Joan Evans on Frances de Brissac.

Time and Chance - The story of Arthur Evans and his forebears  by Joan Evans Chapter 2 page 17 (Longmans published 1943)

In 1798, the Dickinson family took a cottage in the country for the summer. In a letter from Fanny Burney, Madame d’Arblay the novelist, we read –

“One new acquaintance we have found it impossible to avoid….is now inhabited by a large family from the city, of the name of Dickinson……. Mr Dickinson, or Captain Dickinson, as his name-card says is very shy, but seems a sensible man, and his lady is open, chatty, fond of her children, and anxious to accomplish them. She seems between thirty and forty, and very lively. She is of French origin, though born here, and of parents immediately English; but her grandfather was a Brissac.”

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Thomas Dickinson’s mother, Alice, had died some years before, and his father had married as his second wife a Mrs Bernard. Both by birth – her maiden name was Lardent – and her first marriage, she belonged to that curious and interesting community of Huguenot refugees that had its centre in Spitalfields. The Their forebears had come over from France in the years following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685; they had become naturalized in England, yet their descendants  still formed a foreign community. Through his stepmother Thomas Dickinson found himself admitted to that closed society; a society with the intelligence that accompanies the easy use of two languages, with the piety of a persecuted race, and with the frugal wealth of Frenchmen who are, or have been, dependent upon their own exertions for a living. One of his stepmother’s kinsfolk, John Bernard, a man of his own age, had married a Huguenot ladt named Jane de Brissac. Her younger sister, Frances, was still unmarried, and it was she whom Thomas Dickinson took to wife.

… Frances was a woman of unusual energy, with a strong sense of duty, a warm heart, a firm will and sound sense: a fine example, indeed, of the Frenchwoman who loves and manages a large family with firmness, affection and common sense. Her mother had brought he up to appreciate fine silks and delicate laces; she wore with enjoyment her pearl tiara and her parures of bright stones. Though they were not more precious than garnets and amethysts and crystals, and liked to wrap herself in an Indian shawl.

She was exceedingly proud of her ancestry. She could remember, when she was such a little girl as to have to stand on a

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footstool to see what was on the table, her grandfather showing her a pedigree which demonstrated to his own satisfaction his connexion with the French ducal house of Cossé Brissac. The grandfather, whose, whose father had escaped from France, had become one of the Spitalfields weavers, and a comparatively wealthy man. His wife, born Jeanne Loy, daughter of a silk weaver of 18 Spital Square, had married as her first husband an Englishman named Nash, by whom she had two sons. This connexion, and the gradual and inevitable Anglicization of all the Huguenot families, helped to bring Peter Abraham de Brissac into a more English world; his sister Anne married an Englishman, William Child, and though his eldest daughter Jane married the Huguenot John Bernard, his other two daughters married Englishmen.  (Elizabeth, born 1756,married John Ware; Frances, born 1760, Thomas Dickinson.)

The marriage between Frances de Brissac and Thomas Dickinson, which took place on June 20, 1781, seems to have been a happy one. They complemented one another; he was, in Madame d’Arblay’s words “shy and sensible”; she warm hearted, talkative, an admirable hostess and at bottom, no less sensible than her husband. She bore him four sons and five daughters, one of whom died in infancy. (Joan is wrong – Frances had five sons. Judith.)

Note -The hand copy of the de Brissac genealogy made by Frances Ann Hubbard in 1919 is almost certainly a copy of the pedigree mentioned above.

fdeb2This picture appears in Time and Chance of Frances de Brissac.