Felix Dupeiron De Brath

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Félix Dupeiron De Brath

Also Known As: "Received The Laureate Cross of Saint Ferdinand (Cruz Laureada de San Fernando)", "Spain's highest military award for gallantry (equivalent to the U.S. Medal of Honor)"
Birthplace: Spain
Death: Died in Steyning, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Bertrand Dupeiron and Unknown De Brath
Husband of Anna 'Louisa' Mary Gertrude Monica De Brath
Father of Stanley De Brath, M.Inst.C.E.; Major-General, Sir Ernest De Brath; Frank Albert De Brath and Cyril De Brath
Brother of Amelien De Brath

Occupation: Ex-Artillery Officer, Royal Spanish Army - Owner business in South American trade
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Felix Dupeiron De Brath

26 May 1821, Spain - probably Bilbao - Birth of Félix Dupeiron De Brath (last three names comprise his family name), son of Bertrand Dupeiron [Spelling as per his Marriage Certificate) and (unknown first name) De Brath.

[birth date and place sourced from

  • his naturalization papers,
  • Stanley De Brath's recollections of his father's life - (Part Four - Felix De Brath - "A Family History" by (Pat) John Murray McSwiney - his gr-grandson,
  • and the 1881 England Census]

Spain recruited foreign troops

Regarding the matenal name De Brath, Felix related to his son Stanley that a De Brath commanded a regiment of Walloons (German-speaking Belgians*)" under the Duke of Alba in 1567, who commanded the Spanish Army. Philippe V was then the King of Spain.

[The Walloon Guards (in Spanish, Guardia Valona) were an infantry corps originally recruited in the region now known as Belgium, mainly in Catholic Wallonia, for the Spanish Army. The Walloons formed an elite unit tasked with the interior security of Spain and the maintenance of public order, eventually being incorporated as a regiment of the Spanish Royal Guard.


*"Most of the territory had spoken German or German dialects for centuries, with Walloon being spoken by about two-thirds of the population in the district of Malmedy at the time it was newly created in 1816." The German pronunciation of "De Brath" would have been "De Brat".

De Brath: has always been spelled with an upper case D.

[The 1853 Marriage registration refers to his full name as being Felix Dupeiron' De Brath - not Duperrier as listed by his son Stanley (see below) and on prior family trees].

Félix was baptized Catholic and educated at a Jesuit College in the South of France. He stated he was a subject of Spain .

He would have been fluent in French, Spanish and English.

His son, Stanley De Brath, refers to "Félix Duperrier"... in the Preface to his book "How to make the best of Life" refers to Félix: "Felix Duperrier (sp) was educated at a Jesuit college in the South of France, and spent much of his holidays with his (paternal) French Grandfather, who was French Consul at Bilboa, Spain.' === and whose last name would have been Dupeiron or Dupeyron or Duperrier.

Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country in northern Spain and the capital of the province of Biscay. During the period 1820-1823 Bilboa was the designated capital of Vizcaya.

At about 20 years of age Felix entered the Spanish Artillery, part of Queen Cristina's army, as an Officer and was wounded at 22 in some action of the Carlist Wars of' 1843. (officially this would have been between the First (1832-1839) and Second (1846-1849) Carlist Wars) He was obviously engaged in a very brave act, as he received the ===Cross of Ferdinand=== but no pension.

["Established in 1811, The Laureate Cross of Saint Ferdinand (Spanish: Cruz Laureada de San Fernando) is 'Spain's highest military award for gallantry. It is Spain's equivalent to the American Medal of Honor. It is awarded in recognition of action, either individual or collective, to protect the nation, its citizens or the peace and security of the international community in the face of immediate risk to the bearer or bearers' life or lives. Those eligible are current and former members of the Spanish Armed Forces source: Wikipedia]

"The prospect of inaction on limited means - since the property of his maternal grandfather (De Brath) seems to have been sequestered by the Carlists - led him to cast about for a new career.

However, the aversion of his family for 'trade' would seem to have led to a violent quarrel (details unknown although it was known that the area was economically depressed as well as a result of the French Revolution and the Carlist wars)." (souce Stanley De Brath) The 'aversion for trade’ signifies that Felix’ family was of the ‘upper classes’. (Family lore was of 'Spanish nobility').

1850 - Seven years after being wounded, at age 29, Félix emigrated to England and learned English ". (Prior fluency in French and Spanish). It appears (from his following partnership) that he arrived with substantial private funds.

1851 Census - A visitor on the Census was 29 year old Amelien De Brath, visitor from Spain. (Amelien is a French boy's name – probably a brother of Felix, who would have been 30 at this time)

1851 Briefly created a ‘Money-Changers and Dealers in Bullion’ partnership in Lombard Street, London, with Mark Silverston and Peter Frederick Baum.

31 October 1851 The partnership was dissolved by mutual consent .

After this (1852) it is possible he joined the Da Costa firm (yet to be verified)

1853 Felix resided in Sydenham, Kent.

Two passengers "Gentlemen from France" - a Mr. Duperrieu (sp? his father?) and a Mr Brath (his grandfather?) arrived in Dover, England, on June 7 1853 from Calais on the Mail Steam Packet Onyx . This was a few months prior to his marriage.

1853 October 29 Marriage in the Holy Trinity Church, the Parish Church of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, of Félix Dupeiron De Brath aged 32 to Anna Louisa Higgs aged 25. Anna's residence was Weston-super-Mare and Felix' residence was Sydenham, Kent. Witnesses: Charlotte Higgs and Charlotte Elizabeth Higgs. Parents listed were Felix's father, Bertrand Dupeiron De Brath, Gentleman, and Anna Louisa's father, James Brookebank Higgs, Merchant (wealthy merchant - one of the leading felt hat manufacturers at that time in Bristol and London (See Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage in the Register of Marriages in District of Axbridge. Also Registered 4th qtr, Vol 5 C, Page 1178 in the Sub-Registration district of Axbridge, Somerset. It is probable that Bertrand (son of the French consul in Bilbao) was simply Bertrand Dupeiron. However, the registrar probably made a mistake and possibly assumed his last names were the same as his son.)

1854 Felix was one of the first to subscribe to a new French Charitable Association in London set up to help 'necessitous' French citizens in London. The first subscriber was His Majesty The Third, Napoleon the Third of France. (See attached doc under resources)

Felix was determined to use his fluency in Spanish in the South American trade with England. He invested 5000 British Pounds of his own money, became a partner in a firm in London and went out to South America to run its operations. The firm was the House of "Da Costa, De Brath & Co".

The firm had engaged in the South American (River Plate) trade during the dictatorsip of General Rosas of Argentina. Rosas wanted the firm to found a bank in Buenos Aires, but these negotiations fell through. It was up to Felix to apprise Rosas of this failure and, not knowing what he might do in revenge, he packed two loaded pistols into his pocket in case his meeting with the dictator Rosas turned sour! After pacing the room furiously, Rosas finally shook his hand saying "You are a brave man Senor De Brath and an honest one, but if I had those London blackguards here I would have them all shot."!

(Rosas, was a violent and cruel dictator, creating a reign of terror for his people. While appealing to the urban masses, he allowed huge land sales at absurdly low prices that benefited the landed aristocracy, including Rosas's wealthy Creole family. A manipulative and ruthless operator against centralists, once he became dictator, he began a cult of personality which included his image being displayed on church altars. Rosas supported the Uruguayan Blancos led by Manuel Oribe (1792–1857) by besieging Montevideo for nine years from 1843. This led to his downfall when a key aide, Justo José de Urquiza, changed sides and relieved the city 1852. Rosas spent the rest of his life in Britain.

1854 early in the year, Félix went to Montevideo, Uruguay, on business.

.10 Sep 1854 Félix returned to England - arrived in the Port of London from Calais, France on the ship ‘William Jolliffe’. The records state Country of Origin: England

1854 October - son Stanley was born at the height of the Crimean War. His father was abroad at the time, returning two years later.

Felix' British Naturalization petition papers, dated 15th December 1856, No. 2380, are at the National Archives in London.He signed these papers in person at the Council Offices of the City of Bristol. These papers refer to him as a Spanish subject and a merchant of business, aged 35, married, has one child, has resided since 1850 (in England) and intends to remain permanently in the Kingdom.

At that time he was residing at 'Belmont, Ilfracombe, North Devon' with offices at No.1 Saint Stephens Street, City of Bristol.

1857 January 10 Félix was granted Petition for Certificate of Naturalization ( English citizen His papers talk about rushing through this naturalization petition since he wished to buy a house and needed citizenship in order to do this) (See also Google Books "Accounts and papers of the House of Commons".)

1858 Feb 11 Félix is listed as a passenger on the ship Avon, arriving in Southampton England, arriving from Brazil. Lists his Country of Origin as Germany, which we know to be incorrect - possibly he misunderstood the question, as he originally embarked from Germany for Brazil.

Son Stanley's earliest memories are of seeing her mother rush to the door and throwing herself into the arms of a strange man in February 1858, when Stanley would have been 3 1/2 years old)

1858 Dec - second son Ernest was born

"The Bankers Magazine, XIX, Jan to Dec 1959 MONTHLY CHRONOLOGY.

November 7 1859.—Suspension announced of a respectable firm Messrs. Da Costa, De Brath and Co., connected with the River Plate [Rio de la Plato Argentina) trade, with liabilities amounting to about £50,000."

1859 Argentinian Consul-General in London

A book of Memories by the Argentinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Culture published in 1860 lists Felix as the Argentinian Consul-General in London. see page 165. l[http://books.google.com/books?id=U1s7AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA165&lpg=PA165&dq=de+brath+bilbao&source=bl&ots=TYk0tr7HVc&sig=p2DmACpuYl3xdulLUz4adI2O0D4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=g2lCVLn9CpeRgwSjxYDYCA&ved=0CDUQ6AEwBTgK#v=onepage&q=de%20brath%20bilbao&f=false]

1859, 7 November - 36 Cannon St. London Bridge London- his firm put out an announcement in the Money Market column reference ‘a suspension of payment’ to a company J. Mazorra and Co. of Havannah who retained a large sum owing to his company.

After disputes with the London Branch over their financial dealings, Félix wound up the company "Da Costa, De Brath & Co" in 1859. Da Costa took him to court, yet Félix won the case with the judge congratulating him on his integrity.

According to his son Stanley, Félix became disgusted with business and retired into private life

A notice was placed in the London Gazette on 11 May 1860, addressed from Nay, Basses Pyrenees, France, mentioning that the partnership had been dissolved by mutual consent on 12 September 1859.

(Felix was living in Paris France at this time with his family. Why was the notice addressed from Nay? - perhaps this was his French grandfather's home town?) . 1860-61 (To quote son Stanley in his 1920 autobiography): "........my father, tiring of the country life, went to Paris. We had a house at Neuilly and then an "appartement" in the Rue du Chemin de Versailles, at the top of the Champs Elysees, for, I think, two years." However, they were also in England for the 1961 Census.

1860, c.July - third son Frank was born in Paris France

Leon- Pomer "The -War- of - Paraguay" November 10, 1862: Translation from Spanish: "Argentina 's national voice and EI General Mitre find the phrase of the moment . "Known is the happy outcome of Eastern custom ..... Mr. consul General , Mr. Hector Varela have received an indication of ...... De Brath of Paris and other minor.... ,. alarmed at the prospect ...

1861 (7th April) UK Census Registration district: Newton Abbot, Sub-registration district: Teignmouth, 22 Brunswick Place, Dawlish, Devon, UK

  • Felix, married age 39 - Fundholder, born Spain (B.Sub - British Subject)
  • Louisa, Married 32, wife, born London
  • Stanley, 6, born Sydenham, Kent
  • Ernest, 2, born Sydenham, Kent
  • Frank A., 10 mths, born Paris, France - British Subject
  • 1 Cook,
  • 1 Nurse,
  • 1 House Servant

1862 Moved to Cosham, near Portsmouth, Hampshire (again Stanley states: " a house with beautiful grounds which I remember with pleasure").

1868 The National Archives Item reference C 16/487/D108 has the following: Cause number: 1868 D108. Short title: Da Costa v De Brath. Documents: Bill, interrogatories. Plaintiffs: Germano Da Costa. Defendants: Felix De Brath. 1868 ..

1869 - son Cyril born

1871 English Census for Lewisham, Lee, Kent (?Blackheath):

transcription error lists 'W' instead of 'De' for Felix and omits De for the rest of the family as well.

  • Félix W Brath 52 Income from Dividends, born Spain, Naturalized British Subject
  • Louisa Brath 42
  • Stanley Brath 16 - born Sydenham, Kent, England
  • Frank Brath 15
  • Ernest Brath 12
  • Cyril Brath 1
  • 3 servants

Cousin Winifred Newton's letter to Joan (nee) McSwiney of Aug 19 1979 states that her father (P.A. Newton – distant cousin of Sir Isaac Newton) knew Félix de Brath. The 1871 England Census (above) lists the Newton's and the De Brath's as neighbors. P.A. Newton is listed as 10 years old - so presumably it was his father Alfred Newton, aged 49, who knew Felix, aged 52, at that time.

Felix was on the Register of Electors for Sevenoaks, west Kent (which covered the town of Lee) for the years 1870 through 1874.

Felix' son Stanley wrote "After investing most of his savings in Spanish stock - Spanish government defaulted and paid only 1% on its external debt.

By 1880 found himself and his family living modestly in Hove, (near Brighton) the house of which he had bought the freehold."

Son Stanley wrote about his father (November 1920): "Irritation, produced by pecuniary uncertainties and anxieties led him to treat them (his children) with severity, and they feared him more than they loved him, and avoided him as much as possible. This was a grief to his wife, which was finally repaired when his sons being out in the world he returned from agnosticism to the Roman Catholic church which his wife had joined some years before."

Stanley further writes: “My father, as I have told you, was the type of man of action who despised poetry and literature generally, and had no sympathy at all for intellectual questionings of any kind….My father’s somewhat restless disposition and the absence of business occupation led to frequent changes of residence, always unsettling to a child. At 15 I had learned scarcely anything but a little Latin and less Greek. He (Felix) put me under a very good tutor at home, and for four years my life was very dull, almost without companions and with incessant enjoinders to work. This brought some reward, for I passed high for Coopers Hill (Engineering College).” (Source: “Fragments of Autobiography”, addressed "To my dear children Gladys and Harold". Christmas 1920 by Stanley De B.)

"It was only in adult life that I recognized his sterling worth. He was singularly clear-headed in all matters where his personal prejudices were not aroused; especially in political and military affairs in which he always took much interest. He foretold the developments of the Franco-German war from the Battle of Wörth onwards and his politics were always 'liberal'." (The second battle of Wörth took place on 6 August 1870 in the opening stages of the Franco-Prussian War.)

1881 English Census,

Address: 1 Russell Crescent, Hove, Sussex Civil parish: Brighton

  • Charlotte Higgs, b. Heykesbury, Shrewsbury, Mother of Louisa De Brath,
  • Louisa De Brath, b. 1829, London, England, daughter of Charlotte Higgs, 52 yrs old
  • Félix De Brath, born Spain (1821), and a naturalized British Subject. Also states Felix (59yrs) as 'Living On His Income, Dividends Etc' .
  • Cyril De Brath, born c.1870 Blackheath, Kent, England
  • Frank A. De Brath, b. 1861 Paris, France
  • two servants

1882 son Cyril, aged 13, died of typhoid fever

1900, January (78) Death of Félix, who left his affairs in perfect order, with no debts and adequate provision for his widow, who died in April 1912.

view all 12

Felix Dupeiron De Brath's Timeline

May 26, 1821
October 10, 1854
Age 33
Sydenham, Kent, United Kingdom
December 12, 1858
Age 37
London, Middlesex, England UK
- 1860
Age 37
London, United Kingdom
July 1860
Age 39
Paris, Ile-de-France, France
July 1869
Age 48
January 1900
Age 78
Steyning, West Sussex, United Kingdom