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Lost in France

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Lost in France

Postby PeterProg » Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:35 am

Hi all

I am researching the husband of a distant forebear, and their daughter, but have hit a brick wall in terms of several years that they evidently spent in France. The husband had what might be referred to as a 'colourful' life in the first decades of last century. Not to put too fine a point on it, he was a petty fraudster active in the South of England, Wales and France.

The fraudster mainly went by the name of Arthur Brodie, sometimes Arthur James Brodie, though from his arrival in the UK from Australia in 1899 till about 1910, he preferred James Brodie. None of those are his real names - he was born Bartholomew James Murphy in Sydney in 1873. The daughter was May Brodie, born in Sydney in 1894, although the birth date varies considerably in various documents, up to as late as 1901. She was however definitely born in 1894.

Mainly through newspaper researches, I have been able to follow Brodie's several run ins with the police over the years, culminating in an Old Bailey trial in November 1920 following a horse racing betting swindle associated with the Derby of 1918. This trial received plenty of media coverage at the time, and the reporting included evidence given at the trial by Detective Sergeant W. Stevens of Scotland Yard. He noted that Brodie had been known to the Police for 16 years, and that he had spent time in prison in France. He had been handed a two year sentence, but served only eight months.

Unfortunately, after extensive enquiries and researches, I have established that Brodie's criminal record that must have, at one time, been maintained by Scotland Yard has not survived. I am particularly interested to find more about his time in prison in France, which I strongly suspect was in the five years or so leading up to WWI. I have no knowledge of where or precisely when he was incarcerated in France, and am keen to find out more detail on this.

Meanwhile, daughter May attended a Catholic boarding school in the south of England from 1911 to 1913. She left the school in May 1913 and the notes on her school file record that 'she went to Paris and attended a Protestant School there, but kept in touch afterwards'.

An educated guess, but a guess nonetheless, is that she may have gone to Paris, with her mother, to be close to her father if he was in prison. Subsequently, a family story is that she drove ambulances in WWI. The Red Cross in London has no record of her, but if she 'signed up' from the French side at the outbreak of WWI, she may appear in French records.

She married in the early 1920s a medical man who, as an officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps, was wounded at Ypres in May 1915. She may have met him in that context if she was driving ambulances. He left the Royal Army Medical Corps but re-enlisted in the New Zealand Medical Corp in April 1917, and gave May Brodie, with a London address, as a contact point, should be wounded.

I know that Arthur Brodie was back in the UK at least by 1918, up to no good at the Derby.

I would greatly appreciate any advice or suggestions on where I might find more information on the time in France for both Arthur Brodie, particularly details of his time in prison, and for May - where she may have gone to school in Paris, where she and her mother (Emily) might have resided, and any details of some form of voluntary war service.

The only other clue re Arthur Brodie is some newspaper coverage from July 1909 of a gang of 'card sharpers' being picked up by the French police at Dinard after a summer of fleecing rich American tourists at the big resorts around France. The gang was mainly American, but one of them was referred to as 'James Brodie' an Irishman from Clonmel, but living in London. His age is given as 46 years, which is a little old for my forebear at the time, but that could be him.

My forebear was certainly an Australian, not an Irishman, but he was living in London at the time, he was calling himself James Brodie at that stage, and was very economical with the truth almost always. This could be him, and it could be the basis for a prison term in France, but it seems a little early in relation to May's time at school in England between 1911-1913.

Any suggestions on where to further pursue my French enquiries would be much appreciated.

Cheers
PeterProg
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2017 10:47 am

Re: Lost in France

Postby MaureenE » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:53 am

There is a website called the French Genealogy Blog which has some helpful links within it.

I am not suggesting these links would help you, but the website is run by a person who specialises in French genealogy. Should you wish to pay for research, she may be able to find records for you in French archives. Note, I have no personal knowledge of her research ability.

http://french-genealogy.typepad.com/gen ... -anne.html
The website is in English

Cheers
Maureen
MaureenE
 
Posts: 197
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Lost in France

Postby PeterProg » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:44 am

Many thanks Maureen. I will follow that up for sure.

Cheers
Peter
PeterProg
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2017 10:47 am


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