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HO 45 8817


1 Jan 1844


Letter from Colonel De Vismes praying for permission to assume in this Country the Title and Honour of a Count of France


This is a renewal of a Petition presented to this office in 1838 which was referred to the College of Arms, and upon their report (which stated among other things that there was no Precedent for such a Grant) Lord John Russell declined submitting the petition for Her Majesty’s favorable consideration


This case having been decided and no new facts being adduced, I decline to reopen the question.

                        Jas Graham


Ansd 18 Jan



Hill Park House

Bideford Devon

Jan 1st 1844




I take the liberty of requesting permission to submit  the statement which follows to your consideration.  I have already written to the Earl of Aberdeen supposing that my letter should have been addressed to his Lordship, but I am informed by Mr. Addington that as Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs matters of this description are out of his Lordship’s province.


In 1838 my father (who is now dead) entered into a negotiation with the French government to recognise by a formal act the title he had assumed and which de jure had descended  to my father as representative of the family, the title of comte de Vismes, and was successful in his application havingobtained from that government a letter of reconnaissance dated 5 juin 1839 under the head Ministère de la Justice, Division  des affaires civiles et du sceau, 2e bureau, no 9448x2 and bearing the signature of Monsieur Barthe with the round  white seal (this document is in my possession).


This document my father forwarded in the proper quarter and as a British subject petitioned  for Her Majesty’s sanction to assume this foreign title in this country, which application, after the receipt of the letter I enclosed informing my father that the Queen had been pleased to accede to my  father’s request was finally refused on the scor eof precedent.  They were afraid of making a precedent but precedents might be found that would bear an analogy if not a case exactly parallel to the present situation, if reference was made to the case of Count de Salis, it would be found not dissimilar, an ancestor of the present Count de Salis was invested with the license it was then my father’s. and is now my object to obtain.


My family having embraced the Protestant party in France endured adversity on account of religious opinion, and on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes became involved in the proscriptions that ensued, but ranked from the highest antiquity amongst the haute noblesse of France; of this subject however it is not necessary to say more, my application turning on the ? of truth and justice.  And having I hope demonstrated to you Sir that the facts will warrant the recognition by the British government of what is clearly a right ? either the recognition of my hereditary title or the conferring that title upon me as a british peerage I with with some confidence beg leave to request your interposition in my behalf. 


I shall wait your permission to forward to you the document I have mentioned together with a petition for presentation to the Queen, and am prepared to give any further explanation you may wish.


I have the honor to be,


your most obedient and humble servant


Le Vcte de Vismes




Mr Phillipps presents his compliments to Mr de Vismes and in answer to his note of the 5th inst. has to acquaint him that the Queen has been pleased to accede to Colonel de Vismes request to assume his foreign title in this country, and that the necessary forms for issuing the Royal Licence are in progress.


Whitehall, Oct 8th 1838

22 Jan 1844




I have received Mr Phillipps letter written by your order in answer to mine of the 1st inst. You direct Mr Phillipps to say that my case having been previously fully considered by Lord J Russell when Home Ssecretary, you do not think it fit to depart from the decision come to thereon by his Lordship no new facts having been adduced by me in support of my claim.  In answer to which I beg leave to state, if by new facts the suvbstantiating the possession of my title in England is meant, then that the title of Comte de Vismes having been legally recognised by the French authorities in the person of my father, no further evidence or facts could be necessary to support my claim here, and this is the opinion of one of the first legal authorities in England; I am however aware that the sign manual is a matter of  discretion, not of legal right and as Lord J Russell declined recommending my father’s claim to the Queen’s favorable consideration, you Sir James are of course at liberty to follow the same course, since you to think fit, but if what is termed nobility is deserving the consideration in which it has always been held, then the attempt to degrade my family by refusing to recognise our ancient and honorable house, after the Queen’s pleasure had been taken in favour of my father’s claims, is most unjust, and a very great hardship, and it is my intention to memorialize the House of Lords on this subject.


I have the honour, Sir, to be

your obedient and humble servant

Le Vcte de Vismes



Sir James Graham Bart.


Buckish N Bideford Devon

9th March 1846




I beg leave to recall to your recollection that some time ago I had the honor to state a case to you wherein I think I have a just cause to complain of hardship on the part of the Government, namely that my late father Colonel le Comte de Vismes having been legally by a document (now in my possession) confirmed in his rank of a French count of hereditary descent (from a collateral branch of the comtes de Ponthieu) and the document having been presented to the English government the sign manual was promised by a letter dated Whitehall Oct 6, 1835 [sic] (in my possession) but was afterwards revoked on a plea that it could not be granted without a patent, your answer Sir when I since applied to you was that you did not think yourself called upon to reconsider a matter that had been decided by Lord John Russell, but I think Sir that because a hasty decision was come to by his Lordship, this is no argument against a reconsideration of it.  That I am a nobleman I can easily prove to any nobleman and can say as a nobleman with truth that I have been “dubiis que rectus” the quotation says secundis but for prosperity I must in some measure trust to your more just reconsideration  of a just claim, and I must add that if the sign manual cannot be granted without a patent I think my title ought in justice to be conferred upon me as an English peerage.


I beg leave to observe that my late father held a commission in the Coldstream Guards, was a trench colonel in the Army and assisted with honor in the campaigns of 1793 &4, and that M Lewis de Vismes who was secretary to the embassy in Spain in 1765 and afterwards envoy and minister plenipotentiary at the court of Stockholm was my great uncle, I mention these circumstances merely to show that since my family (from the period of the revocation of the edict of Nantes) have been settled in England they have honorably served the English government and Her Majesty’s predecessors. I have now five sons growing as I trust to be useful servants to Her Majesty, but if the position which I and my family have a right to expect as a man of acknowledged hereditary rank is refused in England, France to which country we owe our ancestral recollection will again receive us.


I have the honor to remain, Sir,

your most obedient and humble servant


Le Vicomte de Vismes



The Right Honble

Sir James Graham Bt


PS I may as well Sir observe that I rent a house and manor where I now reside of fifteen hundred acres and at the next election I can conscientiously note and exert any influence I possess to promote the present measures of the government, and my cousins the sons of my late father’s tounger brother possess in Gloucestershire Surrey and Suffolk landed property to the amount of several thousands a year inherited from their grandfather who was the Chief Justice of Chester Mr Bearcroft


Le Vcte de Vismes

Buckish N Bideford N Devon


5 April 1846



When I had  the honor to address Secretary Sir J Graham in the subject of my French title I did not do so without a full knowledge that nobility did not  consist in the sheepskin of the patent, but in a proper carriage of the person, namely the head held up and turned a little to the right for all practical purposes and to the left, and I beg to say that if the English government will not do me the justicec to acknowledge my title, for which as I have before stated I can produce a regal recognition by France I will make public what I have stated for the benefit of Her Majesty’s subjects.


I have the honor to remain, Sir,

your most obedient and humble servant


Le Vicomte de Vismes



The Honble Manners Sutton


15 April 1846




a letter which I had the honor to address to you on the 7th inst for the information of Her Majesty’s Principal Ssecretary of State for the Home Department has remained unanswered. I beg therefore to observe for the information of His Majesty’s government observing that I have ineffectually endeavoured to obtain more justice with respect to the acknowledgement of my French title that I now conceive that in soliciting my title as an English peerage I ask no particular favor.


I am not aware that in the history of my sovereign ancestors the comtes de Ponthieu, or the collateral branch of their house the comtes de Vismes, that a patent has ever existed, or if not in the memory of my family, and moreover by reference to history I find that patents were rather forced on the ancient nobility of the continent as a retraint than as any favor or benefit conferred on that privileged class.  In reference to what I stated in my letter of the 7th inst of that particular knowledge of the ? machine that we inhabit called patents of nobility I intended to have requested an audience with Her Majesty’s Secretary of State to have expressed my entire meaning but on consideration I see no reason why I may not do so by letter, all that I mean to say in a few words is that while the eyes are directed for most practical purposes to the left the head cannot be turned to the right and otherwise vice versa.


Finding my honor compromised if Her Majesty’s government still refuse to acknowledge me in the way I wish I shall as I have stated make what I please of the knowledge I possess as an independent nobleman unrecognised by my sovereign and this will be not for my particular advantage, but as I may think most conducive to the benefit of my countrymen in general, and it rests with Her Majesty’s government to consider how for that knowledge being at my unlimited disposal may  affect what are termed peerages and whether it would not be better for Her Majesty’s government to comply with my request which is certainly not unreasonable.  I beg leave further to observe that I have forwarded to Sir Robert Peel a petition to Her Majesty soliciting an English peerage to which I have received an unfavorable reply, but as this was a mere petition of form without my having entered into any explanation, a recommendation from Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for the Home Department would of course be sufficient to ensure a favorable reconsideration of the object of that petition.

I have the honor Sir to remain

your most obedient and hble servt

Le Vicomte de Vismes




The Honble H Manners Sutton


23 April 1846




I nmy letters to you of the 7th and 15 inst on the subject of the claim I make to the Secreatary of State for the acknowledgement of my title in whatever way the government think proper I had the honor to state this thesis namely that a nobleman is possessed of more knowledge than another man that this knowledge consists in a proper carraige of the person namely the head held up and to the right and the eyes left, or in other words the object on the left for practical purposes and mutatis mutandis.

I further had the honor to state that if the government did not think it worth the while to reconsider my claim I would publicly state what I know, and which I shall do by publishingthese letters wanting the honor of a reply.

I have  the honor etc.



Vicomte de Vismes presents his compliments to Mr Manners Vte de V had the honor of addressing three letters to Mr Manners on the 7th 15th and 23d inst if these letters ar enot destroyed Vte de V will feel obliged by having them returned to him.


30 April 1846



20th May1846



I beg leave to explain for the information of the Secretary of State that I wished my letters returned because in looking them over I found that in the hurry of writing I had made in the application of what I said of the practical advantage of nobility the mistake visa versa but what I now say and previously explained will convince you that I am perfectly aware what that is and I do not see how the government, it is a matter almost of indifference to me, can avoid recognising my nobility in justice to that order if not to me.

I have etc.

Le Vicomte Henry de Vismes



and to acquaint you in reply that your letters of the 7th, 15th and 23d inst cannot consistently with the practice of this office be returned to you.



Volunteer Service Club

St James’ Street S.W.

29th Nov  67



I have the honour to request should there be no objection to be allowed a copy of the correspondence which took place in 1838 with respect to an application made by my grandfather colonel de Vismes formerly of the Coldstream Guards to assume his Foreign title in this country and to which petition Her Majesty had been pleased to accede the forms for the Royal Licence having been prepared. I should feel much obliged if the whole is too lengthy to be copied for that part of it which relates to the legal opinion given by the Lord Chief Justicec Pollock on the validity of the title.


I have the Honour to be Sir

Your most obed.t servant


RTW de Vismes


Rt Hon

Sir George Grey Bart GCB MP

Secretary of State


St James Street

Capt de Vismes

Nov 29

R Dec 13


asks for copy of correspondence (1838) rel. to an application made by his grandfather to assume his foreign title in this country.


It seems quite clear that this cannot be complied with.




The correspondence on this subject with this family of De Vismes extends over a period of many years.

The Royal Licence to assume the Foreign Title in this Country, tho’ often applied for, was never granted, and any further consideration of the subject declined. It was in this case, that an offer was made to pay £1000 into the Privy Purse.

It would be contrary to the usual practice of the Office to give a copy of the correspondence.




The Right Hon Sir George Grey Bart GCB

Secretary of State

etc etc etc



I have the honor respectfully to request to be informed of the reasons which prevented the Royal Licence being issued which would have enabled my grandfather to assume his foreign title of Count de Vismes in this country as by a latter from Mr Phillips dated Whitehall 8th October 1838 he was informed that Her Majesty the Queen had been graciously pleased to accede to his request for permission to do so and that the necessary forms were in progress.


I have the honor to be


Your most obedt. servant


RTW de Vismes



Staff College

Nr Farnboro

12th May 1865




There is no trace in the Office of any such letter from Mr Phillipps dated Whitehall 8 October 1838.


The reason for not granting the license was, I believe, that it was considered that the grandfather had no right to the title of Count de Vismes.



Shall he be told that Sir George Grey is unable to comply with the request contained in his letter





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Last modified: Jun 28, 2007