Sources by and about the French at home and abroad
This guide is a summary of a publication available from Hampshire Archives and Local Studies priced £2.
Early links between England and France
- W/A1/3 Charter of Richard I written from Normandy, (Nonancourt), granting privileges to the citizens of the Gild Merchant of Winchester, 14 Mar 1190
- 23M58/56 Inquisition taken at Calais into the King’s lands and revenues, 6 Feb 1501
- Bishops’ registers for Winchester diocese, reference 21M65/A1, 13th century onwards are a vital source for the history of French-owned religious houses. They also shed light on the political history of their era, showing the Kings of England requesting clergy to pray for English success in the Hundred Years’ War against France
- See 21M65/A1/8 folio 16 Royal writ 27 Feb 1346
Hampshire Record Office holds many documents, often title deeds, written in Norman French, such as:
- 37M85/3/GI/6 Andover Gild roll, 1297-1301
- 13M63/3 Copy of Walter de Hènly’s treatise on husbandry written in French included at the front of Mottisfont Priory rental, 14th century
- and W/B6/2 Letter from Cardinal Beaufort to the Mayor of Winchester, written at Southwark, 25 Feb c.1410.
The English in France
Visitors for business
The ports of Southampton and Portsmouth saw much business in that regard. These cities have their own Record Offices, so the material held at Hampshire is consequently sparser, and includes
- COPY/520/1-2 Photocopies of letters to Philip Corsini, an Italian merchant in London, from Henry Beale and another at Portsmouth concerning preparations for a voyage to La Rochelle and elsewhere, 1580-1586 (One of the letters is in Italian)
- 136M82/60 Correspondence between Edwin Hillier of Romsey, nurseryman, and a French plant nursery, namely the Verrières Arboretum (M.M. Vilmorin-Andrieux & Co.); Verrières le Buisson, Seine et Oise, France, 1922-1923
- AV18/39 BBC South television programme concerning the ex-boxer George Walker including scenes of his development at Le Touquet, broadcast 1988
Visitors for pleasure
We have a fine selection of travel diaries, letters, sketchbooks and photographs which show the impressions the British have received of France over the centuries. Sometimes they provide an outsider’s perspective on its often tumultuous history. Here are a few of them
- 9M73/G15/12 Letter from G South, staying in Algiers, to James Harris (1674-1731) describing his journey through France, which he disparages as “a miserable instance of passive obedience and the juro divino Right of Kings”,1715
- 9M73/764 Diary of the travels in the Netherlands and France of James Harris, 1st Earl of Malmesbury (1746-1820), 1765-6
- Mentions Valenciennes, Cambrai and Paris. Paris is described in detail, followed by a visit to Versailles and the King and Queen of France.
- 5M50/2097-2109 Letters and statements of account relating to the travels of Francis Thistlethwayte Whithed and John Chute in France and Italy, 1739-1747
- 18M51/556 Journal of a visit to Paris by Robert Parker 7 Jun - 19 Jul 1802
- The journal describes a visitor’s life in Paris, including an audience with Napoleon Bonaparte.
- 18M51/559-560 Journals of a tour by Robert Parker in France, Germany and Switzerland, 6 Aug-17 Oct 1818 and 18 Oct 1818-18 Jun 1819 (2 items)
- The first volume relates to a tour from Calais to Abbeville, Beauvais, Paris, Fontainbleau, Dijon and Champagnole on into Switzerland and Germany; the second relates to Germany, including the 1818 Congress at Aix-la-Chapelle, Belgium, then Valenciennes, Cambrai, Compiègne, Paris and Boulogne in France. The second volume includes a sketch of the battlefield at Waterloo.
- 9M55/F63 + F65 Sketch books kept by Mrs Anne Sturges Bourne containing mostly charcoal sketches of scenes in France, Sep 1812- Aug 1815
- COPY/499 Letter from Col. D J Cord, an American, to Benjamin Smith esq. of Brown’s Farm, Sussex, (brother-in-law to John Bonham Carter) reminiscing concerning his travels in Paris during the Revolution 10 Sep 1830
- 110M92/5 John Bonham Carter II’s travel journal from Le Havre to Paris, via Rouen, 1834
Includes descriptions of additional visits to Versailles, Sèvres, Montmorency, Vincennes, Montmatre, St Maire, Nantes and St Germain.
- 94M72/F543-544 Sketch books of Joanna Hilary Bonham Carter relating to northern France and Belgium, containing both pencil and watercolour sketches,1840-1842
- 94M94/1 Travel journal of Thomas Best of Red Rice, Upper Clatford, concerning France and Italy, Oct 1858-Jun 1859
- Best was on honeymoon, travelling from his wife’s home in Amport to Paris, Avignon, Marseilles, Cannes, Nice then on to Italy, and back home via France again.
- 28M73/Z1 Account of a visit to Paris exhibition, by H J Atkins of Blenheim House School, Fareham,1867
- 94M72/F190 Diary of Sibella Bonham Carter concerning a tour of Lower Normandy and Britanny, including sketches of the countryside around Caen and of Mont St Michel, Jun 1877
- 111M87/1 p.21, 27 + 29 Photographs of St Malo, 1895 & nd, and of Dinard, Parame and St Malo, nd
- 129M95/1 Diary of Olive Baring in which she travels to India via Calais and Marseilles; includes a detailed description of her taking the waters at Rheims and playing diabolo there, 1907
- 147M84W/117-120 Souvenir programmes for performances at the Casino Municipal, the Madeleine-Cinema and the Folies Bergère, 1923-4
- AV405/3 Amateur cinefilm footage of the outings of a family from Chalton, Hants., including a visit to Dieppe, France, 1939
AV313/11 Professional film entitled: ‘Seaspeed across the channel’, promoting the Seaspeed hovercraft from Dover to Calais, 1969
- Hampshire Record Office also holds many records relating to the practical details of travelling, such as bills, receipts, passports, guidebooks and maps. (Further details available in the publication 'The French Connection'.)
Servicemen on campaign and prisoners of war
- 9M73/G82 Letter from an unnamed Englishman, presumably a soldier, giving news from Paris and from Dunkirk, Jul 1588. Includes comments on the Spanish Armada preparations: “the report goeth very constant in the campe that the enterprise is for England.”
- 44M69/G5/20/12 Muster book of Richard Poulet including men pressed into service for France, 1590
- 44M69/G5/20/34 A note of the forces accompanying the Earl of Essex and the Lord Admiral to France, (1596)
- 44M69/F6/10/5 Letters from Major Withers to Thomas Jervoise, including letters written while on campaign in France, 1693-8 and 1708
- 4M52/10 Copy notice in French from the ship Actaeon that they intend to take the artillery of two ships in the Bay of Crozie and if opposed will open fire on the town, Dec 1759
- 4M52/9 Copy complaint of the Duc D’Aguillon against Captain Paul Ouvry of the ship Actaeon, nd (1759)
- 23M93/1-49 Papers of Melesina Trench whose husband was imprisoned in Orléans, France under house arrest by the revolutionary regime; including letters written by her at Paris, and a draft petition for her husband’s release, c.1800-1806
- See particularly: 23M93/7; 23M93/28/2-37; 23M93/42/33/110-124
- 20M62/11b Detailed letters written from Captain Benjamin Marcus Ball to his mother, during the retreat from the Iberian peninsula during the Napoleonic wars, 1813-1814
- 9M73/G2566/1-18 Letters to the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury from Captain George Bowles, at Brussels, Enghien, Paris and Cambrai, 1815-1818 including a detailed first hand account of the Battle of Waterloo, 1815
- 94M72/F107/2 Diary of Henry Bonham Carter including visits to French and German hospitals, during the Franco-Prussian war, 1870
- AV12/61 Sound recording of an interview with Rev. Jasper Campion of Winchester concerning his life, including his experiences in the First World War in France, (1914-1915) made in 1981
- 23M68/150-157 Letters from Sir Paul Makins to his children, from No.2 Base, the Remount Depot, British Expeditionary Force, ‘Havre’, France, May 1917-Feb 1919.
- AV18/250 Television documentary called ‘Southern Eye: Day to Remember’, concerning D-Day landings in 1944, focusing on Normandy, using interviews with British and French participants, 1994.
- English and French at home in France
- 44M69/A7/7/4 Executorship account roll listing the income, c.1538-1545, of executors of the estate probably of Sir Nicholas Vaux, died 1523. Includes references to Guisnes in France.
- 23M93/M1 Microfiche copies of letters from Eliza de Feuillide née Hancock to her cousin Philadelphia Walter concerning life in France - including a comparison of Paris with London, and details of the court at Versailles, 1780-c.1797
- 72M92/11/12-20, 14 and 16 (part) Letters written by Rev Charles Powlett in France, 1827-1830’s
- 23M68/15-16 Letters from William Vivian of London, to his nurse Mrs Louisa Hewitt, while a schoolboy at the Institution Hénon-Ferti, 16 Rue de Coucèlles, Paris, 1863
- 75M91/R9 Correspondence concerning the British Charitable Fund in Paris providing assistance to British people in, or refugees from, Paris, 1870
- 75M91/R3, V1, V3-5, V10-13, and V16 Letters concerning the Hertford British Hospital, Rue de Villiers, Paris at which Hon. Dr Alan Herbert, brother of the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon, was the Resident Doctor, 1888-1901
- 9M68/1053-1115 Letters from the Countess de Franqueville to various members of her family, especially Lady Laura Ridding, 27 Jul 1914-19 Aug 1915
- AV18/168 BBC South television programme concerning rabies, including a report from France on precautions against it, broadcast 1987
Diplomacy and Politics
Hampshire Record Office is fortunate to hold several archives which contain a large quantity of material relating to the diplomacy of Britain and France, owing to the involvement of family members represented in the archives in politics on a national level.
The most significant collections are those of Hans Stanley (10M55); the Earls of Malmesbury (9M73); the Right Honourable William Wickham (38M49) and George Redstone Warner (5M79). The Sloane Stanley papers concern the work of Hans Stanley (c.1720-1780) of Paultons, near Romsey, who was involved in peace negotiations in Paris in 1761. He was a supporter of George Grenville (1712-1770) treasurer of the navy, 1760-2 and secretary of state, 1762. There is not space here to do justice to the Malmesbury and Wickham archives - you are strongly advised to read the publication 'The French Connection' for details.
The Malmesbury archive includes papers of the diplomat, James Harris, 1st Earl of Malmesbury (1746-1820) mainly covering negotiations with France 1768-1800. It also includes papers of James Howard Harris (1807-1889) 3rd Earl of Malmesbury, who was Foreign Secretary of Britain, Mar-Dec 1852 and Mar 1858 - Apr 1859, and Lord Privy Seal, 1866-1868 and 1874-1876. The Right Honourable William Wickham (1761-1840) was a secret agent for the English government, under the foreign secretary Lord Grenville, responsible for setting up a complex communications network during the French wars.His correspondence includes many letters with French agents and politicians, and even French royalty. The collection also contains a wonderful series of maps of places in Europe, mainly produced for military purposes in France, and which have French text or notes, 18th cent, referenced 38M49/A6.
The papers of George Redston Warner, diplomat (b.1879), cover his work from 1903 for the Foreign Office, particularly concerning Prisoners of War in both the First and Second World Wars.
There are also many papers in the records of local government concerning relations between England and France on a smaller scale than the nationally significant collections already mentioned.
These records emphasize cooperation rather than conflict, in contrast to the earlier state of affairs between the two nations, such as in the sphere of assistance to France after the First World War.
In the latter half of the 20th century there has been a move towards “twinning” towns which brings localities even closer together.
- W/B5/44/1 Minute book of the Winchester committee of the British League of Help, 1920-1923, referring to Auchonvilliers; Beaufort-Hamel; Englebelmer; and Mailly-Maillet
- and W/C2/2/44-46 Papers relating to help given by Winchester to these same towns at the end of the First World War, 1920-1923
AV149/4 Soundtrack to accompany a cinefilm about the twinning of Gosport with Royan, commemorating the visit by delegates from Gosport in 1959
- 83M97/1 Album of photographs and other items concerning the twinning of Lymington with Vitre, France, 1982-1984 Includes colour photographs of a visit to France.
- AV48/7 Amateur cinefilm which includes footage of a Bastille Day parade in Bayeux, attended by the Mayor of Dorchester, Jack Parsons, 1977.
There is much interesting material in Hampshire Record Office comprising items written in England rather than France, commenting on the situation across the Channel. As might be expected the wars between England and France provide a large proportion of such comments. Although lacking the credibility of eye-witness reports these documents still provide a useful insight into the way the English have viewed their neighbours through the centuries.
- 44M69/F1/2/4 Letter from John Statham of Worcester to Richard Jervoise, commenting on the ‘tumultuous times’ in France, 1562
- 44M69/F8/3/5 Letter from George Purefoy Jervoise of London to Tristram Huddleston Jervoise giving news of the military situation in France, 13 Nov 1792
- 9M73/G2462/1 Letter from a child, Alfred Harris, to his brother James Edward Harris, 2nd Earl of Malmesbury, (1778-1841) concerning the execution of the French King, Jan 1793
- stating simply: “I have only time to tell you that the King of France was beheaded on Monday night ...”
- 9M73/308/1 Letter from Frances Harris, daughter of the 1st Earl of Malmesbury, reporting that “Mr Canning ... says that Lord Nelson has taken the whole french Army that was released by Sr Sidney Smith & sent them back to Egypt where the Turks have cut off all their ears & noses ...”, 1800
- 38M49/1/9/25a Express dispatch from Charles Abbot, Speaker of the House of Commons, to Right Hon. William Wickham, about the Battle of Trafalgar, 21 Oct 1805, stating simply: “News at the Admiralty this Morning. 19 Sail of the Line of the Combined Cadiz Fleet Taken or Destroyed in their attempt to come out. Lord Nelson killed!!!!!!!!!!”
- 75M91/E16/49 Letter from the 3rd Countess of Carnarvon to the 3rd Earl, describing the escape of the French royal family from Paris, 1848
The French in England
Hundreds of Huguenots flocked to England at the invitation of King Charles II.They became integrated into British life, sometimes prospering greatly, as was the case for several prominent Hampshire families such as the Portals or the Garniers. A French chapel dedicated to St Julien became used by the Huguenots for their services on Sundays. Although parish registers from 1562 to the early 18th century are held by the Public Record Office and later ones by Southampton Archives Service, there are references to it in some of Hampshire Record Office’s holdings, particularly the diocesan collection of wills and inventories of French people who died in Hampshire. These include:
- 1689B/06 Will of Matthew Brohier of Southampton, merchant, including bequest to the French church in Southampton and mentioning estates in Normandy
- and 1731A/120 Will of Elizabeth St Dalham of St Michael, Southampton including bequest to the poor French Protestants of Southampton and stating she is unaccustomed to the laws of this country
- Parish registers sometimes contain details of contemporary events such as that for Newton Valence, 33M66/PR1, containing details of the church collection for the relief of French protestants, 18 May 1686 and 11 May 1688
- 5M52 Portal family papers
The Portals were a Huguenot family from Bagnols-sur-Cèze in France, two of whom were forced to come to England after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and one of whom, Henry, settled in Hampshire, establishing himself as a paper manufacturer at Laverstoke. Their papers include material relating to the French ancestry of the family; Henry’s certificate of naturalisation as a British citizen, 1711; and printed pamphlets and biographies of the Portal family, especially Baron du Portal
- 4M52 Ouvry papers
Papers of Lieutenant Louis Ouvry, a Huguenot refugee who came to England in 1707, entered the British army, died 1771 and was buried at Bethnal Green.
Including: an account in French of his early life and travels, nd (18th cent) and correspondence with his family, 18th century.
Prisoners of war
In Winchester, the King’s House was used to house 5000 French prisoners of war during the Seven Years War, 1757-1764, and the American War of Independence, 1778-1785. Later it was used to house exiled French clergy.
- See in particular: 1M44/67 Letter book of Thomas Woods Knollis, 7th Earl of Banbury, including:
- folio 22 Proposed rules for the prisoners of war at Winchester, 1780
- folio 24 Letter to John Bell, informing him a new well is successfully sunk and asking if the prisoners of war can have the same type of bread as that of the common prisoners in the county gaol, 1780
- folio 50 Letter to the Captain of the Guard, requesting that prisoners of war are prevented from climbing the ladder to the top of county hall, 1781
- 94M72/F654 Letters from Napoleonic prisoners of war based in Petersfield to Henry Bonham, thanking him for his help,1795-1796
Partly in English; but mainly in French. Accompanied by a manuscript copy of ‘The Marseillaise’
81M89/1-16 Research notes concerning Pierre Garnier, the son of a Burgundian peasant who later became one of Napoleon’s officers and died in Hampshire as a prisoner of war, made in 20th century
Other wartime records
- Evidence of this can be found in 11M49/231-244 Letter books and papers of the 1st Baron Bolton, Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, responsible for raising the militia, 1800-1807
- See also: 11M49/F/O38-40 Hampshire Volunteer Force letter books, 1803-1807
- Additionally Quarter Sessions records include: Q22/1/2/5 Returns under the Defence of the Realm Act, 1798
- The forms include numbers of men between 15 and 60 able to fight, and details of goods and equipment, parish by parish, which could be used in time of invasion
Refugees from the Revolution
- 75M91/A6-7 Letters from the Archbishop of Aix, Boisgelin de Chabannes, an emigre from the French Revolution, hospitably received by the 1st Earl of Carnarvon, 1786-1800
- W/D3/328/1-162 Passports issued or received by the Mayor of Winchester allowing French persons to travel within the United Kingdom, 1793-1794
- Top343/2/83-85, 89, 92-93 Illustrations of the King’s House, Winchester, where many exiled French clergy were housed, late 18th century
- 9M73/298/6, 31 Letters from Catherine Harris to her father, James Harris, 1st Earl of Malmesbury (1746-1820) about sales for the benefit of the French priests in Winchester and a visit to the French priests at the King’s House, Winchester, 1794
- Business and commerce French business links with Britain recorded at Hampshire Record Office can be roughly divided into tradesmen selling goods to the English and school teachers teaching the English their language.
- 44M69/G2/316 Petition to the British parliament by Jacob Massey and other merchant jewellers of Paris, concerning a theft of diamonds and their desire for redress against the warden of the Fleet prison who allowed the thief to escape, nd (18th century)
- 75M91/B29/1 Nonsense rhymes by the 2nd Earl of Carnarvon concerning his French governess, c.1793
- 75M91/E1-2 and E43/48b Letters to the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon whilst away at private school, including letters in French from his former tutor, Francis Gaudin, 1812-1813
- 47M91W/H8/2 Report of a visit to King Alfred’s College, Winchester by the Ecole Normale D’Instituteurs d’Arras, Feb 1985
Travel for pleasure
- AV143/F1 cinefilm taken by an unknown Frenchman from Britanny of a daytrip to Southampton, 1930
The French elsewhere
- 10M55/123 Copies of papers concerning the capture of Pondicherry, India, from the French, 1761
- 21M57/A39/2(b) First hand account of the French invasion of Ireland, 25 Aug 1798
- and 9M73/G1964 Published pamphlet printed by R Cruttwell of Bath, entitled:
“Proceedings at Killalla, during the French invasion, and the subsequent rebellion, from August 22 to October 27, 1798 in letters from the Right Reverend Joseph Lord Bishop of Killalla to his brother, Mr Stephen Stock”, 1799.