Pierre de Mestre
Marthe Duondat c 1580
Jean de Mestre
Pierre de Mestre 1636-1694
Antoine de Mestre 1665-1746
de Infantrie Marine and eldest brother of Henri, Captain de Grenadiere and Pierre Capitaine d'Artillerie. Married first
to Anne Labrit, their son Pierre born 1706, then to Marguerite Brossard.
Pierre de Mestre 1706-1788
Pierre was born c 1706 or 1707 at the Chateau Vergnassade near Montastruc. He was, like
his forebears, destined for the army and had a long and distinguished military career. 1st Lieutenant 1746; 2nd class
captain 1748; Knight of St. Louis 1749; 1st class captain 1754; Brigade Chief 1765; Lieutenant Colonel 1766; Colonel 1773.
Twelve war campaigns, 20 sieges, 5 battles and one wound and died in his own home at Montastruc on 6 February 1788 aged 84
years. It appears he was married three times; firstly to Francoise Dupeyrat (d. 1745) producing a child, Alphonse
Denis; secondly to Francoise Sauvan de la Salle, Pierre and Jean (1752 - 1812) were possibly the sons of this marriage; thirdly
to Marie Marguerite Chefdeville (d. 1st May 1777 aged 70 at Montastruc), the widow of an officer. This third marriage
resulting in the birth of André Charles in about 1757.
André Charles de Mestre
André was the third son
of Colonel Pierre de Mestre and was born at Montastruc in 1755 or 1757. Like his father and grandfather he was destined
to join the army. The army records tell us that at the time of the American War of Independence (c1780) he was a 2nd
Lieutenant in the Regiment at Metz. In 1777 the Regiment sent its 2nd battalion to the Antilles. Two companies
of the first battalion were sent to America in 1780 and two others followed in 1781. In all the regiment had 10 companies
in the Army of Rochambeau; the other were stationed at Saint Dominique and in various Antilles Islands returning to France
in 1784. It would appear that André may have been part of the regiment that spent its tours of duty in the Antilles.
Army records show the following:
27 August 1784: Report of the inspection
of 1st and 2nd Lieutenants in the Royal Corps of Artillery, Regiment of Metz by M. de Gomer Inspector General. Brigade
of Ducarroy, Company Lepelletier d'Argers: "the cavalier De Mestre: note on the disposition of the artillery during
a siege, note of his knowledge of the appropriate timber for use of artillery, note on the subject of bombs."
1784: Artillery Regiment of Metz. Inspection made at Strasbourg by M. D'Aboville, Colonel of the Regiment.
Second Lieutenant de Mestre, "Carried out his duties of service with exactitude and intelligence. His command was good
1 November 1784: Captain 2nd Class of a company of Mechanics in an Artillery corps in the colonies.
February 1788: Requested 3 months leave to treat business with his brother following the death of his father (6 Feb 1788).
- April 1788? Married Hélenè Cotterel at Rennes.
15 November 1790: Melanie Caroline Jeanne born at Lorient (Morbihan)
Brittany, baptised 16 November "born from the legitimate marriage of André de Mestre aged 35 of the parish of Montastuc en
Agenois and of Dame Thomase Hélene Cotterele aged 22 years of St. Etienne en ville de Rennes, married there in 1788".
December 1791: Inspection by M. de Behague, Governor General of the Windward Islands at Fort Royal, of the Regiment of
the Royal Corps of Artillery in the colonies. "2nd Brigade, Company de Mestre. 1st Class Captain, present."
Troops, Artillery Regiment: 2nd Brigade at Martinique and at Lorient. 1st Class Captain André de Mestre at Martinique.
of Prosper de Mestre, possibly on board a French ship bound for Martinique.
1793: Journal of General
Comte Rochambeau. "Colonel Mestre of the Artillery had his head taken off by a cannon ball. I was covered with
his blood and had a slight wound in the heel. This officer was of great merit, and his loss is irreplaceable.
He was on the ramparts day and night, directing the artillery, the gun marker and the bombadier. He leaves a wife and
two children; the Republic should take care of them and give them a pension, because this hero had no fortune at all except
his talents, his courage and his qualities".
It is fairly certain that Jean and André fought for the Americans against the
British. A letter, dated 10 June 1977, from the Sons of the American Revolution, Branche Française, to M.
Orny states "J'ai en effet trouve sur la liste des combattants francais pour l'independence americaine les 2 noms que vous
m'avez donnés: André et Jean de Mestre." The letter goes on to invite any living members of the family to the
4 July ceremony at the Cimetière de Picpus.
Thomase Hélène Coterel c.1768-1851 wife of André Charles de
Dame Thomas Hélène Coterele (or Cotterel) was born in St. Etienne, a district
of the town of Rennes in Brittany, France, around 1766. She was the daughter of Pierre Cotterel and Dame Jacques le
The name Cotterel in its various spellings is in fact an Irish name. There
was a large Irish presence in France in the latter part of the 17th century and all of the 18th century. Paris was the
capital city of Catholic Ireland's hopes and aspirations. An Irish Brigade formed part of the French army until disbanded
Nom assez rare, variante de Cotereau, Cothereau, Cottereau, patronymes surtout
portés dans la Sarthe, sans doute originaires de la Mayenne. Le mot "coterel" désigne en ancien français d'abord un mercenaire
portant un coterel (cotte courte), puis un bandit, un pillard. Autres formes : Cotrel, Cotrelle, Cottrel, Cottrelle, surtout
portées dans la Somme.
Hélène married André de Mestre in 1788 at Lorient which is some 137 kilometres
from Rennes. From time to time André's regiment was garrisoned at Lorient. It is likely that the marriage took
place between February and April of 1788 when André took 3 months furlough to sort out his father's affairs. Their daughter
Melanie was born at Lorient in November 1790. Hélène is mentioned in Rochambeau's journal as the widow, with two children,
of André de Mestre, the officer killed at Rochambeau's side at Fort Royal, Martinique.
Very little is known of Hélène's personality or political views except a story
in a letter from Helen Williams (nee de Mestre 1825 -1907) to her sister Melanie Lovegrove written c. 1880 "my grandmother
became an intimate friend of Josephine, then Mme de Beauharnais. After Josephine became Empress of France, she wrote
to my grandmother saying that the Emperor would return the estates that had been confiscated if she would send my father to
the free schools established by Napoleon. She refused saying "Nous sommes Bourbons!"
It is quite possible that Hélène knew Josephine personally. Josephine
Beauharnais was on Martinique between 1788-1790. Although it is not certain where André and Hélène were at that time,
it is quite probable that they were also on Martinique and would have moved in the same social circle.
In March 1794 André was killed and the British took Martinique. It must
have been a very difficult time for the young widow with no pension and two small children to care for. It is not surprising
that on 2nd March 1795 she married Jean (John or James) Armstrong, an officer of the King's 6th Regiment of Foot - later
to become the Royal Warwickshire Regiment - which took part in the capture of Martinique in 1794. The marriage was authorised
by Msr. Dubuc the Administrator of the colony and Brigadier General Colin Sinssay who declared the service did not have to
be in English. The witnesses to the marriage were Dr. Richard Fletcher, surgeon of the Fort Hospital, Mr Hutchinger,
officer of the Kings 6th Regiment, Jean Baptiste Naux, Knight of St Louis, Colonel of French infantry and former governor
of Tobago and Fr. Jean-Louis was the priest.