Elopement – A Family Affair

A strong theme of elopement runs through the Thorn family history. I suppose it is a reflection of the strict social expectations of the time, but I also sense a wild and slightly contrary flavour to their personalities. Firstly, Herman ran away with Jane Mary, much to the complete displeasure of old William Jauncey, who never really recovered from seeing his niece and ward marry the wrong man. He had planned that she wed a friend’s son by the name of Barclay. William Jauncey barely spoke to Herman afterwards, right up until his death.

Perhaps then, Herman and Jane’s story set a precedent for their children, as the pattern repeated over time.

The next elopement was his second daughter Mary Jane Jauncey Thorn, who, at the age of fifteen ran away with the profligate Baron Raymond Camille de Varaigne du Bourg. Apparently Camille had been a frequent visitor to the Thorn’s home for some weeks and the Colonel repulsed the poor young man’s lovesick pronouncements. When it became obvious Thorn did not favour the match, the pair hatched a plan, which they executed with the help of Mary’s governess. I imagine she didn’t keep her employment for long after the discovery that the young ones had run away.


Letters written by James Fenimore Cooper at the time reveal the terrible scandal that ensued. Friends and family were divided. Mary’s reputation was ruined. Ultimately though, time passed, Thorn relented and the Baron gained respectability as Napoleon 111’s chamberlain. I’m not sure if they were married twice or once. But they had three children and all was forgotten and forgiven.

I also located the briefest mention that James Jauncey Thorn “kidnapped” Therese von Leykam. I know they were married in Switzerland and that the Colonel was initially against the match. But it’s been hard to verify if it was a serious elopement or a figure of speech. The Colonel clearly had strong ideas about tbe sort of families his children should marry into, and not all his children towed the line.

Meanwhile, the Prince of Mettemich married Miss Leykam in Vienna. The sister of the new princess had also had her novel. She was kidnapped by the captain’s [colonel’s] son Thorn, M. Jousey [Jauncey]. Captain Thorn wanted to oppose the marriage, but learning that his son was going become the grand chancellor’s step-in-law, he doua (?) and gave his consent.

Finally, Alfred, Colonel Thorn’s second youngest son, fell in love with the beautiful opera singer Clotilde Barili and the match was not approved by his family, so he ran away with her to South America. Though a love match, the union ended in tragedy, with both of them dying young from typhus and tuberculosis. Albert died first and Clotilde remarried Carlos Scola, but she did not have many years with her second husband.

As if the relationship was somehow doomed, both Alfred and Clotilde’s children, Henrieuquta and Hermann, died as infants.

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