Irish in France

Finding Irish Jacobites' Descendants in Eighteenth Century Paris

Irish in Paris

Some years ago, we explained here how thousands of Irish came to France with King James II. Though they did not plan to do so, most of them stayed. They were joined by the refugees of the failed 1715 Jacobite Rising and the failed 1745 Rebellion that ended in the disastrous Battle of Culloden (in which our own ancestors fought on the losing side). Their descendants became thoroughly integrated immigrants' children in France. Perhaps the best discussion of them is Guy Chaussinand-Nogaret"s article "Une élite insulaire au service de l'Europe : les jacobites au XVIIe siècle".

For the most part, they lived initially  in Saint Germain-en-Laye, Versailles and Paris. As you will recall, genealogical research in Parisian records is most difficult. The dogged and diligent work of the volunteers at the Projet Familles Parisiennes is beginning to yield wonderful documents, some of them full of genealogical detail about the children of the Jacobite immigrants who were in Paris. You also will find many Irish priests, monks and others who were residing in one of the religious houses or Irish colleges in Paris.

The documents  are those concerning heirs and inheritance that were filed with the court at Châtelet such as the closure of wills, or probate, and the decisions concerning guardianship, known as tutelles.  They can be found by the surnames of the people involved via the surname index of Familles Parisiennes.

Beware of creative spelling!  The name, O'Brien, for example, might be found in "OB" as OBRIEN, or under "O autre" as O'BRIEN. "Mac" may appear at the front of a name in all lower case, with a space, or in upper case without a space. It may be spelt as "Mack". So, when searching, one must be imaginative, to say the least. The reward is a link to a photographed document (hosted on the website of Geneanet but free to view) that may give the names of many relatives in both France and Ireland, places of birth, regiments in the French Army, and the names of trusted acquaintances. The Irish genealogist, John Grenham* writes that "The single most important item of information for Irish family history is a precise place of origin." Finding that place of origin, and much more, for Jacobite refugees can be greatly helped by the Projet Familles Parisiennes as its work progresses.

Bonne chance dans votre recherche!

©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

*Grenham's website also has a superb bibliography on the Irish in France, though most of the books listed are almost impossible to find.


The Irish in France

Soldier Silhouette

 The Irish have been coming to France forever, but in the seventeenth century, after the Nine Years War, the success of the Glorious Revolution and the defeat of the Jacobite forces, the numbers were enormous. James II and his court, along with about 24,000 Irish men, women and children, took up residence in France. They had their own regiments within the French army, the most notable being Dillon's. Some of them  have been thoroughly researched and discussed by Nathalie Genet-Rouffiac in her fine tome, Le Grand Exil : les Jacobites en France, 1688-1715, published by the Service historique de la Défense in 2007. Using the many files in the SHD archives, Genet-Rouffiac has traced the military careers of all of the Irishmen in the French army and, in some cases, on their families as well. The book's index of names could be much better but it is still an excellent resource for those tracing Irish ancestors in France.

The Cercle Généalogique de Versailles et des Yvelines at one time had a working group on the Jacobites. Their website, www.cgvy.org, seems to be faulty and sets off all sorts of alarming messages on our computer. However, they have combed local documents for all traces of Jacobites and have listed them. Some of these lists are in the Archives nationales and some have been published in their newsletter over the years.

The finest online resource we have found to date is the Irish in Europe Project of the Department of History at the National University of Ireland at Maynooth. As the title makes clear, it covers the Irish in all of Europe, not just France, and people of all walks of life, not just the military. To use their Virtual Research Environment (VRE) one must register, but it is free. Then, one can search across the following collections:

The primary search is on a surname. Results give the full name, where the person went, and the collection in which they appear. One can click on "Full Record" to see more and get the complete source for the data. Alternatively, one can search by region of origin in Ireland, but that tends to bring a hefty number of results.

There is plenty of information here, with biographical data on more than 40,000 people. The other pages, with explanations of historical events are clear and complete. It is a pretty site.

These sources may be of  help to any of you tracing an ancestor in one of the flights from Ireland to France. 

©2012 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy