The John Gray Blount Mysteries, Part 2: The Legacy and the Assumed Name

by | Apr 24, 2019 | 0 comments

For this installment, we turn to the third volume of the collection.  In this book, there are several letters relating to our Henry Williamson.

The Legacy

Mr. Blount writes to a William Murdock 18 Mar 1796 (pg. 35-36) “Some time since last winter I caused to be forwarded a Power of attorney [see page 567 for the PoA] from a Henry Williamson of this State formerly of London to receive a Legacy…both the amount, and whether the Legacy will be paid is uncertain….”  He goes on to say that Williamson is old and poor, but with “extravagant” tastes and that “in consequence of having received his power” Mr. Blount had been “obliged to make large advances.”  Certainly larger than he would have liked given the uncertainty.

Henry’s niece, Mrs. Mary Fitzgerald of Charles Street, St. James Square, London, writes to her uncle 24 Jun 1796, in care of Mr. Murdock, telling him she’d gotten his letter of October 1795 and that she now has “the pleasure to acquaint you with the following particulars, relative to the Monies bequeathed you by the Marriage Settlement, of my Dear Father & Mother….” Due to this marriage settlement, Henry is entitled, “as one of the only Brothers Now claiming” to “one fourth of 450 pounds Cash, in the Bank of England” and £500 in New South Seas Annuities, “being one fourth of 2000 pounds New South Sea Annuities.”  Ms. Fitzgerald thinks his share of the Annuities should now “fetch about 320 pounds.”

From this, we learn that Henry had three brothers.  If it can be proven that his brothers are deceased, and left no legal heirs, then the other £1500 in Annuities would come to him as well.  In today’s money, that converts to over $180,000!  The £320, alone, would be the modern equivalent of over $40,000.

The Assumed Name

A Mr. Parnell, in a missive addressed to Mr. Murdock dated 24 Jun 1796 (pg. 69), requests he make sure to give Williamson “special Directions” so that the powers of attorney being sent by Mrs. Fitzgerald are executed according to the letter of the law “on account of Mr. Bargeau’s assuming that Name since his residence in America.” 

Wait, Mr. Bargeau?

Murdock looses no time writing to Mr. Blount 27 Jun 1796 (pg. 74) saying that he’d just received the necessary powers to enable “me to receive his Legacy.”  Then

You’ll observe that Williamson is an Assumed Name, & that Bargeau is the real Name, how this happened I know not, but I presume it was nothing more than Whim or Caprice in Mr. Williamson to change his name, & not with any Discernable Motive — He must Sign his Name thus “Henry Williamson–otherwise Charles Bargeau”….

The Brothers and their Sister

Henry Williamson, who is also Charles Bargeau, replied to his niece’s letter from Washington, 29 Oct 1796 to supply her with “all the Information I have respecting My Brothers.”  And a well-travelled family they turned out to be!  The eldest, John, “died at Lisben [sic. Lisbon, Portugal] about 25 Years ago [1771] in the house of Messrs Mayne & Co. without issue”,  Joseph “went to the East Indies about 44 Years ago & not since heard of by me”, and the youngest, Francis, “died a Midshipman on board the Griffen Man of War at Antigua, Thomas Taylor, Captain, about 24 Years ago [1772].”

Mrs. Fitzgerald and her representatives had been searching for the Bargeau brothers since, at least, 1791.  The following ad ran in The London Gazette 28 May 1791, pg. 314 “Pursuant to a Decree of the High Court of Chancery”:

…whether John Bargeau, Joseph Bargeau, Charles Bargeau and Francis Bargeau, the Four Half Brothers of Mary Lekeux, late the Widow of Peter Lekeux…were living at the Time of Death of the said Mary Lekeux, which happened on the 16th Day of May, 1788, and whether any and which of them are now living, and in case of all of them the said John Bargeau, Joseph Bargeau, Charles Bargeau and Francis Bargeau were dead at the Time of Death of the said Mary Lekeux, then the said Matter should enquire and state to the Court whether any and what Child or Children of the said John Bargeau, Joseph Bargeau, Charles Bargeau and Francis Bargeau, was or were living at the Time of Death of the said Mary Lekeux…Charles Bargeau (who is supposed to have assumed the Name of Henry Williamson)….

A similar “adviso” ran in the Lisbon Gazette in August 1796.

La famille Bargeau

Mary Bargeau of Christ Church, Middlesex married John Le Keux at St. Michael, Cornhill, 10 Apr 1735 (Parish Register, pg. 66).  After his death, she married his cousin, Peter Le Keux, 24 Jul 1751 at Holy Trinity Church in Clapham, Surry.  One cannot help but notice this is close to the time Joseph set sail for the East Indies.  Did he object to the marriage?  Was he bound out as a sailor? Or even sold as a cabin boy (this happened regularly!)?  Maybe even shanghaied.

The only actual record I’ve found of Charles Bargeau in London is his apprenticeship (IR I/18, Board of Stamps: Apprenticeship Books, The National Archives, Image 358). Charles, son of John Bargeau, was apprenticed to Joseph Daily of London, Goldsmith, 18 Apr 1749 for 7 years, beginning 5 Jun.

Volume 14 of the Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of London, page 527, adds that John Bargeau was “late of Spitalfields, gent.”  His brother, Francis, was apprenticed to Robert Bayley, Draper, 17 Apr 1755.  Francis, son of John and Margaret Bargeau, was christened at Christ Church, Stepney, Middlesex, 21 Sep 1740.  Their mother may have been Margaret Pérochon who wed the widowed John Bargeau 8 Mar 1717 (Parish Register, pg. 170).  I’ve found burial records in Spitalfields for Margaret Bargeau, 26 Jun 1743, and John, 20 May 1745.

About Francis, Henry says he died in Antigua in about 1772 while serving on a man of war.  Quite a change from being a draper!  I wonder if he was pressed into service?  Press gangs rounded up apprentices all the time.  Especially rowdy apprentices.  Also, 1772 was the year of Hamilton’s Hurricane.  It struck Antigua 31 Aug, causing a great deal of destruction.  Was that the manner of his death?

What About the Legacy?

There’s a lot of toing and froing after this with various correspondence and powers-of-attorney, as Henry attempted to obtain the other three parts of the Legacy.  Finally, Mrs. Fitzgerald wrote to her uncle 4 Aug 1799.  In this letter, she asks about children “Now living”, “in case of your Decease before this Business is Settled.”  

Henry died in late 1802.  For some reason, the shares remained unclaimed.  In a book with the rather unwieldy title A list of the Names of such Proprietors of Annuities, transferable at the South-Sea House, as were entitled to Dividends on or before the 5th of July, 1837, and which remained unpaid on the 10th of October, 1842, pg. 105, there is listed “Charles Bargeau, by the Name of Henry Williamson Hyde County of Mattamuskeet, North Carolina.”   There are three dividends due him.  The first of these became payable in July 1796.  It seems they never did get those powers just so. 


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