FGB Free Clinic - Case no. 9 - Marie Fouyol, Parisian wife of Thomas Mansell, part 10 - Thomas Mansell's Compatriots
We continue our long and to date fruitless search for the origins of Marie Fouyol, wife of Thomas Mansell. If nothing else, wee are taking you, our Faithful Readers, on a journey of archival sources in France that may be of use to you in your own research. In Part 8 of this Case Study, we proposed looking at the prisoner of war files on some of the other weavers arrested with Thomas Mansell in 1803 and held at Fontainbleau. We wrote:
Many other weavers and machinists were held prisoner with Thomas Mansell at Fontainebleau. There are prisoner of war files on some of them:
John, Thomas and Charles Callon
These files should be read to see if, as often happened, a mention or even a page about Thomas Mansell did not end up in someone else's file.
We have since been able to visit the archives of the military in the Service Historique de la Défense at Vincennes. There, the dossiers on the men above are in the series Yj, to which we give you the finding aid to Download SHDGR_REP_YJ_1_148 In the past, when researching other British prisoners of Napoleon in this series, we have come across letters about one man mistakenly placed in the file of another, and it was our hope that we might have found such to be the case in one of these dossiers. If not that, then possibly a small mention of a Mansell (and his wife!) in a letter about another.
Archer's and Fleming's files could not be found by the archivists that day (it happens) but we saw the others, plus another, on an Irish weaver, Daniel Macfee. We found some gloriously informative documents, such as that shown above concerning John Callon, but after scrutinizing every page in each of the dossiers, we had to surrender, for there was not the slightest mention of Thomas Mansell. McFee and Thomas Callon were not in Paris but in Rouen. Flint had lived in Rouen and Coye-la-Forêt and did not ask to move to Paris until 1810, to work for an American. Dean also had been in Rouen and requested to move to Ghent in Belgium. If any of them knew or worked with Thomas Mansell, it does not appear in their dossiers at the Service Historique de la Défense.
We next went to the Archives nationales out in the very dull Pierrefitte-sur-Seine. (Our visits there used to be cheered by the raucous crowing of a rooster in a garden right next to the entry to the archives but we fear the poor bird must have met its end during the pandemic for his delightfully defiant racket greets arrivals no more. Now, there is just the roar of city buses, and a long walk past gigantic, grey, plastic pots and a garden gone to seed.)
There, on microfilm, is a register of British prisoners and détenus allowed to live in Paris. It is an interesting read, written in a grand hand, covering the years 1809 to 1814. It includes a discussion of the weavers and machine operators given permission to reside on Paris and to carry on with their trades. Of those named in this discussion, none were on the list of those arrested in 1803 ans sent to Fontainebleau but four of that group do appear in the simple alphabetic listing that follows. They are:
- George Archer
- John Bowie
- One of the Callon brothers (already seen)
- One of the Dean brothers (already seen)
Maddeningly, neither section of the register mentions Thomas Mansell. However, among the weavers and machine operators it includes in the early discussion of workers allowed to remain in Paris, although they are not on the list of those sent to Fontainebleau in 1803, there are dossiers in the Yj series at Service Historique de la Défense on some of them:
- John Lane
- William Oswald
- James Spencer
These three, with John Bowie, are new possibilities for a mention, however small, of Thomas Mansell. So, we will back to Service Historique de la Défense and look at those four files (and we will give George Archer another go).
This one is tough, but there is no reason to give up yet.
©2022 Anne Morddel