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James Paroissien

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James Paroissien 1784-1827

John Blake

When I sign in to the Society's email account each day there is nearly always an enquiry or two to tackle; some are very mundane, some impossible, some expect their complete family tree by return and others lead to some very interesting and absorbing research; recently we had an enquiry about a small item that appeared in Bill George's excellent newsletter about James Paroissien and what an intriguing character he  turned out to be. James was born in Barking on 24th November 1784 to a French Huguenot family. His father, Louis – a schoolmaster, died in 1809, aged 74. James's half-brother  George was Rector of West Hackney.

Paroissien studied medicine and then, in 1806, James sailed for South America where he joined the liberating army and fought to free Chile and Peru from Spanish control and served in the armies of both Argentina and Chile as a field commander and  surgeon-general. Paroissien was one of the first persons to be given Argentine naturalisation. He returned to Europe in 1822 seeking recognition for the newly liberated states and as the first Peruvian diplomatic representative to Great Britain.

Diego, as he was now known, returned to South America in 1825 to become an agent for the Bolivian Mining Company, which failed and left him ruined and sick. He died at sea on his way back to England to clear his name.

His family collected the papers relating to his life including journals and correspondence and deposited them at the Essex Record Office.

Paroissien is certainly a character that deserves a lot more local recognition.

Sources

Humphreys, Robin Arthur.1952.  Liberation in South America 1806-1827: the career of James Paroissien.

Wu, Celia. 2004. Paroissien, James (1784–1827). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press.


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Surgeon, Soldier, Statesman, Spy:
The life of James Paroissien (1784-1827)

The following note appeared in the June 2010 edition of the Essex Record Office's e-bulletin:


James Paroissien was born in Barking to a French Huguenot family. In 1806 he sailed for South America, where he joined the liberating army and fought to free Chile and Peru from Spanish control. In 1822 he returned to Europe to seek recognition for the  independence of the newly liberated states. He returned to South America in 1825 to set up operations for a mining company, which unfortunately went bust, leaving him ruined and sick. He died at sea on his way back to England to clear his name. Papers  relating to his life including his journals and a great deal of correspondence, were collected by his family and deposited at ERO. They have recently been catalogued under the reference D/DOb and give a fascinating account of life in South America in the early 19th century. Full details are available on Seax.
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