Pierre Henri Joseph Baume (1797-1875) was a French socialist , active in England .
Balm was born at Marseille . When he was still young, his father moved to Naples and the boy was placed in a military college there. In his eighteenth year, he became private secretary to King Ferdinand . He left Italy and came to England about 1825, where he associated with the advocates of social change. In 1832, he took out letters of naturalization. He was, in succession, a preacher of the doctrine of ‘reforming optimism, a theatrical manager, the curator and owner of some experimental model gardens’ near Holloway , and a promoter in Manchester of public-houses without intoxicating drinks.
For many years, Baume’s is a major educational institute, on a communistic basis. To carry out this project, he denied himself. He acquired a large estate, valued at £ 40,000, at Colney Hatch , and another in Buckinghamshire , estimated to be worth £ 4,000. Obstacles presented themselves and he gave up his plan. During the Owenite socialist agitation, and power of devising astonishing closets and proclamations, made him a notable man. A boy who he has adopted has been named by Owen. He was believed to have a fortune as a foreign spy, and his mysterious ways added to his reputation.
For several years, Baume resided in Manchester, where he organized Sunday readings, but in 1857, he paid a visit to the Isle of Man and was so pleased with the place that he took up his residence in the Archway House, Douglas. His rooms were crowded with books and he slept in a hammock swung from the roof of the room. Only those who have the secret of a peculiar knock were admitted. He lived for years in this way, but, in 1874, was able to take a closer look at him. His ‘experimental gardens’, as he called them, were almost opposite the present Pentonville Prison , and have been known to the Frenchman’s Island, about which he used to wander in the night-time with a pistol, to frighten off unwelcome visitors.
Death and legacy
He was abstemious in diet, living chiefly on peas , which he made in his pocket. On his death, at Duke Street, Douglas , on October 28, 1875, all his property, including about £ 10,000, in addition to the value of the estates, was left in trust for philanthropic purposes in the Isle of Man . This provision is accompanied by some curious provisions.
He was buried on November 2 at St. George’s, Douglas. A posthumous bust of him was executed by Emanuel Edward Geflowski .
- ” Baume, Pierre Henri Joseph “. Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885-1900.