Biography: Prosper AUDCENT
(1811-between 1861-1874)

There is no known photograph of Prosper.

Prosper Audcent, (first to use the name without the 'e') was born on the 20th February 1811, and baptised the following day at St. Valerien, Chateaudun, the only known child and son and heir of Jean Pierre Audecent (with the occupation at that date of a simple blanket-maker) and his wife Louise Victoire Beaugendre. He had for Godfather, his grandfather Jacques Audecent (who was also a blanket maker), and for godmother, his grandmother Anne Marie Beaugendre nee Martin.

We know nothing of his early years and education, he appears to have been an only child, at least to date we have been unable to find any other issue for his parents. Presumably, they could well afford to have him educated. His father, must have been a very successful man, for he bettered himself, becoming a Lithographer. Prosper was to follow his father in that same profession. It is clear that at that early stage, the technology was relatively new, and lithographers had entered a world of plenty, for their skills were much admired and the financial rewards considerable.

We again have no knowledge as to how the Audcent family either Jean Pierre his wife and son Prosper or Prosper on his own came to leave Chateaudun, and to meet up with the family Pinot de Moira, who at that time would appear to have already moved to Normandie and were living in Rouen. We do know that in 1835, when Prosper was 24, his father and mother, Jean-Pierre (Lithographer) were living at 26 Rue Dauphine, Paris 10e, and that Prosper had lived with them until the April of that year when he moved to live at 41 Rue St. Eloi, in Rouen, the home of his future parents-in-law the Comte et Comtesse de Rochepaule. His occupation was at that time an 'ecrivain lithographe' which I would take to mean the skilled engraver.

Without doubt an exceptionally talented individual, he had somehow attracted the attention of Anne Marie Louise Henriette 'Sylvie' Pinot de Moira, and her parents. Sylvie was the only daughter of Jean Paul Baptiste Henri Pinot de Moira, Comte de Rochepaule and his wife Marie Catherine Jeanne Felicite de Vilestivaud de Lapeyrouse. At that date Sylvie's father held the occupation of 'Imprimeur Lithographe' or Lithographic Printer, he appears to have made application to become a printer at Rouen in 1831, so that he, his future son-in-law and the latter's father were all involved in the same profession.  Prosper, despite his simple beginnings, appears to have been raised as a gentleman, for he is described as Sieur Prosper Audcent at his wedding.

Prosper duly married Sylvie, then aged only 20, at Rouen on the 29th August 1835, in the presence of both sets of parents. Whilst both the bride, groom, and the four parents all signed the register, the other witnesses were unrelated to the respective families, these all being friends of the family (without doubt on the Brides side) Casimir Paul aged 35, negociant of 26 Rue d'Eloi, Frederic Gambay aged 40, professor of Literature, 3 Rue Socrate, Paul Gambay aged 38, professor of languages, 20 rue St. Jacques, Jean Baptiste Dupont aged 55, Deputy Police Chief, 49 rue de la Renelles, all living in Rouen. It is noted in the marriage registration that Prosper was 'exempt from Military Service', whether this was because of his occupation or a medical condition we do not know.

Interestingly, it would appear that Prosper and his new wife were then given either the tenancy or ownership of the property known as 41 Rue St. Eloi by his new parents-in-law, for on the 15th June 1836, when the young couple registered the birth of their first child and daughter Marie Henriette, Prosper still a lithographer was recorded as living at that address, whilst his father-in-law who was also present at the registration of birth, had apparently now changed both his job and place of residence, being now a Tax Inspector (Receveur des Contributions Directes), and living at 41 Rue de la Vicomte, Rouen.

Silvie's younger brother Henri must have commenced his University studies at that time, for he obtained his Diploma Bachelor of Letters in the following year 1836 at Rouen, and then spent the next 3 years studying to be a Lawyer in Paris. It is to be noted that her brother did not study in Paris until after 1836, also, at the date of marriage he was 15, and thus his connection with that City could not have been the source of his sister's meeting and marriage.

Of his marriage with Sylvie there was issue of three children: 'Marie' Henriette (1836-1915) born in Rouen, Louis 'Arthur' Henri Felix (1838-1881) born in Bordeaux, Anne Henriette 'Armandine' (1841-1891) born in Paris.

So we know that in 1836 at the birth of his first child and daughter 'Henriette' he was resident at Rouen.

He then appears to have changed profession for he appears in Bordeaux with his wife, and is described as an "Artiste Dramatique" which one can only assume is an actor, at the time of birth in 1838 of his only son Arthur, at the registration of Arthur's birth, the witnesses are both actors, it is clear that at that time he was part of a dramatic company.  In the published Dictionnaire des comédiens français (ceux d'hier): Biographie, bibliographie, iconographie - Page 56 by Henry Lyonnet - 1912 the following entry appears:- "AUDCENT, Prosper. — Théâtre du Palais- Royal, 1853-55. Habitait Paris en 1861".  One interesting fact arising from this entry is that this is the very same period that Alexander Dumas, one of the most famous novelists and dramatists of the period, was employed as a librarian at this very same theatre, so Prosper and he would have personally known each other.  A further interest is that Dumas wrote a novel based on a famous journalist from Chateaudun called Pitou, the surname of Prospers Grandmother.

3 years later, on the birth of his second daughter 'Armandine' in 1841 he returned once again to Northern France and was living with his wife at 21 Rue des grands Augustins, Paris arrondisement 11e, once again returning to his lithographic profession.

In the poems written by his son Arthur between 1841 and 1861 we never find any reference to his father, only to the women of the family, his mother, grandmother and younger sister Armandine, but that in itself might not have been unusal, however we have now unearthed the more facts.

We now know that he, his wife and children moved to Madrid, where they remained for some years.  The marriage was not a happy one, in 1856 she was to state that her separation was the result of her husband being a "spendthrift writer".  In 1847 they were living at 21 Rue de Valverde, Madrid.   In fact they separated that year whilst in Spain, for an acte had been mutually entered into dated 31st March 1847 made in the chancellerie of the French Embassy before Honorary Consul Liger in Madrid in the presence of Jules Douon lithographic printer and Louis Faure Paper merchant, and deposited with Letellier notaire at Bolbec, France.  His occupation appears to have changed once again for he was called an Engineer in the agreement.  

On her death on the 17th August 1859 at St. Dier near Clermont Ferrand, Puy de Dome, holding the occupation of an Infant School Inspector, Prosper's name does not appear. In normal circumstances, his name would have been the first mentioned. We note that not only had Sylvie taken up employment or perhaps an interest as an Inspector, but that she now no longer lived in Paris, but in Clermont Ferrand. She died whilst visiting her maternal relations Emmanuel Armand Conchon de la Masiere, a tax collector who married her aunt Louise Augustine de Vilestivaud. See Les Inspecteurs généraux de l'instruction publique: dictionnaire biographique, 1802-1914 by Françoise Huguet, Isabelle Havelange, Bernadette Lebedeff, Guy Caplat, also Annuaire de l'instruction publique by Jules Delalain.

We know that two years later, Prosper was still living in 1861, and at that date was resident at 16 Boulevard de Poissoniers, Paris arr. 18e described as a man of independant means, for at that time he was asked for his permission by his daughter Armandine who wished to marry Auguste Artus Fauconnet a Notary's clerk. At that time she was being looked after, a minor aged 20 with no occupation, by her widowed maternal grandmother Anne Marie Jeanne Felicite de Vilestivaud de Lapeyrouse, who lived at 5 rue de Nicaisse, Rouen. He assented to the marriage by deed signed on the 19th February 1861 before Maitre Masselin, notary in Rouen.  Unfortunately, no record of this deed now exists, the Maire at Rouen confirming that the Archives of Seine Maritime who hold the Masselin Minutes do not have a copy, and that the copy held at the Palais de Justice, was burnt during the bombarding of Rouen preceding the liberation of that City in the Second World War.

The Pinot family always thought of him as a very rich man, but we have no evidence of this, certainly in 1861 at the age of 50, as we know, he was living on private means. Despite research in Paris, we do not know where and when he died, whether he remarried, left a will etc. On the marriage of his only son Arthur, it is noted in the Contract of Marriage dated 26th May 1874, that his father Prosper was dead.

His life remains an enigma. Did he re-marry after the death of his wife and knowing that his first three children were in theory well looked after by their noble and relatively well off Pinot relations, decide not to contact them again, but look after a second family? Perhaps, he was killed during the terrible events in Paris in the 1870's? We may never know! Certainly, no correspondence, letters or other reference to him appears among the family papers, if he was aware of the bankruptcy of Hippolyte Henri Pinot de Moira, Comte de Rochepaule, his brother-in-law, he didn't appear to make contact. His daughters did not seem to make the usual liaisons that would be expected of a wealthy and well-connected man, although we have no direct information concerning the M. Marinier who married Henriette.


(1) Extract of Registers of Birth of Chateaudun, No 47 which has been transcribed by Gerard Audcent and reads:

"Mairie de Chateaudun, Audecent (prosper) 47. L'an mil huit cent onze la vingt fevrier, quatre heures du soir est ne prosper fils de jean pierre audecent ouvrier en laine and de louise victoire Beaugendre, domicilies dans Chateaudun ou ils ont etre maries la vingt un may mil huit cent dix No 23. L'enfant presente par le pere a ete reconnu un garcon auquel le prenom a ete donne par Jacques audecent et anne marguerite Martin veuve Jacques Beaugendre. Dont acte recu par moi Louis Daveze, adjoint du maire et officier public de l'etat civil soussigne en presence d'amant fidel constant La grand horloger, pierre Jacques Leconte gratteur de laine demeurant a chateaudun, temoins qui tous ont signes, sans jacques audecent qui nescai pas ecrire. Signed Audecent, A M Martin, Le Conte, Legrand, and Daveze"

Gerard Audcent has translated the document into English, which reads as follows:-

"Town Hall, Chateaudun. Audecent (Prosper). 47. In the year eighteen hundred and eleven, on the twentieth day of February at four o'clock in the afternoon, was born Prosper, son of Jean Pierre Audecent, wool worker, and of Louise Victoire Beaugendre, residents of Chateaudun where they were married on the twenty-first day of May eighteen hundred and ten, No. 23. The infant, presented by the father, was recognized as a male and was named by Jacques Audecent and by Anne Marguerite Martin, widow of Jacques Beaugendre. Registered by the undersigned Louis Daveze, Deputy Mayor and Registrar, in the presence of Amant Fidel Constant Legrand, clockmaker, and Pierre Jacques Leconte, teaseler, residents of Chateaudun, which witnesses have all signed with the exception of Jacques Audecent who cannot write. Signed Audecent, Le Conte, Legrand, Daveze".

(2) Extract from Register of Parish of St. Valerien, Commune of Chateaudun, Deanery of Chateaudun and Diocese of Chartres supplied by the Archivist of the Diocese of Chartres. The document transcribed and translated by Gerard Audcent, firstly the transcription:-

"Diocese de Chartres, Doyenne de Chateaudun, Commune de Chateaudun - Paroisse Saint-Valerien. Copie d'acte. Registre des baptemes, mariages et sepultures. Le vingt fevrier mil huit cens onze est ne et le lendemain a ete baptise par nous Ptre. soussigne - Prospert, fils du mariage de Jean Pierre audecent couverturier et Louise Victoire Beaugendre de cette paroisse, parain jacques audecent, couverturier son grand Pere, qui ne signe, maraine anne marguerite Martin Vve. Beaugendre sa grande Mere qui a signe avec le pere et nous. Signatures: martin; audecent; percheron cure desst. (Copie conforme). N.B.- Ptre. = pretre. cure desst = cure desservant (pretre faisant le service de la paroisse de Sainte-Valerien.). 30th janvier 1980, Signed (unreadable) L'archiviste du diocese de Chartres".

"Register of Baptism, Marriages and Burials. On the twentieth day of February eighteen hundred and eleven was born, and on the following day baptized by us the undersigned priest, Prospert, son of the marriage of Jean Pierre Audecent, blanket maker and Louise Victoire Beaugendre of this parish; godfather Jacques Audecent, blanket maker his grandfather, who does not sign, godmother Anne Marguerite Martin, widow Beaugendre, his grandmother, who has signed with the father and with us. Signed Martin, Audecent, Percheron priest in charge."