France Huguenots

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In France the term Huguenots was used to denote French Calvinist Protestants.[1]

History in France[edit | edit source]

A first synod of church reformers in Paris in 1539 constituted a Reformed Church, Eglise réformée, on Calvinist lines whose adherents became known as Huguenots. They grew to become a significant minority in many areas of France by the time of their second synod in Poitiers in 1561.

Catherine de' Medici summoned the French Catholic bishops and the Protestant ministers in 1561 to the Colloquy of Poissy (Disputatio Pussicena). Although no agreement could be reached on dogma, it paved the way for the Edict of Saint-Germain in January 1562 which granted state recognition of the cult for the first time and extended a degree of tolerance to French Protestants.

The period of 1562 to 1598 is known as the Wars of Religion in reference to a series of eight civil wars in which the kingdom of France was divided on religious lines as warring noble families fought for control of the crown. Catholic France allied itself with Savoy, Spain, and the papacy to form the Catholic League; the Huguenots received support from England, the Netherlands, and the German Protestant states. During this period the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre occurred in 1572: beginning in Paris, thousands of Huguenots were murdered; in the following days thousands more were killed in Aix, Bordeaux, Bourges, Lyon, Meaux, Orleans, Rouen, Toulouse, and Troyes.

This period formally ended with the Edict of Nantes in 1598 which restored tolerance to the Huguenots and emigration pressure lessened though persecutions continued. Persecution began to build again and in 1685 the Edict of Fontainebleau revoked the Edict of Nantes and ordered the closure of Huguenot temples and schools: the Reformed Church was made illegal in France and her colonies. Whilst some Huguenots converted to catholicism, many thousands fled to Britain especially southeast England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Prussia, Cape Colony (South Africa) and the North American colonies.

The centre of Huguenot resistance was Cévennes in the south but a rebellion of the Camisards in 1702–3 failed and the presence of the Huguenots in France was thereafter negligible. In 1802 the Reformed Church was finally granted tolerance. The Huguenots joined with non-Calvinist bodies to form the Protestant Federation of France in 1909. Since 1938 they have been subsumed in the Protestant Church of France.

It is important to recall that not all French protestants were Huguenots: the Lutheran church, la Confession d'Augsbourg was tolerated in Alsace and their church registers date back to 1525. If you have protestant ancestors from Alsace, it is important to know if they were Lutheran or Huguenot.

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Huguenot

Getting Started[edit | edit source]

Brigham Young University Department of Independent Study offers a free online self-paced course, Huguenot Research.

The Huguenot Heritage Webring promotes the history and heritage of the French Huguenots, and encourages the study of the family history and genealogy of all those with Huguenot ancestors. It serves as an international link of Huguenot societies, Huguenot museums and memorials, and includes websites containing the family history and genealogy of Huguenot surnames.

Cyndi's List has a landing page for Huguenot links.

Huguenot Records[edit | edit source]

Bibliothèque Wallonne (Leiden). Fiches op de Waalse register, 1500-1828 (Card index of Huguenots, 1500-1828). Salt Lake City, Utah, USA: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1950. (Family History Library film 199,755-953.) Text is mainly in French, with some Dutch, on 198 microfilms. Includes Huguenots in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany and elsewhere. The names are alphabetical phonetically, then chronological in order by the event date. They show dates and places of births, marriages, deaths, and migrations.

Bibliothèque Wallonne (Leiden). Fiches op de registers, collectie Montauban, 1647- 1682 (Card index of Huguenots of Montauban, Tarn-et-Garonne, France, 1647-1682). Salt Lake City, Utah, USA: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1950. (Family History Library film 199,957-62.) Text in French. Alphabetical by name. Shows dates and places of births, marriages, deaths, and migrations.

Bibliothèque Wallonne (Leiden). Fiches op de registers, collectie La Rochelle, 1602- 1685. (Card index of Huguenots of La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime, France, 1602-1685). Salt Lake City, Utah, USA: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1950. (Family History Library film 199,954-56.) Text in French. Alphabetical by name. Shows dates and places of births, marriages, deaths, and migrations.

Parish Register Inventory[edit | edit source]

France. Archives nationales. Les familles Protestantes en France (XVIe siècle-1792) (French Protestant families from the 16th century to 1792). Paris, France: Archives Nationales, 1987. (Family History Library book 944 F23f; not on microfilm.) Many of the parish registers mentioned in this inventory are also available on microfilms at the Family History Library.

Historical Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Cahiers du Centre de Généalogie Protestante (See France Periodicals .)

Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français (See France Periodicals.)

Publications of the Huguenot Society of London. 57 Volumes. London, England: HSL, 1969-1985. (Family History Libraryr book 942.1/L1 B4h; most volumes have been microfilmed.) Includes many parish register transcripts from cities chiefly in Great Britain and Ireland. Text in French in some volumes.

  • Geschichtsblätter des Deutschen Hugenotten-Vereins (Historical series on Huguenot leaders, churches and settlements throughout the world, published by the German Huguenot Society). Sickte, Germany: Verlag des Deutschen Hugenotten-Vereins, 1892-. (Family History Library book 943 F2gd; fiche 6000819.) Place of publication varies. Text in German. Volumes 1-14 are indexed in Cordier, Leopold. Hugenottische Familiennamen in Deutschland (Huguenot surnames in Germany). Berlin, Germany: Verlag des Deutschen Hugenotten-Vereins, [1953?]. (Family History Library book 943 F2gd v. 1-14 index; film 962761 item 3.) Volumes 15-19 are indexed in Mathieu, Ursula-Marianne. Hugenottische Familiennamen in Deutschland, Teil II (Huguenot surnames in Germany, part 2). Bad Karlshafen: Verlag des Deutschen Hugenotten-Vereins, 1991. (Family History Library book 943 F2gd v. 20 pt. 7-10; not on microfilm.)
  • Der Deutsche Hugenott (Periodical of German Huguenot genealogy and history) Hannover, Germany: Deutscher Hugenotten-Verein, 1929-. (Family History Library book 943 B2dh; film 908257.) Text in German. A cumulative name index is found in Mathieu, Ursula-Marianne. Namensregister 1.-40. Jahrgang, 1929- 1976 (Name index for years 1 to 40, 1929-1976) Sickte: Verlag des Deutschen Hugenotten-Vereins, 1987. (Family History Library book 943 F2gd v. 19 pt. 5-7; not on microfilm.)

Significant Huguenot Records[edit | edit source]

  • Haag, Eugène. La France protestante: l'histoire (The History of Protestant France). Nine Volumes. Paris, France: Imp. de J.-B. Gros, 1846-1859. (Family History Library book 944 D3hg; film 962,949-53.) Biographical and genealogical sketches of prominent figures in the Protestant movement in France. Alphabetical by surname.
  • Mours, Samuel. Les Eglises réformées en France (The reformed churches in France). Paris, France: Librairie Protestante, 1958. (Family History Library film 765,005.) Maps and listing of Protestant centers in France with dates of establishment.
  • Wagner, Henry. Wagner collection of Huguenot pedigrees in England. Salt Lake City, Utah, USA: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1952. (Family History Library film 087,860-65, index on 824,245 item 9.) Text in English. About 1,000 surnames.

Handbook[edit | edit source]

La généalogie: histoire et pratique (see France For Further Reading). Pages 181-87 describe Protestant records, their content, and history.

Some French Protestant records may have been published or indexed by a local genealogical society library.

You may also write to the Library of French Protestantism for assistance. To pay for the search send about $15.00 worth of francs to:

Bibliothèque de la S.H.P.F.
54, rue des Saints-Pères
75007 Paris

Emigration[edit | edit source]

Britain[edit | edit source]

French churches were already established in London, Canterbury and Norwich by the time of the St Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572 which prompted the first great wave of refugees to Britain. Increasing persecution from 1661 which culminated in the 1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) led to the second great wave. It is estimated that some 40,000–50,000 Huguenots settled in England, mostly in London.

Strictly speaking the term Huguenots refers to French Calvinists, in English the term embraces Walloons and Dutch refugees from the Low Countries.

The Huguenot Society of London was formed in 1885 and is now known as The Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland. It published R. E. G. Kirk, Returns of Aliens in London, 1523–1603 (1900-1908) in 10 volumes and 4 parts. The name index of this work has been digitised: PDF 112Mb.

North America[edit | edit source]

South Carolina[edit | edit source]

Jean Ribault established a French Huguenot colony in South Carolina in 1562. American Presbyterianism can trace its origins to this foundation.

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Jean Ribault

The Huguenot Society of South Carolina was formed in 1885 "to preserve the memory of the Huguenots who left France prior to the promulgation of the Edict of Toleration, November 28, 1787. Today, the Society has nearly 2,000 members who are descendants of those Huguenots."

Florida[edit | edit source]

From South Carolina French Huguenots led by Laudonnière settled in Florida in 1564. An initial plantation of 300 established Fort Caroline now part of present day Jacksonville. By 1565, Spanish military efforts had wiped out the colony martyring many Huguenot settlers.

Wikipedia has more about this subject: René Goulaine de Laudonnière

South Africa[edit | edit source]

A colony was established at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 for the Dutch East India Company: the wife of the first Dutch Governor was a Huguenot. A trickle of Huguenot settlers would become a wave as repression increased in France. Large scale emigration was encouraged by the Cape of Good Hope colonial authorities and during 1688 and 1689 the first such arrivals occurred with many settling at Franschhoek (the French Corner). Huguenot immigrants continued to arrive although colonial subsidies stopped in 1706.

A Huguenot Memorial Museum has been established at Franschhoek.

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Huguenots in South Africa

Websites[edit | edit source]

Books[edit | edit source]

  • Kathy Chater, Tracing Your Huguenot Ancestors : A Guide For Family Historians (2012, Pen and Sword) ISBN: 9781848846104.
  • Noel Currer-Briggs & Royston Gambier, Huguenot Ancestry (2010, Phillimore) ISBN: 9781860771736.
  • Robin Gwynn, Huguenot Heritage : The History & Contribution of the Huguenots in Britain (2nd revised ed., 2000) ISBN: 9781902210353.

Mailing Lists[edit | edit source]

Did you know?[edit | edit source]

Local Huguenot churches were called temples whereas Catholic churches were called églises.[1]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Huguenots" in Gordon Campbell (ed.), The Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance (2003, Oxford University Press) ISBN-13: 9780198601753 via Oxford Reference Online (2012) eISBN: 9780191727795 accessed 15 February 2013.