Thursday, January 9, 2014


I'm not sure why I ordered an FHL film for Imling, France, but I did. Imling is the place of origin of the Larobardiere family, and I am not related to them directly. Francois Larobardiere married Louisa Coquigne in New York after both families emigrated to America, and both the Coquigne's and one branch of the Larobardiere family then migrated to Michigan. Nevertheless, I descend from Louisa Coquigne's brother, Jean Baptiste, so you'd think I would quickly dismiss doing any Larobardiere research. I must have been in the throes of multiple all-night research marathons when my curiosity was picqued the most, but since the Imling film is here, might as well look at it, right?

This particular film covers civil registrations from 1792-1892. So I started at the beginning of the film, which would be, naturally, the birth of the new French Republic. Having learned all about the Republican calendar from my Coquigne research, I was able to navigate through the dates easily. But what is this?  In year 6 (An VI), in the marriage section, there was also a DIVORCE section! And who should be listed but Larobardiere's!

I have studied the entries having to do with the divorce of Joseph Louis Larobardiere and Marguerite Larobardiere (apparently her maiden name too!). My French is passable, but I can do little more than make out names, ages, and occupations of the parties and the witnesses. If there is a reason listed for the divorce, I haven't yet been able to make it out, only that in the end, the divorce was mutually consented to. But there are all kinds of unanswered questions! This couple had three children - what happened to them? Did they automatically go with their mother and did the father support them? And what about property? Joseph Louis would marry again in 1800, and then he would bring three of his sons by this second marriage, including our Francois, to America where Francois would later marry Louisa Coquigne.

Given that I know enough about the Catholic religion to know divorce has historically been unacceptable in that faith, this event seems surprising to me. So I did a little more digging. It seems that one of the first things to come out of the Legislative Assembly in the new French Republic was the legalization of divorce, which yes, was most certainly against Catholic doctrine. It seems that legalizing divorce was just one strategy among several strategies on the part of the new government to de-Christianize France. Not only could couples divorce quickly and easily, they also didn't have to name any guilty parties. There is also a very interesting article about women and divorce in France at that time, which you can read here.

SO. I might not have furthered my Coquigne research today, but I sure did learn something new, always something new. If the Larobardiere's were so quick to abandon the Catholic religion after the French Revolution, maybe so too did the Coquigne's. We know by the time they got to Michigan, they were, if anything, anti-Catholic. Très intéressant, n'est-ce pas?

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