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November 2023

FGB Free Clinic - Case no. 9 - Marie Fouyol, Parisian wife of Thomas Mansell, part 12 - Research Bits and Bobs

Marie Fouyol Signature

Poor Marie Fouyol, we have not yet found her origins or her birth place or family. However, this is not for lack of endeavour, for we have not forgotten her. Each time we visit archives where there may be a ray of hope of finding her, either in her own name or in that of her husband, Thomas, Mansell, we do look. To bring you up to date on this conundrum of a Free Clinic case, here is where we have looked during the last few months:

In the Archives de la Préfecture de la Police de Paris:

  • AA/48 - 266 - Statements and letters from the police of each of the Paris sections. (1789-1820)

In the Service Historique de la Défense at Vincennes, continuing with the dossiers on other weavers allowed to remain in Paris in the Yj series:

  • William Oswald
  • John Gillet
  • James Spencer
  • John Lane

In the Archives nationales:

  • F/7/3507 - Passports for the interior and foreigners June 1808 to Sept 1810
  • F/7/3324 - Police, requests for residence, Me-My, 1791 to 1954
  • F/7/3323 - Police, requests for residence, Lh-Ma, 1791 to 1954
  • F/12/4861 - Archives of the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers. (an III-1866)

We wrote earlier that we had checked the register of people allowed to live in Paris and that he was not there. Then, on a subsequent visit, as we wrote in our last post, we discovered that there was a register that included British with Swedish people allowed to stay in Paris during the First Empire (F/7/2250). There, we found Marie's husband, listed as Thomas Mansille:


Unfortunately, it tells us no more than we had discovered from previous sources, and nothing at all about Marie Fouyol.

And so, the hunt goes on. We think that a very good place to search, but it would be a long and difficult job, would be in the succession registers on the website of the Archives de Paris.

©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy



Enjoying the Enemy's Elegance During War - Finding Your Foreign Ancestor in Paris

Place du Chatelet

As with every war in Europe, it seems, while battles are fought, ships filled with me are sunk, and people are slaughtered, there is always a contingent to be found partying with impunity in Paris. During the Napoleonic Wars, a rather significant number of enemy nationals, especially British, lived comfortably in Paris. Some were technicians whose expertise was so valued by the French that they were allowed to live in Paris and other cities and to practice their trade, so long as they taught all of their skills and secrets to their French counterparts. Some were so wealthy and owned so much property in France that they were friends with those in the highest realms of First Empire society (and were permitted to bribe the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the all-powerful Talleyrand) and feared neither surveillance nor expulsion. Some were prisoners of war or detenus granted parole who could afford Paris and whose requests to live on parole there had been granted. (Many such requests were not granted, others were but only for vastly less glamourous cities.)

The partying folk of wartime Paris were not limited to the British, by any means. There also were Swedish, Prussian, German, Russian, Turkish, Polish, Spanish, Italian and many more foreign nationals living in Paris under police surveillance. The Police Générale kept registers on all of those under surveillance, noting the names, sometimes the addresses, and often a few details on those being watched. Sometimes, these registers offer the only surviving documentation on a foreigner in Paris during this period (recall the fire of 1871 that destroyed so many Parisian records about people).

These police surveillance registers (codes F/7/2248 through 2254) are not online but must be viewed, on microfilm, in the Archives nationales at Pierrefitte. We will be going there in three days' time and, by way of thanks to our patrons on Patreon, we will look up your ancestor in the registers and send you as good a photograph of the microfilm as we can manage. Send us the full name and the nationality before the 16th of November. With luck, we will find the person you seek.

©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

Geneanet's Humour Collection

Rire comme un baleine

Somehow, one gets the feeling that the people running Geneanet are a bit more intelligent and a bit wittier than the other commercial genealogy websites. They seem actually to enjoy history and genealogy rather than to be solely interested in profiting from genealogists' research needs.

They have a delightfully quirky category entitled "Archives insolites" or "Unusual Archives", which is something of a misnomer. The images uploaded are not of a single archival collection; they are images of individual parish and civil register entries that have been submitted by users either because they are oddly humourous or because they are quite unusual.

Recall that French burial and death register entries almost never give a cause of death. In birth register entries, the only comment beyond the facts is as to legitimacy. So, to find an entry that gives something more, something out of the usual pattern is unusual and interesting. For example:

A sad account, of interest to medical historians of a cesarian section, followed by the death of the mother.


A humourous account of a bishop scolding an ecclesiastic for engaging in hunts.


Unusual weather, such as snow in June, may be noted.


Often, the examples are quite sad, exhibiting the great struggles of this life. Too often, they exhibit the prejudices of the time and, in the comments, of our own time. Still, they can be both educational and entertaining, so do have a read. Perfect for a rainy afternoon.

©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy