Women and Children

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


FGB Free Clinic - Case no. 9 - Marie Fouyol, Parisian wife of Thomas Mansell, part 7 - Name Study

Marie Fouyol

So, Dear Readers, to date, we have had little luck in our search for the identity of Marie Fouyol prior to her marriage to Thomas Mansell, her place of origin, her parents' names, her supposed first husband, and so forth. Bearing in mind that two thirds of the burned Paris archives have never been replaced, we will sort through what does exist, examining occurrences of her far too changeable name. We found people living in Paris at the time as she with the following variations of the name:

  1. Fouillolle
  2. Fouillol
  3. Fouyolle
  4. Fouyol
  5. Foulliol
  6. Fouyeul
  7. Fouieul
  8. Fouilleul

There are slight differences in the pronunciation. Numbers one through four are all pronounced the same, with the last "o" similar to that in the word "no" in English. Numbers six through eight are pronounced the same, with the ending "eul" sounding, to an English speaker, pretty close to the way Peter Sellers says "bump" in this scene. Number five is in a class of its own but is more like the first four than the last three. Spoken in a crowded marketplace, they all would have sounded pretty much the same. 

Marie would seem to have pronounced her own name with more of an "o" sound in the second syllable, as the spelling versions used for her name in the baptisms of her children are numbers two, three and four. She was not the only person to spell the name in more than one way. Many of the individuals used two or three of the above spellings.

Looking at the website Géopatronyme, it can be seen that none of the first four spellings survived to the late nineteenth century; number seven also does not survive. There is only one case of number five and a few cases of number six. It is number eight, Fouilleul, that dominated. It is found predominantly in the west of France, in Mayenne, and less so in Manche. The name means, by the way, "leafy" or "shady", which could occur anywhere, including a spot in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe.

In Paris during the period of roughly 1770, when the parents of Marie might have married, through 1830, some ten years after she left, all but one of the above names is found on the Right Bank, clustered around Les Halles, the vast warren of shops and markets, in the parishes of Saint Eustache, Saint Merri and Saint Germain l'Auxerrois. The Foulliol family, number five, lived to the west, near Invalides, where they also worked. The Invalides Foulliols were studied to some extent, through baptism, marriage and death register entries, as well as through probate inventories until, eventually, it became clear that Marie could not have been a member of this family. The remaining couples of interest are:

  • Michel Fouyeul, a widower from Saint Maurice du Désert in Orne, who married a second time in Saint Eustache in 1786.
  • Michel Fouieul, of rue du Poirier, who married Marie Jeanne LeLièvre in Saint Merri in 1807. They had a son, Michel Victor, in 1808.
  • A man named Baratte, whose wife was Françoise Fouillol. Their son, born in 1805, married in Saint Merri in 1831.
  • Michel Fouilleul, who married Jeanne Ackermann in Saint Germain l'Auxerrois in 1780.

Recall that there could have been a dozen or more couples of equal interest of whom all trace was lost in the burnt archives. Nevertheless, working with what we have, Michel Fouieul and Françoise Fouillol Baratte may have been of an age to have been siblings of Marie Fouyol. The two remaining Michels each could have been the father of Marie Fouyol, the widower from his first marriage, in 1778, to Margueritte Pinson, and the Michel Fouilleul who married Jeanne Ackermann in 1780, two or three years before Marie was born.

There is also a lone man of interest, Michel Fouyol. His carte de sûreté, issued in Paris on the 23rd of May 1793, on which his surname was entered as "Fouyolle" but his signature was "Fouyol", gave his address as number 103, rue de la Tabletterie, near Les Halles. He was aged fifty-three, a cleaner of animal skins and furs, and had lived in Paris for twenty years. He had been born in Le Teilleul, Manche. Apparently, he was a keen revolutionary, perhaps a true sans-culotte, for the author Darlene Gay Levy, in her book Women in Revolutionary Paris, 1789-1795, cites archival documentation showing that he denounced a neighbour who did not support the Revolution. It took little time to find the birth on the 25th of July 1740, in Le Teilleul, of a Michel Foüilleul, son of Julien and his wife, Jeanne Geffroy. Is this the same person? Did he go to Paris, marry and have children there? Could he be the same man who married Jeanne Ackermann in 1780 and could they have been Marie's parents? That would be tidy, indeed, but, Oh! Dear Readers! what a lot of work  and luck would be needed to prove all of that.

In our next post, we will look at further avenues of research Madame J can pursue and how to determine the most likely resources to use.

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 

 

 


FGB Free Clinic - Case no. 9 - Marie Fouyol, Parisian wife of Thomas Mansell, part 6 - Community Context

Marie Fouyol

Context remains our focus, Dear Readers. We have looked at the historical context in which we found Thomas Mansell and Marie Fouyol and at the most complicated geographical context of Paris after the Revolution and during the First Empire. In the previous post, in looking at the prisoner of war file of Thomas Mansell, we also looked at the political context in how the wars affected him. In this post, we shall look at the few friends and co-workers we have been able to discover, their community, and its context.

Our only sources for acquaintances of Thomas Mansell and his wife, Marie Fouyol, are the baptism register entries for their three children and the prisoner of war file. Researching each of the employers or work acquaintances of Thomas Mansell mentioned in his prisoner of war file brought, as expected, no mention of Marie Fouyol.

  • John Glasin, Mansell's employer in Paris at rue Menilmontant number 2, apparently spent some time in Bordeaux. There, he and his wife had a stillborn son. The child's death registration, dated the 23rd of July 1802, names the parents ass John Glasin and his wife, Kitty O'Connor, and that they lived at rue Doidé number 14 in Section Two. In January of 1808, he was looking for work, having placed an advertisement in the edition of the 4th of January of the Affiches, annonces et avis divers "To Manufacturers of hemp and linen - An Englishman and his two sons, knowing how to construct machines and knowing very well spinning technology, desire employment. Contact Mr. John Glasin at rue d'Arbalète, number 26."
  • Burdin and Caret, the company, located in rue de Charenton, went bankrupt in 1811. The first names of the individuals could not be found online.
  • Daniel Heilmann, whose cloth Louis Bergeron said was of poor quality, may not have been a manufacturer. In 1813, he and his wife, Adelaide Le Blanc, had a son, Ferdinand Daniel. The birth document gives his address as in rue de Charenton and his profession as a professor at the Imperial Institute for the Blind (Institut Impérial des Aveugles)

Recall that Thomas Mansell wrote to the Minister of War that he had worked to help set up a spinning factory for the blind, Aveugles. This was most likely the Institute where Daniel Heilmann worked and it may have been connected to Burdin and Caret as both were in rue de Charenton.

Looking at the godparents of the Mansell children:

  • Josephine Thomassin, the wife of Cartier, living in rue du Petit Lion Saint Sauveur, was the godmother on the 1814 baptism. She married Jean Baptiste Joseph Cartier in Paris in 1802. They probably met in Paris, as he was from the department of Nord, possibly from the city of Valenciennes; she was from a large family in the department of Haute-Saône. They had at least two children in Paris. In 1810, a daughter, Geneviève Françoise Cartier, was baptized in the church of Saint Eustache. The baby died a year and a half later at the home of a wet-nurse in the department of Oise. In December of 1812, the couple had another daughter, Louisine Françoise Cartier. Josephine Thomassin's birth register entry was not found, but the 1782 entry for the death of her mother, Louise Ronot, was found. Thus, Josephine Thomassin was born before that death, making her the same age as or slightly older than Marie Fouyol. Her husband, Jean Baptiste Joseph Cartier, was a bit older, as his mother died before his father, a charcoal maker, remarried in Valenciennes in 1777, making him about the same age as Thomas Mansell.
  • Jean François Varrinier, who ran a boarding house in rue du Cloître Saint Benoît number 17, was from the town of Dunières in Haute-Loire, where his brother, Joseph, and his sister, Marie, remained. On the 12th of March 1796, in Paris, Varrinier married a divorcée from Belfort, Marie Thérèse Metrot. Her first husband was Jean Pierre Erhard, whom she had married before 1785, when their son, Pierre Antoine Erhard, was born in Belfort. Thus, the wife of the godfather, Jean François Varrinier, Marie Thérèse Metrot, born by at least 1770 and probably earlier, was old enough to have been Marie Fouyol's mother. Varrinier's brother was born in 1768 and his sister in 1774; if he were about twenty-five when he married, he would have been born in about 1771, betweeen his siblings, making him slightly older than Thomas Mansell. No documents for children of this couple were found.
  • After struggling with the handwriting in the 1816 baptism, we now think that the person we initially identified as Marguerite Cocq... had the surname of Coigner, possibly spelt Coignet or Coigné. In all cases, the name is so common and the details so few that nothing about this specific person could be found with any certainty.
  • The same commonality of name and lack of detail applies to the godfather in the 1816 baptism, Pierre Rey. Numerous men of the same name in Paris were researched, with the goal of finding a document with a signature that would match the bold one in the baptism register, but none was found. The name, Rey, seems to have originated in Franche-Comté.
  • Thomassine Lorguilleux, the godmother in the 1818 baptism who lived at rue des Bourguignons number 6, was from a family of textile printers in the town of Corbeil in the department of Essonne, where she was born in about 1793, making her about ten years younger than Marie Fouyol. In 1819, four years into the Restoration, Thomassine Ursule Lorguilleux married an English textile machinist named James Wilson in the British Embassy Chapel in Paris.  That same year, their son, Auguste Achille, was baptized in the church of Saint Jacques du Haut Pas. They left Paris for a while for, in 1824, in Charenton-le-Pont, in the department that is now Val-de-Marne but was then Seine, they had a second son, Henry Victor Amedé Wilson. Thomassine Lorguilleux lived a long life, long enough to appear in the 1872 census, which shows her as aged seventy-nine, the widow Wilson, living with her second son in the town of Saint Pierre du Perray in the department of Essonne, about four kilometers from Corbeil, where she was born.
  • James Wilson's prisoner of war file shows that he was held at the prison camp at Valenciennes from at least 1808. He was released, with thirteen others, to work for a French textile manufacturer, Samuel Joly in the town of Saint Quentin in 1809. Joly posted security bonds for them all.

The names of neither Marie Fouyol nor Thomas Mansell appear in any of the documents related to the research into the people above. They were not godparents to the children; they were not witnesses to the marriages. Recall that the Paris records were lost and many of the recreations are not full copies so, the names we seek may have been in the original records that were lost.

More importantly, not a single person in the Mansell-Fouyol community was a native Parisian. They came from Haute-Loire, Nord, Haute-Saône, Essonne, Belfort and England. They were working class people who lived in small accommodation in Paris, part of the great influx of people from the provinces to the capital that began even before the Revolution. This community of provincials in Paris poses the question: was Marie Fouyol also from the provinces? 

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


FGB Free Clinic - Case no. 9 - Marie Fouyol, Parisian wife of Thomas Mansell, part 4 - The Geography of Paris

Marie Fouyol

 

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

Mansell-Fouyol Paris

 

A near-contemporary drawing of the church of Saint Jacques du Haut Pas

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.

Rue du Cloître St Benoît

 

A contemporary drawing of the church and cloisters of Saint-Benoît

Saint Benoît in 1810

 

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 du Petit Lion

 

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.

Rue de la Paix

 

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.

On a modern map of Paris with names

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:

Verniquet

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.:

Vasserot

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:

295 rue Saint Jacques

...and the neighbourhood:

Around 295 rue St Jacques

The Paris parish map of 1802 shows that these addresses were not at all in the same parish of Saint Jacques du Haut Pas.

Paris parishes in 1802

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

French Genealogy

 

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.


FGB Free Clinic - Case no. 9 - Marie Fouyol, Parisian wife of Thomas Mansell, part 2

Marie Fouyol

Analysis of the French Documentation

We give here our rough translations of the three Mansell baptisms entered into the registers of the Paris Catholic church of Saint Jacques du Haut Pas (to see the originals, follow the links in the previous post):

1)

Margin:

Françoise Josephine Mancell
no. 26

Body:

On the thirteenth of February 1814 was baptized Francoise Josephine, daughter of Thomas Mencell and of Marie Fouyol, machinist living at rue du Faubourg St. Jacques no. 46 [? 16?]. The godfather is Jean François Varrinier, boarding house keeper, rue du Cloître Saint Benoît no. 17, the godmother is Josephine Thomassin, wife of Cartier, embroiderer (or, more precisely, one who decorates clothing) living at rue du Petit Lion Saint Sauveur no. 5, who have signed with the mother and me, the father having declared that he does not know how to sign, neither does the child, aged 27 months and 25 or 26 days, born the 18th of November 1811.

Signatures:

Varrinier

Marie Fouyol w[ife of] Thomas Mancell

Josephine wife [of] Cartier

Menil (priest)

 

2)

Margin:

Pierre Georg. Alph.
Mansall
32

Body:

On the ninth of February 1816 was baptized by me the undersigned priest Pierre Georges Alphonse, born the 9th of January last, son of Thomas Mansall, weaver and of Marie Fouillol, his wife, living in this parish, rue St. Jacques no. 295. The godfather was Pierre Rey, cotton worker, same residence, the godmother was Margueritte Cocq... [? the rest of the name is illegible], same residence. The godfather only has signed with me, the father and mother having declared that they do not know how to sign.

Signatures:

Rey

M.C.S. Mouzou priest

3)

Margin:

Mansann
J. Richard

Body:

On the thirty-first of October 1818, was baptized Jeanne-Richard, born the 10th of this month, daughter of weaver Mansann ... [illegible] ... rue St. Jacques no 26 [? 261? illegible], and of Marie Fouyolle, his wife. The godfather was Richard Thompson, rue de la Paix no. 6, who has signed, and the godmother Thomassine Lorguilleux, rue des ... [illegible]. no. 6, who declared that she did not know how to sign.

Signatures:

Richard Thompson

Hézelle, vicar

 

The last child, Jeanne Richard, did not live long. The line for her entry, number 3372, into the burial register of Père Lachaise, shows that she died at the age of six weeks in the ninth arrondissement and was buried in the "common pit" or paupers' grave, on the 23rd of November 1818.

*

What stands out most glaringly is the question of whether or not Marie Fouyol could sign her name. The 1814 baptism register entry stated that she could and did sign, as "Marie Fouyol wife of Thomas Mancell".1 The 1816 register entry stated that she could not sign her name. and there is no signature for her. The 1818 register entry made no mention of her ability to sign and there is no signature for her. The burial register does not contain signatures. That the 1816 clearly stated that she did not know how to sign her name calls into question the validity of the signature in the 1814 register entry, as do the various spellings in the three entries. Were she literate, she would have been able to spell her name to the person writing the entry. 

However, we have seen similar cases in other registers where the priest wrote in some entries that a person could not sign while in others, the person could and did sign. This occurred with both women and men. It is not clear why this was done. Additionally, the royal decrees of the Ancien régime that established how parish register entries were to be written stated, in 1667, and re-stated in 1736, that baptism entries were to be signed by the father, the godparents and the priest.2 There was no requirement for the mother to sign. The Mansell children's baptism register entries were made more than twenty years after the 1792 establishment of civil registration, replacing Catholic Church registration as legal establishment of identity. It could be posited that the church registers would be expected to comply with the old rules, yet neither the priests nor the vicar of Saint Jacques du Haut Pas were following precisely the old rules for the composition of a baptism entry in ignoring the mother and having the father sign if he could. Thus, the structure and wording of the entries do not allow for any assumption about the mother's ability to write. Unless another signature by Marie Fouyol turns up in another document, it cannot be certain that the signature of the 1814 baptism is hers.

 

Another point to note is the question of the marriage of the parents. In the 1814 baptism, there was no mention, as would have been normal, of the fact that Thomas Mansell and Marie Fouyol were married, or that she was his wife, yet, in the 1816 and 1818 baptism entries, the mention is made. The statement does appear in Marie Fouyol's single, attributed signature, on the baptism of 1814. It may well have been that that signature "Marie Fouyol f[emme] Thomas Mancell", whoever wrote it, was a way of correcting the omission, leaving no doubt that the child was legitimate.

 

The professions of all involved are not given but those that are, particularly of Thomas Mansell, are also important to note:

  • Thomas Mansell was a mécanicien and a tisserand, a machinist and weaver. There is much discussion on various French genealogy websites about the difference between the three words tisseur, tissier and tisserand, all of which mean weaver. The general consensus, with no one citing any source or authority, seems to be that a tisseur or tissier is a weaver as classically understood, someone who works at a manually operated loom. A tisserand, however, seems to be someone capable of all aspects of weaving, from selecting the threads, to choosing the pattern, to setting up the loom, to weaving, to approving the final product. Thomas Mansell was a tisserand. He also was a machinist. In this context, he almost certainly a machinist of power looms, possibly also automated looms. 
  • Though the fact that Jeanne Richard Mansell was buried in the paupers' grave does not indicate anyone's profession, it does indicate that the Mansell family were not wealthy.
  • Jean François Varrinier ran a boarding house, renting out furnished rooms. 
  • Josephine Thomassin  was a chamareuse, one who decorated clothing, including such skills as embroidery and sewing on embellishments such as pearls, beads, etc..
  • Pierre Rey was a cotton worker, ouvrier en coton, probably involved in carding, sorting and spinning cotton.

A picture begins to form of a social circle of people working in textiles and clothing.

 

The places of residence, all in Paris, are:

  • The Mansell couple lived at number 16 or 46 of rue du Faubourg Saint Jacques, then at number 295 of rue Saint Jacques, then at number 26 or 261 of rue Saint Jacques
  • Jeanne Richard Mansell died in the ninth arrondissement of Paris
  • Jean François Varrinier's boarding house was at number 17 rue du Cloître Saint Benoît
  • Josephine Thomassin lived at number 5 rue du Petit Lion Saint Sauveur
  • Pierre Rey lived in the same building as the Mansells, at number 295 of rue Saint Jacques
  • Margueritte Cocq... [her full name is illegible] also lived in the same building as the Mansells, at number 295 of rue Saint Jacques
  • Richard Thompson lived at number 6 rue de la Paix
  • Thomassine Lorguilleux's address is illegible

 

As to relationships, none of the godparents were stated as being married to one another and none seems to have been related to one another or, frustratingly, to the child baptized or to the parents. Josephine Thomassin is identified as the "wife of Cartier".

 

Analysis of the Canadian Documentation

The Canadian documentation on the Mansell family as provided by Madame J, is also quite sparse:

  • The grave stone for Thomas Mansell, in the Wesleyan Methodist Cemetery, Mississippi Mills, Lanark County, Ontario, Canada states that he was from Yorkshire and that he died in 1852 at the age of seventy-five. This would make his year of birth about 1777. There is no grave stone for his wife. 
  • The 1861  Census Canada West, Renfrew North, Westmeath shows a Marrey Mansell living with her son, Alfred Thomas Mansell. Born in France, she was aged seventy-eight.  This would make her year of birth about 1783.
  • The 1871 Census Canada, Ontario, Renfrew Co., Westmeath shows a Mariah Mensell, aged eighty-eight and born in France, living with her son. This would make her year of birth about 1783.
  • The Westmeath, Renfrew, Ontario death register entry for Marie Mansell dated the 2nd of October 1872, stated that she was ninety years old and had been born in Paris, France. This would make her year of birth about 1782.
  • The obituary of Marie's daughter, written in 1903, states that:
    • Thomas Mansell was an English weaver
    • He arrived in Paris in 1801
    • He became a prisoner when war broke out and could not leave Paris
    • Marie [Fouyol] Mansell was the widow of a French officer
    • The family left Paris in 1819 and returned to Yorkshire, where the Mansells' "only son", Alfred T. Mansell was born
    • The family arrived in Canada in 1820

The most useful facts about Marie Fouyol from the above are that:

  1. Marie's age is quite consistent with her year of birth having been about 1783.
  2. She was the widow of a French officer when she married Thomas Mansell.
  3. Her first son probably died at such an early age that her grandchildren, the probable informants for the obituary, knew nothing of his existence.

 

In the next post, we will begin to look at the above information groups in more detail.

 

UPDATE - We received this delightful and most helpful comment from Madame R by e-mail:

"Re Marie Fouyol's signature or not, I have found the same issue in the English registers, sometimes a person signed, on others a cross for his or her mark was inserted. Skilled trades who were masters, employing others and training apprentices, could write and calculate, or they could not function as a business, yet sometimes they too have a cross inserted. The reason may be that the registers were not necessarily written up on the day of the event or by the person officiating, instead written up by the clerk later - a week, or a month or so. They were sometimes inserted as a bunch all together and the register signed by the priest/rector in a long column down the right hand side. In marriage banns, some are signed, some crossed.

At this time, in Britain, the clergy often had responsibility for several churches (and the living from them) so record keeping could be a hit and miss affair at the smaller ones. (I don't know if this was true in France). In more significant churches, the record is more accurate but snobbery can affect the entries. I have an ancestor Ann Adair who signed at her marriage, her groom, a Scots gunner, could not. Both are likely to be the case. Then he lied about his father's profession, and the Rector at the protestant Cathedral in Londonderry (or Derry), recorded her father as a labourer - which meant any working man, basically not gentry like him.

Apparently, before the Famine in rural Catholic Ireland, baptisms were at the family home (for a first baby often the mother's parents house) and was followed by 'wetting the baby's head' - the drinks. The priest stayed for the drinking and then somewhat later went back to the parochial house and tried to remember who was called what. Boys names and fathers are usually recorded accurately, who the mother was or was she the witness, caused mix ups, and what was the little girl's name? Mothers and godmothers were often confused.

From which I conclude, that there were many things apart from simple truth that could affect the registers.

Thanks for the blog, very enjoyable."

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 

1 The priest also wrote that Thomas Mansell and the child could not sign, giving the child's full age, probably to make a point of the fact that this was a very late baptism.

2 Le Mée René. "La réglementation des registres paroissiaux en France". Annales de démographie historique, 1975.
Démographie historique et environnement. pp. 433-477; https://www.persee.fr/doc/adh_0066-2062_1975_num_1975_1_1296 (Accessed 27 July 2021) p451.

 


FGB Free Clinic - Case no. 9 - Marie Fouyol, Parisian wife of Thomas Mansell

Marie Fouyol

Not so long ago (but longer ago than we should like to admit, we are ashamed to say) we were contacted by Madame J. with a submission for the FGB Free Clinic. She had been able to find little on the origins of her French ancestor, Marie Fouyol, and asked if the FGB could be of help. The following is her summary of her research:

MARIE FOUYOL (c. 1783 - 1872)
Also spelled Fouyolle, Fouillol, Fouillot, Fouyot

Born in France (possibly Paris) c. 1783

1st Marriage: French Officer (widowed - no known name, place or date)

2nd Marriage: Thomas Mansell (also spelled Mencel, Mansall, Mansill)
- no known place or date of marriage
See below re Thomas Mansell.

Died: 2 October 1872 in Westmeath, Renfrew, Ontario, Canada

Marie had four children with Thomas Mansell
Three were born in Paris (all baptised at St Jacques du Haut Pas) and one was born in Canada (Thomas Alfred in 1821). Links to the childrens' Paris baptismal records are here:

• Baptismal entry at St Jacques du Haut Pas, Paris, Françoise Joséphine ‘MANCELL’, 13 Nov 1814, 26, https://en.geneanet.org/archives/registres/view/26945/21

• Baptismal entry St Jacques du Haut Pas, Paris, Pierre Georges Alphonse ‘MANSALL’ 9 February 1816, no. 32, p.139, https://en.geneanet.org/archives/registres/view/26945/139

• Baptismal entry St Jacques du Haut Pas, Paris, Jeanne Richard ‘MAUSANN’ (1813-19, p.335/378, https://en.geneanet.org/archives/registres/view/26945/335.


THOMAS MANSELL (Mansill, Mancell, Mansall, Manssall, Mausann, Mencell)

Born: 19 July 1777, Rillington, Ryedale, N. Yorkshire
Parents: George Mansell (1744-1816), a weaver
Frances (Dinsdale) Mansell (1748-1829).

Occupation: Weaver (tisserand, mécanicien)

France – went to France for work sometime before 1801
Detained: 1801-1814 (Dépot de Fontainebleau and Paris)
Left France c. 1819

Emigrated to Canada c.1820
Died: 13 Nov 1852, Ramsay, Ontario, Canada

 

Madame J. and her sister both had done a great deal of previous research, as evidenced above. Additionally:

  • They had found that the child born in 1818, Jeanne Richard Mansall, died at the age of six weeks and was buried in Père Lachaise cemetery. (https://tinyurl.com/vkz8f49j)
  • They had found the family in Canadian census returns of 1861 (and possibly other years; we are waiting on that).
  • Based on the precise dates above, they would appear to have found the Canadian death registrations for Thomas Mansell and Marie Fouyol Mansell. (We are waiting for those to be sent to us.)
  • They contacted us previously and we were able to send them the page showing Mansell's name on a list of prisoners of war, or détenus, held by the French at Fontainebleau in 1803.
  • They had found an obituary for the surviving daughter of Thomas and Marie, Françoise Joséphine, who married James Grieg in Canada in 1832:

Friday April 3, 1903, The Almonte Gazette p.4: The Late Mrs Jas Greig –

"The Gazette last week mentioned the death of Mrs Jas Greig of Carleton Place, which occurred on the 24th of March, and this week is enabled to give some interesting particulars regarding her life. She was born in Paris, France, in 1811. Her father, Mr Thos Mansell, was an English weaver, who went to France about 1801. Soon thereafter war arose between England and France, and, with hundreds of other Englishmen, he was made a prisoner at Paris and could not escape. He married the widow of a French officer killed in war, and in 1811 their daughter, the late Mrs Grieg, was born. In 1819 Mr Mansell returned to England and Yorkshire, and here their only son, Mr. A.T. Mansell, of Westmeath, now 82 years of age, was born. In 1820 the family came to Canada on the strength of reports sent back from relatives. For four years they lived near Brockville and then settled in Ramsay near Almonte. The father died fifty years ago. The mother some years later. The former was 90 years of age, the latter 75. [reverse seems correct because the 1861 Census for Westmeath ON, lists her mother [Marrey Mensell] as born in France; 78 years of age, which would mean she was born approx. 1783]. Mr and Mrs Grieg were married in 1832. He was a native of Clarkmannshire, Scotland. They came to Carleton Place in 1863. For six years Mr Greig operated the grist mill. Then he retired altogether from business life and for many years the two enjoyed unbroken pleasures. The children living are Peter, James, Andrew, Mrs Jas Cram, Alfred, Mrs John Donaldson, Robert and Christena. The dead are John, Mrs Templeton and Thomas. All the children were present at dinner on the day of the funeral, Robert and James coming from far western States and Mrs Cram from Pilot Mound. The funeral took place on Saturday afternoon, interment being made in the family plot in the 8th line Ramsay cemetery, quite a number going from Almonte to join the cortege, some at Carleton Place and others as it neared the cemetery. Five sons and her son-in-law, Mr Donaldson, were the pall-bearers."

 

For a number of reasons, this is not an easy case.

  • The many spelling variants of both names make searches of any indexed records exceedingly tedious and fraught with missed possibilities.
  • Thomas Mansell was not French, so there will not be  much French documentation about him to link back to Marie Fouyol.
  • Most of the parish and civil registrations of Paris prior to 1860 were lost in conflagrations; those that were reconstructed from other records were done so by families that remained in France and needed the documentation for one reason or another.
  • The Mansell-Fouyol family emigrated to Canada and so were unlikely to have bothered to re-establish their French documentation. However, if Marie Fouyol had relatives who remained in France, they may have done so.

The above reasons can help to explain why Madame J and her sister, in spite of their stellar research on various genealogy websites extensively, were not able to find:

  • A record of the Mansell-Fouyol marriage, whether religious or civil.
  • A record of Marie Fouyol's first marriage.
  • A record of Marie Fouyol's birth or baptism.

 

In the next post, analysis of what we have.

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 


"Female Ancestors Are Hard to Find", They Say, But Not If They Were French, We Assure You

Women - Bretagne (Carhaix et Huelgoat)

This year's RootsTech has launched, with many dozens of talks on more than genealogy, all of them online this year. Topics cover everything from food to folklore, costumes to customs, search strategies to scrapbooking, and the dreaded, bouncy, motivational talks. At least, we dread them. We have many failings, Dear Readers, (most shamefully, our vile, cataclysmic and near-cannibalistic rages) but lack of motivation is not one of them. Yet, for all of the choice, we could not find at first glance a presentation to captivate us, so we returned to one from last year, the very fine "Finding Your Elusive Female Ancestors" by Julie Stoddard. Ms. Stoddard makes a number of good points, and includes some research skills, such as creating timelines, always looking at original documents and analyzing them fully (here is how we do it), that should be employed in all genealogy research, but her focus  is on the difficulty of researching women in the United States.

Researching women in France is quite different, so we thought that we might give you something of a comparison between the skills proposed by Ms. Stoddard for researching your American female ancestors with those necessary for researching your French female ancestors. The fundamental difference lies in the customs concerning a married woman's surname. In America and the English tradition, when a woman married, her surname legally changed to that of her husband; in France, since 1792, it did and does not. In America, when Jane Smith married John Brown, her legal name changed to Jane Brown, or Mrs. John Brown. If John died, she became Widow Brown. In France, when Jeanne Martin married Jean Larue, her legal name remained Jeanne Martin, with the added status of "wife of Larue" (femme Larue or épouse Larue), written in full: Jeanne Martin, épouse Larue. If Jean died, her status changed but her name did not. She became Jeanne Martin, widow Larue: Jeanne Martin veuve Larue. Thus, there is no such thing as a "maiden name" in France; there is only a person's name. What of Madame Larue as one finds? This is a customary usage but not a legal name. Additionally, in France, women could and did sign documents, using their legal names.

Do not be fooled, Dear Readers. This preserving of a woman's birth name as her legal identity is not an indication that France was somehow more advanced concerning women's rights. No, it is a country as backward in that respect as any other; the female revolutionaries who fought for women's equality during the Revolution were beheaded and their writings buried; in modern times, women were not enfranchised until 1948.  The difference comes from the French (and very Latin) concept of family. A woman was part of her birth family. Any dowry she received came from the family; they may have retained rights over it; they may have expected it to be returned were she to die. Yet, she also belonged to the new family she was to create with her husband and they may have been controlling their family's assets in relation to their own children. As a widow, she might have carried on the family business in her own right (this happened especially with shipping families, it seems). Knowing her identity was essential and practical. How, in terms of genealogical research, are these differences manifested?

Ms. Stoddard lists the types of records most likely to result in a successful search for a woman's name in America, and how to use them for that purpose:

  • Vital records, being birth, marriage and death records
  • Census returns
  • Family trees found online
  • Cemeteries
  • Probate records
  • Social Security records
  • DNA tests

Looking at their French equivalents, one can see that their usefulness in researching women is not at all the same.

  • The French equivalent of vital records are the actes d'état civil, acts of civil status. These date from 1792, when civil registration replaced church parish records as legal documentation of people. These are hugely useful in tracing a French female ancestor's life. A marriage act, acte de mariage, will give a woman's full name, both of her parents' full names, and her date and place of birth. Thus, one marriage act can reveal not only the bride's name but the names of her mother and of the groom's mother as well. Birth registrations, actes de naissance, generally give the legal names of the father and of the mother as well as their marital status. Thus, a child of the couple above would be registered as, say, Samuel Larue, born to Jean Larue and his wife, Jeanne Martin. Death registrations, actes de décès, are always in the legal name of the person, so a woman's death would be, for example registered as: Jeanne Martin, wife (or widow) of Jean Larue. If known, her parents names and the place of her birth would be included. Most commercial genealogy companies in France have structured their initial search pages to allow for exploiting all of this detail in the civil registrations.
  • Census returns are recensements (with other terms used over the years) in France. They began in 1836, except for in Paris, where they did not begin until 1926. Married women are enumerated under their legal names. Thus, one would see the Larue family listed as:
    • Larue, Jean, head of household
    • Martin, Jeanne, his wife
    • Larue, Samuel, their son
    • Larue, Jacques, their son
    • Larue Marie, their daughter
    • Boule, Louise, widow Larue, mother of the head of household

The great headache with the French census is that most are not indexed. Filae.com has indexed two, that for 1872 and that for 1906, and they are working on others. Though there is less indexing of censuses in France than in America, it is generally of a much higher quality, yielding much fewer preposterous results.

  • Family trees found online posted by French people tend to be slightly better at citing sources than those found online in America. The best source for French family trees is Geneanet.org. As Ms. Stoddard recommends, so do we: verify every single source.
  • Cemetery photographs or jaunts to view family plots are recommend by Ms. Stoddard to help you to find a female ancestor. This would not be very successful in France, especially outside of Paris and other large cities. French cemeteries tend not to have graves of individuals but family tombs. (Once again, the family is more important than the individual.) These tombs often have no more than the family surname engraved upon them. Some will have listed the names of those within, some not. Where they do, the lists may not be complete. More valuable for research than the cemetery or grave stone is the cemetery register, maintained by the town hall. Because so many cemeteries in France have been moved or destroyed and because untended graves are emptied and the plots resold, hunting through cemeteries will not yield much information. The register books of interments, however, are permanent records and might help with genealogical research. Those of  Paris are online, but this is still quite rare. Geneanet has a fair collection of photographs of  grave markers and tombs, but it is still quite small.
  • Probate records in France are increasingly online on the websites of the Departmental Archives. Again, in these, a woman will appear under her legal name. The records online relate more to the legal transfer of title to property because of a death and the legal registration of a will. Wills are not found online. These are complicated to search and are more useful in the hunt for unknown relatives. One would not begin the search for a female ancestor here when she is so easy to find elsewhere.
  • Social Security records. Beware, here, for they are not what you think in France. La Sécurité Sociale is the term for the French national health system and those, being medical records, you will not be able to touch for love or money. In America, one's Social Security number, like it or not, functions almost as a national identity number. France does issue national identity cards, la carte d'identité, and you will not get your hands on a collection of those either.
  • The last category, finding relatives and thus, common ancestors, with DNA testing is a conundrum, fraught with difficulty, and partially illegal in France. However, so many people skirt the law, take the illegal test and put their results up on foreign genealogy websites that, if you are so inclined, you might give it a try. Where this will be extremely helpful in tracing a woman or a man is where either or both chose not to be named on a child's birth registration.

 

We are grateful to Ms. Stoddard for her excellent presentation and that it has inspired us in this discussion. Good luck finding your female ancestors!

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 


Article Review - Women in the French Military Archives

Military Woman

Some years back, we reviewed here the stellar tome on genealogical research using France's military archives, written by the archivists at the Service Historique de la Défense,  (SHD) Sandrine Heiser and Vincent Mollet. Inexplicably, when we listed some of the chapter headings in that review, we neglected one on a subject for which we have, of course, a rather natural affinity: women in the French military. We may have missed "Votre ancêtre était ...une femme" ("Your ancestor was a woman") because it is only three pages long, with half of those pages filled with photographs, or we may have to confess that we missed it because our work was not up to standard that day, for which we apologize with bow and scrape. Happily, Madame Heiser expanded on that chapter in an article written for the Revue Historique des Armées (it may be downloaded as a PDF). For those who cannot read French but have women to research, we give here a summary. 

Madame Heiser divides her subject into nine categories:

  • Femmes militaires et filles débauchées - "Military Women and Debauched Girls", are covered by a small group of archives, just one carton, from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and concerns mostly women who were spies or who served in the army disguised as men. This carton also includes cases against those camp followers who were prostitutes, the "debauched girls".
  • Cantinières, vivandières et blanchisseuses - "Canteen-keepers, sutlers and laundresses", including not only the women who did these jobs but the wives of any men who did them, from 1791 to 1900. There is no index to the names of the women included, so a researcher would have to spend some time reading the files.
  • Les femmes « pensionnées » ou « décorées » - "Women Who Received Pensions or Military Decorations". Those in the category above, as well as widows of men in the military, often had to petition for a pension and the records of those petitions are in this group. 
  • Mères et épouses de militaires - "Mothers and Wives of Men in the Military". Would it not be grand if this were an archive of all such women, and with an index as well? It would, indeed, but it is not. Madame Heiser explains here that these women may be discovered by reading a soldier's individual service record. It is true, as she says, that the details are rich and there are often, in a man's file surprise bonus documents, but in no way is there such a collection about these women; they are incidental in the information about the men.
  • Les femmes « personnel civil » - "Women Who Were Army Civilians", a large group of many thousands of women, mostly employed during the two World Wars. The archives of all Army civilian personnel are held at a facility in Châtellerault, described here.
  • Agents secrets et espionnes  - "Secret Agents and Spies", a series dating from the eighteenth century and including the file on the infamous and unlucky Mata Hari.
  • Vers un statut militaire - "Toward a Military Status". Here, Madame Heiser explains that women could not join the Army in any capacity until 1940 and that their files are held along with the men's, divided only according to the branch of the military in which they served.
  • Des femmes militaires témoignent - "Women in the Military Bear Witness". Within the archives oral history collection are many accounts by women, especially of but not exclusively of their service in the Air Force.
  • À Pau, 100 000 dossiers de femmes - "At Pau, 100,000 Files on Women". In the city of Pau is the Central archives concerning modern military personnel (CAPM), all those born before 1983, and many of them are women. 

Most of these archives are not online but the finding aids, increasingly, are. By studying those, you may be able to narrow your search enough to request copies from the SHD. Otherwise, you may have to hire a researcher. Unfortunately, now is not the time. The SHD at Vincennes is closed for the month of August and the website is down, yet again, for maintenance. Plan to tackle this in the autumn.

There is a pair of battered, blue binders filled with old, typed finding aids at the SHD in Vincennes that are probably our favourite books in the whole place. They cover the series in GR Y, all of the oddities that fit nowhere else in the vast system. Many of the archives described above are in GR Y, containing the stories of remarkable women. We do hope one of them is an ancestor of yours.

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 

 


Saint-Cyr - Was Your Ancestress a Poor but Educated Aristocrat?

St Cyr Silhouette

In 1684, Louis XIV established at Saint-Cyr a school for the daughters of certain impoverished nobility called the Maison Royale de Saint Louis. It educated girls and young women until the Revolution caused its closure in 1793. Lists of the names of the students have been published in book form, but the website of the Departmental Archives of Yvelines, where Saint-Cyr is located, have placed the names on its website. They are given alphabetically in three groups:

  • Certain boarders (pensionnaires)
  • Likely boarders
  • Boarders whose home cannot be determined

It is also possible to view the list by department, colony or country of origin. Thus, one can find the three girls from Quebec, the four from Martinique, the two from Guadeloupe, along with the dozens listed under each department. In all, there were over three thousand boarders at Saint-Cyr during its hundred years or so of existence.

The information to be gained is little but genealogically precious:

  • The full and correct spelling and order of those tricky noble names
  • The place of birth
  • The date of baptism
  • The date of the documents used 
  • The date she left the school

In 1806, Napoleon handed the buildings over to the military and the place became the elitist Ecole spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr. It may be a very sad irony that the military school was exclusively for males until 1983, when women were first admitted, only to have their lives made hell. The true founder, Madame de Maintenon (the king's second wife), would surely have been outraged.

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Dossier de Réintegration - Genealogical Joy from a Widow's Struggles

Widow

As we wrote in the previous post about women left widowed after the First World War, at that time, a Frenchwoman who married a foreign man lost her French nationality. That was a finality until 1922, four years after the war had ended, leaving the population of France much reduced and many, particularly war widows, impoverished.

That year, in March, the French Senate approved alterations to the Code Civil articles concerning nationality, granting the possibility for some women who had lost their nationality through marriage to become French again. It has not changed much and is still in effect today. The conditions were that the woman:

  • had to be widowed, divorced, legally separated or in some other way completely free of the foreign husband and his un-French influence;
  • had maintained or established manifest cultural, professional, economic, and familial ties with France.1

She had to submit documentary proof of the above with her application to the Ministry of Justice to have her French nationality restored, for her to be "reintegrated". If her application were approved, her nationality would be restored by decree, usually as one person in a batch. 

Decrete

 Hundreds of women whose foreign husbands had been killed or whom they had divorced took advantage of this new opportunity. Regaining their nationality would have given them much better employment opportunities and the right to have a French passport, of only to emigrate with it.

The forms that they completed survive in the Archives nationales, showing their origins, their marriages, their divorces or the deaths of their husbands, births of their children and so much more. We have seen these applications show all those details, plus:

  • list all of the woman's siblings, with their ages and addresses
  • the woman's place of work and her salary
  • the name of the place where she boarded her children and what it cost her (more than half of her salary)

To find these dossiers, one must search on an index to the names of those in the nationality decrees called NATNUM. Unfortunately, this is not yet on the wonderful Salle des Inventaires Virtuelle of the Archives nationales and must be searched on site on their computers in the archives at Pierrefitte-sur-Seine. That takes one to a microfilm of the decrees:

NATNUM

The decree gives the woman's name, date and place of birth, her married name, place of residence, and how much of the fee was refunded. On the left is the number of the full reintegration application dossier, which may then be requested from the archives.

The process of obtaining one of these wonderfully detailed files is a bit complicated but not half as complicated as it was for the poor woman to complete and submit it.

©2017 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 

1 "Code de la nationalité française", article 97-4, Legifrance, https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/, accessed 4 September 2017.