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Family Name - French Roots - Diaspora - Emigration to Poland - Beginnings in Poland - 20th Century

The Immigrant to Poland Joachim-Jean-Pierre (JJP)

The motivation behind Joachim-Jean-Pierre Descourts’ emigration from France to Poland is unclear but the verifiable yet circumstantial evidence surrounding his departure can spark the imagination and inspire many theories. He was born at the family’s “Maison Forte” in Marcols-les-Eaux in 1703 as the 3rd son of Jean-Pierre Descourts.

Royal Pardon 1730 (lettres de rémission)

This royal pardon, given to celebrate the birth of the first son of Louis XV in 1729, was intended to resolved a dispute between a local nobleman from St. Pierreville and the Descourts brothers. In 1727 the later were passing through the town on their way from their home in Marcols -les-Eaux on a long trip to the other side of the Rhone river. They got into a fight over a matter of family honor, since the "Sieur de Vocance" a catholic, allegedly called the Descourts brothers "parpaillots", a term of derision reserved for Calvinist Protestants which amounts to calling them heretics.  This, presumably because although the Descourts brothers were catholics, their father converted from Calvinism to Catholicism after the Edict of Fontainebleau which revoked the Edict of Nantes, thereby making catholicism the only legal religion in France.  Such conversions were often considered opportunistic and their sincerity were sometimes called into question for generations.  JJP challenged Vocance to a duel with swords.  Vocance refused and retreated.  He later came from behind JJP and threw a large rock, hitting him in the back.  They started to fight, without swords, and a servant of Vocance, a certain "Jacques Celerier", who brutally came to the aide of his lord, was killed by Jean-Pierre, JJP's elder brother.  The letters of pardon explain that the death happened in self-defense after the servant inappropriately and viciously intervened in the scuffle, which otherwise would have ended without much ado. Since Celerier died several days after being injured by two strikes of a sword and the Descourts brothers had by this time continued their journey, they were unaware of and couldn't be present at the judicial inquiry. According to the laws of the day they were by default considered guilty in "abstentia".  It was the custom of the times for a king to mark a great occasion such as the birth of a son by issuing such pardons to correct such clear cases of miscarriages of justice. 

Emigration

So with a clean slate one wonders why he would leave his homeland.  One possibility is that as the 3rd son, he had no hope to inherit his father’s property, so he sought his destiny elsewhere. It is also possible that JJP was sent to Poland by King Louis XV of France, the father-in-law of Stanisław Leszczyński, who 3 years later was elected king of Poland for the second time. JJP served in the Polish cavalry advancing to the rank of colonel. In 1740 he married Karolina Turno (or Turgeau), who gave birth to Jan Jerzy and Michał as well as Marianna. After Karolina’s death in 1752 he remarried and had 7 more children.  Although he actively pursued Polish citizenship and the official recognition of his French titles of nobility, it was only in 1766, two years after his death that they were recognized and issued in favor of his four sons. The original “Indygenat” (document of naturalization) with the signature of Stanisław August, his wax seal and the official painted version of the Deskur coat of arms is to this day in the possession of the family.

Public announcement of the royal pardon

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