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.
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.
Surgeon, Soldier, Statesman, Spy:
The life of James Paroissien (1784-1827)
The following note appeared in the June 2010 edition of the Essex Record
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.