Introduction

This webpage is dedicated to researching the origins and establishing the true story of Jean Latourrette (abt. 1651-July 1726), who left Osse, Bearn (now Osse-en-Aspe, France) in September of 1685 with Pastor Pierre Peiret (Peyret) and his family. The minister of Osse, already under the threat of death or a sentence to the galleys by Louis XIV, was joined in his flight by Jean Latourrette. By his commitment to see the Peiret family safely to a new haven outside France, Jean was subject to the same punishment. New research suggests that Jean Latourrette and Pastor Peiret’s family, accompanied by a group of village men, left Osse in mid-September 1685, before the arrival of the King’s dragoons, sent to arrest Peiret, and to harass and threaten villagers still conforming to Protestantism. On horse back, the group took the shortest and least expensive escape route from France by going to one of the west coast ports, where there was significant trade with England and Holland. The three way trade between France, England and Holland, would allow the group to negotiate with English or Dutch Sea Captains to pick them up after clearing customs and the port, like thousands of fleeing Huguenots did after the Edict of Nantes was revoked a month later. Pastor Peiret was in England by early 1686. The evidence Pastor Peiret is in London very early in 1686 comes from the records of the Church of Savoy, where on February 8, there is a minister Pieret (sic) issuing a certificate to support a couple to be married as confirmed members of the French Protestant Church. Again, on June 30, he is recorded as providing a certificate for a marriage. Pieret is also included in the list of ministers at the Savoy from 1684 to 1900, and identified as being affiliated in 1686. After more than a year in England, it was obvious there would be no ministerial role for Peiret in England, Holland or Denmark, because of the flood of refugee French pastors already there. Latourette and the Peiret family left by sea for America in August of 1687, with a group of Huguenot refugees, and arrived in New York harbor in October of the year.*

With the help of other Huguenot refugees, they established the French Church of New York, now called L’Eglise Francaise du St. Esprit (The French Church of the Holy Spirit). As a master carpenter, Jean played a major role in the construction, expansion and remodeling of the first wooden church built in 1688 on Petticoat Lane, later Marketfield Street. The church they established still exists today over 300 years later on East 60th Street as the oldest French-speaking institution in America.

The Latourrette family of Osse can be traced back to Gassiot Latourrette (abt. 1535-40 to 1595) who in 1563 was the first minister of the Protestant faith in the Aspe Valley in which Osse is located. In Béarnais, the common language of the province at the time, he is referred to as Gassioo de La Torreta. The "de" clearly indicates a connection to Spanish as opposed to the "della" found in Italian. After all, Osse is just 18 miles north of Col du Somport at the Spanish border.

Under Gassiot’s leadership the Protestant Reformation was brought to Osse and flourished after 1569, when the village became exclusively Protestant. Over 100 years later we find David Latourrette, Jean’s father, as the leading Protestant, the village’s notarie (chief legal officer), an elder of the church, and abbe laique d’Osse. Although not of nobility, the title denoted a position of wealth and respect.

Here, by following the links, one can find more of the true story of Jean Latourrette and the origins of the Latourrette family of Osse. To give the reader a feel for the village of Osse and the surrounding Aspe Valley, a satellite map and pictures are available for downloading.

The truth about Jean Latourrette and Osse has had to overcome more than 150 years of descendants in America creating tales and hoaxes to explain what they didn’t know about his origins in France. Therefore, a great deal of the author’s research as been directed to exposing soppy research and debunking tales and hoaxes of no substance. This is explained as follows.

The story of Jean Latourrette and Pastor Peiret represents an interest which traces back more than fifty years. The genealogical research of Lyman E. Latourette and Mrs. Verna A. Hill Jacob came to the attention of the author in the mid 1950s. Although focused primarily on the American descendants of Jean Latourrette, Lyman’s Latourette Annals in America (1954) and Mrs. Jacob’s widely circulated notes of that decade, later consolidated into a Compilation: The Latourette Family and Associated Families (1965), paint a fanciful and erroneous portrait of what Jean’s life was before his marriage to Marie Mercereau in the French Church of New York on July 16, 1693.

Unfortunately the stories about Jean Latourrette’s life before his marriage to Marie Mercereau appearing in Lyman’s Annals and Mrs. Jacob’s notes are based on tales and outright hoaxes created by descendants who lacked any knowledge of the history of Osse and Jean Latourrette’s origins.

The objective of this webpage is to present the true story of Jean, the history of the Latourrette family of Osse and its role in bringing the Protestant Reformation to Osse. Concurrently, it frees them from the false tales and outright hoaxes that still circulate among some of Jean’s descendants in America. These include the tales of an earlier marriage by Jean and Marie in France and the family’s origin in Italy, and the count hoax which describes Jean’s father as Henri rather than David (abt. 1625-1697).

Author John E. La Tourette, Ph.D.
President Emeritus of Northern Illinois University
Copyright 2011 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


*Footnote
For the most recent information on Jean Latourette and Pastor Peiret, see John E. La Tourette, "Jean Latourrette and Pastor Pierre Peiret, Founders of L’Église Française du Saint Esprit," Transactions 123, 2021, The Huguenot Society of South Carolina, pp. 87-137.


The author has published three monographs in English on Jean and the Latourrette family in France which are no longer available. This webpage represents the latest information for the Latourrette family history.

Jean Latourrette and Pierre Peiret, Huguenot Refugees: Their Roots in Osse, Bearn, 2006, 102 pages with illustrations.

Pastor Pierre Peiret and Jean Latourrette in America: A Comparative History of French Protestantism in America, 2008, 135 pages with illustrations.

The Latourrette Family of Osse, Béarn, Jean Latourrette and Pierre Peiret: Their Roots in Osse, Béarn (Osse-en-Aspe, France), 2018, 246 pages with pictures and illustrations.

A book in French which updates the second monograph above and focuses exclusively on the early Huguenot experience in New York City is available at: http://www.cepb.eu/Ouvrages/CEPBPublications.html Price 10 Euros.

Le Pasteur Pierre Peiret et Jean Latourrette en Amerique, Centre d’Etude du Protestantisme Béarnaise, Pau, France, 2010, 146 pages with illustrations.

To inquire about Latourrette information: Send an email to John LaTourette at jlatour7@commspeed.net