Birthday: March 19, 1787
Died At Age: 62
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Marie Delphine Macarty, MacCarthy, Madam Lalaurie
Born Country: United States
Born in: New Orleans, Louisiana
Famous as: Socialite
Spouse/Ex-: Jean Blanque (m. 1808–1816), Leonard Nicolas (m. 1825–1849), Ramon de Lopez (m. 1800–1804)
father: Barthelmy Louis Macarty
mother: Marie Jeanne Lovable
children: Jeanne Pierre Paulin Blanque, Louise Marie Laure Blanque, Marie Delphine Francisca Borja, Marie Louise Jeanne Blanque, Marie Louise Pauline Blanque
Died on: December 7, 1849
place of death: Paris
U.S. State: Louisiana
City: New Orleans, Louisiana
Madame LaLaurie (Delphine LaLaurie) was a powerful and rich slave owner in the early 19th century America. She was born to a French mother and a Rich Irish father and owned a massive mansion in New Orleans. She became known among the American elite society for being the alleged murderer and insane torturer of several slaves that she owned. She was born in 1780 during the period of Spanish colonialism and married three times, with two of her grooms passing away within a few years into the marriage. In her Royal Street Mansion, she kept several slaves. As she had to maintain her image of a sophisticated socialite, the reality was far away from what it seemed. She came across as a warm woman and sweet towards the black community. A fire broke out in her mansion in April 1834 and upon investigation, seven slaves were found in her attics. They were visibly tortured and were bound before the fire happened. An outraged mob attacked the mansion and Madame flew away to France following the incident. She died in her 60s in a boar hunting accident in Paris. Her death is debated as there are no solid documents portraying her life after she left America.
Childhood & Background
Madame LaLaurie was born Marie Delphine Macarty on March 19, 1787 in New Orleans, Louisiana’s Spanish occupied territory. Her father was Louis Barthelemy McCarthy who emigrated from Ireland to USA in 1730 during the French colonial period. Her mother Marie-Jeanne was a French woman and the family lived in the White Creole Community in New Orleans. The family name was later shortened to Macarty.
The large Macarty family emigrated from France and with their wealth they settled down in New Orleans and engaged in many different profitable ventures. One of Madame’s uncles was a governor and there were many rich merchants, army officials and slavers in the family. Madame was born as one of the five children in the family.
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Madame LaLaurie turned 13 years old in 1800. Being a very beautiful young woman, it was not difficult for her to find a suitable groom. Her first marriage took place in June 1800 as she tied the marital knot with a high ranking Spanish official named Don Ramon de Lopez y Angulo. As a major part of New Orleans was under Spanish occupation by then, her marriage to Don made her one of the most powerful women in the state as her husband was appointed consul general of Spain shortly after his marriage.
In 1804, Don was called back to Spain but he never quite made it back as he passed away mysteriously en-route. Several accounts mention different reasons for his visit to Spain. Some historians claim that he was called back to Spain as a promotion as a prominent position in the Spanish court awaited him. Some also say that it was a military punishment because Don was barred from his territory in New Orleans. Madame gave birth to a daughter during the trip and following the death of her husband, she returned back to New Orleans.
For the next four years, Madame lived comfortably in her mansion in New Orleans and in 1808 she got married for the second time to Jean Blanque. He was also one of the richest men in the region and was a well settled merchant, banker and a lawyer. After the marriage, Jean bought a house in Royal Street and the couple gave birth to four children. But the second marriage did not last very long either and Jean passed away in 1816, 8 years after the marriage.
One of Delphine’s daughters from her second marriage was deformed at birth with some issues with her spinal cord. The treatment led her to the doctor Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie, who tried all sorts of methods to treat the young girl but was not successful. But in the process, he got attracted to the widowed Madame and vice versa. Right before he proposed the marriage to Madame, he was all set to return back to France but his brother persuaded him to stay. He was 20 years older than Madame but that did not come in the way of the marriage and the couple tied the knot in 1825.
But the marriage which started as a beautiful love story turned into a tragic tale shortly after the marriage. The neighbours kept reporting loud arguments and noises coming from their house and the couple officially broke up in 1834 with Leonard moving out of the house. Madame had three tragic/failed marriages by then and that reportedly drove her to insanity. She owned several slaves and slowly, she grew infamous for the bad treatment of them.
The Fire at the Mansion
She, like most other socialites in America in those days, owned several slaves and kept them in the slave quarters just outside the Royal Street mansion. They were hired to do petty jobs around the house. There were rumours spreading around that her slaves lived in constant fear as she mistreated them a lot, but the overall public view of her behaviour towards her slaves was mixed. People who knew her closely claimed that she was sweet to them, while others said that she was ‘pure evil’ to her slaves.
In April 1834, shortly after her husband Leonard left, a fire broke out in Madame’s Royal Street mansion which had started from the kitchen. When the police and the marshals barged into the house to get the fire under control, they found a 70 years old black woman chained to the stove. She confessed that she has started the fire because she feared the punishment Madame was about to give her.
When the fire refused to slow down on its own, the bystanders tried to intervene. Madame refused to let anybody enter the house but the crowd grew anxious, broke the door and entered the house. What they found out was shocking to say the least. They found seven slaves who were badly tortured. The slaves were badly mutilated with their limbs deformed and in some instances their intestines were pulled out of their bodies and tied around them, causing their deaths.
The discovery of tortured slaves in the house broke all hell on the mansion. A wild mob barged into the house and destroyed the remaining of Madame’s possessions that fire could not destroy. The slaves who survived were then taken to a local police station and they gave detailed accounts of the atrocities that had befallen them. They were also presented for public viewing, further enraging the crowd. By the time it was over, the mansion was in ruins with everything in the house getting destroyed.
Madame LaLaurie got disappeared from the scene after the fire happened. There are not enough documents to give a concrete account of her life after 1834. She flew away to Paris, France and spent rest of her life there.
Her death also remains a mystery to this day. Some historians claim that she died during a boar hunting accident in Paris while there are many accounts that claim that she returned back to New Orleans and lived the last days of her life there in total anonymity. The later claim is further concreted with the fact that there is grave in St. Louis Cemetery in New Orleans that belongs to the name Madame LaLaurie. Her death date is marked as December 7, 1842.
The official records in Paris claim that she died on December 7, 1849.