The Post-Lyman Latourette Count Hoax: Part I

This originally appeared on the Latourette Family Forum as


In two postings Mr. Robert Hoadley-Latourette has identified the author of the playfully and artfully constructed count La Tourette hoax of 1843 as a descendant from Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau by way of their daughter Marie, born in 1693, and through her marriage to Samuel Broome. As was his nature as a prominent fiction writer of the 19th century, Theodore S. Fay invented the entire story, including the substitution of a fictitious Marquis de la Tourette for the real Baron Jean Charles Francois Ladoucette (1770-1848), who was the prefect for Napoleon at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen, Germany) from 1809 to 1814. In the hoax, the real Count Eugene Dominique Francois Ladoucette of Ainse (born 1809) is transformed into Count Eugene de la Tourette. The remaining alleged facts in the hoax, as noted below, were all invented by this very imaginative fiction writer who spent many years in Europe. The postings by Mr. Hoadley-Latourette follow:

Origins of the La tourrette Count Hoax/Fable Part 1 - The original author

Origins of the La tourrette Count Hoax/Fable Part 2 - How "Henri" became a Count

In another two postings, the author has demonstrated that every alleged fact in the original count hoax written by Theodore S. Fay is not true. These invented facts include the alleged timing of the flight from a village in France, the titles and prior marriage of a non-existent count and countess, the voyage to Charleston, SC, the distressed landing and birth of Marie on Staten Island and the substitution of the name Latourette for two real people named Ladoucette. The exercise of writing this hoax must have amused Fay who had recently written a very popular book of fiction, Countess Ida (1840), as the result of his travels in Europe. See:

The Legend of the Count de Latourrette

The Count Fable (Hoax)-When did Jean leave Osse?

Several slightly different versions of the count hoax followed Fay's during the 19th century, before the subject was picked up by Mrs. Verna Jacob and Lyman Latourette a century later. In this period, several American descendants, including the Rev. James A. M. LaTourette, actively promoted the hoax. That trail is being pursed by Mr. Hoadley-Latourette. The purpose of this posting is to look at the re-invention of the hoax in a new guise since Lyman's Annals appeared in 1954.

The New, 20th Century Hoax

The publication of Lyman Latourette's Latourette Annals in America in 1954 and the extensive correspondence of Mrs. Verna Jacob over a period of many years in the 1950s and 1960s with American Latourette descendants stimulated a great deal of interest in the family genealogy and a search for family roots in France. If one reads Lyman carefully, it is clear he really wanted to believe that Jean Latourrette (ca 1651-ca 1726) was a count who was married to Marie Mercereau in France before coming to America, even to the point of using the doctored French version of Jean's marriage in New York to argue tortuously that it was a conforming marriage of an earlier one in France. In spite of obvious inconsistencies including, as Mr. Hoadley-Latourette points out, the convenient omission of critical information about the origin of the hoax as it was passed along and embellished in the 19th century, Lyman desperately wanted to believe the hoax that Theodore S. Fay began with his letter included in the Preface of Hannah Lee's book of 1843. In contrast, in her extensive correspondence and the Compilation of her notes in 1965 (Available as The Latourette Family and Associated Families in the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN.), going over all of the same information as Lyman, Mrs. Jacob does not accept the prior marriage in France concept and treats with skepticism the count story by questioning a correspondent in Osse, Madame Marie Candau, about the issue in 1954 and 1955. Indicating her commitment to accuracy, Mrs. Jacob spent most of her active research years in vain trying to find the Henri La Tourette in the hoax invented by Theodore S. Fay. Moreover, she clearly comes to the conclusion that Jean Latourrette was a single male when he arrived in America. Therefore, in some of the genealogies she shared broadly in the 1950s she altered the date of the birth of Marie, the ancestor of Fay, the first child of Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau to September 23, 1694 from December 23, 1693. Obviously, if the July 16, 1693 marriage was a conforming one, there would be no need to hide a birth 2 months after marriage. (The 1694 date is repeated in her 1965 Compilation where she lists the 8 children of Jean and Marie even to the point of altering the date of baptism by Pastor Peiret exactly one year to December 6, 1694 from December 6, 1693.)

For the reader who wishes to review the information about the doctored marriage record from The French Church of New York and related contortions to attempt to legitimatize the court hoax in Lyman's Annals, see particularly:


There are several other postings on the Latourette Family Forum correcting all the erroneous tales appearing in Lyman's Annals, including the wrong location for Osse, Bearn; the Schenectady massacre hoax; and that the Latourettes came from Italy hoax.

How does one explain the persistence of the count hoax and why was Mrs. Jacob appropriately skeptical about tales that had no substance? It appears Mrs. Jacob was less likely to believe tales that had no documentation and no citations as to sources to backup alleged facts. In contrast Lyman appeared to want to believe all these hoaxes and never took the time to verify them. It is perhaps easier to verify these alleged facts today given the ease to access internet sources and to check them through e-mail correspondence. However, a couple of examples will show that Lyman did not even check critical sources readily available to him at the time he was researching these hoaxes. In the case of the Schenectady massacre, published sources listed all the dead and survivors from the massacre long before he just repeated in his 1954 book the 19th century tale about Jean's wife being in the massacre of 1690. Neither Marie Mercereau nor her sister Elizabeth Masse in another version of the same tale is on these lists. A quick check of any of the sources with these lists would have destroyed his story. See

A Latourrette Fable: The Schenectady Massacre

Lyman presents the doctored marriage version on page 19 of the Annals and cites the source as being the Collections of the Huguenot Society, Vol. 1, p. 29, but it is obvious he never checked the original source or he would have found the version he was presenting had been altered. See the posting above cited about the marriage. Someone, perhaps a close relative, must have given him the doctored marriage version as well as the wrong location for Osse, Bearn which appears without citation as to source. (For the correct location of Osse, Bearn, see the author's posting on the forum dated September 29, 2005.)

Lyman accepted all these hoaxes as they were handed down to him by ancestors and contemporary relatives. For the persistence of the count hoax, it appears it became internalized to some branches of the American Latourette family, perhaps to the point that members of these branches had made it part of their public record. Therefore, after Lyman's book there was a big personal and social stake in maintaining the hoax.

Lyman's book also generated an interest among Jean Latourrette's descendants to go to Osse (now Osse-en-Aspe) and find their roots and the alleged family castle, or at least the ruins thereof. In recent visits to Osse by the author, it was obvious that in the past 50 years descendants had overcome the problem created by Lyman in identifying the incorrect location and actually had found Osse. As a result of these visits many tales have been told in the village about these descendants searching for a count and a castle in Osse, when neither has ever existed. Some of these visitors were housed by villagers with whom the author is acquainted and, in a couple of cases, actually where the author has stayed in the Cavendish House, named after the English Lord who owned the house in the mid 19th century.

As a result of these visits to Osse it appears there was a realization that there was no substance to the count hoax as it was passed down to and repeated by Lyman. Thus, some descendants were forced to create a new version of the hoax to justify their personal and social position. Essentially, a new hoax was created as a cover. Over 95 percent of the critical elements of the new hoax are just wrong and involve creations of facts that can be quickly shown to be manufactured out of ignorance of the subject. The hoax is so poorly structured in terms of believability that even a junior scholar would be appalled at the lack of sophistication in what purports to be the results of research. Certainly, the author of this hoax did not have the ability of Theodore S. Fay to write an even literate story. It will also be clear in the second posting that the author of the new hoax didn't even consult Lyman's Annals and created new "facts" which contradict Lyman's correct genealogical findings. The absurdity of the facts and method of presentation led a French genealogist, a descendant of Jean Latourrette's brother Jacob (ca 1650-1711) whose family has lived in Osse for several centuries, to refer to the author as the "Raving R_______", citing the author's middle name.

This posting addresses the basic distortion of fact that the Latourettes of Osse, Bearn originated at Vernoux-en-Vivarais and fled as Protestants to Osse around 1528. As the result of a search of the history at Vernoux-en Vivarais, we will find that the family at the castle at the time of the alleged flight was Catholic and never left their castle. Moreover, there never was a Latourette blood line at the castle as various families with other surnames acquired the site and assumed the title of Count Latourette, both before and after the alleged flight to Osse around 1528. The second posting will focus on exposing the ridiculous facts created by the author to justify the hoax and his involvement in discovering his alleged roots in the Rhone valley far from Osse.

Critique of the New Hoax

The new version of the hoax begins with a minimum amount of sloppy research and a sloppy presentation of locating a castle associated with the name La Tourette. It is as if once finding the name in another location in France by a single citation and without checking the history of the name, as both before and after the writer's single point of information, which is well-documented as cited below, the author then proceeded to write a fanciful, barely literate tale connecting this family to Osse. (This would be like finding a single reference to a Smith, among the 3 million in America and England and assuming that they are all related. There were over one hundred thousand small towers in Europe during this period and so the emergence of the surname "little tower" in the Romance languages (French, Italian, Spanish) occurred unrelated in many different locations, as did the name for the blacksmith (Smith)in countess villages across England and Europe. For example, the author has identified 10 villages in Italy and Sicily with the name Torretta or La Torretta. There are over 29,000 references on Google to the name in Tuscany alone. In some cases, surnames were derived in Italy because of an association with a small tower. In others, Torretta has been used as a surname to describe a tall, thin person. And yet the hoax about the Latourrette's of Osse origin in Italy lives on the basis of Rev. James A. M. LaTourette going to Italy and finding the name in Genoa.)

The first entries in the hoax are repeated here exactly as they appear in the original:

d e L a T 0 U R R E T T E


By : Name ommitted







The 1442 entry demonstrates how sloppy and inaccurate the writer is. The reference, page

and date of 1442 are all incorrect. As well, it appears any serious research on this castle and

the families who occupied it stopped once this reference was found.The full reference follows :

From Dayre de Maihol DICTIONNAIRE HISTORIQUE et HERALDIQUE DE LA NOBLESSE FRANCAISE, Paris, 1895-96, page 256 we have the following:

Ambert de la Tourette

This family is from Quercy (a region in South Central France), Viscounty de Turenne, where it shone by its rich possessions and alliances. By sustitution, in 1452, it was called d'Ambert de la Tourette, thanks to the addition, by the marriage contract of Guyot d'Ambert, Sir de Curemonte*, with Suze de Blanchefort, heiress by her father, Bertrand de Blanchefort, of the Seigneurie (Lordship) of la Tourette, who was grandson, cadet, by Assalit de Comborn d'Archambaud, forth of the name, Viscount of Comborn, who had built the castle of Blanchefort. It is not know when the Seigneurs (Lords) d'Ambert became Sires de Curemonte, a name they already sported in 1085, nor is it known why, since the year 1226, they have alternatively sported the names de Curemonte and d'Ambert until 1436.

However, the implication from the next section of the chronology about fleeing from Vernoux that there was a continuous blood line at this castle before and after 1452 is completely erroneous as demonstrated below.

Also noted below, the first family at the castle dies out without an heir in 1330. Then other families with different surnames come and go and while occupying the castle assume the title Count de la Tourette. The next critical point, as explained below, is that the family occupying the castle when the flight to Osse was suppose to occur around 1528 was Catholic and they remained at Vernoux. Moreover, there is no male Henri in this family. As noted below the male Chambaud family names living in the castle at the time of the alleged flight around 1528 are Gabriel, Pierre, Jean and Antoine.

No Massacre ar Vernoux-en-Vivarais in the First Half of 1500

As far as persecution occurring at Vernoux in 1528, causing an alleged flight to Osse, is concerned, there was none. The persecution came much later. In fact, it is well documented that Lutherism just came to Vernoux in 1528. From one of many sources :,%2BFrance%2Bin%2B1528%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG

we find under the title « Protestant Vivarais » in which Vernoux is located that only in 1528 do we see the beginning of any Reform activity and, in this case, by a Lutheran monk. (Note : The Latourrettes of Osse were Calvinists and, as noted below Calvinists are still prominent in Vivarais as late as 1569.)

"In 1528 a first sign of the Reform appears in Annonay: the monk Lutheran Étienne Machopolis, 'who had taken the cause of our Martin Luther, in person, with the country of Saxony', preaches there against the abuses and superstitions of the church."

(Note : Annonay is about 38 miles north of Vernoux in Vivarais. This is a Google translation from French to English )

The argument that there were massacres in Vivarais around 1528 is just an invention of the writer. The first massacre of Calvinists in France is much later than 1528, Actually, it starts in Vassy in 1562 which is in Western France, not near Vernoux: From the web page source cited above we have

"In first half of XVIe century, Réformés becomes a political party. A Protestant reform is carried out in the large cities.--- The states of Vivarais are divided into Catholic States and Protestant States. Two governors share the capacity. In 1569, the Protestants occupy half of Vivarais."

Clearly, the assertion about a massacre is just another invention of the "Raving R _____".

The first massacre in 1562 is explained as follows:

On March 1, 1562, 200 Protestants of the village of Wassy (or Vassy), out of Champagne, are surprised by the soldiers of the duke François II of Own way during the unfolding of a religious office. After the failure of an attempt at conciliation of the king Charles IX, these soldiers went up against the Protestants. They massacre the peasants wildly. It is the beginning of the wars of religion which will affect France during more than thirty years.

Searching all sources, there is no evidence that any massacre occurred in Vernoux-en-Vivarais around 1528. As noted above, the Protestants occupied half of Vivarais as late as 1569.

Cause of Deaths at Vernoux

One might ask why there appeared to the writer there were many deaths around the period of 1528 in Vivarais, if there was no massacre of Protestants?

The answer is easily found in the book written by Emmanuel Le Roy Laduire, The Peasants of Languedoc, 1977, English translation on Google at,+France+in+1527&source=web&ots=MG6giRQ_0Y&sig=cCbznCLClXbGTmwhF9pcdi9DSaU&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result

See p 135 and the following pages in Laduire.

Laduire documents there was a series of complete harvest failures in Languedoc, with grain rotting in the fields, followed by famine and the plague, starting in 1527. This caused many deaths by 1528. So the alleged massacre has no substance and what we have is one of the many famines and plagues that, from time to time, wiped out up to half the population in the 15th and 16th centuries in Europe and the Mediterranean.

(Note: Vivarais is in the current department of Ardeches and this area was once part of the large traditional province of Languedoc.)

Since Chapter 3 of the author's monograph, Jean Latourrette and Pierre Peiret, Huguenot Refugees : Their Roots in Osse, Bearn, completely refutes this hoax, the critical part of the chapter is repeated here.

From Chapter 3 with footnotes

Lyman Latourette's Annals appeared in 1954 with the count fable and a discussion of family shields. Inspired by the prospect of ancestral nobility, some American descendants of Jean Latourrette thereafter spent years searching for the mythical caste in France. Recently, there have been postings on the internet page for the Family Forum claiming the castle has been found and there is a vineyard associated with the family now living near the ruins of the chateau. The castle identified is neither at Osse-en-Aspe nor in the Department of Vendee, the two likely sites given the count fable and Jean Latourrette's origins, but at a great distance from these locations.

What this search found is the ruins of the Chateau de la Tourette 2 miles south of Vernoux-en-Vivarais and about 22 miles WSW of the city of Valence on the Rhone River. (1) There is a family living in the restored guardhouse at the ruins. The family claims the title of de la Tourette and the name is associated with a well-known vineyard, the wine from which is labeled "Hermitage, Marquis de la Tourette." (2) Of course, since the French Revolution, titles carry no special recognition or privileges, but the seigneur is called Count Gonzague de la Tourette because of his heritage.

Imagine the euphoria experienced at the discovery of a Chateau de la Tourette and identifying a "real" count! However, there is one small problem. The family now occupying the castle grounds and carrying the title, as described by the count, has always been Catholic!

Undaunted by this factual problem, a story is invented that the family living at Vernoux, when Lutheranism came to the Rhone region 1520-30, was forced to flee to Calvinist Bearn to find protection. Furthermore, Gassiot Latourrette, born in Osse (Osse-en-Aspe) ca 1540 and the first Calvinist minister in 1563, is claimed to be a direct descendant of the family from Vernoux, with a Henri being the father. (3)

A little research dispels this revised version of the count tale. There are several sources which document the history of the de la Tourette castle and the several families which, over several centuries, took the title of Count de la Tourette. In the Armorial du Vivarais, one finds, "The La Tourette castle, near Vernoux, has been owned successively by several noble families who took the name of this domain." --- "The first family with this name is known in 1240. It died out in 1330, with Hugon de La Tourette, killed at Tournay (battle), in Flanders, without heirs." (4) The full description contained in Armorial du Vivarais clearly indicates the castle was possessed by several different families, each taking the title of sovereign of the domain down to the French Revolution. There is, therefore, no linear family blood line at this castle.

Given the revised version of the count tale addressed here, there remains the question as to whether, at some time in the early 1500's, one of the sovereigns was Protestant and abandoned the castle to flee to Bearn. This also implies the family would have been willing to convert from Lutheranism to Calvinism. This is unlikely because of the deep animosity between the two faiths at the time. Further, the conversion would have to have been very profound in order to have a son, Gassiot, born ca 1540 after a flight to Bearn, accepted as the first Calvinist minister at Osse in 1563. (5)

The possibility of a Count de la Tourette at Vernoux fleeing before Gassiot is born in Osse ca 1540 is also quickly dispelled by the ownership of the castle over this period. "In 1420, Antoine de Chambaud inherited from Raymond de Caume, co-lord de La Tourette, and reunited the whole lordship (domain)." (6) The domain remains with the Chambaud family during the period allegedly that someone fled to Osse. We have from another source, Revue du Vivarais, a description of the Chambaud family at this time. "In 1544, the seigneur de La Tourette was Gabriel de Chambaud, who lived in his castle with his wife, Magdeleine de Joyeuse. His oldest son Pierre succeeded him in the seigneurie. His two other sons were monks. Jean was Prior and seigneur de Rochepaule in Velay, and Antoine was Prior of the Etoile, in Dauphine. There were also six daughters, of whom three: Jeanne, Louise and Isabeau, were nuns." The same source indicates the castle remained in the Chambaud family until 1548 when it was acquired by Louis de Presle, after the death of the son Pierre, who had inherited from his father Gabriel. (7) Clearly, no one from the Chambaud family fled to Bearn in this period. The Chambaud family was Catholic; therefore, there is no substance to the revised count fable.

Fables that somehow overcome all logic and persist in the face of facts can lead to bizarre results. The Dictionnaire Historique Heraldique de La Noblesse Francaise indicates the family holding the La Tourette castle in 1639 separated and their two "blasons" (shields) are different. The Armorial du Vivarais displays one shield, which appears to be the earliest one associated with the castle. It represents a castle tower and is described as

"Azure (blue background) with (the fortified top of the) tower in silver, and the brick (lower part) in sand (color). (8)

This shield is shown first in Les Chateaux Historiques du Vivarais, with four other shields and a picture of the ruins of the castle, including a shield labeled De La Rivoire, associated with the La Rivoire family. (9) A description of this shield is easily found on the internet.

DE LA RIVOIRE DE LA TOURETTE, en Vivarais : écartelé, aux 1 et 4 de gueules, au lion d'argent, qui est de la RIVOIRE ; aux 2 et 3 d'or, au lion de gueules, qui est de GINESTOUS LA TOURETTE. (10)

This is a shield quartered in the form of a cross with the first and fourth of red, with a silver lion, which is de la Rivoire; with the second and third of gold, with a red lion, which is de Ginestous La Tourette.

In heraldry the figure in the first and fourth quadrants represents the primary family and in the second and third the alliances. In the history of the castle de la Tourette, one finds the family of Ginestous coming into the possession of the chateau by marriage with a daughter of the de Presle family in 1593 and again by marriage in 1666 comes name La Rivoire. (11) In addition to representing a Catholic family, the Rivoire shield, established after 1666, comes more than 70 years after Gassiot Latourrette's death in 1595. Moreover, it has no association with Jean's father, David, or Jean himself as described in Osse in the period 1665-85.

As a consequence of the overzealous search for nobility and the tortuous manipulation of the facts, the La Rivoire shield described above from a Catholic family is the one that hangs in the French Church of New York, L'Eglise Française du Saint Esprit, today to represent the Huguenot family of Jean Latourrette. (12) Unfortunately, this is the end result of the long history of the overzealous promotion of a fable that has no substance. (COMMENT ADDED to original version. It appears the author of the hoax may be the person who installed the shield from a Catholic family to represent the Protestant Latourrettes of Osse.)

As a direct descendant of Jean Latourrette from the son, Pierre, born to Jean and Marie Mercereau November 22, 1697, the author hopes that all the many fables (hoaxes) about Jean, especially nobility, can be set aside. From the real story of Osse, Bearn the American descendents of Jean and Marie have much about which to be proud. True nobility is found in the real story of Jean which has been published in the author's monograph, Jean Latourrette and Pierre Peiret, Huguenot Refugees: Their Roots in Osse, Bearn.

Postscript: The entire substance of this Vernoux hoax was invented from sloppy research and intentional distortion by finding two pieces of information, the unrelated name of La Tourette in another location and the deaths from famine and a plague. In the next posting the rest of the facts and interpretations created by the writer of this hoax are examined and found to be as outrageous.



(1) Valence is on the east bank of the Rhone River. Vernoux-en-Vivarais and the castle Tourette, shown on some of the Rand McNally maps of France, are about 22 miles WSW from Valence, west of the river.

(2) The family's location at the ruins of the castle, and the use of the shield described below as De La Rivoire de la Tourette, was confirmed by a letter from Mayor Jean Pontier of Tournon-sur-Rhone, France, dated September 29, 2005 and an e-mail from the Tournon Office of Tourism, dated September 20, 2005. The family associated with the castle has also lived at Tournon, which is about 8 miles north of Valence on the west bank of the Rhone. There one finds two properties named after the family: The Ancien Hotel du Marquis de la Tourette from the 18th Century and the La Tourette Cultural Center. Across the river from Tournon to the east is the village of Tain l'Hermitage. The village sits below the famous Hermitage hill which produces the wines carrying the name Hermitage, in this case the Domain Delas: Hermitage, Marquis de la Tourette.

(3) This is shown to be just another version of the hoax. There is no Henri mentioned in the history of the castle, cited below, in the 16th century. Only a Just-Henry de Ginestoux (Ginestous) becomes the seigneur a full century later. It is obvious he remains at Vernoux, and is not the father of Jean in 1651 in Osse, because the family surname Ginestoux is found in the De La Rivoire shield currently being used at the castle. There is no Henri who is either the father of Gassiot, born ca 1540, or Jean, born 1651. The entries about a Henri are completely misleading and likely were posted to support the fable.

(4) Florentin Benoit d'Entrevaux, Armorial de Vivarais, Paris 1908, listed under the title of L. de La Roque.

(5) See Chapter 1 of the author's Jean Latourrette and Pierre Peiret, Huguenot Refugees: Their Roots in Osse, Bearn.

(6) D'Entrevaux, Armorial de Vivarais, and Florentin Benoit d'Entrevaux and G. Jourda de Vaux, Les Chateaux Historiques du Vivarais, "La Tourette, Community and Canton of Vernoux," 1914, p. 157.

(7)Cited here is M. J. de Lubac, Vernoux Ancien, "Revue du Vivarais," 1894, p 267. This is also quoted in Les Chateaux Historiques du Vivarais, "La Tourette, Community and Canton of Vernoux," p.157.

(8)This is the oldest shield, shown and described in d'Entrevaux, Armorial de Vivarais. The split in the family is noted in Dayre de Maihol , Dictionnaire Historique et Heraldique de La Noblesse Francaise, Paris 1895-6, p.256

(9) See d'Entrevaux and de Vaux, Les Chateaux Historiques du Vivarais, pp. 157-9. Shields are shown on p. 158.

(10) Source:

See footnote 2 above for verification that this is the shield currently being used by the family associated with the chateau.

(11) Armorial de Vivarais and Les Chateaux Historiques du Vivarais, p.159.

(12) The author has personally viewed the Latourette shield in the church on E. 60th St in New York.