Genealogy at the Arsenal library - la Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal
The Police Archives

Louisiana Ancestors in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal

Arsenal doc 2 small

Above is our copying of a document found in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal. Dated 1728, it is a request  for Monsieur Herault, lieutenant general of the police, to allow a captain of the King's regiment to visit the prisons of Paris (Bastille) and Bicêtre (an apparently ghastly place where the straitjacket and the guillotine were first used) to choose some men to serve the king.  

Raiding prisons for men to puff up the ranks of soldiers or sailors was an old custom that lasted well into the nineteenth century. What is interesting about the small carton of documents in l'Arsenal where this paper was found is that many of the prisoners so selected were  sent to regiments in la Louisiane. An earlier document, dated May 1719, names the following men as released with the permission of the Duc d'Orléans to go to Louisiana:

  • Louis Chinet
  • Antoine Lagasse
  • Gabriel Colpin
  • Claude Cassin
  • Louis Ranson
  • Antoine Noel
  • Adrien Masson
  • Jacques Clarir
  • Nicolas Caron
  • Estienne le Siure
  • Michel Dumas
  • François Pequeux
  • Jean Le Blastre
  • Pierre Soubout
  • Nicolas Fanereau
  • Antoine Le Roy
  • Louis Fouret
It does not name their crimes or the regiments or ships they joined, merely that they went. They may have completed a formulaire d'engagement, a form that gave the man's name, the names of his parents, the parish of his birth and his physical description. There are very few of these in the carton.

We receive regular requests from readers struggling to find more about the early French arrivals in Louisiana. Clearly, not all soldiers who went to les isles de la Louisiane will have had military records; some will have had criminal records, and the place to look for them will not be the Service Historique de la Défense at Vincennes, but the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal

©2010 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy