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Jean Dallas – A French Childhood

Jean Aristides Dellas(Dallas) was born in Bordeaux, France in 1827 to Jane Deval and John Dellas. John was a captain in the French army. They had a daughter, Jeanne Marie Eudoxie Duval, in 1830. She grew up to marry the 10th Earl of Lindsay, John Trotter Bethune in Bordeaux.

Jean Aristides was the last male representative of the French Dallas’s of Scottish origin, who were people of importance in the court of Catherine de Madici. His father was a descendant of the “noble and romantic” de Bragelonnes, a name immortalised by Dumas in “The Compte de Bragelonnes”.

One of his anscestors was a large, landed proprietor in Britanny, who took up arms for Louis XVI during the French Revolution. As a result, his wife and family were killed at Nantes in “Carrier’s Noyades” in 1793. This may have been Jean’s grandfather. The youngest son managed to escape and was harboured by one of his father’s tenants. He was later taken to his mother’s family in Bordeaux.

When the revolution was finally over the family “manoir” was burnt to the ground and all the property was confiscated, divided up and sold. The surviving son, presumably Jean’s father, had to serve in Napoleon’s “Grande Armee”. He was severely wounded and retired with the rank of Captain.

Jean Aristides Dellas grew up to be a handsome man of distinguished appearance. He received a liberal education in Paris and became an exceptional classical scholar. He became an accomplished linguist and artist, having been taught to paint by Paul de la Roche. (He studied drawing as a pupil in the Etude des Beaux, Paris)

A good friend of his was Alphonse de la Martine and he was present with him on the platform when de la Martine “turned the attention of the angry crowd from bloodshed by giving a stirring reference to the French flag”.

John Dellas had a very retentive memory. It is said that his conversation was an education to the listener. His command of language was extensive and throughout his life he “drew on his store of learning in a manner which fascinated his audience”.

In 1848, when he reached the age of 21, Jean inherited considerable possessions but he was unfortunate. He lost almost all of them through “mistaken speculations”.

As a result, it is thought that he left to seek his fortune and spent some time in England. He was in Surrey in 1851 at the age of 24 where he at St Mary’s Colligiate School 11 5 Lower Road. There he was an assistant master, French Professor under W D Kenny as the Principal. Also on the staff were G. Wood, English Professor aged 22, William Cassey the Classical Professor aged 24 and D. Fitzgerald aged 26 who was the Junior School master. It is presumed that the school was a boarding school as Mr Kenny’s wife and four children also lived there as well as a footman, a gardener, 2 housemaids, 2 laundrymaids, a nursemaid for the 2 little daughters and a housemaid. While in England he was also Professor of French at the High School in Bishop’s Stortford and Brentwood Grammar School among others.

Jean Dallas was in England for possibly between 2-10 years, before the news of gold discoveries in the Antipodes drew him.

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