BEUGNOT, JACQUES CLAUDE, Count (1761–1835), French politician, was born at Bar-sur-Aube. A magistrate under the old régime, he was elected deputy to the Legislative Assembly (1791), then to the Convention. He was involved in the proscription of the Girondists and imprisoned until the 9th Thermidor. He next entered into relations with the family of Bonaparte, and in 1799, after the 18th Brumaire, again entered politics, becoming successively prefect of the lower Seine, councillor of state, and finance minister to Jerome Bonaparte, king of Westphalia. In 1808 Beugnot, who had meanwhile been appointed administrator of the duchy of Berg-Cleves, received the cross of officer of the Legion of Honour with the title of count. He returned to France in 1813, after the battle of Leipzig, and was made prefect of the department of Nord. In 1814 he was a member of the provisional government as minister of the interior; and by Louis XVIII. he was named director-general of police and afterwards minister of marine. He followed Louis to Ghent during the Hundred Days, and became one of his confidants. He contributed to draw up Louis’s charter, and in his memoirs boasted of having furnished the text of the proclamation addressed by the king to the French people before his return to France; but it is known now that it was another text that was adopted. Lacking the support of the ultra-royalists, he was given the title of minister of state without portfolio, which was equivalent to a retirement. Elected deputy, he attached himself to the moderate party, and defended the liberty of the press. In 1831 Louis Philippe made him a peer of France and director-general of manufactures and commerce. He died on the 24th of June 1835.
His son, Auguste Arthur Beugnot (1797–1865), was an historian and scholar, who published an Essai sur les institutions de Saint Louis (1821), Histoire de la destruction du paganisme en occident (2 vols., 1885), and edited the Olim of the parlement of Paris, the Assizes of Jerusalem, and the Coutumes de Beauvoisis of Philippe de Beaumanoir. He was a member of the chamber of peers under Louis Philippe, and opposed Villemain’s plan for freedom of education. After 1848 he maintained the same rôle, acting as reporter of the loi Falloux. He retired from public life after the coup d’état of Napoleon III., and died on the 15th of March 1865.
The Mémoires of J. C. Beugnot were published by his grandson, Count Albert Beugnot (2nd ed., Paris, 1868); see H. Wallon, Éloges académiques (1882); and E. Dejean, Un Préfet du Consulat: J. C. Beugnot (Paris, 1907).