Methodolgy

ChallengeAZ 2021 - The letters X, Y and Z

Escrime - Challenge!

Well, Dear Readers, we reach the end of this marathon with nothing but respect for the bloggers who participated and produced such consistently interesting writing on their French genealogical work. Below are our selections from the final posts.

Bravo!

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


ChallengeAZ 2021 - The letters U, V and W

Escrime - Challenge!

The end is in sight, Dear Readers. For the letter U, many bloggers chose to write about uniforms. Unfortunately, none of them gave any aid in uniform identification, so we do not include them here. The letter W presented a problem for many, as there are not many words in French beginning with that letter; many resorted to variations of "Wow" or to words in other languages. There were quite a few posts about wagons, French for railway carriage. Généa79 admitted defeat gracefully by pointing out that the letter W was not even in the French alphabet until 1948.

These are the posts that we believe may be of most use to you in your French genealogical research:

  • SL Passerelle looks at undertaker records in Louisiana. Throughout the ChallengeAZ, this blog has been quite fun in showing how a French researcher uses American records.
  • The wonderful archives of the AP-HP look at the records of emergency medical workers in Paris on their facebook page.
  • GénéaTrip looks at the issue of spelling variations in names.
  • Once again SL Passerelle shines this time with a survey of resources.
  • Archivistoires gives a brief explanation of Series W in Departmental Archives, a series which gets too little attention.

UPDATE:

In response to this post, Madame K wrote to suggest for the letter W, something on Wallis-et-Futuna. None of this year's participants chose the subject but we did write about it last year here.

 

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


ChallengeAZ 2021 - The letter T

Escrime - Challenge!

For the letter T, the bloggers contributing to the ChallengeAZ 2021 have provided some quite instructive posts:

  • Feuilles d'ardoise and Des gens d'avant have both written about témoins (witnesses). Specifically, they write about using the details given about witnesses  (especially witnesses to marriages) to identify family members and to correct mistakes made concerning ancestors with the same name. We write a great deal on this subject in our book.
  • GeneaBreizh looks at the succession tables, which we explain in English here.
  • Des racines lozériennes et bourguignonnes and Généalogie Alsace both write about transcription difficulties. The former discusses sixteenth century French script and the latter looks at German Gothic script. Unable to manage either, we use this wonderful service. We also note some useful books on paleography here and Geneanet's tool here.
  • Généalogie d'une famille ordinaire discusses successfully using the Archives nationales du Monde du Travail. These were explained in a talk on which we reported here.
  • Généalogie Tahiti, which has been writing fascinating posts throughout the ChallengeAZ, each with a genealogy of a family, writes about a man who began life as an abandoned child in Poiters, arrived in Tuamotu and remained in Tahiti the rest of his life. 

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


ChallengeAZ 2021 - The letter S

Escrime - Challenge!

Again, few of the submissions give instructions on how to do genealogical research, with the excellent exception of the first given below:

  • Michèle Bodénès explains how to research, as much as is possible, all of the Senators of France since 1814.
  • Chronique familiale looks at both burials, sépultures, and nicknames, surnoms, with some interesting explanations about the customs concerning the latter. Not all surnoms are "dit-names".
  • GeneaBreizh also looks at sépultures and the language of parish registrations indicating burials.
  • GénéaTrip looks at the project of Génénet.org to photograph all the grave markers of all the cemeteries of France. We discuss cemeteries and the project here.
  • Des Racines et des arbres looks at researching eighteenth century soldiers.
  • Souvenirs d'ancêtres explains French nineteenth century military conscription and documentation, a subject we have touched on here. For further military research, you might want to read this post.

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


ChallengeAZ 2021 - The letter J

Escrime - Challenge!

As we approach the middle of the alphabet, those participating in the ChallengeAZ  seem to be experiencing a bit of a slump in the imagination. For the letter J, there are many posts about one Jeanne or another, a couple of inexplicable lapses into Joy, and a couple each on Justice and Jumeaux (twins). We think that the best are:

  • Broderies ancestrales, writing about naturalization records in the Ministry of Justice.
  • 101 gènes, writing with understandable horror about one ancestor's run-in with the law, as found in judicial archives.
  • Au Cour du Passé, providing a much-needed post on the "profession" of day-labourer. All amongst you who, too lazy to pick up a dictionary, assume that journalier is French for journalist, we beg of you, please read this, with a dictionary. Failing that, at least look at the picture.
  • De Branches en branches writing the best post on twins, having found two sets with the same surname born on the same day.

Surely, a few letters from now, as we near the finishing line, inspiration will return.

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


ChallengeAZ 2021 - The letter H

Escrime - Challenge!

Rich pickings today, Dear Readers, with many choosing for the letter H to discuss something concerning hospitals. Quite a few explain resources to help with your French genealogical research.

  • Carole Croze writes about using the hospital registers of the Hôtel Dieu of Lyon, found in the Municipal Archives of Lyon.
  • Sur nos traces has a long a beautifully illustrated article on the very important Hôpital Rothschild in Paris, the archives of which we have found to be very useful in Parisian Jewish research.
  • GénéaBreizh makes the case, as we often have done, for you knowing your history, Dear Readers, giving a pithy but powerful set of examples showing why.
  • Sur la piste de mes ayeuls, under the guise of "H for Hispaniola", writes about Saint Domingue,  giving quite a lot of history but also discussing the research usefulness of the online passports from Bordeaux, which we discussed here.
  • Antequam... la généalogie! explains the use of the hypothèque archives, which we discussed here.
  • De Branches en branches gives a thorough example of how to use the online Legion of Honour files, which we explained in English here.
  • Archivistoires has an excellent presentation of the archival Series H in Municipal Archives, the series covering all things military.

Municipal Archives are a valuable and under-used resource for genealogists; it is nice to see them discussed in two posts on the same day.

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Salon de Généalogie 2021 - Three Good Talks

Salon de genealogie

The last Salon de généalogie was held in March of 2020, as the pandemic was just beginning to sweep the world. We were keen to attend but our children blocked the door, insisting that it was not wise. How grateful we are, for on attending this year's salon, we encountered a few people who were infected with COVID-19 in the previous event, one of them quite seriously and still suffering.

Unsurprisingly, this year's event was subdued and not particularly crowded; there was a somberness and lack of previous years' jollity. No one objected to wearing a mask or to having their health pass checked at the entry. We attended many talks, all of them interesting, and report to you on three of particular note.

"Les Archives nationales du monde du travail en ligne : quelles ressources pour la généalogie ?" ("The National Archives of the World of Work: What Resources for Genealogy?") presented by Raphaël Baumard, the assistant director for the archives.  For years, we have wanted to visit the ANMT, but have never been able to manage it, perhaps because the town of Roubaix, where it is located, is often acclaimed as the most dangerous town in France. However, the archivists have always been extremely helpful in responding to our requests to send copies of documents. The purpose of the talk was to introduce the ANMT's sparkling new website, a clear and well-presented resource.

There are a couple of things one needs to know about this collection. Essentially, these are corporate archives that have been willingly donated to the National Archives. The companies did not have to do so, for they were privately owned and France has no law requiring private companies to surrender their corporate history for public scrutiny, more's the pity. (Nationalized companies, however, such as Renault, are required to send their archives, covering the period of nationalization.) Some have privacy clauses that are a bit stringent. (By way of an example, we once requested a letter sent by a man to his bank in 1806. Though the ANMT holds the bank's archives, they were required to get permission to supply the copy.) To use the website, read the online guides first. We appreciate that Monsieur Baumard said they had been completely rewritten, for that indicates an high level of interest in helping users. 

If your ancestor worked as a miner or for the railways, there is a good chance of finding a personnel file. Failing that, the company histories can broaden your knowledge about where and how your ancestor worked.

 

"Comment entrer en contact avec des cousins potentiels : conseils, règles d’éthique" ("How to make contact with possible cousins : advice and ethical rules"). Presented by Marie Cappart. Now, this is a topic much in need of further discussion and we applaud Madame Cappart for broaching it. Her purpose was to advise on how and how not to communicate with different people on the subject of one's family history. Does this seem bossy? We assure you, it is not and it really is very necessary. She discussed best practices for communication with fellow genealogists, with institutions (such as archives), and with non-genealogists (such as the distant cousin who may not be happy to receive your e-mail announcing a hitherto unknown relationship). Particularly pertinent was her advice on what to do when one's genealogical advances are rebuffed and how to cope with such rejection.

 

"Les archives de Caen sur les conflits contemporains" ("The Archives at Caen of Contemporary Conflicts") Presented by Alain Alexandre, who is the head of this branch of the Service Historique de la Défense archives. The title of the talk belies its content. It really was about researching the French victims of the two World Wars, especially the Second World War. By "victims" is meant not only those who were deported, but those who were executed, tortured, imprisoned, disappeared or who died due to other "acts of war". Included also are the French who fought in the German Army, prisoners of war and those who worked in Germany, whether forced or voluntarily. This entire subject is still extremely sensitive in France, as reflected by the way the speaker said many times that, "c'est délicat".

As to access, he explained that, though the archives "are open to all”, research in the original records can be made by appointment only. To gain an appointment, one must send an e-mail with the name, date and place of birth of the victim being researched. The archivists will then find the file and give an appointment for when it can be viewed. At that point, not waiting for the end of the talk, the room pretty much erupted with fury of many people who have tried this only to be told that there is no file, or have been allowed to see only part of a file. Their view was that the archives are not at all open and that much is being hidden or suppressed. We have to say that the speaker looked rather smug as he denied this. We found it very interesting to observe this exchange between the researchers and the man in charge, much more interesting than the talk itself.

Let us hope that the pandemic will continue to recede and that next year's Salon will be a lively one.

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Amodiateur, Amodiataire, Amodieur, Amodiatrice, Admodiateur

Farm land

Our previous post, on the Ferme générale, brought this query from Monsieur B:

Thank you for the treasure trove of genealogical information in your scholarly article “Was Your Ancestor an Employee of the Ferme Générale?”.

My ancestor.... from Moselle,  was “admodiateur de ruisseau”

Despite the imposing title, [he] evidently could not write as he signed his name with a + mark. His children’s marriage entries (1720s) identify him as admodiateur, but his 1729 Catholic burial entry has him simply as “laboureur....”

FamilySearch under France Occupations lists admodiateur as a national agent.

Geneawiki defines admodiateur as a person who takes land (sharecropper) for a fee either in money or in kind.

Questions:

1) Would these small admodiateurs have been a part of the Ferme Générale tax collection scheme in France?
2) If so, would there be written records as evidence for their precise activities?

I’ll be poking around at the links placed in your fine article and see how I fare ....

 

There seems to be a bit of misinformation floating about on this one. In the definitions above, FamilySearch would seem to be dead wrong and Geneawiki correct but incomplete. 

Firstly, language being the joyously fluid thing that it is, the word has more than one form and more than one meaning, depending on the time and place of usage. The three meanings we have found are: 

  1. A landowner who leases his or her land to another to be farmed
  2. A person who rents from another land to be farmed, synonymous with metayer, a sharecropper. Note, however, Alfred Cobban's description of the synonym in "The Social Interpretation of the French Revolution" (page 20), "A word such as métayer, like the large social group it described, has no English equivalent." He goes on to explain: "...the generally accepted picture of the métayer...is of a poverty-stricken tenant or a small-holding with a short three, six- or nine-year lease, hiring the equipment and stock as well as the land, and paying for it partly if not wholly, in kind." He cites the historian Paul Bois who found that, in many cases, the métayer could be quite well off, leasing as much as fifty hectares and owning the farm equipment, or he could be leasing as few as three hectares that had to be cultivated by hand as he did not even have access to a plough. The same broad definition may also apply to amodiateur.
  3. An agent of a large landowner (especially of an abbey) who manages such leases. 

In the first two meanings, amodiateur does not mean a profession but indicates a contractual agreement; only in the third sense could it be termed a profession, or métier. In the nineteenth century, linguists attempted to separate one of the meanings by assigning amodiataire to the second meaning but it seems not to have survived in usage. The law recognizes only the first two meanings for an amodiateur (masculine form) or an amodiatrice (feminine form).

Secondly, as to further different forms of the word, admodiateur was more common in the east, in Burgundy and Lorraine and as far as Switzerland. The verb, amodier, means to lease for a fee to be paid in grain.

Thus, Monsieur B, the ancestor who was an admodiateur de ruisseau, was leasing a stream, perhaps for fishing, perhaps for irrigation, possibly for milling (but this is less likely as he would then have been called a miller, meunier, a quite different activity from that of a labourer who leased stream rights). As to your questions:

  1. No, an amodiateur was not a part of the tax collecting operations of the Ferme générale. (FamilySearch's misunderstanding may come from this definition by the historian, François Lassus, which we translate rather freely: "The amodiateur of an estate was a sort of collector, 'fermier générale' who managed all of the land, the rights, the leases and collection of rents..." We emphasize in bold the key point that he is referring to an agent of an estate not the State.)
  2. Our definitions of the word in this post are based on the online dictionaries on DICFRO, and CNRTL. To know more about what your ancestor's specific rental agreement, it would be necessary to find the contract, probably among the local notarial records. To research from whom he was leasing the stream, we suggest that you look at the Cassini map for the town and locate the nearest large abbeys or estates that might have owned the stream (though it is possible that the owner was much further away; only the contract would reveal the owner with certainty).

Tricky one!

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 

 


Was Your Ancestor an Employee of the Ferme Générale?

Tax collector

The royal general Farms, les fermes généraux, were the system of tax collection in France ( fermes in this usage means leases). From as early as the reign of Henri III, the collection of taxes and customs duties in France was leased out to private individuals. The lessor, necessarily wealthy, often of the bourgeoisie, bought a six-year, somewhat secretive lease to collect taxes in one of the large regions of France.  The amount of taxes to be paid to the King was stipulated in the contract; anything over and above that amount that was collected could be kept by the lessor. Did you ever come across a better school for corruption, Dear Readers?

The lessors (or contractors) became extraordinarily rich, of course, so rich that some were able to buy themselves a title or two and join the nobility. Some historians try to let them off the hook by pointing out that many of them were great supporters of the arts or that they financed public works. Better not to commit the crime than to atone for it, we say.

Corrupt though it was, the system was also extremely efficient. The corps des fermiers généraux was comprised of the lessors (fermiers) and their deputies (adjoints), many of them related, as nepotism was rife. From 1756, the administration of the Ferme générale was centralized in Paris. There, some six hundred eighty employees, divided into three functional sections, kept the accounts, managed the personnel, sent out inspectors and oversaw the work of more than twenty-five thousand agents across the country and in its colonies. These agents were either clerical, checking the accounts locally, or in quasi-military brigades (which often included retired soldiers) that hunted down and summarily punished smugglers. Needless to say, they all were despised by the general population. 

Fermes du roy example

Marie Colombe de Boulanger Death Register Entry, 5 May 1744. Carteret, Manche, Registres paroissiaux et d'état civil, 1722-1748, E2, online image no. 112

Archives départementales de la Manche

How to research that ancestor? Very little can be found online at the moment, but that looks set to improve.

  • Brief biographies, in French, of the men who were members of the corps des fermiers généraux from 1720 to 1751 are given in the work by Barthélémy Mouffle d'Angerville (who served in the French Navy in Louisiana) entitled La Vie privée de Louis XV, ou principaux événements, particularités et anecdotes de son règne, and currently can be read online on Google Books here.
  • Individual cards on the agents in employment in 1782 can be found in sub-series G1 in the Archives nationales (a single example of such a card can be found online here).

Further Reading:

  • Dictionnaire de la Ferme générale (1640-1794), an academic blog hosted by Hypotheses, this has by far the most complete and thorough discussion and research on the ferme générale. It contains no list of employees nor even much discussion of individuals, but it is new and will increase in depth of coverage quickly.
  • Wikipedia has a quite good article in English on the ferme générale; the article in French is much, much more thorough.
  • The finding aid of the Archives nationales lists not only the holdings relating to the ferme but explains their administration thoroughly in the introduction.
  • The ever brilliant Geneawiki has a page on the subject that lists the holdings in the Archives nationales, with links to any that may be online, and that gives any other sources that may be useful

Fascinating aspect of the French State.

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


FGB Free Clinic - Case no. 9 - Marie Fouyol, Parisian wife of Thomas Mansell, part 8 - Next Steps - Know the Sources

Marie Fouyol

To summarize, Dear Readers, we have looked at our few records in a number of ways  in an effort to find the origins of Marie Fouyol:

  • We have analyzed the Paris baptisms of three of her children, the burial record of one of them, and some Canadian records concerning her life after emigration.
  • We have looked at the French prisoner of war records concerning her English husband, Thomas Mansell
  • We have studied various contexts concerning the couple while they were in Paris: historical, geographical, social
  • We have analyzed signatures
  • We have studied various Parisian families with variations of the name of Fouyol

To no avail. No other record or document could be found to give even a hint as to the origins of Marie Fouyol. Most frustrating. We would have expected to have found, at the very least, one of the following:

  • One of her reputed two marriages. The Canadian obituary of her daughter stated that Marie was the widow of a French officer when she married Thomas Mansell. Given that it was war time, the marriage and death of an officer is plausible. Not to be able to find one marriage is frustrating, but not to be able to find either is most curious.
  • A death or burial record for the child Pierre George Alphonse. We found the burial record for the baby, Jeanne Richard, but not for Pierre. Did he die in England? In Canada? Did he die in France, at the home of a wet-nurse, as was the case with one of the daughters of the Cartier-Thomassin couple? (Recall that Joséphine Thomassin was the godmother of Françoise Mansell.)

There is another puzzle. Marie Fouyol was probably Catholic, for it seems likely that she, and not her English Protestant husband, insisted on baptizing the children in the Catholic Church. Why was their first child not baptized until she was two years old? Were they away? Perhaps in England? (As odd as it may seem, travel between the two warring countries was still possible.) 

However, it is possible that the failure to find all of the records: the two marriages, the three birth register entries, the two children's death register entries, the death register entry for an officer whose widow was Marie Fouyol, can be explained by the destruction of the Paris Town Hall archives during the Paris Commune, if and only if every single one of those events, including the officer's death, took place in Paris. It is possible, but a bit unlikely.

In no way can this be termed a "brick wall", a complete lack of information on a person and a complete inability to identify the person. We have exhausted only what documentation and archives are available online, with the addition of a couple of prisoner of war files seen in the archives; we still have to get through a plethora of material that has never seen the lens of a camera.

Where to look next? We propose pursuing the following lines of enquiry:

  • Thomas Mansell was a prisoner of war on work release, more or less. We know from his prisoner of war file that he reported that he had lost his papers in 1809 and that he was permitted to remain and work in Paris but under surveillance. 
    • The archives of the Paris Police contain records of just such reports in Series AA, as can be seen here on the Geneawiki page, which links to images of many of them. Unfortunately, they do not go up to the year of 1809, though they probably should be searched anyway.
    • The Archives nationales contain the police surveillance files of the period, as well as any surviving passport requests by foreigners, as explained here. Either could contain something on Thomas Mansell, which might also mention his wife and her origins.
    • There are a number of other possibilities in the Archives nationales but it is not entirely clear from the series descriptions if they would have something on Thomas Mansell:
      • Dossiers des détenus des prisons de la Seine. (Files on those held in prisons of the Seine department) It is not clear if this is purely criminals or also the foreigners briefly held in prison, as was Thomas Mansell at Fontainebleau, nor are the dates given.
      • Demandes de résidence à Paris. Dossiers individuels (an IV-an XI) (Requests to reside in Paris, individual files, 1795/6 to 1802/3) Thomas Mansell certainly requested to remain in Paris, and his employer probably made a request in his name in about 1802. It is not clear if this collection includes foreigners or not.
  • Neither a civil nor a religious record has been found for the Mansell-Fouyol marriage, so the precise dates of the marriages are not known. Marie Fouyol Mansell had her first known child, Françoise, in 1811. If she were single while pregnant, between her two marriages, it is possible that she may have had to make a pregnancy declaration, even though these were almost outdated.
    • Again, the archives of the Paris Police contain records of some of the declarations in Series AA, and Geneawiki has arranged the digitization of some of them. Unfortunately, not all arrondissements of Paris are included and most do not go as late as 1811.
  • Michel Fouyol of rue de la Tabletterie, who is a reasonable candidate to have been the father of Marie Fouyol, is slightly documented.
    • The Archives nationales have the originals of the cartes de sûreté, or security cards, which contain the subject's signatures. Some of these have been digitized by Geneawiki volunteers, but they have not yet reached the number of his card, 142296. Obtaining a copy of his signature for future comparison would be very useful, should we be so lucky as to find more documents concerning him.
  • Many other weavers and machinists were held prisoner with Thomas Mansell at Fontainebleau. There are prisoner of war files on some of them:
    • George Archer
    • John, Thomas and Charles Callon
    • John Dean
    • James Flint
    • William Fleming

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.

  • Looking much more broadly:
    • British records could be searched for the death of Pierre Mansell and even the Mansell-Fouyol marriage
    • All Marie Fouyols born in 1782 or 1783 outside of Paris could be identified, with each being followed through civil registers until she can be ruled out as a possibility. Special attention should be paid to those in towns known to have been the origins of some of the Fouyols of all spellings identified in Paris.
    • The lives of the godparents could be pursued further, especially to see if any of them emigrated to Canada.
    • The Fouyol-Ackermann couple who had the one promising marriage in Paris in 1780 cold be researched thoroughly, to see if they had children.

Any other ideas, Dear Readers? If so, please let us know.

SUGGESTIONS SENT BY READERS:

  • Madame T wrote: "...regarding the death of the child Pierre George Alphonse , he may have died aboard ship and his burial was at sea. If Marie Fouyol was going to and from Canada to France/England, she would have been on a ship. Are there any passenger lists that document her or her husbands travels?"

With this post, we will pause this case study to give Madame J time to pursue some of the avenues above.

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy