Ann Compton du Moulin / Atcherley / Breton: The French disconnection – Part 2

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

Given that Ann had French ancestry on her paternal (du Moulin) side, and her husband Camille Breton was born there, that country always seemed the most likely destination for Ann and her family when they departed these shores. Finding a record (and then more records) of Ann’s Atcherley daughter in France has therefore been increasingly exciting. Finding evidence suggesting that Camille Breton was in the thick of the action during the tumultuous times of the Paris Commune of 1871, well, that was nothing less than mind blowing!

Even before I found solid evidence of Ann’s family in France during their absence from England, there was a fairly strong hint. I referred to it in my story about one of Ann’s Atcherley sons: Henry Atcherley’s school days. Henry Oliver Atcherley, and his older brother Rowland John Atcherley, did not disappear when their mother did but instead stayed in England. Responsibility for their upbringing and education fell to their paternal aunts, Caroline and Charlotte Atcherley (see Charlotte and Caroline, an Atcherley author and her sister). But there is evidence to show that Henry spent some time in the south of France in the mid-1860s, specifically in the town of Nîmes, and I have speculated that maybe Henry’s mother was living there.

Was it just a coincidence that Henry’s stepfather Camille Casimir Breton had “Studied […] at the Academy of Medicine at Montpellier” (see Camille Casimir Breton and Ann Compton Atcherley: The French connection), which is situated about 56 kilometres to the south-west of Nîmes? Probably not. Imagine my delight when, as part of my research for this story, I searched the internet for ‘Atcherley’ and ‘Nîmes’ and found that Ann Isabella Atcherley had married Alphonse Adolphe Coudougnan there on 2 May 1863!

This most recent discovery comes on top of two records for Ann which popped up when I searched for ‘Atcherley’ on the website, during RootsTech London last year (see RootsTech London 2019 – Part 2). One was a census record, showing Ann living in Boulogne-sur-Mer in 1872.

Looking at that census record now and interpreting it, I see that Ann was named as Isabelle Atcherley, a 25 year old married woman born in England who had, quite properly, retained her maiden surname. She was living in the home of Caroline Pinard de Poigné, a widow, aged 60 and a native of Boulogne; Eugène Paugnaud, a married man living off rents, born at Perpignan, Pyrénées-Orientales; and Eugénie Duhamel, a 16 year old girl born in Verchocq (some 40 kilometres south-east of Boulogne) who was working as a domestic servant.

Oddly, Isabelle’s status on this census appears to be that of Eugène Paugnaud’s wife. Had she married for a second time? The information recorded on her death – given in the second of the two records I found at – indicates otherwise.

The registration of the death of Isabelle Anne Atcherley, wife of Coudougnan, took place in Paris on 17 January 1882. The forenames of Isabelle’s husband were not known, neither were the names of her parents, and her place of birth was given as Kent, England (she was born in Abergavenny, Wales). She was 34 years old, had been living at 44 Rue Monsieur le Prince, and had died the previous day at 6 o’clock in the evening at l’hôpital de la Charité – the Charity Hospital – at 47 Rue Jacob (pictured above). This information was provided to the registrar by two employees of the hospital, Jacques Renouche and Nicolas Baron. All in all this paints a rather sad picture, as it seems to me that ‘Isabelle’ Atcherley died unknown and unloved. Her relatively short life is at least now remembered.

Let’s move on – or rather go back – to the stepfather of ‘Isabelle’, Camille Casimir Breton, and the wholly unexpected information I found when searching for his name online one day. That search yielded the following snippet on a French website, Le Maitron:

BRETON Camille, Casimir
Né à Alais (Gard) le 21 novembre 1821. Capitaine aux Vengeurs de Paris sous la Commune, Camille […]

It was fairly easy to work out from this that Camille Casimir Breton was born at Alais (these days Alès), Gard, on 21 November 1821. Alès, incidentally, lies about 44 kilometres to the north-west of Nîmes, giving us another location in that part of the south of France. As for the rest of the text, a quick visit to Google Translate told me that Camille had been a “Captain of the Avengers of Paris under the Commune”. From there I turned to sources of information about the Commune, the Communards, and the violent retribution they met with in 1871.

What had Camille got himself into, I wondered – and that was before I contacted the Maitron website and was given the rest of the above snippet: “Camille Breton fut condamné, le 6 octobre 1874, à la déportation dans une enceinte fortifiée.” Or in English: Camille Breton was sentenced, on October 6, 1874, to deportation to a fortified enclosure.” Yikes!

Before I continue, I have to add a note of caution. Other than Camille’s birth registration (a copy of which I have viewed at, I have not seen the records (originals or copies) from which the above information has been compiled. The records relating to the Communards used by the maitron website are in series BB 24/854 B at the Archives nationales de France. Another website which has relevant indexed records,, does not include a Breton with the forename Camille. It does however include a Breton for whom no forenames are given, whose address was “Paris – Seine”, and whose role in the Commune was “Capitaine aux Vengeurs de Paris”. This is almost certainly the record of the man to whom the Maitron website attributes the forenames Camille Casmir – hopefully this attribution is based on the viewing of additional records which include those names and clearly relate to the same person.

The Paris Commune was a period of Parisian self-government, the detailed history of which – despite its brevity – is beyond the scope of this story. The Wikipedia page on the subject appears to give an excellent overview, and the summary which opens it reads as follows:

 The Paris Commune (French: La Commune de Paris) was a radical socialist and revolutionary government that ruled Paris from 18 March to 28 May 1871. The Franco-Prussian War had led to the capture of Emperor Napoleon III in September 1870, the collapse of the Second French Empire, and the beginning of the Third Republic. Because Paris was under siege for four months, the Third Republic moved its capital to Tours. A hotbed of working-class radicalism, Paris was primarily defended during this time by the often politicised and radical troops of the National Guard rather than regular Army troops. Paris surrendered to the Prussians on 28 January 1871, and in February Adolphe Thiers, the new chief executive of the French national government, signed an armistice with Prussia that disarmed the Army but not the National Guard.

On 18 March, soldiers of the Commune’s National Guard killed two French army generals, and the Commune refused to accept the authority of the French government. The Commune governed Paris for two months, until it was suppressed by the regular French Army during‘La semaine sanglante’ (‘The Bloody Week’) beginning on 21 May 1871.

“The Bloody Week” was appropriately named. According to David Dunlap, writing in the New York Times in 2015, “The most conservative estimates have placed the number of dead at 6,000 to 7,000. The Encylopaedia Britannica states that about 20,000 insurrectionists were killed. Other estimates reach 30,000.”

The ‘Avengers of Paris’ was a free corps composed of volunteers, which operated in Paris alongside a variety of other military units formed to defend the city. Posters surviving from the time of the Commune include one headed “Republique français” and “Vengeurs de Paris”, dated 24 March 1871, which appealed to the soldats-citoyens (citizen soldiers) of Paris – presumably a recruitment poster. From the profiles of other members of les Vengeurs de Paris on the Maitron website and elsewhere, it appears that there were at least two battalions, each made up of several companies. L’Écho Saumurois of 26 April 1871 reported that “all the uniforms we could find” were being used to dress the officers of the Commune, with the Avengers of Paris wearing the uniforms of l’infanterie de marine – the marines.

If the Maitron website is right about Camille Breton, he would have been among the 7,500 Communards who were (in the words of Wikipedia) “jailed or deported under arrangements which continued until a general amnesty during the 1880s”. As one of the déportés within that number, he faced one of three sentences: simple deportation, deportation to a fortified place, and deportation with forced labour. As one of those sentenced to deportation to a fortified place, he would have been sent to the Ducos peninsula on the main island of New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean. His life there would have been grim to say the least – especially after the lax security arrangements originally in place allowed six deportees (all leading former Communards) to escape on an Australian-bound ship which called at New Caledonia in 1874.

Deportation to an island on the other side of the world is a sure way to separate a man from his wife. Is that what happened to Camille Breton though? Apart from the very small numbers that escaped in 1874 and during the years that followed, none of those deported to New Caledonia returned to France until 1879 – yet Camille was in London by 1877 or ’78. I have doubts about his alleged deportation, but nonetheless it is clear that there was a disconnection between Camille and Ann Breton which became permanent, even when both parties eventually made their way back to England.

We have seen what happened to Camille after his return, and we now know the fate of his stepdaughter Ann Isabella, or Isabelle, Atcherley. That leaves the story Ann du Moulin / Atcherley / Breton, the ultimate conclusion of which we have also seen, to be completed.

It seems likely that Ann had returned to England by 1879, as it was during that year that her son Robert Camille Breton was married – to Adèle (or Adile) Adolphine le Court – in Surrey. The 1881 census recorded Ann Breton living at 48 Brayard Road in Peckham, Surrey, the home of her son Robert, a salesman, and her daughter-in-law (enumerated as “Aidele”). With them were Ann’s sister Josephine du Moulin (who was also absent from the England and Wales censuses of 1861 and ’71 and who presumably also went to France with Ann). Ann and Josephine were both described as annuitants.

Ann Breton’s will of 1886 shows that she was then living in Wimbledon. By 1891 however she was back in Peckham and living, with her son and daughter-in-law, at 45 Oakhurst Grove. Her sister Josephine had by this time passed away. Robert was now a jeweller’s assistant, and he had two ‘niblings’ staying with him: nephew Robert Le Court and niece “Laurie” (I believe her name was actually Marie) Le Court.

Ann Breton was recorded as a married woman in 1881, but as a widow in 1891. Did she believe by then that Camille was dead, or could be assumed dead under English law having not been heard from for at least seven years? Or had the couple, although separated, remained in (or re-established) contact, with each agreeing to enter into the deceit that the other had passed away? We may never know.

After Ann Breton’s death in 1893, Robert and Adile Breton moved to Suffolk, where Adile died in 1899. Robert remarried in 1907, taking the widowed Laura Elizabeth Badderley, née Pope, as his wife. He was the proprietor of the King’s Arms hotel at Halesworth in Suffolk, and remained so until his death, at Halesworth, on 22 August 1921. Having left no children, in his will of 27 November 1918 he made various bequests to relatives of his first wife and made his second wife, Laura, his residual legatee. Another bequest in Robert’s will is of special interest. It consisted of his jewellery, old silver – and “miniatures of my grand father and great grandmother” which were no doubt from the personal effects which his late mother Ann Breton, formerly Atcherley, née du Moulin, had left him in her will. These Robert left to his niece, Kate Grimes, formerly Hurwitz, née Atcherley, the subject of Kate’s fate: Kate Atcherley and her family’s story.

Acknowledgements. My grateful thanks to Twitter friends @Julie_GFamily and @MPSHeritage for their input to my interpretation of the death record of Ann Isabella Atcherley.

Picture credits. 47 rue Jacob, entrée de l’hospice de la Charité (47 Jacob Street, entrance to the Charity Hospital): Adapted from a public domain image at the Paris Musées Collections website. Barricade à l’angle des boulevard Voltaire et Richard-Lenoir pendant la Commune de Paris de 1871 (Barricade at the corner of Voltaire and Richard-Lenoir Boulevards during the Paris Commune of 1871): Adapted from a public domain image taken from Wikimedia Commons. The King’s Arms in Halesworth Suffolk: Adapted from a scan of an old postcard, original photograph believed to be out of copyright.


(See also reference 26 from Part 1 of this story, Will of Ann Breton.)

[1] Relevé Mariages Gardois (website, accessed 25 Feb 2020).
[2] Archives départementales du Pas de Calais: Dénombremont de la Population, 1872. Département du Pas-de-Calais, Arrondissment de Boulogne-sur-Mer, Canton de Boulogne-sur-Mer, 5e Section. Page 167. Rue Simoneau. Maison [= House] 908, Ménage [= Family] 1433: Caroline Pinard de Poigné, Rentiere [= retired woman living from rents / landlady] Vueve [= Widow], 60, [born] Boulogne. Eugène Paugnaud, Rentier, Homme Marié [= Married Man], 30, [born] Perpignan, Pyrénées-Orientales. Isabelle Atcherley, [sa fe: ?] [= his wife (abbreviation of sa femme)?], Femme Mariée, 25, [Nationality] anglaise [= English], [born] angleterre [= England]. Eugénie Duhamel, Domestique, Fille [= Girl; single woman], 16, born Verchocq, [P. A. C. ?] [= Pas-de-Calais]. Copy viewed at
[3] Archives Départementales de Paris: Les Actes Décès du 6e Arrondissement municipal du Paris, 1882. Entry 131 (Atcherley fe. Coudougnan). Copy viewed at
[4] BRETON Camille, Casimir. At: Le Maitron (website, accessed 29 Feb 2020). Note: Page updated since my first visit, with information supplied by myself now included.
[5] Archives du Gard / Archives municipales d’Alès: Alès, Naissances, 1821-1822 [volume 22]. Entry dated 21 Nov 1821 for Camille Casimire Breton. Copy viewed at
[6] Archives Nationales (France). At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 29 Feb 2020).
[7] Archives Nationales Online Catalogue, Finding Aid for BB 24/854 B. Accessed 29 Feb 2020.
[8] Paris Commune. At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 29 Feb 2020).
[9] Yves Le Guillou (1999), Diplome de conservateur de bibliotheque. Rapport de Stage. [= Library curator diploma. Internship Report.] Copy viewed at enssib website.
[10] OBERLÉ Ferdinand. At: Le Maitron (website, accessed 2 Mar 2020).
[11] QUARQUANT Charles. At: Le Maitron (website, accessed 2 Mar 2020).
[12] VEYRIER Jules, Prosper. At: Le Maitron (website, accessed 2 Mar 2020).
[13] Adolphe Morandy, voleur, lithographe et communard. At: Polmorésie (blog, accessed 2 Mar 2020).
[14] L’Écho Saumurois, 26 Apr 1871, page 2. PDF copy viewed at the Archives de la ville de Saumur website.
[15] Communards. At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 2 Mar 2020).
[16] Barry McGowan (2018), Convicts and Communards: French-Australian Relations in the South Pacific, 1800–1900. In: The French Australian Review, No. 64 (Australian Winter 2018). PDF copy viewed at the Institute for the Study of French-Australian Relations (ISFAR) website.
[17] Marriage of Robert Breton and Adèle Adolphine Le Court registered at Camberwell, December quarter 1879; volume 1d, page 1270.
[18] 1881 census of England and Wales. Piece 684, folio 115, page 30. 48 Brayard Road, Peckham, Surrey, England. Head: Robert Breton, 24, salesman, born Bath, Somerset. Wife: Aidele Breton, 23, born Guernsey. Mother: Ann Breton, married, 60, annuitant, born Bristol. Aunt: Josephine du Moulin, unmarried, 57, annuitant, born Bath, Somerset. Plus a servant and a visitor.
[19] 1891 census of England and Wales. Piece 469, folio 117, page 43. 45 Oakhurst Grove, Peckham, Camberwell, Surrey, England. Head: Robert Breton, 34, jeweler’s assistant, born Bath, Somerset. Wife: [A_ile = Adile] Breton, 33, born Guernsey. Mother: Ann Breton, widow, 76, living on own means, born Bristol, Somerset. Nephew: Robert Le Court, 8, born Weymouth [Dorset]. Niece: Laurie [= Marie Louise] Le Court, 7, born Ireland. Plus a domestic servant.
[20] Death of Josephine du Moulin registered at Lambeth, March quarter 1884; volume 1d, page 317; age given as 63.
[21] Declared death in absentia. At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 27 Feb 2020).
[22] Death of Ann Compton Breton registered at Kingston, March quarter 1893; volume 2a, page 231; age given as 78.
[23] Death of Adele Adolphine Breton registered at Blything, September quarter 1899; volume 4a, page 673; age given as 42.
[24] Marriage of Robert Camille Breton and Laura Elizabeth Badderley registered at Wandsworth, December quarter 1907; volume 1d, page 1178.
[25] Wandsworth St Anne, London, marriage register covering 1907. Entry dated 7 Dec 1907 showing Robert Camille Breton, age 50, Widower, Hotel Proprietor, of Kings Arms Hotel Halesworth, father Camille Casimir Breton (deceased), Gentleman; and Laura Elizabeth Badderly, full age, Widow, no occupation, of 7 Spencer Park, father John Ensor Pople (deceased), Gentleman. By licence. Both signed. Witnesses William [Weth ?], [?] A Francis, E A Francis. Copy viewed at Ancestry – London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921.
[26] Death of Robert C Breton registered at Blything, quarter 1921; volume 4a, page 928; age given as 64.
[27] National Probate Calendar (1921) shows: BRETON Robert Camille of the King’s Arms Hotel Halesworth Suffolk died 22 August 1921 Probate London 30 September to Harold Arthur Mullens solicitor and William Webb gentleman. Effects £1994 3s. 2d. Copy viewed at Ancestry.
[28] Will of Robert Camille Breton dated 27 Nov 1918 with grant of probate dated 30 Sep 1921. Digital copy obtained from Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service.