The last French Gimbrère we’ve been able to trace is Georges Louis Eugène Gimbrère from Paris, deceased in 1970 in Tournan-en-Brie. Was he truly the last standard bearer? We have checked the French telephone directories, in which some listings of Gimbrères can be found. All of those listings are traceable to a namesake born in the Netherlands. Because telephone directories are becoming obsolete in the 21st century, we have also consulted Google and social media. That way too we have been unable to find any signals from Gimbrères not having Dutch ancestors.

We have also searched for listings in known places in the French Civil Registry, the Etat Civil, of which more and more is searchable online. All in all, we have found quite a few mentions in the first half of the 19th century (especially in Larressingle and Larroque and then some scattered individuals). In the second half we have only found a handful of Gimbrères and the only ones that cross the century boundary are the Gimbrères in Paris and Mouchan. The aforementioned Georges is the last representative of these. It is much harder to prove that something is not there than to find something that is there. We can’t therefore exclude the possibility that there are descendants of a French Gimbrère, who live in France in anonymity, or who have left France to go abroad. But we have not yet been able to discover them. That is why we continue here with the Gimbrères in Antwerp.

During the reign of Napoleon, Jean Gimbrere moved from Bordeaux to Antwerp. We do not know the exact year; it must have been between 1800 (when Jean was 18 years old) and 1810. Antwerp was still under French rule. We also do not know how he travelled there, but there is a good chance that he would have arrived in Antwerp by boat from Bordeaux. According to the Gimbrere Family tree of 1964/1994, Jean and his wife Adrienne (or Adriana) Appel (or Van Apels) had two children, Dominique Jacques Adrien and Jean François.

 Birth certificate of Jean François van Apels

Dominique died when he was 19, Jean François however grew up well and moved to Tilburg in 1839. The responsible genealogist noted the following in 1964: “The inaccuracies found in the various acts are striking. The birth certificates of the children mention as the first name of the mother Suzanne instead of Adriana.” We have subjected these inconsistencies to a further investigation. The first thing to notice is that Adriana really was very young at the birth of both children: she would have been 14 years old at the birth of Dominique. This fact has also caught the eye of the genealogist, who euphemistically mentions the following: “… Adriana, a girl who was 17 years younger than him.”

We first checked the birth certificates of Dominique and Jean. Both records mention the name of Suzanne (born in 1788) as mother. Jean François also gets her last name: Van Apels.

Birth certificate of Jean François van Apels

The confusion of the genealogist is caused by the marriage certificate of the Gimbrere / Appel couple. That marriage was not concluded until 1823, when Jean François was already 9 years old. This deed does indeed mention Adriana as the brides first name, and also the corresponding date of her birth. A copy of her birth certificate is also attached to the marriage certificate. But it is not hard to discover that this cannot be correct: this same Adriana died on July 18, 1797, 4 months after her birth. This administrative error, or fraud, may be explained by the fact that Suzanne’s birth certificate was not present in Antwerp: she was born in the Netherlands.

We conclude in any case that the wife of Jean Gimbrere cannot be anyone else than Suzanne. Both children are recognized at the marriage between Jean and Suzanne. For Dominique J.A., for the sake of com­pleteness, because Jean had made the declaration of his birth and thereby had acknowledged paternity. The birth declaration of Jean François was made by the midwife, no mention was made of the paternity. In view of the later marriage, we consider it very likely that Jean Gimbrere is also the biological father of Jean François. In any case, this fatherhood was after all legally recognized at the marriage in 1823. In the meantime a DNA test has confirmed the presence of Gascone genes in the Dutch descendants of Jean François, taking away the the last doubts on his fathership.

Incidentally, the use of first names of the Gimbrères in Antwerp is a mess sometimes. As Jean’s father, the name Bernard is mentioned in his death certificate. It is likely that this is the same person as Dominique (see also chapter 9). His mother’s name however is always the same (Jeanne Cornet).

A third surprise in Antwerp is the appearance of the name Dominique Gimbraire (!), as a member of the Civil Guard in 1830 (see cartoon). We cite the:

The Civil
Guard of Antwerp

Ruling of the Provisional Government dated 26 October 1830:

Nom:                                  Gimbraire, Dominique

Date de la naissance:      00.01.1782, Bordeaux, France

Taille:                                  168

Père:                                   Bernard

Mère:                                  Cornet, Jeanne

Domicile:                            section 3, numéro 2835

 First of all, of course, the spelling of the last name stands out, a variant that we have already found in Bordeaux. Furthermore, this is the only indication that a Dominique would have been living in Antwerp. Also in this case it is likely that one and the same person is hidden under two first names and that this Dominique is the same as our Jean. He does have an older brother, but his name is Arnaud and there is no evidence of his presence in Antwerp. Furthermore, it is a bit strange that Grandpa Bernard seems to be married here to his daughter-in-law Jeanne, but those names were also used interchangeably in Bordeaux. In short: a mess.

1830 is the year of the Belgian uprising against the Netherlands. The uprising was successful, but the price for Antwerp was high: access via the Scheldt was closed, making Antwerp hit upon difficult times. The peace of 1839 put an end to this, but shipping remained charged with a Scheldt toll. This was bought off in 1863 and it is only from that moment that we can date the great flourishing of modern Antwerp. With this information it is not surprising that Jean François decided in those years to try his luck in the Netherlands.