Jean Latourrette Leaving Osse: Why and How?
I am indebted to two distant "cousins", Jean-Luc Bilhou-Nabera of Paris and Osse-en-Aspe and Brother Victor-Antoine
d'Avila-Latourrette of Millbrook, NY, for valuable insights into the history of the Latourrette family inOsse -en-Aspe. In this paper, I deal primarily with the reasons why Jean Latourrette left Osse in 1685 and track his flight to America, leaving the history and genealogy of the family and the historical
background of Osse to the extensive research of a much more qualified scholar for those purposes, Jean -Luc
Bilhou-Nabera. In keeping with this separation of scholarship, I draw on only well-known works in French such as Alfred Cadier's "Le Bearn Protestant," Osse Temple records and personal observations from visits to Osse . Most of the sources cited herein are primarily
from American and English authors or sources which were not known to them, fully explored, or misinterpreted by Lyman E. Latourette in his "Latourette
Annals in America" or Mrs. Verna Jacob in notes and correspondence which were circulated to many of Jean Latourrette's descendants in
America in the 1950s and 1960s and included in her "Compilation" of 1965. There is one important insight from Jean -Luc Bilhou-Nabera,
however, that helps fill in the puzzle of why Jean left Osse . This is where I cross the line of the separation of
scholarship noted above, anticipating that the full story will be eventually published by him.
In this article I use the name Latourrette as it was and is known in Osse -en-Aspe. Also, contrary to what is shown in the published "Registers" of the French Church in New York, Jean signed his name as "La tourrette" on the original records, which I have examined at the church, at several baptisms and his marriage, July 16, 1693. (Copies of his signature are reproduced below.)
I also use Peiret as the surname rather than Peyret for the Pastor, who fled Osse in 1685. It is noted by Cadier he usually writes his name as "Peyret", but signs as "Peiret." (See p. 203) Rev. Alfred V. Wittmeyer (Short introduction to the "Registers" noted in the Bibliography) also notes that the name is written in several different ways in America. "Besides the form of Peiret, which is no doubt the ordinary form, it is also found as Pairet, Payret and Perret." It also appears that his son Pierre, who came with him to America, may have shorted it to Perit. (Charles W. Baird, "Huguenot Emigration to America," Vol. II, p. 330)
This story is based on some new evidence about Jean Latourrette's voyage from Osse to America. It involves connecting the dots created by this evidence, but it is still part fact and part circumstantial in nature and requires more research to be fully substantiated. However, the evidence is strong enough to correct a number of errors and to revise or reject unsubstantiated hypotheses found in Lyman Latourette's Annals and Mrs. Jacob's notes. Nevertheless, one needs to acknowledge their substantial contributions to our knowledge of the Latourrettes in American, after Jean's arrival in New York.
References cited here and in the text which follows are given in the accompanying Bibliography.
LATOURETTE AND PEIRRE PEIRET FROM OSSE
This is a story about Pastor Pierre Peiret (Peyret) of Pontacq, Protestant minister at Osse in Bearn between 1677 and 1685, and Jean Latourrette from a prominent family of the community.
Is it just a coincidence that only Pierre Peiret, with his family, and Jean Latourrette appear to have left Osse about the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685? Or, is there a connection that has not been previously identified? As noted by Charles W. Baird, "Huguenot Emigration to America," (Vol. II. p. 147, ft. 2) and Alfred Cadier, "Le Bearn Protestant," (p. 202, ft. 3) they are both found later in New York City, where Peiret establishes a very strong ministry and within one year of his arrival builds the first church in the city exclusively for worship by French Protestant refugees. It is obvious that, as a minister who refused to abjure, Peiret was marked for the galleys or even death, given his circumstances in 1685. (Article IV of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and his arrest under Article II, explained below.) His wife and children (at the time about 18 months and 5 years) at a minimum would have been left without any support. Under the provisions of Article X of the Revocation, the spouse could be subject to "imprisonment and confiscation".
Jon Butler cites Samuel Mours, who indicates that almost half of the Protestant ministers in Bearn (sixteen of thirty-four) abjured. ("The Huguenots in America," p. 22) Apparently, other ministers were able to negotiate free passage before or at the time of the Revocation. For example, Jean Laplacette, minister at Nay and known as the "Nicholas of the Protestants" and one of the most renowned pastors of Bearn, left for Paris in March 1685, several months before the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, because of the repression of L'intendant Foucault. Foucault, discussed in more detail below, was reported to be very unhappy that Laplacette was able to sell his property and slip away from him without abjuring and/or forfeiting his wealth. In Paris Laplacette obtained a passport to leave the Kingdom. Laplacette stayed one year in Berlin with Frederic Guillaume. He was invited to Copenhagen in 1686 to establish a French Temple with the support of Queen Charlotte Amelia, who had suffered repression as a Calvinist in France. Laplacette was the son of Noe (Noah), the minister at Pontacq, and was born there on January 19, 1639. Therefore, Laplacette, in the Protestant ministry of Bearn, was a contemporary of Peiret who also was born in Pontacq about 1644, based on the record in New York that he was 60 years of age at the time of his death on September 1, 1704. This may also explain why Jean Latourrette planned a visit from London to Denmark on behalf of Peiret in late 1686 or early 1687, before they decided to come to America. Lapacette's flight from Nay and his experience in Denmark are covered in detail by H. Charles Weiss in the "History of the French Protestant Refugees from the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes to Our Days" (See Vol. II, Book VII, Ch. 1, pp. 242-6)
Another minister we might mention is Pastor Mauzy or Mausy, whose departure from France is recorded by James Fontaine in "Memoirs of a Huguenot Family". Fortunately Fontaine and his family were able to board a British ship, whose captain had agreed to pick them up after clearing the port of La Tremblade. From Fontaine's account this appears to have happened on December 1, 1685. However, before the Fontaine party was able to board, the ship was stopped and searched by a French frigate. We pick up Fontaine's story at that point. The frigate "cast anchor, ordered the English vessel to do the like, boarded her, and searched every nook and corner, without finding any French Protestants on board except M. Mausy, the minister, whose departure was authorized by law, and his family, who were with, and had passports. What a blessing that we were not on board at this time!" (See Fontaine, p. 111) This is an interesting story because Mauzy was the minister at Osse from 1667 to 1671. (See Osse Temple list of Pasteurs and Cadier, pp. 143-4) From Fontaine's account of the Mauzy family having passports, it appears that he was able to negotiate with the King's representatives a release to legally leave the country and the family was departing more than a month after the Revocation, even though the Revocation clearly indicated that pastors refusing to adjure had to leave within a fortnight. It is obvious that Mauzy was not regarded as much as a threat to the King as Peiret in terms of influence, as noted below.
Given the character of the man we describe below and later find in New York, and his refusal to abjure as late as September 2, 1685, it is obvious that Peiret was not in a position to negotiate a legal departure from France. So it appears he had to flee Osse with his family or leave them behind to face an extremely uncertain and difficult future, including the imprisonment of his spouse.
Actually, as described by Cadier (See L'intendant Foucault en Bearn, pp. 185-198), Peiret's situation was even more perilous. One finds here that Peiret had been arrested in November 1684 for violating the orders of Louis XIV "for preaching in private houses and in places where the practice was not allowed" and was awaiting trial under house arrest when he fled. This trial could have resulted in a death sentence, rather than "just" being sent to the galleys, the punishment prescribed for refusing as a minister to abjure.
L'intendant Foucault had been sent in March 1684 to convert the 30,000 Protestants of Bearn and used every possible method one could imagine, including the infamous "dragooning" to achieve this objective. "The soldiers, excited by this fanatic, showed themselves much more cruel than those at Poitou" which in 1681 was deemed so excessive that Charles the Second of England and the English Parliament granted extensive privileges to French refugees. This forced Louis XIV to stop the dragooning until it was again instituted in 1684. (See Weiss, Vol. I, pp. 94-97, who describes the horrible acts associated with dragooning in Bearn.)
On February 26, 1685, the Parliament of Navarre recorded an edict, that Foucault had proclaimed, which reduced the number of Protestant temples in Bearn to 5 from the 20, which were suppose to exist by the "perpetual and irrevocable" edict of 1668. The remaining locations were Garlin, Jurancon, Bellocq, Saint-Gladie and Osse . Osse was the only Temple to serve the Aspe Valley, because this act eliminated the temple at Oloron, which was immediately destroyed. This act could have been viewed as favoring Osse to join together the two congregations, but Foucault had an underlying sinister purpose. "I decided, he said, to allow only the temples, precisely 5 of them, where the ministers had been hit by a decree which condemned their temples to be demolished, of which knowledge was sent back to parliament, so that, by this means, there could be no temple left in Bearn." (Cadier, p. 186)
All the temples were closed by April 1685 with the ministers arrested or having fled. Cadier cites a report of the time, "Osse lived in a big rebellion; the minister preached in private houses and in places where its exercise was not allowed." (Cadier, p. 189) This refers to another form of entrapment that Foucault practiced. Ministers were forbidden to preach in their temples, which were condemned to demolition, but they were then not allowed to peach in private homes or other places. It is clear that Peiret, being under house arrest, was banned from preaching, but he continued to do so. Cadier describes it this way: "the edict of February -was nothing but a deception----Though the place (temple) is maintained for the cult (Protestantism), no minister is allowed to celebrate it, in spite of the formal terms of the edict." (p. 188)
There were many other subterfuges practiced by Foucault to eliminate Protestantism in Osse , including a proposal to send Pastor Goulard of Oloron, whose temple was destroyed, as a second minister to Osse , which the February edict permitted. Foucault believed that Goulard would soon abjure and he could send him to Osse to "disabuse the people of the R.P.R. (Reformed Protestant Religion) and to publicly retract the mistakes he once preached." (p. 188) Cadier reports that Goulard, whose temple was destroyed in February, abjured in front of large crowd from both religions on June 17, 1685.
At the conclusion of Cadier's chapter on Foucault's determined effort to eliminate Protestantism in Bearn, we find that Osse stands alone as the last bastion of Protestantism in Bearn and one of the last in all of France. To place this in perspective, there were 2,150 Huguenot churches in 1561 after Calvin's reformation swept France. By 1661 the number had declined to 813. As a result of the 300 orders and decrees issued by Louis XIV after 1661, the number dropped to 243 as the last push to eliminate Protestantism began in 1684. (See Roy A. Sundstrom, "Aid and Assimilation: A Study of Economic Support Given French Protestants in England, 1680-1727," pp. 5 and 12) Citing different sources, Butler places the decline from 750 in 1661 to 350 in 1680. Therefore, it is not surprising to find, as described below, a surplus of French Protestant ministers in England even before 1685. (Sundstrom, p. 15)
Referring to the report cited above, Cadier believes Peiret continued to visit the Protestants in Osse and perhaps also Issor, a village about 15 kms to the northwest. He also notes that the last entry on April 16, 1685 of the consistory (The Temple record of 1665-1685, the subject of his Chapter 3 of Part Two, pp.139-184) was Peiret absolving the temple of any further obligation to him. (See Ch. 4, p. 190) Finally, we have the legend that "upon learning of the imminent arrival of the intendant's armed emissaries (dragoons), the ten elders united with the heads of families by solemn oath, swearing not to abandon their country or faith." (See, Ch. 4, p.197)
From Cadier, it is not clear when the dragoons came to Osse . From information researched by Jean -Luc Bilhou-Nabera, it appears that Osse may have been the last village in Bearn to be occupied by the dragoons. This information does not appear in Cadier, who subtitles his chapter on Foucalt in Bearn as the period March 1, 1684 to the end of August 1685, but it throws some light on the time-table of events in Osse and how Protestants there resisted Foucalt to the very end.
Bilhou-Nabera has discovered a report from Jean de Tapie, procureur du Roy au Parsan d'Aspe, dated September 2, 1685, just 6 weeks before the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. As many authors have pointed out, the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes was a mere formality because by the time it was written (October 18, 1685) and signed (October 22, 1685), a series of acts by Louis XIV over many years, which were accelerated in the early 1680s, had already taken every privilege away from the Protestants, including the right to practice their faith. We can see this in the chronology presented above about Foucault in Bearn, 1684-85.
Jean de Tapie was sent by His Highness Dalon, president of the Parliament of Navarre, to register all of the "indomitable" Protestants who refused to convert to Catholicism in the Aspe district. Notably, all of the names are from Osse , supporting Cadier's conclusion that Osse was the one remaining Protestant community in the Aspe valley after the destruction of the temple at Oloron in February 1685. Also, we know from Cadier (above) that the other 4 temples, which were allowed by the Parliamentary edict of February 26, 1685, had already been closed. It appears that Osse was the only place remaining in Bearn in early September, where Protestantism was still being openly practiced.
One of the names on de Tapie's list is Magdeleine de Latourrette , described as living notoriously and implicitly out of wedlock with David Latourrette , who bore the title of Abbe laique d'Osse , but none of their children. (Jean -Luc Bilhou-Nabera's working genealogy on his Webpages, to be fully documented, assumes at the time there are three adult children: Jacob, b. ca 1650; Jean , b. ca 1651; and Marie, b. 1661)
Included on the de Tapie list is Pierre Peyret (Peiret), minister, and his wife Marguerite Latour, and two of their children, respectively 5 years and 18 months old, (see preceding discussion of Peiret's children); Joseph Laplacette, plowman; Bertran Candau, plowman; Isaac Darriet, valet at the Supervielle; Noe and Abraham Capdevielle, cadets and brothers; Marguerite Darabanet, Marguerite Loustau, Jean Margalotte, plowman, Jeanne Nouguer, wife of Pierre Curet and Pierre Curet their son, a carpenter by trade, Marguerite Martigues, wife of Pierre Laplace, and David their eldest son; Pierre Casset, eldest son of his family and Madeleine Masou, wife of Jean Carrere; Marie Domecq, second daughter of David Domecq; David Lagunpocq, eldest son of Pierre Lagunpocq; Henry and David Supervielle, cadets.
David Latourrette's title is given as Abbe laique, but since that title signified wealth and privileges and had no religious connotations, it fits his status as the owner of the Gayrosse Maison Forte (strong house, not castle) in Osse and his role as a notaire (chief law officer). Also, to be noted is that David and Magdeleine are "as much out of wedlock" as Pierre Peyret and Marguerite.
In passing, we note that Bertran Candau is included in the list. Most likely he was an ancestor of Marie Candau, the person who exchanged letters with Mrs. Jacob about Osse and the Latourrette roots in the 1950s. Certainly, in her letters, she exhibits the independence and tolerance that we associate with these Protestants of Osse . As noted in her letters, she had to destroy many of her records and correspondence during WWII for helping Jews escape the German occupiers. There is a tragic story at that time of a Jew, buried in the Osse cemetery, who killed himself to avoid being found by the Nazis.
Also, several of the family names, given on the de Tapie list of "indomitable" Protestants, like Margalotte, Loustau, Langunpocq, Supervielle, Doumecq (Domecq), Nouguer (Nouque) and Curet appear on the list of elders and deacons, in addition to David Latourrette , in the Osse Temple records from 1665 to 1685. (See Cadier, p. 151) The records of the temple at Osse include Cadier's worksheet in which he tracked the elders and deacons of the temple between 1665 and 1685. And the name Loustau reminds one that in 1569, Miramonde de Loustau was martyred at Osse for her faith. (Temple history of important dates)
Certainly most, if not all, of these names are associated with Cadier's recitation above of the legend of ten elders meeting with their families to reaffirm their faith before they fled to the woods with the arrival of the dragoons. (Temple history of important dates and Cadier, pp. 197-8)
From the foregoing description, it is clear that Peiret and his small congregation of perhaps 75 families (See Cadier, p. 140) held their faith and resisted Foucault, as the one remaining Protestant community in Bearn, until the dragoons appeared at their doors. It is also certain that Peiret, by this time, was marked for severe punishment by the King's authorities. There could be no negotiation for safe passage and clearly Peiret would not abjure. Weiss' description of how the Protestant ministers were treated at the time of the Revocation demonstrates how precarious Peiret's position was. He certainly fell into the category described by Weiss:
"The ministers went first. A delay of fifteen days had been granted them within which to leave the country. --- To many were refused the passport, without which they could not cross the frontiers, in order that the time allowed for their retreat might elapse, and they might be imprisoned, as having infringed the provisions of the edict. For some of them, who appeared the most dangerous, as they were most influential, the delay granted to all others was abridged." (Weiss, Vol. I, p. 105)
In connection with the de Tapie list, it is also mentioned that a greater number of people had recanted officially, but did not go to Church nor take part in the Mass, and curse about Roman Catholicism.
Therefore, although their minister was driven out in 1685, their church and cemetery destroyed in 1686, and great pressure was placed upon them to convert, the Protestants of Osse remained strongly attached to their faith after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. The question, then, is why did Jean Latourrette leave?
The reasons for Jean Latourrette's departure from Osse in 1685 are not obvious. He was a member of a prominent Osse family which had land, likely a mill, and an important position in the community at least since 1578 when, according to the Temple records at Osse , Gassiot de la Torrette became the village's first Protestant minister. Other sources indicate that he was present at the first annual Synod of Bearn in 1563 as the pastor of the Aspe Valley. This would place him in the forefront of the Huguenot movement in France.
David de Latourrette (ca 1625- 1697), according to Alfred Cadier (p.202, ft. 3) was likely Jean's father. David was a notaire, church elder (ancien) and held the title of Abbe laique d'Osse at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Assuming David was his father, and given other information we have about him, Jean was about 34 years of age, the second son, a single male at the time and an accomplished "menuisier" (joiner or carpenter) and, perhaps later in New York, a shipwright. In contrast to David and Magdeleine Latourrette , his presumed parents, Jean and his older brother Jacob and younger sister Marie were not identified on the de Tapie list. Given what we know about Osse at this time, further research is likely to indicate that the Latourrette family, with a long tradition of tolerance, had a strong degree of protection from prominent Catholic families in the area. Cadier draws attention to the Laclede de Bedous, from Bedous about a km from Osse , as a prominent Catholic family that protected the Protestants of Osse . "Never did the protestants of Osse knock in vain at the door of Laclede de Bedous." (p. 209) The local bonding, loyalty and mutual support between the people of the two religions in Osse , noted by Cadier, is echoed by Andre Eygun in "Peuple d'Aspe" (p. 65). Also, it appears that David Latourrette continued to play a prominent in the community until his death ca 1697, although it is clear from Cadier that the practice of the Protestant faith went underground during the "Desert" period. (This is a story, however, that Jean -Luc Bilhou-Nabera will be able to pursue in the future. The story here is further substantiated by his genealogical research that indicates Jean Latourrette's sister Marie married Jean Laclede de Bedous in 1685. It would be interesting to know if the Laclede family played a role in helping Jean Latourrette and Pastor Peiret leave safely from Osse .)
In addition to the protection typically granted to a leading family with title living in Osse , a village that was described at the time as a "stronghold of Protestantism", it appears the Huguenots in the south of France, being more remote from Paris and Louis XIV, likely felt more secure until the Dragoons were at their door. In Osse , that doesn't appear to have occurred until after the September 2, 1685 list was published but before the Revocation on October 22, 1685. This subject bears more research to determine the exact sequence and timing of the events at Osse after Foucalt came to Bearn to "dragoon". (See Weiss, Vol. I, pp 94-7)
The fact that very few Protestants left the south of France makes Jean Latourrette's departure from Osse even more unusual, given his standing in the community. Butler cites the carefully constructed and conservative estimates of Samuel Mours to analyze the migration of Huguenots who left France and became refugees by 1690. Mours' figures suggest that about 160,000 Protestants left between 1660 and 1690. (See Butler, p.23) From the pattern of migration present by Mours, Butler concludes, "Paradoxically, the relative size of the migration from a particular province was inversely related to the size of its Protestant population. In northwest France, where the Protestant population was small, between one-third and one-half left. But in lower Languedoc, Cevennes, Vivarais and Guyenne, where half of the nation's Protestants lived, only 6 to 10 percent fled. This probably happened because Protestants in northwest France were both vulnerable to attack as a distinct minority and closer to places of refuge like England or Holland. The more numerous Protestants in southern France were farther from potential places of exile, and their numbers made armed resistance to persecution possible." (pp. 23-4)
Actually, the lowest percentage of Protestant refugees leaving a province is from Bearn which Mours estimates to be only 2 percent (500 out of 30,000). So the departure of Jean Latourrette from Osse , other than Peiret and his family, is indeed a rare event. (Butler, p.23)
The foregoing analysis of the uniqueness of the flight of Jean Latourrette from Osse is reinforced by the information we find in the histories of the French Church of New York, founded by Peiret in 1688. Few, if any, Huguenot refugees came to New York from Bearn, with the exception of Peiret and Latourrette . In his chapter, "Their Home Towns," found in "The Huguenot Church of New York: A History of the French Church of Saint Esprit," Rev. John A. F. Maynard painstakingly traces the French origin of the congregation. He finds that the vast majority came from the Maritime Provinces of Western France: Aunis, Saintonge and Poitou. A small number came from the rest of France, particularly Normandy. (See pp. 97-113) Jean Latourrette is identified by Maynard as the only one from Bearn (p. 108), because Maynard follows Baird and identifies Peiret as being from Languedoc, which once was a large province that would have encompassed Foix. (See the discussion of Peiret's origin below.)
Why has previous research failed to connect Pastor Peiret and Jean Latourrette in their flight from Osse ? Harvard Historian Charles Baird mistakenly identifies Pierre Peiret as being from Foix (Vol. II, pp 146-7). Although Baird notes in discussing his spouse, Marguerite Peiret, whom he places as being from Bearn, that Jean Latourrette also came to America from Bearn (Vol. II, p. 147, ft 2), he never connects the fact that both Peiret and Latourrette left France from Osse in Bearn at about the same time. The records at Osse and in other sources clearly indicate that Peiret was from Pontacq (near Pau) in Bearn, not Foix, and that he was the Protestant pastor at Osse from 1677 to 1685, before fleeing at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, October 22, 1685. The error about Peiret's origin from Foix is repeated by Rev. Alfred V. Wittmeyer in the original 1886 introduction to the "Registers of the Births, Marriages, and Deaths of the 'Eglise Francoise a la Nouvelle York, from 1688 to 1804," citing the source as Baird. (1886 Introduction, p. xxi) Without citing a source, historian Jon Butler repeats the error in 1983 in discussing Peiret's arrival in New York in 1687, and the founding in 1688 of the what has been known as the French Church of New York -Eglise Francoise a la Nouvelle York. Although it is clear that Cadier understood that both Peiret and Jean Latourrette were from Osse , he does not link them in their departure in his book "Le Bearn Protestant". On the other hand, he indicates considerable skepticism about the story that Pierre Peiret (Peyret) was the grandson of Pierre Peyrat. He notes that the mistaken identity is based solely on the similarity of the names. "I think it is more true to recognize Pierre de Peiret de Pontacq, minister of Osse from 1677 to 1685." He also notes that Peiret enters his name as Peyret in the temple records, but always signs as Peiret and that Marguerite Peiret would be from Bearn and not from the De Grenier La Tour family of Gabre (Foix country) as stated by Baird. (Cadier, p. 203)
A private source about Cadier's research at the archives in Pau, shared with the author by Jean -Luc Bilhou-Nabera, indicates that Cadier had access to considerably more information about the Latourrette family than he used in his book. (Bilhou-Nabera's research may well throw additional light on the Latourrette family in Osse and this particular point.)
Given the errors about Peiret's origin and an absence of an understanding of the Osse link between Pastor Peiret and Jean Latourrette , there has been speculation for over 300 hundred years in America among descendants as to why and how Jean Latourrette left France. They have spun tales about his fleeing from a castle at the height of a party with the advent of the Revocation, when there never has been a castle in Osse , as well as claiming an earlier marriage to Marie Mercereau in France. If the tie between Peiret and Jean Latourrette dating back to Osse had been recognized by Lyman Latourette and Mrs. Jacob, surely they would have spent more time and effort in exploring the records of the French Church in New York.
In Osse , people knowledgeable about the ancestry of Jean Latourrette in America know he was from the village and related to a leading protestant family at the time of the Revocation, but they have not been able to offer a logical explanation of why he left.
When one links Peiret and Latourrette together on a journey from Osse to New York, a logical explanation, based on some new information, begins to emerge. Concurrently, several tales among American descendants about Jean Latourrette are shown to be inconsistent with the facts. In reality, the truth about Jean's departure from Osse is more interesting than the fiction created to explain how he came to New York. He was not a count, there was no castle in Osse (only a Maison Forte- the strong house of Gayrosse, the title of which was at the time held by David Latourrette ), no marriage in France before the one in New York to Marie Mercereau in 1693; he was not a member of the Rhode Island Colony, he did not come with the Mercereau family, and Marie and/or Jean were not part of the Schenectady massacre of 1690.
The facts strongly suggest that Jean Latourrette came from a prominent Protestant family of Osse , which contributed the first minister, Gassiot de Latourrette , to the village as early as 1563, was a single male and an accomplished carpenter. As a younger son, he was not in line for an inheritance under the customs of Bearn. However, as the son of a notaire, he would have had a good education for the time and he possessed a marketable skill as a joiner and carpenter which would be valuable in a new country. He either was asked by his family or Peiret, or perhaps volunteered, and left with Pastor Peiret and his family to help them flee to safety from France. Peiret was marked for death or the galleys, given his steadfast refusal to abjure his faith. Peiret's family faced tremendous hardships if they stayed in Osse . (It should be noted, contrary to Lyman Latourettes' Annals, that Baird, Vol. II, pp.146-7 and many entries in the "Registers" of the French Church in NYC clearly document that Peiret's spouse came with him to America.) By leaving with Peiret, Jean Latourrette too would be marked for death both for aiding Peiret and for leaving the country, acts explicitly prohibited by the Revocation. It required a great deal of courage to face the long journey, first to Frankfurt and then to Rotterdam, London, and eventually America, with all the attendant risks of being caught.
Given his background, education, cultured upbringing, single status, lack of an inheritance as a second son and skills as a carpenter, Jean Latourrette was an ideal volunteer for Peiret. When the full story is researched, there may be another very obvious reason why he was the ideal companion. Peiret's strength and commitment to his ministry are clearly demonstrated in how he took New York "by storm" in 1687 and his record of establishing a congregation and building the first temple for the exclusive use of the French refugees within one year. When he left Bearn, he was determined to establish a new ministry in a new land to serve French Protestant refugees. Perhaps he saw that he also needed an accomplished carpenter. We will return to this point below.
THE TRAIL FROM OSSE TO AMERICA OSSE : SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 1685
September 2, 1685: Peiret, his wife Marguerite la Tour and two children identified only by age - 18 months and 5 years - are on the list of "Indomitable Protestants" in Osse (refusing to adjure) prepared by Jean de Tapie. The children's names are from later records: Pierre and Marguerite -signed as Madeleine in 1700 at the baptism of her sister Elizabeth in NYC French Church. She is married in 1701 so it appears she was the one who was 5 in 1685. The son Pierre (noted as Perit above) is listed as being born in Connecticut in 1685 in Baird which comes close to having him be an infant when they departed Osse . The names of the children are confirmed by Cadier as Pierre and Madeleine (Alfred Cadier, p.202) Also on the list is David Latourrette and his spouse, but not the adult children, Jacob, Jean and Marie.
October 18 and 22, 1685: Revocation of the Edict of Nantes is written and signed. Peiret is banished from France under threat of death or the galleys. As noted above, as this applied to Peiret, he was already marked by continuing to preach after he was subjected to house arrest and his steadfast refusal to abjure
Likely after September 2, 1685 when Peiret and his family appear on de Tapie's list of indomitable Protestants and probably before October 22, 1685 or before the dragoons arrive in Osse , Peiret and his family flee Osse with Jean Latourrette
September or October, 1685: The dragoons come to Osse and the Protestants flee to the woods (Cadier, p. 197-8 and Osse Temple history- "Dates memorable de l"Eglise".) Sources cited by Baird suggest the dragoons may have come in September. In early October "seven to eight thousand fusiliers just come, as it is said, from converting the Protestants in Bearn" enter La Rochelle. (See Vol. I, pp. 313-17) The timing described here fits with the timing of Foucault's action in Bearn, described by Cadier as ending in August and the issuance of the list by de Tapie on September 2. Osse being the last holdout was likely one of the last villages to be invaded by the dragoons.
Future research should be directed to determining more precise dates for the arrival of the dragoons, which might suggest exactly when Peiret, his family, and Jean Latourrette left Osse .
FRANKFURT: NOEMBER 1685
November 18, 1685: Madame Antoinette Doerr's citation of Jean being sighted in Frankfort on that date. "On retrive (sic- retrouve) Jean de Latourrette , menuisier d'Osse , a Francfort le 18.11.1685." (One finds Jean de Latourrette , joiner or carpenter of Osse , at Frankfurt the 18th of November 1685.) Madame Doerr is a member of the Osse -Oloron parish and the Administrative Council of the Center for the Study Bearnais Protestantism. This citation is from a short paper she presented about the history of the Latourrette family and Osse . It was widely circulated in Osse and is available in typed form. The source of this statement is yet to be confirmed, but logical in terms of a possible escape route through a strong Protestant area of what is now Germany, which welcomed the fleeing French refugees. From the Frankfort area, one could travel down the Rhine to Rotterdam through areas sympathetic to Protestantism. This was the historic route that the settlers of New Paltz, NY used earlier, and the Protestant refugees from the Palatine used in the early 1700s. There is significant historical evidence which could be cited to suggest that this may have been route taken by Peiret and Latourrette rather than going to the French coast. See, for example, Fontaine's book about the great difficulty in leaving from the west coast of France at the time and the next entry which suggests Peiret was in Rotterdam in April 1686.
ROTTERDAM: APRIL 1686
April 24, 1686: Religious conference in Rotterdam cited by Cadier (p. 292), which suggests Peiret and the other ministers, who fled from Bearn, attended this conference of the Synod Eglise Walloones. (This is further supported by the London record of Jean Latourrette going to and from Holland after this conference. See below.)
LONDON: JUNE 1686- AUGUST 1687
The following information about Peiret and Jean Latourrette comes from the "Royal Bounty" records in London, which were searched at the author's request. The evidence presented here is substantiated by copies in the author's possession of the original records, usually handwritten in French.
There are a number of sources in English which describe this collection which was raised to assist French Protestant refugees. Baird researched the records in the 1800s, before they were organized and catalogued. He gives a good description of the program, its funding and use and suggests that the "Royal Bounty" was a complete misnomer. The funds were collected from the English people who responded to the sufferings of the French Protestants and welcomed the refugees from France. According to Baird about 250,000 pounds sterling was raised by collections throughout England, with King James II, an affirmed Catholic who was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, reluctantly issuing the required royal decree (The First Brief of James II, 1686) to legalize the collections and their use. (See Baird, Vol. II, pp. 155, 157, 175, and 176) It should be noted that Baird misunderstood the use of the term "Royal Bounty." After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, King William and Queen Mary provided royal gifts to the assistance fund and in 1696 Parliament supplemented the monarch's privy purse for this purpose and this is how the term came to be used. (Sundstrom, p. IV)
Baird used the "Royal Bounty" records to track many of the refugees he identifies in America back to England and to their origins in France. Of his two volumes about one-half is devoted to tracking refugees, but he apparently not did come across or overlooked the entries for Peiret and Latourrette cited below. (He does cite, however, a later entry in 1705 which is characterized as being an extraordinary case of aid: "Marguerite Peyret, of Bearn, widow of a minister deceased in New York, where she now is, with two children: twelve pounds." Peiret passed away on September 1, 1704, with four additional children having been added to the family after 1690 in addition to the two who came from Osse . The reference to two children in the Bounty records likely refers to the two youngest, although all four where under the age of 14 at the time of Peiret's death. (See Baird, Vol. II, p.147 and pp. 330-31 and ft. 1, p.331)
The funds collected were administered by a French (Huguenot Relief) Committee which provided living assistance to the refugees in England and supported their travel to other countries, including America. Fortunately, the committee kept detailed records of the funds, many of which have been preserved, and carefully accounted for their use. More recently, Raymond Smith cataloged and indexed the records, which are found in the Huguenot Library, University College; London. (See reference to Smith's volume in the Bibliography.)
Cited below are the committee's registers and accounts for grants which pertain to Peiret and Latourrette in 1686 and 1687. To put this in perspective, we quote Baird, "In a single year 1687, six hundred French Protestant refugees were sent to America at the committee's charges." (p. 176) Baird is obviously repeating a committee statement found in the London records, with which Jon Butler disagrees. Given the cataloging and indexing available when he reviewed the records before writing his book, published in 1983, Butler probably is more accurate with a count of 200 families receiving support from the committee to go to America by the year 1690. (See Butler, p. 51)
A related point concerns the number of French refugees who actually made it to America, and particularly New York. After an extensive review of all the sources, Butler places it at a much lower level than many of the earlier estimates, with considerable justification. "Thus the most reasonable estimate would place the Huguenot migration to the colonies at no more than the size of the Huguenot population in America in 1700, about 1,500 and certainly more than 2,000 persons." (p. 49) Census data between 1698 and 1706, examined by Butler (p. 47) indicate there were approximately 363 adults and 320 children in New York City, New Rochelle, and Staten Island a decade or so after the Revocation. It seems appropriate to exclude the small group of 121 in New Paltz, which was settled earlier, from this measure and look at the total for the three communities. (There were resettlements among the Huguenots over this period between the three locations. For example Jean Latourrette moved to Staten Island from NYC around 1698 or shortly thereafter. Jean Chadeayne, who had come from the Rhode Island Colony after 1690 to New Rochelle and during the 1690s is closely associated with Peiret's church, ultimately settled on Staten Island.) It should be recognized that some of these 320 children were born in America and some of the adults who were immigrants had passed on. We also know that a few had come before the Revocation. We are therefore left with a number around 360 adult French refugees like Latourrette and Peiret who came to New York after the Revocation and before 1700. Given these parameters, there were perhaps 250 or so children who accompanied them. This roughly matches Maynard's estimate that about 600 (15 percent) of the 4,000 persons in New York in 1697 were Huguenots. (p. 69) Using Mours estimate, cited by Butler, that approximately 160,000 French Protestants actually fled their country, it means that less than 4 out of 1000 persons fleeing France came to New York. (See Butler, p.23) This provides further evidence of the uniqueness of both Peiret and Latourrette going to New York after leaving Osse , when you also take into account the very low percentage (2 percent) fleeing from Bearn, as cited above.
The conclusion that it was rare for French refugees to go from England to America is supported by an analysis of emigrants who received relief through the Threadneedle Street Church of London. The aid was part of the response to the crisis which developed in Poitou in 1681, described herein, and continued to 1687. 'Destinations of Refugees on Leaving London' (Appendix III, p. 222) found in "French Protestant Refugees Relieved Through the Threadneedle Street Church, London, 1681-1687" traces the 3419 refugees, many with families, who received this aid. Of this number, 617 were recorded as receiving funds to leave London. Of this number only 24 had destinations in the Americas with 4 listed as being uncertain. Most went to other parts of England (292), Ireland (142) and Holland (119), with a scattering to Europe (19), Scotland (3) and unspecified (19). Of the total refugee population of 3419 receiving funds to relocate, therefore, only 7 out of a 1000 persons went to America. Of the 8 described as bound for Nouvelle Angletere (New England), it is interesting to find Auguste Grasset, Francois Vincent and Jean Vincent and their families. As noted below, they ultimately become important members of the French Church of New York. Auguste Grasset, described as a schoolmaster who taught mathematics and navigation, received 7 pounds to take himself, his spouse and 4 children to New England. (p. 103) Francois Vincent (sail maker) received 3 pounds to take himself, his spouse, 3 children and a parent. Jean Vincent (also a sail maker) received a like amount for himself, spouse and 5 sons. Baird believes the two Vincent families sailed for New England on March 28, 1682(3?). Butler, however, believes these families may have sailed instead to New York. As explained below, in the case of Peiret and Jean Latourrette the recorded destinations of emigrants were not always very precise or accurate.
The London records presented below suggest (by circumstantial evidence)that Jean Latourette left Holland after the Synod Eglise Walloones on April 24, 1686 and traveled to London, scouted it as a place for the Peiret family to receive living assistance, and returned to report his findings after receiving a grant to travel there from the French Committee. Although some of what is being presented here as an interpretation of the evidence needs further research, it is clear from the entries in the records that Jean is a single male at this time and, contrary to Lyman Latourette's "Annals", not already married to Marie Mercereau. (This point is discussed in more detail with collaborative and conclusive evidence in another paper dealing with the errors and misinterpretations found in the 'Annals' and Mrs. Jacob's notes and 1965 "Compilation".)
The records also strongly suggest that Peiret came to London later in the year 1686. He received two living allotments for 6 months each which would have supported him and the family (and perhaps Jean Latourette) from October of 1686 to October of 1687. There is clear evidence, discussed below, that he and his family left before the end of the second 6 months grant and went to America. Given the evidence available it is very likely Jean Latourrette accompanied them, along with a number of French refugees.
After going to and returning from Holland, Jean Latourette received a second travel grant to go to Denmark during late 1686 or early 1687, for reasons we will explore below.
From the records, one can assume that Peiret and Latourrette had a stay in London that only encompassed the latter half of 1686 and a little more than the first half of 1687. This period is bracketed by the April 24, 1686 Synod in Rotterdam and the departure of the Peiret party on the English ship Robert, which left London in early August of 1687.
Turning to the London records, it should be noted that there was a fund raised earlier throughout England to support French Protestant refugees who had been leaving France because of the growing repression of Louis XVI. It was authorized by Charles II, an avowed Catholic who was forced to relent like James II, because of public support. This fund was associated with the general reaction in Protestant England to the horrors of the dragooning reported from Poitou in 1681, as mentioned above. Reacting to the people and stories reaching England as French refugees fled the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, there was a widespread effort to add to the balances that remained in the earlier fund. "That amount was now swollen by similar collections made on the twenty-third of April, 1686, and after." (Baird, p. 155) The timing of these events, the Synod of April 24 and the collections of April 23, is important to our interpretation of the likely movements of Peiret and Latourrette . If Peiret and Latourrette were in Rotterdam in April of 1686, as indicated by Cadier, word of the welcome and support for the refugees by the English people would have reached them in Holland within a fortnight. This information would have been sufficient to have Latourrette travel to England to assess the situation. But why would they leave Holland, which had always been a safe haven for French Protestants?
Butler gives a very clear answer to the question of why Peiret would want to move on from Holland, as a minister looking for a place to preach and earn a living. "The renewal (in Holland) simulated by the Huguenot diaspora after 1680 created a surplus of ministers. The thirty-nine French Protestant congregations organized with Holland's old Walloon church after 1695 simply could not provide livings for the 350 exile Huguenot ministers living in Holland by 1700" (See pp.25-6)
If Peiret and Latourrette were already in Rotterdam on April 24, 1686 the lack of a ministerial opportunity there would have been very evident and England would have been an attractive location, given the vast number of French refugees crowding into Holland and the general wide-spread support offered French refugees in England. Baird summarizes the English sentiment towards the French refugees, "England was their friend. The sufferings of the Protestants of France had stirred the heart of the English people to its very depths; and the Protestant feeling of the nation, aroused as never before by the arbitrary conduct of the king, and his undisguised purpose to reinstate the Romish religion, went out in kindness and helpfulness to these strangers who had fled to them for protection. The Church of England extended to them a generous welcome. The non-conformists greeted them as brethren. The refugee pastors were aided from the 'Royal Bounty.' Worshipers who could not find room in the 'temple' already existing in Threadneedle Street, were assisted in obtaining new sanctuaries; and in the single year, fifteen French churches were built with the aid of moneys drawn from this charitable fund; three in London, and twelve in provincial towns." (Baird, Vol. II, p. 157)
Information coming to Holland would have suggested that Peiret, as a minister, would be treated very well by the Relief Committee in London. Butler, more than Baird, investigated this point extensively in London and has drawn attention to the widely different treatment accorded the refugees aided by the committee. Butler quotes the Relief Committee as saying in the 1688 report, cited above, that the emigrating refugees "had a large and comfortable Assistance and Relief." But he indicates the committee granted assistance in widely different amounts according to whether they judged people "Persons of Quality," or "Middle Quality" etc. It is obvious from the comparisons he draws from the committee's records that they considered ministers of high quality. In fact, one of the comparisons he makes is the amount granted Peiret (50 pounds sterling) to go to America and that granted to Peter Le Sade, "Ploughman," who received only 3 pounds (60 shillings) to take his wife and two children to the colonies. He concludes that most refugees received between 2 and 4 pounds for their voyage to America. (See p. 52) These amounts agree with the funds given earlier for the two Vincent families to come to America. In fact, the Peiret/Le Sade comparison jumps out because they appear in the handwritten records sequentially. Le Sade with his family of 4 receives less than a pound per person (or 15 shillings), while Peiret with a party of 6 receives over 8 pounds per person. (These entries appear on the list described below as Ms 2, Part 5. Account 12)
The foregoing suggests that Jean preceded Peiret from Rotterdam to London after the April 24 meeting in Rotterdam to determine if relocation to London was feasible. Jean certainly was in London before Peiret arrived and sought Bounty aid which was authorized on October 6, 1686. The 1 pound 10( 30 shillings) given to Jean would have allowed him to return to Holland to report back about the situation in London and the feasibility of Peiret moving there with his family. (From a review of the records of the Threadneedle Church, it appears that the allotments given for travel usually included some allowance for living expenses in addition to what was required for transport.) In this context, it is appropriate to remember that Peiret had a spouse and two very small children who, based on the ages cited in the September 2, 1685 list of Osse residents refusing to abjure, would be about 2 and 6 in October 1686. If Jean had been sent by Osse or volunteered to see Peiret to safety and a new ministry, it is logical that he would have scouted England as a location for Peiret when it was obvious that there were too many refugee ministers in Holland to provide a living, as noted above. In addition, it is also evident that many French refugees, who initially settled in Holland, married and had children there, had not found a permanent home. The emigration of French Protestants, Vaudois, and Waldenians in groups to America around 1700-02 from various parts of Europe, including Holland, are reported by Baird. (See Vol. II, pp 176-180)
Turning now to document our analysis to this point, we find in the handwritten records of the Relief Committee the following entry translated from the French:
"Jean de la Tourette in order to go to Holland 1 pound 10 shillings plus he still has 30 more shillings in order to go to Denmark"
In terms of English coinage of the time, with 20 shillings to a pound, 30 shillings is the same as 1 pound sterling plus ten shillings. Compared to the sums granted on the average of 15 to 30 shillings a person to travel to America, cited from Butler's analysis above, 30 shillings to travel the much shorter distance to Holland or Denmark was very generous, suggesting a higher estimate of the quality of the person by the committee. It also may have included the anticipation that this was for a round trip, as clearly was the case of the one to Holland. Moreover, the amount granted may have reflected a request by Jean that he was associated with a minister seeking a location to establish a ministry. Thus, Holland was the first destination and from the records it is clear that the funds granted were expended. Also, it is evident that he returned to London from Holland. There is no mention of a spouse or children as is the case in many of the committee's entries. Researchers familiar with the records at the Huguenot Library in London believe this entry applies to a single male, a point which is confirmed in another paper by this author.
This entry appears on an alphabetical list of assistance granted between June 4, 1686 and August 28, 1687 and, following Smith (p. 12 ), it is to be found under Schedule A: The First Brief of James II, 1686, Aa Committee Registers MS 1. It needs to be emphasized that this is a summary of entries that were pulled together and certified by committee members, usually by three members, to account for the Relief Committee's use of funds provided to it over this period. There are no other entries found for Jean Latourrette after August 28, 1687, although the relief for French refugees continued to 1727. The certification of the records after August 28, 1687 confirm that he had made the round trip to Holland and that he still had 30 more shillings to go to Denmark. It appears he did not use the grant to go to Denmark because he left with Peiret in early August 1687 to go to America. This may also explain why Peiret requested the funds to include Jean and another man as part of his assistance.
The fact that Jean Latourrette is found in London and /or traveling to and from London and Holland and planning to go to Denmark over this period clearly eliminates a hypothesis of Mrs. Jacob about Jean Latourrette's travel to America. Her view was that Jean, as a single male (In her view, he is not previously married in France as Lyman Latourette asserts in his "Annals"), could have been part of the Rhode Island Colony of French refugees. The final arrangements for the Colony were negotiated in America on October 12, 1686 and less than a month later the settlement was made on November 9, 1686. (Baird, Vol. II, pp. 291-311) This and other evidence to be presented in a separate paper clearly undercuts Mrs. Jacob's hypothesis.
Also, one finds an entry for Peiret under MS 1 for the period June 4, 1686 to August 28, 1687. However, this one is dated October 6, 1686 in terms of an effective date to receive the assistance. As noted by Smith and also in the records, there are duplications of other lists, because MS 1 summarizes alphabetically all the committee's actions between the aforementioned dates. Therefore, it must be emphasized that it includes a later action of the committee to support Peiret's travel to America which is found in another account noted below.
Translating the entry for Peiret that includes all the committee actions for Peiret between October 6, 1686 and August 28, 1687, we have:
"Pierre Peiret, minister, his wife and two children established October 6, 1686 the amount of 20.5 pounds for habitation for 6 months. And for another 6 months 14.10 pounds. Plus 50 pounds for his wife, two children and two men to go to New Jersey"
We find separately under Ac: Accounts for Grants, MS 2, Part 5, Account 12, a list of committee actions dated August 3 to November 12, 1687, examined and signed November 18, 1687.
"To Pierre Peyret, Minister, his wife, two children and two men to go to New Jersey ... 50 pounds"
The heading of this page of the committee's records is "To Several Intended to the West Indies." Smith's note (page 13, ft. 6) indicates that the list pertains to people who intended to go to Virginia and New Jersey. It should be noted here that according to the usage of the time "West Indies" referred to the entire American continent. This page is obviously part of the record that Butler used to make the comparison of widely different grants made by the committee, as cited above. However, for some reason he translates "two men" into "two servants." (See p.52) He does not mention the other grants received by Peiret to live in London, or by Latourrette to travel to Holland and Denmark, because he was focused on a comparison of grants for people going to America.
The interpretation of these records, combined with the evidence laid out up to this point and what is to follow, suggests that Jean Latourrette accompanied Peiret to New York as one of the "two men." They were both in London during approximately the same period, with Latourrette likely preceding Peiret, before he came with his family from Holland and was granted living assistance on October 6, 1686. They were both gone from London by August 28, 1687. This will become more evident as our story unfolds, but there are two other matters to consider. Why did Jean Latourrette consider going to Demark after traveling to Holland and back to London over this period? There is a good answer to this question which we will insert in summary form at this point. Was there a second person from Osse accompanying Peiret? This cannot be addressed at this point, except to note that no one has ever indicated in Osse that anyone else left for America at the time of the Revocation. Moreover in examining all of the names tracked by a host of writers about French refugees in America (Baird, Bennett, Butler, Lee, Maynard, Reaman, Roche, Weiss, and Wittmeyer) no other name is tracked to Osse. It has already been noted that Maynard did an exhaustive search of the backgrounds of the early members of the French Church in New York and did not find anyone from Bearn other than Jean Latourrette and Peiret, once the mistake about the latter's origin is corrected. If there was another man from Osse it would be logical to expect that he would show up on the records of Peiret's church in New York, but he does not.
The two grants and the associated amounts given to Jean Latourrette suggest there may have been a plan or strategy on the part of Peiret and Jean in seeking a permanent home. If Holland and England did not present good opportunities for a new ministry for Peiret, what about Denmark? The story, described above, about Jean Laplacette fleeing from Bearn and ultimately being invited to a new ministry in Copenhagen by the Queen provides a good explanation for why they might consider Denmark as a place to settle.
This story draws heavily on Weiss' chapter 'The Refugees in Denmark'. (See Vol. II, Book VII, Chapter 1, pp. 242-64) As already noted, both Laplacette and Peiret were natives of Pontacq in Bearn with the former born there in 1639 and the latter in 1644. They were both ministers in Bearn in 1685 and two of the 18 ministers who did not abjure and fled. Laplacette left Nay where was a minister in March 1685 and by 1686 he had been invited by Queen Charlotte of Denmark, who had suffered persecution in France as a Calvinist, to establish a church in Copenhagen.
The Queen had prevailed on King Christian V to open Denmark to French refugees by declarations in 1681 and again in 1685, but the welcome was always tenuous because the official state religion was Lutheranism. Some of the major inducements offered the refugees in 1685 to settle there in terms of a freedom to follow their religious faith and practice quickly disappeared by 1690. As explained by Weiss "the revolution of 1660, by concentrating all power in the hands of the monarch, had imposed upon him the obligation to change nothing in the religion of the state. The Lutheran orthodoxy, at that period, repulsed the doctrine of Calvin as a dangerous heresy" threatening the authority of the king and state. (pp. 243-4) Weiss further notes that the Bishop of Zeeland "maintained in his discourses, that the power of kings is of divine origin, and recognizes no other superior than God, on the spiritual as well as the temporal order; that in consequence, it is their interest to sustain Lutheran faith, which easily accommodates itself to absolute government, and to oppose themselves to the introduction of Calvinism, which is founded upon an opposite principle." (p. 244)
Weiss describes the small number of French refugee settlements in Denmark and notes that most of the emigrants were military officers and sailors, several of whom held prominent positions in the Danish army and navy. They were invited by King Christian V because their military strategies and tactics were vastly superior to those of the native Danish forces, as was the case with those who were attracted to settle in Germany. There were also a small number of farmers who migrated there and improved agricultural techniques. However, there was little interest on the part of the bulk of the French refugees, who were manufacturers and craftsmen, to go to Denmark.
With this background, it appears that Denmark was not a place where Peiret and Latourrette would have been comfortable. Laplacette's position in this society, with the support of the Queen, was certainly unique. This is underscored by the fact that Laplacette immediately left for Holland after the death of the Queen in 1711 even though he had been in Copenhagen for 25 years.
It is likely that Peiret and Latourrette in London knew of Laplacette's new ministry in Denmark because, at that time, Denmark was officially neutral between France and England. Also, from evidence we have, the ministers who fled from France kept in touch by various means and there was free passage and communication between Berlin (Brandenburg) and Denmark, between England and Denmark and between Holland and Denmark.
In addition to these considerations, most of the emigration of French Protestants to Denmark came from Germany, as in the case of Laplacette. The records of the Threadneedle Church are instructive on this score. These records show that only 2 of the 617 refugees receiving aid to leave London went to Denmark.
Whatever intelligence Peiret and Latourrette received after requesting funds for Jean to go to Denmark, they came to the conclusion that this country would not meet their needs. The situation was more complex than the way G. Elmore Reaman presents it, dismissing in only two sentences both Denmark and Sweden as potential homes for the refugees: "Denmark and Sweden did not welcome Huguenots because they were Lutheran and opposed to Calvinism. Besides, Denmark was in the pay of France." (p.107) But, without the protection that Laplacette received from the Queen and the military officers and men from the King, Reaman's assessment appears to be accurate.
After considering Holland, England and Denmark, America became the obvious choice for emigration. The Relief Committee accounts and other corroborating information from Baird and Wittmeyer, plus London sailing records, yield a clear picture of Peiret's departure from London.
Turning first to the assistance records, the funds allocated to Peiret appear on lists labeled by Smith as Ac: Accounts for Grants, MS 2 (in 7 parts). It is recorded in Part 5, Account 12, consisting of 40 pages, in a section designated "Several Intended for the West Indies." As already noted, West Indies at that time was used to describe the entire American continent.
The entry indicates that Peiret, minister, received 50 pounds to take himself, his spouse, two children and two men to "New Jersey." These grants were made by the committee between August 3 and November 12, 1687 and signed (accounted for) on November 18, 1687. The August 3, 1687 date is important for determining when Peiret made the decision to leave London and go to America.
As indicated above, Peiret was considered by the Relief Committee as a person of high quality. The sum of 50 pounds granted Peiret in 1687 is a considerable amount of assistance. Before the pound was converted to a decimal standard, there were 240 pence to a pound and, therefore, 50 pounds equaled 12,000 pence. To place that sum in perspective, ordinary labor at that time received about 10 pence a day, so 240 pence or one pound for every 24 days of labor. Thus the sum of 50 pounds would be equivalent to 1200 days of common labor (24 days x 50 = 1200). Assuming a work week of 6 days, 50 pounds would be equal to 3.8 years of common labor. (Source: Clark, Table 5, Winter Wages, 1670-1849)
Another way of looking at the 50 pounds given to Peiret to go to America is to convert it to current purchasing power. 50 pounds is equivalent to 5,348 pounds in 2002, or at the dollar exchange of the time of $1.45, it is equivalent to $7755 to take himself, his spouse, two children and two men one way across the Atlantic in 1687. This is $1292 per person to go one way with some funds remaining for living expenses upon their arrival. In 2002, one-way adult air fares between London and New York City were about $600 per person. (Source: John J. Mc Cusker, "Comparing the Purchasing Power of Money in Great Britain from 1264 to Any Other year, including the Present." Economic History Series, 2001 (URL: www.eh,net/hmit/ppowerbp )
The timing of the payment to go to America suggests there may have been a relatively quick, but well calculated, decision by Peiret to leave London, seizing on what might be described as a clear opportunity to establish a new ministry for French Protestant refugees. As already suggested, the opportunity to establish a ministry in Holland and Denmark appeared to be very limited. England too had a large surplus of French ministers. Moreover, King James II and his open hostility to French Protestants was likely one of the reasons to leave. Baird and Butler confirm that there were clusters of French refugees going to America in 1686 and 1687 and it is clear other refugees went with the Peiret group on the English ship named Robert, the voyage described below. Many who left at this time or before 1690, and became leading members of Peiret's church in New York, had already achieved some success in London and had been naturalized there. The Glorious Revolution in England was soon to occur in 1688 but the outcome would not have been predictable to Peiret and the other departing refugees. Confirming this point, Butler notes that much larger groups of refugees left before 1688 -90. It is also clear from Wittmeyer that there was a ready made congregation for Peiret with the refugees going to New York. (See Wittmeyer 1886 Introduction, p. XXI) The prospects for a new ministry in America for Peiret is demonstrated by how quickly he established a congregation and built the first church structure exclusively for the use of French Protestant refugees in New York. All of this took place within one year of his arrival there.
From the narrative to this point, it should be evident that as few as 1,500 and no more than 2,000 French refugees came to America between 1680 and 1700. This raises the question of why did such large numbers, perhaps up to 50,000, remain in England? Butler provides the answer: "Widespread indirect evidence suggests that if old people dominated the Huguenot exodus from France, young people dominated the Huguenot migration to America. If so, this is a major indication that a significant element of choice, rather than force, brought these refugees to America after they had successfully escaped from France." (p. 57) Examining the aid records of the Threadneedle Church already cited, he found that many who left for America, like Auguste Grasset and the two Vincents, noted above, were relatively young skilled craftsmen. The low death rates in the colonies after their arrival also support this conclusion. (See Butler, pp. 56-9)
In terms of age, it is noted that when they arrived in New York in 1687 Jean Latourrette was a skilled craftsman of about age 36, and Peiret was 43 with a young wife and two small children. This also appears to be true for the other 8 French ministers who came to America. Where we have reliable dates, three other ministers were 32, 36 and 40 when they arrived in America and, based on indirect evidence, another 3 appear to be under 40. (Based on information found in Baird, Butler and Wittmeyer)
A deeper look into the assistance given to the refugees by the Relief Committee indicates that there was not much of an opportunity for Peiret to become involved in a ministry in England. Roy A. Sundstrom, "Aid and Assimilation: A Study of the Economic Support Given French Protestants in England, 1680 - 1727," conducted a detailed analysis of the use of the funds and associated background sources. He notes that there was a surplus of French ministers in England from the emigrations of the early 1680s to the point that Archbishop Sancroft of the Anglican Church issued a circular letter on July 15, 1685 giving the bishops the choice of either having destitute Huguenot ministers come to live with them or sending to him the funds for their support. (p. 65, ft 32 and p.168) The reader's attention is directed to the fact that this letter was sent even before the huge wave of emigration that came after the Revocation. Sundstrom estimates that about 50,000 refugees came to England over the period of 1680 to 1727, the latter being year the assistance ended. The flood of refugees immediately after the Revocation is demonstrated by the 2,225 new members of the French Church in London in 1687 from an increase of only 267 in 1686. (p. 43) The new membership recorded in 1687 is the largest for the period 1680 to 1705; however, Sundstrom documents that the number of refuges receiving aid continued to climb at least until 1721. (p. 84) The surplus of ministers in England is further documented by Relief Committee records for the period November 1689 to July 1693 which show that 345 clergymen, their wives and children were receiving annual aid. (p. 50)
Even as late as 1703, we see a substantial number of French ministers' families receiving aid. The record cited here has 280 people receiving annual aid to "ministers" for an average payment of over 10 pounds a person. The point made earlier about how ministers and families were treated as persons of "quality" is reinforced when on the average the 5,505 people listed received less than 3 pounds per person. (p. 68) But, as Sundstrom notes throughout his analysis, considering the number of refugees, the amount of aid for all of the refugees given over the period was never enough, and was frequently interrupted as Kings and Queens changed and new collections had to be made.
Even though 15 new French Churches were built in England with the collections initiated in April of 1686, it is obvious that there was no way the flood of French ministers could be absorbed in gainful religious practice. The disproportionate migration of French ministers to lay people is evident in the analysis of Samuel Mours. Although there was considerable regional variation in the rates, he estimates that on the average only about 19 percent of the French Protestants emigrated between 1660 and 1690. On the other hand, depending on the region, at least 50 percent and as much as 75 percent of the ministers fled France. So there was bound to be a significant surplus of ministers relative to the total emigrant population, especially in Holland and England, the two countries that received the majority of the refugees.
From records described below, we know that at least three other refugees accompanied the Peiret group with their families to America. We have a considerable amount of information on two of these men, Pierre (Peter) Reverdy and Elie Nezereau. Both of these men would have been considered "Persons of Quality" or of "Middle Quality" by the Relief Committee. Peter Reverdy, from the province of Poitou, received 30 pounds to take his family explicitly to "New York." This entry appears in MS 2, Part 3/ ordered May 4, 1687 for a May 5 to July 20, 1687 payment. Baird indicates there was a son named Benoni naturalized with Pierre in England on July 2, 1684. (Vol. II, p. 56. ft. 4) The city of Niort which Baird cites as the origin of Reverdy is in the old province of Poitou near La Rochelle. From this information, one is able to determine that Reverdy came to London before the Revocation and was already settled there before deciding to go to New York.
Elie Nezereau, from La Rochelle, was naturalized in England March 20, 1686. He is described by Baird as a very successful merchant and a person who left a bequest to Peiret's church for the use of the poor (Vol. I, p. 290, ft. 7)
Here we trace the voyage of the English ship Robert from London to New York. From sailing records, noted below, we know that this ship left London between August 4 and 18, 1687. From other records we know that the Peiret party was abroad this ship and that it arrived in New York in October, or at least by November 10, 1687.
The arrival of Peiret in America is documented in two sources. In the introduction to Rev. Alfred V. Wittmeyer (page xxi of the edition 1886), we find the following: "He (Peiret) arrived in New York not later than the 10th of November, 1687, at which date we have an affidavit by him and two of his companions, Pierre Reverdy and Michael Pare, in reference to the accidental death at sea of Richard Burt, the captain of the ship 'Robert' in which they came from London." The second source is cited in Baird (Vol. 1, p. 290, ft. 7) where reference is made to Elie Nezereau, born in Rochelle in 1639: "He (Nezereau) was naturalized in England, March 20, 1686, and came over in the ship Robert, with Pasteur Peiret, in October, 1687." It is very likely the actual arrival was in October. The Calendar of the New York (Colony) Council Minutes, 1668-1783 (p. 56) show that at the Council meeting of November 10, by a petition from Samuel Burt, brother of the deceased captain, Pierre Peyre (Peiret), Peter Reverdy and Michael Peck (Pare) testified as to the manner of his death by drowning.
Cadier also notes that Peiret went from England to America on the ship Robert with Elie Nezereau, but with no citation as to source. Since Cadier was aware of Baird's work, we assume that is the source of the information on Peiret.
During this period, the English did not record free people on many voyages, limiting their entries to the name of the ship, the captain, and people shipping goods. Hence the record for the ship Robert on this particular voyage is shown as "4-18 August 1687: Shippers by the Robert, Mr. Richard Burt, bound from London to New York: Walter Bentall, Robert Plumstead, William Prince, Thomas Ashfield, Robert Hacks, Henry Lacount." (The Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607-1776," CD of the Family Archive. Entry has the number PRO: E190/147/1 of the London maritime records.)
Butler notes the absence of passenger lists for Huguenots arriving in America between 1680 and 1700. (p. 46) A review of the available passenger lists of the time confirms the conclusion stated above. The British did not record the passage of free people, but they listed ship captains and people (merchants) who were accompanying goods for trade. The exceptions to this were passengers who were being sent to the colonies under the authority of the Crown, as in the case of pardoned criminals and wayward women/children, or where a legal contract existed for indentured servants and apprentices. When one examines these passenger lists, occasionally there are French refugees coming to the colonies listed as apprentices, but not in the other categories. The practice that free persons were not listed is confirmed by the names of the few French refugees who are found on passenger lists as shippers. For example, the arrival in New York of Jean Barberie, a prominent member of Peiret's church discussed below, was recorded as April 24, 1688. "The Complete Book of Emigrants" has the following entry: "Feb 14- April 24, 1688: Shippers by the Bordeaux Merchant, Mr. Lawrence Sturman, bound from London to New York" with Jean Barberie listed as one of the shippers. PRO: H190/145/1. He would have arrived after Peiret, but while the pastor was organizing his church. From this and how Barberie is described below, we assume that he did not require assistance from the Relief Committee to come to America.
The absence of Jean Latourrette's name on a passenger list for the ship Robert, therefore, is not surprising. The names of Peiret, Reverdy, Pare and Nezereau and family members who accompanied them are not found, either. Only a handful of the names of the 1500 to 2000 French Protestant refugees, Butler estimated came to America between 1685 and 1700, would be found on passenger lists. A great deal is known about these refugees after they arrived, as well as their origin in France through marriage, baptismal, and death records and civil records. It is rare to find evidence of their actual passage to America. Baird knew from other sources that Peiret came on the same ship as Nezereau. (Vol. I, p. 290, ft. 7. Baird knew from other sources that Peiret came on the same ship as Nezereau. (Vol. I, p. 290, ft. 7) Baird does not appear to know that this is corroborated by the exceptional affidavit which Peiret signed because of the death of ship's captain.
Peiret, Reverdy, Pare, Nezereau, and Barberie are among the very few, except for those identified in family bibles/records or stories handed down, where we know the sailing dates, ports of departure and entry, and the name of the ship which brought particular French refugees to America between 1685 and 1700.
NEW YORK (AFTER 1687)
Wittmeyer, describing Peiret's arrival in New York on the ship named Robert, indicates "Immediately on his arrival he gathered around him a band of his fellow refugees, whom he organized as an independent church under the name of Eglise francoise a la Nouvelle York --- or Eglise des Refugies francoise a la Nouvelle York" (p. xxi) By November of 1688, the church was established and built on Petty-Coat Lane (in what is now lower Manhattan). The first entries in the church Registers are two baptisms on November 4, 1688. Some Huguenots who become prominent members of the New York community are associated with the founding and support of the church during the ministry of Peiret (1687- 1704). A December 30, 1690 letter of petition to the Bishop of London by Pierre Reverdy, who came with Pastor Peiret to America on the ship Robert, claimed that there were 200 French families in New York City. (See Wittmeyer, xxiv) Maynard estimates there were 250 French refugees in the parish in the early years of the church (1688-89) which is consistent with the figure of 200 families cited in Reverdy's 1690 letter. He further indicates that by 1700 there were 700-800. (See Maynard, p. 75) Another figure given by Maynard for 1697 (p.69) indicates that about 600, or 15 percent, of the population of 4000 in New York was French.
The size of the French population in NYC suggests that there was a ready opportunity for Pastor Peiret to build a church to serve the community when he arrived in NY. Only one other minister, Pierre Daille, had preceded him in 1682, but he did not appear to have the drive, political skills and organizational abilities of Peiret. In fact, Daille's congregation was absorbed by Peiret's in 1692. See Wittmeyer's 1886 Introduction, for example, which provides a description of the pre-Peiret Huguenot religious community in New York. The explanation given here of Peiret's success is an oversimplification of the complex environment found in New York at the time. Those interested in a more complete understanding of the situation should read Butler's chapter, 'New York: Refugees in an Ethnic Caldron' (pp. 144-198), which is well-researched and documented.
The church property on Petty-Coat Lane (later Marketfield Street) is described by Wittmeyer as being about 29 by 49 feet with some 3- plus feet being reserved for a common alley. A drawing of this church is available at:
It is likely this church was constructed primarily of wood, given the relatively short time in which it was built. Other than the drawing available on the above Webpages, no description of the building is given. The second church, built in 1704, is clearly described as being of stone. This was the pattern followed at New Rochelle: first a wooden church in 1692, followed by a stone church in 1710.
The church on this Petty-Coat Lane property was about the same size as the Protestant temple today in Osse, which was restored in 1805. The Temple Bethel, known by Peiret and Jean Latourrette when they left Osse, had to be destroyed by the Protestants themselves under royal court orders in 1686. (Cadier, p. 206) These temples in Osse and New York are very similar in size to the one that Jean Latourrette built later on Staten Island after 1698. The stone church built by Latourrette and four other Huguenot families on Staten Island is described from the ruins as being about 32 by 45 feet, with a small, separate stone parsonage and a cemetery with 200 grave markers.
The church and tombstones were destroyed by Hessians under the command of British troops in 1776 during the American Revolution, because the Latourrettes and other Huguenots like the Mercereaus fought for the Revolution. "John and Peter Latourette lived at Fresh Kills. They were great patriots, and when the British came, fled to New Jersey, whence they used to make visits in whale boats to the island." (Bayles, p. 243) Newspaper accounts of the time printed in British occupied New York City carried stories of Peter's exploits in constantly harassing the British during these "visits". The first Latourrette house at this Fresh Kills site, likely built around this time, was also of stone and apparently the closest house to the church. The house was destroyed sometime after 1890 but a picture of this stone structure has been preserved. (See Bayles, pp.92-5) There is a good description of the church and Jean Latourrette's house in Mrs. Jacob's 1965 "Compilation" - internal pp. 2-3 under La Tourette. A picture of the Latourrette house is in Lyman's "Annals", p. x. See also "Annals", pp 21-3 for descriptions of the church and house.)
The names associated with the Staten Island church are ones that are found in the "Registers" of the Peiret Church in New York City. The deed was signed on April 12, 1698 and recorded in the County of Richmond on May 22, 1698. This action transferred to the "French Congregation now residing in the County of Richmond" an acre of land from John and Hester Belvealle in the presence (names as they appear on the record) of Jacob Corbett, D. Lucas, Jeyn la Tourritte, Joseph Bastidoe and Samuel Grasset.(The complete transcript of the deed transfer is found in Bayles, pp. 92-3) In the "Registers", entries of the church in New York City and Maynard's history of the church, we find, with variations in spelling, the names of Corbett, Lucas, Grasset, the conveyer of the property Belvealle, and, of course Jean Latourrette. John Belvealle is shown as Jean Belleville from the Island of Re in Maynard. (p.99) Baird indicates he came to America from St. Martin en Re at least by 1670 when he became a member of the Dutch Church of New York. (See Vol. I, p.305, ft. 4) Bastidoe is not found on these records, but does appear as Joseph Bastedo (age 49) on the so-called Staten Island Census of 1706 which lists Jean Latourrette as John Turet (age 55) and Hester Belvealle as Hester Belvil. (It is this census listing the members of the Latourrette family as Turet which has been used to estimate Jean's birth in Osse in 1651. Some evidence indicates that some of the census entries could have been made a year or two later, which could shift the birth date slightly.) Bastidoe/ Bastedo appears to be a French surname, so one can consider the Staten Island church as a spin-off from Peiret's mother church in Manhattan. With Jean Latourrette's roots tied to Osse and Pastor Peiret, Baird's comments about the Grasset family confirm this perspective. He refers to Samuel Grasset's parents, Augustus and Mary, who were naturalized in England March 8, 1682 and arrived in New York as early as 1689 as "one of the 'chefs de famille' of the French Church".(Vol. I, p.289 ft. 1) As noted above, Butler believes the Grasset family came to New York in 1682/3. Baird merely notes that he finds them in New York City by 1689.
According to the census, on which the Latourrette family name appears, there were 100 French adults and 72 children on Staten Island at the time. This would suggest a relatively small Huguenot community at Richmond just after the beginning of the 18th century. The minister there was David de Bonrepros, who is recorded as being in Staten Island by 1694. Rev. Bonrepros had served in Boston (1686-88), New Rochelle (1689-93), and New Paltz (1693).
Returning to the French Church of New York, we note that Jean Latourrette's marriage to Marie Mercereau, July 16, 1693 and the baptism of four of their children, Marie, Jean, Pierre and David, appear in the church Registers, the last being on January 7, 1700. The remaining children were baptized on Staten Island, suggesting that the church at Fresh Kills was not completed until after David's birth and baptism. Jean also was a witness (godfather) at two baptisms in June and July 1693, one with Marie Mercereau (as godmother) on their wedding day. (In another paper we will take up Lyman Latourrette's interpretation of the church records as implying that Jean and Marie had an earlier marriage in France.)
In the church Register Jean Latourrette signed his name with two "r's" a form still used by many of the descendants and relatives in France, America, South America and other countries. It is appropriate to note here that most of the French refugees who came to America during this period and were members of Peiret's church, both men and women, signed their names, indicating they were literate. The participation of women in church ceremonies also reflects the high degree of participation French Protestant women had in communal and religious activities, a role they continued in America. Jean's signature further supports the education he was assumed to have as a member of the Protestant community of Osse.
The records of the French Church in NY reproduced in Wittmeyer show several variations in how Jean Latourrette's name was recorded by Pasteur Peiret: Jean La Tourette, Jean de la Tourette, Jean Latourette, and Jean latourette. As noted below, when he was naturalized in New York in 1695, the name was signed with a double "r" as in La tourrette. In reviewing the records of the Protestant Temple in Osse-en-Aspe, similar variations appear in the "Actes de Consistoire de L'Eglise" (Acts of Substance of the Church), beginning with May 5,1664 and running through the end of the record April 16, 1685, after which Pastor Peiret fled from Osse. In entries from 1668, 1669, 1674, 1681 and 1683, for example, the name appears as Jean de la Tourrette; la Tourrette, notaire; de la Tourrette, notaire; La Tourrette, Notaire; de La Tourrette, notaire; David Latourrette; de Latourrette; and David de latourrette, but always with the double "r". The use of the double "r" is consistent with the old language of Bearn region, Bearnese, to have a rolling r pronunciation of the name. Thus, the point made in Lyman E. Latourette "Latourette Annals in America", 1954 (p.3) that the double "r" is the older form of the name is correct.
The use of the double "r" in the surname of Jean is confirmed by an inspection of the original records of the St. Esprit church in NYC. The photo-static records, noted by Maynard (p. 12), are generally in good condition and were examined and copied as presented below. The originals were the source of the record of the marriages and baptisms published by Wittmeyer in 1886. Although both Maynard and Wittmeyer show the name with a single "r", Jean La tourrette (the form found in the original records) always signs his name with a double "r"( as Lyman Latourette notes in his "Annals"), when he sought naturalization in 1695. Representative signatures from the St. Esprit records as La tourrette are reproduced here, along with the signatures of Marie Mercereau and Pierre Peiret.
The following signatures are from the marriage of Jean and Marie on July 16, 1693: The signature of Peiret is typical of what is found in the records of St. Esprit.
The following signature was recorded at the baptism of son Jean on October 20, 1695.
The following signature is from the baptism of son Pierre on November 28, 1697. (The entry by Pierre Peiret mistakenly calls Pierre the son of Pierre Latourette and Marie Mercereau.)
All the signatures of Jean appear with a double "r" and, therefore, are consistent with those found in the records of the Osse Temple between 1665 and 1685.
Lyman Latourette cites a letter written by a Rev. James A.M. LaTourette to Mrs. Sarah Atwater Goodyear, dated March 12, 1897, in which the following appears "Jean LaTourette's name is recorded as one of the two anciens (elders) of the French Church in Pine Street, New York, in 1690." Unfortunately, no source is cited although it is possible that Rev. LaTourette, a minister on Staten Island in the 1850s and later an Army Chaplain, had some information which led him to make this statement. Certainly, as indicated in Lyman's "Annals", he had made a major effort during his lifetime to trace the family genealogy. Moreover, he may have had information from the research being done at the time by, among others, Wittmeyer and Baird and the greatly increased interest in the Huguenots in America with the founding of the Huguenot Society of America in 1883 by Wittmeyer. ("Annals", Ch. XIV. "Latourette Line as Given by Rev. James A. M. Latourette: about 1882") However, the first church, built in 1688, was on Petty-Coat Lane. The second church on Pine was not built until 1704. In addition, one does not find Jean Latourrette's name in the church Registers as an ancien in this period. We find only three people who sign themselves as anciens (elders) at church ceremonies over the period of 1689, 1690, and 1691: Jean Barberie, Elie Boudinot and Gabriel Le Boyteulx. When they sign the church register, they are not consistent in adding ancien after their name. In 1689, for example, ancien is found after 4 of Boudinot's signatures, but there are 7 times when it is not. The same is true for Barberie and Le Boyteulx. Relative to the year 1690 we find Barberie and Le Boyteulx, with ancien following their signatures in the months of January, February and March. That would seem to throw considerable doubt about Rev. LaTourette's statement that Jean Latourrette was one of two anciens in that year However, since England remained on the Old Style calendar until 1752, we must consider whether the reference is to the period of March 25, 1690 to March 24, 1691 on the New Style calendar. During this period we do not find any signatures that indicate a status as an ancien. (Starting with the first records in 1688, Peiret follows the New Style calendar, with the year beginning January 1, because France had switched to this calendar more than 100 years earlier. Only beginning with 1692/93 do the records show both calendars recorded.) So a review of the church Registers is inconclusive as to whether Jean Latourrette was an ancien in 1690. Although he did not possess the wealth of the three anciens cited above, his roots as a Latourrette and obvious education would have made him eligible to be an ancien (elder) or diacre (deacon). From the church records it is also clear that being a skilled craftsperson did not preclude one from a leadership position in the religious community. For example, Gilles Gaudineau(x), who is described by Maynard as a stone mason in the same set of entries as Jean Latourrette as a carpenter, is seen to by his signature to be an ancien in 1692 and 1693. (Maynard, p. 80 and "Registers", p. 22 and 27)
The issue of Jean Latourrette being an ancien in 1690 is important in providing additional evidence to correct the story, found in both the Annals and Mrs. Jacob's notes, that Marie Mercereau and possibly Jean Latourrette were part of the February 1690 massacre in Schenectady. Also, it would provide collaborative support to other information that Jean was not part of the Rhode Island Colony. Both of these questions are considered in another paper.
Over the past 300 years, Lyman Latourette, Mrs. Jacob and others interested in why and how Jean Latourrette came to America were not able to make the connection with Peiret. As already indicated, this was primarily due to the false assumption that Peiret was from Foix rather than Pontacq. Not realizing that they both came to New York from Osse, they did not search the French Church records to see what they might reveal about Latourrette and his background.
In Maynard's history, Jean is described as working as a carpenter in the church in the spring of 1693. Citing the records of Accounts of Collections and Expenditures, March 1693 -April 1699 kept by Gabriel Le Boytealx (also spelled as Le Boisteulx and Le Boyteau), Maynard says:
"Some other expense appears in this account. Jean Latourette, a carpenter, earned seven shillings and three pence for 'having done the floor of the temple and provided the iron work' (April 7, 1693). Then he went to work on the gallery for which he was paid twelve pounds thirteen shillings six pence (June 26, 1693). The sum included material and labor." (See Maynard, p.80. The first project is incorrectly cited in Lyman's Annals as to the year and page reference in Maynard. That Lyman quotes this one, much less significant, project in passing reinforces the point that he did not understand the connection between Jean and Peiret.)
The construction of a gallery for the Church was a major undertaking as noted by Wittmeyer. "The building, to which was added a gallery in 1692, may have seated three to four hundred persons." (Introduction, XXII) Maynard corrects this date to 1693. (See p. 80) The labor and material, using a comparison cited above, would therefore be equivalent to around 300 days of common labor of the time.
An inspection of a photo copy of the original Boyteulx account book at St. Esprit revealed another entry showing Jean LaTourette (as it was written) doing additional work for the church in 1695. He was paid 10 shillings and 6 pence for "two windows carefully chosen as something else to be made for the Temple." (Entry dated December 17, 1695) It is possible that there are other entries about Jean Latourrette in this account book which was not photocopied clearly in some cases, and therefore more difficult to read, especially in French, than the "Registers" of marriages, baptisms and deaths cited above.
His craft skills as a carpenter, the work that Jean did for the church which is documented here, and the significant part he had in building the church on Staten Island suggest that he very likely played a major role in building the first church on Petty-Coat Lane in 1688 for Peiret. A search for additional documentation about the first church may give an answer to this issue and more details about the church itself. The completion of the first church in New York within a year of his arrival suggests Peiret brought with him the resources and skills required to not only to quickly form a congregation and to raise the required capital, but also to have the skills on hand to build the structure.
Several key Huguenot refugees were involved in Peiret's church. The names of refugees, who are identified by Wittmeyer, Baird and especially Butler (see pp. 157 and 183) as leading merchants and citizens of New York in the last decade of the 1600s (1690-1700)and appear frequently in the church "Registers" (See Wittmeyer) as anciens (elders) and witnesses of marriages and baptisms are:
Elie Boudinot (ancien) who maintained an account book of receipts and expenditures for the church between 1689 and 1693 is a leading member. Boudinot, a widower, came to New York after his marriage to Susanne Papin, the widow of another famous Huguenot of La Rochelle, Benjamin d'Harriette, on November 9, 1686 in London. (Baird, Vol. I, p. 288, ft. 6) Boudinot originally was from a very prominent Huguenot family in Marans. (Baird, Vol. I, pp 298-300) It is suggested that they left for America the same year they were married, but it is not clear whether this refers to the new or old calendar, the latter of which would have meant the year ended on March 24. Church records suggest that he was a major contributor. Boudinot appears as an ancient with the first two entries in the church "Registers" in 1688. Boudinot's grandson was a famous revolutionary figure, serving as president of the Continental Congress. Unfortunately, the Boudinot account book has not been located by the author, although it is cited by Maynard in his 1938 history of the church.
Jean (John) Barberie (ancien) was another successful merchant who was active in the church from its beginning. Baird describes Barberie as an enterprising merchant, who was politically active. He is also a principal founder of the church. (Vol. II, p. 139, ft. 4) Further, Barberie is cited as contributing to the cost of the gallery for the church in 1693, built by Jean Latourrette. (Maynard, p. 80)
It would be of considerable interest to determine if Peiret had met either Barberie or Boudinot during the relatively short time he was in London. Our analysis suggests that both of these men, who later became key leaders of the French Church of New York, were in London during the period October 1686- August 1687. Thus, these contacts, if they occurred, could have been an important element in the decision of Peiret and Latourrette to leave London in August of 1687 and go to New York.
It is of significance to note that both Barberie and Boudinot are witnesses at the marriage of Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau on July 16, 1693. This suggests a special relationship between Jean and two of the key founders, which would be the case if he accompanied Peiret from Osse and played the role we have described in building the church.
Gabriel LeBoyteulx (ancien) was another successful merchant who maintained an account book for the church between March 1693 and April 1699. It is this record that is cited by Maynard showing two projects that Jean Latourrette completed for the church in the spring of 1693, including the addition of a gallery to accommodate a larger congregation. As already noted, the account record shows another project completed by Jean in 1695.
Also, we find the names of Jean Pelletreau, Jean Papin, Paul Droilhet, Franois and Jean Vincent and members of their families listed frequently at baptisms and marriage ceremonies in the church "Registers" (Wittmeyer). The prominent name of Etienne De Lancey appears as an ancien (elder), diacre (deacon) and as a witness in 1688 and 1689 entries for baptisms and over years many other De Lancey entries are recorded. Etienne in many official records outside the church signs his name as Stephen De Lancey, which is the form in which one frequently can identify him. Also, the name of the famous Auguste Jay and members of the Jay family are registered at various ceremonies. Other names from the church such as Gabriel Minville (Minvielle) appear on important petitions, signed by Barberie, Boudinot, De Lancey, Boyteulx etc, to the English governor (May 16, 1690 following the Schenectady massacre) Therefore, more than half of the leading Huguenot merchants and citizens of the time, identified by Wittmeyer, Baird and Butler, were closely involved in Peiret's church during his New York ministry from 1687 to his death in 1704.
THE EARLY YEARS OF L'EGLISE FRANCOISE A LA NOUVELLE YORK
The following is a description of the early years of French church in New York City. Given this description, one could visualize that, as the two hundred or so Huguenots gathered for their worship, the scene would not be too different from what one would have seen in Osse twenty some years earlier, before the unrelenting persecution of Louis XIV began in 1662. (See Weiss, Vol. I, Book I, Ch. III) From Cadier, we know there were 75 Protestant families in Osse and 28 in Issor in 1665, and it appears that Pastor Peiret was still visiting Issor in 1685. (p. 140) Based on these comparisons, the congregations in Osse in 1665 and New York in 1690 would be roughly the same size. By 1695, however, it is estimated that the NY congregation had grown to about 200 families, which is consistent with the need to add a gallery in 1693. (Butler, p.147) The addition coincided with the merger in 1692 of the congregation, served by Pastor Daille, which had been meeting in the city at Fort George. It appears, therefore, that this group more than offset the loss of the congregation from New Rochelle, which built its own church in 1692.(See below)
"It was in the year 1688 that the French first built a house of worship for their exclusive use. This was a very humble chapel on Marketfield Street (earlier Petty-Coat-Lane), near the Battery, and it was here that, every Sabbath day, the people assembled from twenty miles around, from Long Island, Staten Island, New Rochelle, and other points, for public worship. Every street near was filled with wagons as early as Saturday evening, and in them many passed the night and ate their frugal Sunday repast, presenting a touching spectacle of purity and zeal. --- (Section skipped)
This house proved too small, and they were allowed to buy land for a second and larger, a plain stone edifice nearly square, which was built in 1704, directly opposite the Custom House on Pine Street." (Lucian J. Fosdick, "The French Blood in America," p. 226)
Another story is the lengths to which the Huguenots of New Rochelle went to worship at Peiret's church, before they were able to build one in their community in 1692. It should be noted that even without this group, the church on Petty-Coat Lane (Marketfield Street) had to be expanded in 1693 to accommodate a larger congregation, partly because it absorbed the group that had been meeting with Rev. Pierre Daille at Fort George, sharing this meeting place with other groups, and partly to accommodate more Huguenots coming to New York.
The use of the French Church of New York by the New Rochelle congregation also explains how Jean Latourrette and Jean Chadeayne met. After the Rhode Island Colony disbanded it is reported that Chadeayne and his family moved to New Rochelle (Baird, Vol. II, p. 310: Note Baird uses the version "Chadaine.") However, the Chadeayne name appears as early as 1691 in the records of the French Church in New York and several times thereafter, including the marriage of Jean Chadeayne's daughter Marie to Josue Mercereau on the same day in 1693 as the marriage of Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau. It appears, therefore, that Jean Chadeayne is more closely affiliated with the New York church than with the one in New Rochelle. This provides a better explanation of the relationship between Jean Latourrette and Jean Chadeayne, who also later moved to Staten Island, than Mrs. Jacob's theory that Jean Latourrette was part of the Rhode Island Colony. In addition, there are several other reasons why her theory does not stand the test of evidence, including the fact that Jean Latourrette was in London when the colony was founded, as already noted.
"The settlers of New Rochelle were not able to build a church for themselves at once. For the first three years they attended communion service at the French church in New York, which stood on Marketfield Street. From New Rochelle to New York was a distance of twenty-three miles by road, and the refugees admirably evinced their devotion to their faith by walking the entire distance there and back in order to take part in the Lord's Supper. Some of the women and the weaker children were placed in the few rude carts which the emigrants possessed, and then the picturesque caravan set out on its long journey to church, the men and the remainder of the women walking beside the carts, many of them barefooted, yet all rejoicing, and showing by their happy faces and the ringing hymns they sang that they took their privations lightly. All lesser evils were swallowed up in the great good for which they were never tired of giving thanks to God--the freedom to worship God openly and without a shadow of misgiving, and the knowledge that they were laying up for their children and their children's children a like heritage. But it must not be thought that these exiles did not love their native land. They left France with regret in their hearts, and often turned towards their old home with pity and with longing. Of one old man it is related that every evening at sunset he would go down to the shore of the Sound, look off across the water in the direction of France and sing one of Marot's hymns, while the slow tears fell upon the sand at his feet. Gradually others met with him, until there gathered daily a little group of exiles to pray and sing." (Fosdick, pp. 135-6)
(For these and similar quotes and background on the French Church of New York, see Lucian J. Fosdick, "The French Blood in America", Part 2, Chapter 2, The French Church in New York, p.226 and pp. 235-6 and Hannah F. Lee, "The Huguenots in France and America", Vol. II, pp.99-105.)
Looking back with the perspective of almost 300 years since the founding of the French Church in New York, Butler provides a detailed description and analysis of the fortunes of Peiret's church. Until his death in 1704, he was the force that carried the church forward. Given Butler's comparisons of the three major centers of Huguenot settlement in America before 1700, New York, Boston and South Carolina, one might conclude that for this period the French Church of New York was the most successful. In 1695 it was observed that there were 200 families patronizing the French Church. "This made it the city's second largest congregation, half the size of the Dutch Reformed Church with its 450 families but twice as large as the Anglican congregation of 90 families." (Butler, p. 147)
Butler provides an excellent summary of a successful ministry, "Peiret created an unusually strong refugee congregation in New York City---- The Huguenot's use of the French Church as a ritual center offers the most obvious evidence of the congregation's health in the 1690s." (p. 161) He notes that Peiret preformed 40 marriages between 1690 and 1704, including that of Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau in 1693, and during this period baptisms increased to an average of 23.4 per year. It is also noted that, contrary to the period after his death, he recovered some of the Huguenots who had taken non-Huguenot spouses by baptizing their children. (Butler, p. 161)
For a host of reasons detailed by Butler in his concluding chapter, 'Everywhere They Fled, Everywhere They Vanished', the Huguenots were absorbed into a dynamic America society, even prior to the American Revolution. One of the major factors, detailed by Butler, was the rapid assimilation of the Huguenots into the fabric of American society by exogamous marriages, which increased rapidly after Peiret's death in 1704. "Huguenot exogamy ran rampant outside the French Church after 1710" and "between 1750 and 1759---87.1 percent of the Huguenot marriages were exogamous." (p. 187)
Although there were several marriages between the early generations of Latourettes, Mercereaus and other Huguenots in America, we see the grandchildren of Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau entering into exogamous marriages. Moreover, by the 1730's, several of these grandchildren were baptized in the Dutch Reformed Church of Port Richmond. It should be noted here that the Richmond church that Latourrette helped build was closed after Pastor de Bonrepros died in 1734, long before it was destroyed in 1776. In conjunction with the closing, Butler indicates that many members of the congregation had already switched to other churches, including the Dutch Reformed Church of Port Richmond. (p. 192)
As a descendent of Jean's and Marie's son Pierre, born in 1697, the author's family's affiliation with the Dutch Reformed Church was carried from Port Richmond to Readington, NJ in the mid 1700's and existed throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. (My parents and paternal grandparents and other relations are buried in the Readington cemetery.)
Another interesting aspect of this story is the given name of the second son of Jean and Marie as Pierre (Peter). The first son, Jean, was born in 1695. It is not until the third son is born in 1699 that the name David, the name of the presumed grandfather (ca 1625- 1697), is used. Was the name Pierre selected for the second son to honor Pastor Pierre Peiret? In this case, there is the curious mistake made by Pastor Peiret at the baptism of Pierre on November 28, 1697, wherein he writes in the church Registry that the father is Pierre Latourrette and the mother is Marie Mercereau. However, Jean Latourrette's signature clearly indicates he is the father. On the other hand, we know that the name of Pierre was used as a given name in the Latourrette family in France, tracing back to the father of Gassiot Latourrette, born early in the 1500s. Another Pierre, the son of Gassiot was a famous minister who served over 50 years (1601-53) as a pastor at Castetnau. The latter Pierre would have been still alive when Jean was born around 1651. Perhaps, Jean's intent was to honor both pastors with the naming of a second son.
The church founded by Peiret struggled for years and then closed in 1776 with the American Revolution and the British occupation of New York City. There was a temporary revival in the 1790s but the congregation had few members and little financial support. In 1803 it accepted the denominational authority of the new Protestant Episcopal Church. It is now known as L'Eglise Francaise du St. Esprit and is located at 109 East 60th St. Services are still given in French by the Rev. Nigel Massey.
In conclusion, what can be said about Jean Latourrette and his flight from Osse in 1685? The analysis presented above traces him to a prominent Protestant family in a small village in the Aspe Valley in the province of Bearn. He was likely the second son of David Latourrette, who was a notaire, church ancien (elder) and a person of some means. The family roots include the first Protestant minister in 1563 in the Aspe Valley, Gassiot Latourrette. Jean was well educated for the times, single and a skilled carpenter. Given what is known about the family before and after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, there appears to be no reason for him to flee from Osse. In fact, his departure from Osse is an unexplained, very rare and unique event until he is linked to Pastor Peiret who was forced to flee with his young family under threat of the galleys or even more likely death. Circumstantial evidence suggests he accompanied Peiret first to Holland and then to England. He is in London during the same period of time as Peiret. It also appears that he came with Peiret to New York on the English ship Robert in late 1687. Jean's documented carpentry work for the church in the 1690's, along with how rapidly Peiret built the first church in New York, and his leadership later in constructing a Huguenot church near Richmond on Staten Island, suggests he played a significant role in the construction of the Petty-Coat Lane (Marketfield Street) Church in 1688. There is much more to be said about his early years in America, adding to and correcting the information which was gathered by Lyman Latourette and Mrs. Jacob. But we can say that Jean remained true to his roots from Osse and fulfilled his mission to accompany Peiret and his family to safety in America and establish a new ministry, first with Peiret and then on Staten Island for the several hundred French refugees who found their way to New York before 1700.
As more of his background is explored we will find that Jean was not a count with a castle, as described in the romantic tales cited in Lyman's Annals and by Mrs. Jacob. However, Jean did come from a prominent family who had a lay (purchased ownership) title to property in the small village of Osse in the Aspe Valley. This property, still standing, would best be described as a modest "strong house." However, if we wish to attach the term "nobility" to him it would be because of his "noble" deeds in risking his life to accompany Peiret to safety and his work to build houses of worship for Huguenots who fled to America.
Charles W. Baird, "Huguenot Emigration to America," 1885 (References to the reprint of 1998)
Abram Elting Bennett, "Huguenots Migration: Descendant's Contributions to America," 1984
Richard M. Bayles (editor), "History of Richmond County, (Staten Island) New York, From its Discovery to the Present Time," 1887
Jon Butler, "The Huguenots in America: A Refugee People in New World Society," 1983
Alfred Cadier, "Le Bearn Protestant," 2003. (Reprinted from "Osse: histoire de l'eglise reformee de vallee d'Aspe, 1892. References are to the 2003 edition)
Gregory Clark, "Farm Wages and Living Conditions in the Industrial Revolution: England, 1670- 1850"
"Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607 - 1776" (Family Tree Maker, CD # 350)
Antoinette Doerr, "Famille Latourrette d'Osse en Aspe," undated short typed paper outlining the history of the Latourrette family in Osse and Jean Latourrette in America.
Andre Eygun, "Peuple d'Aspe," 1989.
James Fontaine, "Memoirs of a Huguenot Family," 1885 (References are to the second edition, published in 1986)
Lucian J. Fosdick, "The French Blood in America," 1906
A.P. Hands and Irene Scouloudi, "French Protestant Refugees Relieved through the Threadneedle Street Church, London, 1681-1687," Huguenot Society of London, Quarto Series, Vol. XLIX, 1971
Verna A. Hill Jacob, "The LaTourette Family and Associated Families: Lewis, Morgan, LeCounte, Van Pelt, Mercereau," Salt Lake City, 1965
Milton M. Klein (editor), "The Empire State: A history of New York," 2001
Lyman Latourette, "Latourette Annals in America," 1954 (Reprinted by the Higginson Book Company)
Gabriel Le Boyteulx, "Accounts of Collections and Expenditures, March 1693-April 1699" Handwritten copy of records at L'Eglise Francaise du Saint Esprit
Hannah F. Lee, "The Huguenots in France and America," 1843 (References are to the reprint of 2001)
John A. F. Maynard, "The Huguenot Church of New York: A History of the French Church of Saint Esprit," 1938
John J. Mc Cusker, "Comparing the Purchasing Power of Money in Great Britain from 1264 to Any Other Year, including the Present," Economic History Series, 2001 (URL: www.eh.net/hmit/ppowerbp )
New York, (Colony) Council, "Calendar of Council Minutes, 1668-1783" (Reprinted in 1987 from New York State Library Bulletin 58, 1902)
Osse Temple Records: "Dates memorables de l'Eglise Chretienne Reformee d'Osse, 1569-1889";"Pateurs de L'Eglise, 1578-1936": Cadier's worksheet "Tableau des Membres du Consistoire d'Osse" (elders and deacons); and "Actes du Consistoire d'Osse, Mai 5, 1665- Avril 16, 1685"
O. I. A. Roche, "The Days of the Upright: A History of the Huguenots," 1965
French Relief Committee Records--Copies of original records cited in the text and supported by cataloging and indexing of Raymond Smith. See Smith herein.
G. Elmore Reaman, "The Trail of the Huguenots in Europe, the United States, South Africa, and Canada," 1963
"Revocation of the Edict of Nantes," October 22, 1685. The text of the "Revocation" can be found in numerous sources and can be downloaded off the internet. A source in English frequently quoted is J. H. Robinson, "Readings in European History," 1906, Vol. 2, pp. 180-3.
Raymond Smith, "Records of the Royal Bounty and Connected Funds, the Burn Donation, and the Savoy Church in the Huguenot Library, University College, London," A Handlist, Huguenot Society of London, Quarto Series, Vol. LI, 1974
Roy A. Sundstrom, "Aid and Assimilation: A Study of the Economic Support Given French Protestants in England, 1680-1727" (Ph. D. Dissertation, Kent State University, August 1972)
M. Charles Weiss, "History of the French Protestant Refugees, from The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes to Our Own Days," in Two Volumes, English translation by Henry William Herbert, 1854
Alfred V. Wittmeyer, "Registers of the Births, Marriages, and Deaths of the 'Eglise Francoise a la Nouvelle York,' from 1688 to 1804," 1886. The original volume was in three sections: Introduction or Historical Sketch of the Church (pp. ix - lxxxviii); the "Registers" (pp. 1 - 325) and Historical Documents (pp. 327 - 431). The "Registers" have been reprinted separately with a short introduction on several occasions. Also note that this volume appeared in the "Collections of the Huguenot Society of America," Volume 1, 1886.