Biography: Louis 'Arthur'
Felix AUDCENT (1838-1881)
Louis Arthur Henri Felix AUDCENT was born on the 2nd June 1838 at Bordeaux, the only son of the marriage of Prosper Audcent and his wife Anne Marie Louise Henriette Silvie Pinot de Moira. Present at the Registration of birth and perhaps in view of their names, and the fact that these names were given to Arthur, probably his Godparents, were two actor colleagues of his father, Sieurs 'Arthur' Romain Gassiot and 'Felix' Thibaud.
Nothing is known of his early life, until in July 1850, at the age of 12 when he is known to have been living with his sister Armandine in Madrid, Spain. The two of them apparently spent some time there and he received some education during his stay, compiling a small collection of poems entitled "Cuaderno de versos, par Arturo Audcent" written in Madrid on the 10th June 1851. In 1851 he left Spain to return to France. In December of that same year by a coup d'Etat the Prince Napoleon (later Napoleon III) became virtual dictator of France.
It is possible that the family had been in Spain at this time, and that they returned to Clermont-Ferrand, Puy-de-Dome in this year, the same year that Arthur left home to become a Sailor. We have no idea as to when his parents separated or indeed if they did. It appears that his mother in any case remained in Clermont Ferrand until her death in 1859, and our assumption that his father remained, for at least some of that period, in Paris, is based on the fact that his name does not appear on her Faire-part.
By 21st May 1853, we know that Athur had entered into the Marines for by the 1st January 1862, he had served a period of 103 months and 11 days in that corps. We know of nothing of the intervening years until 1857, when we learn that in December of that year, Arthur, now a quarter-master and a budding officer, returned from 30 days leave, granted by Sieur Jacquinot, to board his ship at Toulon.
In 1859, he and his two sisters, Marie had already married, attended the funeral of their mother Fanny (Sylvie) at Clermont Ferrand. She had died whilst staying with her maternal relations the Conchon de la Masiere, who lived at St. Dier, Puy de Dome.
On the 1st January 1862, he received a promotion to Sergent fourrier 1st class (this promotion apparently meant that he was transferred from the Naval Marine to the army).
In 1863, Arthur in association with his uncle, Hippolyte Henri Pinot de Moira then Comte de Rochepaule, invented a "Phare Telegraphique", which he notes at that time as being superior to all other systems in use at that time. On the 7th February of that year, he wrote to the Minister of the Admiralty, enclosing plans and a description of his invention. Subsequently, he then wrote to Emperor Napoleon III (a distant cousin) on the 19th March 1863 with a request for assistance in meeting the cost of manufacturing a trial unit. On the following 9th April, he further wrote from Cherbourg to the Admiralty at Paris, enclosing a second description. He thanked the Admiral at Paris for some information supplied to him, by a further letter sent from Cherbourg on the 9th May, and wrote to the Ministry to find out their final decision, which rested on an examination of his invention by the Council of Works. On the 21st April 1863, it is known that the Council sat and considered the usefullness of his invention, but we do not know what the conclusions were.
Arthur also designed a "Machine a agglomerer", which doesn't appear to have been pursued. The impressive drawings, and engineering draughting skills in his drawings have to be admired.
On the 15th January 1864, we are surprised to learn that Arthur was imprisoned at Granville, where he wrote his last poem, dedicated to the young ladies Eliard, which was dated 20th January of that year. He was also reduced to the rank of corporal fourrier. He was apparently imprisoned for political reasons unknown, but an enquiry to the Mairie of Granville and a detailed investigation by staff has failed to find the records of his imprisonment - no doubt these would be in the Army/Naval records.
Arthur is believed to have been involved in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, although we have no firm evidence of this. Arthur seems to have had a very chequered life, in trouble as a young man, imprisonment, and apparently on one occasion thought to have died during a voyage at sea. His life was saved, when a nun who was praying beside his bed, just before the burial was to take place, noticed that he was still alive - otherwise he would have been tipped overboard. We know little of his service life, but we do know that at some time he travelled to China where he suffered from heat stroke. It is possible that he left the services earlier we find that he sets up a company called Audcent A and Co., Brandy Merchants at 45 Baldwin Street 1875, but there is a subnote stating A Audcent 1867 (BRISTOL Commercial List).
Following the war, sometime around 1870 his uncle Hippolyte Henri Pinot de Moira left France and emigrated to England, bringing with him his younger children, and they settled at 26 Bath Place, Taunton, Somerset, his profession being stated as Professor of Languages. It may have been about this time that Arthur left the Services, and became a brandy merchant, travelling beween Charente and Bristol. We find with interest that in the 1871 census, Arthur was already resident at Prior Park RC College, Bath, where he was a teacher (aged 32), it was some years later that his own son was to follow in his footsteps and become a teacher for a short while in the school.
On the 26th May 1874, Arthur was contracted in marriage to his first cousin Helene Marie 'Blanche' Pinot de Moira, their Contract of Marriage being drawn up before Arthur Burridge(?) Solicitor of Taunton and legalised by Arthur Bleset(?) Notary at Exeter 3 days later. Shortly afterwards, on the 23rd June 1874 they were formally married at St. George's Church, in Billet Street, Taunton, in the presence of Henri and Helene Pinot de Moira (Comte et Comtesse de Rochepaule) her parents, and her elder brother and sister 'Paul' and 'Marguerite' Pinot de Moira. At the date of his marriage Arthur is recorded as living at 45 Baldwin Street, Bristol. Thus the Audcent family of England were descended twice in succession from the family Pinot de Moira. Interestingly, the marriage does not appear to have been approved by the Pope as was the custom for Catholic marriages between first cousins, it was also not registered with the French authorities and further at the present time, I can find no record of it in the English Marriage Indexes despite searching a number of potential mis-spellings.
Immediately following their marriage, the young couple moved to Chambord Cottage, Keynsham, Somerset, where Blanche gave birth to two children, her son Louis 'Henri' Felix (1875), and their eldest daughter Louise (1877). The family then moved once again, this time, to Berkeley Villa, North Road, Ashley, Bristol, for their third and last child Marguerite (1878) was born there on the 11th June. All three of his children were given French citizenship, their births being registered officially in England, and also by the French Consul. Interestingly, whilst both Arthur & Blanche were native French, they don't appear, however, to have registered their marriage with the French Authorities, for a check with the French Embassy Records in London indicates that only the marriage of their son Henri had been registered with them in 1910.
At this time, Hippolyte Henri Pinot de Moira (Comte de Rochepaule) his father-in-law and uncle, applied for and was granted English nationality, which he obtained on the 28th January 1879, it would appear that Arthur never actually took the same steps and thus retained his French citizenship throughout his life.
In that same year, his wife Blanche died at home in Berkeley Villa, of Malignant Anaemia, after an illness lasting two months. She was buried at All Souls Cemetery, Arnos Vale, Brislington, Bristol in the Catholic cemetery there, and regrettably for their young children it was not to be long before her husband joined her.
Shortly after her death, Arthur having placed his young children with their grandparents, moved to 12 Ruysdael Place, Triangle South, Clifton, Bristol. At some time unknown, he was to be involved in a train accident, in which he apparently received injuries to his head, as a result of which he was incapable of looking after himself, or even being supported by his family. All we know is that he died at the young age of 42, insane, at the Bristol Lunatic Asylum, Stapleton, Barton Regis. He had only been in care for a few weeks, although his illness had lasted a year. On his death certificate his occupation is noted as a Commission Agent, and again we do not know how long he had held this occupation. In the local press announcements of his death, the family too shocked at the circumstances, gave just a brief simple statement, and stated that he had died at his home at 12 Ruysdael Place.
He was buried with his wife in the grave at All Souls Cemetery, which same grave was also in due course to accomodate his parents-in-law and in later years his sister-in-law 'Marguerite' (Alix Marie Marguerite known as TaGuite) Pinot de Moira. Arthur's grave still existed somewhat covered in ivy in 1975, and many years later in 1962, his daughter Louise was to be buried in the same cemetery but in a separate grave. With his death, his 3 children now orphaned were left in the total care of their maternal grandparents and their maternal aunt 'Marguerite'.
Extract from DOCUMENTATION
(1) EXTRACT from the Register of Births ref: Bordeaux - Naissance, 1st Section, Entry No. 605, registered on the 5th June 1838, in the possession of the Archives Departementales de la Gironde, 13 Rue d'Aviau, 33081, Bordeaux-Cedex which reads as follows:- "Le dit jour a la mairie henri est comparu le Sieur Prosper Audcent, age de vingt sept ans, artiste dramatique, demeurant allees des Noyen No. 126, lequel nous a presente un enfant du sexe masculine, ne le deux du courant a six heures de soir, de lui declarant ? de Aimie, Marie, Louise, Henriette, Silvie, Pinot de Moira, son epouse, et auquel il donne les prenoms de Louis, Arthur, Henry * fait en presence des Sieurs Arthur Romain Gassiot, artiste dramatique, alle d'amour No. 8 et Felix Thibaud, meme profession, rue des N. No. 6 temoins majeurs, l'ecture faite du presens le pere et les temoins ont signe avec nous. * Felix: approuvent le aussi." Signed Prosper Audcent pere, A Romain Gassiot, Felix Thibaud and L'adjoint de Maire, P.S. Lertagies (?).
(2) This is though probable, because the tradition in France was for the two witnesses to be Godparents of the child, and would appear to be confirmed by the insertion of the name 'Felix' at the Registration of Birth and supported by the fact that neither of the names 'Arthur' or 'Felix' appear as traditional names for the family on either paternal or maternal sides.
(3) As evidenced by his poem, which he dedicated to his mother on her feast day & which is
followed by the following:- "Fait en Espagne le 28 Juillet 1850", for full details of the poem see item 5(G) which follows.
(4) As evidence by two poems, contained in his collection entitled "Cuaderno de Versos," which are fully set out in item 5, which were compiled in Madrid, and dedicated "A mi profesor".
(5) Arthur wrote poetry and we include here just a selected few, with notes on the dedications:-
(6) This is evidenced from a further poem which follows that of 5(G) noted above, and is dedicated as follows: "A ma grand maman le jour de sa fete", and "Faits en Espagne au moment de notre depart en 1851". This poem would be dedicated to Marie Jeanne Felicite Jeanne de Vilestivaud his maternal Grandmother, it reads:
Ma soeur Armandine et moi
Nous desirions te feter
Et que ces vers soient pour toi
la preuve de notre amitie
Nous pensons bien bonne maman
Que nous pourrons l'annee qui vient
J'offrir tous en t'embrassant
Pour ta vieillesse notre sautier
Nous esperons pouvoir encore
Je la souhaiter bien des annees
Car tes enfants qui t'adore
N'esperent que dans ta duree."
(9) As evidenced in the following poem extracted from those to follow and dedicated "A mon camarade, Rochette de Lempdes, Decembre 1857". The text reads:-
Il ne me faux jamais venu a la pensee,
Lorsqu'on sein de Toulon, je connais ma bordee;
Que cela me calm; trente jour de chachot,
Administres, dit-on, parle sieur Jacquinnot.
Que je serais, ma foi, bien capable d'en rire.
Oui certes, j'ensirais, car il est impossible,
Que l'on puisse compter sur un sorro si terrible;
Surtout; quand on en vain, comme moi tous les jours,
Et non pas une fais, mais certes bien toujours,
Qui pour trois jours d'absence etamo en permission,
N'amo que huit jours de fer pour toute punition.
Vraiment, j'ai beau chercher. Je cherche pourtant bien,
Et je ne trouve rien, mais absolument rien;
Qui puisse m'indiquer, en quoi j'ai merite,
Que l'on emploie pour moi, tant de severite.
On m'accuse il en vrai, d'avoir de la sagesse,
Detourne deux enfants, dans leur tendre jeunesse.
Le plus jeune d'entreux a deja dix huit ans;
Ce ne sont vraiment pas de si jeunes enfants;
Aupres de moi sustant, qui: si j'ai bien compte,
A ma vingtieme annee ne suit point arrive.
Aussi bien! n'est-ce pas un an de difference.
Qui fait que l'on me croit avoir plus d'experience.
Alors; me direz-vous: "Quel est donc le motif",
"Qui fait qu'en a pour vous augmente le tarif?"
Du Diable; si jamais vous auriez galonne.
Un fourrier. Eh Bien oui; c'est une bell u... (dots in the original - dba)
Un fourrier! Mais c'est la, un officier en herbe. .
Vous n'avez donc jamais sange, qu'a l'avenir,
A ce grade un beau jour, nous pourrons parvenir.
Voila; ce qu'a Toulon il emo fallu, me dire,
Lorsqu'etait reimis, nous ne sangions qu'a rire.
Il etait beau ce temps! Moi aussi, quelle suit,
Trente jours de cachot. Oublions-les bien vite.
Et de peut qu'il me prenne envie d'y revenir;
Je veux; a l'instant meme: Couper carnet et finir.
Finir en ne disant, votre ami bien sincere;
Peut-etre le meilleur que vous avez sur terre."
(G) A poem entitled "Souvenir" dedicated "A madame Veuve Lenglois".
VEUVE elle est aujourd'hui, mais Dieu qui l'apermis
a dis que tous les justes, au ciel, secours unis,
L a boute de son coeur est impossible a rendre,
E n elle l'amitie, l'affection la plus tendre;
N e dorment qu'une idee de sa noble vertu.
G race a tous ses bons soins, jusqu'apresent j'ai pu
L oin de me desoler dans ma captivitie,
O ser me croire heureux, qu'on m'aie ainsi traite.
I lni en doux de pouvoir apres tous d'obligeance,
S entir, battre mon coeur par la reconnaissance.
(H) A poem dedicates to his comrades "A mes camarades du Faon-a Granville". This would appear to a poem dedicated to his companions on the ship called "Faon", berthed at Granville.
J'embrasse sur la bouche une jeune maitresse,
Sur le cou, mes deux soeurs, en signe de tendresse,
Sur les joues, une amie, au dessus de mon age;
Sur le font, toute fille, que je suppose sage.
Fort souvent; sur la bouche j'embrasserai ma femme,
Comme marque d'amour, pour lui prouver ma flamme;
Mais en la caressant il me ser a plus doux,
De jouer en l'embrassant tous le long de son cou:
Puis, lorsque pour longtemps, il faudra m'absenter,
Sur les deux joues, alors; je saurai l'embrasser.
Enfin, quand je voudrai sortire de la maison,
Je lui dois, par respect, un baiser sur le front.
(I) A poem entitled "Confidence", dedicated "A Mademoiselle Marie Eliard".
E lle est l'objet de ma tendresse,
Mon seul tresor,
L e vrai portrait de la sagesse,
Ange au coeur d'or
I l est si doux de n'aimer qu'elle:
Rien, variment rien,
A upres de ses tendres prunelles,
R end-la mon Dieu sensible a mon amour,
Et par serment,
D e l'aimer, je promets, a partir de ce jour.