I was very interested to see your posting about Louise Swanton Belloc. I am descended from another of her children, Louis, whose son, Hilaire, was my great grandfather.
A great deal is known about her, largely thanks to her grand-daughter Marie Belloc Lowndes, the playwright and novelist, who wrote several volumes of autobiography in which Louise Swanton Belloc features a great deal. The relevant books by Marie Belloc Lowndes are “I Too Have Lived in Arcadia” (1941) and “Where love and friendship dwelt” (1943). Much of this material is included in the three biographies of Hilaire Belloc, Louise Swanton Belloc’s grandson.
Her father Colonel James Swanton, son of a landowning family from Swantonstown (now Ballydehob, where the Belloc connection is still well known), Co Cork,was adopted by his uncle Abbé Swanton. He grew up in France and served in the Berwick regiment, first for the royalist army and then for the Napoleonic army, remaining loyal to his adopted country throughout all the political changes, He died in Paris in 1828.
Her mother Louise Chassériau, one of 17 children from a distinguished La Rochelle family. Louise C’s brothers included Baron ArthurChassériau, who led the last cavalry charge at Waterloo, and Benoit Chassériau, Benoit’s life as a colonial administrator in Egypt and the West Indies and as an agent of Chatuebriand have been thoroughly researched and written up because he was the father of the celebrated artist Théodore Chassériau.Théodore Chassériau was the subject of a retrospective last year at the Grand Palais in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum, New York. Louise Chassériau Swanton died in 1830.
Louise Swanton fille Louise Swanton was one of four children. Her brother Armand was an army officer, described as the handsomest of his generation, and famously survived the retreat from Moscow in 1812. We have a portrait of him by his brother-in-law Jean-Hilaire Belloc, which was rescued from the Belloc house at La Celle St Cloud when it was occupied by the Prussian army in 1870/71. She also had two elder sisters.
Louise Swanton and Jean-Hilaire Belloc Louise Swanton was married at St Sulpice, in Paris, to the artist Jean-Hilaire Belloc, the son of a once-wealthy family from Nantes with sugar plantations in Sainte Domingue. His sisters made good marriages to aristocratic husbands but the family were subsequently ruined bythe blockades of the wars between France and Britain. Jean-Hilaire studied with Gericault and founded the Ecole Nationale de Dessin, where his pupils included the young Auguste Rodin. I have read somewhere that Belloc was detested by Ingres. Why, or whether this is true, I do not know. Interestingly, Ingres had been maitre to the young Theodore Chassériau, but Théodore had grown apart from Ingres.
Louise Swanton Belloc had started writing as a a teenager, was admired by Stendhal, and wrote the first full-length study of Byron in 1830. She corresponded with the writer Maria Edgeworth and they produced a series of early reading books in French for young children.We still have some copies of these French readers. Jean-Hilaire Belloc’s portrait of his wife is in the collection of the Louvre, while family members still have another drawing he made of her, and a bronze bas relief by the sculptor David d’ Angers. Jean-Hiliare Belloc died in 1866 and was buried in Père Lachaise (ou la sépulture de Monsieur Jean Hilaire BELLOC se situe 52 ème division 1/5324/49). Mme Louise Swanton Belloc is buried with her son Louis and her longtime friend and companion Adelaide de Montgolfier in the graveyard at La Celle St Cloud.
The Bellocs had three children, Lily (Mme Millet, and subsequently Mme Ballot), Louise (Mme Jacques Redelsperger, mother of Jacques Redelsperger, man of letters and of Juliette Siry, wife of Etienne Siry – Jacques, Louise and Jacques Redelsperger fils are buried at Père Lachaise with J-H Belloc) and Louis, husband of Bessie Rayner Parkes (early feminist and writer on women’s education), and father of Marie Belloc Lowndes and Hilaire Belloc. Both Marie and Hilaire settled ulitmately in England and made their names as writers. Marie’s descendants live largely in England and Portugal. Hilaire’s descendants live largely in England.
Please let me know if there is anything more you need; and if you need help finding those volumes by Mrs Belloc Lowndes.
You can contact me direct on firstname.lastname@example.org
It would be good if you could be in touch as we are planning a large family party some time soon and it would be good to have some Millet or Siry relations there. We are also thinking of doing something to put the Belloc grave at La Celle St Cloud into good order. The grave at Père Lachaise is in good shape. I saw it last week.