Blondell Family History Page
Welcome to the
Blondell Family History Page
Coat of Arms associated with some of the
French Blondel families as the "Blondel Coat of Arms"
To view additional Coats of Arms associated with the Blondel
surname click on this "Blondel Coat
French Blondel Families
According to Thierry
Blondel, who lives in France, his research indicates that the name
Blondel was derived from the first Blondel and was a reference to his fair
complexion and blonde hair. He was a Viking warrior who, with the
Vikings, invaded the North of France. The north of France, or Normandy,
is where the majority of the French
Blondel Families settled, acquired property and made their homes.
And, according to the demographic
studies of the Blondel families in France, the majority of the French
Blondel population reside in Normandie or Northern France with a secondary
population density in Flandres. Men such as Jules
Blondel, the French ambassador to the United Nations, were born here
and to the Blondel family.
There are also Blondel families with French origins
in Switzerland, Luxembourg and other
areas in the European continent.
It is our hope and earnest desire to gather much
more information concerning the European Blondel families and to record
their histories and family stories, here for the heritage and the posterity
of all Blondel -- Blondell family members. So, please
those of you who will read these pages, please consider spending some time
to record your history, thoughts and cares and submit them for inclusion
on these web pages!
Beginning in around the 12th to the 16th centuries
many families fled France because of intolerance and religious persecution.
We believe that during this time some Blondel families left France seeking
religious freedom. Some went to the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland
and some went to the British Isles. We believe that this is
probably the origin of the Blondel families in England who became the "Blondell"
and "Blundell" families in the British isles and who later immigrated to
other parts of the world, including the United States. There is evidence
today of French Blondel families who crossed the English Channel, but settled
first in the Channel islands. These were originally French Blondels
who had their ancestral roots in France, but were loyal to the United Kingdom
of the British Isles. We believe that this loyalty change came about
because of their religious convictions and desire to follow them.
That was the beginning of the name changes that would later affect the
French Caribbean Blondel family that were refugees from Saint Domingue
and assimilated into the population of the United States. The French
Caribbean Blondel family from Saint
Domingue was subject to their surname being changed from Blondel to
Political & Economic Emigration
Several Blondel families settled
in the French West Indies. Their immigration there could have been
for various reasons. When the French began colonizing the New World
the French King needed colonists to settle in the crown's colonies.
According to Jean Claude Blondel
La Rougery's research he believes the first patriarchial Blondel of
the Blondel La Rougery family in the Caribbean islands was "Le
Commandere de Poincy" and his nephew "Robert
de Longvilliers" who were both Blondels. We concur with our esteemed
cousin Jean Claude until proven otherwise.
Apparently in the 1600's, the first Blondel, "Le
Commandere de Poincy" was assigned the oversight of the colonization of
the island of Saint Christophe. As such, he also brought additional
Blondel relatives to the French West Indies and they settled additional
land holdings. When the French colony on Saint Christophe failed
the King of France reassigned the remaining colonists to the colony of
Saint Domingue. The French King also assigned Robert Blondel le Longvilliers
de Poincy to the governorship of the French West Indies and as such was
the head of government of all the French colonies in the Caribbean.
He enforced French territorial rights on behalf of the French Crown there.
If this is indeed true, and if there was a direct
relationship between the Saint Domingue Blondel family, the "Poincys" and
the Martinique Blondels, it would explain the reason the Saint Domingue
family could not return to French residence in Europe after the beginning
of the French Revolution. Their relation to the French crown would
have been well known and would have placed them in danger.
There were also such programs as indentures wherein
passage to the New World would be provided for a man or woman by a wealthy
individual or company in exchange for work for a period of time, usually
three to five years. Such an indentured individual would have
accepted an agreement like this for the opportunity to obtain land and
wealth in the New World after his indenture was served. At this point
in time, we have found no evidence that the original Blondel families in
the French West Indies were established from such indentures.
There were many noble families of various
surnames that fled France during the French
Revolution. They fled to escape persecution and the threat of
death sentences. While the Blondel family in France has many noble
branches we do not yet know the exact reason the French Saint Domingue
Blondel families chose to settle in the Caribbean or what their connection
to the French government was, or even if there really was a connection.
We do believe that it may have been for the reason cited above. Or,
it may have been solely upon the invitation of Blondel le Poincy to family
members. This may have been inductive to bringing more Blondels to
the islands during the French Revolution who were of noble descent as they
believed they could obtain refuge from family members already on the French
colonies and safely wait out the French Revolution in the Caribbean.
There is also ample evidence according to Rudi Blondia
that the some of the Blondel family members in Normandie took the surname Blondia,
other Blondels accompanied William
the Conquerer to the British Isles where they acquired the surname Blundell
and became the royal foresters, and then many of their surnames were later
changed back to Blondell with one additional "L" added to the end of their
original French surname "Blondel." There is additional information
the "Blundell" family on Jerome Blondell's page at this link: Jerome
So, according to the research of Rudi
A. Blondia the Blondia name is a variant of the Blondel surname.
Rudi states that her original research and notes do show that the earliest
Blondia can trace their heritage to the surname Blondel. This occurred
in Normandie, France. The Blondia
Family Web Pages have a lot of additional data in regard to the Blondia
family that is accessible there.
Blondel Immigration to the French West Indies
There were at least two Blondel families in the French
West Indies and a very strong probability of more. One family had
a plantation on the island
of Martinique and another had several plantations in Saint Domingue.
There was one Blondel Plantation in Caracol and another Blondel Plantation
in Jeremie, both of these cities were and are in Saint Domingue which is
the present day nation of Haiti. The majority of the material on these
web pages concerns the Blondel family from Caracol, Saint Domingue, and
their descendants; however, a significant amount of material concerns
and is dedicated to the Blondel
La Rougery family from the island of Martinique. We have yet
to learn of what happened to the Blondels in Jeremie, Saint Domingue, but
we suspect that they may have lost their lives during one of the numerous
assaults upon the city of Jeremie and the surrounding areas. General
Rigaud was a mulatto general who fought for the French against the English
during the early stages of the Haitian Revolution, and was well known for
allowing muderous assaults on defenselesswhite people in and arounbd Jeremie.
However, it is also possible that the Blondel plantation in Jeremie was
owned by the Blondel family in Caracol, and as absent owners. There
is some information concerning ownership of the planations in Etat
Detaille, but it has not been fully analyzed yet.
We search earnestly to learn more of the Blondel
history concerning all of these families and their connection to the European
mainland in France.
of the French Caribbean Blondel Family
that Immigrated to the United States of America
Copying, reprinting or reproducing in any form, any
of the information, images, or content in whole or in part of this page
and the associated pages is strictly forbidden without the express written
permission of one of the family members listed above in the mail contact
The focus of our research has been targeted toward finding
the history of the Blondel family in the ancient French colony of Saint
Domingue, on the island of Hispaniola, and on the European continent in
France. We believe that the first of the French American Blondels
were Anthony & Rosella Blondel. They immigrated to the United
States from the French colony of Saint Domingue in the Caribbean.
Anthony Blondel was known by the French as Antoine Blondel. Please
visit the Anthony
Blondel Page for more information. We are also currently
looking at genealogical data of numerous Blondel
families in France as well as the Caribbean.
The Historical Society in Martinsburg, West Virginia
has in their possession newspaper articles and other documents that report
the story of the Blondel family that immigrated to the United States of
America from Saint Domingue during the slave revolts. The slave revolts,
or the more correct term, Haitian Revolution, was and were the "undoing"
of the French colony and the beginning of the nation of Haiti. Those
documents are available for viewing on the "Anthony
Blondel Page." According to Mr. Don Wood of the "Berkeley
County Historical Society" on an evening in 1802 the Blondel family avoided
being killed in the Haitian Revolution in Saint Domingue because a loyal
servant (slavery had been abolished by General Sothonax) warned them
of their impending doom.
Rosella, the mother in the family hid herself and her
children in the shallow water at the nearby sea coast. They were later
picked up by a rescue boat, she took a ship with her children and sought
refuge with friends in Philadelphia in the United States.
Anthony, Rosella's husband, who was gone at the time,
returned to find his family gone, his home burned and his property destroyed.
He searched for his wife and children throughout the Caribbean. He
later realized Rosella would contact their friends in the United States
if she were alive and went there with that hope. His venture was
rewarded as his family was miraculously reunited in the "City of Brotherly
Love" -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
There is a record of Anthony Blondel as a witness to
a wedding in the Holy
Trinity Church in Philadelphia in 1798. We believe the Blondel
family fled with this group of refugees to Philadelphia and then later
returned to Saint Domingue, having been assured the war was over and the
colony had been restructured under the former slave Toussaint L'Ouverture's
leadership. Thus the colony was again under the French government's
control. It is for this reason that we believe that the Blondel family
friends who offered them refuge may have been Peter & Mary Pelain or
Lucian Marie Duscuret and his wife Sarah. We believe that Anthony
and his family was with those friends who were also refugees in Philadelphia
at that time in 1798 and four years before the events that caused the Blondel
family to finally leave Caracol in Saint Domingue for good. Anthony
must have been comfortable with a former slave as governor of the colony.
He most certainly must have believed his plantation in Caracol to be safe
and free of danger because he returned his family to their Caribbean home.
The political and social foundation of the slave
revolt of 1791 and Haitian Revolution of subsequent years in Saint Domingue
had their roots in the French Revolution and the French Revolution had
its roots in the centuries old feudal system of government with a side
issue of the American Revolution. French citizens struggled in many
ways for the most basic forms of liberty, not to mention their ongoing
battle to overcome poverty. The enslaved Negro and the French peasant
both fought for their freedom and a reversal of centuries of oppression.
When, in 1776 the American colonies revolted against
their English "oppressors" it was not long before the French government
came to the Americans aid. The French assistance was crucial in the
American success in that revolution. The French were happy to assist
the American cause because the English had been the centuries old enemy
of the French. Thus, the seeds of revolution were firmly sewn into
the fabric of French society and her colonies. How could the French
King assist the Americans in their fight for freedom against the English
and not lift the oppression of his own subjects? That was one of
the questions and issues of the day that remained unanswered.
When the French Revolution
began in 1789 it quickly spread to France's colonies which helped ignite
the Slave Revolts in Saint Domingue.
Saint Domingue was in a very precarious position. The colony was isolated
from the European mainland and France was unable to quickly come to her
aid. Also, there was the Spanish colony on the Eastern end of the
island and the Spanish were very hostile to the French. During the
Haitian Revolution the Spanish provided arms to the Negroes in their desire
to overthrow the French authority on the island. It is seemingly
ironic as the Spanish wished to maintain the institution of slavery themselves.
Toward the latter part of the Haitian Revolution the Americans
also helped provide arms to the Haitians. The Americans feared
French domination in the New World and the Americans desired to have free
access to the port city of New Orleans at the mouth of the Mississippi
River. That was in direct contrast to established French international
policy of the denial of American access to that port.
The plot of complicity thickened further against the
French with the English as an ever present and lurking danger seeking revenge
against their French enemies for their aid to the Americans. The
English also wanted to further expand their territory in the New World.
The English made "secret agreements" with some French plantation owners
and free black men (who also owned slaves) to protect their property rights
in exchange for supporting English rule on the island. So, to complicate
things even more, when the Haitian Revolution or slave revolts did begin,
the English and Spanish sought to interject themselves into the colony
and attempted to wrest control of the colony from the French with armed
force. There were 40,000 white French colonists and 30,000
free black men in Saint Domingue who were for the most part slave owners
themselves and whose loyalties shifted often.
The slaves in Saint Domingue
revolted in 1791 and the colony quickly became a boiling cauldron of pain
and suffering. It was indeed a very, very dangerous and complicated
political and social situation. Many, many people of all races, nationalities
and social positions lost their lives. It was a time of suffering
and destruction everywhere and for everyone, and was not limited to race
conflict, but also included social and class conflict within all races.
For more information on these events please also visit the slide
The slave revolts or Haitian Revolution had began in
1791 but in 1798 the situation appeared to be headed for a friendly resolution.
Under the former slave Toussaint L'Ouverture as governor general,
Saint Domingue appeared to be once again at peace. Toussaint L'Ouverture
had become governor general in 1796 and had pledged his loyalty to France.
He received that commision from the French government as a reward for his
protection of French interests in Saint Domingue.
L'Ouverture believed that the best chance the Saint
Domingue slaves had for freedom was with their allegiance to the French.
During some of the conflicts in the Caribbean wherein the British and Spanish
had expanded their territories, those two countries had actually reinstated
or reconfirmed their commitment to the principles of slavery while France
sought to abolish slavery under the principles of the French Revolution.
Louverture united the entire island of Hispaniola, and
reaffirmed the abolition of slavery that the French
General Sonthonax had declared on August 29, 1793. However,
L'Ouverture sought to restore the colony to prosperity by instating forced
labor upon the former slaves, albeit they were paid wages. In 1799
and 1800 it appeared that the French colonial woes were coming to an end
and that prosperity would continue.
When Napoleon chose to attempt to depose
L'Ouverture in his quest to use Saint Domingue as a staging point for French
expansion and a new French empire in the Western Hemisphere peace became
an unattainable goal for the French citizens of Saint Domingue. Napoleon
sought the capture of L'Ouverture, and he was arrested on June 7, 1802.
Near the same time, Napoleon invaded Spain and placed his brother on the
Spanish throne. L'Ouverture, who was actually a French soldier, died
in prison in France. The betrayal of L'Ouverture and the usurping
of Spanish authority by Napoleon once again brought death and destruction
to the colony of Saint Domingue. The Spanish people on the island
attacked the French to extract revenge because the French government had
placed a Frenchman on the Spanish throne, and the former slaves of the
island attacked the French in retaliation for Napoleon's betrayal of L'Ouverture.
If those two acts by Napoleon had not occurred, Anthony Blondel may have
been able to raise his family in peace and safety in Caracol.
But, Anthony and his family escaped this boiling cauldron
of pain and chose to live in Martinsburg, West Virginia, after having arrived
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1802-1805 from Saint Domingue.
Anthony's son Jean Marie (John
M.) Blondel made his home in Baltimore, Maryland and began his family
there. He married Catherine Aimee Celeste DuBois in Baltimore.
Jean Marie and his wife's children that were born in Baltimore are Susannah
Placette Blondel, 1821, and Theodore
Alexander Blondel, 1825. Jean Marie's third child, Eugene
Blondel, was born in 1828, in Spotsylvania, Virginia. Catherine
Aimee Celeste DuBois Blondel wrote a letter
thanking the General
LaFayette for writing a letter on the Blondel family's behalf to the
officials in France concerning the family's claim for reimbursement of
their plantation in Saint Domingue. The values of those properties
are recorded in the official French document "Etat
Anthony Blondel's son, John
Henry Blondel, who was born in 1800 and ten years younger than his
brother Jean Marie, resided with his father, Antoine. We know
that Antoine (or Anthony) was in Martinsburg at least by 1821. John
H. Blondel raised his family in Martinsburg. It is also possible
that there were additional children of Anthony and Rosella Blondel that
we are not yet aware of.
Both Anthony and John M. Blondel are listed in the Baltimore
city directory that was published in 1817 and 1818. Because of that
fact we believe that Anthony, Rosella, and John H. Blondel also resided
in Baltimore for a few years.
In the years that Anthony's son John
Henry Blondel, and grandchildren were in Martinsburg they prospered
and became quite prominent. They acquired a substantial amount of
property. There are two buildings owned by the Blondel family still
standing. The "Blondel Building" is a large building in Martinsburg
that was called the "Brick House" when the Blondel family owned it and
the "Richard Anthony
Loche Blondel Home" is presently being restored. Richard Anthony
Loche Blondel was John Henry Blondel's son. The original "Blondel
Mansion" owned by John Henry was razed to make way for a beautiful hotel
called the "Shenandoah Hotel" which is now called the "Gateway Inn." The
"Shenandoah Hotel" was opened for business in 1926. Photographs of
these buildings are available for viewing on the Anthony
The documents that are stored in the archives of the
Berkeley County Historical Society do indeed identify Anthony Blondel as
the patriarch of the French American Blondel Family. Here is the link to
Anthony Blondel's Page where there is more information: Anthony
Blondel also moved to the Virginian states. He lived for some time
in Richmond, Virginia, and several other towns and cities. Jean Marie
Blondel, known to the English as John M. Blondel died in 1838 in
Bowling Green, Virginia. His descendants, like their West Virginian
cousins, also became prosperous. But, they made their homes
in the state of Virginia. Jean Marie's son, Theodore
Alexander Blondel, owned a substantial amount of property in Appalachia,
Virginia and he is buried, as is many other family members, in the "Blondel
Cemetery" in Appalachia. To learn more about Jean Marie Blondel
and his descendants follow the various links on this page.
There has been some speculation that the Blondel family
was connected to the crown as jewelers in Paris, France and fled France
during the French Revolution to relatives already in Saint Domingue.
There is an old letter in family archives that briefly alludes to such.
And, there is evidence that Antoine Blondel operated a jewelry business
in Martinsburg, West Virginia, U.S.A. as is recorded on the "West Virginia
Database CD, Jefferson County Module Norris XIII: PRIMITIVE TOWN AND COUNTRY;
In 1819 Anthony Blondell conducts the jewelry and silversmith buiness."
There is also the Blondel
watches and jewelery manufactured and sold in Switzerland that exists
It is clear that many Blondels were already in Saint
Domingue and the Caribbean when the French Revolution began. There
was a pirate, an accountant appointed by the King of France, a French military
officer, an engineer, and many more. For more information on these
men or women please visit the Historical
Accountings of Blondels or Blondells web site.
There was also another Blondel Plantation on the island
of Martinique that was owned by a Blondel family there. One of the
Blondels that lived there was Sebastien Blondel. Sebastien was knighted
by the king of France for his valiant defense of the french crown during
the French Revolution. He was given the title of La Rougery
and thus, he and his descendants' surname became Blondel La Rougery.
There is some information on the Martinique Blondels on the Martinique
It is interesting to note that there was a Frenchman
named Paul Blondel who made a watch that was recovered during an underwater
excavation in 1960. The watch had been lost in an earthquake that dropped
33 acres of land into Kingston Harbor at Port Royal, Jamaica on June 7,
1692. And, there was a very wealthy jeweler named Blondel who was
arrested in Lyon, France for his faith in Jesus Christ. His property
was confiscated and he was burned to death in Paris. This event is
recorded in "Foxe's Book of Martyrs". But, we have no evidence yet
of these men being direct ancestors of the French American Blondel Family.
The spelling of the Blondel surname was changed in many
of the Blondel family's descendants. One example is the change sometime
during the life of Theodore
Alexander Blondel. A second "L" was added to the end. This
was apparently a result of an Anglo Saxon influence. Theodore Alexander
Blondel's father, John M. Blondel's obituary in the newspaper "The Richmond
Whig" records his name with one "L" at the end. Theodore Alexander's
tombstone also records his name as Blondel. Theodore Blondel is buried
in the "Blondell Cemetery"
on Dixon Street in Appalachia, Virginia, USA. Additional information
is stored on various family
Ironically there is a family legend that has been passed
down through some branches of the family that tells a tale of several Blondel
brothers who were possibly orphans that sailed to the Americas from Paris,
France. We now know the accuracy of the legend is close to the actual
history of the Blondel family. Credible documentation shows us that there
were at least two brothers known to us: Jean Marie (John M.) Blondel, and
.John .Henry .Blondel. When Rosella arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
she may have well believed that her husband had been killed in the slave
revolts and that her children were indeed orphans. It is also likely
that Jean Marie Blondel went to Paris for business (to file a claim for
reimbursement for the lost plantations) and returned in 1826 on a ship
that disembarked in the harbor at New York. The evidence to support
that are shipping records
that indicate that Jean Marie Blondel left the port of Le Havre, France
and sailed to New York in that year. The
letter from Jean Marie's wife Catherine to General La Fayette in 1827
confirms contact between the Blondel family and the Parisian government
offices to that effect. Therefore, in light of what we do know, that
legend may be based more upon fact than myth.
There are more history and research links on the main
page. That page is accessible from the link at the top of this page.
Click on the globe below to read a very good historical
essay on the Haitian Revolution, the political climate of Saint Domingue
and the interaction between races and social classes of people living in
the French colony of Saint Domingue and what it was like to be a slave
there. This article also discusses, in depth how the events that occurred
in Saint Domingue affected the entire world. This is a good
Prejudice was, in places in the United States, rampant
and commonly exhibited against people of French descent in spite of the
assistance of the French to the colonists during the American Revolution.
Because of the scandal called the "XYZ" affair French men were simply not
trusted. The "XYZ" affair was a situation
wherein three French agents known only as X, Y, and Z were accused of attempting
to arrange American bribes of French officials. The French agents
were never actually identified. In fact, President Jefferson believed
that the entire "XYZ" matter was a political fabrication and invention
of political factions seeking to undermine the Republican party led by
Jefferson, and to gain control of the American government.
The "Alien and
Sedition Acts" laws were passed in 1798. The Federalist party passed
these laws in opposition to the Republican party. They were passed
during a period of time when America was close to war with France and a
direct reflection of the country's desire to limit the freedoms of alien
peoples, most markedly those who were French. The "Naturalization
Act" made it a requirement to have lived in the United States for fourteen
years before one could become a citizen and it made it illegal for an alien
to serve in the armed forces of the United States. The "Alien Act"
made it legal for the President of the United States to deport any alien
he considered "dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States."
The "Alien Enemies Act" gave the president broad power to arrest,
imprison and deport all citizens of an enemy nation, and the "Sedition
Act" permitted the prosecution of anyone who broadcast verbally or otherwise,
"scandalous and malicious" statements about the government. Clearly
this sought to destroy any freedom of the press. Under these laws
25 different people were indicted and 10 were convicted. Although
these laws expired in 1801 many American citizens continued to support
them for many years and there was a "quasi" enforcement of them, although
through a prejudicial nature for some time and in many differing geographical
areas. Certainly many French immigrants sought to lose their cultural
differences of an identifiable nature that would invite increased suspicion
and even perhaps persecution. While we can only speculate as to what
some of their adjustments would have been it would have been likely that
they sought to lose all French language accents when speaking English and
they would have most certainly allowed their surnames to become more readily
adaptable and adjusted to become more similar to their English versions.
There was also a certain amount of prejudice
against the French Caribbean refugees that began arriving in Philadelphia
in 1793. Even though the citizens there greeted them openly and funds
were raised to help them, they were viewed with suspicion as having the
wrong views on slavery or as to being on the wrong side of the French Revolution.
Many Philadelphia citizens did not like anyone that supported slavery or
were loyal to the French King. It is possible that some of the refugees
migrated to the Southern states simply because they would have been more
easily accepted. It is also ironic that in spite of many claims of
abuse by French white men toward their Negroe slaves that many of the Caribbean
slaves chose to flee the Haitian Revolution with their masters and also
became immigrates to the United States. An example of this is the
clear historical record of Louisiana. There were more slaves who
willingly immigrated to that area with their French masters then there
were white French refugees.
The city of Philadelphia was struck by a plague of "Yellow
Fever" that killed 10% of the city's population. Many of the city's
residents blamed the plague on the Caribbean immigrants. And, they
probably were not far from the truth, as "Yellow Fever" was also
responsible for devastating the French army that was sent by Napoleon to
stop the Haitian Revolution in Saint Domingue.
Some famous residents that lived there who became infected
were Alexander Hamilton and his wife. Ironically they were cured
by the application of the "French Cure." The most effective treatment
for the disease was the "French Cure" and was administered by the French
Caribbean doctor who was himself a Saint Domingue refugee, Dr. Jean Devéze
. An indication of the prejudice against the Saint Domingue refugees
is apparent in that Dr. Jean Devéze is scarcely mentioned in the
news accountings of that period in the city's history as being a success.
Dr. Jean Devéze was the most successful doctor working in Philadelphia
at that time and fighting to save the area's infected population.
Other physicians such as Dr. Benjamin Rush applied a "Heroic" treatment
of bleeding and purging the patient to acquire healing. To learn
more about these events click on the picture of Dr. Rush:
We hope to find out more about the entire history of
the Blondel/Blondell family both in Europe and the Caribbean. We
are asking that anyone that may have additional information to please submit
that material to us by contacting one or all of the family members in the
mail contact links. Please try to be as complete as possible in sending
us information. To submit photographs, please include full names
of everyone in the photograph, their ages, and the date and location the
photograph was taken. For documents, please include all original
source information such as author, date written or published, the publisher,
and the names of any people that were interviewed, if any, and as much
as is possible contact information for all these people or entities.
Basically please just include all the information you have! While
these requests may seem trivial, the accurate preservation of this data
is very important to properly establish family relationships and history.
© Blondel 1998-2002 Blondell