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Huguenot Ancestors

An Elusive Huguenot Connection...


The story starts with a memory of my grandfather saying that the family were supposed to be descended from Huguenots.  I remember him trying to pronounce his surname in a bad French accent, although it retained most of the cockney twang of his birthplace in Bethnal Green, in London’s East End.  Fake accent aside, the name did not sound French at all.  Years later, after some time researching of my mother’s family history, I came across an ancestor named Amelia Marmoy.  


“Now that’s got to be a French name” I said to myself - and so it proved.  Our Huguenot ancestors are in the female line, so it was no wonder my grandfather’s accent didn’t make the name he bore sound French.  Here is the amazing and moving story of those Huguenot ancestors - their persecution, immigration, and assimilation.  The original immigrants were:


  • Job Jacob Marmoy: born c1655, Sedan, Ardennes; married 1678: Elizabeth Rondeau, in Paris; died 1733, London

  • Jean Malandain: born 1648, Lintot, Normandy; married 1678: Marthe Baudouin Criquetot l’Esneval; died 1721, London

  • Jacques Molle: born c1655, Lintot, Normandy; married 1677: Marie Auger , Lintot, Normandy; died after 1710, London

  • Isaac Le Doux: born c1630, Trassy, Picardy; married 1660: Marie Le Blanc , Trassy, Picardy; died before 1705, London

  • Sara L’Espine: born c1617, Bulles, Picardy; married c1650 Josias Du Moutier,  Bulles, Picardy; died after 1681, London


The First Protestant Refugees from France

Huguenot was the name given to French Protestants in the 16th century.  It is probably a corruption of the German word eidgenossen, meaning “confederates”.  Persecution of the Huguenots began during the Wars of Religion that raged throughout France between 1562 and 1598.

The first wave of Huguenot refugees fled France following the infamous Massacre of St Bartholomew in 1572.  Ordered by Catherine de Medici, the mother of the French king, these attacks on Protestants lasted three days in Paris and six weeks in the Provinces.  When they were over, nearly 100,000 people had been murdered.  Pope Gregory XIII ordered a medal to be struck to celebrate the event.

Religious turbulence continued until the Protestant Henry of Navarre succeeded to the French throne, in the process, converting back to Catholicism. In 1598, Henry conceded tolerance of the protestant religion by issuing the Edict of Nantes.  This gave the Huguenots some respite from the persecution they had suffered over the previous forty years.  Another pope, Clement VIII, wrote the French king complaining that “a decree which gave liberty of conscience to all was the most accursed that ever had been made”.  However the protections granted by the Edict lasted for nearly a hundred years.

The Persecution of Protestants by Louis XIV

Henry of  Navarre’s grandson, Louis XIV, assumed personal rule following the death of his regent, Cardinal Marazin, in 1661.  During the twenty years that followed, the Sun King resumed persecution of the Protestants, progressively increasing the repressive measures enacted against them.

He banned the singing of psalms in private dwellings.  He encouraged children to declare themselves against the religion of their parents.  He authorized priests to intrude on sick Protestants and try to convert them lest they die “in heresy”.  He forbade communities from collecting tythes to support Protestant ministers.  He forced Protestants to only bury their dead at daybreak or nightfall. 

He barred Protestants from holding public office, from serving as judges, advocates, or notaries, and from practicing as physicians, apothecaries, librarians, book-sellers, printers, or mail-handlers.  Protestant women were forbidden to be midwives (in case they did not give Catholic baptism to children who might die soon after birth).  By 1680, even mixed marriages between Catholics and Protestants were made illegal.

As these restrictions grew more oppressive, Protestant families started leaving France.  Public opinion in England persuaded Louis’ cousin, Charles II, to issue a proclamation at Hampton Court in July 1681 welcoming these refugees from France.  The English king stated that he held “himself obliged in honor and conscience to comfort and support all afflicted Protestants who, by reason of the rigors and severities which are used towards them upon account of their religion, shall be forced to quit their native country.”

Ancestors Who Escaped from France

One who escaped was Job Jacob Marmoy, aged 26, who fled to London from Paris early in March of 1681, with his wife Elizabeth Rondeau and two young children.  Job was a native of Sedan, a Protestant center in eastern France.  He had practiced his trade as a narrow weaver - a weaver of silk ribbons - in Metz, another Protestant stronghold.  Job had moved to Paris sometime around 1677, where he met and married Elizabeth, a Parisian, most probably at the great Protestant temple of Charenton outside Paris. 


When the ship that brought the family to London docked at Tower Wharf, the Impartial Protestant Mercury reported that it carried 322 of those “distressed, poor Protestants who fled from Popish cruelty in France”.  Another pamphlet recorded that refugees from France “come hither in troops almost every day, the greatest part of them with no other goods but their children”.


Sara Du Moutier, widow of Josias Du Moutier of Bulles, Picardy, also arrived in London from Paris, at the end of June 1681.  She came over with her two unmarried daughters, Elisabett and Esther; son Abraham, with his wife Marie Le Gay and young child; and son Etienne, with his wife Anne Butoi.  Both sons were silk weavers. 


Another who came that way was Isaac Le Doux, who arrived in London from Compiegne in July of 1681, with his wife Marie LeBlanc and their seven children, aged from 20 to 2 years old.  He was a linen weaver from Trassy, a town in Picardy, east of Paris. 

The Dragonnades

The reaction of Louis XIV to this exodus was to enact further repressive measures, in a vain attempt to prevent further emigration.  In 1682, Protestants were forbidden to sell their furniture, or to leave the country with any child older than 7 years, or to travel with their domestic servants.  Guards were placed at town gates, bridges, ports, and highways leading to the frontier, and peasants came out to help them in the hope of earning a reward.  Thousands of Protestant refugees died from cold or hunger, were shipwrecked or captured.  But many more still escaped: by buying off the sentinels, fighting their way through, passing in disguise or, like the majority, just dragging their possessions at night along remote, un-patrolled paths to the border.

The restrictions on the livelihoods and movements of Protestants did little to stop the outflow of refugees - and it certainly did not result in them to converting to Catholicism.  Neither had financial incentives - such as delaying payment on any debts for three years - attracted many converts (or any driven by the right motive).  So starting in March 1685, initially in the region of Bearn, near the Spanish border, and later all across France, large numbers of rowdy troops, usually dragoons, started to be billeted in Protestant households - in numbers deliberately double the fair allocation the Catholic households might see. 

The Dragonnades in Normandy

The first occurrence of the dragonnades in Normandy was at Rouen, on 25 October 1685.  Twelve companies of cuirassiers entered the town with drawn swords to force the heads of families to renounce their religion.  At Dieppe, eight companies of dragoons entered the town in November 1685 with swords drawn.  Over fifteen days of terror they forced over 4,000 Protestants to convert.  140 families escaped to Holland and England.  Fifty citizens who refused to abjure their faith were imprisoned. 

After securing conversions in Dieppe, the dragoons dispersed into the surrounding country of the Pays de Caux.  When 25 dragoons were ordered to the estate of Isaac Dumont de Bostaquet, he records in his memoirs that, like many Protestant landowners, he signed an insincere aburation for: “fear of seeing so many women and girls exposed to the insolence of troopers to whom anything was permitted”.  [De Bostaquet later escaped to Holland, came to England with William III, fought in Ireland at the battle of the Boyne, and died there later at Portarlington.]

Others refused to sign and were imprisoned.  Jean Perigal records in his memoirs how he was arrested on 6 Dec 1685 in Dieppe and taken to the prison at Aumale, where he was regularly interrogated and beaten over the weeks and months that followed:

One of the soldiers took hold of my feet and dragged me as if to make me fall down on my back and head, which I apprehended greatly.  They then shook me, knocked me roughly against the ground and, when they had buffeted me about thoroughly in this manner, they suspended me in the air, some kicking me and others striking me with their fists, treating me just as they would have done dog. 

Then one of them took me by the feet and dragged me along the floor on my back and head the whole length of the guard-room; after which he laid me across his shoulders head downwards, holding me thus while all the others struck me on the back with all their might.  I was again violently shaken, after which they laid me down and left me half-dead.

Some time afterwards, when I raised myself up, they all surrounded me and tried to induce me to sign, so as to avoid the further torturing to which they would otherwise subject me.“

The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes

Three days before the dragoons entered Rouen, on 22 October 1685, Louis XIV had signed the Edict of Fontainebleau, which formally revoked the Edict of Nantes.  Louis acted under the influence of his Jesuit confessor, Father La Chaise, and his mistress, Madame de Maintenon (to whom he was secretly married later that year). 

Maintenon, a woman of renowned insinuation and herself a convert from Protestantism, helped convince Louis that all his previous sins and public adulteries, including that with his former mistress Madame de Montespan, would be forgiven if he were to purge Protestantism from the kingdom.  She wrote that the Revocation would: “ will cover him in glory before god and man." 

Louis had been accustomed to acting upon his desires without check but, as he grow old, suffered remorse for the scandals his adulteries had caused.  Cleansing his kingdom of Protestants now appeared to be the perfect penance to restore his record in the eyes of his own god.  And for the king who infamously claimed "L'etat c'est moi” (“The state is me”) and had come to see himself as the living impersonation of the state, the consciences of 2 million Protestant subjects were no barrier.  As the marquis de Louvois wrote: “his majesty wishes the most severe rigors to be inflicted on those who will not follow his religion.”

The Edict of Fontainebleau

The Edict of Fontainebleau comprised twelve articles:

  1. Revocation of Edict of Nantes and Nimes; demolition of all remaining Protestant temples.

  2. Prohibition of any exercise of Protestantism.

  3. Prohibition on the aristocracy to allow Protestant worship in their houses and lands.

  4. Banishment in 15 days, under penalty of the galleys, for pastors who did not convert.

  5. Financial incentives for pastors who converted, including a life pension.

  6. Reduced fees and exemptions for converting pastors becoming lawyers.

  7. Prohibition of Protestant schools.

  8. Obligation of Protestants to baptize and educate their children in the Catholic religion.

  9. Confiscation of goods of Protestants already abroad unless they return within 4 months.

  10. Prohibition of Protestants to emigrate under penalty of galleys for men, prison for women.

  11. Punishment of “new converts” if they return to Protestantism.

  12. Authorization for those not yet converted to stay in France, subject to preceding articles.

Persecution and Imprisonment of Huguenots

Not long after the dragoons arrested Jean Perigal in Dieppe, Jean Malandain and his wife, Marthe Baudouin, were arrested together at Doullens, Picardy, on 14 January 1686.  They came from Goderville in the Pays de Caux region of Normandy, where Jean was a ploughman.  It is recorded that his income was 14 livres.  He was 41 years old and his wife was 28.  They had two sons, one named Pierre, who were not arrested because of their young age. 

Doullens is over 100 miles from Goderville, and is where Isaac Dumont de Bostaquet records that he forded the river Somme during his flight to Holland a couple of years later.  So we could speculate that Jean and Marthe were while caught trying to escape with their family from France. 

The Temple at Lintot

The Protestant temple where they were married eight years before, at Criquetot Esneval, had suffered the fate of all the Protestant churches in that part of Normandy.  It had been closed the previous June by order of the King’s Council, and the building torn down.  Likewise, the temple that served Bolbec was destroyed, even though it served nearly 3000 communicants (a third of the town’s population). 

The church at Lintot was closed after the parliament of Rouen banned Protestant worship there.  Although ordered to be torn down, the building survived with its doors walled up to prevent further use.  It had been a place of worship for over 100 years, and was built on land donated by the grandfather of Isaac Dumont de Bostaquet.  It was the church where Jean Malandain’s father, Pierre, had married his mother, Anne Fichet, in 1634.  It was also where Marthe Baudouin’s father, Jean, had married his wife, Judith Lemarie, in 1652. 

Imprisonment in the Chateau at Dieppe

On 24 January, Jean Malandain and Marthe Baudouin were taken to the chateau of Dieppe.  From there, Jean was sent to the prison at Aumale, where Jean Perigal was already imprisoned. According to Perigal’s account:

In the prison at Dieppe, I met other prisoners who had been arrested for their religion like me, but within a few days we were told it was the will of the King for us to be sent to the dungeons of the chateau of Aumale.  We were taken there in a cart of men, women and girls; some of whom were put in the rooms of the chateau and others in the cellars.  The cellars were made of brick, all equally deprived of light, where we were fed only with bread and water.  One of our brothers, named Jean Malandain, a strong and robust man, was led to an underground cellar which was more than one hundred steps underground.

Later, Jean Malandain was moved to a cell above ground.  He had been held there alone for five weeks when other prisoners, including Perigal, were brought to join him: 

When he heard us, he was very happy.  Our presence was a reinforcement to his body and spirit, and he greatly rejoiced in our company.  We could speak easily from one dungeon to the other, as three of them were very close to each other, only having a door separating us.  When we made our devotions, one among the three of us would say a prayer that the others could hear; this was for us a great consolation.  That we did not expect to be long in these dungeons meant little - we did not think of leaving, although we could have done so extremely easily by forsaking our faith.

The prisoners at Aumale left behind the following inscriptions, written on a beam supporting a chimney in their jail:

Do not worry for tomorrow; each day’s sorrow is sufficient.
Do not accumulate treasure on Earth, but seek it in Heaven, because where your treasure is, there too will be your heart.

Bless those who curse you,
Love those who hate you, and 
Pray for those who chase and persecute you.

Love friendship, fear God, and honor the King.
Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s,
and to God those that are God’s.

Release and Passage to England

In February of 1688, Louis wrote from the palace of Versailles to monsieur Freydeau de Brous, his superintendent in Rouen:

Having estimates in connection with making leave my kingdom the small number of my subjects who have persisted to now in their obstinacy not to abjure the Protestant religion, I write you this letter to tell you to withdraw from the chateaux and prisons of your Department, those Protestants that they contain, to take them to Dieppe, and there embark them in a vessel which shall carry out them out of my state.  On this I request God that he has you, Mr Freydeau, in his holy guard. 

Written at Versailles on 24 February 1688. 
Signed Louis. Counter-signed Phelippeaux.

John Evelyn described Louis XIV’s decision thus in his diary entry for 23 March 1688:

The French Tyrant now finding he could make no proselytes amongst those Protestants of quality, and others, whom he had caused to be shut up in dungeons, and confined to nunneries and monasteries, gave them, after so long trial, a general releasement, and leave to go out of the kingdom, but utterly taking their estates and their children; so that great numbers came daily into England and other places, where they were received and relieved with very considerate Christian charity.

On 27 March 1688, Jean Malandain was brought back to the chateau of Dieppe to join his wife, Marthe Baudouin, who had been held there ever since their arrest two years earlier.  Exactly a month later, on 27 April, they embarked for England in a 40-ton sailing ship, together with the other 92 prisoners being expelled from the jails of Dieppe, Rouen, Le Havre, Caen and the surrounding towns.  After a calm 20-hour voyage, they landed at Dover, and then travelled across Kent, via Canterbury and Rochester, to Gravesend.  From there, they went by boat up the river Thames to London, where they finally arrived on 1 May 1688.

During these infamous dragonnades, anywhere between four and ten dragoons were billeted in a single household. Moreover, they were instructed to wreak whatever havoc took their fancy, and do anything short of killing their unwilling hosts to get them to abjure their religion. 

Dragoons fastened crosses to the barrels of their muskets and compelled Protestants to kiss them. They used the butts of those muskets and the flats of their swords to beat those who resisted, many of whom were crippled for life. They beat women with whips, struck them in the face with canes to disfigure them, dragged them through the mud by their hair, and much worse. The sound of drums and the breaking of their furniture were used to deprive people of sleep. Tobacco smoke was blown in their faces so that their resistance might break and they might convert just to be rid of their afflictors.

Fear of such methods being brought to England by the autocratic Catholic king, James II, contributed to his ouster in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.  A satirical poem, entitled Hounslow Heath, after the site west of London where his standing army was garrisoned, gave voice to those fears:

Now pause, and view the Army Royal,
Composed of valiant souls and loyal;
Not raised (as ill men say) to hurt ye,
But to defend, or to convert ye…

Among other measures decreed under the edict were that no Protestant services were permitted in public or private, and that every Protestant church was to be destroyed.  Protestant ministers had fifteen days to abjure their faith or leave the country; those who refused to conform were to be transported to slavery in the French West Indies.  Children of Protestants were to be taken from their parents and educated in Catholic convents. Protestants who did not accept the last rites risked having their bodies flung into the public sewer as soon as they were dead.

The Huguenot Exodus from France

At the end of the seventeenth century, it is estimated there were around one million Protestants among a total French population of 20 million. In many towns they constituted the most industrious and wealthiest communities.  For example, at Dieppe, only about 20% of the population was Protestant, but this minority was richer and dominated civic affairs through skillful use of their economic power.  At Nimes, a center of silk and woolen manufacturing (and original source of denim cloth), the Protestants were likewise the most influential citizens, described as “skillful in trade, daring in enterprise, and more active and industrious than regular Catholics”.

Louis XIV believed that the oppression he had launched would cause French Protestants to convert to his religion, and everything his courtiers told him reinforced this belief.  The duc de Saint Simon wrote in his memoirs that:

The king received news of the conversions from all sides. It was by thousands that those who had abjured and taken the communion were counted; 10,000 in one place, 6,000 in another - all at once and instantly.  The king congratulated himself on his power and his piety.  The bishops wrote panegyrics of him, and the Jesuits made the pulpit resound with his praises.  He had never yet believed himself so great in the eyes of man, or so advanced in the eyes of God, in the reparation of his sins and of the scandals of his life.

But the reality was that, instead of converting, huge numbers of people fled.  Although forbidden to leave France under threat of forced labor or imprisonment for life, about 250,000 people escaped.  A similar number of Huguenots probably also died as a result of the oppression over same the period.

France Loses Its Most Skilled Craftsmen

Half the Protestant population of Picardy, Île-de-France, Champagne, Brittany and Burgundy fled the country rather than convert; as did over a quarter of those in the regions of Normandy and Bordeaux.  The emigrants were mainly town-dwellers - craftsmen and artisans with trades that did not tie them to the land, who could leave their homeland taking their skills with them.  Some French cities, like Rouen and Nantes, lost over half their population. 9,000 of the 12,000 silk workers at Lyon left, and Tours suffered an even greater loss. 

Saint Simon noted that the persecution affected “nobles, rich old men, people much esteemed for their piety, learning, and virtue, people well off, weak, delicate, and solely on account of religion”.  The subsequent exodus actually “depopulated a quarter of the realm, ruined its commerce, weakened it in every direction, and banished our manufactures to foreign lands”.  Whole villages were abandoned, many towns half-deserted, certain branches of industry disappeared entirely, and a vast extent of land went out of cultivation.  The writer and philosopher Voltaire recorded that 50,000 families quit the kingdom in the space of just three years, followed by hosts of others.

Marshal Vauban, the great military engineer, wrote that - in addition to losing 100,000 artisans and its most flourishing manufactures - France also lost 9,000 sailors, 12,000 tried soldiers, and 600 officers.  This was despite soldiers being offered pensions, varying from 24 to 600 livres depending on rank, if they converted to Catholicism.  Further, many landowners, who were not allowed to liquidate their property before they fled, with no other calling open to them once in exile, then took up arms and served in Holland in the wars against Louis XIV.  Many of them subsequently came to England with William III in 1688, and later served in his campaign in Ireland.

Where the Emigrants Went

The Huguenots migrated to Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Scandinavia, and America.  Many French intellectuals fled to Holland.  Geneva, the home of John Calvin, became so crowded with refugees that they had to camp out at night in the public squares.  Huguenot refugees emigrated to Virginia, the Carolinas, New York, and Massachusetts (Faneuil Hall in Boston was the gift of the son of a refugee).

Between 1670 and 1710, over 50,000 people reached England and another 10,000 made it to Ireland.  Of those who came to England, many were natives of North-Western France - in particular Poitou (37%), Normandy (25%), and Picardy (10%). Roughly half settled in London, in an area which is usually referred to as Spitalfields, but which included large parts of Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, and Mile End New Town. 

Protestants were not to be safe in France until after the Revolution of 1792, when the Convention abolished Christianity itself - and when the Catholic clergy suffered many of the same persecutions earlier imposed on the Huguenots.

While the persecution of Protestants in France was appalling, it must be noted that Catholics suffered discrimination in England over much of the same period. Catholic services were outlawed in 1559, and remained illegal even after Nonconformist Protestants achieved freedom of worship in England in the seventeenth century.  It was not until Parliament passed the Emancipation Act of 1778 that laws restricting worship, education and inheritance for Catholics started to be repealed.

Immigration, Denization, and Naturalization

The official English policy of welcoming Protestant refugees from France, and further encouraging and supporting their immigration to England, had been set out by Charles II in 1681.  Lest this policy be confused with toleration of non-conformist Protestantism in general, the king’s chaplain, George Hickes, provided the rationale for why the acceptance of French dissenting Protestants into the kingdom did not extend to dissenting Protestants already living in England: the Huguenots had “no quarrel at the Church because it is Episcopal, but because it is Popish”. 

As news of the persecution of the Huguenots reached England, it generated support for their defiance from fellow Protestants, but also genuine sympathy for their plight, and helped prepare the ground for the arrival of the large numbers of Huguenot refugees.  In 1686, Lady Rachel Russell, niece of the marquis de Ruvigny, wrote in a letter:

Tis enough to sink the strongest heart to read the accounts sent over: how the children are torn from their mothers and sent into monasteries, their mothers to another, the husband to prison or the galleys.

The stories of the arriving refugees were numerous, moving, and well known. One Mary Perreau, living in Spitalfields, told that her husband was condemned to the galleys for 101 years. Martha Guisard, living in Frith Street, told that she fled France because her father was burned at the stake for his beliefs.

There was a brief hiatus in the official policy of welcoming refugees during the short reign of Charles’ successor, James II. As a Catholic, James took an equivocal stance towards Protestants, all of whom he considered potential republicans, particularly those fleeing from France.  However, lacking the power to reverse popular English sympathy for the Huguenots, many of his actions were motivated by a clumsy desire to minimize the impact of their oppression on public opinion. In 1686, he ordered an English translation of an Account of the Persecutions and Oppression of the Protestants in France to be burned as soon as it was published. John Evelyn recorded the event in his diary:


This day was burnt in the old Exchange, by the common hangman, a translation of a book written by the famous Monsieur Claude, relating only matters of fact concerning the horrid massacres and barbarous proceedings of the French King against his Protestant subjects, without any refutation of any facts therein; so mighty a power and ascendant here had the French Ambassador.

James told the French ambassador that he wished the Huguenots could be treated more gently because “the rumors which are put abroad here about the violence used against them have a harmful effect, and give people cause to say that I might one day treat my subjects in the same way”. 

He was not given the chance. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688 - in which James II was replaced by William III at the invitation of Parliament - the welcome of Protestant refugees was assured.  In 1689, the theoretical basis of the English policy of religious toleration towards all (except Catholics and atheists) was articulated in John Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration, and was put into law the same year by the Act of Toleration. 

William III welcomes French Protestants

William restated the policy of welcoming Huguenots in a declaration: "For the Encouraging of French Protestants to Transport themselves into this Kingdom". 


This started by drawing a comparison of the plight of the Huguenots with the recent “deliverance of the English people from the persecution threatening them for their religion” - that is, from the reign of James II.  Having found in his subjects a “true and just sense for the miseries and oppressions” of the French Protestants, the Calvinist king William offered his protection to any who sought refuge in England.  Further, he offered government assistance for their respective trades, so that “living and being in this realm may be comfortable and easy to them”.

The legal basis for allowing Huguenot immigration was provided by granting denization - a right of legal residence in the kingdom, granted by the Crown rather than Parliament.  Denization provided many of the privileges of citizenship, including the right to buy property and convey it to children born in England, but it still left denizens liable to some customs duties and unable to vote.  The first Denization Order was signed by Charles II in July 1681. 

Ancestors Who Became British Citizens

On the Patent Rolls for 8 March 1682, which recorded the new denizens, are listed: Job Jacob Marmoy, his sons Jean Jacob and Jean Maximilian; Isaac Le Doux, his wife Marie, and children Isaac, Jacob, Louis, and Madeline; as well as Isaac’s brother Elias Le Doux, wife Marthe, and son Elias; the sons of Sara Du Moutier, Abraham Du Moutier, his wife Marie, and son Abraham, and Etienne Du Moutier and his wife Anne.


The further step of progressing Huguenots from denizens to citizens was later sanctioned by the Foreign and Protestants Naturalization Act of 1708.  Applicants had to swear before a judge that they did not believe in transubstantiation of the sacrament, that adoration of the Virgin Mary was superstitious and idolatrous, and reject any Papal jurisdiction over Great Britain.  Further, they had to take an oath of allegiance to queen Anne, reject any claim of James Francis Edward Stuart (the Old Pretender) to the throne of Great Britain, and promise to support the provisions of the Act of Settlement of 1701, which made Sophia, electoress of Hanover, and her Protestant descendants heir to the British crown.  Finally, they had to pay a fee of one shilling. 

Although it was repealed a few years later, due to pressure from Tories who were afraid it was allowing too many Non-Conformist Protestants to gain citizenship, many Huguenots officially became British citizens under its auspices, including Job Jacob Marmoy and Jean Le Doux (his father Isaac was dead by this time) in 1709, and Jean Malandain in 1710.


In 1700, Daniel Defoe published a verse entitled The True-Born Englishman, which described the melting-pot that England had been from the time of the Romans onwards.  Defoe initially wrote the poem to rebut attacks on the Dutch-born king, William III, but it was so in tune with the public mood that it sold more copies than any printed work to date (many in illicit editions, as Defoe complained bitterly):


We blame the King that he relies too much,
On strangers, Germans, Huguenots, and Dutch.
A True-Born Englishman’s a contradiction,
In speech an irony, in fact a fiction,
A metaphor invented to express,
A Man akin to all the Universe.

Charitable Assistance for Huguenot Refugees

Many Huguenots arrived in England in a destitute condition, and were in desperate need of the generous assistance that was provided by the Huguenot community and by general public subscription.  Most refugees brought with them a temoignage.  This was a testimonial of their “firm adherence to the Protestant Religion” from their home church in France.  They presented this to one of the French Reformed churches in London, for admission and to get access to charitable assistance.

The most important of these French churches was in Threadneedle Street, between Broad Street and Bishopsgate.  It had been given a charter by Edward VI to serve as a center where European Protestant refugees could worship according to their own beliefs, and was established in 1550 by John Laski, a Polish disciple of John Calvin.  There is reason to believe it was being considered as a model for a reformed, bishop-less Church of England; an outcome doomed by the early death of the king. 

Charity of the Threadneedle St Church

The newly-arrived Job Jacob Marmoy and his family went quickly to the French Church in Threadneedle Street and presented their temoignage.  The Impartial Protestant Mercury reported that Job and the others arriving on his boat from France: “repaired to the French Reformed Church here and, having entered their names with the several places of their late residence in that Kingdom, gave Testimonials of their firm adherence to the Protestant Religion”.  In August 1681, the family was given 15 shillings from the Charitable Collection of the church, and in October received further assistance in the form of a pair of sheets.


Jacques Molle and his wife, Marie Auger, presented their temoignage on 30 March 1701.  It is not known when they arrived in London.


Sara Du Moutier presented her temoignage on 29 June 1681; shortly after arriving from Paris.  Her sons, Abraham and Etienne, presented their temoignages on 31 July 1681, about six weeks later.  Sara received 10 shillings from the church on 12 August, and another 15 shillings on 19 August “to get a bed”.  Abraham and Marie Du Moutier received ₤1 on 12 August 1681 to get a bed, for the register recorded “they lie upon straw”.  They received 5 shillings the following week, and 2 shirts and a pair of pants in September. Etienne and Anne Du Moutier received 5 shillings on 12 August 1681, and 1 pound and 15 shillings on 19 August after Etienne promised to be wholly out of charge if he was given that amount. 

During August and September of 1681, Isaac Le Doux was given assistance: amounting to ₤5: first 18 shillings because he was sick, then ₤1 for two of his children who “lie upon boards”, and later ₤2 to get a bed. 


However, the Huguenot immigrants were hard-working and soon supporting themselves. Isaac Le Doux had repaid the whole amount of the charity he had received three years later. Job Jacob Marmoy also prospered, because within two years he was able to pay five pounds for admission to the Weavers’ Company as a foreign master.  Stow’s Survey of London noted that, for their neighborhoods, “these strangers may serve for patterns of thrift, honesty, industry and sobriety”.

The Refuge - Huguenot Welfare

This strong and active Huguenot community referred to themselves as “the Refuge” - in fact, the English word “refugee” derives from the Huguenots use of it to describe themselves.  A sermon preached at the Savoy French Church in 1682 described the Refuge as a “colony of French Protestants whom the tempest casts ashore every day in our harbors.  They are Israelites crossing the sea to retire into Canaan; they are merchants of the gospel who have come to seek in our kingdom, the kingdom of Heaven.”


Through the French Church in Threadneedle Street, the community continued to provide a safety-net of poor relief to its members that was unmatched until modern times.  For example, Job Jacob Marmoy was granted special assistance while he and his large family were ill, amounting to 4 shillings a week from Christmas 1698 to the late spring of 1699, and 2 shillings and 6 pence a week thereafter until March 1700.


Huguenot churches also supported Maisons de Charite that distributed food to members of the community who had fallen upon hard times, the one in Spitalfields being colloquially known as “La Soupe”.  Job Jacob’s son, Jean Jacob Marmoy, is recorded as receiving assistance in February 1741, when he was 60 years old. He received “4 portions la semaine” - a portion consisting of 8 ounces of dry bread, 4 ounces of bread in the soup, and half a pound of meat.

Assistance was also made available to the arriving Huguenots from public subscriptions.  Shortly before he died, in 1685, Charles II made a Declaration “for the further relief and encouragement of the necessitous Protestants”, which organized a brief for collecting the charity of all well-disposed persons, which was sent to all churches, mayors, and justices. John Evelyn records (25 April 1686):

This day was read in our church the Brief for a collection for relief of the Protestant French so cruelly barbarously, and inhumanly oppressed without any thing being laid to their charge.  It had been long expected, and at last with difficulty procured to be published, the interest of the French Ambassador obstructing it.

By 1688, a report to Parliament found that £65,000 had been collected, and proposed future needs be met from taxes, amounting to £17,200 per year, from a fund that became known as the Royal Bounty.  By 1695, £125,000 had been distributed.  Distributions continued throughout the reign of queen Anne, at the rate of £12,000 per year, and until the death of George I at the rate of £8,500.  Even as late as 1760, Archbishop Secker was still lobbying the prime minister for continued funding, 

A clerical and lay committee oversaw the distributions from the fund, which were carefully vetted, although some accusations of inequality did find their way into the press.  Funds from the Royal Bounty would be used for the foundation of the French Hospital in London in 1718.

Job Jacob Marmoy and his wife Elizabeth Rondeau received a number of payments from this fund to help support their disabled (“imbecile”) son, Isaac. The first payment was for 5 pounds and 17 shillings in 1722, followed by payments of 11 pounds and 14 shillings for each year from 1723 to 1725, 3 pounds and 6 shillings in 1726, and 3 pounds and 18 shillings in 1727. After that time, Isaac became an inmate of the French Hospital (q.v.), supported by the French Church. Job Jacob himself received 1 pounds and 13 shillings from the Royal Bounty in 1731, when he would have been about 76 - followed by the same amount the following year. After Job died in January 1733, Elizabeth received a similar payment in 1734, made out to “the widow Marmoi”. 


Jean Malandain and Marthe Baudouin received £7 from the Royal Bounty in 1705, when he was 63, she was 51, and they were residing in Spitalfields. Two years later, they received another £8. In 1721, Marthe received $9 in her name alone. Jean was listed in the published accounts of the Royal Bounty as a “confesser”, which was defined thus:


Although the denomination of Confessors of Truth may be in general extended to all those, who for the Cause of the Gospel have forsaken their Estates and quitted the Advantages they were possessed of in their Country, yet that Title has been restrained here to those who have suffered on board the Gallies, in Prisons, or undergone some extraordinary Vexations, and whom God has been pleased to bring out of their tribulations & supported them that they never complied in anything that may prejudice their Consciences.

The Huguenot Colony at Portarlington, Ireland

James II initially fled from England to the court of Louis XIV, but later returned to Ireland with a French army.  This led to the Williamite War in Ireland, which concluded after his defeat at the battle of the Boyne in 1691.  Huguenot soldiers were prominent in William III’s army in Ireland.

 After peace was concluded, their most senior officer, Henri de Massue, marquis de Ruvigny (and later earl of Galway), was made commander-in-chief in Ireland.  Many Huguenot soldiers were pensioned off and settled in Ireland - in an ironic reversal - on the forfeit estates of Irish Catholic nobility. 

In 1693, Ruvigny was made custodian of one such estate at Portarlington in central Ireland, which was immediately settled by a large number of pensioned French officers.  A second wave of settlers arrived in 1699, after the Peace of Ryswick ended the War of the Grand Alliance (aka King William’s War), when the five Huguenot regiments in William III’s army were finally disbanded.  Retired officers were offered leases in Portarlington at the cheap rent of 2 shillings and 6 pence per acre. 

Although William III had already been accused of favoritism for leasing these Irish estates “under rates” to the foreigners who had served in his army, in June 1696 he converted Ruvigny’s custody of the land at Portarlington into a free grant.  This caused a storm in Parliament, which needed the confiscated Irish land as collateral to pay the king’s soaring war debts. In 1699, Parliament appended an Act of Resumption to the budget, forcing William to restore the land at Portarlington to the Crown and put it up for auction.  This reversal caused great uncertainty for the tenants that lasted until 1703, when the land was sold off to a group of London-based investors incorporated as the Hollow Sword Blade Company.

Aristocratic Norman Settlers

By 1703 there were 170 families and 450 French settlers at Portarlington. Over half of these were military pensioners, including several aristocratic natives of the Pays de Caux: 

  • Isaac Dumont de Bostaquet, who had served as a captain in Ruvigny’s Horse regiment, retired there in 1698 on a pension of 5 shillings a day.  He arrived from Dublin, where he had completed his Memoirs, and leased a 40-acre farm (holding #1 on map).  Bostaquet’s father-in-law was the lord of Lintot in Normandy.

  • Daniel Le Grand du Petit Bosc, a native of Fecamp in Normandy.  Retired from Le Meloniere’s Foot regiment as a lt-colonel in 1692, on a pension of 10 shillings a day.  He owned 50 acres and a house (#4 on map), and sublet other holdings (#8 on map).

  • Charles de Bures de Bethencourt, another native of the Pays de Caux, who had served as a captain in one of the Huguenot Foot regiments, retired on a pension of 5 shillings a day and came to Portarlington in 1694.  He bought plot #29 on the map. 


Though the settlers were mainly military, and nearly all aristocratic, they brought with them to the colony almost as many trade and laboring refugees. 

The Malandain Sojourn at Portarlington

Jean Malandain first appears in the registers of the French church at Portarlington, shortly after they commence, on 11 October 1694, listed as an ancien (elder).  From then up until 24 June 1697, he is regularly listed, witnessing over forty baptisms, marriages, and burials; along with church other elders such as de Bostaquet, du Petit Bosc, and de Bethencourt.

On 29 July 1696, the register records the baptism of Daniel, Jean Malandain and Marthe Baudouin’s own son. Daniel’s godparents were colonel du Petit Bosc and Angelique Daunis, daughter of Pierre Daunis du Caillaud (a retired captain of Cambon’s Foot regiment and tenant of #5 on the map).  The church elders who witnessed the baptism were de Bethencourt and David Proisy d'Eppe (a retired captain of Ruvigny’s regiment).

It is not clear what brought the Malandain family to Portarlington, or when they arrived - although they were there in the settlement’s early days.  Once there, Jean was in the company of many retired officers from his native Pays de Caux, both as a church elder and neighbor.  He may have been one of the tenants of colonel du Petit Bosc.  Perhaps he chose the godparents for his son because he had also served under du Petit Bosc or Daunis in the Williamite army. 

All five officers mentioned here had escaped to Holland by 1687 from France (including three from the Pays de Caux).  All came over to England with William III in November 1688, arriving in London six months after Jean and Marthe.  Unlike many Huguenot emigrants, Jean was a farmer not a craftsman or weaver, and life in the city would have been very alien to him.  When all those officers from his homeland left to fight in the campaign in Ireland in July 1689, the likelihood may be that Jean went with them, despite lacking previous military experience.  Although the Malandains had a son born in London, around 1690, Marthe would have stayed behind.  Since the regimental lists only record officers, we may never know for sure.

By 23 April 1699, Jean Malandain was back in London, where he presented his temoignage at the French Church in Threadneedle Street, and is recorded as being of “Wansor [Windsor] et d'Irlande”.

Huguenot Silk Weavers

Huguenots contributed to many areas of English life.  They were instrumental in the founding of the Bank of England: over one hundred recently-arrived Huguenots contributed 10% of the bank’s founding deposits in 1694, and the bank’s first governor, John Houblon, was of Huguenot descent.  Other notable Huguenots were David Garrick the actor, John Rocque the mapmaker; and John Dollond the optician. Huguenots were also schoolmasters, makers of precision instruments like guns, telescopes, and watches, jewelers, gold and silversmiths, glass-makers, clothiers, wig-makers, and cabinet-makers.

Most famously, the Huguenots were associated with the silk weaving industry, centered in Spitalfields.  They brought to London skills in weaving broad silks, which had hitherto been closely-guarded secrets of French silk manufacturers and had all been imported into England.  Broad silks were materials such as satins (glazed silks), brocades (silks patterned with raised figures), velvets, damasks (rich figured silks), gauzes (thin silks), lustrings (glossy silks), and ribbons. These highly-patterned fabrics were made into ladies’ dresses and men’s waistcoats. 

The combination of these new skills and a ready market for French fashions was such that, by 1700, it was said “the English have now so great an esteem for the workmanship of the French refugees that hardly anything vends without a Gallic name”.  Of the numerous Huguenot silk masters, the most famous were the Courtauld family (whose company survives today as part of Akzo Nobel).

In London, Spitalfields was already a center both of religious non-conformity and of the silk weaving industry, so it was a natural destination for refugee Huguenot artisans.  By 1700, the population of Spitalfields was almost exclusively French, and Londoners complained that it was difficult to hear English spoken in the streets.  Around 75% of those named in the records of Spitalfields’ nine French churches were involved in the weaving industry.  In fact, there were so many Huguenot weavers that the Weavers’ Company had to appoint a French-speaking clerk. 

Even today, the street names in Spitalfields - such Fournier, Leman, Princelet and Fleur-de-lys - record the French influence.  Fournier Street, which is still lined with tall Huguenot weavers’ houses, was built in the 1730s, with Hawksmoor’s tall-spired Christ Church at one end and a Huguenot chapel at the other.

The Fournier Street chapel exemplifies how Spitalfields continued to be a melting-pot for immigrants to England. In the 19th century it became a Methodist chapel; during most of the 20th century it was an Ashkenazi synagogue; and it is now a mosque serving the Bangladeshi community.  At 18 Folgate Street, an old silk master’s house has been restored as a time-capsule museum, where you can experience each room as if you had just intruded on the life of the mythical family of a silk-master during the early 18th century (

The silk trade became one of London’s most important industries, serving the growing metropolis and exporting to America. It prospered through various technical innovations, stimulating new fashions and, in turn suffering, as fashions changed. In a petition to Parliament of 1713, the Weavers’ Company claimed that the value of English silk manufacturing was twenty times what it had been in 1664 and that the silks, brocades, and ribbons produced in England were as good as those produced in France.

Generations of Silk Weavers

Silk weaving remained the trade of the Marmoy family in Spitalfields for many generations:

  • Job Jacob Marmoy practiced his trade as a narrow silk weaver after arriving in London from Paris, from 1682 onwards in Phoenix Street, Spitalfields. 

  • Job’s eldest son, Jean Jacob Marmoy, married at St Dunstan, Stepney, and is recorded as living in 1741 in Coverlys Fields “beyond the Cock and Hoop”. 

  • Jean Jacob’s son, Jean Marmoy, was also a weaver, who lived “west of the High Street” in Shoreditch, and later in Mile End New Town. 

  • Jean’s son, John Marmoy, was a broad silk weaver who lived in Mile End New Town. 

  • John’s son, another John Marmoy, also a broad silk weaver, lived in Hunt Street, Mile End New Town, and married Ann Howard in 1799 at St John, Hackney. 


Ann Howard was the daughter of Thomas Howard, a weaver of Cock Lane, Shoreditch, and Susanna Ledoux

Susanna Ledoux had been baptized at the Threadneedle Street French Church in 1746.  She was the daughter of Jean Ledoux, a weaver, and Susanne Malandain, who were married at St Dunstan, Stepney in 1730.

The Decline of the Silk Industry

As the eighteenth century progressed, there was increasing competition from other textiles, particularly cotton.  In 1719, a mob of 4,000 silk weavers rampaged through the city, attacking women who were wearing newly-fashionable Indian calicoes or printed linens, and literally tearing the fabric from their backs. 

The Weavers Company was active in trying to protect the industry. In 1744, John Marmoy was one of a group of weavers who were sued by the Company for practicing their trade without being members.  The Company even engaged Daniel Defoe to present their case for Parliament to enact further regulation against foreign imports:


The Trade of these poor men is taken from them and they are reduced to a starving miserable condition.  The universal Female Fancy pushes us upon such a great consumption of Callicoes so that India Chints and Dutch printed Callicoes are almost as frequent and familiar in England now as if there was no prohibition, to the ruin not of our woolen manufactures only but even the printing trade itself.

Despite excise duties and even outright bans on the importation of silks, there was prevalent smuggling, and in 1766 it was estimated that over 7,000 looms were out of employment. 

Violent disturbances caused by disputes between the silk masters and their journeymen (workers) over wages, led to the passage of the so-called “Spitalfield Acts” of 1773 and 1792, which fixed the wages of silk workers in the Spitalfields area.  However in the long term, the effect of these Acts was to distort the market against the interests of the weavers.  Silk masters were no longer able to reward superior weaving skills, and they were forced to throw weavers out of work when they could not be paid the fixed wage.  A strong incentive was also created to move their work elsewhere: to Essex, Derby, and Macclesfield - where silk was increasingly manufactured in mechanized factories rather than by cottage-based craft workers.

The conditions of Spitalfields silk weavers in the eighteenth century anticipate those of the semi-employed proletarian outworkers of the nineteenth century, because the industrialization of the silk industry preceded that in the cotton and wool industries.  This verse included in Samuel Sholl’s account of silk manufacture from 1811 gives a sense of the desperation of many silk workers:

My loom’s entirely out of square
My rolls now worm-eaten are;
My clamps and treadles they are broke
My battons, they won’t strike a stroke;
My porry’s covered with the dust
My shears and pickers eat with rust;
My reed and harness are worn out
My wheel won’t turn a quill about;
My shuttle’s broke, my glass is run
My droplee’s shot - my cane is done!“


In 1816, it was estimated that two-thirds of the Spitalfields weavers were without employment, and in 1823 the Acts were repealed. The introduction of the Jacquard loom enabled the most elaborate materials to be produced by weavers with only basic skills, which depressed wages further and threw many weavers into poverty.

When John Marmoy died in 1847, at the age of 74, he was living in New Nichol Street, Bethnal Green.  In a survey of Bethnal Green written that year, Dr Hector Gavin described that street as having a "roadway in a most dilapidated condition, and most disgusting, from the surface being covered with refuse, garbage, and mud”.


His grand-daughter, Amelia Marmoy, a broad silk weaver married Joseph Cannon, silk shein dyer and at times - presumably when the silk trade was depressed - a shoe maker.  They lived from 1846 to 1860 in Camden Street, Bethnal Green, which was described by Hector Gavin as a weavers’ street.  

A treaty with France in 1860 removed customs duties on imported silks and caused thousands of weavers to be thrown out of work.  Over the next twenty years, five of Joseph Cannon’s nine children emigrated to Chicago.

By 1901 there were only about 500 people still employed in the whole of London.  Today, almost no silk is manufactured in Britain.

As their industry declined, so did their distinct community.  By 1881, it was noted that while descendents of the Huguenots still lived in Spitalfields and Bethnal Green, they were now so English that they could not “speak a word of French or even pronounce their own names in the French fashion”.

By 1900 there were only three French churches left in the whole of Greater London, and today there is just one (in Soho Square). 

Jean Ledoux’ father and grandfather, both also named Jean Ledoux, had both lived in Cork Lane, Stepney. The elder Jean Ledoux’ father, Isaac Le Doux was the linen weaver who had come to London from Trassy, France, in 1681.

Susanne Malandain was the grand-daughter of Jean Malandain and Marthe Baudouin who were released from imprisonment in Dieppe and expelled from France in 1688.

At the turn of the 19th century, when the population of the Spitalfields area was over 100,000 people, it was estimated that 50,000 were still entirely dependent on the silk trade, and the majority of the remainder indirectly so.

The Life of the Silk Weaver

Silk weaving in the 18th century was a cottage industry.  Weavers originally worked at the house of their silk masters, but later took their work home and worked in the well-lit upper rooms of their cottages.  These distinctive “weavers’ lights”, reaching almost the width of the house, were constructed so that light would fall on the whole loom while the weaver was at work. 

Areas like Bethnal Green were essentially still rural in character until the end of the turn of the 19th century, and the Huguenot weavers were renowned for cultivating gardens and training singing birds.  By mid-century, these had been replaced with whole streets of weavers’ houses; generally consisting of two rooms on the ground floor and a workroom above.

A report to the Poor Law Commissioners in 1837, stated that a weaver generally had two looms; one for himself and one for his wife.  Children were put to work at six or seven to quill silk, at nine or ten years of age to pick silk and, at around twelve, to weave plain silk fabrics at the loom.

The French Hospital

In 1708, Jacques de Gastigny bequeathed £1000 for the building of a hospice for distressed French Protestants and their descendents.  Gastigny was a Huguenot who had first fled to Holland, and later come over to England with William III. £500 of Gastigny’s bequest was for the building of the hospice; the remainder was to be invested for its maintenance.  His executor, Phillipe Menard, built the hospital for 80 inmates on a piece of ground “contiguous to the Pest Houses on the south side by St Luke’s parish”, in a lane leading from Old Street, Finnsbury.

In 1718, a royal charter was obtained for the charity from George I.  The French community continued to make donations to the charity, including in 1720 the famous St Leger necklace of oriental pearls.  And in 1760 a larger building was able to be completed.  The enlarged French Hospital or “La Providence”, as it was also known, fronted onto Bath Street, and housed 230 inmates, and had at least one physician on staff.

Marmoy Inmates

Three children of Job Jacob Marmoy became inmates of the French Hospital. Isaac Marmoy, Job Jacob’s youngest son, a weaver who had been apprenticed to his father, and had earlier received assistance from the Royal Bounty due to him being an “imbecile” (q.v.), was recorded entering the hospital on 1 October 1729, at the age of 33.  The French Church undertook to pay his keep, according to the cognisance of Mr Jean Faure Diacre.  He was placed in one of “les petites maisons”, the cells for the deranged, where he remained until his death in 1757.


The same month Isaac died, his brother, Jean Maximillian Marmoy, was admitted to La Providence on 30 April 1757, aged 78.  His petition records he had been living in Brick Lane, Spitalfields, but was now in a very weak condition and unable to earn his living as a weaver.  His application was supported by Mr Jacques Lardant, of 10 Fournier Street, Spitalfields, a prosperous silk weaver who employed a large number of journeymen.  Unfortunately Jean Maximillian died just two days after his admission.  (His son, also called Jean Maximillian, later became an inmate from 1786 until his death in 1792 at the age of 87.)


Pierre Marmoy, Jean Maximillian’s younger brother, who lived in Austin Street, Shoreditch, first applied to enter the Hospital in 1758, also on the recommendation of Mr Lardant.  Though offered admission in 1761, he declined at that time, but applied again in 1766.  He was then admitted that 25 January, at the age of 84, suffering from great infirmity, poverty, and reduced to the worst destitution. 

His recommenders on that occasion were messieurs Salomon Hesses, Jean Guillemard, and Paul Abraham.  His application (see left) records him as the son of Job Jacob Marmois, “natif de Sedan, refugie pour cause de Religion”.  Pierre died three years later, when the Hospital paid 15 shillings and 4 pence for a coffin and wool shroud for his funeral.

Elizabeth Gaskell wrote that by 1853 the French Hospital had lost much of its distinctive national character.  Whereas, as late as the turn of the 19th century, the inmates could have been heard speaking in antiquated French; by the 1850s most of them were but third or fourth generation Huguenot descendants who could not speak a word of the language. However, the French style remained: a Mrs Stephens, who was admitted much later, became known as Madame St Etienne as soon as she entered the hospital.

The New French Hospital at Victoria Park

In June 1865, a new building was completed at the edge of Victoria Park, Hackney, on three acres in Wick Lane, near to the public drinking fountain donated a few years earlier by the philanthropist, Angela Burdett Coutts.  It was designed in the style of 17th century French chateaux by Robert Louis Roumieu, an architect of Huguenot descent.  This new French Hospital was designed to house 60 inmates: 40 women and 20 men.

Inmates were admitted after successfully petitioning to establish their descent from French ancestors or, if they had been born in France, having their Protestant faith confirmed.  Each inmate had a comfortable bedroom, their own bath and ventilation, and was provided with a small annuity for clothes, etc.  They ate together in a communal dining room, and shared public day rooms, a library, and a chapel that could seat 100 people.  All the inmates were expected, if able, to “help towards the general economy” of the Hospital on a daily basis.  Hot and cold water was also piped throughout the building, providing winter heating via hot-water radiators. 

The Victoria Park building was designed to be light and airy, and was much praised - as was the quality of care, which was way beyond anything most Britons could expect until the introduction of the Welfare State in 1945.  However, the Charity Commissioners, in an 1875 inspector’s report, thought such provision excessive:

A handsome building, too handsome indeed for the purpose for which it was designed viz: the board and lodging of aged weavers and weaveresses, ordinary labourers and domestic servants … This Institution is eminently adapted to [people who] have been accustomed to more care, better accommodation, and greater consideration than were ever dreamt of in the wretched hovels of Spitalfields.

Amelia Cannon and Ruth Marmoy

In 1872, a year after her husband died, Amelia Cannon petitioned to enter the French Hospital, as a widow “now supported by her children who can ill afford her maintenance through their large families”.  Additionally she was suffering from “bodily infermity and defective sight arising from old age”.  She was not admitted as an inmate, but appears to have been given a pension of two shillings and sixpence a week, and was employed in the Hospital as a men’s nurse. In 1876 she applied for some “further help than that usually allowed to registered petitioners” (ie for her pension to be increased to 7s 6d), but was informed by the Managing Committee that her application could not be complied with. 


Amelia’s unmarried sister, Ruth Marmoy, was a skilled silk weaver.  For the last ten years of her life, until 1891, she enjoyed the shelter of the French Hospital, to which she was admitted on the recommendation of her probable employer, Robert Senecal of 37 Spital Square, a silk manufacturer employing 200 weavers. In the Hospital she was known as “Mrs Marmoy”.  When she died, she left behind a sample of her weaving - satin tissue in royal blue, with a large gold design - said to be among the best now in the Hospital’s collection.Among her personal possessions were “clothing, six books, a looking-glass, six shillings in money”

(The Hospital still exists today as 39 sheltered-living apartments and the co-located Huguenot Museum at Rochester in Kent.)


Amelia Cannon was my great great great-grandmother.  Ruth Marmoy had been dead less than twenty years when my grandfather was born. So it's not surprising he heard stories of the family’s Huguenot heritage, even though it had by then faded away as a distinct identity and a clear memory.

Huguenot Ancestors - Research Sources
Proceedings of the Huguenot Society


  • Story of John Perigal of Dieppe, Frederick Perigal, vol. II

  • Early Huguenot Friendly Societies, William Chapman Waller, vol. VI

  • La Providence: the French Hospital during two and a half centuries, Charles F A Marmoy, vol. XXI

  • More Pages from the History of the French Hospital, Charles F A Marmoy, vol. XXII

  • La Soupe: La Maison de Charite de Spitalfields, Charles F A Marmoy, vol. XXIII

  • The Pest House, 1681-1717: predecessor of the French Hospital, Charles F A Marmoy, vol. XXV

  • The Irish Pensioners of William III’s Huguenot Regiments, 1702, ed W A Shaw, vol. VI

Publications of the Huguenot Society: Quarto Series


  • Registers of the French Church of Threadneedle Street, London, ed. William Moens, vol. IX

  • Registers of the French Church of Threadneedle Street, London, ed. William Moens, vol. XIII

  • Registers of the French Church of Threadneedle Street, London, ed. T C Colyer-Fergusson, vol. XVI

  • Registers of the French Church of Threadneedle Street, London, ed. T C Colyer-Fergusson, vol. XXIII

  • Registers of the Churches of La Patente de Soho, Wheeler Street, etc, ed. Susan Minet, vol. XLV

  • Livre des Tesmoignages de l'Eglise de Threadneedle Street, 1669-1789, ed. William & Susan Minet, vol. XXI

  • Letters of Denization & Acts of Naturalization for Aliens in England…1603-1700, ed. William A Shaw, vol. XVIII

  • Letters of Denization & Acts of Naturalization for Aliens in England…1701-1800, ed. William A Shaw, vol. XXVII

  • Registers of the French Church of Portarlington, Ireland, ed. Thomas Philip Le Fanu, vol. XIX

  • Dublin & Portarlington Veterans, King William III’s Huguenot Army, ed. T P Le Fanu & W H Manchee, vol. XLI

  • French Protestant Refugees Relieved through the Threadneedle St Church, AP Hands & I Scouloudi, vol. XLIX

  • The French Protestant Hospital: extracts from the archives of La Providence, Charles F A Marmoy, vols. LII, LIII

  • The Case Book of La Maison de Charite de Spitalfields: 1739-41, ed Charles F A Marmoy, vol. LV


Publications of the Huguenot Society: New Series

  • Memoirs of Isaac Dumont de Bostaquet, a gentleman of Normandy, trans. Dianne W Ressinger, No. 4, 2005


Other Sources:


  • A Huguenot Family and their Descendants, and other unpublished research by Charles F A Marmoy

  • The Diary of John Evelyn, 1665-1700, John Evelyn [Tufts Digital Library]

  • The Memoirs of Louis XIV, his Court and the Regency, the Duc de Saint-Simon, 1675-1755 [Project Gutenberg]

  • The Piece of String, Guy de Maupassant, Paris, 1883. Set in Goderville & features a M. Malandain. [Project Gutenberg]

  • History of the Huguenots from 1598 to 1838, W S Browning, London, 1839

  • History of the Protestants of France, G de Felice, trans. Philip Barnes, London, 1853

  • Protestant Exiles from France; or the Huguenot refugees and their descendants, David C A Agnew, London, 1874

  • The Huguenots: their settlements, churches and industries in England & Ireland, Samuel Smiles, London, 1884

  • Protestants from France in their English Home, S W Kershaw, London, 1885 

  • The Persecution of Huguenots and French Economic Development, 1680-1720, W C Scoville, Berkeley, 1960

  • The Quiet Conquest: the Huguenots, 1685-1985, ed. Tessa Murdoch, The Museum of London, 1985

  • Huguenot Heritage: the history and contribution of the Huguenots in England, Robin Gwynn, Brighton, 1985

  • Huguenots in Britain and their French Background, 1550-1800, ed. Irene Scouloudi, Totowa, NJ, 1987

  • The Huguenots in England: immigration and settlement, 1550-1700, Bernard Cottret, trans. Cambridge, 1991

  • The Huguenots of London, Robin Gwynn, Brighton, 1998

  • From Strangers to Citizens: the integration of immigrant communities…ed.R Vigne & C Littleton, Brighton, 2001

  • The London Weavers’ Company, 1600-1970, Alfred Plummer, London, 1972

  • Daniel Defoe: His Life and Recently Discovered Writings, William Lee, London, 1869

  • London; being an Accurate History and Description of the British Metropolis, David Hughson, London, 1807

  • Sanitary Ramblings: being sketches and illustrations of Bethnal Green, Hector Gavin, London, 1848

  • The Victoria History of the County of Middlesex: Volume II, ed. William Page, London, 1911

  • The Making of the English Working Class, E P Thompson, London, 1963

  • 18 Folgate Street: the tale of a house in Spitalfields, Dennis Severs, London 2001

  • Survey of London: vol. 27 - Spitalfields and Mile End New Town, ed. F H W Sheppard, London 1957 [British History Online]

  • The Huguenot Soldiers of William of Orange & the Glorious Revolution…Mathew Glozier, Brighton, 2002

  • French Veterans at Portarlington, T P Le Fanu, Journal of the County Kildare Archaeological Society, vol. XI, pt. 4, 1933

  • The Huguenot Settlements in Ireland, Grace Lawless Lee, London 1936

  • Portarlington, John Stocks Powell, York, 1994

  • Your Humble Servant: notes and letters from Portarlington, 1692-1768, John S Powell, York, 1999

  • Sir Erasmus Borrowes: the Huguenot Colony of Portarlington, comp. John S Powell, York, 1999

Huguenot Ancestors - Acknowledgements

  • Charles F A Marmoy (4th cousin 2x removed) late Librarian of the Huguenot Society & researcher of the Marmoy family.

  • Laurie Lineer of Sacramento, California (4th cousin 2x removed) for sharing her correspondence with Charles FA Marmoy.

  • Judith Barltrop of Brisbane, Australia (5th cousin) for putting me in contact with her cousin Laurie Lineer.

  • Ruth French of London, England (5th cousin) …

  • Maureen Edwards of Beaconsfield, England (5th cousin 1x removed) for research on Ledoux, Malandain, Du Montier, Martin.

  • Lynwen Clark of Vancouver, Canada (9th cousin 1x removed) for Malandain research & connecting me with Ruth French.

  • Laura Gant of Charlotte, North Carolina (4th cousin), descendent of Amelia and Joseph Cannon.

  • Michael Grist, descendant of Jean Hebert, for sharing his Will.

  • Rosie March Smith, descendant of Robert Senecal, silk manufacturer. 

Huguenot Ancestors - Illustration Sources

  • Migration from France, from Robert Janvier’s map in Lattre & Herrisant’s Atlas Moderne ou Collection de Cartes, Paris, 1762

  • Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1701 [Louvre]

  • Le Temple de Charenton, proche de Paris, [from Early Huguenot Friendly Societies, in Proceedings of Huguenot Society, vol. VI

  • The New Missionaries, litho by G Engelmann, based on a drawing of 1686 [Bibliotheque Nationale de France]

  • The Dragonnades, Societe de l’Histoire de Protestantisme Francais

  • The Edict of Nantes, by Jules Girardet, 1885 [Project Gutenberg]

  • The Protestant Temple at Linot, as it is today (photo: Roger Williams) 

  • The Chateau of Dieppe, engraving from The Graphic, 7 Jan 1871

  • Huguenots Arriving in England, drawn by S Durand, engraving from The Graphic, 24 October 1885

  • Huguenot Migration, map from The Huguenot Society

  • Declaration for the Encouraging of French Protestants…, William III, 1689

  • The Threadneedle Street French Church, engraving from The Graphic, 24 October 1885

  • St Dunstan, Stepney, engraving by Hobson, drawing by J P Neale, for The Beauties of England & Wales, London, 1815.

  • JJ Marmoy’s Signature on the Will of Jean Hebert, 1692 (scan: Michael Grist)

  • Henri de Massue, marquis de Ruvigny, mezzotint by John Simon, after P de Graves, 1704 [from Protestant Exiles from France]

  • Portarlington Map, from the Journal of the County Kildare Archaeological Society, vol. XI, pt. 4, 193

  • The Malandain Pays de Caux, from Guillaume de Lisle’s map, published in his Carte de Normandie…, Paris, 1716

  • Noon, L’Eglise des Greces, Hog Lane, Soho, painting by William Hogarth, c1736 [The Grimsthorpe & Drummond Castle Trustees]

  • Fournier Street, Spitalfields (photo: Roger Williams)

  • A Silk Weaver at Work with the Loom: Samuel Higgins, Gauber St, Spitalfields, by D MacPherson, Daily Graphic, 7 April 1899

  • Silk Weaver’s House, Derbyshire Street, Bethnal Green: built c1825, drawing by D MacPherson, Daily Graphic, 7 April 1899

  • The French Hospital, Bath Street, c1740, from La Providence… by CFA Marmoy, Proceedings of the Huguenot Society, vol. XXI

  • Pierre Marmoy’s entry in French Hospital register, from La Providence by CFA Marmoy, Proceedings of Huguenot Soc, vol XXI

  • The French Hospital, Victoria Park, engraving from the Illustrated London News, 15 July 1865

  • A Hospital Inmate (1881): Susannah Ames, widow, pencil sketch, Huguenot Library

  • Ruth Marmoy’s Silk: Huguenot Museum, Rochester, Kent

  • Map of Spitalfields (from John Rocque’s 1746 map, published in An Exact Survey of the Cities of London, Westminster and Borough of Southwark with the Country near 10 miles round, reprinted by Harry Margary and Phillimore & Co Ltd, Chichester)

The Impact of the Dragonnades

One contemporary account of the dragonnades was written by Thomas Bureau of Poitou to his brother, a bookseller in London, on 30 Aug 1685:

The commander of the dragoons, coming to our house last night, called my mother and said to her “What, you bitch, you have not yet changed your religion?”, to which my mother answered that she hoped by the grace of god never to deny him. " Well then", he said, “damned bitch, you shall soon be hanged."  Mr Perot Snr, and Messrs Merchau and Valvod are imprisoned in dungeons, with irons on their feet, for having said merely that they were good and faithful subjects of the king, but they would never change their religion.

In September, Louis’ chief minister, the marquis de Louvois, gave a decidedly upbeat assessment to the king: "60,000 conversions have been made in the district of Bordeaux; so rapid is the progress that before the end of the month 10,000 Protestants will not be left in that district, where there were 150,000 last month”.  Louis referred to the dragoons who were accomplishing these remarkable results as “my booted missionaries”.  Louis’ mistress, Madame de Maintenon, immediately wrote her brother with inside information on new opportunities for enrichment:

I beg you to carefully use the money you are about to receive [a gratuity of 800,000 francs she had obtained for him from the king]. Estates in Poitou may be got for nothing; the desolation of the Huguenots will drive them to sell more.  You may easily acquire extensive possessions there.

In England, the dragonnades were viewed with horror; as an entry from John Evelyn’s diary for 3 March 1685 records:

The French persecution of the Protestants, raging with the utmost barbarity, exceeded even what the very heathens used.  The French tyrant demolishing all their churches, banishing, imprisoning, and sending to the galleys all the ministers; plundering the common people, and exposing them to all sorts of barbarous usage by soldiers sent to ruin and prey on them; taking away their children; forcing people to the Mass, and then executing them as relapsers.

Jean Malandain was incarcerated in the prison at Aumale for over two years, until early in 1688.  By then, with all his prisons full and overflowing, Louis XIV decided to clear his jails in Normandy of the remaining Protestants who had held to their beliefs and refused to renounce their faith.

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