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Thomas de Cuming

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On 15 December 1801, Thomas de Cuming jnr married Maria Catharina Geertruida Brandes in Demerara [British Guiana Colonists]. This was almost certainly the son of Thomas Cuming's older brother, William de Cuming, who had fled to France after the defeat of the Jacobite forces at Culloden in 1746.

Thomas was born at Villeneuve-sur-Yonne on 12 January 1773 and educated from 1787 at the ecole militaire at Brienne [Minutes de la correspondance générale du Prince Xavier EE 1421-1460, 1462-1898]. He arrived at Brienne on 31 December 1786, referred to as Thomas de Cuming de Craigmillen, [Nobiliaire universel de France, t. XI, p. 53].

In September 1799, Thomas Cuming snr, who had returned to Scotland, was joined at Innes House, near Elgin, by his nephew Thomas, who had come over from Holland and was then sent out to Demerara [NAS GD23/6/364].

His father: William (de) Cuming [Principal source:  Minutes de la correspondance générale du Prince Xavier EE 1421-1460, 1462-1898]

William de Cuming was in the service of Prince François-Xavier de Saxe, known in France as the comte de Lusace, an uncle of the king, Louis XVI. By 1789, when he represented Prince Francois-Xavier at the meeting of the Etats General, William de Cuming was described as: chevalier, capitaine d'infanterie, chevalier de l'ordre de Saint-Louis, aide de camp du prince. [Cahiers de Doleances du Balliages de Troyes etc pour les Etats Generaux de 1789, p175]. He was granted arms as Cuming de Craigmillen in 1780 [Grand armorial de France, Volume 3].

From 1771 he was capitaine du chasse (captain of the hunt) to the Prince at the château de Chaumot in Yonne, acquired by the Prince in that year (Maurice Pignard-Péguet, Histoire de l’Yonne, Paris, 1913). The château was pillaged during the reign of terror and demolished in 1809. In 1775 the prince acquired the château of Pont (sur Seine).

William married Françoise Guillemot and the couple had nine children born between 1765 and 1782:
Elisabeth, born 12 March 1765 ;
Françoise, born12 May 1767 ;
Henriette, born 3 July 1768 ;
André, born 1 September 1770 ;
Thomas, born 12 January1773 ; 
Xaverine, born 14 March 1772 ;
Louise, born 12 March 1775 ;
Hélène, born 21 June 1776 ;
Amélie, born 3 January 1782

All these children were alive in 1790, when William had a military pension of 1,200 livres and ‘une ferme d'un rapport annuel’ of 300 livres. The next year Prince Francois-Xavier hurriedly left France and died in Dresden in 1806.

Thomas and William had five sisters in Scotland. William wrote to one of his sisters on 18 Jan 1795 reporting that he was living in ‘perfect safety and quiet’ [at Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, known before the revolution as Villeneuve-le-roi] . . . but was 'in distress about his eldest son, a French officer in Martinico, who he has not heard from since April’  [letter from Jean Cuming to William Rose, 6 Feb 1795 in The Domestic papers of the Rose family (Aberdeen, 1926)].

 Above: The Chateau de Chaumot in ruins

His brother: Andre (Andrew) de Cuming  [Principal source:  Minutes de la correspondance générale du Prince Xavier EE 1421-1460, 1462-1898]

Andre de Cuming was born on 1 September 1770 and educated at the école militaire in Brienne from 1780 to 1786, after which he became a sub-lieutenant in the Bassigny regiment (July 1787). In April 1794 he was in Martinique [Jean Cuming to William Rose, 6 Feb 1795 in The Domestic papers of the Rose family, Aberdeen, 1926]

He was a fellow pupil of Napoleon Buonaparte at Brienne and may be the author of Some account of the early years of Buonaparte, at the Military School of Brienne; and of his conduct at the commencement of the French Revolution. By Mr. C. H. One of his School-Fellows. London : printed for the author; and sold by Hookham and Carpenter, 14, Old Bond Street, [1797]. For discussion of the authorship see: La vie quotidienne de Napoléon à Brienne, Guy Godlewski and Peter Hicks 'Late 18th-century and very early 19th-century British writings on Napoleon: myth and history' in Napoleonica. La Revue 3/2010 (N°9), p. 105-117, but note that the putative author cannot be Thomas de Cuming but his older brother, Andre, as correctly stated in Bibliographie des Napoleonischen Zeitalters: einschliesslich der Vereinigten]

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