Ratel, Louis Jean Baptiste Justin

Ratel, Louis Jean Baptiste Justin, a French priest, was born at St. Omer, Dec. 14, 1758. He was the son of a hatter, and was placed by his uncle, a dignitary in one of the abbeys of Artois, in the Seminary of the Thirty-three at Paris, where he studied theology. Having taken license, he was, while yet very young, appointed to the living of Dunkirk. But, although French, this parish was dependent on the Dutch diocese of Ypres; and each nomination of a curate became the occasion of litigation. The abbot Ratel defended this benefice when the Revolution broke out. Having taken up arms in 1792, he did not wait to be exempted from the service on account of the weakness of his sight; and, during the terrors of the period, he took refuge with his family in the village of La Roche-Guyon. He afterwards returned to Paris, and organized and directed the correspondence with the Vendeans and the Norman Federation. He aided, also, the famous English admiral Sir William Sidney Smith to escape from the Temple, and published many pamphlets which attracted attention, particularly that one which related to the coup d'etat of 18th Brumaire. Concealed in Boulogne, he there secretly fulfilled the duties of agent of count d'Artois, then succeeded, amid a thousand dangers, in escaping to England, where he was long known under the names of Dubois and Lemoine. His relations with lord Castlereagh and the principal members of the English cabinet enabled him to be of great service to French emigrants. It was also by his mediation that Pichegru and Moreau were reconciled. Although absent, he was accused of various conspiracies; and he was condemned to death, and a price set on his head. He was long searched for by the imperial police. He did not return to his native city till April, 1814. During the Hundred Days he retired to Ypres, where he fell sick; and, after the return of the Bourbons, he went to live on his place at Maigiral, where he died. Jan. 26, 1816. — Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, s.v.

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