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British Government Aid to French Émigrés and Early Humanitarian Relief during the French Revolution

Kirsty Carpenter

Abstract

Britain sheltered thousands of French refugees fleeing the Revolution. Relief organized on their behalf was unique at the time because it included both charitable and government-funded aid to temporary foreign residents. Resources were channeled through nongovernmental voluntary bodies in the French community and distributed by Jean-François de la Marche, the exiled Bishop of Saint Pol de Léon. The emigrants of the 1790s were agents of their own survival, but they also depended on diverse forms of support in host countries. That story has clear parallels in our own time. Eighteenth-century British relief also served as a precursor for subsequent humanitarian funding for victims of war and persecution.