Who were the Huguenots?

Courtesy of Findagrave

As any genealogical researcher with French ancestry knows, if you ever bring up those French forebears, the first question you’ll inevitably be asked is “Were they Huguenots?” But who exactly were the Huguenots? Where did they come from? And most importantly, why did so many migrate to America in the first place?

Quite simply, the Huguenots were French Protestants who observed the reformed (also known as Calvinist) form of Protestantism.[1] The rise and fall of the Huguenots in France occurred during one of the most convoluted and complex historical periods in European history. The roots of the Huguenot movement can be found in the rise of the Waldensians, a pre-Reformation sect that split from the Catholic Church between 1500 and 1545, and notably clashed with the royal families. It was in 1545 that King Francis I of France suppressed the movement, ordering hundreds of Waldensians to be massacred in Provence.[2]

Out of this suppression, a new movement arose in the Huguenots, who grew significantly in number between 1555 and 1561. The greatest portion of the movement’s followers came from the nobility as well as those who resided in cities in the south and west of France. The rise was incredibly rapid. In 1559, fifteen churches were represented at the first Huguenot synod; at the synod of 1561, more than two thousand churches were represented.[3] According to one estimate, at their peak in 1562, there were an estimated 2 million Huguenots in France compared to the country’s 16 million Catholics.[4]

In 1559, fifteen churches were represented at the first Huguenot synod; at the synod of 1561, more than two thousand churches were represented.

The term “huguenot” has unclear origins, and several hypotheses have been presented to identify the genesis of the term. One such theory is that it is a reference to Swiss politician Besançon Hugues. Another theory is that the term was derived from the Dutch Huis Genooten (meaning “housemates”), which described bible students who secretly gathered in each other’s houses.[5]

Efforts to maintain the power of the Catholic Church in France resulted in several bloody clashes throughout the nation. Between 1562 and 1598, there were eight civil wars in France collectively known as the Wars of Religion.[6] After thirty-six years of violence, King Henry IV put a temporary end to the conflicts when he issued the Edict of Nantes, which granted Protestants the same rights as Catholics.[7] The Edict initially decreased the violence faced by the Protestants, but with the King’s death in 1610, tensions resurfaced leading to a series of small rebellions in southwestern France. Perhaps the most damaging act, however, was King Louis XIV issuing the Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685. This edict made Protestantism illegal in France, offering Huguenots the option of forced conversion or emigration.[8] It became clear to many Huguenots that France was no longer safe and, as a result, thousands departed in search of a more welcoming home.

Huguenot Migration

While the largest exodus of Huguenots left France during the seventeenth century, believers of Reformed Protestantism actually began their quest for a new homeland as early as 1555. In that year, the colony of France Antarctique was founded in Brazil and quickly became a haven for Huguenot exiles.[9] Those who did not have the desire or means to transplant to a new continent often opted to settle in neighboring Switzerland.[10]

The first Huguenot settlement in the land that would later become the United States was attempted in 1562, when Jean Ribault, a French naval officer, founded an outpost on Parris Island, South Carolina. Ribault returned to France for supplies shortly after the initial settlement, although he was prevented from returning by the ongoing Wars of Religion. Those who remained on the island eventually abandoned the outpost in 1563.[11] The following year, René Goulaine de Laudonniere launched another voyage to America, where he established Fort Caroline in modern-day Jacksonville, Florida.[12] Fort Caroline was an ill-fated endeavor for the French, as most of the settlers would eventually be executed by the Spanish who were enforcing their nation’s claim on Florida.[13]

All told, in the century between 1624 and 1725 approximately 4,000 Huguenots emigrated to America.

Despite the failures of the initial efforts of Huguenots to settle in America, renewed anti-Protestant violence would drive them to further attempts. All told, in the century between 1624 and 1725 approximately 4,000 Huguenots emigrated to America.[14] Many of those who uprooted were wealthy with specialized skill sets, and the loss of these industrious citizens was a significant blow to France.[15] Because of their high status and usefulness in the development of their communities, English authorities welcomed the Huguenots in their colonies.[16] There were several notable waves of Huguenot migration to the thirteen colonies, including:

1624: A group of Huguenots led by Jesse de Forest traveled to South America and eventually settled in New Netherland (later New York). Although he never actually set foot in New Amsterdam, de Forest was a crucial inspiration for the initial settlement of the future New York City in May 1624.[17]

1662: Many Huguenots from La Rochelle, France, sent a petition to the Governor of Massachusetts asking to be permitted to live in the colony. This petition was approved, and it is estimated that approximately 150 families settled in Massachusetts and integrated into many towns.[18]

1685: A Huguenot community was founded in Charleston, South Carolina. Today, Charleston is the home of the oldest continually-active Huguenot church in the United States.[19]

1700: At the start of the eighteenth century, several hundred Huguenots migrated from France and settled in Virginia after King William III of England offered them land grants in Lower Norfolk County.[20]

1720s: During this decade, a multitude of settlers arrived in the Delaware River Valley of New York, Eastern Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.[21]

Notable Huguenots and Their Descendants 

Although their population was comparatively small in number, the Huguenots who came to America had a noticeable and often immediate impact. Several important founders in America were either Huguenots themselves or were direct descendants of these religious pilgrims. One such individual was Gabriel Bernon.

On 5 July 1688, Gabriel Bernon of La Rochelle arrived in Boston aboard on the ship Dolphin. Bernon had fled from his native France to escape religious persecution in response to the Edict of Fontainebleau.[22] After encountering other refugees in London, Bernon devised a plan to create a Huguenot community in the town of Oxford in Worcester County, Massachusetts. In 1688, Bernon traveled to New England with his wife, three daughters, and son, as well as forty others for whom he paid passage.[23]

Although Bernon was the major financial backer for the settlement at Oxford, he and his family never actually lived the community. On 25 August 1696, John Johnson (Jenson) was killed in his home along with his children Andrew, Peter, and Mary, leading to a series of further attacks by Native Americans, which ultimately caused Oxford to be abandoned. After the downfall of the Oxford community, Bernon departed his home in Boston for Rhode Island, where he would remain until his death in 1736.[24]

While Bernon’s effect on the French population of the Massachusetts Colony was significant, another Huguenot who settled in Boston would have an even more widespread effect on American history. Apollos Rivoire was born on 30 November 1702 in Riancaud, France, to Isaac and Serenne (Lambert) Rivoire. At about the age of 13, Apollos arrived in Boston, where he would eventually apprentice under John Cony as a goldsmith.[25] Apollos Rivoire is remembered by history thanks to the accomplishments of the third of his twelve children. On 21 December 1734 in the North End of Boston, Apollos (now using the name Paul Revere) became the father of a son whom he named Paul.[26] While Revere‘s accomplishments leading up and during the Revolutionary War are well-documented and he is often associated with American patriotism, few are aware that he is the son of a Huguenot immigrant.

For a period of more than 100 years, from 1624 until the mid-1720s, there was a fairly significant migration of French Protestants to the United States. Many of these transplants would go on to play large roles in the shaping of the ever-growing colonies. Many Huguenots who chose to make the British colonies their home are the ancestors of some of the most prominent men and women in American history, including John Jay, Henry Laurens, Boston’s noted Faneuil family, and Pierre Minuit, the man who orchestrated the purchase of the Isle of Manhattan.[27] It is undeniable that although the number of Huguenots who settled in America was fairly small, the role they played was significant.

Notes

[1] Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, The Royal French State 1460-1610 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994), 149.

[2] Ibid., 291.

[3] The Huguenot Society of America, “Huguenot History.”

[4] Philip Benedict, “The Huguenot Population of France, 1600-1685: The Demographic Fate and Customs of a Religious Minority,” American Philosophical Society 81: 5 [1991]: 164.

[5] O. I. A. Roche, The Days of the Upright, A History of the Huguenots (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1965).

[6] Ladurie, The Royal French State 1460-1610, passim.

[7] “Edict of Nantes,” Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/event/Edict-of-Nantes.

[8] Modern History Sourcebook, “Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, October 22, 1685,” https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/1685revocation.asp.

[9] Bill Marshall, France and the Americas, 3 vols. (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2005), 1: 27.

[10] Roland H. Bainton, The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1952), 111-12.

[11] Carl Ortwin Sauer, Sixteenth Century North America: The Land and the People as Seen by the Europeans (Berkley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1975), 196.

[12] “A Foothold in Florida,” Fort Caroline History, National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/timu/learn/historyculture/foca_foothold.htm.

[13] “Explorers and Settlers of Fort Caroline,” Fort Caroline History, National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/timu/learn/historyculture/foca_explorers.htm.

[14] Claude W. Calvin, The Calvin Families: Origin and History of the American Calvins, with a Partial Genealogy (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1945), 15.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Protestant Museum, “The Huguenot Refuge in America,” https://www.museeprotestant.org/en/notice/le-refuge-huguenot-en-amerique/.

[17] Jonathan Gill, Harlem: The Four Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to Capital of Black America (New York: Grove Press, 2011), 14.

[18] Protestant Museum, “The Huguenot Refuge in America,” https://www.museeprotestant.org/en/notice/le-refuge-huguenot-en-amerique/.

[19] “The Charleston Community,” The Huguenot Church of Charleston, https://www.huguenot-church.org/charleston-community.html.

[20] Chester Raymond Young, Westward into Kentucky: The Narrative of Daniel Trabue (Lexington, Ky.: University of Kentucky Press, 2014), 39; The Library of Virginia, “Virginia Naturalizations, 1657-1776,” https://web.archive.org/web/20081217223209/http:/www.lva.lib.va.us/whatwehave/notes/rn9_natural1657.pdf.

[21] Calvin, The Calvin Families, 15.

[22] Rhode Island Historical Society, “Gabriel Bernon Papers,” Catalog number: MSS 294, Historical Note.

[23] Town of Oxford, Massachusetts, Huguenot Fort Information Board, https://www.town.oxford.ma.us/sites/g/files/vyhlif4836/f/uploads/fort_information.pdf.

[24] Find A Grave Memorial, Gabriel Bernon, Memorial ID No. 19231732, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/19231732/gabriel-bernon.

[25] William Richard Cutter, Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1908), 87.

[26] Ibid., 88.

[27] Protestant Museum, “The Huguenot Refuge in America,” https://www.museeprotestant.org/en/notice/le-refuge-huguenot-en-amerique/.

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About Zachary Garceau

Zachary J. Garceau is a former researcher at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. He joined the research staff after receiving a Master's degree in Historical Studies with a concentration in Public History from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and a B.A. in history from the University of Rhode Island. He was a member of the Research Services team from 2014 to 2018, and now works as a technical writer. Zachary also works as a freelance writer, specializing in Rhode Island history, sports history, and French Canadian genealogy.

28 thoughts on “Who were the Huguenots?

  1. C’est Manifique!
    Having discovered a French connection to my Dominique and Blanchard Huguenot ancestors in NYC, who migrated via Holland circa 1750, it raised my awareness how often seemingly English surnames names have a French origin, especially with endings such as ‘ard or ‘ll’ or ‘tt’.
    To further assimilate many Huguenots joined the Episcopal church which was the denomination for much of the upper class. The Huguenots were skilled artisans, especially gold and silver smiths and craftsmen. My Dominique’s joined Trinity Church in NYC, anglicized the name to Dominick, had a prosperous lumber business by Corlear’s Hook on the east river, years later Dominick and Haft a silver company.
    Viva La France!!
    PS my only wish in this article was a reference to the Huguenot settlement of Bernon in East Greenwich, RI in the vicinity of Frenchtown, Rd before he migrated to Newport, RI.

  2. Thanks for the brief history of Huguenot migration. Do you have other online resources to share for researching Huguenot ancestors? I am interested in learning more about my Huguenot ancestors in 17th century New Netherlands and the 1700 migration to Norfolk Co.

  3. In New Rochelle, NY is a Monument to the Huguenots who settled there a photo of the plaque is one I highly prize, it shows that my Grandfather Secor’s family was one family, although spelled Sicard. We have traced to Central NY and to Canada as well offspring of this family spelled so many ways it is often humorous but descendants with out a doubt of the first family there Ambroise Sicard.

  4. Very interesting to learn that some Huguenots emigrated directly to the Americas. Before reading this, I thought that most all of them stopped over in England for a few generations as mine did. About 20 years ago, I made a half-hearted effort to trace them by spending several afternoons in the Huguenot Museum in London, which I recommend to other researchers. At that time, you had to make an appointment in advance to use the Library, which was near Euston Station. I did find my immigrant ancestor, Jean Girault, and his parents but was not able to go any further back due to lack of time.
    Many immigrants settled first in Canterbury, where the King had authorized a silk factory to make use of their talents, so you might have to continue your research there.
    One more thing that I learned in London—not all Huguenots came from France. Some fled Belgium when it was ruled by Spain from 1556 to 1714.

    1. My family is descended from Andre Lamoreux, a ship’s captain, who stayed long enough in England to have several children, then came to New York with his children. They ended up in Dutchess/Putnam County, then to Orange County and eventually either to Canada (UEL) or to Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Due to a lot of pedigree collapse, I have a lot of Lamoreux DNA.

  5. I never knew much about the Huguenots even though I lived (for part of my childhood) in a little town called “Huguenot” in Staten Island, NY. (It used to be little.) Thanks for the history!

  6. I enjoyed this historical sketch very much as I am a direct descendent of Gabriel Bernon. My great-grandmother was a prolific historian who lived her whole life in Providence, RI (Elizabeth Nicholson White 1877-1961). She did alot of family history research and published several books including this one in 1930, “The Star of La Rochelle: Being the True Story of the Life of Esther Leroy, Wife of Gabriel Bernon, 1652-1710.” If I am remembering correctly, she even was involved in a “Gabriel Bernon Society” that met at her home!

  7. Enjoyed your piece. Some Hugenots came to the Virginia Colony at the start of the 18th century. Notably Benois “Benjamin” Brasseur was said to arrive in Upper Norfolk County about 1637, which later became Nansemond, Virginia. He moved with his wife and seven children to Maryland in 1658. {Source: Charles Francis Stein, A History of Calvert County, Maryland (Calvert Co., Maryland: Calvert County Historical Society, 1960), Pages 1, 2, 242.}

    1. Fascinating ! I’m descended from the French Huguenot family named Leroy who fled to Holland, married Dutch women and emigrated to New Amsterdam. One of my ancestors had a street in Brooklyn Heights named after them – Middagh Street. There’s also a connection to the actor, Humphrey Bogart ( original family name Van den Bogaert.

  8. Being a descendant of Mayflower passenger, Francis Cooke, I found this article of particular interest: Francis Cooke’s’ wife was Hester Mahieu. Hester’s parents were of the Canterbury colony of Huguenots.

    1. Richard,
      I have Cooke and his wife Hester in my tree too as direct lineal descendants. I believe it is her brother Thomas Mayhew Jr , minister, who formed the first permanent white colony on Martha’s Vineyard at Edgartown in 1642. BTW It is still the crown jewel of the Vineyard in my opinion along with quaint Cuttyhunk.

  9. Reference: Gary Boyd Roberts, “Ancestors of American Presidents,” NEHGR, 2009 [2012 Revised Edition].

    Roberts [pp 436-7] names the parents of Hester Mahieu [called Hester Le Mahieu] as:
    “(Jacques?) LE MAHIEU of Leyden, Holland, fl. 1590-1611” and
    “Jeanne _____, living 1605.”

    As noted in my previous Comment, Hester married Francis Cooke (Francis and his son, John, were both “Mayflower” passengers); Hester, however, remained behind with their younger children, coming to Plymouth Colony a few years later on the “Anne.”
    Among famous descendants of Francis and Hester are U.S. Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George Herbert Walker Bush and George Walker Bush.
    Hester’s sister, Marie LE MARIE, married Jan DE LANNOY. Among their descendants are U.S. Presidents (John) Calvin COOLIDGE (Jr.), Ulysses Simpson GRANT and Franklin Delano ROOSEVELT.

  10. From Wikipedia:

    Edit

    Huguenot cross
    A term used originally in derision, Huguenot has unclear origins. Various hypotheses have been promoted. The term may have been a combined reference to the Swiss politician Besançon Hugues (died 1532) and the religiously conflicted nature of Swiss republicanism in his time. It used a derogatory pun on the name Hugues by way of the Dutch word Huisgenoten (literally housemates), referring to the connotations of a somewhat related word in German Eidgenosse (Confederate in the sense of “a citizen of one of the states of the Swiss Confederacy”).[2]

    Geneva was John Calvin’s adopted home and the centre of the Calvinist movement. In Geneva, Hugues, though Catholic, was a leader of the “Confederate Party”, so called because it favoured independence from the Duke of Savoy. It sought an alliance between the city-state of Geneva and the Swiss Confederation. The label Huguenot was purportedly first applied in France to those conspirators (all of them aristocratic members of the Reformed Church) who were involved in the Amboise plot of 1560: a foiled attempt to wrest power in France from the influential and zealously Catholic House of Guise. This action would have fostered relations with the Swiss.

    O. I. A. Roche promoted this idea among historians. He wrote in his book, The Days of the Upright, A History of the Huguenots (1965), that “Huguenot” is:

    a combination of a Dutch and a German word. In the Dutch-speaking North of France, Bible students who gathered in each other’s houses to study secretly were called Huis Genooten (“housemates”) while on the Swiss and German borders they were termed Eid Genossen, or “oath fellows”, that is, persons bound to each other by an oath. Gallicised into “Huguenot”, often used deprecatingly, the word became, during two and a half centuries of terror and triumph, a badge of enduring honour and courage.

    Some disagree with such double or triple non-French linguistic origins. Janet Gray argues that for the word to have spread into common use in France, it must have originated there in French. The “Hugues hypothesis” argues that the name was derived by association with Hugues Capet, king of France,[3] who reigned long before the Reformation. He was regarded by the Gallicians as a noble man who respected people’s dignity and lives. Janet Gray and other supporters of the hypothesis suggest that the name huguenote would be roughly equivalent to little Hugos, or those who want Hugo.[3]

    Flag of French Huguenots
    In this last connection, the name could suggest the derogatory inference of superstitious worship; popular fancy held that Huguon, the gate of King Hugo, was haunted by the ghost of le roi Huguet (regarded by Roman Catholics as an infamous scoundrel) and other spirits. Instead of being in Purgatory after death, according to Catholic doctrine, they came back to harm the living at night.[4] The prétendus réformés (“these supposedly ‘reformed'”) were said to gather at night at Tours, both for political purposes, and for prayer and singing psalms.[5] Reguier de la Plancha (d. 1560) in his De l’Estat de France offered the following account as to the origin of the name, as cited by The Cape Monthly:

    Reguier de la Plancha accounts for it [the name] as follows: “The name huguenand was given to those of the religion during the affair of Amboyse, and they were to retain it ever since. I’ll say a word about it to settle the doubts of those who have strayed in seeking its origin. The superstition of our ancestors, to within twenty or thirty years thereabouts, was such that in almost all the towns in the kingdom they had a notion that certain spirits underwent their Purgatory in this world after death, and that they went about the town at night, striking and outraging many people whom they found in the streets. But the light of the Gospel has made them vanish, and teaches us that these spirits were street-strollers and ruffians. In Paris the spirit was called le moine bourré; at Orléans, le mulet odet; at Blois le loup garon; at Tours, le Roy Huguet; and so on in other places. Now, it happens that those whom they called Lutherans were at that time so narrowly watched during the day that they were forced to wait till night to assemble, for the purpose of praying God, for preaching and receiving the Holy Sacrament; so that although they did not frighten nor hurt anybody, the priests, through mockery, made them the successors of those spirits which roam the night; and thus that name being quite common in the mouth of the populace, to designate the evangelical huguenands in the country of Tourraine and Amboyse, it became in vogue after that enterprise.”[6]

    Some have suggested the name was derived, with similar intended scorn, from les guenon de Hus (the monkeys or apes of Jan Hus).[7][8] By 1911, there was still no consensus in the United States on this interpretation.[9]

  11. Until 1980 most American Aurands held the belief that we were of Huguenot descent from Alsace-Lorraine. This was based on material in History of the American branch of the Aurand family from 1725 to 1900,” by Rev. Frederick Aurand (1900). This was refuted in The Aurandt Panorama 1550-1982 January 1, 1983 by Miriam Aurandt Harbaugh.its turned out that our family were German Calvinists from Nassau-Dillenburg from at least as early as 1520, long before the Revocation.

    There are French Aurands from Velay in the Auvergne, probably unrelated to the one from Germany, just a coincidence. While there were Huguenots in neighboring Gévaudan, there is no evidence that any Aurands there were Reformed.

    So, the first twenty years of my genealogical research I had a keen interest in the Huguenots and their history especially migration to North America. There was an active chapter of the Huguenot Society of America here, in Warren Ohio at the time, which encouraged my confusion.

    More from Wikipedia:

    Overall, Huguenot presence was heavily concentrated in the western and southern portions of the French kingdom, as nobles there secured practise of the new faith. These included Languedoc-Roussillon, Gascony and even a strip of land that stretched into the Dauphiné. Huguenots lived on the Atlantic coast in La Rochelle, and also spread across provinces of Normandy and Poitou. In the south, towns like Castres, Montauban, Montpellier and Nimes were Huguenot strongholds. In addition, a dense network of Protestant villages permeated the rural mountainous region of the Cevennes. Inhabited by Camisards, it continues to be the backbone of French Protestantism. Historians estimate that roughly 80% of all Huguenots lived in the western and southern areas of France.

    The bulk of Huguenot émigrés relocated to Protestant states such as the Dutch Republic, England and Wales, Protestant-controlled Ireland, the Channel Islands, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Electorate of Brandenburg and Electorate of the Palatinate in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Duchy of Prussia. Some fled as refugees to the Dutch Cape Colony in South Africa, the Dutch East Indies, the Caribbean colonies, and several of the Dutch and English colonies in North America.[18] A few families went to Orthodox Russia and Catholic Quebec.

    The revocation forbade Protestant services, required education of children as Catholics, and prohibited emigration. It proved disastrous to the Huguenots and costly for France. It precipitated civil bloodshed, ruined commerce, and resulted in the illegal flight from the country of hundreds of thousands of Protestants many of whom were intellectuals, doctors and business leaders whose skills were transferred to Britain as well as Holland, Prussia, South Africa and other places they fled to. 4,000 emigrated to the Thirteen Colonies, where they settled, especially in New York, the Delaware River Valley in Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey,[18] and Virginia. The English authorities welcomed the French refugees, providing money from both government and private agencies to aid their relocation. Those Huguenots who stayed in France were subsequently forcibly converted to Roman Catholicism and were called “new converts”.[54]

  12. I discovered a few years ago that I have a Huguenot links in one branch of my English family, who were weavers and liviing in the east end of London at the time. My 7 X gr grandfather was one Pierre Breillat who escaped from Haut Pitou in France to England in about 1720. In 1791 his granddaughter Sarah Breillat married my 5 X gr grandfather William Garland at St Leoanard’s, Shoreditch. In 2018 I was lucky enough to confirm all my facts at the Huguenot Library at TNA in west London. Fascinating.

  13. Brenda,
    Like you I have traced my Dominique, Blanchard Huguenots to Poitou. Interestingly my wife’s side Giard, French Canadians of late, have roots to Poitou but may have chosen to accept the Catholic religion to avoid persecution and made their way to Quebec. Thanks for the tip on the Huguenot library in London!
    While tracing Huguenot ancestors keep a sharp eye out for the Walloons, Dutch Protestants who sailed and settled Manhattan circa 1626+. They also are often overlooked or under-emphasized.
    Dan

  14. Excellent article on Huguenots. Thanks for sharing. I am descendant of Edmond Lafetra d. 1687 NJ and member of the Huguenot Society

  15. I descend from Philip LaPervear born 1694 Guernsey, Channel Islands and died 1764 Hampton Falls, NH. Since he married Martha Emmons in 1722, it seems he was part of this migration if he was a Huguenot. Were there Huguenots on Guernsey?

    1. Paul Revere’s father, Apollos Rivoire originally, had an uncle on one of the Channel Islands, who helped him leave southern France, and eventually sent him to Boston. See “Paul Revere and the World He Lived In” by Esther Forbes, a wonderfully readable book. Paul Revere (the son and Patriot) corresponded with a cousin living on one of the Channel Islands, who asked him why they had changed their name from Rivoire to Revere. Paul Revere replied, “on account the bumpkins can’t pronounce it.”

    2. Slightly off subject, but one of the best series ever is “Island at War” about the Chsnnel Islands during World War Two. They were the only part of Great Britain to be occupied by the Germans. There were 2 TV shows by that name, but the best one is the one that came out (around) 2006.

  16. What a great article! Thank you so much! I have a number of French Huguenot ancestors who migrated from the Virginia Colony near Richmond (5 ships from 1700-1702) They were part of your 1700 Group above and ended up in KY, intermarrying with Scots-Irish settlers there in the late 1700’s. My ancestor, PETER BRYANT was originally PIERRE BRIANT and the earliest VA and KY records reflect that. A granddaughter was even named MARIE ANTONETTE BRYANT! (She went by Nettie) This was my grandpa’s great-aunt.

  17. Clearly the lack of religious freedom for Huguenots was France’s lost in the long run to the benefit of a multitude of more tolerant countries like Holland and America etc. And we have Roger Williams, Cambridge educated Puritan, turned Baptist , founder of RI. He was the first proponent in the colonies for “Freedom of Conscience” aka Freedom of Religion via the Separation of Church and State, articulated 150 years later in our First Amendment to the Constitution.

  18. This was a great article and such information from all the comments posted here. My husband has the name “Bruere” as his middle name. We are in the possession of a translated document concerning the name “Bruyere”, which documents a Huguenot family of that name who emigrated to America in 1710. He is a descendant of Peter (Pierre) Bruyere who arrived with his mother, Susanne (______) Bruyere. We found records of the family in the Huguenot Historical Society Library in New Paltz, NY. According to the letter: the father, Jacques Bruyere, was the third son of Jacques Bruyere and Louise Douslot, whose marriage was recorded in the Church of Daubhausten, in the land and County of Coliere, Griefenstien, Germany, by one Jacques Goret, of said Church, July 10, 1709. From this letter we find that Jacques Bruyere married Louise Douslot, both of Chevre in Champagne, France, in the Temple of Daubhausten by Monsieur Gaultiery, pastor of said church, on the 29th of June 1690. There were 5 children born to the couple and the 3rd son, Jacques b. Feb. 24, 1695, and the 4th son, Pierre b. Aug. 10, 1697, decided to leave their home in Minegan and asked the Elder and Secretary of the Church, James Goret to give them a letter of recommendation to take with them when they left that church on a journey.

    When I checked a map of France, I found a village called Bruyeres and it is listed as a barony and I think the family may have originated there. The village is located southwest of the city of St. Die in the Alsace-Lorraine area and East of Epinal between the Moselle and Meurthe Rivers.

    From the library in New Paltz we found that the family of Jacques and Susanne were booked on passage to America from Germany, but something happened and Jacques never made it to America. Only his son, Peter, and his mother, Susanne, did make it here and Peter was apprenticed as a cooper. He later moved to New Jersey and his descendants thrived there. Pierre Bruyere may have settled in England as there is a town half-way between York and London called Bruyeres where heavy horses were bred for the Knights Templar to use in their campaigns.

    Peter Bruere married Elinor, daughter of Edward and Mary (unknown) Price in 1744. Their 3rd child was Captain James Bruere, who served in the Revolution in the Battle of Monmouth, in New Jersey. It is reported that he served as the president of a Court Martial of possibly of General Lee, but I have not been able to prove that information. Capt. James is also my husband’s 4th Gr Grandfather.

    I really appreciate the information in the article on the Huguenots as a religion. It explains what was happening during that time period and how the group was formed. Thank you for writing this blog.

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