Henriette <I>Desportes</I> Field

Henriette Desportes Field

Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Death 6 Mar 1875 (aged 61)
Massachusetts, USA
Burial Stockbridge, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, USA
Memorial ID 37793248 · View Source
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She was the daughter of the unmarried Mlle. Lucille Desportes [the daughter of Baron Felix Desportes]. Her father may have been Mons. Delnoze or Mons. Deluzy, the latter a name she used during her employment with the Praslin family. Henriette was educated at a boarding school run by Madame Sellet in Paris, where she showed a remarkable talent for drawing and design. Due to her talent, she was apprenticed to an engraver named Narjeot, in the rue Grand-Opera and she returned to live with her mother. After two years her health suffered from being in the dark workshop and she returned to sketching and drawing. She was placed next in the studio of the artist, Pierre Claude Francois Delorme (1783-1859), whose daughters befriended her, but she continued to live with her mother, who later died in 1832 during the cholera epidemic. She remained a pupil with Delorme for 4 more years. In 1836, she went to London, England and in April 1837, she entered the household of Lady Hislop as governess to her daughter, Nina, until 1840, when Nina no longer needed a governess. Henriette then returned to Paris and lodged again with the Delormes. On 1 March 1841, she became the governess of the children of Fanny Sebastiani, the Duchesse de Choiseul-Praslin and her husband, the Duc Theobald de Praslin for 6 years. In the spring of 1847, the Duc de Praslin was forced to tell Henriette to leave the household due to threats made by his wife. Henriette didn't actually leave until 17 July 1847, when the children had recovered from scarlatina. Fanny was murdered on 18 August 1847 by her husband and the Duc poisoned himself with arsenic acid and died on 24 August. Henriette was put in the prison of the Conciergerie for interrogation. She was released for lack of evidence on 17 November, three months after the crime. She later made her way to New York City, traveling on the steamer, Zurich, and arriving in September 1849. It is not known if Henriette met her future husband, Henry, in Paris or later in New York City. Henry did spend the winter of 1847-1848 in Paris, having arrived at about the time Henriette was released from prison. No reference is ever made in any of Henry's books about the famous murder case or how he met Henriette. The Praslin murder and trial helped instigate the French Revolution of 1848 and pulled King Louis-Phillippe from his throne. In New York City, Henriette taught school at Miss Haines School for Girls at 10 Gramercy Park East in New York City as a French teacher. She married Henry Martyn Field on 20 May 1851 and they lived in West Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1854, they returned to New York City, where she was employed as a French tutor and art teacher at Cooper Union. In 1855, they removed to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Her book, "Home Sketches of France and Other Papers" was published after her death by her husband. She was the subject of Rachel Field's book, "All This and Heaven Too", which was later turned into a film starring Betty Davis and Charles Boyer. The book, "A Crime of Passion", written and researched by Stanley Loomis in 1967, also details the story of the murder and Henriette's involvement.

Family Members



Henriette Desportes
The Beloved Wife of
Henry M. Field
Died March 6, 1875


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  • Maintained by: Diane Gravlee
  • Originally Created by: Diane R. Smith
  • Added: 1 Jun 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 37793248
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Henriette Desportes Field (Jun 1813–6 Mar 1875), Find A Grave Memorial no. 37793248, citing Stockbridge Cemetery, Stockbridge, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Diane Gravlee (contributor 47083760) .