The parish records that are the basis of the Angoulême project are in principle universal, in respect of the lives, or at least the baptisms, marriages and burials, of Catholics in the town. They include descriptions of individuals – the illiterate, the propertyless, those who were uninvolved in the procedures of the law -- who are otherwise missing from the historical record. They are also complementary to these other records, in respect of individuals who can be followed, over the course of their lives, as they come and go in other historical series. This scene of provincial life is about a family who come and go, over very small distances. On July 17, 1764, Jacques Thinon and Marie Leger were married in the parish church of St Martial. There were three witnesses. The only person who signed – "the others having declared that they did not know how to," in the words of the register – was the sacristan of the parish, Jean Marchadier. Two months earlier, the couple had been the subject of a different record, a pre-nuptial contract drawn up by one of the Angoulême notaries on May 21, 1764. In it, they constituted themselves into a "society in community" in accordance with the customary law of the province of Angoumois, into which they each contributed the sum of five livres. The agreement included provisions for future debts, charges, and the bride's personal privileges in respect of her clothes, rings and underwear. Jacques Thinon was identified as a beggar from the parish of Coulonges to the north of Angoulême. Marie was the daughter of Jean Leger, "also a beggar." The fee for the contract was thirty-nine sols; it was marked "reimbursed."
The pre-nuptial contract was for an unusually small estate, even in the practice of a notary, Jean Bernard, who was described by the early twentieth-century inventorist of notarial records in Angoulême as having "made many instruments for the small people." But the records of Jacques Thinon and Marie Leger did not end with their marriage. They had two daughters and five sons, including twin boys, Guillaume and Anthoine, between 1767 and 1780, all of whom were baptized in the parish church of St Jacques de l'Houmeau. Of the fourteen godparents of their children, only two could sign their names.
Then, in February 1776, Jacques Thinon and Marie Leger were involved in a different contract, again with the notary Jean Bernard. This was the resolution of a dispute that had begun in 1748 in the parish of Balzac, to the north of Angoulême. The dispute was over the property of Marie Leger's maternal grandparents, between her great-uncle and her mother's first cousin. In 1776, the parties involved were the grandson of the great-uncle, a laborer in Balzac, Marie Leger, Jacques Thinon, and the two daughters of the first cousin, both of them called Marie Godinaud, who were living in two different villages, the younger sister as the domestic servant of a man called Godard. The objects to be inherited were small; "their low value and their bad condition reduced them to not very much." Fifteen members of the family were identified in the agreement, together with the employer of the younger Marie Godinaud, and the judge in Balzac. Jacques Thinon was described as "without profession in that he is blind."
Marie Leger died in November 1780 at the age of 40, soon after the birth of her seventh child. In February 1781, Jacques Thinon remarried. His wife, Françoise Brunet, was also aged 40, and had been living for twenty years in the parish of St Paul as a domestic servant. They had a daughter, born in April 1783; Jacques Thinon was identified, again, as a beggar. He died some months later; their daughter, Cecile, died in November 1784. There is no record of Jacques Thinon’s death, or burial, in the registers of the parish of St Jacques de l’Houmeau, where he lived for so long, or of the village of Coulonges, where he was born, or of St Martial, where he was married in 1764, or of the hospitals of Angoulême.
AM-A, GG109/175; GG130/92,126; GG131/25,40,231; GG132/93,107,120-121; GG133/8,61.
ADC, May 21, 1764, Bernard, notary, 2E153; February 3, 1776, Bernard, notary, 2E175.
This graph displays the family, godparent, and signatory relationships present in the parish records listed above. Nodes are sized based on their number of connections.