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THE MYTH OF THE
de CROISETTES COAT OF ARMS
In 1963, a young French historian, Bernard Guenée, submitted his PhD thesis for publication by the Faculty of 'Lettres' at the University of Strasbourg. It appeared with the title Tribunaux et Gens de Justice dans Le Bailliage de Senlis à la Fin du Moyen Age. Roughly, this means 'The Courts and Legal Professionals of the Bailiwick of Senlis at the End of the Middle Ages'.
In this enormous treatise he catalogued everything that was known about the people, and how they operated, within the legal system in this Bailiwick. A Bailiwick in France was an administrative entity under the management of a Bailiff. The Channel Islands are Bailiwicks. In this work he mentioned the de Croisettes family. Each reference was carefully indexed, as here. Click on it to see this image clearly.
Guenée became an expert in the history of that period and is a well-known author. He was invited by the Société d'Histoire & d'Archéologie de Senlis, for their 1981 edition of 'Computes Rendus et Mémoires', to write an article about the notable families of the area. It was so long, it was divided between this and the 1983 edition. It is with the first we are concerned here, although I shall refer to the second when dealing with the possible link between the de Croisettes family, and the Dole and Sabatier families.
This first article appears here – give it time to download! On page 78, the first sentence refers to Colard de Croisettes. This squares with the genealogy shown on this website which was put together sometime after 1756, long after the de Croisettes established themselves in London. Bernard Guenée, quotes from this genealogy then dismisses Colard. He says he was: 'an invention of a genealogist [M. Bosquillon, lieutenant général of the Bailiwick of Clermont] in the 18th Century. The origins of the great de Croisettes family are more modest.' We must assume Bernard Guenée has checked that out thoroughly. He would not, surely, have made such a bold statement without having done so.
This Bosquillon genealogy is the same source as we have drawn on for our own genealogy. It comes from a huge collection of genealogies put together for local notable families by Mr Bosquillon. Doubtless he was well paid. He probably concocted the coat of arms himself and had it drawn up. This kind of ego massaging is well known by genealogists. Everyone likes to think that they have noble ancestry, and can justifiably claim they have a coat of arms. This is not the case. Coats of arms are passed down a formally defined line. Side branches of the family have no right to them whatsoever.
As we now know, these genealogies were as much guess work as any, and more so, because there were few official sources of material over and above baptism, marriage and burial records from the churches, gravestones, memorials and sometimes private papers. Notably, Bosquillon was based in Clermont, not even in Senlis.
One might expect Guenée, if such a person existed as Colard de Croisettes – along with the alleged coat of arms – to have come across him in the process of his exhaustive trawl through the Senlis archives and others that bore on the topic. We wrote to him about his views. He confirmed he is absolutely certain the de Croisettes genealogy, as set out in volume V11 de la Collection Bucquet aux Cousteaux, is not the whole story, and in places is definitely a fiction. We need to remember, though, that he did not concern himself – as outside his field of interest – with the later and possibly 'noble' de Croisettes, including Pierre.
His own version of the genealogy I have scanned in. Click here to access the whole account, including a family tree.
According to Bernard Guenée, the first generation that definitely exists in the record is Adam de Croisettes, who was living in Senlis in 1428. He rented and sublet from the Abbey of St Vincent a house in the rue de la Tournelle. He was still living in Senlis in 1426. Guenée makes no further comment on this gentleman, then moves on to Jean de Croisettes, whom he says was most definitely the founding member of the descendant tree that Mr Bosquillon was trying to draw up. And no noble!
Neatly exploding the myth of nobility, seugneuries, fiefs and so forth as early as this, Guenée points out that Jean de Croisettes ran or owned a kind hostelry or pub in Senlis. From – at the latest 1464 – he was to be found working in Paris as a sergeant in the cavalry where he sent his son Jean to school. The rest of the story flows from here. His son Jean became a clerk and returned to Senlis to take up a series of administrative positions in the Bailiwick and elsewhere. See here for the full translation of Guenée's text.
Jean junior did well. He became a lawyer, but he also hit problems by upsetting a number of powerful men by withdrawing from them important privileges and benefits. Among these was Robert de la Place. Not long before the King, Louis XI, died, Jean de Croisettes junior found himself in court. He came out of it badly, and spent some time in prison before being humbled by having to work as a clerk to the Bishop of Paris, a kind of community service by way of punishment. Once the King had died, he went to Parliament and won his case.
Jean de Croisettes junior inherited land from a relative but also in the meantime acquired land at Grandville and Tillet. He got into a muddle with land at Berthecourt. Puffed up with success in 1478, he put it around that he wished to be seen as a 'noble man'. This is a statement about status and, sometimes, ancestry. Guenée is scathing about Jean de Croisettes doing this. Paraphrasing, 'A a good try, but with no future in it.' He plainly saw Jean de Croisettes – as did others at the time – as a grasping jumped-up nobody with overweening ambitions. If nothing else, Jean was determined and cheeky!
Undoubtedly, this lack of noble status rankled with the de Croisettes, so much so that 'noble' status was written in for at least two branches – those descended from Antoine and Isabeau Charlet, whom Guenée acknowledges were living in the 18th century, and those descended from Pierre de Croisettes.
Even though most of them married well, and acquired seigneuries here and there in the area, as well as earning status as notaries and in public positions in Paris on top of local appointments, they were still not entitled to a coat of arms. The question of noble status Guenée gives no further status to after his little foray into the question with respect to Jean de Croisettes junior. But they had another go at this three centuries later, in the mid-1700s when the Bosquillon genealogy emerged.
Guenée's own genealogy ends at the close of the Middle Ages. He points out though, that two branches were known to have continued into the 17th century – descendants of Nicole de Croisettes, and of François de Croisettes. This would be only a few decades before our own family appeared in London – our own first Jean was baptised in 1697, and married his Catherine Thabary in 1716, when he was only 19.
Of particular interest to us, a sister of Laurent and Nicole, whose name is unknown, married Jean Dole. The Dole family were also 'big' in the area as procureurs, notaries, etc, having descended from a very wealthy mercer and merchant, Renault Dole. Their genealogy and doings are covered in Bernard Guenée's second slice of his article in the 1983 edition of 'Computes Rendus et Mémoires'.
Jean Dole was, like his in-laws the de Croisettes, in and out of post, according to which way the wind was blowing. His son Jacques married Jeanne Martine and was active after the 1560s.
Not only did the Doles intermarry with the de Croisettes, but that this particular branch used 'Marguerite' as a Christian name for many of the girls. Dole is the same name as Doulle, Doll and other variants. David Sabatier, who married a Marguerite Doulle in London in 1688, could have acquired the 'de Croisettes' handle from her, as was permitted in France. Titles and names could pass between wives and husbands, brothers and sisters, cousins maybe.
There is no evidence of a coat of arms anywhere for the 'Dole' family in France that I have been able to uncover, nor does Guenée make any observations on this question.
The timing of Bosquillon's genealogy might explain 'how come' the de Croisettes family in London decided to have the 'Des Croisettes' Crest painted. This is thought to have been concocted around the same time as or perhaps a couple or so decades later than the oil paintings (1820s) and the Rosetta Hurtzig Crest, which was created in the mid-1800s. Click here to see all of these items.
As for the provenance of the crest attributed to Pierre de Croisettes, Seigneur de Grandville, this could only have been concocted before 1733. We know nothing about him. Was he fighting?
The last descendant of Pierre that we know anything of – we should assume the later part of the genealogy is accurate – was Marie de Croisettes, Dame de Granville, daughter of Pierre. She married Louis Ladvocat in 1709. He was an 'ecuyer' and seigneur de Sauveterre, conseiller au Grand Conseil. (It is claimed that Marie was buried, age 82 at l'Eglise de la Lendemain, Clermont. Mr Bosquillon was in Clermont. But this woman was said to be the widow of George de la Motte, rather than of Louis Ladvocat. So was this the same Marie? No. The genealogy, if we accept the later entries as correct, gives this other Marie, Mrs de la Motte, as dying in 1701.)
Pierre de Croisettes lived on until 1733 so would have overlapped with his son-in-law Louis Ladvocat. The coat of arms is labelled as Pierre's, not that of Colard or predecessors like Jean, who wanted everyone to regard him as 'noble'. Click to see this image clearly.
So the finger points maybe at Marie de Croisettes, or her son, going to Mr Bosquillon and getting him to write up the genealogy. Whoever it was was still alive after 1756 and had an interest in attaching a coat of arms to Pierre as Marie would have had. If we assume she married around the age of 21 in 1709 she would have been born about 1688 or so. This would match being the child of a second marriage for her father. She would by 1756 be around 70.
However, I would personally place my bet on her son Louis Ladvocat having been the initiator in getting the genealogy drawn up. He does not appear in the genealogy himself by name, presumably because he did not consider himself a 'de Croisettes'. But he would have been at the right kind of age to do something like that for his ageing mother, and it might have served him well in his own practice, which we assume might have been as grand as his father's. Or maybe Louis Ladvocat arranged this himself, so that he could say he was the son-in-law of a noble with a coat of arms!
The Ladvocat/Lavocat name tends to come from the area around Nancy, near the north-east border of France.
So, finally, which of the various de Croisettes branches do we definitely know were alive when our own lot left for England? Apart from any cousins (descendants of Adam de Croisettes, or others in the 1400s across Picardie), Guenée points to several who might be candidates as ancestors:
-- Antoine's son, François (mid to late 1500s, so born 2 or 3 generations further into the 1600s)
-- Laurent's son, also François (late 1500s, ditto)
-- Nicole's descendants, who were still practising law in the mid-17th century: Jean I, Nicolas, Jean II, Adam
Looking at the naming pattern of 'Jean' repeating through the generations (which could also come via the Sabatier connection), Nicole's line seems the most likely.
Whatever the truth about the ancestry of the London de Croisettes family, there has to be a connection somewhere with the Picardy family as it is a unique name in England.
So even if there is no direct link back across The Channel to this important family of lawyers and royal administrators, these people were cousins to some degree of the London family. We are lucky so much survives in the court records of France.
As for the Sabatiers, the naming pattern David Sabatier continued in London – one was baptised as late as 1737 but there's no sign of him afterwards. All the traceable David Sabatiers hailed from a small Huguenot commune in the south of France, near Avignon, named Lagorce. There were certainly Sabatiers elsewhere, including in the Paris region, but none have so far been identified in Picardy at the right time.
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