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I found a few references to this chap's ancestors which may be of
interest. The third, 'Jersey Medals' gives Ponthieu as well as Vismes.
http://www.stirnet.com/HTML/genie/british/hh4aa/hay07.htm *third of
the way down.*
According to a post at rec.heraldry in December 2000 by Anton Sherwood,
VISMES (DE) (Comtes) -- Gloucestershire. Ec.: aux 1 et 4 d'or à trois
bandes d'azur; au chef du sec., semé de fleurs-de-lis du champ
au 2 d'azur fretté d'or, semé dans les clairevoies de fleurs-de-lis
même (St.-Vallery); au 3 d'arg. au chev. de gu., acc. en chef de deux
étoiles d'or et en p. d'un croiss. du même (Vismes). C[imier]: une
aigle ép. de sa. T[enants]: deux anges au nat. D[evise]: J'ASPIRE.
(Branche des DE VISME de Picardie, passée en Angleterre à la
de l'Edit de Nantes.)
I'm not sure where that remark comes from, as neither the 1st nor the 2d edition
of Rietstap contain it. However, Burke's General Armory (1844) says this (s.v.
"De Vismes"): a branch of the very ancient and noble family of De Vismes, of the
kingdom of France, deriving originally from the sovereign house of Ponthieu,
settled in England at the revocation of the Edict of Nantes; obtained a
confirmation of pedigree and rank (that of Count) from the French government, in
the person of the late Count de Vismes, who died in 1840, leaving two sons viz.
William present Count de Vismes and Henry Baron de Vismes.
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I've had a quick glance in my Kelly's Handbook 1904 but nothing
obvious; I don't have any old BLGs to hand. I did see a suggestion
elsewhere online that the family formerly held a Royal Licence to bear
a foreign title in the UK.
Definitely not the case. The name shows up nowhere in the documents at
Post by firstname.lastname@example.org
It was the adjective "Sovereign" attached to the Comital title that
particularly caught my eye.
The county of Ponthieu's history is given at
(link provided with the usual wikidisclaimer; there are some inaccuracies).
Roughly speaking the county passed by inheritance to the kings of England from
whom it was confiscated in 1336, 1360, and lastly in 1380. Thereafter it was
given as apanage to various people, lastly the Angoulêmes, a legitimated line of
Charles IX. My old La Chesnaye-Desbois says that the county was briefly
(June-Sept 1710) part of the apanage of the duc de Berry. The last owner of the
county was Charles, comte d'Artois, younger brother of Louis XVI, who received
it as part of his apanage in 1773 (indeed, "comte de Ponthieu" was the incognito
he used as ex-king Charles X later in life).
The barony of Vismes was a fief within the county of Ponthieu. It passed from
the family of Cayeux to the family of Monchy in the 14th century, and as late as
Sept. 1665 it was still owned by the Monchy family (François de Monchy, son and
heir of Charles de Monchy, baron of Vismes, gave homage).
The barony of Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme, in the county of Amiens, passed from the
Melun family with Isabelle to the Artois comtes d'Eu, then to the house of
Bourgogne-Nevers along with Eu and followed the county of Nevers through the
houses of La Marck and Gonzaga until the mid-17th c., when it passed (presumably
when the duke of Mantua sold his French possessions in 1659) to the house of
Rouault de Gamaches which still owned it in 1737.
As for the British de Vismes family, there are various notices of births, deaths
and marriages throughout the Times. At some point these people held an even
higher title (e.g. the announcement that "the princess Theobald de Vismes et de
Ponthieu" was delivered of a son at Brussels on 23d Nov 1859, or of the death on
27 Jan 1885, of Eliza Carter, at Cesson, Côtes-du-Nord, "relict of the late
William, prince de Vismes et de Ponthieu", in her 85th year). As for their
origin, my instinct would be to look toward Geneva:
http://auriol.free.fr/Perso/Nom_Auriol/geneangl.htm (where Vismes is misspelled
It's difficult to think of the county of Ponthieu as sovereign, or as being
plausibly claimed by anyone today, let alone a Huguenot family in Britain, and I
suspect the recognition of title and pedigree by France would be difficult to
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