Sébastien-Joseph-François COMEAU, Baron de Charry et de Brazey


A nobleman of the ‘Ancien Régime’, faithful to its convictions, well known to princes and emperors, and who risked his life in all the battle fields of Europe before returning to live out his days in his country, in the region of St Martin de la Mer.

Also pertaining to this family see: the genealogy of the Espiards and Espiards and the emigration during the Revolution

Sebastien-Joseph-François was born February 4, 1771 at the Chateau of Macon at St Martin de la Mer.

An excerpt from the Registry of Deeds of the Parish of St. Martin de la Mer:
Born and baptized Feb 4, 1771, Sebastien-Joseph-François COMEAU, son of lord Antoine-Bernard COMEAU knight and lord of Charry and Brazey, & of lady Francoise-Jeanne-Baptiste ESPIARD of MACON; godfather messire Sebastien-Joseph ESPIARD lord of Meix Pinot, his maternal great-uncle, living at Liernais; godmother: lady Francoise ESPIARD of Colonges, dowager of messirer Claude DROUAS, lord of Joursenvaux, his maternal great-aunt represented by Francoise-Xaviere lady of CHAMPEAUX, dowager of messire Louis-Philibert ESPIARD of MACON, his ayeule maternal. "

The descendants of Guyot COMEAU, Lord of the Manor and receiver of Pouilly en Auxois in 1520. Three branches of the family come from his son Jean.

* That of the lords of Chozelle produced a Viscount-mayor of Dijon and some councilllors to the Parliament of Burgundy.
* Those of the Creancey line included four lieutenants to the king in Burgundy, governors des Nuits and a number of military soldiers.
* The branch of the Pontdevaux has accounts of nobleman of the house of the Prince de Conde and other military men.

Antoine-Bernard COMEAU, the father of Sebastien-Joseph, lord of Charry and Brazey in Morvan, was born in 1731. Ex-captain of the regiment of the Sarre, he marries as written by contract on 09/29/1766, Jeanne-Francoise Espiard de Macon, daughter of Louis-Philibert, lord of Meix-Pinot, and the young lady Champeaux de Thoisy.

Children: Jean-Baptiste-Joseph (03/1787), Antoinette-Anne-Augustine (01/1795), Joseph-Charles-Theodore Francoise-Alexandrine-Julie Francoise-Melchior X Antoine-Claude de Montcrif, Sebastien-Joseph , Louis-Joseph

In November 1768, Antoine-Bernard COMEAU buys the vast estate of Brazey from the Chevalier de Jaucourt (142 000 £).

1789: Sebastien-Joseph, artillery lieutenant, is 18 years old.

On 04/29/1790 Antoine-Bernard COMEAU criticizes the French National Assembly at the time of a primary assembly. He is followed to the cemetery of Marcheseuil and threatened that he will see his head at the end of a pike. He escapes by giving several hundred louis to his pursuors.

1791: On account of the problems created for his parents, Sebastien-Joseph emigrates and rejoins the armee de Condé in the Black Forest.

01/26/1794 (7 pluviose year II) Antoine-Bernard COMEAU is denounced to the authorities by the former tutor of his children and is arrested at his daughters, Francoise-Melchior of Montcrif at Bard-le-Regulier. The 9 frimaire he falls on the list of émigrés for his properties at Drevin and Vernotte-in-Varennes close to Creusot. His request to be stricken from the list is rejected 10/12/1794.

1795: Sebastien-Joseph is named captain in the army of Conde and is stationed in Bavaria. Noted for his feats of arms, he is transferred alongside the new Great Elector of Bavaria, Maximilien-Joseph, Prince of Deux-ponts, a former French officer.

07/05/1796 (17 messidor year IV) Stricken from the list definitively, Antoine-Bernard COMEAU must divide his fortune with the Republic in year VII. The liability has ballooned to 106 774 F, with the Nation taking two shares on six, that is to say 12, 549 is levied on the Estate at Brazey. The confiscation (March 9, 1799) is given over to the Registry of Debts and to the endowment of the Legion d' Honneur.

1799: The Great Elector of Bavaria names Sebastien-Joseph Chief of Staff, for reorganizing his troops.

03/12/1802 (12 frimaire year XI): Antoine-Bernard COMEAU dies at Bard-le-Regulier. His fortune estimated at 130,727 f in year VII, is divided between his surviving children. Before his death he is one of the highest taxpayers of the Côte d' Or.

1805: Invasion of Bavaria by Austria: the prince allies himself with France. Napoleon who had earlier relationships with the COMEAU family and particularly with Sebastien-Joseph who was an officer of the same rank. Napoleon asks him to be “Ambassador to Bavaria for the Great Etat-Major”. He remains there until 1812.

1814: Sebastien-Joseph returns to his family at St Martin.

1820: The Croix de Saint-Louis is bestowed on him by Louis XVIII.

1821: Sebastien-Joseph is Mayor of St Martin de la Mer, until 1830 (assistant: Domenica COLLENOT)
See: mayors of St Martin

1825: He refuses to serve again as colonel in the French Army and withdraws to Brazey in Burgundy to write his memoirs.

1841: His wife, Francoise-Xaviere ESPIARD of MACON, passes away.

02. 03.1844: Suffering a stroke, he dies on 02/05/1844 at the age of 73.

His memoirs are published by his descendants in 1900..


The Families of C0MEAU and ESPIARD belonged to a numerous class of the military nobility. At least 25.000 families left their lands, if not for the service of the king, then without any other recompense than to earn the Cross of Saint-Louis.They also were menaced by revolutionnaires sent from Paris to their region.
In effect, they lived alongside peasants with whom they shared life, directed in their cultural heritage, who they helped when the harvest was bad, and who in which they took an interest in their sorrows and joys. They liked them and were liked by them.
Their wives helped them (with the household, education of the children, emergency medical care..).
Their houses carried the title of chateau, but the majority had neither luxury nor comfort.
Generally the oldest son took a military career, then when he reached the rank of captain, would marry and return to live at his fathers house.
Among the other sons, some entered the religious orders and others bought seats in Parliament. The greatest number in this era followed some type of military career.


Sebastien-Joseph of COMEAU of CHARRY wrote his memoirs under the title


Editor: Plon-Nourrit, Paris 1900


P 26

My father, A. Bernard of COMEAU of CHARRY, former captain in the Regiment of the Sarre, married Jeanne-Francoise ESPIARD of MACON in 1767.

The ESPIARD family, also distinguished in the army and in the magistrature, were very numerous. One son of my grandfather had twenty-two sons who were all soldiers. To avoid confusion, and in keeping with custom, the various branches bore the name of their grounds.

My parents had eight children including five girls and three sons. They initially lived at my grandmother de MACONs, Francoise Xaviere de CHAMPEAUX, widow of Louis Philibert ESPIARD de MACON, former musketeer of the Company of d’Artagnan. Widowed with two children and not yet liberated, she raised them and successfully carried out the family affairs.

Ten years after the marriage of her daughter with my father, she made her son Jean baptist Pierre Lazare ESPIARD of MACON, a captain in the Regiment the of cavalry of the Queen, Knight of Saint-Louis, and Lieutenant of the Marechaux de France, marry her cousin Anne-Augustine ESPIARD de LA COUR. They had three children whose eldest Francoise-Xaviere agreed to become my wife.


The childhood of Sebastien-Joseph unfolds at the Chateau de MACON at St. Martin de la Mer. His parents reside here until the end of 1777 or beginning of 1778, before installing themselves in Brazey, a few kilometers south of St. Martin.( see chart)

See genealogy of family ESPIARD

Image: Francoise-Xaviere de Champeaux and her son Sebastien-Joseph, brother-in-law of Sebastien-Joseph Comeau.

After the marriage of my uncle, my parents came to live on the grounds of Brazey, which like MACON was located between Autun and Saulieu and bought from the Chevalier de JAUCOURT.

An uncle of my mother ,the Abbot of RIOLLET of GISSEY, offered to make me the caretaker of the Abbey at Valcroissant, and my parents then destined me for the priesthood.

I was thirteen years old when these plans changed however, and here’s how:
At the end of about six months,,.at the end of the war in America, it was the wedding visit of a cousin of my mother, François Alexandre ESPIARD of COLONGE, who had just married Miss de GAIL. They brought to my house several officers from different armies; two from the cavalry, Mr de MONTCRIF, who had just married my older sister, F.Melchiorre, and my uncle of MACON, of the Regiment of the Queen, who had a beautiful uniform trimmed with braid And then there was the ten first- cousins on my mothers side,-of which Mr. ESPIARD of COLONGE -who was introducing his young lady to his family,- and his brother the Knight, both captains in the artillery. Then there was the Chevaliers of St. Louis wearing their blue outfits, with its scarlet red facings and red lining, There were two ESPIARDs of MEIXPINOT of the Regiment of Auvergne, in white dress with velvet facings, and four of their brothers from different regiments of the infantry and the CHAMPEAUXs of THOIZY and PARPAS, of the Regiment of Rouergue, with white uniform with facings of steel grey cloth.
It was to one of them to which happened the following adventure: (not copied here)….
...... the joy of this reunion, the cheerfulness, the stories, the tactics, the battle of Gondelour, the Hindus, the Canadians, all this noise, all this racket made my head spin. I was crying to myself all night thinking about it. When I awoke, my tender mother inquired about my sadness and my pallor. I
confessed to her that I would rather be an officer than a prior. From this declaration was held a noisy and clamouring family meeting. I was finally consulted and then declared in front of the two officers in blue uniforms (because they were less noisy than the others and because when they spoke everyone seemed to approve!)…... ‘The artillery was my calling and nothing else!’

On the eve of my departure my mother, who was suffering a great deal came next to my bed to give me her final counsel. “Be always a Christian, faithful to your God and your King; always be a decent and courageous man….; We may not see each other again in this world, but if you follow my guidance well, we will see each other in the next one.”

In fact, I never saw her again, since she died at the birth of my brother Theodore in April 1785.

Childhood in Brazey

The goupillon or the sword?

So I left with the ESPIARDs of COLONGE. I was initially placed at the Preparatory School of the Benedictines at Metz, where I received a type of certificate called the “Letter for the Candidate to the Artillery". My entrance to military service as an artillery officer would date back to it, and a Candidates admittance to military service in the artillery was dependant on their length of service. One had to be a nobleman of the “fourth degree” and to be fifteen years old or sometimes fourteen if one were the son or nephew of an officer of this branch of the military. Therefore my military service dated from September 1, 1785.

Thus, just after this, I entered the Military School at Metz, in 1786 as a second lieutenant. A relative of my mother, Mr. Espiard-Humbert of ALLEREY, Adviser to the Parliament of Metz, took it upon himself to watch over me during my stay in this city.

At the military academy in Metz, in 1786, Sebastien-Joseph meets Napoleon Bonaparte , who is of the same rank.

This meeting will be significant to his future career.

P 62

Winter 1792-93: With the army of CONDE in Germany. ... My uncle ESPIARD of MACON, initially my tutor, then my mentor and finally my father-in-law had come to join us in October 1791, having taken his wife and children to Dijon where he thought they’d be safer than in the countryside. No longer being able to be useful in France, he was still active enough and hoped to be so with us. He served in the cavalry. He brought his servant and re-created for my brother and I some kind of family life. I found myself with my brother Louis, a student at Metz like myself in effect, but who was also serving in both the infantry in France and the“Chasseurs Nobles” of the army of Conde. Also there at that time was everyone from the family gathering where I had declared my vocation.: There was the CHAMPEAUX of PARPAS and of THOISY, the two ESPIARDs of COLONGE, several of the brothers ESPIARD of MEIXPINOT. There was also the VILLERS la FAYE, THY, MEDARD of PALAISEAU, SUZENNET, d’ANDELARRE, CONYGHAM, ZOLLER. I forget a few of the names, but a better man could not recite them all. Here are a few adventures which will portray a hint of this era….

P 72

The organization of the Royal Army in France in 1793. After the death of the King: the three Princes, CONDE, BOURBON, and ENGHIEN, are the heads of the armies. All the people described above remained posted to the army of CONDE...... (the following are various comments and anecdotes)........

One day my uncle ESPIARD of MACON was invited to dinner by the Count of VIRIEU de LANTILLY, with his two sons....

P 94

Battle of PFORTZ, August 21, 1793 against the Republican Army and the batlles of BIENWALD, and BERGZABERN. On August 24 1793, my uncle from MACON had his thigh broken by shrapnel at BERGZABERN...... -.....

During the following two years, both armees grew further apart from each other with nothing noteworthy happening. The Austrians, prevented from dividing up France by the Prussians and the army of Conde, held our fervor and offered us no significant developments.

P 112

Intrigue-The life of the emigres at Constance – The return to France.(1798-1799):

In Constance, apart from the war, we had to make a living as the army of Conde was skipping subsidies….I became a Surveyor with the help of my uncle ESPIARD de MACON who held my measuring chain. We also sold small drawings which we did in ink pen.

P 118

Despite our clothes, in Constance as in Augsbourg we were often reunited with the ESPIARDS of COLOGNES, and formed a kind of aristocratic gathering that reminded us of the ‘Old France”.

One of the ESPIARDs, an officer of Regiment of Auvergne, returned to France to support the Chouans in Vendee, and was shot in Quiberon in July 1795.


Grandor and misery

The life of the emigres fighting in the Army of the Princes.

The Prince de Conde

See portrait

P 119

The revolution of 9 Thermidor safe-guarded our parents and friends, and almost found us all completely together at Bard at my sisters house, Mrs. de MONTCRIF. Her lands, did not have noble rights so my family was able to get out of it easily enough at the end of the Revolution..

P 121... my cousins the ESPIARDs of MACON came seeking sanctuary after the arrest of their mother who rejoined them once she was released from prison. We took advantage of our military leave, and had a few chances to go back to France, although these voyages were not without their dangers..

P 123

The reaction of the 18 fructidor (09/04/1797), and the law of the19th, threatened us with death, so we had to go back to Germany for a little while, just as other émigrés.

A brief return to Bard-le-Regulier in the family of Montcrif.

My uncle, thinking himself more useful in France, even if for the cause of the King, managed to have himself struck off the list of emigres. It was only necessary to prove by “written decree” that one had lived in ‘such and such’ village. My uncle assembled a cast of characters and family to attest that he had stayed in France. His lands at Macon were sold by the State. The lands of his wife had been confiscated while she was in prison in Dijon, and the chateau had been occupied by various households of peasants. My Uncle first orchestrated a series of actions to release the impoundeded property, and then when it was certain of the return of the family, many purchasers of MACON offered to give back their acquisitions in return for the price they paid to the State. The principal purchaser Mr. BLANOT did not even want to collect anything.


Return of Jean-Baptiste-Lazare-Pierre ESPIARD OF MACON to St Martin de la Mer.

See sale of goods of the family ESPIARD

P 138

Battle of Constance in 1799: ... It was thought I had died in a charge like one of my ESPIARD cousins, who essentially had.( See Description of the Ninth and final campaign of the Baron de Comeau in the Army of CONDE)

P 144

One month after " Constancy ", BONAPARTE had the 18 brumaire, and several amongst us returned to France. The Grand Elector of Bavaria offered for me to continue my career in his artillerie, the 1st of April 1800.

P 155

The general of MANSON, the two ESPIARDs of COLONGES, ZOLLER, and myself representing the artillery, had ourselves chosen by the Great Elector of Bavaria, Maximilien, Joseph de Deux-ponts, who seized his crown.

P 175

First assignment to Paris. My marriage (1800-1804);

His marriage with Francoise-Xaviere ESPIARD of MACON is described on pages 184 and following.

1814: The return of Sebastien-Joseph to the family at St Martin.

1820: Cross of Saint-Louis bestowed by Louis XVIII.

1821: Mayor of St Martin de la Mer, until 1830 (assistant: Domenica COLLENOT)

See: mayors of St Martin

1825: He declines to serve again as a colonel in the French Army, and returns to Brazey in Bourgogne to write his memoirs..

1841: His wife Francoise-Xaviere ESPIARD de MACON, passes away.

03. 02.1844: He suffers a stroke and dies on 02/05/1844 at 73 years old.


On the tomb of Sebastien-Joseph ,at the Court of Arcenay


  • Genealogy of the Espiard family (researched by Etienne and Bertrand Espiard).
  • Memories of the wars of Germany during the Revolution and the Empire - Baron Sebastien Comeau de Charry - Plon-Nourit - Paris - 1900
  • Large notable of the 1st Empire - Côte d' Or - CNRS - School of the high studies in social sciences - Paris - 1992