This is something that has just baffled me completely. Now I will make one thing definitely clear, I do not speak nor read French. There's only a handful of words that I can even come close to translating, so know that I am not able to go through French Records and I'd love to work with someone who could because this family is one big mystery. The Deligne line (to the French speakers sorry but that's how it's spelled) doesn't make much sense. So far there is only one French official document that mentions anyone in the party that I've seen. But as much as I'd love help finding Domitile Deligne, I feel that her father is the more mysterious of the pair.
So onto what I know about Pierre Deligne or Pierre de Ligne depending on how it would be spelled outside of the English Language. Here's what I can definitively say about him...he had a daughter named Domitile Deligne in 1798 in Brest, Finistere, Swiz. and he died at sea on the 18th of February, 1800. It is implied, if not outright stated that Domitile's mother is Cecile Hebert, I think. The way it's worded it makes me wonder why Cecile isn't mentioned until the end of the document if they had already brought of Domitile's mother's home as being in Le Havre, France. So what does this have to do with the French Military...Well that's where this story gets hard to understand...
So first off I have some things I learned about French documentation. If a person dies abroad at this time they'll often be said to have died in France. Last names changed in how spouses dealt with surnames. Shortly after Domitile was born a decree went out that females were not supposed to change their surname any longer after marriage. This means any pension might not be going to a Cecile de Ligne but a Cecile Hebert. Now we get to what started this whole problem. The pension.
In stories written by Domitile's sons and grandsons she says that her father was a Captain on a large ship and that she received a pension from the French Government that was for her father's death even after she had moved to the states. This got me intrigued so I decided to see if there was any French Navy Activity near or at the date of her father's death that would lead to them paying her a pension for this fellow with a young family during such a tumultuous time. Lo and behold there is one battle I find that even if he weren't in the military there would be reason he'd be involved.
First off I looked at where both Cecile and Domitile were living...La Havre...this is a port city that the French Navy used to launch ships from, not the only one, but still a place with a Navy presence. Next I looked into who Domitile was marrying, it was the 1800s after all and class means everything. She was marrying the son of a wealthy merchant from Switzerland and due to the fact that he had an affair on her not so much that she was the mistress I'd give a good guess her reputation wasn't that low either. (Do understand that I do have a basic grasp on the behaviors of wealthy French Men at this period so the affair was not abnormal or seen as crass even if it should have been)
So we have two women who live alone with at least a merchant level class status, with a home near a navy based port, and a father who died at sea shortly after the daughter was born. As I pondered on this I looked at the military conflict that matched the timeframe and was a loss for the French. It involved large ships and a period where perhaps he could have died by other means...The Siege of Malta.
Now in the Siege of Malta the British and the people of Malta had surrounded the French for a period of time, to a point that everyone inside the ships and docking areas were starved. The French seeing their plight sent a ton of Merchant ships and a few military craft to break through. Unfortunately they never made it as the British and Maltese attacked. Now on that day there were no records of death except one Captain from the French side who was not Pierre Deligne. He was a high ranking officer. Now here's the thing, the deaths and injuries talked about were focused on the ships directly involved in the fighting that were military. So this leads me to some ideas if Pierre was involved. Either a) he was a Captain of a larger Merchant Vessel or b)he was already in Malta and died of either disease or starvation or c)he was injured during one of the last parts of the battle and died due to an injury sustained in it. I point out the fact that often in cases like his it might be that they list him as at sea or in France so as not to point out a loss.
However being unable to understand French records I need some help proving who Pierre Deligne was or if he died at Malta or in some other incident. I need help to go through those records. I have someone I can ask who speaks French but I need help to find the records that I can ask her to translate.
I really want to know about him as his daughter never speaks negatively of him and at times seems quite proud of him. Because I can't find him it means that the history of Cecile and Domitile are lost as well. If anyone can help me find out what in the heck is going on with this guy I'd really appreciate it!