Jean LaTourrette in America
This section of the web site presents extracts from the author's monograph Pastor Pierre Peiret and Jean Latourrette in America: A Comparative History of French Protestantism in America (2008). To focus on Peiret and Latourrette in New York City and on Staten Island the chapters describing the Huguenot settlements and churches in Boston, South Carolina, and New Rochelle, and the involvement of Huguenots in the slave trade and holdings in New York have been omitted. Likewise, the chapters concerning the short lived Huguenots colonies in Rhode Island and Massachusetts are not presented here. Therefore, the comparison of the Huguenot experience in the rest of the American colonies and the French ministers who served them there, mentioned in the title of the monograph, is not found here.
Pastor Pierre Peiret, his family and Jean Latourrette fled from Osse, Bearn, in September 1685, and arrived in New York in the fall of 1687. 1 With the support of fellow refugees, Peiret immediately established a consistory to serve the religious, cultural and societal needs of migrating French Protestants. The former Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam, under English control since 1674, had an ethnically diverse population representing many different religious beliefs. The cultural coexistence associated with this pluralistic society in the late 17th century made New York an ideal refuge for Huguenots, who became one of many foreign, non-English speaking groups. However, after 1700, this plural society began to fracture and the transition to essentially a British society began and was completed by 1750. 2
Pastor Peiret is the primary focus of this analysis of the French Protestant Reformed Religion of the late 17th century in America. The practice of the religion under Peiret's leadership and the experience of his parishioners in New York are compared and contrasted to his ministry in Osse, Bearn, 1677-85. In order to understand what made Peiret's experience in New York unique, it is first necessary to examine the religious practices and experiences of other French refugees and ministers who crossed the Atlantic. Except for the detailed analysis of the religious practices of the consistories in Osse and those in America in the late 17th century, with an emphasis on New York, the comparisons are based on scholarly material readily available to contemporary readers. What is new is the focus on Peiret in a comparative framework which explains why the ministry he established was successful during his lifetime. In addition, where appropriate, the role of Jean Latourrette at St. Esprit and the Fresh Kills Temple on Staten Island is described.
By November 1688, Peiret, with Latourrette's assistance as a master carpenter, had built the first temple, now called L'Eglise Francaise du St. Esprit (hereafter St. Esprit), designed as a place of worship and a focal point for the French community in what was at the time a village of about 3,500 people.
Peiret was one of ten pastors who came to the American Colonies between 1682 and 1698 to minister to the French Protestant refugees seeking new homes in a foreign land. By several measures, explored in this study, Peiret's ministry in New York, until his death on September 1, 1704, was highly successful. Under difficult conditions, but by his strong leadership skills and determination and with the support of French refugees who became leading merchants, Peiret held his parishioners together, promoted French family continuity by endogenous marriages, maintained conformity to the French Protestant Reformed faith, and tried to counter the centrifugal forces which eventually would result in the integration of these refugees and their descendants into an English colonial society during the 18th century.
Only Peiret and two other ministers, Pierre Daille and Elie Prioleau, remained fully committed throughout their lives to French Protestant traditions and practices. From information available about their lives, the commitment of these three ministers to their faith in America appears to relate directly to the degree to which they suffered persecution in France. Another pastor, Ezechiel Carre, who also demonstrated this commitment, remained in America less than 5 years before returning to England. Six pastors, Daniel Bondet, David de Bonrepos, Jacques Laborie, Pierre Robert, Laurent-Philippe Trouillard and Laurent Van de Bosch, at some time in their ministries strongly espoused, actively embraced or passively accepted Anglican conformity. Two of the ten, Laborie and Van den Bosch, could be labeled troublesome and Van den Bosch, not only troublesome, but also scandalous in his behavior. By another measure, at least four pastors (Bondet, de Bonrepos, Carre, and Van den Bosch) had a rather tenuous commitment to their parishioners, as evidenced by abrupt departures from their consistories. Because of the absence of any organizational structure for the French Protestant Reformed Religion in American or England comparable to the French synod, there was no means available to mediate disputes that developed between ministers and their parishioners. Such disputes resulted in the departure of the ministers or contentious relationships that continued for years. It also meant that there was no formal means to educate or to acquire new ministers in America to eventually replace those pastors who had come with the refugees. Although generally supportive of their Protestant brothers, the Anglican authorities in America really wanted to gain conformity of the French refugees to the Church of England, placing additional constraints on the ability of the refugees to maintain a viable religion. Moreover, the ministers who came after 1700, from Holland, Geneva or England, lacked the passion and commitment of ministers, like Peiret, who had personally experienced and resisted persecution to the point that they had no alternative except to flee from France.
From the description of the experiences of these ministers, it will become obvious that only in New York and Charleston were the number and/or the support of the parishioners sufficient to financially maintain a full-time minister and a viable consistory. This condition likely explains, in part, why several ministers had a tenuous commitment to a consistory and would abruptly move to another if a better economic opportunity appeared. The small size of most of the consistories forced some ministers to seek multiple ministries in order to survive. Also, it is a major factor in why some actively espoused or accepted Anglican conformity. In their view, conformity was likely the only way they could earn a living and achieve enough support for their ministry.
Today, in contrast to its lasting power in some sections of France, particularly in Osse (Osse-en-Aspe), where Peiret was the minister at the time of the Revocation, there are only two vestiges of late 17th century French Protestantism left in America. As a religious force in America, it essentially disappeared by the middle of the 18th century. Peiret's St. Esprit, now located on East 60th Street in New York, has been a French-speaking Episcopal consistory since 1803. Its contemporary French-speaking mission, led by bilingual Rev. Nigel Massey, is "to unite a diverse and ecumenical Francophone and Francophile community in Christian fellowship." After having five larger temples since its 1688 facility, St. Esprit is now a chapel, built in 1941, seating about 70 people. Rev. Massey uses the French Reformed liturgy once a month for the main Sunday service, reflecting St. Esprit's Calvinist and Reformed roots. All the services are in French, and the French speaking parishioners represent over 50 different nationalities. 3
The other vestige is in Charleston, South Carolina, where the French Protestant (Huguenot) temple claims it is "the only remaining independent Huguenot Church in America". 4
Worship is held in a Gothic Revival temple built in 1845 in Charleston's French Quarter. As documented by Jon Butler, however, there were few parishioners after 1740, and eventually the temple simply became a site for an annual commemoration of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. 5 The structure was used as a museum until 1982, when the consistory was reorganized by descendants of French refugees and worship services were again held on a regular basis. Except for an annual service in French, conducted by a guest French-speaking minister, worship is conducted by Pastor Philip C. Bryant in English, with an emphasis on Calvinist doctrine, using a version of French liturgy from the Churches of Neufchatel and Vallangin, Switzerland, of 1737 and 1772. However, the tone of the temple is essentially Baptist, although there are many monuments to the temple's Huguenot ancestors. The temple claims a membership of about 300, with approximately half tracing back to a French Protestant ancestry. The leadership of the temple is closely tied to the South Carolina Huguenot Society.
This study examines the backgrounds of the ten "French" ministers, how they reached the American Colonies, as well as the fate of their ministries and the French refugees who joined them. The term "French" is used here primarily to denote the French refugee parishioners they sought to serve, rather than the pastors' religious roots, which, as identified below, were not entirely from French synods of the Protestant Reformed Religion. Moreover, as explained below, some of these pastors arrived in America with two or more religious ordinations (or licensures).
The fate of the other 9 ministers in the American Colonies is compared and contrasted with that of Peiret. Concurrently, the radically different environment he encountered in New York will be contrasted with the consistory he left in Osse, Bearn. For these purposes, one needs to examine the characteristics of the French refugees and ministers who braved the long and perilous voyage to America, as well as the nature of the remarkably different societies they encountered in Boston, New York and Charleston. The same analysis applies to the societies French refugees tried to create before 1700 in small settlements at what were then frontier outposts at New Oxford, Massachusetts; Narragansett, Rhode Island; New Rochelle, New York; New Paltz, New York; Hackensack, New Jersey; and Staten Island, New York. In retrospect, in terms of potential viability and sustainability as religious-cultural entities in Colonial America, only in Charleston and New York, with the latter having the greatest potential, did the consistories appear to have had a chance for long-term survival. The others were too small to support a minister, a temple and a consistory, without even considering the forces which caused them to be absorbed or acculturated into the evolving colonial societies in which they lived.
1. The focus of this monograph is Pastor Pierre Peiret and Jean Latourrette who were among the French Protestants or, as frequently called in America, Huguenots leaving France and arriving in the American Colonies in the period 1680-1700. This diaspora was associated with their persecution by Louis XIV and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.
As noted by Bertrand Van Ruymbeke, the term Huguenot is "closely and exclusively associated with the history of French Protestantism." In this monograph, the terms Huguenot and French Protestant are used interchangeably. Thus, the religious institutions they established in America are generally referred to as Huguenot temples. Before the arrival of the vast majority of the Huguenots in America, there were Walloons who migrated as the result of earlier and distinctly separate Diasporas. Although the Walloons were French-speaking Calvinists like their Huguenot counterparts, they originated from what is modern-day Belgium or areas that were later absorbed by France and represent distinctly different exoduses. The early history of French-speaking Calvinism in New Netherlands (New York) is Walloon. Not until the migrants from France began to arrive in some numbers after 1680 did the history shift in New York to being Huguenot. This is the period when Peiret and Latourrette arrived and established the first truly Huguenot temple in New York in 1688. Although there were likely no more than 700 Huguenots who arrived in New York before 1700, the Walloon migrants during the entire 17th century were considerably smaller in number. As a result, to a considerable extent, Walloon identity, history and memory were absorbed into the ethos of the Huguenots. As an example, one can cite the references today to the Huguenot Museum and Historical Society at New Paltz, which was settled largely by Walloons in the mid-1670s. Staten Island was settled by Walloons in 1661, and yet today's descendants claim this date as the time when their Huguenot ancestors first were on the island.
The distinction between Huguenots and Walloons and their history in America are discussed by Bertrand Van Ruymbeke in "The Walloons and Huguenot Elements in New Netherland and Seventeenth Century New York: Identity, History and Memory," Revisiting New Netherland: Perspective on Early Dutch America, editor Joyce D. Goodfriend, 2005, pp. 41-54..
2. When the English acquired New York for a second time in 1674, they assumed control over an established Dutch Colony. Even thirty years later in 1703, over half of the population was Dutch. The English (British and Scots) were 36 percent and the French, the third largest group, was about 11 percent. This pluralistic society in the late 17th century forced the English authorities to tolerate these diverse ethnic groups and their cultural and religious practices. In contrast to the tolerance of mutual respect which began to emerge in the 18th century, this was a tolerance imposed on the disparate ethno-religious groups by the English Crown, a practice which emerged in 17th century Europe in dealing with conquered territories. In this society of forced coexistence, each group was able to maintain its ethnic and religious identity while participating in the economic, political and social life of New York. After 1700, about the time of Pastor Peiret's death, this ethnic consciousness began to fracture and the metamorphosis of New York into an English Colony began, first with the French and then the Dutch, with the transformation being completed by 1750. As Joyce Goodfriend describes this scenario, it is not a process of cultural assimilation, as some historians have envisaged an established culture into which immigrants are introduced and assimilated. It is rather a process by which the separate ethnic, cultural and religious identity of the French refugees in the late 17th century is lost. See Joyce Goodfriend, Before the Melting Pot: Society and Culture in Colonial New York, 1664-1730, Princeton University Press, 1992.
3. The temple's web-page is http://www.stespritnyc.net/welcome.html
4. See its web-page http://www.frenchhuguenotchurch.org/
5. Jon Butler, The Huguenots in America, 1983 p. 143.
Who Were the French Refugees and Ministers
Who Came to America?
In his 1983 book, The Huguenots in America, Jon Butler quantified many critical aspects of the emigration of French refugees to America between 1680 and 1700, the period during which the vast majority arrived. By a careful analysis of census and birth/death records, he concluded that likely 1500, but not more than 2000, Huguenots reached American shores in these critical years. 1 A careful analysis of historical data indicated to Butler "old people dominated the Huguenot exodus from France" while "young people dominated the Huguenot migration to America." He concluded, therefore, it was a matter of choice, rather than force, for most of the refugees to continue on to America. 2 Once free from France and persecution, economic opportunity became very important to these refugees and the younger, more acquisitive found the stories and literature about America very attractive, compared to the bleak prospects in an overcrowded London. The same was true for the French refugee ministers who were already in over supply in Holland and England before the Revocation. 3
In New York, the number of marriages (43) and baptisms (335) recorded at St. Esprit from November 4, 1688 to September 1, 1704(the latter being the date of Peiret's death), clearly confirm the conclusion that the French refugees constituted a relatively young population. Just in the decade of 1690-99, including those marriages outside St. Esprit, 104 Huguenots were involved in 75 marriages, when the population of French refugees grew to about 500. 4
The 10 ministers who came to the colonies were relatively young, like the refugees they sought to serve. Table 1 (Note: The Table is not reproduced here.) gives the ages at which they reached America, based on their actual or estimated birth dates. Elie Prioleau, from Pons, Saintonge, was 28 when he reached Charleston in late 1687 and Pierre Peiret 43 when he arrived about the same time in New York. Peiret was the oldest of the ministers. Laurent Philippe Trouillart, an associate of Prioleau at Charleston until the latter's death in 1699, was 39 when he arrived in South Carolina in 1685. The others were in their 30s. Given the rigors they faced in reaching the colonies and ministering to the French refugees once in America, it appears all of them were in good health when they decided to come to the New World.
Another common feature of the emigration of these ministers was its timing. All the pastors except Pierre Robert (estimated 1688-90) and Jacques Laborie (1698) came between 1682 and 1687. 5 The arrival of Pierre Daille in New York was in response to the emigration of small groups of refugees prior to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. He was called by the Dutch Reformed Church of New York in 1682 to establish a separate consistory for the small groups of Walloons and Huguenots who had come from France before 1680 and were meeting as part of the New York Dutch parish. His charge included ministering to the small group of Walloons at New Paltz and the Walloons and Huguenots at Hackensack, New Jersey and on Staten Island.
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The research of Samuel Mours indicates the relative size of the French Protestant migration between 1660 and 1690 was the greatest from the northwest and central west provinces of the country. Between a third and one-half of the population of Protestants left the provinces in the central west and northwest, whereas in the south and southwest only 5 to 10 percent migrated. Of particular interest about the flight of the Peiret family and Jean Latourrette from Osse, Bearn, Mours estimates only about 500 of the 30,000, or less than 2 percent, of the Huguenots in Bearn left France. This is the lowest rate of migration from France of any province. 6 Coming from Osse, a village whose population was essentially tied to the land, Peiret and Latourrette encountered a vastly different and much more diverse group of French Protestants in New York, as well as a highly heterogeneous society.
The origins and backgrounds of the French refugees who immigrated to New York are documented by Reverend John A. F. Maynard. In a 1938 history of St Esprit, Maynard traced the origin of many of the French refugees found in the temple's Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths. 7 In this task, he was greatly aided by the painstaking research of Charles W. Baird, whose 1885 book, Huguenot Emigration to America, gave the origins of many of the refugees found in New York and in some cases when and how they came to America.
Although New York, with 3,500 people in 1685, was only 3 1/2 times larger than Osse, including the hamlet of Lourdios, a striking difference was the diversity of the general population. From the days of being the Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam, the population was heterogeneous and included Dutch, Walloon, Swedes, and Finns. Along with the recent small wave of Huguenot immigration, there were also some more English and Scots. By 1695, the former Anglican chaplain at Fort George, John Miller, reported the Dutch Reformed Church claimed the largest consistory with 450 families. St. Esprit was second with 200 French families and twice as large as the Anglican with 90 families. 8 But the village was even more diverse than implied by Miller's description. Jon Butler refers to New York as an ethnic caldron and quotes Thomas Dongan, the governor of the colony in 1687, decribing the village of New York as a spiritual cornucopia, consisting of Dutch Calvinists, Dutch Lutherans, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Quakers, Singing Quakers, Ranting Quakers, Sabbatarians, Antisabbatarians, some Anabaptists, some Independents, and some Jews. 9
Among the French refugees in New York, there was more social diversity and fluidity as compared to Osse, Bearn, where families had lived in the village or the Aspe valley for hundreds of years within a relatively fixed social stratum, primarily associated with farming and animal husbandry. In contrast, most of the French Protestants in New York were recent immigrants with a broad range of skills who were young and seeking to reaffirm their religious convictions and gain comfort from a group of their own kind, while facing the challenges of making their way in an entirely different society. What bound them together initially, especially during Peiret's strong and very effective ministry, was their religious faith, French language, culture and family structure. That was to break down, especially after his death on September 1, 1704, as absorption into the broader society was accompanied by exogenous marriages, which seriously undermined the conformity to the French reformed faith and family loyalty.
In tracing "their home towns," Maynard finds the majority of the French refugees in New York came from three provinces: Aunis, Saintonge and Poitou. "This group represented a cross section of society, rich and poor, city folk and farming population, sailors, salt-makers and artisans." The emigration also was associated with La Rochelle, located in the Province of Aunis, and the marine business it conducted with England and the French West Indies. 10 Given their geographic origins, the French had a disproportionately large representation in New York of men in the merchant, retail and marine trades, which provided much of the leadership at St. Esprit.
A second, smaller group, identified by Maynard, came from the Northern Provinces of France, including Picardie, consisting of small industrialists, workingmen and some farmers. From Normandy, there were a few "city folks, some of them wealthy." 11
Maynard mentions that there were people (the number appears to be about three dozen) from other parts of France, mainly middle-class, not tied to land ownership like the farming population of the Huguenot South of France. These were mainly merchants and businessmen from Languedoc and Guyenne, and even a medical student. 12
The only refugee Maynard identified as being from Bearn was Jean Latourrette, because of the error made by Charles W. Baird, repeated by other American historians, that Peiret was from Foix rather than Pontacq and Osse. 13 No one else from Osse or the Aspe Valley is found in New York before Peiret's death in 1704. 14
The uniqueness of Peiret coming to America with Latourrette is underscored by the recent research of Albert Sarrabere, who traced 39 ministers who left France from Bearn and the Basque country, with only Peiret reaching America. 15 None of the 141 he traced as fleeing from the southwest of France, not included in the 39 just identified, reached America. 16
Maynard's study of the geographical origins of the majority of the Huguenots who came to New York matches the conclusion drawn from Mours' research that the greatest relative emigration of Protestants from France came from the central west and northwest provinces, with a scattering of refugees from other areas.
Maynard also estimates, without giving the source of the calculation, that the refugees associated with St Esprit represented about one quarter of one percent of the total emigration from France. 17 From Samuel Moors' estimate that approximately 161,300 refugees left France between 1660 and 1690, Maynard's calculation suggests a membership of about 450 after 1692 when Rev. Pierre Daille's group, meeting under the auspices of the Dutch Reformed Church at Fort George, merged with the consistory at St. Esprit. 18
Peiret came from Bearn with a different historical, language (langue d'Oc) and cultural background from the majority of the refugees from northwest and central west France. However, French refugees immediately accepted him as a religious leader in New York, as was the case in London prior to his departure by those planning to join him in America. From the consistory records of Osse, 1665-85, Peiret was obviously fluent in French, as was expected of Protestant pastors, even while being able to converse with his Osse parishioners in Bearnais. So too with Jean Latourrette, who, given the traditional education of his family as documented about his presumed father, David Latourrette, notaire and abbe laique d'Osse, would have been educated in both languages. 19
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Footnotes: Chapter 1
1. Butler notes the lack of passenger lists for this period and Charles W. Baird's reluctance in his Huguenot Emigration to America, 1885, to quantify the emigration of French Huguenots to America. In the 20th century, the absence of passenger and arrival lists led to wild estimates of the number of refugees, including claims that up to 15,000 came to America. See Butler, pp. 47-9. The author's review of Butler's census sources below suggest that there was underreporting, especially in the case of New York. Therefore, the author believes the 2000 figure is more realistic.
2. See Butler, p.57. To estimate the age profile of the refugees coming to America, Butler studied the colonial death records, naturalization lists, and census data and compared them to similar information about Huguenot refugee centers in England and Europe.
3. Roy A. Sundstrom describes the surplus of French ministers in England created by the emigrations of the early 1680s. It grew 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 him the funds for their support. See 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, p. 65, ft. 32 and p. 168. The situation only deteriorated after the Revocation. The French Relief Committee records for the period November 1689 to July 1693 show that 345 clergymen, their wives and children received aid on an annual basis. Sundstrom, Aid and Assimilation, p. 50. As late as 1703, there are 280 people in French ministers' families receiving aid. Sundstrom, p. 68. Butler describes several cases of refugee families where they had to be supported with numerous grants, in one case 29 times. The aid program for French refugees, including ministers, continued until 1727, or for almost a half century from the early 1680s, reflecting the difficulties many, particularly older people, had in earning a living in England.
4. In the period 1690-1699, there were 31 marriages in St. Esprit involving 61 Huguenots (one generally being considered a French-Dutch marriage). Outside St. Esprit, there were 14 endogenous marriages involving 28 Huguenots, and 30 exogenous marriages between Huguenots and Dutch or English spouses involving 15 Huguenots. This means that 104 Huguenots were married in the first full decade after arrival of the refugees in New York.
5. The parish records in South Carolina were lost, which makes it difficult to determine the exact date of Robert's arrival. Laborie is included in this study as the 10th minister because he was the minister for the second attempt to settle New Oxford in 1698. He also was Peiret's replacement in 1704 at St. Esprit.
6. See Butler's organization and presentation of Samuel Moors' estimates in Table 1, p.23 of The Huguenots in America.
7. See John A. Maynard, The Huguenot Church of New York: A History of the French Church of Saint Esprit, 1938, pp. 97-113. A parish history indicates Maynard was a minister at St. Esprit for 35 years, retiring at age 72 after performing weddings and baptisms in December of 1955.
8. John Miller, New York Considered and Improved, 1695 (ed. Victor H. Paltsits, New York, 1903), p. 54 and Maynard, pp.59-69 and 73-77.
9. Butler, p. 144.
10. Maynard, p. 108.
11. See Maynard, pp. 107-8.
12. Maynard, pp. 107-8.
13. Maynard, p. 108.
14. In the case of Peiret, the two histories of the French Church, and even the work of Jon Butler in 1983, repeated the error made by Charles W. Beard in 1885 that the pastor was from Foix rather than Osse, Bearn. See Charles W. Baird, Huguenot Emigration to America, 1885, Vol. II, pp. 146-7; Maynard, p.95; Wittmeyer, Introduction, p. xxi; and Butler, p.147.
For Peiret's origin in Pontacq and flight from Osse, see Alfred Cadier, Le Bearn Protestant, 2003, pp. 202-3. For his ministry at Osse, see Cadier, p. 151 and other citations in Part II, Chapters III and IV. (Reprinted from Osse: histoire de l'eglise reformee de la vallee d'Aspe, 1892, with references to the 2003 edition)
15. Dictionnaire des pasteurs Basques et Bearnais, XVI-XVII siecles, CEPB, 2001 p. 293.
16. Dictionnaire des pasteurs du Sud-Ouest, XVI -XVII siecles, CEPB, 2004, p. 293. Although his summary on p. 293 about where ministers fled to other countries is correct, Sarrabere unfortunately confuses Daniel Bondet, who came to America, as described in this article, with Jean Boudet, who apparently stayed in England. See p. 52.
17. Maynard, p. 109. See additional estimates by Maynard below.
18. See Butler's presentation of Moors' estimates, p. 23.
19. David Latourrette (about 1625- 1697) was an elder, notaire and abbe laique d'Osse at the time of the Revocation. In Osse, the family traces back to the first Protestant minister of the Aspe Valley in 1563, Gassiot Latourrette (ca 1540- 1595). Gassiot's son Pierre was the pastor at Castetnau from 1601 to 1655 - one of the longest Protestant ministries in France. See Philippe Chareyre, "Nouvelles recerches sur le Protestisme a Osse-en-Aspe," Bulletin no 38, CEPB, December 2005, pp. 1-16.
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New York: Pastors Pierre Daille, Pierre Peiret,
David de Bonrepos, Daniel Bondet, and
French Protestantism in the Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam traces back to 1624, when the West Indies Company sent 30 families, the majority Walloon or French, to establish a permanent colony. In 1628, the first Dutch minister Jonas Michaelas wrote that he had provided communion in the French language and mode, accompanied by a discourse, to some of the Walloons and Huguenots, who understood very little of the Sunday worship services in Dutch, but constituted about half of the 270 settlers who lived in New Amsterdam and the vicinity. The colony grew slowly over the next half century. During this period, there were small groups of Walloons, Waldenses and Huguenots who came to what is now New York City. In May 1661, a small group of Walloons led by Pierre Billiou, from the vicinity of Lille, reached New York on the ship St. Jean Baptist with the intent to settle on Staten Island. There is some evidence that this group established a consistory and built a temple, but by 1678, settlers there reported that they had neither a temple nor a minister. The same appears to be the case with the small Walloon group led by David de Marist or des Marest and later anglicized to Demarest, a famous family name in the history of New Jersey. Demarest, originally from Picardy, came on the Dutch ship Bonte Koe (the Spotted Cow) in 1663, with a small group of families. Later, David Demarest founded a small settlement at Kinkachemeck, near what is now Hackensack, New Jersey. However, the colony and its consistory, which Pastor Pierre Daille established after his arrival in 1682, failed in 1693 with the death of Demarest.
The history of these small settlements is similar to the experience at Narragansett and New Oxford. The settlements were too small and the settlers were too poor to support a minister and temple. Rev. Alfred V. Wittmeyer provides a historical perspective of the period prior to the founding of St. Esprit in 1688, emphasizing the extent to which the Dutch Reformed Church provided support for the religious needs of the French Protestants with ministers who could speak French.1
During this period, Walloon families arrived at the Dutch settlement at Kingston, N.Y. These emigrants came as nuclear families of husband, wife and children spread over the period 1660 to 1675, rather than as one large group. Most adults were in their 20s and 30s, confirming the conclusion of Jon Butler that mainly the young migrated to America. 2 In 1677, they purchased a tract of land and received a patent from the Governor of New York to establish a settlement, which became New Paltz. Preserved from this period are six stone houses, which serve as a museum on Huguenot Street. The Walloons who settled New Paltz were French-speaking Calvinists from the German Palatinate. They had moved from the border provinces of Picardy, Artois and Flanders to the vicinity of Mannheim about 1650 because of military conflicts between France and Spain. To settle in the Palatinate and restore an area that had lost up to 80 percent of its population in the 30 Years War, they were offered religious freedom and special privileges, including the right to leave within 20 years without the loss of assets or penalties. It appears they left to go to America for two reasons: a plague in 1667-8 and a fear that Louis XIV would invade the Palatine, which he did after 1688. In contrast to many of the French Protestants who fled after the Revocation with very few assets and settled at Narragansett, New Oxford, and New Rochelle, the families who made up New Paltz came with substantial financial means. Their resources were sufficient for the 12 male members to purchase a tract of land of 39,683 acres and construct a substantial community within a short period. However, it was a small community as suggested by the census taken later in 1703 of 64 adults and 57 children. 3
Arrival of Daille in 1682
By 1682, therefore, there were three settlements of French speaking Protestants outside the village of New York at New Paltz, Staten Island and Kinkachemeck near Hackensack, New Jersey, as well as a group within the village. The French and Walloon population was now large enough for the Dutch Reformed Church to deem it appropriate for them to meet in separate worship in the chapel at the British Fort. In that year, the Dutch Reformed Church called Rev. Pierre Daille from Holland to minister to the Huguenots in New York and the outlying settlements. As indicated in the discussion of his tenure at Boston, Daille was likely from Chatellerault, Poitou, a graduate of, and then professor at the great Protestant Academy of Saumur. Contemporaries describe him as a very learned and dedicated man. Baird notes that he wrote Latin fluently and his letters revealed the "courtliness, the moderation, and the keen intelligence, of a Huguenot of the finest type." 4 Both Baird and Maynard believe Daille was ordained in Holland in order to accept the call to New York and because the Bishop of London had jurisdiction over New York as an English Colony, he sought to be re-ordained on his way to America. 5 Daille, therefore, appears to have arrived in New York in late 1682 with three ordinations to preach to French Protestants under the auspices of the Dutch Reformed Church in an English Colony.
Daille immediately established his ministry. He revived the consistory on Staten Island where there is a record of a petition, dated January 15, 1683, to release the parishioners from supporting an Anglican minister. 6 Next, Daille visited New Paltz on January 22, 1683 and was referred to in the tradition of the time as "Minister of the Word of God." In her research on the history of New Paltz, Paula W. Carlo provides a description of what happened during Daille's visit, which indicates this small settlement in the New World carried out the instructions of Calvin in the Ecclesiastical Ordinances. Daille, following tradition, preached twice on the Sunday after his arrival and proposed a social meeting of the community at which the heads of families elected an elder and a deacon to assist him as minister. By at least 1689, land was given to support a schoolmaster, carrying out the mandate of Calvin that there be 4 offices of the consistory: pastors, teachers, elders and deacons, and that the parishioners be involved in the governance of the consistory. It is clear, moreover, that a wooden schoolhouse, which doubled as a temple, was one of the earliest buildings constructed after settlement in 1678 for it is there where Daille preached and met with the parishioners to establish the consistory in January of 1683. The entries in the consistory records are infrequent because the settlement depended on two traveling ministers, Pierre Daille and David de Bonrepos, between 1683 and 1702. After 1702, there was no minister for another thirty years. One of the two sacraments recognized by Calvinists, baptism, was evident in the entries made during this period. Visiting ministers also observed the sacrament of communion. The stone temple, built in 1717, had a unique design to focus on the act of communion. The pews faced each other, rather than the pulpit, and the center aisle between the pews was wide enough for a "Table of the Lord" for communion. The parishioners may have traveled to the Dutch Reformed Church in Kingston from time to time to observe communion during the long period when they did not have a minister. 7
According to Carlo's analysis of the history of New Paltz, a number of factors placed New Paltz on a path that differed from the other Huguenot communities in America. The family relationships the emigrants brought from the Palatinate made the development of the settlement a communal effort. The small number of settlers and the large tract of land they purchased allowed the families to divide their lands for the following two generations and remain ethnically and culturally independent of the Dutch in nearby Kingston. Only with the third generation does one see the gradual adoption of the Dutch language. Exogenous marriages with Dutch spouses from nearby Kingston increased, because the small colony gradually exhausted its pool of marriageable Walloons and Huguenots. After 1720, records of the consistory appear in Dutch, as well as French. However, there was a strong commitment to maintaining their Calvinist beliefs. After 30 years of being without a French minister, during which lay-directed services apparently continued, they sought liberal ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church and fought to remain independent of Kingston and the established church from Holland. Neither the English language nor the English Church penetrated this region of New York State until after the American Revolution. 8 Carlo characterizes the experience at New Paltz as being one in which over a long period there was a blending of the original ethnicity and linguistic heritage with the Anglican culture.9
Arrival of Peiret in 1687
When Pastor Pierre Peiret arrived in October of 1687, Rev. Daille had been preaching to the Huguenots in New York and the small settlements in New Paltz; Kinkachemeck, New Jersey; and on Staten Island for about 5 years. Without ordination from the Dutch or English Churches, Peiret had no obligation to their authority when he disembarked in New York. He was free to establish an independent consistory to meet the needs of the French refugees who arrived in small waves between 1686 and 1688. Moreover, it appears that his decision to come to New York, the location that had the greatest potential to build a successful consistory, rather than some other location in the colonies, was more than just a matter of luck. As recounted below, he had ample support to bring his party from London to New York; however, there is the question of how he and his family and Jean Latourrette lived from their arrival in October of 1687 and the opening of the temple in November of 1688. There must have been substantial support given by some of the refugees who came with them and some of the key merchants profiled below to allow Peiret to devote his efforts to assembling a group of parishioners. At the same time, Jean Latourrette used his carpentry skills to build a temple from donations of money and work without the consistory accruing any debt.
Peiret came on the English ship Robert with his wife Marquerite La Tour of Bearn and their two children Pierre and Magdeleine. Sailing with them was Jean Latourrette from Osse. The Peiret group was accompanied by at least three other French refugee families and it is likely there were other French refugees who cannot be identified because the passage of free men and women from England to one of its colonies was not recorded by the authorities at the time. 10
Wittmeyer's history of St. Esprit records the arrival of Peiret in New York. "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." 11 Baird references the arrival of Elie Nezereau on the same ship: "He (Nezereau) was naturalized in England, March 20, 1686, and came over in the ship Robert, with Pasteur Peiret, in October, 1687." 12
Previous sections described how other "French" ministers came to America. In the case of how Peiret reached New York, we have a sketchy outline of his flight from Osse, Bearn, in September of 1685. 13 After leaving Osse, Peiret and his family, with Jean Latourrette, apparently fled to Frankfurt, Rotterdam and finally London by the Swiss route (Basel and the Rhine River). Cadier suggests Peiret, along with other ministers who fled from Bearn, may have attended an April 24, 1686, conference of the Synod Eglise Walloones in Rotterdam.14 The London record, cited below, of Jean Latourrette going to and from England and Holland after this conference tends to confirm this path.
Information about Peiret and Jean Latourrette in London comes from the records created and audited by the French Relief Committee. The funds administered by the committee provided living assistance to French refugees in England and supported their migration to other countries, including America. 15 Reacting to the people and stories reaching England after the Revocation, there was a major effort by English citizens to collect relief funds to augment those that remained from an earlier program. "That amount was now swollen by similar collections made on the twenty-third of April, 1686, and after." 16 The timing of these events, the Synod of April 24 in Holland and the collections of April 23 in England, is important to the interpretation of the likely movements of Peiret and Latourrette. If Peiret and Latourrette were in Rotterdam, word of the support for the refugees by the English people would have reached them within a fortnight. This information would have been sufficient to have Latourrette travel to England to assess the situation. However, why would they leave Holland, which had always been a safe haven for French Protestants?
The answer to the question of why Peiret, as a young minister looking for a place to preach and earn a living, would want to move on from Holland is supplied by Jon Butler. "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." 17 The lack of ministerial opportunities in Holland and information that the French Relief Committee would treat them very well were likely the key factors in the decision to move to London. The records indicate the committee considered refugee ministers "persons of quality" for support, receiving a level of financial relief several times that of ordinary refugees. 18
There are three entries in the relief committee's records about Jean Latourrette and Pierre Peiret. All of the entries of the committee are relatively brief, but they indicate approximately when Latourrette and Peiret went to London and when they departed for America. One finds a single entry for Jean in an alphabetical list of grants authorized between June 4, 1686, and August 28, 1687. The Relief Committee audited these grants after the closing date, and there are no additional entries for Jean. Therefore, this is the final record of his assistance in a relief program, which continued until 1727. 19
"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 of 15 to 30 shillings given by the committee to ordinary refugees to migrate to America, 30 shillings to travel the much shorter distance to Holland or Denmark was very generous, suggesting a high estimate of the quality of Jean Latourrette by the committee and/or his mission to assist Pastor Peiret. 20
The committee's audit after August 28, 1687 confirms that Jean received two grants and had made the round trip to Holland, but still had sufficient funds to go to Denmark. He did not use the grant to go to Denmark, because he left with Peiret in August 1687 to go to America. This may also explain, as noted below, why Peiret requested the funds to include Jean and another man, whom extensive research has not identified, to accompany him to America.
The two grants given to Jean Latourrette suggest a strategy on the part of Peiret and Jean in seeking a permanent home. If not Holland, what about Denmark? They would have known that Jean Laplacette, a fellow Bearnais pastor originally from Peiret's native town Pontacq, had left France in March of 1685. Later, the Queen of Denmark invited Laplacette from his exile in Germany to a new ministry in Copenhagen. This provides a good explanation why they might have considered Denmark. However, it is likely they received additional information in London that Denmark, a Lutheran state, was not very receptive to Calvinists except with the intercession of the Queen and decided not to pursue that path. 21
There is an entry in the relief records for Peiret under MS 1 for the period June 4, 1686 to August 28, 1687, the same list on which the Jean Latourrette entry appears. Peiret received three grants. The first entry is October 6, 1686, which is also an effective date to receive living assistance. There are duplications of other lists, because MS 1 summarizes alphabetically all the committee's actions between the aforementioned dates. Therefore, this entry includes actions to extend the assistance for six months and to support travel to America.
"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."
Found separately for Peiret under Ac: Accounts for Grants, MS 2, Part 5, Account 12, is a list of committee actions dated August 3 to November 12, 1687, examined and signed November 18, 1687. 22
"To Pierre Peyret, Minister, his wife, two children and two men to go to New Jersey ... 50 pounds"
This is the final entry of assistance to Peiret, indicating he used the funds to go to America.
The foregoing indicates that Jean preceded Peiret to London in the late spring or summer of 1686 to determine if relocation to London was feasible. Jean certainly was in London before Peiret arrived and sought aid, authorized on October 6, 1686. The grant given to Jean would have allowed him to return to Holland to report about the feasibility of moving the Peiret family to London. If Jean was committed to seeing 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.
After arriving in London, it was obvious that the opportunity to establish a ministry in England was very limited and the alternative was to be on relief support for many years with large numbers of refugee pastors. An analysis by Roy A. Sundstrom indicates it would have been practically impossible for Peiret to acquire a ministry in England. The surplus of French ministers in England from the emigrations of the early 1680s had increased 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 him the funds for their support. 23 The situation only deteriorated after the Revocation in 1685, with 345 pastors and family members recorded as being on annual relief between 1689 and 1693. 24
For two relatively young men in 1687 at ages 36 (Latourrette) and Peiret (43), the latter with a young wife and two young children, the prospects for a life in England were not promising, as confirmed by the contemporary descriptions of urban areas, like London, crowded with French refugees living in poor conditions. Some historians suggest that 50,000 refugees came to England between 1680 and 1695. Others feel the numbers were more in the range of 20,000 to 30,000. 25 Regardless of the number, it appears the many of the refugees, particularly the older ones, were not absorbed into English society as working citizens because the relief effort continued to 1727. In particular, the surplus of refugee ministers is still evident in 1703, when 280 people in the families of French ministers were on relief. 26 Although generally sympathetic to the plight of the refugees, the Church of England in its efforts to gain Anglican conformity forced ministers to accept its liturgy to receive aid and added to the problem by training and ordaining new ministers. An immediate threat caused some of the French refugees to leave England after only a short stay and likely accounts for the wave of migration to the American colonies in the years 1686, 1687 and 1688. As noted above, six of the ten ministers came to America in 1686 and 1687, and the early leaders of Peiret's consistory arrived in the same years. King James II, self-designated as the "Most Catholic King," with his open hostility to French Protestants, was a major reason to leave England. Crowned on April 23, 1685, James II had a stormy reign as he attempted to restore Catholicism, while at the same time English citizens and the Church of England were receiving French Protestants with open arms. Many naturalized French refugees who left at this time had already achieved some success in London. However, a King, married to the adopted daughter of Louis XIV, might have destroyed their sanctuary in England. The Glorious Revolution in England was soon to occur in late 1688, with the King fleeing to France on December 23, but the outcome would not have been predictable to the departing refugees. They had once escaped Louis XIV, and yet his long arms might have reached them in England through King James.
In the first history of the New York consistory, Rev. Wittmeyer emphasizes: "Immediately on his arrival he (Peiret) 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." 27 By November of 1688, the church was established and built on Petticoat Lane (later Marketfield Street in what is now lower Manhattan). The first entries in the church Registers are two baptisms on November 4, 1688. 28 Wittmeyer's statement suggests that Peiret likely came on the hope of being able to organize a group of French refugees into a consistory. The evidence now available about the time Peiret and Latourrette spent in London and that of the leaders of his temple suggests there may have been some significant planning before their departure. This is in the realm of speculation, but the reader may decide this question for himself/herself after examining the backgrounds of the four early, critical leaders of the consistory in New York.
The Consistory Leaders in New York
More than 12 leading Huguenot merchants were members of the consistory during Peiret's ministry. 29 The most prominent and important in the founding years were Jean Barberie, Elie Boudinot, Gabriel Le Boyteulx (also Le Boyteaux) and Etienne (Stephen) de Lancey. In his seminal work Huguenot Emigration to America, Charles W. Baird considered Barberie as the principal secular founder of the temple. 30 The consistory records show that all four were deeply committed to establishing a religious and cultural home for French refugees who were arriving at the time in New York. Their signatures appear frequently as witnesses in the Registers at baptisms, weddings and internments, starting with the first entries on November 4, 1688. All four served as elders, but it appears they sometimes forgot to add their titles when they signed the consistory Registers. For example, Boudinot signs 16 times between 1688 and 1691, but adds elder only after seven signatures.
Brief profiles of these four men highlight their support and complement the earlier analysis of the characteristics of the French refugees who reached the American colonies. They were relatively young when they left France in 1685: Barberie about 35; de Lancey 23; Le Boyteulx about 21 and Boudinot about 43. In contrast to many of the refugees who had left everything behind in France, by 1695 these emigrants appeared in the top 10-20 percent on the tax lists of New York. 31 Gabriel Le Boyteulx, born in 1664, was from La Rochelle. He arrived in New York in 1687, naturalized January 5, 1688 and made a freeman of the town August 3, 1688. 32 He was engaged in international trade before the Revocation in France and continued that business after arriving in New York. He owned at least one ship, La Belle Marquise, named after his wife Marquise Fleuriau, from Chatellerault, Poitou, whom he married at St. Esprit in April of 1689, the first marriage blessed by Peiret in America. Eli Neau commanded La Belle Marquise. Neau was born in Saintonge in 1662, fled to the West Indies in 1679, married Susanne Pare in Boston in 1686, and was in New York by 1691. A French privateer captured the ship, and Neau became a prisoner on the infamous island of If in the Marseilles harbor from which his letters about Christian suffering and piety sparked a religious renewal led by Peiret in New York. Le Boyteulx kept detailed accounts of the collections and expenditures of the consistory from March 1693 to April 1699 from which there is a wealth of information about the temple.
Another merchant possibly from La Rochelle or Bordeaux (Guyenne) was Jean Barberie, from a very prominent Huguenot family. He was about 35 in 1685, naturalized in England on January 5, 1688, and left London on February 14, with his sons Pierre and Jean Peiret, and arrived in New York on April 24. 33 The record of his voyage indicates he brought merchandise with him from London, which suggests he was able to bring some of his wealth out of France. 34 He is described by Baird as an "enterprising merchant" and the chief founder of the temple, and by Butler as a leading political figure as a member of the prestigious New York Council, the governing body of the province, from 1705 to his death in 1728. As an elder, Barberie frequently signed the consistory's Registers during Peiret's ministry from 1688 to 1704. Although there is no record of who financed the first wooden temple built in 1688, Le Boyteulx's records show Barberie made a major contribution to the gallery built by Jean Latourrette in the spring of 1693, significantly increasing the capacity of St. Esprit. From the entry in the Registers at the time of his death on January 9, 1728, he had been both the Treasurer and Secretary of the consistory. 35
Jean Barberie was a widower when he arrived in New York in 1688 with his two sons. On April 10, 1694, he married Francoise Brinqueman (Brinkman), the only exogenous marriage blessed by Peiret during his ministry. 36 It was, perhaps, less exogenous than would appear on the surface because Madame Brinqueman, whose origin was assumed to be Dutch because of her name, was the widow of Denis Lambert from Bergerac, France who died September 29, 1691. 37
The third person profiled is Elie Boudinot, a successful merchant from Marennes, Saintonge, who was born about 1642. He is described by Baird as a "prosperous merchant and an earnest adherent of the Protestant faith. The family to which he belonged had been identified for several generations with the Huguenot cause." 38 In New York, he was one of the richest French Protestants, competing successfully against the rich Dutch and English merchants for business. 39 Boudinot also was the founder of a famous family in American history and philanthropy. Boudinot was a widower when he fled to London with his son Elie Jr. In London, on November 9, 1686, he married Susanne Papin, the widow of Benjamin d'Harriette of La Rochelle. Her son, also Benjamin d'Harriette, accompanied them from London to New York, after a short stay in Charleston, South Carolina. 40 Boudinot started an account book in 1689 for the consistory, which after his death in 1702 continued until 1710. This complements the records of Le Boyteulx. 41 His signature as an elder appears in the first two entries in the Registers on November 4, 1688, and between 1688 and 1694 his signature appears 26 times. A notable entry in the Registers was the baptism of Susanne Boudinot, the daughter of Elie Boudinot and Susanne Papin, on Wednesday, July 17, 1689. In New York, this was an official day of Thanksgiving and the consistory thanked God for William and Mary becoming King and Queen of England, replacing the "Most Catholic" King James II. 42
The last person is Etienne (in English Stephen) de Lancey, a successful New York merchant, who established a family of social and political distinction. De Lancey was from Caen and 23 years old when he fled from France to Rotterdam, then to England, where he obtained letters of denization (permanent residency) and left for America in 1686. His mother was too old to leave France with him, but gave him family jewels which he sold to establish a profitable business and become a leading member of the Huguenot community in New York. He married a Dutch woman, Anne Van Cortlandt, in the Dutch Church, but they had several children baptized by Pastor Peiret. His signatures as a chef de famille at the time of Periet's death in 1704 confirms his affiliation with St. Esprit.
There were several other successful Huguenot business men affiliated with St. Esprit in its early years, including Jean Pelletreau from Arces, Saintonge; Jean and Francois Vincent, sail makers from Soubise, Saintonge; and Paul Droilhet (Drouillet) who had been an elder at Barbezieux, Saintonge. Other prominent names come later as they matured as adults in New York. They include Thomas Bayeau from Caen; Benjamin Faneuil, born in La Rochelle in 1668 and the brother of Andre the leading merchant in Boston; and Augustus (Auguste) Jay, the son of a wealthy La Rochelle merchant who was 20 when he escaped from France in 1685 and found his way to New York through the West Indies and South Carolina.
Three of the four men profiled above established well-known families in American history. De Lancey's son James became the Chief Justice and Lieutenant Governor of the province of New York. The great-grandson of Boudinot, also named Elie, was a member of American's Continental Congress and its president, 1782-3, served as a member of the Uited States House of Representatives, 1789-95, and was the first Director of the US Mint issuing the first US coinage. The Barberie family was still prominent in business in New York two hundred years later. Grabriel Le Boyteulx's grandson slipped to being a tailor and is notable only as the first parent in America to name a child after George Washington in 1776.
In the case of Augustus Jay, mentioned above, the name remains famous because his grandson, John Jay, was the first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, 1789-95, the Jay Court, which established many of the principles that still guide the justice system in the United States. Augustus (1665-1751) also provides an interesting insight into how one of the most successful French merchants crossed ethnic lines during his lifetime in New York. In 1697 he married Anne Marie Bayard from a prominent established Dutch family in the Dutch Reformed church, had two children baptized by Peiret in 1700 and 1702 at St. Esprit, is listed as an elder of St. Esprit at the time of Peiret's daeth in 1704 and by 1720 is affiliated with the Anglican Trinity Church. The life path of Jay from a marriage with a Dutch woman, to serving as an elder in the French temple, to an affiliation with Trinty Church is a good example of how the Huguenots ultimately lost their French ethnicity and religious identity and became just citizens of an English colony.
The involvement of Barberie, Boudinot and Le Boyteaulx with Peiret's consistory extended far beyond financial support and leadership in the affairs of the temple. As described below, it included an aggressive partnership in representing the French community in the political life of New York. But it also was characterized by a close personal relationship between the pastor and his wife and his consistory leaders. Peiret and Marquerite La Tour arrived in New York in 1687 with two children born in Osse : Pierre and Magdeleine. They were to have four more children, and the first three were named after Barberie, Boudinot and Le Boyteaulx or their wives. Susanne Peiret was born November 18 and baptized November 28, 1690, with Susanne Papin, the spouse of Jean Barberie, acting as godmother. Jean Barberie was the godfather. Gabriel Le Boyteulx acted as the godfather for Gabriel Peiret, born January 30 and baptized February 14, 1694. Peiret's daughter Magdeleine was the godmother, likely because Le Boyteulx's spouse Marquise Fleriau had died a few months earlier in October of 1693. The third child was Francoise named after Francoise Boudinot (Brinqueman).She was born March 1 and baptized March 8, 1696 with Francoise Brinqueman and Elie Boudinot acting as godparents. The fourth child was Elizabeth, born December 22 and baptized December 29, 1700 with the children born in Osse, Pierre and Magdeleine, acting as godparents. 43
Perhaps signaling the bond between Peiret and Jean Latourrette and the early founders, both Jean Barberie and Elie Boudinot are witnesses at Jean's marriage to Marie Mercereau in the evening of July 16, 1693, and, immediatley following, that of Marie's brother Josue Mercereau to Marie Chadeayne. 44
The Temple, 1688 and 1693
A wooden temple was built by Peiret and Latourrette, the carpenter from Osse, after they arrived in October of 1687. Only a few sketches of the structure remain. However, the temple's approximate size and location are known and, remarkably, it was built in a relatively short period of time to be opened by November 4, 1688. Also remarkable is the fact that it was built without the consistory incurring any debt, given that most of the French refugees were forced to leave France with little other than what they could carry with them, and the merchants, discussed above, who were able to bring goods and/or wealth with them had just arrived in New York and were trying to set up their businesses in competition with Dutch and English merchants. It is a testimony to the commitment of these refugees to re-establish their faith in New York, as well as the leadership of Peiret and his key supporters. 45
The temple, the first in New York built for the exclusive use of French refugees, was located on Petticoat Lane, later called Marketfield Street. The location is at the tip of Manhattan, which in 1688 was a small village of about 3,500 people south of Wall Street. The structure externally was about 25 by 48 feet or 1200 square feet. In the spring of 1693, Jean Latourrette added a gallery to increase the temple's capacity. 46 A couple of months earlier, he received payment for "having done the floor of the temple and provided the iron work." 47 The interior was about 1000 square feet before the construction of the gallery and perhaps 1200-1300 square feet afterwards. By comparison, the current stone temple at Osse, built in 1805 on the foundation of the original 1620 temple, is 1345 square feet, measured externally. Therefore, the temple in New York reproduced the capacity of the original Osse temple, destroyed in April of 1686, after Peiret and Latourette had fled. Initially, the author was puzzled about how temples of this size could accommodate the number of parishioners in both Osse and New York who attended them for worship. Today, the Osse temple comfortably seats about 135 parishioners. On the other hand, the 1665 census of Osse suggests that there were between 350 and 400 French Protestants in the village. 48 The number of Huguenots affiliated with the New York temple was somewhat higher. Madame Gilberte Gaubil, who has provided the author many insights into the French Protestant consistories of the 16th and 17th centuries in Bearn, solved this question by pointing out that the majority of the parishioners in the early temples stood rather than sat during worship. Thus, the temples in both Osse and New York, if the latter also followed this practice, could hold double the number if most of the parishioners were standing, rather than being seated.
To estimate the number of parishioners in Peiret's consistory, the author examined Jon Butler's estimate of French Protestant refugee emigration to America between 1680 and 1700. As Butler indicates, in addition to grossly overstated figures for refugee migration from France, up to 2 million, 20th century historians exaggerated the emigration of Huguenots to America as being as high as 15,000 without any documentation. Butler carefully assembled census data for the several locations in which the French refugees had settled by 1700 and estimated the migration was about 1,500 persons and certainly no more than 2,000 persons. 49 All of the census figures appear to be verified by other information, except for those Butler uses for New York, which are critical to the author's attempt to determine the number of parishioners in Peiret's consistory.
Footnotes : Chapter 6
1. Alfred V. Wittmeyer, editor, "Introduction" to the original volume in the Collection of the Huguenot Society of America, Vol. I, 1886, pp. ix-xxi.
2. See Paula Wheeler Carlo, Huguenot Refugees in Colonial New York: Becoming American in the Hudson Valley, 2005, pp. 19-27.
3. See Carlo, Table 6.1, p.115 and Table 6.6, p. 133.
4. Baird, Vol. II, pp. 226-8, Maynard, pp.59-60 and Butler, p. 46.
5. See Maynard, pp. 59-60 and pp. 299-303, and Baird, Vol. II, p. 236. Maynard also presents a justification as why Anglican ordination would be acceptable to Calvinists.
6. Wittmeyer, p. xx.
7. Carlo, p. 44-8 and pp. 103-4.
8. See Carlo pp. 172-5.
9. Carlo, describing the history at New Paltz and New Rochelle, and Van Ruymbeke, describing the experience in South Carolina, are reacting to Jon Butler's use of the term "assimilation." In his 1983 book, The Huguenots in America, Butler leaves the impression that the absorption into an Anglican society was essentially over by 1750. They both argue that the process in the societies they examined was much longer with vestiges of the Huguenot heritages extending into the 19th century.
10. 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. For a detailed discussion of why free men and women passengers going to the colonies were not recorded, see Butler, The Huguenots in America, pp.46-50 and the author's explanation on Webpage: www.latourrette.net/current3.html in www.latourrette.net
11. Registers, p. xxi of the 1886 edition.
12. Huguenot Emigration, Vol. 1, p. 290, ft. 7. It is likely the arrival was in October as indicated by Baird. The Calendar of the New York (Colony) Council Minutes, 1668-1783 (Reprinted in 1987 from New York State Library Bulletin 58, 1902), page 56, records the Council meeting of November 10. At this meeting, by a petition from Samuel Burt, brother of the deceased captain of the Robert , Pierre Peyre (Peiret), Peter Reverdy and Michael Peck (Pare) testified as to the manner of his death by drowning during the voyage to New York.
13. It appears Peiret, his family, Jean Latourrette and perhaps other parishioners left Osse after September 2 and before September 25, 1685. The list of Jean de Tapie, procureur du Roy au Parsan d'Aspe dated September 2, 1685, identified the Protestants of Osse, including David Latourrette's spouse and the Peiret family, who refused to convert. Shortly after this, the dragoons came to Osse. An inquiry and a search warrant was issued against him in 1685 (National Archives G7-113) and an arrest warrant on September 25, 1685 after Peiret was not found in Osse when the dragoons arrived.
14. "One finds Jean de Latourrette, carpenter of Osse, at Frankfurt the 18th of November 1685." Madame Doerr, Famille Latourrette d'Osse-en-Aspe, unpublished paper by a member of the Conseil, Centre d'Etude du Protestantisme Bearnais, Pau. This is a logical escape route through a strong Protestant area, which welcomed the fleeing French refugees. Through Frankfurt, one could travel down the Rhine to Rotterdam through areas sympathetic to Protestantism. Van Ruymbeke tracked a number of the refugees who ultimately went to South Carolina and concluded "Huguenots who resided in southern and eastern France usually took the Swiss route and followed the Rhine River (through Frankfurt) to the Netherlands." See New Babylon to Eden, pp. 60-5 and map on p. 61. 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. For the reference to Rotterdam, see Cadier, Le Bearn, p. 202. The reference cited by Cadier indicates pastors from Bearn attended, but Peiret's name is not included on the list of attendees. However, other information cited below strongly suggests that they traveled through Holland on their way to London.
15. The author has copies of the original entries. The records in the Huguenot Library, London, were cataloged and indexed by 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.
16. Baird, Huguenot Emigration, p. 155.
17. Butler, The Huguenots in America, pp.25-6.
18. See Butler's comparisons on p. 52.
19. The Latourrette entry is found in Smith, Records of the Royal Bounty and Connected Funds, under Schedule A: The First Brief of James II, 1686, Aa Committee Registers MS 1, p. 12.
20. The Threadneedle Church records indicate allotments given for travel usually included some allowance for living expenses. See 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. The amount granted Jean likely reflected a request that he was associated with a minister. 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, which matches the description of Jean leaving Osse as an unmarried, younger son of David Latourrette. Along with Jean Latourrette's unmarried status when he left Osse, this information eliminates the prior marriage theory found in Lyman Latourette, Latourette Annals in America, 1954, pp. 18-9. Jean's marriage in New York on July 16, 1693, was his only marriage to Marie Mercereau.
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 the hypothesis of Mrs. Verna A. Hill Jacob about Jean Latourrette's travel to America. Her view was that Jean, as a single male, could have been part of the Rhode Island Colony of French refugees. See her Compilation: The LaTourette Family and Associated Families: Lewis, Morgan, LeCounte, Van Pelt, Mercereau, 1965. However, the colonists negotiated the final arrangements for the colony in America on October 12, 1686, after the settlers had arrived, and less than a month later they established the settlement on November 9, 1686. It is obvious that these colonists would have left England as early as July 1686 to accomplish what was then at least a two-month voyage to America. From the London Relief Committee's records, one also can determine that Jean Latourrette was in London during this period until he left with Peiret almost a year later in August 1687.
Also, see the author's analysis of the marriage of Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau on July 16, 1693, which was completely misinterpreted by Lyman Latourette. John E. La Tourette, Jean Latourrette and Pierre Peiret: Huguenot Refugees, Their Roots in Osse, Bearn, 2006, Appendix 2, pp. 51-8. Unfortunately, the marriage entry that both Lyman and Mrs. Jacob used was a doctored (hoax) version of the original entry by Peiret in the temple Registers, pp. 29-30.
21. Weiss explains why Denmark, as a Lutheran state, was not a hospitable place for Calvinists. See History of French Protestant Refugees, Vol. II, pp. 242-64. Confirming Weiss' analysis, the records of the Threadneedle Church show that only two of the 617 refugee families receiving aid to leave London went to Denmark. Source: Author's calculations from tables in Hands and Scouloudi, French Protestant Refugees Relieved.
22. 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), Records of the Royal Bounty and Connected Funds, indicates that the list pertains to people who intended to go to Virginia and New Jersey. According to the usage of the time, "West Indies" referred to the entire American continent and entries about intended destinations in America were frequently inaccurate, with people noted as going to New England frequently showing up in New York.
23. 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. See p. 65, ft. 32 and p.168.
24. Sundstrom, Aid and Assimilation, p. 50.
25. Butler, p. 27.
26. Sundstrom, p. 68.
27. Registers, p. xxi.
28. Registers, p. 1.
29. There were 18 French merchants and retailers included on the New York tax list for 1695. The author was not able to track all of the merchants to St. Esprit, because no record of membership is available from this period. Entries in the Registers of births, marriages and deaths are the primary source of identification.
30. Baird, Vol. II, pp. 139-40.
31. Butler, p. 183.
32. Freemen had the right to conduct business and vote.
33. Baird, Vol. II, pp. 139-40.
34. This is one of the few cases when a Huguenot's name appears on a passenger list because he was a "shipper' of merchandise.
35. Registers, p. 181.
36. Registers, p.35.
37. Registers, p. 15. Amateur genealogists, posting on Ancestry.com, suggest that Madame Brinqueman was also from France.
38. Baird, Vol. I, p. 298.
39. Butler, p. 157.
40. Baird, Vol. I, p. 289. See Van Ruymbeke, p. 91, for his stop in South Carolina in 1687.
41. See Maynard, p. 12 and 82.
42. Registers, p. 5.
43. See Registers, pp. 12, 32, 34, 46 and 77-8.
44. Registers, pp. 29-30.
45. Maynard stresses that this temple, and the much larger stone one started in 1704, were built with monies, material and work donated at the time. See, p. 89.
46. Latourrette received almost 13 pounds sterling for the work on June 26, 1693. See Maynard, p. 80.
47. Maynard, p. 80.
48. Cadier, pp. 140-1.
49. Butler, p.49.
The New York and Osse Consistories: A Comparison
There are three sets of estimates of the French population for the village of New York in the closing years of the 1600s. Based on an analysis of the marriages and baptisms recorded in the Registers, Maynard in his 1938 history of the consistory estimated there were about 450 French people in the "parish" by 1692 and 700-800 by the end of the century. 1 Joyce Goodfriend cites Maynard's estimates in her 1992 book, Before the Melting Pot, and claims the 700-800 number was inflated because a significant number of Dutch parishioners temporarily attended the French temple. The pro-English sympathy of the Dutch Pastor Henricus Selyns during the Leislerian Rebellion of the early 1690s, described in some detail in the following section, is given as the reason. She suggests the French population was about 400 in 80 households. Her research of male occupations and tax-payers in the non-slave population of 4,237 in 1698, however, suggests the French were at least 10 to 11 percent of the population and numbered more like 425 to 466. 2
For his estimate of French immigrants who came to New York between 1680 and 1700, Butler used the census taken "about" 1703 which lists 86 French households with 155 adults and 162 children for a total of 317. 3 There are two problems with using the 1703 census to make this estimate. The yellow fever epidemic of 1702 resulted in more than 500 deaths reducing the non-slave population of New York from the 4237 recorded in 1698 to 3732 in 1703. Depending on the proportion of the population that was French (10-15 percent), there could have been 50 -75 deaths among the French refugees and their descendants during the epidemic. Of greater concern is the undercounting of French people in the 1703 census. Butler admits that the census did not capture all of the French considered to be poor. 4
A comparison of the names appearing on the 1703 census with the list of chefs de famille that gathered on two occasions at the time of Peiret's death in September of 1704 indicates that 26 of the 38 chefs are not found in the census. Reviewing the missing names demonstrates that rich and middle level French families were left off the census, in addition to the poor. Therefore, at the time of the 1703 census, it is likely 40 families with an average of 4-5 people were missed, in addition to about 10 people receiving aid from the consistory also not included in the census, or another 170 to 210 people. This would bring the total to a range of 487 to 527 French in New York, with about 110 to 120 family households. 5
In some comparisons of the emigration of Huguenots to the American colonies it is implied that South Carolina, with about 500 French refugees and descendants, had the largest concentration at the end of the 17th century. Perhaps, this is based on the 317 and 400 estimates of Butler and Goodfriend for New York which the author has adjusted upwards, because of undercounting in the 1703 census. Even without this adjustment, this seems to ignore the fact that Van Ruymbeke, at this time, estimates the Charleston French population at 195 with the rest of the 500 scattered in rural locations. Therefore, the French in the village of New York constituted the largest group in America. If we count the population of the settlements in New Paltz (121), New Rochelle (184), and Staten Island (172), the true comparison, colony to colony, has New York with 900-1,000 and South Carolina at 500. Also, the village of New York with at least 400 and probably more like 500 French has the only parish in America that would be comparable in size to Osse, Bearn.
Not all of these 500 Huguenots were attending St. Esprit, as noted by the number of marriages recorded, and baptisms inferred, outside St. Esprit. Others had a passing affiliation for a marriage or baptism. However, the average number of households firmly associated with St. Esprit between 1695 and 1700 appears to have been approximately 90 with the number of parishioners around 400. Thus, Peiret's consistory in New York, once fully established after 1695 was at least as large as the 75 families and approximately 400 parishioners found in the 1665 Osse census. 6
The analysis of the number of parishioners in New York and those at other consistories in America around 1700 strongly suggests that only Peiret's temple in New York had a sufficient number of parishioners to financially support a minister and to sustain a viable religious organization on a long-term basis. From a consideration of size alone, it is not surprising that all the other American consistories disappeared (Staten Island lost most of its parishioners by 1720 and closed in 1734. With only seven subscribers, Boston sold its temple in 1748) or became Anglican (New Rochelle, 1709, the rural temples in South Carolina after 1706) or drifted to an affiliation with the Dutch Reformed Church (New Paltz), except Charleston, South Carolina, which had only a few subscribers after 1740 and eventually became a museum until 1982, when it was reorganized as an independent consistory.
There are some obvious differences between Osse and New York. Until the last few years before the Revocation in 1685, the Osse consistory had a supportive Bearn Synod. One of the major weaknesses of French Protestantism in America was the absence of such an organization either in the colonies or in England. Each consistory stood independently and they all disappeared in the form they were originally established as French-speaking, Calvinist religious organizations representing French Huguenots.
As already noted, the majority of the French refugees who came to New York between 1680 and 1700 were relatively young. The large number of marriages and baptisms among the Huguenots in New York while Peiret was alive supports this fact. Thus, the family households generally consisted of young adults and young children, whereas there was an older population in Osse. The 75 Osse households, noted in 1665, consisted, as was the custom of the day, of more older adults with three or even four generations living in one home. In the late 17th century, the French in New York represented an entirely new community, while Osse was a well-established community that in 1569 had been entirely Protestant.
The Osse and New York Consistories
The difference between Osse during Peiret's ministry, 1677- 1685, and New York only slightly more than a decade later is striking. In the last ministry at Osse before the Revocation, Peiret and his parishioners were fighting twenty years of mounting persecution to force them to abjure and completely abandon their faith. The consistory was financially bankrupt, with the parishioners unable to raise enough funds to maintain their minister and worship. A final crushing blow in 1683 was the expropriation by King Louis XIV of the legacy of the consistory, donated over many years by parishioners. The records of the consistory during Peiret's ministry, 1677-1685 with a year's interruption in 1681-82, consist mainly of the minister, elders and deacons dealing with debts, demands by creditors, and the inability of parishioners to meet their pledges. It is obvious that many of the parishioners were in financial difficulty. In addition, the authorities and the local priest were constantly pressuring them to abandon their faith. As early as the consistory meeting of May 26, 1670, the minutes reveal some elders and deacons did not attend, did not pay their pledges or were not fulfilling their assignments to secure pledge payments from families. There are frequent references to pignoration, a process of seizing property from families who did not pay their debts. The meeting of the chefs de famille on April 17, 1672 addressed the lack of funds to pay Pastor Josue Medalon, a situation never fully resolved before Peiret came to Osse in 1677. 7
Although under tremendous pressure to the very end, the last consistory minutes, those of September 5, 1684, show Peiret still had the support of eight elders to deal with pledges not paid. The Protestants of Osse were never defeated, although they were required to destroy their temple in 1686 and forbidden to observe their faith openly for over 100 years. A note in the records for 1817 shows there were 82 Protestant families and 365 individuals in Osse, about the same numbers recorded in the 1665 census. 8 Even with the growth of the population at Osse over these one hundred years, it is truly remarkable that the proportion of Protestants in the village is between a third and one half in the early years of the 19th Century, after over 100 hundred years of persecution.
The New York consistory struggled financially in the years immediately after its founding in 1688, because many of the refugees came with little or no resources except their own skills. However, they were building a new life and, concurrently, a new religious community in a relatively tolerant Protestant environment. There were several lay leaders, all ultimately successful merchants, who provided critical support to Peiret in the early years. As described above, Elie Boudinot and Gabriel Le Boyteulx kept record and account books and provided financial guidance for the first decade. Jean Barberie, considered to be the key lay founder, was the Treasurer and Secretary. As elders, their signatures appear as witnesses on two-thirds of the first 33 entries made by Peiret in the Registers of marriages and baptisms between November of 1688 and June of 1690. It is apparent these men, and others who were elders in France, came to New York with considerable experience in religious affairs, some from prominent Huguenot families, and took a keen interest in developing a viable consistory with Peiret as their minister.
In New York, Boudinot, Le Boyteulx and Barberie exercised the functions of deacon, prescribed by the Ecclesiastical Regulation of Calvin, which permits a variation in the practice of the discipline according to local circumstances. Apparently, this arrangement was initiated soon after the consistory was officially established in 1688, for Estienne (Stephen) de Lancey signs as a deacon at the first two baptisms in November of 1688, but in the following month he signs as an elder at an interment. Then in 1689, a record book is started by Boudinot, which is continued past his death to 1710. Later, a more detailed book of collections and accounts is maintained by Le Boyteulx from March of 1693 to April of 1699. There may be several reasons for this approach to the traditional function of deacon, as it was historically practiced in Osse. In the early years, the consistory in New York depended heavily on the leadership and financial support of successful merchants, particularly Barberie, Boudinot and Le Boytealx. They were heavily involved in generating the funds to establish and maintain a viable parish and, therefore, assumed the responsibilities associated with a deacon. Perhaps, De Lancey was too young at 26 and too involved in establishing his mercantile trade to devote his time to the function of deacon. Later, after becoming established, De Lancey was a major donor to the consistory.
The records maintained by Boudinot and Le Boyteulx reveal a great deal of information about the life of the New York consistory. For example, from Boudinot's accounts, it is noted that Peiret's salary for the first full year (1689) was a modest 40 pounds. On January 4, 1692, he received a bonus of 2 ½ pounds, which was continued quarterly. There was another increase in 1693. Then, on October 9, 1694, his annual salary and bonus were raised to 80 pounds, including house rent. This increase in salary would place Peiret's income above that of artisans and craftsman and near the level of physicians and professionals, but not as high as the richest merchants who supported the consistory. 9 It is obvious that conditions had improved dramatically. Consistory contributions doubled after 1690 as the refugees established themselves in New York and the consistory absorbed the French group meeting with Pierre Daille at the British fort and grew to around 400 parishioners.
The accounts also document that Jean Latourrette was having success in his occupation and life. His marriage to Marie Mercereau is recorded by Pastor Peiret on July 16, 1693. He is the only French carpenter listed on the New York tax roles for 1695. 10 In 1695 he was granted citizenship, and in the same year he owned property in the South Ward. In addition to the work he did to build the temple in 1688, Le Boyteulx's accounts indicate he was paid on April 7, 1693, 7 shillings and 3 pence for "having done the floor and provided the iron work." To accommodate the increase in the number of parishioners from the merger of the Daille group, he was paid on June 26, 1693, 12 pounds, thirteen shillings and 6 pence for adding a gallery which expanded the capacity of the temple to accommodate the increase in parishioners in 1692. There is another entry dated December 17, 1695, where Latourrette was paid 10 shillings and 6 pence for "two windows carefully chosen as something else to be made for the Temple." Given his skills as the only French carpenter listed on the tax rolls, it is obvious that he was able to acquire a considerable amount of business from his fellow French refugees. His success led to the purchase of 75 acres on Staten Island on Richmond creek that flows from the hills that were formed from a terminal moraine of a glacier into a tidewater estuary known as Fresh Kills. The fresh stream likely reminded him of the Larricq creek which flows through Osse. At Fresh Kills he built a stone house and was one of the founders of a consistory after land was donated for a temple in the spring of 1698.
The role of the elders and deacons at Osse were clearly identified in the "Cahier du Consistorie d'Osse from 1665 to 1685." Cadier uses these records to trace the terms of both the elders and the deacons. As revealed by Cadier's worksheet, fortunately still preserved at the temple, it was more difficult to determine the appointments of the deacons, because in some cases they were mentioned in the cahier (notebook) only when their duties were discussed. However, the nomination as deacon on April 25, 1675, of Jean de Supervielle was recorded, as are those for 1676 and 1677. In the case of the elders, the presiding ministers usually indicated the beginning of their four-year terms. Cadier presented the results of his analysis for six selected years during the period 1665 to 1684. In three of the years there were two deacons. In one year there were four and during the last few years before the Revocation there was just one. 11 Given the continuous financial pressures placed upon the parishioners and consistory, as outlined above, the task of the deacons to collect pledges was increasingly more difficult during the 1670s and early 1680s. An interesting entry occurred on September 7, 1677 in which it is stated the deacons must go to households to collect the debts or pay from their own pockets or ask the consistory to approve pignoration (i.e., the seizure of property to collect the pledge or debt to the consistory.)
Given the religious persecution and financial crisis facing the consistory, the minutes of the cahier during the ministry of Peiret at Osse from 1677 to when he fled in September of 1685, with his family and Jean Latourrette, do not provide a good basis on which to compare the traditions in Osse with the religious practices found in New York after 1688. However, the first few years of the Osse cahier from 1665-1685, which survived, give us a better understanding of what the Protestant community was like under more favorable circumstances. 12
Unfortunately, in the case of both of the consistories there are missing records that would have permitted a more comprehensive comparison. The registers of marriages and baptisms at Osse were destroyed, so we know very little about how these acts were actually practiced. In addition to the financial accounts described above at New York, there is a record of baptisms from 1688 to 1804. During the ministry of Rev. Louis Rou from 1710 to 1750, his is the only marriage recorded. A record of the resolutions of the consistory in New York was not initiated until 1723. So the resolutions are generally revealed only in the form of the results as they appear in the account books. Finally, it should be noted, as described above with the functions of deacons, the Ecclesiastical Regulation of Calvinism allowed consistories in practice to adapt discipline to the special circumstances they encountered.
The more important of the two sacraments of Calvinism is baptism. There were 221 baptisms recorded at St. Esprit in the period 1688-1699. The Registers show another 114 before Peiret's death on September 1, 1704. All but a few were blessed and recorded by Peiret in entries giving the day and date of the baptism; the name of the child; the child's date of birth; the parents names, with the mother's maiden name; and the names of the godparents who presented the child for baptism. Most of the baptisms were at the evening worship on Wednesday and after the Sunday afternoon Catechism and are recorded as "apres la priere du soir" (after the prayer of the evening). Generally, the baptisms occurred within a few days after birth at a regularly scheduled Sunday or Wednesday worship. For example, Peiret baptized his four children born in America, between 7 and 15 days after birth.
The practice of baptism by Peiret in New York was according to Chapter 11, Article 10 of Calvin's ecclesiastical discipline with early baptism and sponsoring godparents. The discipline recognized that parishioners tended to leave when baptisms occurred so it appears that Peiret generally completed the religious service and baptized after the prayer of the evening.
Communion was the second sacrament which was prescribed in Article 14 of Chapter 12 of the ecclesiastical discipline. It was closely observed both at Osse and St. Esprit in New York. For example, in 1689 the four communions scheduled at St. Esprit were at traditional times: Christmas (January 6), Easter (March 31), St John's quarter (June 30), and St. Michael's quarter (October 6). On the Saturday afternoon before communion, there was a lesson of preparation for those who would participate. The chefs de famille (heads of families) came before the consistory, and in exchange for their contributions they received tokens (mereaux), which family members would deposit in a special alms-box as they came to the Lord's Table. At this time, each family, except the indigent, was required to pay its quarterly dues, based on its pledge. Peiret's small, first-full-year salary in 1689 of 40 pounds English sterling was paid from the collections associated with these four communions. 13
From references in the consistory minutes at Osse, we know that communion was quarterly on the traditional Sundays. Elders and deacons were expected to participate and were challenged at consistory meetings, if they did not. There is an interesting note at the consistory meeting of July 17, 1667, concerning the decision to purchase tokens (mereaux), so hopefully contributions would be paid on a regular basis to meet the financial needs of the consistory. An example of adapting to local needs is the decision on September 14, 1677, to celebrate communion on two consecutive Sundays because shepherds in the high pastures were unable to abandon their flocks. Having two communions would allow them to share the burden of guarding their flocks.
The marriage ceremony at St. Esprit appears to be very
similar to what would have been the case at Osse, given the application of the ecclesiastic discipline, Chapter 13, articles 13, 17 and 27. Here is the entry of the marriage of Jean Latourette and Marie Mercereau exactly as written by Pastor Peiret:
"Mariage--- Auiourdhuy Dimanche saise de Juillet 1693 avant la priere du soir a Este Sollennellemt Beny par monst. Peyret Ministre le mariage de Jean la tourette et Marie Mercereau le dit la tourette dOsse en Bearn et la dite Mercereau de Moise en St. onge au Royaume de france aprest la publication de leurs anonces par trios dimanches consecutifs en cette Eglise sans oposition.
Pierre Masse Jean Latourrette
D. Mercereau Marie Mercereau
Josue Mercereau Peiret, Ministre
J. Barberie" 14
Note that the pastor wrote his name as Peyret but signed as Peiret, which was his custom in America as Cadier explains it was in Osse. 15
Latourrette signed with a double r as the name would be written at the time in Osse. However, Peiret wrote it with one. Because of the pronunciation of the name in English, over time more frequently the name was written, as it is today, as Latourette, LaTourette and La Tourette.
The Pierre Masse who signs as a witness was the spouse of Elizabeth Mercereau, the older sister of Marie. Daniel and Josue Mercereau were Marie's brothers. They were from Moeze, Saintonge. Josue married Marie Chadeayne (Chadaine) immediately after the wedding of Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau. It is notable that both Jean Barberie and Elie Boudinot, two instrumental elders, were witnesses to both marriages.
The other 42 marriages blessed by Peiret follow this format, announcing publicly the intention to marry for three consecutive Sundays. Finally, Peiret always used "solemnly blessed" or "blessed" to signify in the Calvinist tradition the act of the marriage being blessed as a declaration of the couple before God. The use of the "solemnly blessed" ("Sollennellemt Beny") term by Peiret did not signify a previous marriage in the Latourrette or any other of the marriages. The marriages recorded by Peiret occurred on Sunday mornings and afternoons, Wednesday evenings and occasionally at other times. When the time of the marriage was entered, it usually was before the prayer of the morning or evening. Some marriages were after the prayer, which may relate to whether the wedding party wished to have a more private ceremony. Of interest is the marriage of Daniel Ayrault and Marie Robineau, celebrated by Pastor Peiret on May 9, 1703. The marriage contract of Ayrault and Robineau, dated April 17, was preserved. Before witnesses they "promise and do mutually engage to each other the faith of Holy Matrimony." 16 Marie Robineau was the granddaughter of Elias Neau who was imprisoned at the Island of If.
Break in Text
At St. Esprit, Peiret had two worship services on Sunday, one in the morning and a sermon on Calvin's Catechism in the afternoon. There was also an evening worship on Wednesday. The marriages were usually "before the evening prayer" on either Sunday or Wednesday. Baptisms generally were "after the evening prayer" on either day. The Sunday afternoon worship service ended by 4 pm. This allowed people who came from outside the village to return to their homes. Before they established their own consistories, the Huguenots who lived outside New York would travel to St. Esprit. The following story indicates how precious they considered their freedom to worship in a new land. "It was here that, every Sabbath-day, the people assembled, for twenty miles round, from Long Island, Staten Island, and New Rochelle 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." 26
A Protestant magically transported from Osse in 1665 to New York in 1695 to observe the religious practices of Peiret's consistory would have found much that was familiar. However, compared to the relatively homogeneous village of Osse, he/she would have encountered a very diverse, heterogeneous and cosmopolitan group of Huguenots in New York, characterized by a greater inequality of wealth. The environment in New York was entirely different with the Huguenots sharing the village with two other Protestant groups, very few Catholics and a multicultural social and political structure. The next subject is Peiret's role and experience in the vastly different environment of the village of New York.
Footnotes: Chapter 7
1: Maynard, pp. 74-5. The census of New York for 1698 indicated 4,237 White (non-slave) and 700 Black inhabitants. Based on Maynard's estimate that the French were 15 percent of the population, there would be 740 Huguenots, more or less.
2: Goodfriend, p.47-8.
3: Butler, p. 47.
4: See Butler, Table 8, p. 157. In addition to the under-reporting of people in the lowest tax brackets, people receiving pensions or temporary aid from St. Esprit do not appear in the census.
5: The author compared the surnames in the census with the 38 chefs de famille who assembled on Sept 10, 1704, at the consistory. At the meeting, the chefs de famille approved a year's salary payment and house rent for Madame Peiret after Peiret's death on Sept 1, 1704 and invited Rev Jacques Laborie to the ministry. Registers, pp. 101-2. The audit of surnames found only 12 of the 38 chefs de famille listed in the 1703 census. Raising even more concern is the absence in the 1703 census of key French people identified as being "rich" and/ or prominent members of the community. These include consistory members who signed as elders. Of the 26 surnames not found in the census are the following key Huguenots: Paul Droilhet, Elie Pelletreau, Thomas Bayeau, Jean David, and Elie Neau. Other prominent Huguenots like Benjamin Faneuil, who represented the famous merchant Faneuil family in New York, and Louis Carre, a highly successful merchant, are not in the census. Many other surnames found in the consistory records, including about ten receiving aid, are not in the census of "Masters of Families."
6: The official census of 1665 by Intendant Pellot reported 69 Protestant families and 349 individuals. However, the Synod of Bearn indicated the numbers were underreported and Cadier adjusted the numbers to 75 families and nearly 400 individuals. See Le Bearn, pp. 140-1. The census also indicated there were 150 families and 603 individuals who were Catholic. However, it should be noted that one-third of the population included in the census were living in the hamlet of Ardios (now Lourdios-Ichere) which was all Catholic. Therefore, the approximately 400 Protestants were more than one-half and perhaps two-thirds of the population residing in Osse. In addition, in 1665, the Protestants in Osse were more educated and were the jurats of the village, whereas the lone Catholic jurat lived in the hamlet.
7: A note in the minutes of August 1, 1677, reveals that the consistory owed Medalon 717 francs, a sum approaching two times his annual salary of 400 francs.
8: Registre des Deliberations Consistorie local--- Eglise reformee d'Osse pres Bedous--- Commence 8 April 1805-Fin 1855.
9: See Goodfriend, Tables 4.4, 4.5 and 4.6, pp.71-3.
10: Information from Joyce Goodfriend. See Table 4-2, p. 65. The single French carpenter listed on the tax rolls is Latourrette. There are 25 Dutch and 4 English carpenters at the time.
11: Cadier's worksheet and Le Bearn, p. 151.
12: The Osse cahier, which survived, may have been maintained by David Latourrette after 1685. At the end, in an undated entry, Mirassou (elder) released Latourrette from part of his debt for expenses at the 1676 Synod of Pontacq, which were not reimbursed. Later there is a request by Jacob Latourrette, the son, to recover 102 francs loaned to the consistory by David. See National Archives TT 261. When this was settled, there were entries made in the cahier by the King's comptroller in 1701 that particular debts to the consistory were paid. Perhaps, the survival of these records is due to the several disputes about whether the debts were paid to the consistory and its legacy was appropriately seized by the king.
13: See Maynard, pp. 69 and 82-3.
14: Registers, pp. 29-30. This is a correct copy of the marriage entry.
Lyman Latourette and Mrs. Verna Jacob published doctored versions of the entry. In Lyman's case, he used the doctored version and distorted it further by claiming it proved an earlier marriage in France. See Lyman Latourette, Latourette Annals in America, 1954, p.19. The author has explained how the entry was doctored and distorted in Lyman's Annals in Jean Latourrette and Pierre Peiret: Huguenot Refugees, Their Roots in Osse, Bearn, Appendix 2, pp. 51-8.
15: Le Bearn, p. 203.
16: Hannah F. Lee, The Huguenots of France and America, 1843, Vol. II, p.107.
Break in Footnotes
26: Lee, Vol. II, p. 100.
THE NEW YORK MILIEU, 1687-1704
Pastor Peiret disembarked from the ship Robert in New York in October of 1687. The vast majority of the French Protestants who migrated to New York and were associated with the consistory he established arrived between 1680 and 1700. In fact, the largest group emigrated in the three year period 1686, 1687 and 1688, around the time of his arrival.
There were antecedents to the migration associated with the Revocation in 1685 and the Huguenot Diaspora. French Protestantism in the Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam can be traced back to 1624, when the West Indies Company sent 30 families, the majority Walloon and French, to establish a permanent colony. In 1628, the first Dutch minister Jonas Michaelas wrote that he had provided communion in the French language and mode to some Walloons and Huguenots, who understood very little of the Sunday worship services in Dutch, but constituted about half of the 270 settlers. The Dutch colony grew slowly over the next half century. During this period, small groups of Walloons arrived in what became New York City. In May 1661, a group of Walloons arrived with the intent to settle on Staten Island. Another small group led by David de Marist (or des Marest) anglicized to Demarest, originally from Picardy, came on the Dutch ship Bonte Koe in 1663. Later, Demarest established a small settlement at Kinkachemeck, close to today's Hackensack, New Jersey, about 18 miles northwest of the original village of New York. However, the colony and consistory failed in 1693 with the death of Demarest.
During this period, Walloon families with substantial financial means arrived at the Dutch settlement at Kingston, N.Y. on the Hudson River. They came as nuclear families of husband, wife and children over the period 1660 to 1675, rather than as one large group. In 1677, the 12 male members purchased 39,683 acres from the Esopus Indians to establish a settlement, which became New Paltz, about 18 miles south of Kingston (88 miles north of New York City). These Walloons were French-speaking Calvinists from the German Palatinate. Originally, they had moved from the border provinces of Picardy, Artois and Flanders to the vicinity of Mannheim because of military conflicts between France and Spain. To settle in the Palatinate and restore an area that had lost up to 80 percent of its population in the 30 Years War, they were offered religious freedom and special privileges, including the right to leave within 20 years without penalties or the loss of assets. It appears they left to go to America for two reasons: a plague in 1667-8 and a fear that Louis XIV would invade the Palatine, which he did after 1688. Their settlement at New Paltz was a small community as indicated by a 1703 census of 64 adults and 57 children.
By 1682, primarily as the result of the Walloon Diaspora, there were three settlements of French-speaking Protestants outside the village of New York: New Paltz, Staten Island and Kinkachemeck, New Jersey (near the present day Hackensack). In the village of New York, there were also some Huguenots who had left France in the years of persecution leading up to the Revocation. The Walloon and Huguenot population was now large enough for the Dutch Reformed Church to deem it appropriate for these groups to have their own minister and for those residing in or near the village to meet in separate worship in the church at the British fort. In that year, the Dutch Reformed Church called Rev. Pierre Daille from Holland to minister to French-speaking Protestants in New York and the outlying settlements. Likely, Daille was from Chatellerault, Poitou. He was a graduate of, and then professor at the great Protestant Academy of Saumur. Contemporaries described him as a very learned and dedicated man. Baird notes that he wrote Latin fluently and his letters revealed the "courtliness, the moderation, and the keen intelligence, of a Huguenot of the finest type." 1 Both Baird and Maynard believe Daille was ordained in Holland in order to accept the call to New York, and because the Bishop of London had jurisdiction over New York, which after 1674 was an English Colony, he sought re-ordination on his way to America. Therefore, Daille appears to have arrived in New York in late 1682 with three ordinations to preach to Walloons and Huguenots under the auspices of the Dutch Reformed Church in an English Colony. 2
Rev. Daille was serving the needs of Walloons and Huguenots under the Dutch Reformed Church when Pastor Peiret established his consistory in 1688. The village of New York was Daille's base, but New Paltz, Staten Island and, until its demise in 1693, Kinkachemeck were part of his charge. Daille and his parishioners in the village shared the small church at the fort with the Dutch and Anglican Churches. The Dutch group, being the largest, had two services on Sundays; the French and the English each had one service. Daille and the Dutch minister Henry Selyns welcomed Pastor Peiret and his plan to build a French temple, because the arrival of more French refugees would further tax the overcrowded St. Nicholas Church at the fort. 3 Therefore, in the relatively tolerant environment of late 17th century New York, Peiret was free to gather together the small groups of arriving Huguenots to establish the St. Esprit consistory. However, having fled persecution in France and the threat of the same from the Catholic King James II in England, Peiret and his fellow refugees soon faced a new danger in New York.
THE THREAT TO NEW YORK FROM CANADA
The flight of King James II from England and the elevation of William III and Mary as joint sovereigns of England on February 13, 1689 would have a far-reaching impact on the French refugees and Peiret's consistory in New York. The first came rather quickly. About the time they were thanking God for the new Protestant King and Queen on July 17, 1689, the French refugees learned that Louis XIV had designs on them even in New York. Louis XIV gave James II asylum in France and promised aid to recover his throne. At the same time, the King of France commissioned Count Frontenac to "build a new Empire in America," with the first objective being to conquer the English colonies in New England and New York. The path of the French forces from Montreal, Canada, with their Indian allies, would be to Albany and Schenectady, and then down the Hudson River to New York City, with a coordinated attack from the land and bombardment from the sea. Frontenac left France in October 1689, too late in the year to carry out this plan, but after his arrival in New France, he carried out a number of attacks including the Schenectady massacre of February 8/9, 1690. These attacks continued for years and were one of the main reasons why the French refugees abandoned the New Oxford Colony, located in Massachusetts, in 1696, founded ten years earlier.
The Village of New York became aware of Frontenac's plan in advance of the massacre at Schenectady and that, as French refugees, they would be singled out for harsh treatment. Rev. Alfred Wittmeyer, founder of the Huguenot Society of America and pastor of St. Esprit, 1879-1925, comments on the threat as follows:" - the reduction of New York was contemplated by the Count de Frontenac, who had received instructions to send back to France the refugees whom he might find there. The panic which this projected invasion of New York caused among the Huguenots may be best understood from an extract of a letter written by one of them, Pierre Reverdy, to the Bishop of London. Its broken English renders its appeal only the more touching." 4
Extract of letter from Reverdy to the Bishop of London, dated December 30, 1689, just 40 days before the Schenectady massacre:
"The French for certain have a designe upon New York. If your Lordship would be pleased to procure the Kings letter to captain Jacob Leysler now Govrr there, until the Kings Goverr doth come to ordeer him secure all them that are against this King, and to incoregge him and the Councill to secure the place until Col: Slawter cometh, it would be very necessary: there 200 French families about New York which will be put to the torture if the French takes itt." 5
The troops and navy of Louis XIV were not to reach New York, but there were other, long-term consequences for the French Protestants in the aftermath of the elevation of the new Protestant King and Queen in England and the ensuing war with France. There was a delay in receiving word in New York about the changes in England. However, when news of the imprisonment in Boston of Governor Andros of New York and New England, as the result of a Massachusetts rebellion, reached the village, followers of Jacob Leisler, called Leislerians, took possession of the fort on May 31,1689.
THE LEISLER REBELLION
Jacob Leisler was a captain in the New York militia. He took the leading role in the rebellion which carries his name to force Lieutenant Governor Francis Nicholson, appointed by King James II, to return to England. Afterwards, the populist Leislerian group appointed him commander-in-chief. He proclaimed himself Lieutenant Governor in December, whereupon he appointed a council and took charge of the government of the province of New York.
Leisler was probably born in Frankfurt, Germany, about 1640 where his father was a minister of the Protestant Reformed Religion. He arrived in New Amsterdam in 1660 as a soldier in the Dutch West India Company, married a wealthy widow, Elsje Tymens, and was a successful merchant engaged in the fur and tobacco trade. He was a deacon at the New York Dutch Reformed Church.
There is divided opinion among historians about Leisler. By some accounts, he is ignorant, arrogant and extremely vain. Others suggest that he may have been well intentioned to secure New York for the new King and Queen, but became autocratic and ultimately turned even many of his followers against him. In power, he was a zealous anti-Papist, even though there were very few Catholics in the village. He considered anyone who opposed his will a Papist and proceeded to disarm and arrest them. His appeal was to populist and anti-aristocratic instincts in marshaling support for his revolt.
Leisler created deep divisions in the population, which carried over for many years. Recent historians have suggested the divisions were not strictly along class and religious lines, but one does see the richest merchants and politicians, including leading Dutch merchants and the leaders of the Dutch Reformed Church solidly against Leisler, while Leisler appealed to the general population with anti-Catholic and populist rhetoric. In a sense, the Leisler Rebellion was also a grass-roots democratic movement against the party in power at the time in the English Parliament and the appointment of Governors from England who ruled in an arbitrary way and led scandalous personal lives.
Although the Dutch were the largest group in terms of their influence, the Huguenots also evidenced division about Leisler, generally between the rich and the poor. Rev. Wittmeyer describes the situation in May of 1689, "Both Daille and Peiret remonstrated with him (Leisler) against his excesses, for which he threaten them with imprisonment; and Peiret afterwards went so far us to sign, with some of the principal Huguenots, the merchants petition against Leisler." 6 Among the signers identifying themselves as "anciens de l'eglise de refugiez" (elders of the refugee church) were Etienne (Stephen) de Lancey and Elie Boudinot. Boudinot publicly displayed his distain for Leisler by putting his finger in his nose and then pointing at Leisler. When challenged by Leisler as to why he mocked him, Boudinot responded, "May I not clean my nose, and is not my nose my own?" 7
The Leisler regime lasted until March of 1691, when, after a long voyage during which his ship was blown far off course, the new Governor Henry Sloughter, appointed by King William, arrived. In January, the new Lt. Governor had arrived with troops, but Leisler refused to recognize his authority and continued to hold the fort. Leisler at first refused to yield to the new Governor, indicating he wanted to receive orders from the King, who had already dismissed his claim of being the king's legitimate representative. He finally came to his senses when the Lt. Governor offered a pardon to the men defending the fort and they marched out. Leisler and his son-in-law Jacob Milborne were arrested. Tried by a committee favorable to the Governor, they were convicted and hanged as traitors.
After Leisler was convicted, Pastor Pierre Daille tried to persuade Governor Sloughter not to execute him. Failing in that mission, Daille circulated a petition to the Governor to pardon Leisler, and Huguenots in New Rochelle, where Leisler had helped them purchase land in 1689, as well as some on Staten Island and in New York, signed the document. Other Huguenots, especially at St. Esprit, did not sign the petition. Daille was unsuccessful and narrowly escaped being imprisoned by the General Assembly for this humane act. Leisler became a martyr. In 1695, a new English parliament exonerated him. With the blessings of King William and a new governor, the Earl of Bellomont, who took sides with the Leislerians, the remains of Leisler and Milborne were given a proper burial on October 20, 1698, with great pomp, and the Governor exhorted the population to pray for peace among them. 8
The Rebellion was to have consequences for Daille, Peiret and the French consistory. In 1692, the Dutch left the fort and settled in a new church, abandoning the section of French under Daille's ministry. Daille's section united with Peiret's consistory. The Dutch minister Selyns optimistically described the arrangement in a letter dated October 12, 1692: "Dom. Peiret will perform services in the city for the most part, and Dom Daille in the country, all to be one church, and the income to be divided equally between them." 9
Theoretically, Daille's charge, given when he came in 1682 to minister outside New York, was to continue. Practically, it sentenced him to a much reduced position. The records at St. Esprit indicate that Daille did only four baptisms at the temple in May and June of 1693 and his extra-muros work was rather limited. The very small ministry at Kinkachemeck in New Jersey floundered with David Demarest's death in 1693 and the temple was demolished in 1696. Some years earlier, the unscrupulous Rev. Laurent Van den Bosch, after leaving Boston (1686) and becoming a Dutch minister at Kingston (1687-9), had drawn about two-thirds of the parishioners in Staten Island away from Daille.
Concurrently, with the merger of the groups under Peiret and Daille in 1692, the New Rochelle group, which had been attending St. Esprit, finished their own temple. They already had their own minister, David de Bonrepos, who had come earlier from Boston and was present in St. Esprit at a marriage on November 16, 1689, of a couple from New Rochelle. 10 Under mysterious circumstances, Daille also lost his ministry at New Paltz to David de Bonrepos after 1692. 11
The divisions created by the Leisler Rebellion were likely the real cause of the merger of the Daille section with Peiret's consistory, with the move of the Dutch from the fort being just the initiating factor. The controversy fractured the cooperation that had existed between Daille and Peiret. Clearly, the leading merchants who supported Peiret sided against Leisler and, therefore, against Daille who stepped forward to attempt to save him from hanging. Peiret's motive for signing the petition against Leisler with his elders is not known. Was it willingly or forced? Was it the elders who kept Daille from the temple or was it Peiret? Whatever the facts, there were consequences for Peiret because a number of his parishioners were Leislerians and it appears that some of the bitter divisions remained to haunt Peiret until his death in 1704. Rev. Wittmeyer cites a memorial written by Louis Rou who was the pastor at St. Esprit from 1710 to 1750, "the late Mr. Peiret, who was a worthy Minister, lived in torment among them (his parishioners)." 12 There is evidence that indicates the fracture, if one existed between Peiret and Daille, healed after the latter left in 1696 to assume the ministry in Boston. In the spring of 1698, Peiret visited Daille in Boston sponsored by the consistory in an amount over 9 pounds and Pastor Daniel Bondet from New Rochelle, who Daille replaced in Boston, was paid 12 pounds for being a temporary pastor in May, June and July. It appears, moreover, that one of Peiret's children was raised by Pastor Daille and his second wife, after Peiret's death in 1704. 13
After Daniel Bondet came from Boston in 1696 to be the minister at New Rochelle, St. Esprit began financial support to that consistory. From Le Boyteulx's records, for example, there are payments to New Rochelle recorded in 1697, 1698 and 1699. Again in 1703, Pastor Bondet receives 3 pounds to preach during Peiret's illness. Like Boston; Narragansett, Rhode Island; New Oxford, Massachusetts; Kinkachemeck, New Jersey; Staten Island and the rural consistories in South Carolina, the New Rochelle consistory faced severe financial problems because it was small and many of the refugees had arrived with limited resources. The New Rochelle census of 1698 counted only 98 French adults and 86 children. 14 For this reason, in his history of St. Esprit, Rev. Maynard described this support as a "mission" which continued until 1766. 15 It became a smaller and more financially weak consistory in 1709 when, as described below, about half of the parishioners followed Bondet into Anglican conformity.
Although there were bitter memories from the Leisler Rebellion, it is clear that Peiret built a strong consistory after 1692, which served as a cultural as well as a religious center for the French refugees and their children. In his history of the temple, Maynard highlights the increases that occurred in 1692 in both marriages and baptisms when the consistory absorbed the Daille section from the fort. It appears that the number of parishioners doubled, even though in the same year the New Rochelle group under Pastor David de Bonrepos ceased attending when they finished building their own small temple. 16
Growth and improvement at St. Esprit are demonstrated by several factors. In the spring of 1693, Jean Latourrette added a gallery to increase the capacity of the temple and received almost 13 pounds for materials and labor. The number of baptisms increased from an average of 11 per year in 1689-91 to almost 24 per year in 1692-1700. During the same period, marriages increased from an average of 2 to over 3 a year. There is a steady increase in collections, except for a temporary setback in 1698, when there also are no marriages, both perhaps due to the impact of the long war with France, which finally ended in the same year. During this period, Pastor Peiret's salary was increased substantially. There also were increased general donations for the poor fund, as well as special ones from wealthy merchants.
On the religious side, the imprisonment of Elie Neau in France stimulated a substantial religious revival in New York, led by Peiret and his elders. Neau's background was described above in conjunction with Gabriel Boyteulx, the owner of the ship commanded by Neau, which was captured by a French privateer in 1692. Initially, he was condemned to be a galley slave and then to the infamous Isle d'If, where he wrote poems and letters describing the miserable conditions in Marseilles, his horrendous sufferings and how he accepted them with the grace of God. His correspondence reached his wife and the Huguenots in New York and inspired a spiritual reawakening. Pieret corresponded with Neau and wrote or assembled an anonymous tract in 1696, which developed the theme that grace could be achieved through suffering, which would turn people to prayer, teach them compassion and lead them to accept God. Neau's writing had an enormous impact in the American colonies extending its influence to other Protestant groups. It invoked, as well, a renewal of Huguenot piety in Europe. Neau was freed in 1698, when the war ended and he returned to New York and worked closely with Peiret to advance the themes he had developed while imprisoned.
Neau and Peiret encouraged cooperation among the Protestant groups and admired the ecumenical efforts of the Anglican Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, but encountered resistance from the English and Dutch ministers. Without their active support, Peiret and Neau established their own devotional group with the pastor as president. 17 Butler argues that this ecumenical instinct probably allowed Peiret to accept the New York Council's salary supplements to ministers, although he remained fiercely independent of Anglicanism. 18 In addition, there may have been a practical side to Peiret's acceptance of the supplement, as citizens under English rule were required to pay taxes to support the Church of England. 19
Unfortunately for St. Esprit, Elie Neau left his position as an elder and conformed to the Church of England after Peiret's death in 1704. He deferred the decision for a year out of respect for Peiret, but he was under pressure from the Anglican Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to conform in order to receive support for his plan to establish a school to teach slaves in New York. Neau was not an abolitionist wanting to free the slaves, but deeply moved by his experience during imprisonment, he wished to improve their condition. He became a vestryman at Trinity Church and was a zealous convert to Anglicanism, earning him the displeasure of many of his fellow French refugees. 20
After 1700, the push by Anglican authorities in England and America to gain conformity by the French consistories succeeded at New Rochelle, New York and in the rural locations of South Carolina. The small French Protestant settlements at Narragansett, Rhode Island; New Oxford, Massachusetts; and Kinkachemeck, New Jersey, had already disappeared. In the first half of the 18th century, the consistories in Boston and on Staten Island were closed. In every case, the number of parishioners at their peak of membership was too small to support a minister with a living salary and a financially viable consistory.
In New Rochelle, with the urging of their minister Daniel Bondet, and the support of Lord Heathcote, the consistory accepted Anglican conformity in 1704, but Peiret's death in the same year and the departure of Elie Neau to Trinity Church, the Anglican bastion in New York, caused the elders at St. Esprit, fearful of the implications for their independence, to mount a successful campaign to reverse the decision. However, the failure of St. Esprit to appoint a minister of Peiret's stature after his death materially weakened the consistory and its influence on these matters. A masterfully orchestrated campaign by Bondet and Lord Heathcote in 1709 resulted in a "deal" in which about half of the chefs de famille agreed to conformity. The "deal" included a guarantee of the minister's salary and eventually the construction of a new stone building for the parish. Elie Neau, once a close friend and collaborator of Peiret and an elder at St. Esprit, helped raise the funds for its construction and gave the largest gift. Neau predicted that St. Esprit would soon be next, but the opposite occurred in 1710 when the elders solved their ministerial problems, at least for a time, by appointing Louis Rou as pastor.
Footnotes: Chapter 8
1: Baird, Vol. II., pp.226-8; Maynard, pp.59-60; and Butler, p. 46.
2: See Maynard, pp. 59-60 and pp. 299-303, and Baird, Vol. II, p. 236. Maynard also presents a justification as to why Anglican ordination would be acceptable to Calvinists.
3: For additional background, see Maynard, pp. 58-63.
4: Wittmeyer, p. xxiv. Reverdy was from Niort and came with Peiret on the ship Robert. He appears to be a man of letters, but after writing this letter, he may have moved to Newcastle, Delaware. There is no record of any affiliation with St. Esprit. See Baird, Vol. II, p.56.
5: Wittmeyer, pp. xxiv-xxv.
6: Wittmeyer, p. xxv.
7: Story related by Butler, p. 155.
8: In 1702, the New York Assembly voted an indemnity of 2,700 pounds to Leisler's heirs.
9: Cited by Maynard, p.73.
10: Registers, p. 7.
11: Carlo, p. 45 and Butler, p. 160.
12: Wittmeyer, p. xxvii.
13: Butler, p. 209.
14: Butler, p.47.
15: Maynard, p. 87.
16: Maynard, p. 74. Also, see Butler, p. 161.
17: Maynard, p. 93 and Butler, p 170.
18: Butler, p 170.
19: Another factor, probably not obvious to Butler, was the long tradition of the state in Bearn providing support to Protestant ministers. The withdrawal of that support by Louis XIV was one of the main reasons why the consistory at Osse suffered financial ruin during Peiret's tenure. Therefore, perhaps Peiret felt it was only fitting that the state should support the French Protestants in the pursuit of their faith in New York.
20: A summary of the slave situation in New York is presented in Chapter 11. It is sufficient at this point to note that the French refugees, as in South Carolina, were heavily involved. The New York census of 1698, indicated there were 700 slaves in the town, about one for every six citizens. When Neau launched his school, the number of slaves in New York was increasing.
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STATEN ISLAND : PASTOR DAVID de BONREPOS and
Descendants in America have marked 1661 as the time when Huguenots first came to Staten Island, New York. 1 However, the first successful settlement on the island included Walloons rather than Huguenots. Yet, ignoring the distinction historians have made between the geographical origins of Walloons and Huguenots, it is correct to say spiritually that French-speaking Calvinism arrived on the island in 1661.
On August 6, 1661, a group consisting of Walloons and Dutch led by Pierre Billiou, born near Lille, France, reached New York with his family on the ship St. Jean Baptist with the intent to settle on Staten Island. The record of French-speaking Calvinism on the island is sketchy and, without more exhaustive research, only an outline can be offered here. First, there is evidence that the Billiou group established a consistory and built a temple on the island, but by 1678, settlers there reported that they had neither a temple nor a minister. However, given the strong spiritual commitment of both Walloons and Huguenots, there were always lay people who acted as readers when a pastor was absent or the post of minister was not filled. This was noted above in the case of both Osse and St. Esprit. At New Paltz, the spiritual life of the community was led by elders and deacons for 30 years after David de Bonrepos' visiting ministry ended in the early years of 1700. The absence of a minister on Staten Island was remedied, as noted above, by the arrival in 1682 of Rev. Pierre Daille, who was charged by the Dutch Reformed Church to minister to the settlers on Staten island, as well as those at New Paltz and Kinkachemeck, New Jersey from a base in the village of New York. Several years later, it appears Daille's ministry on Staten Island was substantially weakened by the unprincipled Laurent Van den Bosch, who enticed a majority of the parishioners to ally with him, about the time he became the Dutch minister at Kingston, New York. But Van den Bosch was defrocked by the Dutch Reformed Church in 1689 and went to Maryland. Daille appears to have continued his weakened ministry on Staten Island after the merger with St Esprit in 1692. However, in several historical accounts Rev. David de Bonrepos, who left the ministry at New Rochelle, is associated with Staten Island as early as 1694, having already assumed the visiting ministry at New Paltz in 1692 from Daille under mysterious circumstances.
Starting around 1695, Jean Latourrette and some other parishioners from St. Esprit in the village of New York were involved in establishing a consistory near Richmond Town, which is now a living historic museum. Adjoining Richmond Town is Latourette Park, which includes a golf course, where the temple and Jean Latourrette's homestead were located, about 6 miles south of the northern tip of the island. There is a paucity of information about the consistory for two reasons. The original records of the Staten Island consistory disappeared and, of the Huguenot consistories established in America, this one is yet to be researched in detail by modern historians.
A satellite picture of the area shows several of the sites discussed in this section, including Latourette Park and Golf Course and the house of David Latourette (1786-1864), completed in 1836, which serves as a club house. Also, St. Andrews Church, the historic village museum of Richmond Town and the sites of the Huguenot Temple (about 1700) and the original Latourrette homestead (about 1698) are included in the picture. Finally, Richmond Creek is shown as it originates on the hillside of the terminal moraine of an ancient glacier and flows from right to left into the Fresh Kills estuary. The glacial terminal moraine which cuts across the island represented an ideal site for early settlement because of the elevation (up to 510 feet) and its source of fresh water and stone building materials. Latourette Park is on the United States National Register of Historic Places.
After the consistory was established, the number of French-speaking refugees and their descendants on Staten Island was relatively small. The 1706 census, in which Jean Latourrette's family appeared, lists 100 French adults and 72 children. Without a doubt, they faced the same financial problems to support a minister and a temple as the other American consistories with a small number of parishioners. However, there is no record of their struggles to maintain a consistory. The Registers from the temple were lost after 1758 when they were in the possession of Henry Latourrette, the son of Jean and Marie Mercereau. It is likely this occurred during the American Revolution, 1776-83, when the British occupied New York and Staten Island for several years and the English and their hired Hessian mercenaries destroyed the old temple and graveyard, near the Latourrette homestead. The British destroyed churches during this period if they thought the parishioners supported the American rebels. Certainly, a French temple would be a target because of the alliance of the new country with France. Also, most of the woodlands on the island were cut to fuel campfires for troops that numbered up to 30,000 over an extended period of time.
Satellite Map of Latourette Park
Jean Latourrette was heavily involved in planning and building the temple on Staten Island at Fresh Kills. The site of the temple is about one mile west of historic Richmond Town. It is a short distance south of the Fresh Kills estuary and may be found at what is now 760 Arthur Kill Road on Google Earth or a Google map. Its coordinates are approximately 40 degrees 33' 37.29" N and 74 degrees 09' 58.79" W.
The site for the original Latourrette homestead is located in La Tourette Park in the woods off the left side of the first fairway as one approaches the green. Its approximate location may be found on Google Earth at the coordinates 40 degrees 34' 25.30" N and 74 degrees 09' 05.91" W. The site is heavily overgrown with poison oak and ivy and difficult to find except in the winter.
Original Latourrette Homestead, about 1698-99
Source: Harpers Weekly, December 31, 1892, p.1265.
Drawing by W. A Rogers matches photograph taken by
William Ward Mersereau in 1890.
Contrary to the impression left by the 1850 chronicle, cited by Lyman Latourette in his 1954 Annals (p. 21), the homestead is not just south of the French temple at Fresh Kills on the property of a Seaman. Actually, as the crow flies the homestead is at least a mile to the northeast and about 2 miles going around to the site through Richmond Town to the first fairway in La Tourette Park.
Mr. William Mc Millen of Glenmont, N.Y., who has spent many years researching the area and assisting in the construction of the historic village at Richmond Town, provided the following description of the site as it is in 2008.
"The location of the old Latourrette house is in the location that you have been looking. It is along the south side of the old road, and yes it is in a very overgrown area. There is not much left of it except a cellar hole to identify its location and a few stones and a few brick bats. All of the stones that this house was made from were taken in the 1930s and used in building the Park buildings and bridge at Clove Lake Park, as well as all the stone fences that were on the Latourrette property. There is also a partially filled in well to the south west of the house site."
Mr. Mc Millen also provided the information, collaborated by Bayles as noted above, to identify the site of the temple that once had a roadside historic marker, now at the Richmond Town museum.
Kills is a variation of the Dutch word "kille" for a riverbed or channel. Fresh Kills, at the time of Jean Latourrette's settlement, was a beautiful estuary into which the freshwater stream Richmond Creek flows from the terminal moraine formed by a glacier which once covered the northern half of the island. It must have reminded Jean of his glacial Aspe valley home and the Larricq Creek, which flows through Osse-en-Aspe. As Staten Island was relatively isolated from the rest of New York City until 50 years ago, the area was occupied by small farms and dairies well into the 20th century. It was not unusual for the French refugees who migrated to America to aspire to owning farms. There is considerable evidence that the same desire existed among French refugees who went to Boston and South Carolina. Moreover, the failed Huguenot settlements in Rhode Island and at New Oxford, Massachusetts, as well as the one in New Rochelle, were based on the desire to have farm ownership. Religious freedom in America also meant that even refugees of modest means could acquire property.
One gains a sense of the beauty of the place Jean and his family selected for their home from a contemporary description of the park which is being completed nearby. "Today, freshwater and tidal wetlands, fields, birch thickets and a coastal oak maritime forest, as well as areas dominated by non-native plant species, are all within the boundaries of Fresh Kills. Already, many of the landscapes of Fresh Kills possess a stark beauty, with 360 degree, wide horizon views from the hills, over 300 acres (1.2 km²) of salt marsh and a winding network of creeks." 2 Even from the contemporary satellite picture one can appreciate the roughly 375 acres of woods, meadows and wetlands that cover the area of Latourette Park not devoted to the golf course.
In his history of Staten Island, Richard M. Bayles repeats the entire transaction of the gift of an acre of land by John and Hester Belvealle (Belleville) to the French Consistory of Richmond County to erect a temple, dated April 12, 1698 and recorded May 22, 1698. 3 The overseers of the consistory witnessing the act are Jacob Corbett, D. Lucas, Jean Latourrette, Joseph Bastidoe and Samuel Grasset. Jean Latourrette and Samuel Grasset were definitely members of St. Esprit in Manhattan and the surnames of Corbett and Lucas appear in St. Esprit's Registers. Bastidoe is a name from the southwest of France, and he is found later in the 1706 census of Staten Island as Joseph Bastedo, age 49. After 1707, he is Bastido in the baptismal records of the Dutch Reformed Church, reflecting the eventual absorption of the Huguenots on Staten Island into other religious groups.
Exactly when the planning began for the new temple is unclear, but Jean Latourrette is involved as early as 1695 with the Staten Island temple, and is cited by some researchers as a trustee. The transaction of the gift of land clearly indicates the witnesses cited above are overseers of the French consistory. It also is not known when and how Rev. David de Bonrepos was involved in the early stages of building the temple. It is clear, however, that he was acting as a visiting minister at Staten Island from his residence in New Rochelle by perhaps as early as 1694 and at least by 1697 and continued to serve in the same capacity at New Paltz until 1700 or 1702. At some point, after he completed his visiting assignment at St. Esprit (1707-10), he moved to Staten Island on a permanent basis. Perhaps, it was when he married Martha Billiou, the daughter of Pierre Billiou and recent widow of Thomas Stillwell, in 1711.
The date of the construction of the temple near Fresh Kills after 1698 is also uncertain and much of its history has been lost. However, it is obvious from the very beginning that Jean Latourrette was involved in establishing the consistory on Staten Island. Furthermore, it is his son Henry, born in 1708, who had the consistory records in 1758, when he signed a certified copy of extracts about them.
Concurrently with the acquisition of land for the temple, Jean Latourrette purchased 75 acres along the north side of Richmond Creek from Frances Lee, who received a patent from Governor Edmund Andros in 1680. Bayles gives a description of the site and the dimensions of the temple from vestiges of its stone foundation as about 32 by 45 feet or about 1440 sq. ft This would make the temple just slightly larger than Temple Bethel which Peiret and Latourrette left behind in Osse, at 1345 square feet. "A small stone dwelling, probably built for a parsonage, stood to the east of the temple. South of the temple was the repository of the dead." 4 Although the dimensions of the temple are known, its design and the nature of its structure are not.
Descriptions of the original Latourrette house around 1890 indicate it had four rooms and was built of rough stone and white mortar, with a peaked roof covered with hand-made shingles. It appears the first section that Jean built had a huge chimney and a stone kitchen. The windows were small with solid, wooden blinds and heavy fastenings to protect against Indian attacks, since Staten Island at the time was still a frontier. The skill of Jean Latourrette as a craftsman was demonstrated by the heavy wooden pegs he fashioned in the woodwork and the latches and hinges on the doors. One set of hinges was shaped like a sunfish with an elongated tail and the iron wrapped around and around an upright bolt on which it swung. Each room had a heavy double Dutch door leading outside and the woodwork inside, including the doors between the rooms, was described as thick and solid with wood paneling that was pleasing to the eye. A drawing of the original house similar to an 1890 photo, with an illustration of a hinge, gives one a good idea of the homestead built by Jean Latourrette.
After the death of Jean and Marie, the property passed to the first son, Jean, who then deeded the property to others in the family. It ultimately went to Henry (1708-1794), who was the last Latourrette to live in the original homestead. His widow, his second wife Sarah Lane, sold the home and land in 1803. (Correction: The information in the foregoing sentence about the sale of the property is another mistake by Lyman Latourette, who as noted above, confused the house that Henry was living in during the Revolution with the original homestead, citing erroneously the latter was near the Fresh Kills Church. Actually the original homestead was sold in 1764 to the Wood family. Their occupancy of the original homestead is shown on Revolutionary War maps. The satellite map shows the true locations of the church and original homestead.) In the 19th century the original homestead was restored to family ownership by David Latourette, who developed a very successful farm. The original homestead was also the headquarters of a Colonel Simcoe, who commanded the Queens Rangers during the American Revolution when British troops occupied Staten Island from 1776 to 1783. Several small forts were built on hillsides of the terminal moraine; and a legend says that planning for the battle against George Washington's army at Springfield, New Jersey, was planned at the Latourrette homestead. The original homestead and additional land acquired later by a descendant, David Latourette, is the site of the public park and golf course named after the family. A recent picture of David's house built in 1836 is shown here.
A description of the original homestead from 1789 indicates there was access by water from the property to the village of New York by way of Richmond Creek, Fresh Kills, and then to the New York harbor by way of the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull, the waterway between Staten Island and New Jersey. One could also find fish, crabs and oysters in the waterways. Close by was a grist mill. The property included orchards of peaches, pears and plums and a garden for summer vegetables. Meadowland was sufficient to support three cows and a horse year around, and there were excellent supplies of fresh water.
The original Latourrette homestead fell into disrepair and was torn down in the 1930s to build Latourette Park. However, one is able to gain a sense of it from the Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House, maintained by the Staten Island Historical Society, which was built in 1662 in a similar style by Pierre Billiou, the early Walloon settler on Staten Island. A section was added to this house for his daughter Martha and Thomas Stillwell when they were married. As noted above, later the widow Martha married Pastor Bonrepos.
As already indicated, the site of the original Latourrette homestead is on the grounds of Latourette Park and close to Old Richmond Town, the living museum, and St. Andrews Church whose founding dates to 1708. From these vestiges of the times in which Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau lived, one can gain a sense of their courage and strength to be pioneers a second time by moving to Staten Island.
Regardless of exactly when the temple was completed near Fresh Kills, it is clear that it was planned over a period of time with Jean Latourrette's involvement from at least 1695, as several families of St. Esprit began to plan to move from the village of New York to Staten Island. This included the Latourrette family, as well as the Mercereau and Chadeayne families, who moved there after 1697/98. The temple likely was not finished until after early 1700, because the last of the four Latourrette children baptized at St. Esprit in the village of New York by Pastor Peiret was David, born December 28, 1699, and baptized January 7, 1700. The baptisms of the next four children were on Staten Island, but given the missing records it is difficult to determine the exact dates of birth. We know that Jean Latourrette disappeared from the property tax rolls in the south ward of Manhattan by 1698, so it is logical that he first built his own homestead and then assisted in the construction of the temple.
After the death of Pastor Peiret in 1704, the new minister at St. Esprit greatly disappointed the parishioners, and the consistory "paid him his wages and discharged him." 5 The elders then appointed David de Bonrepos, the pastor at the Fresh Kills consistory on a temporary, show-up-when-you-are-able basis starting on January 22, 1707. Three and one-half years passed before Pastor Louis Rou came to St. Esprit as a permanent minister from Amsterdam after being ordained by a Walloon Synod on August 31, 1709.
At the Fresh Kills consistory, Bonrepos supported the work of the Church of England by 1709, although he was not an Anglican ordained minister. In 1709, he allowed the Anglican missionary Aeneas Mac Kenzie, the first minister at St. Andrews, whose church was not built until 1712, to have worship services in the temple. Huguenot children began to attend Mac Kenzie's catechism classes in 1711. Bonrepos appeared to be in poor health by 1717, when he made out a will and had it approved. In the 1720's he invited a new Anglican minister, William Harrison, to preach to the Huguenots. A year before his death in 1734, he recommended that his consistory follow Harrison and conform to the Church of England. The elders closed the temple at Fresh Kills after his death. By then, most of the parishioners had already shifted to the Dutch Reformed Church of Port Richmond or, in a few cases, St. Andrews, the Anglican church, by no later than 1717 and in some cases much earlier, as noted in the case of Joseph Bastido. The records of the churches corroborate that Jean Latourrette was a warden at St. Andrews in 1722 and that the sons Jean, Pierre and David had 9 children baptized at the Dutch Reformed Church between 1726 and 1736. 6 The author's lineage from Pierre, born in 1697, and the family's affiliation with the Dutch Reformed Church can be traced from the 1730s to today. Pierre's grandchildren left Staten Island and established farms in central New Jersey about 45 miles away. There are 5 generations buried at the Readington Reformed Church in Readington, N.J. by 1978. 7
The story of the Fresh Kills consistory on Staten Island confirms the conclusion about St. Esprit that it was the only parish in America that had a large enough group of parishioners to financially support a minister and a temple on a sustained basis. Moreover, it was the only one in America that, in size, was as large as Temple Bethel in Osse before the Revocation.
Footnotes: Chapter 10
1: The northern tip of the island is about 5 miles across the harbor from the southern point of Manhattan, where the village of New York was located in the late 17th century. Staten Island is now part of New York City. It has a land mass of about 59 square miles, extending approximately 14 miles from north to south and 8 miles east to west at its extremities.
3: Richard M. Bayles, editor, History of Richmond County, Staten Island, New York, 1887, pp. 92-3. John Belleville is described by Charles W. Baird as a French Huguenot from the Isle of Re and an early settler of Staten Island. See Huguenot Emigration to America, Volume I, p. 305, ft. 4.
4: Bayles, p. 94.
5: Maynard, p. 115.
6: Bayles, p. 381.
7: Peter, 1755-1836, a Revolutionary soldier, to John C., the author's father, 1891-1978.
Break in Text
ST. ESPRIT AND PASTOR PEIRET AT THEIR PEAKS
After 1692, St. Esprit grew in the number of parishioners and financial support. Marriages and baptisms, as noted above, increased significantly. From the New York tax lists, there is an increase in the percentage of Huguenots in the higher property assessments. 1 It is also clear that the French consistory, represented by Pastor Peiret and the elders, as in the case of the Leisler Rebellion, became a political force in the community. After 1700, the growth of parishioners and financial capability moved the consistory to consider the construction of a larger temple. In 1703, responding to a petition from the consistory to the New York Assembly, permission was granted to sell the temple on Marketfield Street and build a larger facility and a house for the minister on Pine Street. As an indication of the financial strength of the consistory, current contributions fully funded the construction. On July 1, 1704, Lord Cornbury laid the cornerstone for the new temple, called Le Temple du Saint-Esprit. 2 The new temple was stone and approximately 3500 square feet, or more than 2.5 times the size of the original 1688 wooden temple, even including the gallery added by Jean Latourrette in 1693. This temple served the consistory for over 100 years until 1831, well after it became a French-speaking Episcopal parish in 1803. Maynard describes it as follows: "It looked like a country temple, but of course New York was only a country town then. --- No one can claim that the temple had architectural beauty, except such as comes eventually with the patina of age." 3
Pastor Peiret never saw the completion of the temple as he died on September 1, 1704. There is a moving dedication to Peiret in French and Latin on his tomb at Trinity Church in New York, which is available in Charles W. Baird, Huguenot Emigration to America, and repeated in Alfred Cadier, Le Bearn Protestant. 4 Here, another tribute from Rev. Wittmeyer, who wrote the first history of the consistory, is quoted.
"He was a noble example of the Huguenot pastor...deeply interested in the material as well as in the religious interests of his persecuted and exiled brethren. As a citizen, he took an active part ...in the public affairs of his adopted country; and, although firmly attached to the particular ecclesiastical form of the French Protestant Reform which he served so ably and so disinterestedly, he was always one of the first to join in any movement looking towards the suppression of sectarian feelings and influences. He died poor." 5
Out of deep respect to Pastor Peiret, the chefs de famille granted Marquerite La Tour (Latour), his wife, a continuation of his salary for the remainder of the quarter to St. Michael's day and for a year beyond plus house rent. 6 In 1705, the French Relief Committee in London, supported by Queen Mary, made an extraordinary allocation of 12 pounds to "Marquerite Peyret of Bearn and the two children with her in New York." 7 Finally, on petition by the widow on April 5, 1705, the NY Council granted her an extra year's salary supplement. 8
It is difficult to track the children born to Peiret and Marquerite La Tour in America. Wittmeyer in 1886 notes: "Of the four children ---, Susanne, Gabriel, Francoise, and Elizabeth, one seems to have died in infancy; the others soon disappear from view." 9 The aid granted from England mentions only two children with Mme. Peiret. Butler believes Pastor Daille raised the third child in Boston, but there is no citation for this information in his book. 10
We know a little more about Pierre and Magdeleine who were born at Osse. According to the information from Jean de Tapie's list of September 2, 1685 of Osse Protestants who refused to abjure, they would be about 24 and 20 at the time of Peiret's death in 1704. 11 Magdeleine married Bartholomeus Fuert on January 26, 1702 in New York. This marriage was not at St. Esprit. The marriage record lists him as Lefuert and eventually the name becomes anglicized as Fort. Fuert was born on February 13, 1673 in Brugge, Belgium, as a twin to an Antonia. Fuert arrived in New York in 1698 and became a freeman of the village on June 27, 1699, and was listed as a Mariner.
Bartholomeus and Magdeleine had five children: Marquerite (1702); Pierre (1703); Bartholomew (1705); Francois (Francis) (1707) and Magdalene (1710). Rev. Bondet from New Rochelle baptized Marquerite on November 25, 1702 with Pastor Peiret and Marquerite La Tour acting as godparents. On December 19, 1703, Peiret baptized Pierre. Magdeleine's brother Pierre acted as godfather. It is obvious the first two children carried the names of the grandparents. After Peiret's death, Pastors Jacques Laborie and David de Bonrepos baptized Bartholomew and Francois (Francis) at St. Esprit. 12 Magdalene was baptized in the Dutch Reformed Church on February 8, 1710 during the year (July 1709- June 1710) that Bonrepos does not officiate at baptisms in St. Esprit. It is interesting that at the first baptism Bonrepos recorded in 1710 on June 20, Magdalene Peiret Feurt is a godmother and a signatory witness. 13 This is further evidence of the plight of the parishioners during Bonrepos's show-up-when-I-wish ministry that they never knew when he would come to New York from New Rochelle where it appears he lived until at least 1709, although he was serving as the pastor at Staten Island.
The senior Bartholomeus died February 13, 1713 and his will was approved in New York on September 23, 1713. In 1715, Magdeleine remarried a John Hickels in Elizabeth Town, New Jersey. She died a few years later, before 1719. 14
Pierre, the son of the pastor and Marquerite La Tour, was married to a Mary Bryan (1685-1752) of Milford, Connecticut. Charles Baird mentions Pierre in connection with other Huguenot settlers who went to Milford, a seaport town on Long Island Sound, in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. It appears he may have gone to Milford after Pastor Peiret's death because he is a godfather for the baptism of his sister Elizabeth(the last child of the pastor) on December 29, 1700 and then for his nephew Pierre, the son of his sister Magdeleine, on December 19, 1703. Moreover, his two children, Peter and Margaret, were born during the period 1708-1710, which suggests a marriage around 1706-7, after Pastor Peiret's death. Baird reports, based on administrative papers for his estate, he died before June 16, 1718, with children ages 6 and 8, and genealogists have placed the death in the period 1715-1717. So, neither one of the Peiret children, born in Osse, lived beyond their mid-thirties.
The elder child of the marriage between Pierre and Mary Bryan, known as Peter Perit (d. 1794), born around 1708 became a successful merchant, who traded with France. A later descendant is Pelatiah Perit. 15 The name Peiret (Peyret) became Perit over time in America.
It is difficult to trace the Peiret, Peyret or Perit lineage from Pastor Peiret and Marquerite La Tour. Much of the information posted by amateurs on genealogical pages, such as www.ancestry.com is incorrect. Marquerite is frequently listed as being born about 1655, which would mean she was 45 when Elizabeth was born in 1700! Only a few of the twenty some listings about Pastor Peiret have his correct place of birth (Pontacq, Bearn) and date (1744) and place (New York) and date (September 1, 1704) of death. Many have his death on the correct date in Mayenvic, Moselle, Lorraine, France, although they list his last four children as being born in New York! As Wittmeyer noted the children born in America disappearing from sight, as did Madame Peiret.
Although Albert Sarrabere recognizes that Pastor Peiret was from Pontacq and not Foix, he repeats the erroneous assumption from Napoleon Peyret, refuted by Cadier, that Marquerite La Tour is from Mas d'Azil (or Verriers de Gabre) and not from Bearn. 16 In fact, Sarrabere refers to her given name as Madeleine, which is the name of the Peiret's daughter born in France. In the several entries baptizing his children in the Registers of the French Church of New York (L'Eglise Francaise du St. Esprit) Peiret always refers to his wife as Marquerite and not as Magdeleine (Madeleine). 17
It is likely, therefore, that Marquerite La Tour was a local, young lady from the Osse area whom Peiret met after coming as a single male and pastor to Osse in 1677. Also, she was probably less than or about 20 years old in 1680 when they married because she bore him a child named Elizabeth in New York on December 22, 1700 in New York. The name La Tour is found historically in Osse and Bedous, which is confirmed by the research of Patronyms by contemporary genealogists studying these two villages.
It is interesting to note that the lineages from Jean Latourrette (ca 1651- July 1726) and Marie Mercereau (1670-ca 1733) in America have been extensively researched and documented. For example, one can trace the surname from the four sons (Jean-1695; Pierre-1697; David-1699 and Henry-1708/the son James born in 1710 was not married) to hundreds of descendants today in the several variants of the name Latourette, LaTourette, La Tourette, Latourrette, La Tourrette and, in a few cases, Tourette and Tourrette. The lineage of the noble Pastor Peiret (Peyret) has not had the same attention. It is difficult to trace the name from his son Pierre Perit (likely Perit was used because it can be pronounced in English as it sounded in French). Moreover, the name, as suggested by Rev. Wittmeyer, appears to have disappeared from view. For example, in 1930, the last US census released to the public, only one family of 4 people appears with the name Perit. In the same census, there are a few families with the surname Peyret who came from France in the 19th century.
Footnotes: Chapter 12
1: Butler, pp. 156-7.
2: Maynard, pp. 94-5. Maynard also discusses why Saint Esprit was selected as the name, indicating the role that the Holy Sprit plays in Calvinistic theology. A house for the minister was not built at the time, because of the interregnum after Peiret's death.
3: Maynard, p. 96. There were 5 other temples to follow, four of which were very elegant.
4: Baird, Vol. II, pp. 146-7 and Cadier, pp, 202-3.
5: Wittmeyer, p. xxiv.
6: Meeting of the chefs de famille, Registers, p. 101 and Maynard, p. 115.
7: From original records.
8: NY Council Minutes, p. 203. Peiret was granted a year's salary supplement on July 1704, so this action extended the time the wife would receive government support.
9: Wittmeyer, p. xxiv.
10: Butler, p. 209. Daille married for a second time a widow, Symontje Duycking, age approximately 45, on August 13, 1697 (She was baptized May 12, 1652), and that would have provided a home for a child in Boston. We know from the baptism records that Susanne was likely one of the two children with Mme Peiret, because she is the godmother to her sister Madeleine's child, Bartholomew, baptized on February 18, 1705. Registers, p. 104.
11: Two children were identified at the time in 1685 as being 5 years and 18 months. The archival records in Pau, France about the birth of the first child in 1680 do not identify the gender. Information available in America does not reveal the ages of Pierre and Magdeleine. Therefore, it is uncertain which child born at Osse was about 20 or 24 at the time of Peiret's death in 1704. All records of Huguenot births and marriages at Osse were destroyed after 1685. Magdeleine acted as a godmother at St. Esprit in New York on February 14, 1694, which suggests she may have been the oldest because women were usually expected to be at least 14 to participate in baptisms. She would have been about 14 if born in 1680. Otherwise, if born in 1684, she would have been only 10. Yet, given that her father was the pastor, he may have made an exception.
12: The four baptisms are taken from the Registers, pp.91, 98, 104, and 113.
13. Registers, p. 117.
14. There are lengthy genealogical postings for the descendants of Madeleine and Bartholomew on www.ancestry.com .
15. For this history, see Baird, Vol. II, pp. 330-1.
16. See Sarrabere, Dictionnaire des pasteurs Basques et Bearnais, p. 211 and Cadier, Le Bearn, p. 203.
Here one must address the one blemish on the life of this worthy and dedicated pastor who lived through the horrendous years of persecution leading up to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. As noted by Professor Chareyre, Peiret was suspended for one year by the synod of 1681 because he consummated his marriage before the nuptial blessing. See Philippe Chareyre, "Les Pasteurs d'Osse-en-Aspe de 1563 a 2005," CEPB, Bulletin No 38, December 2005, p. 22. The synod record indicates that the birth of the oldest child (either Pierre or Magdeleine as noted above) was six months after the ceremony. It also states there was cohabitation before the marriage, suggesting Marguerite La Tour was from somewhere in Bearn. It is obvious that Cadier was aware of this fact, but confined his observations to the points that the French Relief Committee of London said she was from Bearn and the name La Tour was common at Osse and in Bearn, a fact collaborated by contemporary genealogical research. See Cadier, Le Bearn, p. 203.
17. See, for example, Registers, p. 12, 34, 46 and pp. 77-8.
When the chefs de famille at St. Esprit met on September 10, 1704 to approve the salary and rent for Mme. Peiret, they invited Jacques Laborie to assume the ministry. Laborie had arrived in America in 1698 to reestablish the Huguenot colony at New Oxford, Massachusetts, which had been abandoned two years earlier. Like Daniel Bondet, who was the minister with the original settlement in 1686, Laborie was commissioned by the Anglican Society to Promote the Gospel to minister to the Indians near New Oxford. Following the prior arrangement with Bondet, he served the small band of Huguenots who came back from Boston. In addition, however, he was supported with an annual salary by the new Governor of Massachusetts, Lord Bellomont, who was interested in having the colonists conform to the Anglican religion. But for a second time, the colony failed and Laborie returned to Boston.
In his history of St. Esprit, Rev. Maynard speculated that Benjamin Faneuil, the New York representative of the wealthy Boston family, may have recommended Laborie. Maynard cites the extra salary support for Laborie pledged by Benjamin Faneuil. 1 Laborie was obviously immediately available from Boston, because after one baptism was entered into the records by Rev. Bondet from New Rochelle on October 8, Laborie was present on the following Sunday, October 15, 1704.
Laborie, unfortunately, quickly confirmed the assessment received by the consistory in Boston a few years earlier from the Threadneedle Church in London that he was a "troublesome man." His ministry at St. Esprit lasted less than 2 years and he was paid his salary and discharged, with his last act being a baptism on August 25, 1706. His life after St. Esprit also confirms that he was committed to Anglican conformity, likely one of the reasons he displeased a consistory committed to maintaining the French Protestant Reformed faith. After leaving New York, he was a member of the Church of England in Stratford, Connecticut, where the Laborie pew existed for many years. From 1716 to 1731, he lived in Fairfield, Connecticut, working as a physician and, against a great deal of opposition from descendants of Huguenots, established an Anglican church.2 Maynard also speculated that the pro-Leisler group, opposed by the key elders and Peiret at St. Esprit at the time of the Leisler Rebellion, was somehow behind the appointment of Laborie. 3 This would have opened up the problems with which Peiret had to deal at the time of the Rebellion more than a decade earlier. Certainly, as Butler concludes, his appointment was a disaster. 4 Laborie was available and perhaps was promoted by an unsuspecting Benjamin Faneuil, based on a recommendation from his brother and Lord Bellomont in Boston. As noted above, Lord Bellomont favored Laborie and sided with the pro-Leislerians. Therefore, this may have represented an attempt on his part to place an Anglican conformist in St. Esprit's consistory. The chefs de famille, who invited him to the ministry, did not check Laborie's background. Finally, it is interesting to note that Benjamin Faneuil was not a signatory as a chef de famille at the meeting.
During Laborie's short tenure, there were 42 baptisms. In this period, Laborie blessed only two marriages. In contrast to Peiret, who organized and built a successful ministry in difficult times, Laborie was not up to the task of even maintaining the consistory on the level established by Peiret.
Rather than seeking a permanent minister from a source like the Threadneedle Church, the non-conformist Huguenot temple in London, the consistory turned to David de Bonrepos, the pastor at Staten Island, to minister at St. Esprit whenever he came to New York. Actually, it appears he lived in New Rochelle until at least 1709, before moving to Staten Island. During this period, he was basically an itinerant minister for the two temples. He was at St. Esprit occasionally from January 22, 1707 to July 29, 1709 for 22 baptisms and then, after a break of a year, for 3 baptisms on June 20, 1710. For much of this period the lay reader and instructor, Pierre Bontecou, was employed to read printed sermons on Sundays. There were no marriages at the consistory during this period. Gone was Pastor Peiret's steady influence and leadership and the daily contact he had with parishioners, along with his concern spiritually and materially for each one of the parishioners.
The 6 years following Peiret's death, therefore, were crucial to the consistory. There were only 67 baptisms over a six- year period. The average number of baptisms dropped off from the 23 per year before Peiret's death to about 11 per year. Peiret blessed 12 marriages in the period 1700-04. Laborie entered only 2 in the Registers. Reflecting this decline, a number of parishioners moved to the Anglican Trinity or the Dutch Reformed Churches after Peiret's death. Maynard describes the situation as follows: "M. Peiret's death was more of a catastrophe than anyone would have supposed." 5 The answer to the implied question in this remark is relatively obvious. Peiret was such a driving force and so central to the life of the consistory that it would take a highly capable person to fill his role. A point made frequently by Butler is that no institutional organization of the French Protestant Reform religion existed in either England or America to support the French ministers. Therefore, to locate a person of Peiret's caliber with the proper theological education and experience, one would have to make direct contact with the Threadneedle Church in England, the Geneva Academy, or the Walloons in Holland. The delay by the elders in seeking a permanent minister from Europe is puzzling, and it was very costly in terms of the health of the consistory.
It appears the conformity to Anglicanism by the New Rochelle temple in 1709 generated enough pressure on the St. Esprit consistory to locate a permanent minister. 6 With the help of Huguenots in Amsterdam, Louis Rou became the new pastor in 1710 and was present for a baptism on July 30. In his history of the temple, Maynard describes Rou's ministerial background from his first sermon in May 1706 at Utrecht to his Walloon ordination on August 11, 1709. He was married in Holland to Marie Le Boyteulx, whose family included Gabriel Le Boyteulx, the elder who kept the consistory's account book from 1693 to 1699. 7
After Rou arrived, there was an increase in baptisms as some families returned to St. Esprit. Rou did not record marriages in the Registers, and the only one that appears is his own to a second wife, Renee Marie Gougeon, on November 3, 1713. The Dutch minister Gualtherus Du Bois conducted the marriage at the house of the bride's father, Gregoire Gougeon, in New Rochelle. His marriage to the fourteen-year old Gougeon, a year after his first wife's death, started a controversy that ushered in three decades of decline. The controversy was aggravated each time the child-bride had another child ...7 by 1725 and 15 by 1740. Although described as a man of great learning, Rou's preference for the now Anglican conformist temple at New Rochelle and his refusal to assist the dissenting, non-conformist French group there angered many of his parishioners. In 1718, the elders hired another pastor, as an assistant minister and assigned to him many of Rou's duties. Jean Joseph Brumeau de Moulinars began to preside at baptisms in late 1718. His name appears with many baptisms for several years, alternating with Rou. By 1724, the remaining support of Rou by some of the elders ended and Rou was banned from the temple, without salary. By this time, the situation had become a public embarrassment to the French community. Rou initiated a law suit against the elders with help from the Anglican bishop and the Governor. The New York Council ruled that traditional French Protestantism required dismissals by colloquies. With no colloquy existing in America, the dismissal was judged to be illegal, and Rou was ordered reinstated. Rou remained the minister until his death in 1750. Over this period, there was a steady decline in supporters and baptisms. After a 40-year ministry, Rou died in 1750 and left a consistory with a handful of parishioners.
In the absence of marriage data from 1710 to 1750, Butler analyzed the baptism entries in the Registers at St. Esprit to determine the extent to which exogamy increased among the Huguenots. There was a steady increase in exogamy up to 1750. More reliable data are available for both the temple and New York after 1750. In the decade 1750-59, 87.1 percent of the Huguenot marriages were exogamous, and a decade later, 1760-69, 85.7 percent were exogamous. The exogamy after 1750 was characterized by a much greater tendency to marry spouses from the English majority, whereas in the period 1690-1710 the marriages were more evenly split between Dutch and English spouses. 8
With the British occupation of New York in 1776, at the outset of the American Revolution, the temple closed, not to reopen again until 1796. Still housed in the serviceable temple of the early 18th century, but in a desperate financial condition by 1803, the independent consistory accepted conformity with the new Protestant Episcopal Church, the American replacement for the Church of England, as a condition of receiving a large legacy. Since then it has served the French population of New York City and has used 5 different temples, some very imposing, since the one on Pine Street, planned by Pastor Peiret, was opened in 1707. Today, the temple on East 60th Street is best described as a chapel. It serves French speaking members of very diverse nationalities and a transient population.
Although very few descendents of the French refugees who came to America around the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes are fluent in French and know a great deal about their cultural and religious roots, there is a pride among them about their heritage. Over the past several years, the author has corresponded with dozens of descendants from the Peiret era, who are keenly interested in learning more about their ancestors from France. The Huguenot Society of America, the Huguenot Heritage, and the living Huguenot museum at New Paltz, New York, among other organizations, have kept this heritage alive and accessible to scholars, as well as the curious descendants. Yes, the French Huguenots were absorbed into American society, as each new wave of emigrants were over the past three centuries, but their courage to seek religious, political and economic freedom in a new land remains as an inspiration for us today.
Footnotes: Chapter 13
1. Maynard, p. 115.
2. Maynard, p. 115-6, Wittmeyer, p. xxxv.
3. Maynard, p. 119.
4. Butler, p. 166.
5. Maynard, p. 114.
6. Butler, p. 172.
7. Maynard, pp. 120-1.
8. Butler, Table 14, pp. 187-8 and Table 9, pp. 158-9. Thus, the story of the Huguenots refugees and their descendants is one of being absorbed into American Colonial society by the time of the American Revolution of 1776.
Small groups of Huguenots migrated to the American colonies during the final two decades of the 17th century. Of the 160,000 refugees estimated to have left France, only 1500 to 2000 reached American shores. In the same period, ten ministers of diverse geographical origin, theological preparation, ordination, and temperament sought to establish ministries in America to serve these refugees. The intent was to transplant their language, culture and religion, and to create French Protestant communities in the New World. The foundation of these new communities was to be the doctrines of Calvinism. It was their faith that caused them to flee France, and it was this faith that initially bonded them and sustained them in this frontier country.
What happened to these refugees and their descendants from the next two generations varied from colony to colony, but French Protestantism essentially disappeared, with a few exceptions, by the time of the American Revolution. Social historians have disagreed as to how to describe the process by which the refugees and their descendents became part of Colonial America. Whether the blending into the overall society was the result of assimilation, acculturation or some other process of ethnic and cultural absorption, only vestiges of the French Protestant faith remain today.
The French refugee settlements of the late 1600s in Rhode Island and Massachusetts were not sustainable and in a few years were abandoned by the parishioners and their ministers, Rev. Bondet and Carre. In New Rochelle, the Rev. Bondet and a substantial number of parishioners conformed to Anglicanism in 1709 with a small, remaining non-conformist group being supported by St. Esprit until it closed at the beginning of the Revolution. About the same time New Rochelle conformed in 1709, Staten Island parishioners, including the Latourrette and Mercereau families, began to shift their allegiances to St. Andrews and the Dutch Reformed Church as Rev. Bonrepos grew older. Just before his death, Bonrepos urged conformity, but with few parishioners remaining, the elders closed the temple. The rural temples in South Carolina accepted Anglican conformity after 1706, although small non-conformist groups in isolated areas continued to practice French Calvinism for many years. With only a few remaining worshipers, Boston sold off its temple in 1748. New Paltz held its independence for a longer period, but eventually accepted the Dutch Reformed Church. After 1740, the temple at Charleston had few subscribers and in the 19th century became a museum. It reopened in 1982 as an independent church and continues with some of the traditions of Calvinism, but the services are in English and the tone is Baptist. St. Esprit in New York was forced to accept affiliation with the Episcopal Church in 1803, but has been able to retain its French-speaking tradition for all services and its Calvinist roots in a number of ways including a full service once a month. The leadership at the Charleston Temple is descended from early parishioners and is closely affiliated with the Huguenot Society of South Carolina. St. Esprit in New York serves as the chapel for the Huguenot Society of America.
Several reasons explain why it was difficult for French Protestantism to survive in America. The pressures to conform to Anglicanism were enormous because, in most cases, the number of parishioners was too small to support a minister, a temple and the worship of the parish. Absent a synod in America or England, no organization existed to educate new ministers and to settle the many disputes that arose in the consistories. Constant pressure, combined with financial incentives, was exerted by English authorities to conform. The incentives took the form of guaranteed salaries for ministers and the construction of new temples. Beyond these forces were those that resulted in absorption of the refugees and their descendants into emerging English colonial societies in America. Exogenous marriages played a major role in breaking down the French ethnic consciousness and family unity the refugees originally carried with them to America. By the second generation born in America, there were very few endogenous marriages. The contentious relationships that developed between ministers and their parishioners, as in the case of St. Esprit in New York after Pastor Peiret's death, merely added another factor to decrease membership.
Given the history of the French Protestant parishes established in Colonial America, as described in this monograph, it would be easy to say the ministers were not fully committed or strong enough to sustain a cohesive community based on the faith the parishioners brought with them from France. For most of the ministers studied here, however, this would not be a fair assessment. The settlement in Rhode Island was doomed from the very beginning by the purchase of disputed land. This was compounded by the inability of the settlers to support themselves and Rev. Carre's ministry, as well as problems with discipline among the parishioners. With Indian attacks and internal problems, the same story was repeated in Massachusetts with Pastors Bondet and Laborie. Until Daille arrived in Boston in 1696 and accepted a ministry which condemned him to a life of poverty, Pastors Van den Bosch, Bonrepos, Bondet and Carre occupied short, tenuous ministries. Laborie's short ministry at St. Esprit confirmed The Threadneedle Street Church's assessment of his disagreeable temperament and revealed his bias for Anglican conformity. Van den Bosch was the one truly bad apple of the group with his scandalous behavior in Charleston, Boston and Kingston. It appears the ability to acquire land and build estates gave the three ministers in South Carolina greater wealth and security. Prioleau, who died at age forty, established a prominent South Carolina family. Trouillart appears to have retired well situated but left no heirs. Little is known about the ministry of Rev. Robert at Santee, but as in the case of Prioleau, descendants revere his memory. Except for Charleston, which remained independent, the rural settlements conformed to Anglicanism after 1706. The success of the ministry at St. Esprit in New York during Peiret's tenure was based on his personal leadership, strong support from the elders, and a critical mass of parishioners, the largest parish in all of the colonies. Yet his ministry was difficult and he died poor.
The survival of L'Eglise Francaise du St. Esprit today stands as testimony to the commitment to religious freedom and faith several hundred French Protestants brought to New York in the late 17th century and those French-speaking Calvinists who preceded them as early as 1624. In honor of these brave men and women, ornamental plaques, resembling coats of arms, hang in St. Esprit's chapel to represent the refugee families. Among them are those of the Latourrette and Mercereau families. From time to time, ceremonies of remembrance of the refugees' faith and flight to America are held here by the Huguenot Society of America, which considers St. Esprit its official chapel.
Today, St. Esprit represents the continuation of French-speaking Protestantism established on an Easter Sunday in 1628, when the first group of worshippers held communion services in French in the village of New York. Since then, there has always been a discrete group of French-speaking worshippers meeting in New York City. As such it is the oldest French-speaking institution in America. In the words of the current pastor, Rev. Nigel Massey,
"Though the congregation has changed its name and its denominational allegiance, the current congregation, Vestry and Elders see themselves as carrying on that tradition in a way that would be recognized by those who first gathered in the horse mill nearly 400 years ago. No other church in Manhattan can claim the French aspect of that descent, or the records, archives and artifacts that St. Esprit currently holds in the name of those who created them."
The Latourrette family, in its several variants, is considered an ancient Huguenot name in America. Extensive research has traced the lineages from Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau to contemporary descendants. Likewise, the name, beginning with Pastor Gassiot Latourrette is linked to the establishment of Protestantism in Osse with his ministry in 1563. At the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, David Latourrette, as notaire, elder and abbe laique d'Osse, was the most prominent Protestant in Osse. Today, a Latourrette ancestry is found among many families in the Aspe Valley in which Osse (Osse-en-Aspe, France) is located.
Unfortunately, Pierre Peiret, the noble pastor who defied the wrath of King Louis XIV in France and built a sanctuary for Huguenots in New York in the late 17th century, appears to be missing an ancestral lineage in America. However, now that he and Jean Latourrette are forever linked in their flight from France and the establishment of St. Esprit, we hope that this humble and dedicated servant of God will be especially well-remembered in Osse, as he is in New York.