Saturday, 3 July 2010

More about Jeremiah Fitzhenry

We are very grateful to Nicholas Dunne-Lynch who has sent us this description of the Irish soldier Jeremiah Fitzhenry. It comes from the French Military Archives, dated 1803.
Fitzhenry, Jeremiah, son of William and Catherine Hegarty. Born 15 October 1774 at Ballymakesy, County Wexford. Height 1 metre 804 millimetres; hair and eyebrows brown; eyes blue, nose long, mouth ordinary; chin […], face oval. Arrived in France in March 1802. Has not served in France. Nominated captain the 15 Frimaire year 12. (7 December 1803). This officer is of a respectable family in County Wexford, where he took an active part in the rebellion, in the country and elsewhere.'

Apart from the wonderful description it gives of Jeremiah the man, two things are notable in this text.
The first is the use of the Republican calendar established in 1792 and which lasted for 13 years until Napoleon 1 abolished it in 1805. More about it here. Frimiare is the frosty month, succeeding Brumiare the foggy month.

The second is the use of the metric system of measurement, again introduced after the French revolution. Here the writer has used metres and millimetres, rather than metres and centimetres more commonly used today.

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