The Huguenots (continued)
Huguenots in South Africa
On December 31, 1687 a band of Huguenots set sail from France to the Dutch East India Company
post at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. Individual Huguenots settled at the Cape of Good
Hope from as early as 1671 with the arrival of Francois Villion (Viljoen) and an organized, large
scale emigration of Huguenots to the Cape of Good Hope took place during 1688 and 1689. A
notable example of this is the emigration of Huguenots from La Motte d'Aigues in Provence, France.
The Huguenot Monument of Franschhoek.Many of these settlers chose as their home an area
called Franschhoek, Dutch for French Corner, in the present day Western Cape province of South
Africa. A large monument to commemorate the arrival of the Huguenots in South Africa was
inaugurated on 7 April 1948 at Franschhoek.
Many of the farms in the Western Cape province in South Africa still bear French names and there
are many families, today mostly Afrikaans-speaking, whose surnames bear witness to their French
Huguenot ancestry. Examples of these are: Blignaut, de Klerk (Le Clercq), de Villiers, Visagie
(Visage), du Plessis, du Toit, TerBlanche, Franck, Fourie, Fouche, Giliomee (Guilliaume), Hugo,
Joubert, Labuschagne (la Buscagne), le Roux, Lombard, Malan, Malherbe, Marais, Theron,
Jordaan (Jurdan) and Viljoen (Villon), Du Preez (Des Pres) amongst others, which are all common
surnames in present day South Africa. The wine industry in South Africa owed a significant debt
to the Huguenots, many of whom had vineyards in France.
The Huguenot Society of America
Barred from settling in New France, many Huguenots nevertheless moved to North America, settling
instead to the Dutch colony of New Netherland (later incorporated into New York and New Jersey),
as well as to the Thirteen Colonies of Great Britain and Nova Scotia. A significant number of New
Amsterdam's families were of Huguenot origin, often having emigrated to the Netherlands in the
previous century. The Huguenot congregation was formally established in 1628 as L'Église
française à la Nouvelle-Amsterdam. This parish continues today as L'Eglise du Saint-Esprit part of
the Episcopal (Anglican) communion still welcoming Francophone New Yorkers from all over the
world. Services are still conducted in French for a Francophone parish community, and members of
the Huguenot Society of America.
Jean Hasbrouck House (1721) in New Paltz. Huguenot immigrants founded New Paltz, New York,
where is now located the oldest street in the current United States of America with the original stone
houses, and New Rochelle, New York (named after La Rochelle in France). Chretien du Bois was
one of the original Huguenot settlers in this area. A Huguenot settlement on the south shore of
Staten Island, New York was founded by Daniel Perrin in 1692. The present day neighborhood of
Huguenot was named after Perrin and these early settlers.
Some Huguenot immigrants settled in Central Pennsylvania. There, they assimilated with the
predominately Pennsylvania German settlers. Surnames of Huguenot origin found in the area
include Forry, Free, Laucks, Lorah, Motter, Rank, Ronk, Ranck, and Zeller.
Some of the settlers chose the Virginia Colony (John Broache is one on record), and formed
communities in present-day Chesterfield County and at Manakintown, an abandoned Monacan
village now located in Powhatan County about 20 miles (32 km) west of downtown Richmond,
Virginia, where their descendants continue to reside. On May 12, 1705, the Virginia General
Assembly passed an act to naturalize the 148 Huguenots resident at Manakintown.
The Huguenot Memorial Bridge across the James River and Huguenot Road was named in their
honor, as were many local features including several schools, including Huguenot High School.
Many Huguenots also settled in the area around the current site of Charleston, South Carolina. In
1685, Rev. Elie Prioleau from the town of Pons in France settled in what was then called
Charlestown. He became pastor of the first Huguenot church in North America in that city. The
French Huguenot Church of Charleston, which remains independent, is the oldest continuously
active Huguenot congregation in the United States today. L'Eglise du Saint-Esprit in NY is older,
founded in 1628, but left the French Reformed movement in 1804 to become part of the Episcopal
Church in America.
Most of the Huguenot congregations in North America merged or affiliated with other Protestant
denominations, such the Presbyterian Church (USA), Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ,
Reformed Churches, the Reformed Baptists and the Mennonite Church.
American Huguenots readily married outside their immediate French Huguenot communities,
leading to rapid assimilation. They made an enormous contribution to American economic life,
especially as merchants and artisans in the late Colonial and early Federal periods. One
outstanding contribution was the establishment of the Brandywine powder mills by E.I. du Pont, a
former student of Lavoisier.
Paul Revere was descended from Huguenot refugees, as were Henry Laurens who signed the
Declaration of Independence for South Carolina, Alexander Hamilton, and a number of other
leaders of the American Revolution.
Some Huguenots fought in the Low Countries alongside the Dutch against Spain during the first
years of the Dutch Revolt. The Dutch Republic rapidly became a haven of choice for Huguenot
exiles. Early ties were already visible in the Apologie of William the Silent, condemning the Spanish
Inquisition and written by his court reverend Huguenot Pierre L'Oyseleur, lord of Villiers.
Louise de Coligny, daughter of the murdered Huguenot leader Gaspard de Coligny, had married
William the Silent, leader of the Dutch (Calvinist) revolt against Spanish (Catholic) rule. And as both
spoke French in everyday life, their court church in the Prinsenhof in Delft held services in French,
a practice still continued to today. The Prinsenhof is now one of the remaining 14 active Walloon
churches of the Dutch Reformed Church.
The ties between Huguenots and the Dutch Republic's military and political leadership, the House
of Orange-Nassau, existing since the early days of the Dutch Revolt explains the many early
settlements of Huguenots in the Dutch Republic's colonies around Cape of Good Hope in
South-Africa and the New Netherland colony in North America.
Stadtholder William III of Orange, who later became King of England, emerged as the strongest
opponent of Louis XIV, after Louis' attack on the Dutch Republic in 1672. He formed the League of
Augsburg as a coalition in opposition to Louis. Consequently many Huguenots saw the wealthy and
Calvinist Dutch Republic, leading the opposition against Louis XIV, as the most attractive country
for exile after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. They also found established many more French
speaking Calvinist churches there.
The Dutch Republic received the largest group of Huguenot refugees with an estimated 75,000 to
100,000 Huguenots after the revocation of the Edict. Amongst them were 200 reverends. This was
a huge influx, the entire population of the Dutch Republic amounted to ca. 2 million at that time.
Around 1700 it is estimated that near 25% of the Amsterdam population was Huguenot. Amsterdam
and the area of West-Frisia were the first areas providing full citizens rights to Huguenots in 1705,
followed by the entire Dutch Republic in 1715. Huguenots married with Dutch from the outset.
One of the most prominent Huguenots refugees to the Netherlands was Pierre Bayle, who started
teaching in Rotterdam, while publishing his multi-volume masterpiece Historical and Critical
Dictionary. Which became one of the one hundred foundational texts that formed the first collection
of the US Library of Congress.
Most Huguenot descendents in the Netherlands today are recognisable by French family names
with typical Dutch given names. Due to their early ties with the Dutch Revolt's leadership and even
participation in the revolt, parts of the Dutch patriciate are of Huguenot descent.
Britain and Ireland
Huguenot weavers' houses at Canterbury. An estimated 50,000 Protestant Walloons and
Huguenots fled to England, about 10,000 of whom moved on to Ireland. A leading Huguenot
theologian and writer who led the exiled community in London, Andrew Lortie (born André Lortie),
became known for articulating Huguenot criticism of the Holy See and transubstantiation.
Of these refugees, upon landing on the Kent coast, many gravitated towards Canterbury, then the
county's Calvinist hub, where many Walloon & Huguenot families were granted asylum. Edward VI
granted them the whole of the Western crypt of Canterbury Cathedral for worship. This privilege in
1825 shrank to the south aisle and in 1895 to the former chantry chapel of the Black Prince, where
services are still held in French according to the reformed tradition every Sunday at 3pm. Other
evidence of the Walloons and Huguenots in Canterbury includes a block of houses in Turnagain
Lane where weavers' windows survive on the top floor, and 'the Weavers', a half-timbered house by
the river (now a restaurant - see illustration above). The house derives its name from a weaving
school which was moved there in the last years of the 19th century, resurrecting the use to which it
had been put between the 16th century and about 1830. Many of the refugee community were
weavers, but naturally some practised other occupations necessary to sustain the community
distinct from the indigenous population, this separation being a condition of their initial acceptance
in the City. They also settled elsewhere in Kent, particularly Sandwich, Faversham and Maidstone -
towns in which there used to be refugee churches.
Huguenot refugees flocked to Shoreditch, London in large numbers. They established a major
weaving industry in and around Spitalfields (see Petticoat Lane and the Tenterground), and in
Wandsworth. The Old Truman Brewery, then known as the Black Eagle Brewery, appeared in 1724.
The fleeing of Huguenot refugees from Tours, France had virtually wiped out the great silk mills
they had built.
At the same time other Huguenots arriving in England settled in Bedfordshire, which was (at the
time) the main centre of England's Lace industry. Huguenots greatly conributed to the development
of lace-making in Bedfordshire, with many families settling in Cranfield, Bedford and Luton.
Many Huguenots settled in Ireland during the Plantations of Ireland. Huguenot regiments fought for
William of Orange in the Williamite war in Ireland, for which they were rewarded with land grants and
titles, many settling in Dublin. Some of them took their skills to Ulster and assisted in the founding of
the Irish linen industry. Numerous signs of Huguenot presence can still be seen with names still in
use, and with areas of the main towns and cities named after the people who settled there, for
instance the Huguenot District in Cork City. There is also a French Church in Portarlington, County
Laois which dates back to 1696, and was built to serve the new Huguenot community.
Germany and Scandinavia
Obelisk commemorating the Huguenots in Fredericia, DenmarkHuguenots refugees found a safe
haven in the Lutheran and Reformed states in Germany and Scandinavia. Nearly 44,000
Huguenots established themselves in Germany, particularly in Prussia where many of their
descendents rose to positions of prominence. Several congregations were founded, such as the
Fredericia (Denmark), Berlin, Stockholm, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Emden.
Among the early Huguenots seeking refuge in Sweden were the parents of Olaus Laurentius, who
fled from Flanders (presumably the Flemish region of France), and settled in the town of Borlange,
Sweden. In 1543 their son Olaus Laurentius (Olof Larsson) was born in Borlange. Based on his
birthdate, we must presume his parents left Flanders before 1543, early during the persecution of
Huguenots and other Protestants in France.
(From the patronymic surnaming of Sweden, we can determine that Olaus' father's name had to be
Lars (or some form of the name Laurence.) Olaus Laurentius became the Vicar of Gagnef parish,
and the patriarchal ancestor of a huge family of descendants throughout Europe and the midwest
Around 1700, a significant proportion of Berlin's population was French-speaking, and the Berlin
Huguenots preserved the French language in their church services for nearly a century. They
ultimately decided to switch to German in protest against the occupation of Prussia by Napoleon in
Prince Louis de Condé, along with his sons Daniel and Osias, arranged with Count Ludwig von
Nassau-Saarbrucken to establish a Huguenot community in present-day Saarland in 1604. The
Count was a supporter of mercantilism and welcomed technically-skilled immigrants into his lands
regardless of their religious persuasions. The Condés established a thriving glass-making works
which provided wealth to the principality for many years, and other founding families created
enterprises including textiles and other traditional Huguenot occupations in France. The community
and its congregation remain active to this day, with many of the founding families still present in the
region. Members of this community emigrated to the United States in the 1890s.
In Bad Karlshafen, Hessen, Germany is the Huguenot Museum and Huguenot archive. The
collection includes family histories, a library, and a picture archive.
The exodus of Huguenots from France created a brain drain, as many Huguenots had occupied
important places in society, from which the kingdom did not fully recover for years. The French
crown's refusal to allow non-Catholics to settle in New France may help to explain that colony's slow
rate of population growth compared to that of the neighboring British colonies, which opened
settlement to religious dissenters. By the time of the French and Indian War, there was a sizeable
population of Huguenot descent living in the British colonies, many of whom participated in the
British conquest of New France in 1759-60.
Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg invited Huguenots to settle in his realms, and a number
of their descendants rose to positions of prominence in Prussia. The last Prime Minister of the
(East) German Democratic Republic, Lothar de Maizière, is a scion of a Huguenot family.
The persecution and flight of the Huguenots greatly damaged the reputation of Louis XIV abroad,
particularly in England; the two kingdoms, which had enjoyed peaceful relations prior to 1685,
became bitter enemies and fought against each other in a series of wars (called the "Second
Hundred Years' War" by some historians) from 1689 onward.
End of persecution and restoration of French citizenship
See also: Persecution of Huguenots under Louis XV
Persecution of Protestants continued in France after 1724, but ended in 1787 with the Edict of
Toleration. Three years later, during the French Revolution, Protestants were finally granted full
The December 15, 1790 Law stated : "All persons born in a foreign country and descending in any
degree of a French man or woman expatriated for religious reason are declared French nationals
(naturels français) and will benefit from rights attached to that quality if they come back to France,
establish their domicile there and take the civic oath." This might have been, historically, the first
law recognising a right of return.
Article 4 of the June 26, 1889 Nationality Law stated : "Descendants of families proscribed by the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes will continue to benefit from the benefit of the December 15, 1790
Law, but on the condition that a nominal decree should be issued for every petitioner. That decree
will only produce its effects for the future."
Foreign descendants of Huguenots lost the automatic right to French citizenship in 1945 (by force
of the ordonnance du 19 octobre 1945, revoking the 1889 Nationality Law).
In the 1920s and 1930s, members of the extreme-right Action Française movement expressed
strong animus against Protestants, as well as against Jews, and freemasons - all three being
regarded as groups supporting the French Republic, which Action Française sought to overthrow.
During the occupation of France in the Second World War, a significant number of Protestants - not
persecuted themselves - were active in hiding and saving Jews. Up to the present, many French
Protestants, due to their history, feel a special sympathy for and tendency to support the
"underdog" in various situations and conflicts.
Protestants in France today number about one million, or about 2% of the population  . They
are most concentrated in the Cévennes region in the south.
A number of French churches are descended from the Huguenots, including:
Reformed Church of France
Eight American Presidents (George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin D. Roosevelt,
Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford and Lyndon Johnson) had significant
proven Huguenot ancestry, as did Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and Paul Revere. Twelve other
U.S. Presidents had credible but unproven claims to Huguenot ancestors.
Francis Marion, American Revolutionary War guerilla fighter, was of predominantly Huguenot
In 1924 a commemorative half dollar, known as the Huguenot-Walloon Half Dollar, was coined in the
United States to celebrate the 300th anniversary of their initial settlement in what is now the United
States. One Huguenot colonist was a silversmith named Apollos Rivoire, who would later anglicize
his name to Paul Revere. He would, still later, give his name and his profession to his son, Paul
Revere, the famous United States revolutionary. A neighborhood in New York City's borough of
Staten Island is named Huguenot, and the City of New Rochelle, New York is named after La
Rochelle, a former Huguenot stronghold in France.
According to an oft-repeated belief, one quarter or more of all Englishmen have some proven
Huguenot refugees in Prussia are thought to have contributed significantly to the development of
the textile industry in that state.