Du Bédat, Francis Edward (1851–1919), stockbroker, was the third son in the family of four sons and three daughters of William George Du Bédat (1815–89), a stockbroker in College Green, Dublin, and his wife Anne Letitia, daughter of Thomas Copperthwaite of Dublin. The Du Bédats were highly regarded in Irish financial circles. William George's great-grandfather Jean or John Du Bédat (1716–80), a native of Lacépède in Guyenne, France, and a protestant, settled in Ireland to avoid persecution and set up a sugar refinery in St Mary's Abbey, Dublin; his father, William (1785–1859) was an employee of the Bank of Ireland; his elder brother Peter (1812–87) was secretary to the bank (1858–82), his younger brothers John (1819–81) and Henry (d. 1875) were also stockbrokers and another brother, Francis (1821–57), married the daughter of a stockbroker.
Francis Edward Du Bédat was brought up at Ballybrack House, Killiney, Co. Dublin, was a brilliant pupil at Tipperary grammar school, and in 1872 completed an apprenticeship in stockbroking and married Mary Rosa (Rosie), eldest daughter of Samuel Swinburne Waterhouse of Glenalua House, Killiney, Co. Dublin, a silversmith whose firm made imitation antique Irish brooches. The marriage brought him a dowry of £3,000 and enabled him to move to Glenalua Lodge near the Waterhouses. Frank E. Du Bédat (the form of his name he preferred) joined his father and elder brother, William (1850–76), in the family firm, which became known as William George Du Bédat & Sons, government stock and share brokers, with a prestigious address at 1 and 2 Foster Place, Dublin (beside the Bank of Ireland), and the motto ‘sans tâche’. After the premature death of his elder brother (1876) he took on more responsibility. His father's death (February 1889) left him in sole charge.
A flamboyant, popular figure (known as ‘the baron’), he travelled much and acquired a base in Paris. He was secretary and then (from 1889) treasurer of the French huguenot fund – consisting of stocks and shares the dividends on which were used to assist needy members. In 1889 he acquired a well-located house and lands at Killiney called Stoneleigh which, with the expenditure of nearly £7,000 and the assistance of the Dublin architect Albert E. Murray (1849–1924), he extended and renamed Frankfort. Partly to pay for this work and an extravagant lifestyle, he disregarded the financial rectitude for which the Du Bédats were known, and persuaded clients to let him sell their stocks and shares and purchase others upon which he converted the proceeds to his own benefit and made regular payments to the clients, pretending them to be dividends. He also fraudulently converted stocks and shares in the French huguenot fund.
In October 1890, aged 40, he was elected president of the Dublin Stock Exchange; two months later the stock market crashed and Du Bédat was ruined, with debts of over £100,000. On 24 December he absconded; five days later the committee of the Dublin Stock Exchange declared him a defaulter and his firm was struck off the list of members. In June 1891 Frankfort was put up for auction by the Bank of Ireland and Du Bédat was arrested in Cape Town, South Africa, where he was living in a lodging house. Back in Dublin he was tried on charges of bankruptcy and fraud, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to twelve months hard labour and seven years penal servitude (21 October 1891). His great popularity remained and petitions for his release were presented by men of all classes, one from his father-in-law who himself had suffered serious loss as a result of Du Bédat's dishonesty. On 30 November 1896, in poor health since his trial, he was released and some months later left Ireland for South Africa, where he set himself up in Johannesburg as a company promoter and finance agent. He became associated with Emilio de Roure, who apparently was acting for a syndicate that had a concession from the Portuguese government of land at Delagoa Bay, a condition being that the syndicate should construct a pier or dock at Lorenço Marques – the main port for the Rand. He received £800 for investment in the concession from a Dublin businessman, Henry Hartnell. By the end of the year Du Bédat was back in Ireland with power-of-attorney for de Roure.
During the next few years he was in London obtaining investments for the Delagoa Bay concession. A Dublin barrister, Eustace Johnstone, became his agent in Ireland, where several more Irish investors were found (among them the architect Murray). The outbreak of war in South Africa (11 October 1899) disrupted Du Bédat's plans. Unfortunately, work on the pier did not begin and investors became restless. On 23 February 1903 Du Bédat and Johnstone were arrested in Dublin and seven months later tried for fraud for falsely pretending to an investor that the Delagoa Bay concession was still in force when it had in fact been withdrawn by the Portuguese authorities on 12 January 1899. The pair denied knowledge of the withdrawal but were convicted and sentenced to terms of imprisonment. On 4 August 1904, fresh evidence having come before a judge, Du Bédat was released unconditionally after serving only one year. He returned to South Africa, settling at Kommetjie, a small fishing village on the Cape Peninsula. He died penniless on 20 July 1919 at his home there.
In 1901 Du Bédat was living at Malahide, Co. Dublin, with a vivacious Brazilian actress known as Rosita Tennyson. Eleven days after Rosie Du Bédat's death (6 November 1902), Frank Du Bédat and Rosita Martinez (her real name) married, he aged 51, she 27. By his first wife he had a son, Samuel Swinburne, and two daughters; by his second wife he had a son, William George Du Bédat (d. 1979), who ran a film advertising agency in London. There are likely allusions to Du Bédat in George Bernard Shaw's (qv) The doctor's dilemma (1906) and to his second wife in James Joyce's (qv) Ulysses (set in 1904, published 1922).