FGB Free Clinic - Case no. 9 - Marie Fouyol, Parisian wife of Thomas Mansell, part 4 - The Geography of Paris
All cities change over time. Streets and roads appear and disappear, city boundaries expand, construction seems endless. Paris is over two thousand years old and has seen her share of changes, some of them extremely radical, especially in the past two hundred fifty years. We can give no better summary of pre-Revolutionary Paris addresses than that which appears in the World Bank publication, Street Addressing and the Management of Cities :
"The need to identify buildings arose with the growth of cities in Europe and China in the 18th century. Addresses consisted of a street indication where the house was located as well as additional information on the approximate location. Here is a Paris address from 1778 : “from Sahuguet d’Espagnac, rue Meslé, the fourth door on the right entering from the rue du Temple.” The building numbering system adopted in France in the 15th century was not systematically adopted until the 18th century for several reasons: “The population wasn’t big enough for the need to be felt. The fear of tax authorities, adherence to old habits, the fairly legitimate desire not to become a mere number—all of these factors contributed to things being left as they were.” The numbering of buildings addressed several different concerns:
"In the 15th century, the numbering system for houses near Notre-Dame in Paris reflected the city’s concerns with the management of its assets and properties.
"Beginning in the 16th century, the main concern was controlling illegal housing construction in the inner suburbs, where “carriage houses,” whose construction was forbidden, were given numbers.
"Beginning in 1768, security became an important concern and was reflected in efforts to number houses “in all the cities, towns and villages where troops are housed”.
"In 1779, street addressing was part of the “citizen project” set up by a private citizen named Marin Kreenfelt, who proposed assigning exact and convenient addresses in order to promote good relationships between citizens."1
Kreenfelt's system is described:
"[He] added an identification number to the addresses already listed in his publication by street [the Paris Almanac]. He requested the assigning of numbers to all doorways and, through his own efforts and at his own cost, provided the first examples, when he obtained authorization from the chief of police to number houses in the Opera district. This operation was sometimes perceived as preparing the way for some new tax law and was therefore performed in part at night. Numbering began on the left with the number 1 and continued to the end of the street, continuing on the right side of the street so that the first and last numbers were opposite each other."2
Thus, the numbers snaked up one side of the street and down the other. At that time, and from 1760, Paris was divided into three parts (Cité, Ville and Université) within which were twenty quarters or quartiers, as shown on a map, with a street concordance here. Then came the Revolution. Not only was logic to prevail but so were fiscal requirements. The properties of the Church and many aristocrats were confiscated and sold. To do this properly, a national census of buildings was made. Additionally, the map of Paris was redrawn. Quarters were abolished and the city was divided into forty-eight sections, which we discussed in some detail here. Many of the streets were renamed and all of the buildings were renumbered.
The Revolutionary sections, street names and numbering did not last long. (Here is an excellent map of the Paris sections.) In 1795, the city was divided into twelve arrondissements, numbered from west to east, firstly on the right bank and then on the left bank. In 1805, the numbering was changed. In 1860, the city expanded and the map was redrawn again, with twenty arrondissements, numbered in the famous spiral from the centre that continues today. The concordances that existed showing the house numbers before the Revolution, during the period of sections and then the period of twelve arrondissements were burnt in 1871, when the City Hall was burnt by the Paris Commune. Concordances for the old and new arrondissements are readily available, such as this one on the website of the Archives de Paris. Probably the best expert on all of this is Dominique Waquet, who discusses resources for sorting out the geographic puzzles of this period here.
Parallel to these changes, the parishes of the city, (once the most customarily used identities for a neighbourhood) were abolished, then reinstated and grew and changed separately from the administrative divisions of arrondissements. This finding aid of the Archives de Paris gives three Paris parish maps, for the year 1802, when churches were allowed to function again, for 1856, when the city still had twelve arrondissements, and for 1866, after the city had expanded to twenty arrondissements.
Additionally, the government, embodied in Napoleon III, commissioned Haussmann to redesign the city, supposedly to bring in "air and light". It was also to make certain that the small streets of the poor areas could not be barricaded and turned into battle grounds as they had been in the revolutions of 1789, 1830 and 1848. Many streets and buildings were demolished to make way for the wide avenues we know today. Read here Wikipedia's tour de force of an article on the changes.
This has been a long introduction to explain why it is difficult to place exactly the residences of Thomas Mansell's family and friends. Recall that the addresses of many were given in the documentation analyzed earlier. We have added the years when these addresses were recorded.
- The Mansell couple lived at number 16 or 46 of rue du Faubourg Saint Jacques in 1814, then at number 295 of rue Saint Jacques in 1816, then at number 26 or 261 of rue Saint Jacques in 1818
- Jeanne Richard Mansell died in the ninth arrondissement of Paris in 1818
- Jean François Varrinier's boarding house was at number 17 rue du Cloître Saint Benoît in 1814
- Josephine Thomassin lived at number 5 rue du Petit Lion Saint Sauveur in 1814, as did, presumably, her husband, Cartier
- Pierre Rey lived in the same building as the Mansells, at number 295 of rue Saint Jacques in 1816
- Margueritte Cocq... [her full name is illegible] also lived in the same building as the Mansells, at number 295 of rue Saint Jacques in 1816
- Richard Thompson lived at number 6 rue de la Paix in 1818
- Thomassine Lorguilleux's address is illegible
To find an address, we use the various concordances given above. Many these streets no longer exist or have changed their names, so we look them up on both Wikipedia and Geneawiki. We also refer, for this period, to the wonderfully digitized maps of Paris on Gallica, Plans Routier de la Ville de Paris by Charles Picquet. This link is to the map for 1814. We were able to find the approximate addresses above and show them on Picquet's map.
The Church of Saint Jacques du Haut Pas (circled in red) and two homes of the Mansell family (marked with black dots)
In the old 12th arrondissement/new 5th arrondissement
A near-contemporary drawing of the church of Saint Jacques du Haut Pas
The rue du Cloître de Saint Benoît (marked in red), where Varrinier had a boarding house.
In the old 12th arrondissement/new 5th arrondissement, the rue du Cloître Saint Benoît was ordered to be demolished in 1855 for the construction of rue des Ecoles.
A contemporary drawing of the church and cloisters of Saint-Benoît
Rue du Petit Lion (circled in red), where Joséphine Thomassin lived
In the old 3rd arrondissement/new 2nd arrondissement, this street no longer exists and has become part of rue Tiquetonne.
Rue de la Paix, where Richard Thompson lived, at no. 6
In the old 4th arrondissement/new 1st arrondissement, this street began in 1806 as rue Napoleon. The name was changed to rue de la Paix in 1814. Thompson may have been surrounded by jewellers' workshops. Only three years later, in 1821, in the same building at no. 6, the Aucoc jewellers would set up their business. In 1815, the Mellerios had moved in to no. 22.
All of these addresses (marked with red, with the name on the right margin) shown on a modern map give a sense of the distance between them.
Another tool for looking at the same area of Paris through time, using numerous historic maps, can be found here. In the map on the left, zoom in on the street or neighbourhood. Then, on the timeline on the upper right, select the time period to see how that area looked through time. On that brilliant website, this shows the area around Saint Jacques du Haut Pas on the Verniquet map of the 1770s and 1780s:
This shows the same area twenty-five years later on the Vasserot map about thirty years later, when the Mansell children were baptized in the church.:
The Vasserot map can be seen in a much better resolution on the website of the Archives de Paris here. It even shows numbers, so that we can see number 295 rue Saint Jacques, where the Mansells and others lived:
...and the neighbourhood:
The Paris parish map of 1802 shows that these addresses were not at all in the same parish of Saint Jacques du Haut Pas.
Number 38 is the parish of Saint Jacques du Haut Pas, partly in the old eleventh and partly in the old twelfth arrondissements. Number 36 is Saint-Benoît, the probable parish of Varrinier. Number 2 is Saint Eustache and number 4 is Saint Leu; either could have been the church of Joséphine Thomassin. It is likely that Richard Thompson was English and likely that he was a Protestant. In any case, he was living in the parish of Saint Roch. However all of these people knew one another, it seems unlikely that it was through their churches.
Additionally, the baby, Jeanne Richard, died in the ninth arrondissement. Her parents' home in rue Saint Jacques was in the twelfth. Was she taken to a hospital? Perhaps the Hôtel-Dieu in the old ninth? No admission records for that hospital for the year 1818 are digitized on the website of the hospitals of Paris, (they have not survived for they, too, were burned by the Paris Commune in 1871) but those for the Pitié-Salpêtrière are and they show a number of admissions of people with smallpox in November of 1818. Without a record, there is no way of knowing what killed the child: a birth ailment, an accident, a disease, neglect, or any of the hundreds of other possibilities. The anomaly of the location, however, is something we must keep in our notes for future reference.
Alternatively, could Jeanne Richard Mansell have been at the home of an unknown Fouyol relative in the ninth arrondissement? Or, as may have been likely if Marie Fouyol were working, could the baby have been with a wet nurse, or nourrice, in that arrondissement? Usually, at that time, working class mothers sent their children to wet nurses in the countryside, but this was not always so; in either case, placing a child with a wet nurse often was fatal, as we wrote here.
We are not yet at the point of being able to draw conclusions about Marie Fouyol and Thomas Mansell but we have a better picture of their world and its geography. This will be of help as we progress. One hopes.
©2021 Anne Morddel
1. Farvacque-Vitkovic, Catherine; Godin, Lucien; Leroux, Hugues; Verdet, Florence and Chavez, Roberto. Street Addressing and the Management of Cities. Directions in Development no. 32923. Washington, D.C. : The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank, 2005, pp8-9.
https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/7342/329230Street0Addressing01not0external1.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y Accessed 3 August 2021
2. Ibid. p10.