Rose, John (?) Augustus (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 49
Rose, John (?) Augustus

by Frank Thomas Marzials
In the ODNB given as Rose, Jean-Auguste.

ROSE, JOHN(?) AUGUSTUS or AUGUSTE (1757–1841), usher to the French national convention in 1793, is stated to have been born in Scotland in 1757. It is also said that he was in America during the war of independence, and accompanied to France the Frenchmen who had taken part in the war. About 1790 he obtained—by what influence is not known—a post as usher to the national assembly. There he appears to have earned the regard of more than one distinguished man, and specially of Mirabeau. It is claimed for him that he found means to warn Louis XVI of the impending insurrection and attack on the Tuileries before 10 Aug. 1792, that he paid the king all such attentions as were possible during his trial, and that during the reign of terror he helped several proscribed persons to escape. On the 9th Thermidor (27 July 1794), the day of Robespierre's arrest, he played an important part. On the order of the president of the convention, Thuriot, he made Robespierre come down from the tribune, as he was struggling to speak, and afterwards, ‘having been distinguished by the convention among the other ushers for his firmness and courage,’ he was entrusted with the duty of arresting the ‘two brothers Robespierre, Couthon, Saint-Just, and Lebas,’ and taking them to the Comité de Sûreté Générale. Later in the day the convention, hearing that the commune of Paris was in a state of rebellion, directed Rose ‘to notify to the central administration of the Seine and the municipality of Paris a decree summoning those two authorities to the bar of the convention. … He was stopped at the Hôtel de Ville by order of the commune, and led as a prisoner into the assembly-room where Robespierre and his four colleagues, whose arrests had been ordered, were then sitting. Rose boldly announced his mission, whereupon ‘the president, M. Fleuriot, answered him: “Return, citizen; tell the national convention that the commune of Paris will come to its bar with their arms in their hands.”’ With much presence of mind Rose took this as a dismissal, and went off ‘like lightning,’ was nearly killed on the stairs by two armed men—whom he seems to have disposed of in British fashion with his fists—and had scarcely left the Hôtel de Ville when an order was given for his rearrest. He, however, by swiftness of foot made good his retreat, and later accompanied several members of the convention who went to harangue the troops and induce them to return to their duty (memorandum of his services among the papers of Merlin de Thionville, published in vol. ii. 20 of the Vie et Correspondance de Merlin de Thionville, by M. Jean Reynaud, Paris, 1860).

Rose retained his functions as usher under the ‘council of the ancients,’ who presented him with a ‘sword of honour’ for his firmness during a particularly stormy debate, and in 1814 he was attached by M. de Sémonville to the French chamber of peers. He retained his office till forced to resign through old age, and died in Paris on 19 March 1841. Rose was a protestant. Pasteur Coquerel recapitulated the main events of his history in an eloquent funeral address.

[Vie et Correspondance de Merlin de Thionville, as quoted above; Biographie Universelle, J. Michaud; Anderson's Scottish Nation; Alger's Englishmen in the French Revolution.]

F. T. M.