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Eugénie Mourilyan’s Right of Passage

An official document (which acted like a passport) granting right of passage for Eugénie Mourilyan, dated 27th August 1870, 5½ weeks after France had declared war on Prussia.  The Franco-Prussian War began on 19th July 1870, the conflict caused by Prussian ambitions to extend German unification and French fears of the shift in the European balance of power that would result if the Prussians succeeded.  It is likely that the Mourilyans, who had lived in Paris since 1853, were taking precautions to ensure that they would be able to leave France quickly and without problem.  The wording says:

We, Richard Bickerton Pemell, Lord Lyons, Peer of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, a Member of Her Britannic Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, Knight, Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Her Majesty’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Emperor of the French, etc etc etc

Request and require all those whom it may concern to allow Miss Eugénie Narcisse Mourilyan, British subject travelling on the continent, to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford her every assistance and protection of which she may stand in need.

Given at Paris, the 27th day of August 1870.

Three days later, the Mourilyans seized the opportunity to flee Paris; the Prussian 3rd Army was already marching towards Paris, virtually unopposed.  On the reverse of the Right of Passage document are various stamps and signatures, the first stamp being stamped by Préfecture de Police and dated 30th August 1870; this would have been when Eugénie and her family left France.   

By 19th September 1870, Paris was besieged.  The Siege of Paris lasted until 28th January 1871.  Eugénie and family remained in England until August 1871 when they obviously deemed it safe to return.  The second stamp on the reverse of the document reveals that it was seen at the British Embassy in Paris on 30th August 1871 by E Lee Hamilton.  This was Eugene Lee Hamilton who had been appointed to the embassy at Paris under Lord Lyons on 21st February 1870.  It was also viewed on the same day at the German Embassy in Paris.  There is a further British Embassy in Paris stamp dated 2nd March 1872.

Original document at Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, reference 705:1037/9520/8/i/149

© The Sladden family descendants and by kind permission of the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service