Beaumont, Louise Elisa née Poignand, 1751—1818
by Benjamin Colbert
Louise Elisa Poignand was born in 1751 at Saint-Hélier, Jersey, the daughter of Louis Poignand, an emigrant from Poitou, and Marie Madeleine Poignand, née Rozel, originally from Brittany. A brother immigrated to the United States, but otherwise her family eventually settled in Greenwich.
She married the Swiss tutor, travel writer, and illustrator Jean-François Albanis Beaumont (1753-1811) on 10 November 1790, after which time they took up residence at Kingston-upon-Thames. There they made the acquaintance of the Reverend Christopher Lake Moody (1753-1815) and his wife, the poet Elizabeth Moody, née Greenly (1737-1814). Louise Beaumont’s husband was probably still employed by Prince William Henry, first duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh (1743-1805; ODNB) as tutor for his children, Sophia Matilda (b. 1773) and William Frederick (1776-1834; ODNB), although with the children nearly grown, his tenure would have been coming to an end (Gent. Mag). From 1792-95, he was also seeing no less than five books of alpine travels through the press, two of which were English translations of earlier works.
When Albanis Beaumont decided to return to his native Switzerland to start a new career as an agriculturalist, Louise Beaumont recorded the trip through France, beginning on 24 October 1796 at Calais and ending on 30 April 1797 at Geneva. The result was her Sketch of Modern France (1798) for which C. L. Moody undertook the role of editor and saw through the press. (Beaumont may have elected to preserve her anonymity so as not to compromise her and her husband’s dependence on the French government for passports and leave to return to Switzerland; she herself may have passed through France assuming an American nationality [Brondel 2007, 333].) With their finances burdened by the move, Albanis Beaumont took an interest in the profits of Sketch and urged Moody to find out more from the publisher, and whether a second edition could be hoped for. Cadell and Davies’ reply was not encouraging; half the impression remained in December 1798 with barely profits to cover the costs of printing (Moody).
The Beaumonts settled at Chêne-Thônex, near Geneva, where Albanis Beaumont raised Merino sheep and, in 1806, turned his attention to investing in a mining operation, the ‘Société pour l’exploitation des mines de fer de la vallée de Sixt’. It was a high risk operation that drained their finances, and in 1810 Louise Beaumont wrote to divert any inheritances due to her in England to this cause (Brondel 2007, 338). When her husband died suddenly on 27 November 1811, her dividends in the company fell far short of her outlay, and she was forced to sign away future profits in return for a guaranteed, though small, annuity. She relocated to Geneva, where she died on 9 May 1818.
Brondel, Jean. 'Recherches sur Albanis Beaumont'. Revue savoisienne 145 (2005): 223-38. Print.
–––. 'Notes complémentaires sur Albanis Beaumont et Louise Poignand, son épouse'. Revue savoisienne 147 (2007): 331-41. Print.
Gentleman's Magazine 111 (May 1812): 488. Print.
Moody, Christopher Lake. Letter to Cadell and Davies, 23 Dec. 1798 [and reply]. MS. Montagu d. 14. Bodleian Lib., Oxford.
Wellington, Jan. ‘Traversing Regions of Terror: The Revolutionary Traveller as Gothic Reader’. Studies in Travel Writing 7.2 (Sep. 2003): 145-67. Print.
|A Sketch of Modern France||1798|