary Girod, by his writing, may be the most passionate of francophiles that we have read. Having become entranced by France during some sort of school trip, he later lived in Béziers for a while (where he could have encountered Jean Boischampion, of the lovely stained glass family crests). After a brief career as chequered as our own, he would now seem to be settled in a doctorate programme during which, apparently as a hobby, he has also decided to produce podcasts covering the entirety of French history. Ambitious perhaps, but why not enjoy the dear boy's work as long as it lasts?

And we do hazard that it will bring you some enjoyment, Dear Readers, for his podcasts are both entertaining and informative. He might be a bit more enamoured of the Vercingétorix and Astérix era than we could ever hope to be, but he then expands his range to include interviews with historians and leaps to such modern subjects as women's rights in France. In all, quite fun and yet another way for you to understand the country and culture from which your French ancestors came.

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Researching French Emigré Ancestors in the Archives Nationales

Departure

 

A couple of years ago, the brilliant archivists in the Archives nationales produced a superb advice note on how to research émigré ancestors in France's National Archives, entitled Rechercher un émigré de la Révolution (1789-1825).1 (Note that the word émigré simply means emigrant. English speakers who use that French word mean only those people fleeing France during the Revolution, from roughly 1789 to 1799. When French people use the word alone, it can mean anyone who emigrated at any time for any reason from anywhere. To refer to the same group as meant by the English speakers in French, one must specify that one is referring to emigrants of the Revolution by saying so: émigrés de la Révolution.) As this fine advice note is in French, we summarize it here for our Dear Readers who may need a bit of a hoist over the language hurdle.

The authors begin by giving a bit of historical context. From 1789 to 1800, approximately one hundred fifty thousand French people left their country secretly, or at least without authorisation. (We add this point ourselves since some of them left with so much baggage and made so much noise about it that their departures were common knowledge.) Some had the time to sell up and leave with money, most did not and abandoned all.

The Revolutionary emigrations were in roughly two waves. Those who left before 1792 tended to be aristocrats and counter-revolutionaries. Those who left afterward, forming the second wave, were fleeing the increasing violence and then the Terror. As things calmed down, the government tried to lure them back and some did return, making for something of a first wave back. The second wave of return was, of course, after the defeat of Napoleon and at the establishment of the Restoration, in 1814.

The research advice has four sections:

  1. Key points for genealogical research
  2. Administrative and judicial processes and documentation in the archives
  3. Emigrés in various private documents
  4. Taking your research further...

The Key Points for Genealogical Research

Diligent, nay, stupendously heroic archivist Marthe Robinet worked throughout the 1940s extracting details from nearly twenty different archive series about émigrés and creating an informational card about each one. One card, mind you, that a user can pull to find a list of every archival document in the National Archives about that particular person. At the moment, these are not online, but it looks as if they may be soon. To see them, one must go to the archives and view them on microfiche. Part, but not all of the source material is indexed online, and a few of the actual dossiers may be viewed online.

Administrative and judicial processes and documentation in the archives

There are a vast number of police surveillance files concerning émigrés, and files of cases brought against them, of the confiscation and sale of their property, of judgments against them, of laws passed about them, of their trials, lists of their names, files on their counter-revolutionary activities. Then, there are files on their return to France, the restoration of their property, of their amnesties and removal from lists of criminals and traitors. None of these are online.

Emigrés in various private documents

This group encompasses the many seized papers and documentation of the émigrés, their own private archives, notarial records relating to them (some of which have been indexed and abstracted). Only a very few of these are online.

Taking your research further...

Departmental Archives (see the list in the panel to the left), municipal or communal archives, the Diplomatic Archives, the military archives and the Paris police archives, all can have more on individual émigrés. The archives of the countries to which they went can as well. The paper ends with a wonderful bibliography of works about émigrés.

This is the briefest of summaries. Do click on the link to read the advice paper in its entirety. Though little is online, an enormous amount will come up in a search on a name on the website for the finding aids of the Archives nationales. Recall that we explain here how to go about ordering the material.

 

1Archives nationales (France), 2016. Fiche rédigée par Isabelle CHAVE, Cécile ROBIN, Zénaïde ROMANEIX, Emmanuelle RONDOUIN et Aurélia ROSTAING, avec la collaboration de Sylvie LE GOËDEC. Remerciements à Philippe BERTHOLET.


French Noble Emigrés in Bath and Jersey

Nantes

Those of you who have been reading The French Genealogy Blog for a while may have discovered that we despise the principle of aristocracy, the premise that those born to privilege, power and vast swathes of property are somehow superior human beings. It is an illogical premise promoted only by its beneficiaries, and one that almost daily evidence disproves; generations of power and wealth have not produced people of superior intelligence or beauty or prowess or morality. Rather, there would seem to be some evidence to indicate that numerous generations of people who delude themselves that they are better than others and that those they consider to be inferior are somehow sub-human have produced a disproportionate number of psychopaths.

Nevertheless, if you have them among your ancestors, we see no reason not to research them and we remind you that we have written about such research a number of times:

Today's topic is an interesting aspect of researching those nobles known as émigrés for having left France, their heads on their shoulders, during the French Revolution, specifically, researching those who went to England. The émigré period, when people of the nobility went abroad to escape both the Revolution and the First Empire but, with the First Restoration, felt it was safe to return, is generally given as being from 1795 to 1814.

Family life did not freeze while they were away; some died, some married and many were born, events which were recorded in notebooks of the local Catholic churches in their places of exile. Gildas Bernard wrote that these notebooks were produced in "various chapels in London and others in Southampton, Winchester, Bath, Jersey, Guernesey".1 They contain a great deal more than the usual detail, for the nobles involved were keen to assert their identities. However, the notebooks were not discovered until 1949, in the French Embassy in London. Before that, diligent researchers of a different kind of nobility went to Jersey and to Bath and conducted original research in the records of the churches there, publishing their work in :

  • Les Familles françaises à Jersey pendant la Révolution, by the Comte Régis de l'Estourbeillon in 1889. This is a massive work of more than six hundred pages. Families are listed alphabetically but really, as the names have so many articles and extensions, that is not much more help in finding them than one has with the correct Arabic names given alphabetically in Brill's Encyclopaedia of Islam. For each family, a brief history is given, then major alliances are listed, then the heraldic escutcheon is described. After this, the events that were recorded in the church during the family's exile are listed in full.
  • "Les Emigrés Bretons réfugiés à Bath pendant la Révolution", by Charles Robert in Revue de Bretagne, de Vendée et d'Anjou, June 1898. A much smaller work because there were fewer refugees in Bath, this simply reproduces, verbatim, the baptism, marriage and burial entries from the church register.

One of our Dear Readers showed us a rather delightful way in which some of the information given in the works above can be verified. When they returned, the émigrés went to work reclaiming their property and re-establishing themselves. Some, wanting to be sure that all was in order, went to the local courts with all of their documents, including their certificates of baptism, marriage or a relative's death abroad, to have all of them legally accepted in France. Some then went to the town hall with the court approval and all of the documents and had all of the births, marriages and deaths entered into the civil registers.

Thus, the family of the Marquis de Kermel de Kermesen were living in Bath when a number of children were born. Charles Robert in his article confirms this in his lists of births there. In the Guingamp civil register of births for 1833, the births, and a very great deal more about the family, are entered, as can be seen in these pages from the website of the Departmental Archives of Côtes-d'Armor. It took eight pages.

P72

P73

P74

P75

If this happened more than once, which seems likely, then you, Dear and Noble Readers, could try starting at the end of the trail to trace your returned émigré ancestors. Try searching in the civil registers of the towns where one of them was living, examining the pages through a number of years after their possible return. Try searching in the Jersey or Bath publications mentioned above. You may get lucky and find them in both!

UPDATE: Dear Reader Monsieur O sent via e-mail the link to the Bath Burial Index, which you may search for French ancestors who may have died there during their self-imposed exile.

 

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 

 

1Bernard, Gildas. Guide des Recherches sur l'Histoire des Familles. Paris : Archives nationales, 1981, p. 306


The French in Australia

The editors of Connexion  have again given their kind permission for us to share one of their articles with our Dear Readers, not a few of whom write to us from Australia. Enjoy!

 

BAUDIN-SHIPS

It is one of the most tantalising wonders of French history: the possibility that, if events had taken a different turn, Australia could have become a French colony. Michael Delahaye plays a historical game of 'What If..?'

Nicolas Baudin was one of the great French explorers of the Age of Enlightenment.

His final expedition, from 1800 to 1804, was to the largely unknown southern landmass that the French called Nouvelle-Hollande, known today as Australia.

Funding for the expedition was personally agreed by First Consul Napoléon Bonaparte and, typical of the expeditions of the time, it was dedicated to the study and collection of zoological and botanical specimens.

Many of these – wallabies, emus and black swans – would end up in Empress Joséphine’s garden at the Château de Malmaison outside Paris.

The first Europeans to explore the Australian coast were probably the Portuguese in the 16th Century, followed by the Dutch in the 17th, but it was the British who, in the wake of Captain Cook’s expeditions, established the first permanent settlement in 1788 – the penal colony of Sydney.

Baudin’s expedition is remarkable because, while its leader’s intentions were commendably scientific, one crew member’s plan was nothing less than a land grab to dislodge England’s tenuous foothold. Had he succeeded, Australians would now be greeting each other not with a matey “G’day” but – like one in five Canadians – a more restrained “Bonjour”.

His name was François Péron. A former soldier, he was an inveterate self-promoter and social climber. Although only 25 when taken on as one of the expedition’s naturalists, he quickly rose to a position of influence to become a thorn in his commander’s side.

Following Baudin’s death on the return journey, he ended up not just writing the official account of the expedition but writing Baudin out of it.

Péron’s role in the expedition raises intriguing questions: Was he just an amateur strategist or had he been embedded by a higher authority, without Baudin’s knowledge, to conduct a covert spying mission? If so, what part was played by the man who authorised the expedition, Napoléon Bonaparte?

Central to these questions is a document that has only recently been subjected to academic scrutiny – Péron’s so-called memoir. It appears to be a draft report, hastily handwritten on his return, complete with deletions and scrawled marginalia.

It is addressed to Count Fourcroy, director of the Museum of Natural History in Paris and, more to the point, a councillor of state at the heart of government – though there is no evidence it reached him.

For two centuries, the document lay in the Baudin Expedition archive in Le Havre, largely ignored.

It was not published in full, in its original French, until 1998. Then six years ago it was translated into English by two academics at the University of Adelaide, professors Jean Fornasiero and John West-Sooby (French Designs on Colonial New South Wales, published by The Friends of the State Library of South Australia). Viewing the document from an Australian perspective, they put it into a wider, geopolitical context and highlighted Péron’s impudent proposal: that France should annex the embryonic British colony of New South Wales.

International diplomacy in Baudin’s day was conducted in a quaint, gentlemanly way.

Even countries regularly at war, like England and France, would grant passports to members of each other’s expeditions so they could use their ports for repair and revictualling.

This arrangement enabled Baudin, whose two ships had just charted Australia’s south coast, to drop anchor on the eastern seaboard at Port Jackson, the gateway to Sydney.

They stayed there, as guests of the British governor, for five months and were given remarkably free rein, considering that, only weeks before their arrival, their two countries had been officially at war.

Péron was quick to exploit the opportunity to check out the colony and its 6,000-strong population. His memoir reveals a conflicted mix of Anglophilia and Anglophobia – impressed by what the English had achieved in just 14 years but outraged by what he repeatedly calls their “invasion” and their presumption in claiming an entire continent by a unilateral act of possession.

It reads: “Milord, there is not a moment to lose: we must strike a blow at this international bogeyman at all costs, otherwise world trade will be in England’s hands. One of the cruellest blows we can deliver her is to overthrow her nascent empire in the Southern Lands…

“In 25 years, this remarkable colony will be able to defy the combined efforts of France and Spain.”

Out of these contradictory emotions arose his audacious plan: that Paris should send a fleet of frigates with a landing party of some 1,800 men, together with eight months’ supplies, to blockade Port Jackson and, counting on a spontaneous uprising by the Irish convicts within, take Sydney.

Success assumed, Péron considered the options: “Three courses of action are available: destroy the colony, grant it independence, maintain possession of it.”
He favoured the last, again with a back-handed compliment to the enemy: “…by securing this region, and particularly by adopting the English plan for administering it, we could gain almost all of the benefits from it that she herself anticipated.”

But how much of this reached Napoléon? There is no evidence he ever saw Péron’s memoir.

That said, on the expedition’s return, Péron is known to have been in contact with both Joséphine and Napoléon about the animals destined for the Empress’s garden. Then, when he came to compile the official account, Péron ensured that the accompanying atlas gave the area charted by the expedition a name: Terre Napoléon.

Further playing to the Emperor’s vanity, he added such geographical features as Golfe Bonaparte in cosy connubiality alongside the smaller Golfe Joséphine.
Napoléon would certainly have received a copy and surely at least flicked through it.

But by 1804 the Emperor’s thoughts were likely elsewhere.

Uppermost would have been his planned invasion of England – to be aborted a year later by the defeat of the combined French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar. Even so, Professor West-Sooby thinks something like Péron’s plan may have lingered in the imperial mind as late as 1810.

Baudin’s visit to Sydney certainly rattled the English.

Following it, they moved quickly to colonise Van Diemen’s Land – today’s Tasmania – and extended their grip along the southern coast, eventually assuming control of the entire continent.

Today, the Queen remains Australia’s head of state.

But though the French may have lost the Great Southern Land, time would bring a small consolation.

In 1911, a descendant of the French geographer-politician Charles Pierre Claret de Fleurieu visited Australia to ask whether some of the names Baudin had given to places might be officially reinstated.

As a result, one of the most beautiful parts of South Australia is today called the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Coincidentally, it produces some fine Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

What was France’s real interest in Australia?

 

Professor John West-Sooby of the University of Adelaide explains what evidence there is to show France’s intentions towards Australia:

What was the true nature of the French and British expeditions led by men like Baudin and Cook?
JWS: Scientific discovery was the first motivation – at least, as publicly declared. That said, given all the geopolitical rivalries, no expedition was entirely “innocent”.

Everybody understood that people going to the Pacific or to the Indian Ocean would also keep an eye out on the position of rivals and the defences of their territory, their colonies and their ports.

Do you believe Napoléon was ever made aware of Péron’s plan?
JWS: There is a document in Napoléon’s correspondence dating from 1810, which is when the French lost Mauritius to the British, and Napoléon was thinking of sending a squadron to take back the island – and there’s a kind of parenthetical comment: “Once they’ve done that, they can head south and attack the colony at Port Jackson.”

So there’s certainly a possibility that the idea, if not Péron’s memoir itself, had circulated in some way up and through the corridors of power. We just have no definitive way of confirming it.

Péron’s plan is very persuasive in its detail. Could it have worked?
JWS: I think it is plausible… I don’t know how many ships it would have taken – enough for a decent landing party and another one to patrol and protect the entrance to the port – but it sounds plausible: “We land, secure the military barracks before daybreak while they’re still asleep, free the Irish convicts who will ask nothing more than to help us overthrow their English masters…” So yes, there’s plenty that’s plausible about it.

Ultimately, there’s the issue of resources. How do you send an expedition of that capacity round the other side of the world when you don’t hold the Cape of Good Hope? In terms of realpolitik, it was a bit fanciful that France might mount that kind of expedition at that time.

Michael Delahaye, 16 August 2019


Further to Gallipolis and "The French 500" - a Guest Post

Monsieur C. who is very modest, indeed, writes that he followed the suggestions in our previous post on this subject and purchased the book we there recommended,   Gallipolis : Histoire d'un mirage américain au XVIIIe siècle, by Jocelyne Moreau-Zanelli. He then tested the website of the Departmental Archives of Seine-Maritime and has this to contribute:

Let me offer some advice for non-French-speaking researchers attempting to glean the maximum benefits from the suggestions you provided concerning the French sources:

A.  Starting from a higher level view, the online archives for the department of Normandy named Seine-Maritime are found here:

http://www.archivesdepartementales76.net/

B.  At this writing, their main page has a link entitled "Inscription Maritime" which will take you where we want to go.  However, the business of maintaining interesting web pages being what it is, it may be that by the time you want to go there, they will have re-organized the navigation of their web presence and that convenient link may have become obscure.  If you don't see it, try this.

The upper right corner -- across traditions and writing styles of many types worldwide -- usually provides a search facility of some sort.  In this case, the magnifying glass is your language-independent iconic friend.  Enter the phrase [without the quotes] "inscription maritime" and you should find what you are looking for in the list that will be returned.  For lazy folks too used to Google, do not expect google-like interpretation of your desires -- spell each word correctly and you will be happy, otherwise you will remain lost.

On that page, the link reading "click here to access the Inscription Maritime listings" will keep its promise.

C.  Now, at least with today's user experience design interface, you will have two drop-down lists from which to hone your request for relevant information.  The top one [Quartier] will let you select as between the two key ports present in the department.  The first is for the port activities at Le Havre, the second is for the activities at Rouen.

Let me interject that in my hours of browsing, I have looked at activities for both ports.  My simplistic, non-informed conclusion is that you get about what you would expect.  Le Havre is the major port handling sailings around the world.  If you need to make a trans-oceanic sailing, you would like the harbor best suited to ships of that size and the administrative support infrastructure to go with international trade and commerce.  If, on the other hand, you mostly want to move smaller amounts of cargo and passengers from port to port within France, or the ports of its [at that moment in time] friendly neighbors, Rouen might be more convenient.  The bottom line, for our limited purposes, is that the likelihood of stumbling upon persons involved in emigration to the anticipated Northwest Territory paradise, is several orders of magnitude more likely for the Le Havre listings than those for Rouen.

D.  The next drop-down lets you select the type of source material you wish to browse.  Here I would truly love it if our hostess, Ms. Morddel, might find a moment to update and expand upon the information she gave us in July, 2016, when we celebrated the first availability of this online gold mine.  The number of, and the nomenclature for, the different alternatives do not line up simply with what you will find present in the drop down lists at this point in time.  If she does not have the time to do an update, you ought to find that Google Translate is at least 95% reliable, and can perform the task very well, but the problem is that translating something like d’armement et de désarmement to arming and disarming is really sort of an anachronistic thing that we would really need Peter Seller's Inspector Clouseau reincarnated to perform with appropriate charm.

As an ex naval officer, I can handle the military basis of the terminology, but our relatives heading to Gallipolis were not soldiers and sailors and they were not carrying munitions to stave off the nasty Brits they might have met at sea, so I, for one, would appreciate definitions more representative of the arrivals and departures characteristic of immigration travel.  So, until that may be accomplished, here's what I think I have learned:

     a.  The "finding aid" that a répertoire may well represent does not seem to have come into general use until after the period of time in which we are searching.  There is, as far as I can see, no nice, brief list give the names of vessels which entered or left Le Havre in the 1790 time-frame.  The materials elsewhere found under "Matricules" provided some names of some vessels, but my non-French-reading-eye was unable to extract any really useful information from the summary of voyages found therein.

     b.  The following summarizes voyage/passenger factoids that I hope will turn out to be a part of Ms. Moreau-Zanelli's research and analysis.  The two voyages of Le Patriote and La Liberté are clearly the most important, and form the basis, as best I can tell, of the work of the Gallia County Genealogical Society.

      • Quartier du Havre (6P)
      • Roles des batiments de commerce
      • Long cours, cabotage, bornage et grand pêche
      • 1790 (910)
      • désarmement n° 002-201
          • The most interesting passenger lists relate to Martinique. I have seen not a single sailing to New Orleans -- should I be surprised, or should I know the historical situation seemingly preventing them from going there. I found nothing relating to America.
      • 1791 (938)
      • désarmement n° 001-200
        • 156-173 Le Patriote
        • 280-304 La Liberté
        • 507-517  Le Navire Les Citoyens de Paris
          • Seems to have sailed from Bordeaux to La Havre in July, 1791, but this document says nothing about sailing to America.
      • 1792 (894)
      • désarmement n° 001-193
        • 232-235 Le Jeune Cole
          • Just 3 passengers -- with some connection to Britain -- destined for Philadelphie en Virginie.
        • 387-389 La Gracieuse
          • To Richmond en Virginie.  This item has a note from Vice Consul Oster explaining that some returning cargo has been sent via another ship on another route. There is no information concerning passengers.
        • 447-450  La Victoire
          • To Baltimore en Virginie.  Third footprint of Vice Consul Oster, but no useful passenger facts.
        • 505-508 L'amiable Antoinette
          • Outbound there is an American citizen named John Stuart, but embarking in Alexandria for the return to le Havres du Grace are ten passengers presumed to be French.
        • 575-578 Le Prince Royal
          • To Petersburg en Virginie.  Another Oster footprint, again no useful passenger facts.
        • 652-658 L'Alexandrine
          • To Petterbourg en Virginie.  Another Oster footprint, again no useful passenger facts.
        • 688-692 Le Ferier
          • To Norfolk from St. Valery sur Somme, Department De Dunkerque.  No passenger facts.
        • 826-829 La Mouche
          • To Philadelphie en Virginie came Michel Ange Bernard Mangourit to be Consul General at Charleston. He would be crucial to Genet's plans. There are quite a few other legible names on this list of passengers.
      • 1793 (448)
      • désarmement n° 001-163
        • 118-120 L'Aigle
          • To Hampton en Virginie. No passenger facts.
        • 167-170 L'Aimable Antoinette
          • James Cole Mountflorence is aboard the vessel heading for Alexandrie, leading the way for Genet.
        • 204-207 L'Adelaide
          • Two citizens to Newiorck en Virginie.
        • 334-337 La Jeune Alexandrine
          • Sailed from St. Valery sur Somme to Fredericksbourg en Virginie. There is no passenger data.
      • 1794-5 (103)
      • désarmement n° 003-043
          • Almost all voyages internal, few external, none U.S. related.
      • 1795-6 (133)
      • désarmement n° 001-035
          • The nomenclature of the Republique has arrived in force. The sailings take place in the 2nd and 3rd years of the Republique and are to/from the Arrondissement du Havre-Marat; the Department du Normandie is passe and America is off their radar entirely.

NOTA BENE:  The two 3-digit numbers separated by a dash give you the page number of the listing where the voyage of the named ship will be found.  This should save you hours of work in repeating my effort in culling the listings.  Native French readers, and more, those trained to more easily identify the forms of abbreviation and style of composition of that era, ought to be able to quickly navigate directly to the pages noted and could summarize the welter of in-line as well as the marginal notes found there.

Well! Dear Readers, we do hope that you will find the hard work of Monsieur C to be helpful to you in searching through the passenger lists. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Monsieur C for this contribution.

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Filae Launches an English Version

Filae languages

Sound the fanfare, Filae.com, one of the two major French commercial genealogy websites, now has pages in English. Click on the French flag in the upper right hand corner and a blended US/UK flag will drop down. Click on that and away you go.

Filae English

For those of you who have been intimidated by the French, you may now jump in and explore many, many French genealogy resources, all of them pretty well indexed.

Enjoy!

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Protestant and Huguenot Research - The TT Series

Series TT

Those sly pixies at the Archives nationales have been working diligently and without fanfare. Archivists above the fray, perhaps holding the cult of celebrity in contempt and scorning the celebrity's unseemly lust for self proclamation (a sign of a flawed personality) disguised as self promotion (a sign of a brain that spent its developmental years absorbing televised used car adverts), may have taken their modesty too far. No one noticed when they quietly slipped onto the Salle des Inventaires virtuelles, the finding aids for the TT Series, accompanied by some of their wonderfully explanatory essays. Even more excitingly, some of the original archives have been digitized and can be seen online (at no charge) on the website of the Archives nationales.

We have mentioned the TT Series before, in our post on Huguenot Genealogy. How things have progressed since we penned that essay! A large number of Departmental Archives  have digitized their Protestant registers and now have them available on their websites. 

The TT Series is the collection of records concerning the Protestants and the property confiscated from them after the 1685 revocation of the Edict of Nantes, when persecution of the Protestants, after nearly one hundred years of tolerance, began again. Specifically, the sub-series are:

  • TT//1 to TT//83 - Records concerning the management of Protestant property from 1686 to 1751. Arranged alphabetically by location.
  • TT//84 to TT//229, plus TT459 and TT460 - Queries, investigations and statements concerning Protestant property, much of which had been confiscated. Arranged alphabetically by the property owner.
  • TT//230 to TT//276B - Archives des Consistoires. All of the records and registers confiscated from the suppressed Protestant churches, (consistoires or temples,) these are thought to be "the most important part of the series concerning the history of Protestantism, both before and after the Edict of Nantes". They are fully explained in the section entitled "Description" here. There is also a complete index here. Joy of joys, some of these may be seen online. The diligent and expert people at Geneawiki have created the easiest pages of links:
    • Selected folders from TT//264 through TT//275A linking to the Archives nationales films of the documents. Keep checking the main page of Consistoires listings for new films as they are added.
    • Selected folders from TT//230 through TT//276, linking to digital photos on Geneanet taken by volunteers. Unfortunately, many are very blurred and almost impossible to read.
  • TT//277 to TT//429, plus TT//461 and TT//462 - Records concerning the management of Protestant property from 1686 to 1789. Arranged by subject, this section is a bit less clearly structured. An extremely detailed listing of TT//376 to TT//429 can be read here.
  • TT//430 to TT//464 - Miscellaneous - A few of these may also be seen as digital photos on Geneanet taken by volunteers here.

The complete and detailed listing of the above can be seen here.

The availability of these archives on the Internet will enhance Protestant and Huguenot research significantly. Really quite exciting.

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 


Gallipolis and "The French 500"

Wilderness

One of you, Dear Readers, has written, asking us to write about the poor French dupes of some early American scam artists. Known in Ohio as 'The French 500", they were a group of people, some of the nobility, some artisans, and their families who thought that they might have a better future anywhere else than in revolutionary France. A glib Yale man who spoke French, Joel Barlow, and who had more passion than integrity, took advantage of their fears and hopes and sold them land that neither he nor the company he represented, the Scioto Company, actually owned. The Wikipedia article on Barlow states that "Scholars believe that he did not know the transactions were fraudulent."

Oh, yes he did, and the superb, definitive study on Gallipolis, proves it, using French notarial records, beyond any doubt. Gallipolis : Histoire d'un mirage américain au XVIIIe siècle, by Jocelyne Moreau-Zanelli, is the book published from her thesis and it is a masterpiece of historical research clearly presented. She explains first the background to land speculation in America, and then describes that shady character, William Duer, and his creation of the Scioto Company. We like that she sees, in this context, the American Dream as the American Mirage, and property speculation as a uniquely American tradition, (reminding us of our father, a very unsuccessful realtor who truly believed that every next deal would put us on Easy Street). She digs deep into notarial records of the sales, examines the economic, social and historical reasons that people might quit Paris for the wilderness of the Northwest Territory, and reveals the types of people who went.

For most of you, Dear Readers, language throws up its proverbial barrier, for the book is in French. We really do think there is a call for it to be translated into English for there are many who would appreciate it, so please do urge your friends in publishing to consider it. We will here extract what is perhaps the most genealogically useful information.

With very impressive sleuthing, Ms. Moreau-Zanelli has identified seven vessels that carried French emigrants:

  • Recovery
  • Pennsylvania
  • Patriote
  • Liberté
  • Mary
  • Lady Washington
  • Nautilus of Scarborough
  • Union
  • Citoyenne de Paris

Not all of their ports of departure are known but she discovered their three ports of arrival as Amboy, Alexandria and Philadelphia. For two of the vessels, the Patriote and the Liberté, departing passenger lists survive in the Le Havre passenger lists on the website of the Departmental Archives of Seine-Maritime. (Both are on roll number 6P6/19) They have been transcribed by  the "Gallia County Genealogical Society OGS Chapter, Inc." reached via their page on The French 500.  Beware that these are partial transcriptions and that some names have been missed. For example, on the Patriote, there were André Joseph Villard, his wife, Noel Agathe Sophie Demeaux, and their two daughters, Constance Eugenie Etiennette and Félicité, along with two domestic servants. The transcription misses out six-year-old Félicité.

It will never be possible to compile a list of all of the passengers' names, for the documents have not survived. Additionally, many of the aristocrats, not wishing to voyage with the hoi polloi, booked their own passages, often by way of Saint-Domingue. However, Ms. Moreau-Zanelli has compiled a superbly helpful list, entitled "Tableau de Ventes", with over three hundred names of people who bought land from the Scioto Company through Barlow. In the table, she gives about each purchaser his or her:

  • Name
  • Profession
  • Sex
  • Place of origin
  • Amount of land purchased
  • Amount paid

This table, along with the two surviving passenger lists, will probably be the the most complete list of names of The French 500 that will ever be possible. We hope that you will be able to find your ancestor among them.

Please, we beg of you, if you have an interest in this subject, to buy Ms. Moreau-Zanelli's book and to encourage others to do so; do not steal her hard work and put it on some Rootsweb list. That is the sort of thing that brings scorn upon all of us who are genealogists.

Gallipolis : histoire d'un mirage américain au XVIIIe siècle

Jocelyne Moreau-Zanelli

published by l'Harmattan in 2000

ISBN-13: 978-2738489173

458 pages

 

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Italians in Nice and Marseille

Nice

Something must be afoot among those of Italian descent who stumble upon ancestors born in southern France, particularly in Nice or Marseille. We usually receive a trickle of queries on the subject but they are increasing of late, not quite to flood level but, shall we say, to the level of a mighty river in full flow. What is the cause, Dear Readers? We cannot say but we can explain the presence of some of  these Italians in southern France that seem so bemusing to you.

Succinctly, both cities are on the Mediterranean Sea; Marseille, a major port,  has been French since the fifteenth century, while Nice, on a beautiful bay, was a part of the Duchy of Savoie from the fourteenth century and did not join France definitively until 1860. The culture and language of Nice were so Italian that, after 1860, a serious process of francisation was considered necessary by the authorities.

The Wikipedia article explaining that delightful word does not do justice to the concept; it limits it merely to language. We find that francisation is so much more than simply replacing a word with its French equivalent, something the sainted Fowler abhors; it is making someone or something French. Vessels can undergo francisation, wherein they are not merely sold but are treated as if they were built in France. We think a case can be made that the new, French, birth registrations created for naturalized citizens may be said to be a form of francisation. In the French mind, places, people and objects, can be transformed, by francisation,  into someone or something completely and originally French. We asked our friend, the scholar Monsieur B. about this. Over a glass of pinot, he explained the ever so precise French definitions of pays, état, et nation, country, state and nation. "Le pays est le territoire": a country is a geographical term, a place defined by its territory.  "L'état est l'administration": the state is the administration and institutions. "La nation est le peuple" : the nation is the people. The francisation of Nice would have been, he explained, across all three and, therefore, thorough and absolute. A century and a half ago the character of Nice changed dramatically as the city and her people became French, while Marseille, though as polyglot as any great port, has been very French for six hundred years.

Their close neighbour, now Italy, has had intertwined histories with both cities. Turin and Nice were part of the same duchy for hundreds of years, for example, trading comfortably with one another. Marseille has consistently been a place of refuge for Italians, some of whom we wrote about here. In the late nineteenth century, more than ninety thousand Italians migrated, often temporarily, to Marseille, seeking work. Thousands more spread across the region. So, many northern Italian families have branches in Nice and many migratory Italian families had one or two children born in Marseille.

To research Italian ancestors who lived in and near these cities, different procedures are necessary for each. Those of you with established skills in French genealogy will find Nice more complicated but not impossible. We have explained Nice research and given more history here and here . We have written about Marseille Marriage records online, and about our visits to the Municipal Archives of Marseille and the Departmental Archives of Bouches-du-Rhône. Should you be able to visit this last for your research, a number of different record series contain information on Italians in and around Marseille:

  • Police surveillance records
  • Census returns, including in some towns, special censuses of Italians
  • Tenement inspections by public health officials
  • For those who remained and took French nationality, they may appear in the naturalization application files

You may also want to search for a name in the naturalization files of the Archives nationales. These include refused applications. The French commercial genealogy websites, especially Filae.com, have indexed the official publication of announcements of naturalizations (so, only those granted). 

Lastly, if you lose track of them again, be aware that many Italians in France migrated on to Algeria. To research these, you will want to go to the website of the Archives nationales d'outre-mer.

The research can be very rewarding, helping to track a family's movements between France and Italy, and finding births and marriages in French records that could not be found in Italian records.

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy