Ann Compton du Moulin / Atcherley / Breton: The French disconnection – Part 1

< Back to Camille Casimir Breton and Ann Compton Atcherley: The French connection.

After their no-shows on the England and Wales censuses of 1861 and ’71, Camille Casimir Breton, his wife Ann Compton Breton (formerly Atcherley, née Du Moulin), and their son Robert Camille Breton all featured on English census schedules again from 1881. However Ann’s daughter (by her first husband) Ann Isabella Atcherley, who also ‘vanished’ in the late 1850s, did not reappear – and Camille was leading a new life, separate from the rest of his family.

The earliest evidence I have found of Camille Breton’s return to England is his appearance in the rate books of the parish of St James in Marlborough Ward, Westminster, for 1877-8 financial year. The entry for 11 Great Windmill Street shows that it was initially occupied by Mary Elizabeth Weeks, but her name was crossed out and “Breton Camille Casimir” was written in the space beside this. He appeared in the same books at the same address, as Camille Casimer Breton”, for the following two years. He was occupying a house and premises named “Three Spies” – a long-established public house of which Camille was then the latest in what was probably a very long line of ‘landlords’. There is a fabulous contemporary painting of the building and one of its neighbours at The Watercolour World website.

Sadly, Camille turned out to be an innkeeper who did not keep his inn for very long. His debts grew to the point where they exceeded his ability to pay them, and in 1880 “Proceedings for Liquidation by Arrangement or Composition with Creditors, instituted by Camille Casimer Breton, of the Three Spies, Great Windmill-street, Haymarket, in the county of Middlesex, Licensed Victualler” were commenced. By census time in 1881, the licensed victualler at the Three Spies was German-born Albert Munzer. “Camel Breton” (as his name appeared on the census schedule) was enumerated at 449 Hackney Road in Bethnal Green, in the East End of London.

Although he was no longer with his wife Ann, Camille was not living alone. Appearing with him on the census was Rosa Fenn, a 43 year old widow born in Hampton Wick. Baptised as Rosa Louisa Hawkridge on 1 March 1838, she had married hairdresser Henry Fenn at St Mary Newington in Surrey on 16 September 1860, but Henry died 14 years later, on 2 October 1874, at the couple’s home in London. Rosa’s relationship to Camille, the head of the household she was enumerated in on the 1881 census, was described as ‘Partner’. The occupation recorded for both Camille and Rosa was ‘Tobacconist’.

In my prequel to this story, I stated that “Camille’s life in the city of Bath was, to put it mildly, not without incident.” The last decade or so of his life had its moments too. In June 1881, for instance, his name appeared in newspaper articles reporting on the court case arising from a major jewel robbery. I should immediately make it clear that Camille was not the alleged thief, who had stolen jewellery valued at between eight and ten thousand pounds from a house in Brussels. The ‘swag’, which had made its way to England and was presented by Chief Inspector Greenham of Scotland Yard at during the ensuing court case at Bow Street, “was of a very beautiful description, and included bracelets set with sapphires and brilliants, rings, pendants, brooches, &c.”

The prisoners in the dock on Thursday 16 June 1881 were Eugène Patereau, a hairdresser, Alexis Lindais, a bootmaker, and Marguerite Honoré, a dressmaker. Their involvement in the robbery appears to have been limited to handling the stolen goods after they were brought to England. According to evidence presented to the court, on the previous day Patereau and Lindais were seen leaving a public house in Clerkenwell Road and going into a tobacconist’s shop opposite, carrying a white paper parcel. They then emerged from the shop carrying a smaller, brown paper parcel, which was found by the police to contain cigars. The men were taken into custody, and at the police station a diamond was found on Patereau’s person. A search of the flat occupied by Lindais and Honoré revealed more jewellery concealed in a couch and its cushions. One newspaper report on the court case stated:

Camille Casimir Breton, tobacconist, deposed that he knew the three prisoners. On Wednesday the men entered his shop and asked for a box of cigars. The witness tied up the cigars and gave them to Patereau. The prisoners gave a parcel to the witness, and asked him to take care of it for them. He took the parcel, and the prisoners left.

The case was adjourned, and later fell apart completely with all involved being acquitted. Those who had handled the jewellery in England could not, under the Extradition Act between Britain and Belgium, be extradited to the latter country because they had not committed any crime there. And as the thief who stole the jewellery in Belgium had not been caught and prosecuted, there was no proof that his alleged accomplices in England had received stolen goods “with guilty knowledge”.

A month shy of ten years later, Camille appeared in the newspapers in connection with a court case once again. The following story (which, for ease of reading, I have broken down into shorter paragraphs) appeared in Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper on 17 May 1891:

The sentence of five years’ penal servitude passed upon two Italians named Lorenzo Moreno and Dominico Morietti at the last Old Bailey sittings has attracted attention to the existence of a confederacy of swindlers known as the members of the “Sacré Coeur,” who have for many years past been carrying on an active business in almost every capital in Europe, as also in America, and, by means of plausible tales and clever fictions, succeeded in defrauding a large number of persons of sums of money varying from 40l to 1,000l, whilst their “attempts” have reached as high as 4,000l. The nefarious operations of this gang cannot be too widely exposed. […]
To show the systematic and methodical way in which the gang carried on their operations, it is only necessary to give the following particulars, furnished by Mr. Camille Breton, an elderly French barber in Southwark. Whilst shaving a customer one afternoon in June, 1889, Mr. Breton was told by him that he was about paying a visit to America for the purpose of obtaining possession of a large sum of money which had been left to him by a relative, an Italian, Contaglino, a farmer. Mr. Breton congratulated his customer, and wished him success. About 18 months later, Dec., 1890, Mr. Breton again received a visit from this individual, who told him that he had been eminently successful, the only drawback being that his dead relative had left him and a friend of his, an Italian, a large sum of money in trust for his only son, who was to be placed under the care of some one and educated in England. Could Mr. Breton recommend any one? If so, they would be extremely glad.
Mr. Breton himself offered to undertake the guardianship, whereupon M— (for it was he) explained that it would be necessary, for the purpose of satisfying his co-executor, that Mr. Breton should show his stability by the production of a certain amount of money. Mr. Breton produced a banker’s deposit note for 300l. However, on the continued solicitation of M— that the money should be in gold or notes, Mr. Breton promised to consider the matter, but becoming doubtful as to the genuineness of the story, Mr. Breton received his Italian visitors on their next call with marked coolness.
Owing to the non-success which had attended their efforts, M— and his friends were now short of money and thus became more desperate, and the correspondence carried on between the agents in London and the headquarters in Turin with regards to this particular exploit indicates clearly that Mr. Breton had a very narrow escape, for amongst a mass of correspondence in several languages found in a portmanteau alleged to have belonged to M— three letters were discovered, dated from Turin, in reply evidently to others written and sent from London.
In one of these occurs: “We are very glad to find that you have the old barber’s place well watched. Are you sure that no one is about the house at the time you mention? If so, you can easily find out whether he has fulfilled his promise to cash the deposit note, because if he has and still refuses to part we can readily send G— from Paris, and he will arrange that the old man is ‘quieted.’ Above all things, do not go to the expense of bringing G— over, unless you are certain that he has the gold.” Fortunately, Mr. Breton was firm in his resolve not to cash the deposit note, and he therefore escaped the “quieting” process. […]

A little over a month before the above newspaper report was published, the 1891 census took place. As we have just seen, by this time Camille had returned to his earlier profession of hairdresser, and had moved south of the Thames to Southwark in Surrey. This was duly reflected in his census record, which shows 69 year old Camille Breton residing at 49a West Square in the parish of St George the Martyr. With him again was Rosa, his partner of 1881. This time however, instead of the couple being shown as a married man and a widow, they presented themselves as man and wife, with Rosa bearing Camille’s surname.

I thought it unlikely that Camille and Rosa had actually ‘tied the knot’ (I have not found a record of their marriage), and this appears to be confirmed by the details given by Rosa when she registered Camille’s death on 11 September 1891, the day after his passing. Camille had died at the London home the couple were sharing when the census was taken back in April. Rosa declared that she was present at his death, and gave her name as R L Fenn.

In public Rosa kept Camille’s surname, for a while at least. On the 1901 census, when she was a servant in the household of Mary Ann Brookes in Surbiton, Surrey, she was enumerated as the widowed Rosa Louisa de Bretton. At some point during the next ten years however she gave up the pretence. Sophia Davy of 141 Wirtemberg Street in Clapham, where Rosa was lodging when the 1911 census was taken, entered her on the household schedule as Mrs Fenn. Rosa Louisa Fenn was still living in Wirtemberg Street (at number 72) in 1918, with Ralph Harris – probably as a lodger. She continued to reside there after the street name was changed to Stonhouse Street after the end of the Great War, and her death, at the age of 85, was registered at Wandsworth in the third quarter of 1923.

Ann Breton, formerly Atcherley, née du Moulin, was still alive when her estranged husband Camille Casimir Breton died, but she survived him by less than two years. “Ann Breton of No 1 Mayfield Road Merton Park Wimbledon in the County of Surrey Widow” died at that address on 24 February 1893. This information comes not from Ann’s death certificate but (as you might have guessed from the lack of commas in the text quoted) from the grant of probate on her will.

Ann’s will, a copy of which I ordered through the online ‘Find A Will’ service, was signed by Ann on 12 October 1866. I was thrilled to find that it provided information which at last enabled me to answer, at least in part, two long-outstanding questions: where did Ann and her family go after their disappearance in the late 1850s, and what happened to her daughter Ann Isabella Atcherley? Here is the crucial part of Ann’s testament:

And whereas there were three children only from my said first marriage namely two sons Rowland John Atcherley and Henry Oliver Atcherley and one daughter Ann Isabella Atcherley who some years since married in France and having had one child only who died an infant has herself recently died […]

Eventually I was able to track down French records relating to the life and death of Ann Isabella Atcherley. But before those discoveries came something else, something completely unexpected relating to Camille Casimir Breton which might explain his separation from Ann du Moulin / Atcherley / Breton while they were in France.

> On to Ann Compton du Moulin / Atcherley / Breton: The French disconnection – Part 1.

Picture credits. Notice from the London Gazette of 17 Aug 1880: Image used under the Open Government Licence v2.0. The Old Bailey, London, around 1903: Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons. Extract from entry in register of deaths for Camille Casimir Breton: posted in compliance with General Register Office approved guidance.


[1] Rate book for the Parish of St James, Great Marlborough Ward, Westminster, Middlesex, 1877-8. Folio 1. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Westminster Rate Books 1634-1900.
Rate book for the Parish of St James, Great Marlborough Ward, Westminster, Middlesex, 1878-9. Folio 1. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Westminster Rate Books 1634-1900.
[3] Rate book for the Parish of St James, Great Marlborough Ward, Westminster, Middlesex, 1879-80. Folio 1. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Westminster Rate Books 1634-1900.
[4] Rate book for the Parish of St James, Great Marlborough Ward, Westminster, Middlesex, 1880-1. Folio 1. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Westminster Rate Books 1634-1900.
[5] Three Spies, 11 Great Windmill Street, St James, Westminster. At Pub wiki (website, accessed 26 Feb 2020).
[6] London Gazette, issue 24874, 17 Aug 1880, page 4547.
[7] 1881 census of England and Wales. Piece 414, folio 28, page 50. 449 Hackney Road, Bethnal Green, Middlesex, England. Head: Camel [= Camille] Breton, married, 59, tobacconist, born France. Partner: Rosa Fenn, widow, 43, tobacconist, born Hampton Ct.
[8] Hampton Wick, Middlesex, baptism register covering 1838. Entry dated 1 Mar 1838 for Rosa Louisa daughter of John William Hawkridge (a builder) and Elizabeth, of Hampton Wick. Copy viewed at Ancestry – London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906.
[9] St Mary Newington, Surrey, marriage register covering 1860. Entry dated 16 Sep 1860 for Henry Fenn, Full age, Bachelor, Hair Dresser, of St Georges Road, New Kent Road, father John Fenn, Gardener, and Rosa Louisa Hawkridge, Full age, Spinster, no occupation, of the same address, father John William Hawkridge, Surveyor. After Banns. Both signed. Copy viewed at Ancestry – London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921.
[10] National Probate Calendar (1874) shows: FENN Henry. 3 November. Administration of the effects of Henry Fenn late of 2 Paul’s-alley Paternoster-row in the City of London who died 2 October 1874 at 2 Paul’s-alley was granted at the Principal Registry to Rosa Louisa Fenn of 2 Paul’s-alley Widow the Relict. Copy viewed at Ancestry.
[11] The Star (St Peter Port, Guernsey), 18 Jun 1881, page 4. “Extensive Robbery of Jewellery.” Copy viewed at
[12] The Cornish Telegraph, 23 Jun 1881, page 6. “Great Jewellery Robbery in Brussels. Apprehension of the Thieves in London.” Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
[13] London Evening Standard, 1 Aug 1881, page 6. “Bow Street. The Great Belgian Jewellery Robbery.” Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
[14] London Daily News, 17 Jun 1881, page 3. “The Police Courts.” Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
[15] 1881 census of England and Wales. Piece 129, folio 7, page 8. 23, 24 Old Compton Street, St Anne Soho, Westminster, Middlesex. Head: Albert Weber, 25, Lodging House Proprietor, born Switzerland. Wife. Lodger: Eugene Poitoireau, 32, Hair Dresser, born France. Plus 2 boarders and 12 other lodgers.
[16] 1881 census of England and Wales. Piece 130, folio 21, page 5. 82 Wardour Street, St Anne Soho, Westminster, Middlesex. Head: Charles Piprot, 29, Cigar Maker, born Belgium. Wife, Son. Lodger: Alexis Laundais, 31, born France. Lodger: Marguerite Honore, 24, born France. Plus 2 other lodgers.
[17] Richmond & Ripon Chronicle, 3 Sep 1881, page 4. “The Extradition Act between this country and Belgium would seem to need some amendment […]”. Copy British Newspaper Archive.
[18] Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper (London), 17 May 1891, page 11. “The Confidence Trick. A Criminal Romance.” Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
[19] 1891 census of England and Wales. Piece 349, folio 80, page 35. 49a West Square, St George the Martyr, Surrey, England. Head: Camille C Breton, 69, hair dresser, born France. Wife: Rosa Breton, 53, born Hampton Wick.
[20] Death of Camille Casimir Breton registered at St Saviour Southwark, September quarter 1891; volume 1d, page 44; age given as 70. PDF copy of entry in register of deaths downloaded from the GRO website.
[21] Register of Electors, 1918, Parliamentary Borough of Wandsworth. Page 171. London Metropolitan Archives item ref LCC/PER/B/1571. Copy viewed at Ancestry – London, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1965.
[22] Register of Electors, Spring 1919, Parliamentary Borough of Wandsworth. Page 174. London Metropolitan Archives item ref LCC/PER/B/1612. Copy viewed at Ancestry – London, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1965.
[23] Register of Electors, Autumn 1921, Parliamentary Borough of Wandsworth. Page 300. London Metropolitan Archives item ref LCC/PER/B/1683. Copy viewed at Ancestry – London, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1965.
[24] Register of Electors, Autumn 1923, Parliamentary Borough of Wandsworth. Page 264. London Metropolitan Archives item ref LCC/PER/B/1744. Copy viewed at Ancestry – London, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1965.
[25] Stonhouse Street. At: Layers of London (website, accessed 29 Feb 2020).
[26] Death of Rosa L Fenn registered at Wandsworth, September quarter 1923; volume 1d, page 454; age given as 85.
[27] National Probate Calendar (1894) shows: BRETON Ann of 1 Mayfield-road Merton park Wimbledon Surrey widow died 24 February 1893 Probate London 23 May to Joseph McAuliff salesman and Arthur Woodfield Young traveller Effects £3917 10s. 6d. resworn October 1894 £24 3s. 7d. Copy viewed at Ancestry.
[28] Will of Ann Breton dated 12 Oct 1886 with grant of probate dated 23 May 1894. Digital copy obtained from Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service.