Bio:Philippe Noisette

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Philippe Stanislas Noisette (1773-1835) was a brother of the French botanist and agronomist Louis Claude Noisette, and a noted horticulturalist in his own right.

Philippe was born in Châtillon (Hauts-de-Seine), France on 2 December 1773, the second son of Joseph Noisette, gardener to the Count of Provence, the future Louis XVIII. As a young man Philippe went to the French colony of Saint-Domingue (Haiti), perhaps around the time of the French Revolution. According to Noisette family history,[1] it was there that he met the woman of his life, Celestine. Philippe was among the wave of French settlers in Saint-Domingue who left in the early 1790s in the wake of the Haitian slave rebellion, and relocated to Charleston, South Carolina.[2] He eventually had a position with the South Carolina Medical Society Botanical Gardens.

Relative within 2 degrees of Louis Claude Noisette Stamboom.svg



The chronology and details of Philippe's relationship with Celestine (who was at least partly of African ancestry) are not clear but for one legal transaction: On 12 September 1807 in Charleston, South Carolina, he paid M.R.C.D. Menude $650 for the rights to hold Celestine and two children he had with her.[3][4]

Philippe may have been able to free Celestine when he purchased her,[5] but that would presumably have made their life together in Charleston impossible due to laws against miscegenation at the time. Philippe and Celestine had four more children together: Pierre Louis, Melanie, Josephine, and Louise.[5].

Philippe did submit a petition for manumission of Celestine and their children in 1821 "that revealed he had 'under peculiar circumstances' fathered six children with his 'faithful' enslaved housekeeper."[6][7] That petition was made after a change of laws regarding freeing slaves, and was not successful. Apparently later measures, however, were successful.[1][6][8]


In 1803, Philippe came to head the botanical garden that had earlier been established in Charleston by André Michaux during his sojourn in the U.S. (1786-1796). Michaux tasked his son, François André Michaux, who had returned to Charleston in 1801, with selling the botanical garden to the Agricultural Society of South Carolina, "with the stipulation that Philippe Noisette be hired to manage the property."[9][10][11]

"Philippe dabbled in raising new varieties of roses from open-pollinated seeds, contributing to the origin of the class of roses known as the Noisettes. Seeds, cuttings, and plants exchanged hands between him and his brother Louis in France and were likewise imported from Europe and other geographic regions."[12]

"Noisette's touch must have seemed magical to Charleston flower lovers. He bred an especially beautiful hybrid rose bearing lavish bunches of pink blossoms. Philippe's brother Louis, also a horticulturalist, promoted the rose in Paris. ...
"By October 1831, Noisette's luxuriant garden west of Charleston was well established. He had won trophies from local natural history clubs and amassed a large herbarium of dried plants. Nor were his natural history interests limited to plants. He built a collection of insects and snakes preserved in bottles filled with spirits of wine."[13]

Philippe Noisette apparently knew John James Audubon.

Philippe died in Charleston on 7 April 1835, and was buried at Saint Mary of the Annunciation Cemetery in Charleston.[14]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Noisette Family History," (accessed 16 Feb 2020)
  2. Bernard Edward Powers, Black Charlestonians: A Social History, 1822-1885, University of Arkansas Press, 1994. Page 37
  3. "South Carolina, Charleston District, Bill of sales of Negro slaves, 1774-1872," database, FamilySearch ( : 12 March 2020), M R C D Menude, 23 Sep 1807; citing Court, Charleston, South Carolina, United States, Records Of The Secretary Of State, Recorded Instruments, Miscellaneous Records (Main Series), Bills Of Sale Volumes, 464, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia.
  4. A.B. Wilkinson (2013) reports that it was "R.C.D. Menude" who made the sale.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Aaron B.Wilkinson, "Blurring the Lines of Race and Freedom: Mulattoes in English Colonial North America and the Early United States Republic," PhD disertation in History, University of California, Berkeley, 2013.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Chandler Stephen Durham, "Assimilation and Resilience: Saint-Domingue Refugees in Antebellum Charleston," MA thesis, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2017 (PDF)
  7. Alexia Jones Helsley and Patrick McCawley, The Many Faces of Slavery, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1999. The chapter entitled "To leave a legacy: Petition of Philippe Stanislaus Noisette" (pp. 23-28), includes images of the pages of Philippe's petition in 1821.
  8. University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Race & Slavery Petitions Project, NOISETTE, Philippe in Petition 11382125
  9. "A Charleston Mystery: The French Botanic Garden," Friends of André Michaux (blog). Article cites "recently discovered correspondence in a French Archive by Regis Pluchet."
  10. William E. Burns. "Michaux, Andre and Francois-Andre Michaux" South Carolina Encyclopedia. University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies. (Article published 2016 & at time of access, 13 Aug. 2021, had last been edited in 2017)
  11. Noisette would have overlapped with the Michauxs in Charleston for at least a year or two during the 1790s, so it is hard to imagine that he would not have met them.
  12. "Miniature Hybrid Chinas –The Lawranceanas," Singularly Beautiful Roses] (newsletter), Volume 6, Issue 1, Fall 2015, pp. 2-13 (quote on p. 8)
  13. Jay Shuler, Had I the Wings: The Friendship of Bachman and Audubon, University of Georgia Press, 1995. Page 50.
  14. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 16 February 2020), memorial page for Philippe Stanislas Noisette (1773–1835), Find A Grave Memorial no. 132490598, citing Saint Mary of the Annunciation Cemetery, Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, USA ; Maintained by A Martin (contributor 48136414).

See also

  • Liz Druitt, "Legacy of a Botanist," Magnolia: Bulletin of the Southern Garden History Association, Vol. XI, No. 1, Summer/Fall 1992, pp. 5-7, 16.
  • Michael P. Johnson and James L. Roark, Black Masters: A Free Family of Color in the Old South, W.W. Norton & Co., 1984