Jean LaTourrette in France

The following section of the Foreword and three chapters is taken from the author's 2006 Monograph, Jean Latourrette and Pierre Peiret, Huguenot Refugees: Their Roots in Osse Bearn. The first two chapters present the story of the Latourrette family of Osse, Bearn and Jean Latourrette's flight from Osse in 1685 with Pastor Pierre Peiret and his family. The third chapter deals with the hoax that Jean was a count and/or descended from nobility. A more extensive treatment of that alleged aspect of his life is presented on this webpage under "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes", where all the invented stories about him and the family are demonstrated to be false. The reader is also directed to the two sections found on this webpage about Jean's father David Latourrette and Gassiot Latourrette, the first Protestant minister of Osse in 1563, which provide additional background about the family in Osse.

Note: Following this entry, short statements have been added to the original text to update the reader on the results of research after 2006 and to add information or clarify the text. The footnotes cited in the chapters appear after Chapter 3.


The three chapters presented in this monograph, supported by eight appendices (found under "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes") describe the background of two well-known French Protestant refugees. Jean Latourrette (original spelling) and Pastor Pierre Peiret (frequently written as Peyret, but signed as Peiret) came to New York City from Osse, Bearn in the fall of 1687, where they became part of the lore of American Huguenot history. For the first time, their origins in Osse (now Osse-en-Aspe) and flight to America are described in considerable detail.

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

The stories about Jean's origins in Lyman's Annals and Mrs. Jacob's notes left the author with more questions than answers. Was Jean really a count who fled with his countess when the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685? Was his marriage to Marie Mercereau in New York, therefore, a confirming one of an earlier ceremony in France? Were they part of the Schenectady Massacre in 1690? Or, was he a single male who became a member of the Rhode Island Colony in the fall of 1686, later moving to New York when the settlement failed? Or, perhaps, he was one of two brothers who fled from Osse? Was a Susanne the first Latourrette who came from France before Jean? Did the Latourrettes of Osse originally come from Italy, even though Bearn was historically closely associated with what is now northern Spain? Finally, where is Osse, now called Osse-en-Aspe to avoid confusing it with other villages in France with similar names?

These stories appearing in Lyman's Annals and Mrs. Jacob's notes, without benefit of citation as to source or documentation, raised the author's curiosity and skepticism. The tales appeared to be fanciful, created from a lack of knowledge of the history of Osse and Jean Latourrette's origins.

Fifty some years later, with the luxury of the time associated with retirement, the author has been able to explore Jean Latourrette's origins and connect his flight from Osse in 1685 to Pastor Pierre Peiret, who founded the French Church of New York. The true story of Jean and Pastor Peiret is much more interesting and, indeed, noble than the tales spun by Jean's ancestors in America to explain what was unknown (to them) about Jean and the history of Osse.

The monograph is divided into two sections. The main body contains three chapters which explain the history of the Latourrettes of Osse, Jean's background and flight to America with Pastor Peiret, and why he was a single male and not a count before he left France. The tales, outlined above as questions by the author from reading Lyman and Mrs. Jacob, are refuted or corrected one by one in the appendices. (Note: The appendices have been moved to "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes" and new ones have been added.)

The appendices are updated versions of postings, now linked to the main body of the text, originally appearing on the Latourette Family Genealogy Forum:

They have also appeared on the author's web site, The Latourrette Story: The Roots Before 1693: (Note:On this revised web site see "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes.") The main text and appendices are supported by copies of Latourrette signatures from the 17th century, and pictures of Osse and the false family shield in the French Church of New York (St. Esprit).

The author is indebted to distant cousins Jean-Luc Bilhou-Nabera of Paris and Osse-en-Aspe, France; Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette of Lagrangeville, New York; Bernard Cazenave-Latourrette of Pau, France; and Yves Lafournere of Chateauneuf de Gadagne, France for valuable insights into the history and genealogy of the Latourrette family in Osse-en-Aspe. Special appreciation is extended to Madame Gilberte Gaubil of Aydius, France and President of the Presbyterian Council of the Reformed Parish of Osse-en-Aspe, who assisted the author in understanding the history of Osse and provided text and special insights into the 1665-85 Osse consistory (parish) records and the Fors de Bearn. Local villagers Paul Eberhard, Catherine Perony and Francis Beigbeder have welcomed him to the Aspe Valley and provided assistance on several occasions. (Note: Unfortunately, Beigbeder and Eberhard have since passed away.) Frederic Pauzat of Paris and Osse-en-Aspe, who assisted the author and son Marc in presenting his paper on Jean Latourrette in French in Osse-en-Aspe, August 7, 2005, is facilitating an exchange of information among Latourrettes found around the world. However, none of these people should be held responsible for any errors or misinterpretations found in the text or appendices.

Additional research in France, especially by Jean-Luc Bilhou-Nabera and Bernard Cazenave-Latourrette who have accumulated a vast collection of materials on Osse and the genealogy of many families in the Aspe Valley, may provide more details and further clarification of Jean's story. Until there is more to say about Jean and the Latourrette family of Osse, this monograph is dedicated to two refugees, Jean Latourrette and Pastor Pierre Peiret, who risked all to flee France and establish a new life in America.

Prescott, Arizona


Pastor Pierre Peiret and Jean Latourrette, French Protestant Refugees from Osse, Bearn *

Pierre Peiret (Peyret) and Jean Latourrette, two prominent French Protestant refugees, came to New York City in 1687, after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. For the first time in American literature, one is able to trace their interconnected lives, common origins, and joint flight from a mountain village in the Pyrenees. Separated heretofore by American genealogists and historians, they are reunited here in a chronicle of religious faith and persistence against relentless persecution.

Pierre Peiret is known as the founder of the French Church of New York (L'Eglise Française du St. Esprit) in 1688. Until his death on September 1, 1704, Peiret was the most successful and influential of the several Huguenot ministers who came to America. (1) St. Esprit still exists on East 60th Street, with religious services offered in French. Jean Latourrette is immortalized in fables and religious re-enactments as the Count de La Tourette, who allegedly fled with his countess at the height of a party given to disguise their escape from France when word reached them of the Revocation. (2)

What has been written in America about the origins of Peiret and Latourrette in France is largely erroneous or consists of fables (and hoaxes) spun out of a lack of understanding of the French language, the local Bearnais dialect, and the history, geography, laws, and culture of Bearn. In particular, in the 20th century, research in America on Jean Latourrette's origins reflects a complete absence of any knowledge of the scholarly work on the history of Osse and Bearn Protestantism. Most American accounts of Jean Latourrette's origin in Osse, Bearn, now Osse-en-Aspe, confuse its location with that of a village of a similar name, Osses. (3) In the case of Peiret, the two histories of the French Church, and even the work of Jon Butler in 1983, repeat the error made by Charles W. Beard in 1885 that the pastor was from Foix rather than Osse, Bearn. (4)

The history of Protestantism in Bearn, published in 1892 by Alfred Cadier, Pastor at Osse, 1871-1906, identified Peiret as being born in Pontacq, Bearn, not Foix, about 1644, and as the minister at Osse between 1677 and 1685, when he fled with his wife, Madeleine La Tour, and two young children, Pierre (18 months) and Madeleine (5 years), under the threat of the galleys or death for defying the edicts and wishes of Louis XIV. (5) In his flight from Osse, Peiret was accompanied by several parishioners, with Jean Latourrette as the "most well-known". (6)

When he left Osse in 1685 with Peiret, Jean Latourrette is described as a cadet, a second, unmarried son of an ostau (household). (7) His single status is confirmed by the entries found later in the records of the French Relief Committee in London. (8) Also, Jean is identified as a younger brother of Jacob of the household of David Latourrette. Under the Fors de Bearn, the customs and laws of the province down to the French Revolution, the eldest son is the heir of the ostau. Younger sons, even among the elite families like the Latourrettes, were typically craftsmen. Jean is no exception, being a menuisier (carpenter), a craft he practiced after his arrival in New York. (9) Therefore, he was neither a count nor married when he left Osse. Chapter 2 details the events in Osse leading up to the flight of Peiret and Jean Latourrette in 1685 and explains how they reached New York in late 1687. Chapter 3 examines the count and marriage fables.

How did the Pastor and Jean Latourrette come to make the long journey together from Osse to New York? To answer this question requires us to describe their origins in Osse.

The Latourrette story goes back to at least Gassiot Latourrette, who was the first minister of the Calvinist faith at Osse. There is not a great deal of information about him, including where he studied theology. Moreover, it is not known exactly how Calvinism came to the mountain valleys of Bearn. It is clear, however, that the origin of Protestantism was closely linked with the Latourrette family of Osse.

For more information about Gassiot on this website see where there is a chronology of his life and the role he played as the first Protestant minister of Osse.

Gassiot, born in Osse in 1640, was a young man who, after a favorable examination, was appointed minister of Aspe, the valley in which Osse is located, at the synod of 1563, then of Osse in 1564 and continued as minister there until 1595. His will was made at the house of his daughter Marie in Oloron (now Oloron-Sainte-Marie) on March 31, and he died on April 8, 1595. (10)

Gassiot's early ministry was during the simultaneum regime, enacted in 1564, which required Catholics to share the village's Saint Etienne Church with the Protestants. Being from Osse, Gassiot's ministry was in greater harmony with the culture of the village than that of the other ministers who went into the remote mountain valleys of Bearn, where the people practiced, under the Fors de Bearn, an independent, local pastoral democracy and where the climate was severe and living conditions difficult. (11)

Gassiot is described by Philippe Chareyre as "perfectly integrated to the region's civil life, raising horses, arbitrating conflicts, especially between Osse and Borce." (12) Cadier emphasizes the respect Gassiot earned from both Protestants and Catholics; "his high education, his open and conciliatory mind, acquired him high esteem and affection from everyone," and "his role as referee and mediator" is so respected that notary registers "mention his quality by adding after his name 'Minister of God's Word in Aspe'."(13)

A significant lawsuit between Accous and Lees was settled in 1588 by Gassiot, with the two villages agreeing in advance to accept his decision. Cadier cites this as an example of the reconciliation that had taken place between Catholics and Protestants under Gassiot's ministry and influence as a peacemaker. "What is ...telling ... is the deep mind switch from the Lees villagers, so frantically hostile to the Osse villagers in 1569: the former who had no more and no less wanted to exterminate all of the latter, were now calling on the minister's intervention." (14)

The tradition established by Gassiot was carried forward by his son Pierre as minister at Castetnau, 1601-1653, perhaps the longest tenure of any pastor in Bearn. (15) Jean Codures (Coudures), also born in Osse and a nephew by marriage, followed Gassiot as pastor. Codures' wife, Marie de Loustau, was the daughter of Pierre de Loustau, minister of Lembeye, martyred at Lescar during the religious war of 1569. It was in this year that the Catholic armies of Charles IX briefly occupied all of Bearn, but were defeated in a few months. Codures continued the traditions of Gassiot from 1596 to 1613. Thus, the long tenure of Gassiot, followed by Codures, established a firm foundation for Protestantism in Osse. (16)

Miramonde Loustau, the wife of Pierre d'Apoey of Osse, was tortured and martyred like Pastor Loustau in 1569. After the Catholic armies were driven from Bearn, Baron d'Arros came to the valley with a Protestant army and, as in many villages of Bearn, burned the Catholic churches. Most of Osse was destroyed on October 22, 1569. Catholicism was banned and church properties seized, allowing Osse to become wholly Protestant, with the exclusive use of Saint Etienne for the next 50 years. (17)

Osse was unique in comparison to the rest of the Aspe Valley and the other two mountain valleys of Bearn, Ossau and Barteous, where Catholicism was not eradicated, although it was the wish of the sovereign, Queen Jeanne d'Albret, mother of the famous Huguenot Henry IV of France. While Osse was wholly Protestant, "the strength of the reformed in the other villages of the mountains of Bearn does not pass the threshold of 10 percent." (18) Although the religious wars continued in France until the Edict of Nantes was signed by Henry IV in 1598, Osse and the surrounding villages, in their relative isolation, settled back into their independent state and a more harmonious relationship between the two religions, as already suggested by Gassiot's mediation of the dispute between Accous and Lees in 1588. In fact, after 1570, this relative harmony seems to have characterized the relationships in the valley, except when outside forces intruded to accentuate differences.

It appears that the most critical factor in the development and persistence of Protestantism in Osse was the leadership and endorsement by social, political and intellectual elites who persuaded others to follow. (19). The Latourrettes were among those elites and they held important positions in the village: abbe laique d'Osse, notaire, and ancien (elder) and diacre (deacon). The title abbot is used here in a secular sense and denotes wealth, respect, and moral leadership, rather than religious control. (20) A notaire was one of the few highly educated persons, at the time, authorized to draw up and record all legal transactions.

Exactly how the Latourrettes acquired the title abbe laique d'Osse is currently regarded as privileged information, but its acquisition was not associated with nobility. (21) Although not "of nobility," the title abbe laique d'Osse did include ownership of the Abbaye de Gayrosse and associated land. The Abbaye de Gayrosse is a stone building in the center of the village, dating to the 8th century and by legend said to be the only building in Osse not destroyed in October of 1569. Contrary to the fable of the existence of a Latourrette castle, this building is a modest maison-forte, a strong house of two and one/half floors approximately 65 by 40 feet. (See picture of the Gayrosse maison-forte in the "Tour of Osse.")

Note:The allegation the information about the title abbe laique d'Osse and its association with the Latourrette family is privileged is disproved by two sources ultimately identified by the author and explained in

In this section of the webpage, it is noted the title originally came into the family by a purchase of the title in 1605 with its associated land, a maison forte and other rights, including the right of the dime, but without the status of nobility.

The Maison Forte is now Gite Sauvage, like a B and B in the US. The ancient building has been completely renovated and can be seen on the Internet.

Latourrettes, from Gassiot, held the title of notaire. Gassiot's son, Pierre (ca. 1570-ca. 1655), who was the minister at Castetnau for 52 years (1601-1653), was also the notaire for the village. David (ca. 1625-1697), the father of the Jean who came to America, appears frequently with the title of notaire in Cadier's Le Bearn Protestant. The author has a copy of a document, dated July 22, 1694, which is signed by David Latourrette, notaire. (22) So, even with Louis XIV's many edicts banning Protestants from holding any public position or practicing any profession, David continued to be a notaire after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Jacob (born ca. 1650), Jean's older brother, continued the family tradition after David's death in 1697. (23)

Once the Reformed religion was accepted by the intellectual elites and spread to other villagers in Osse, there were a number of factors which accounted for the persistence of Protestantism. These conditions explain not only how the Osse consistory (parish) resisted the persecution leading up to 1685, but why it still exists today.

Many rights and considerable autonomy were granted to the people of Bearn in the 8th century and codified by the Fors de Bearn as early as 1180. (24) The Fors consists of 290 general rules of conduct for Bearn and an additional 26 rules for the Aspe Valley, where Osse is located. Basically, these laws describe a pastoral democracy in which there is an equality of men and women who were free and not serfs, as in many areas of Europe at the time. Women had the right of a basic education, inheritance, and protection of their dowry, and the ability to enter into personal contracts. As suggested by the martyrdom of Miramonde de Loustau and the recognition in their own right, women played an important role in the community and the Reformed religion.

The governance of a village was exercised by the heads of the households (l'ostau), typically consisting of a couple generations of related people. The heads of households (chefs de famille) elected the mayors and jurats (magistrates). The autonomy of the local villages, located in rugged mountains, combined with a severe climate and relative isolation, created a high degree of cohesion among the people of the Aspe Valley. Except for the intrusion from outsiders, there was no basic conflict between Protestants and Catholics. Although there were local disagreements, there was generally a spirit of mutual aid to face the difficult conditions of life. Madame Gilbert Gaubil describes this condition, even after 1685, as follows, "An Osse villager would not betray another Osse villager to outside authorities, especially because the Aspe valley people strongly resent the encroachment of the royal power on their autonomy." (25)

An insight into the continuing role of the Latourrettes as Protestant leaders in Osse, up to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, is afforded by the surviving and very rare consistory (parish) registers of the Temple Bethel of Osse from May 5, 1665 to April 16, 1685. (26) These registers contain the minutes of the meetings of the ministers, elders, and deacons. An examination of the registers yields the names of two Latourrettes associated with the temple over this period. They are David de Latourrette, the father of Jean, who fled to America, and Jean Tourret (Jean de Latourrette).

David de Latourrette (ca. 1625-1697), abbe laique d'Osse, ancien (elder), and notaire (The use of "de" means that David is from or of the house of the Latourrette family. The “de” does not mean nobility, as in many other areas of what is now France.)

David was involved in many of the important activities of the consistory and served two four-year terms as elder. Identified as notaire, he was named elder April 1, 1665, and performed with assiduity until his term expired April 15, 1669. (In the text, all references to the consistory records are cited by the dates of the meetings.)David was again made an elder on April 28, 1677, for a four-year term. When appointed, his first name is not quoted and neither is his title of notaire. The signature is so distinctly David's it can only be him. His signatures in the consistory records on August 1, 1677,and April 29, 1679, represent David signing initial and revised contracts for the consistory with Pastor Pierre Peiret. (See samples of David's signature under "Latourrette Signatures" on this site.)

At the request of the church, David was also directly involved with the selection of the pastor who preceded Peiret. At an assembly of the heads of households on April 12, 1671, as described in the registers, he proposed Josue Medalon become the pastor under the terms to which he, the synod and Medalon had agreed. As a consequence, Medalon was installed by the pastors from Oloron.

It should be noted that even with David Latourrette's prominent position in the community, he was subject to the leveling (equality) influence of the pastoral democracy created by the Fors de Bearn, described above. He assumed important roles as notaire and abbe laique d'Osse, but one always sees him operating within the rules of the consistory and community.

Jean Tourret or Jean de Latourrette (? - 1674), ancien (elder), diacre (deacon) and possibly David's uncle.

Jean Tourret also has a significant involvement in the affairs of the consistory. He is named an elder on March 11, 1668, and usually is listed in the consistory registers as Jean Tourret, but always signs as de Latourrette. His presence is recorded at many meetings, but in particular one finds his signature at the meetings of January 3 and 5, 1671, April 12, 1671, October 21, 1671, and March 7 and 8, 1672. He is designated for replacement at the meeting of June 3, 1672, and not mentioned again as a member after June 4, 1672. In signing the registers, Jean Tourret, as de Latourrette, sometimes adds the Bearnais expression "certat es," meaning certified to guarantee what is written. An example of this is found in the registers of March 7, 1672. (See samples of his signature under "Latourrette Signatures.")

Jean Tourret (de Latourrette) also served as a deacon. The dates of the appointment of deacons are not always noted in the registers, but since they acted as treasurers of the consistory their names are mentioned when accounts are reconciled or paid, as evidenced by entries on August 9, 1668, October 16, 1669, and March 7, 1672.

By their signatures, David and Jean Tourret are clearly identified with entries in the registers. Their signatures are distinctly different. David's signature is distinct and bold and matches his signatures as a notaire, dated 1660 and much later on July 22, 1694. Jean Tourret's signature, as de Latourrette, appears to be one of a person who barely knows how to write, suggesting that perhaps Cadier was mistaken to also list him as a notaire. (27) (See signatures under "Latourrette Signatures.") (Note:: Clearly Cadier was mistaken because each village had only one notarie and in the case of Osse it was David.)

The fact that Jean Tourret or Jean de Latourrette is the same person is substantiated by Pastor Jean-Jacques Mauzy's (1667-1671) reference to Jean Latourrette and David Latourrette separately at numerous meetings and the identification of him as Jean de Latourrette on March 18, 1668. In addition, Pastor Josue Medalon (1671-1677) refers to him as de Latourrette when he was appointed to Osse on April 12, 1671.

The name of another Latourrette appears in other records of the period, as described by Cadier.

Eleazar de Latourrette (ca 1595- ca. 1664), possibly David's father

Eleazar is listed in a 1683 audit, notarized by David Latourrette, as a benefactor of the consistory in 1664, giving 12 francs and grain for the poor. His death, therefore, was likely in 1664. (28) In the same audit a Jean de Latourrette is identified as making a pledge of 12 francs to the consistory and grain products to the poor in 1666, which became a bequest in 1674. His death is, therefore, assumed to be in 1674. (29) It is thought that Jean and Eleazar were brothers and, therefore, one was the father and the other the uncle of David. This is based on genealogical research cited herein. It is believed the bequests were basically the same as a result of an agreement between the brothers.

Additional evidence substantiates that Jean Tourret is Jean de Latourrette. In addition to his signatures as de Latourrette and his recognition by two ministers as Jean de Latourrette, one finds in the consistory record for July 30, 1679, with David Latourrette (elder) present, a discussion of the 12 francs owed by Mister de Tourret, deceased. Pierre Tourret is identified as the son and heir. It is determined that of the original pledge of 12 francs only 5 remains to be paid, which the son agrees to pay by September 8. Pierre signs the minutes de La Tourret and certifies it with the term used by his father, "certat es." It is noted in 1701 in the same entry that the amount was paid.

There appears to be a simple explanation for the use of the name Tourret in the case of Jean de Latourrette, given the large families in Osse at the time. Given the dates of death of Eleazar (1664) and Jean (1674), it is very likely that Eleazar was the older of the two brothers and the father of David. Jean, being the younger, was identified by the diminutive Tourret, and this is the name used to distinguish him from both Eleazar and David. From the identification of the son and heir of Jean at the July 30, 1679 meeting of the consistory, we know this is a different branch of the Latourrette family from David. But, we see that David knows that Jean Tourret is Jean de Latourrette by the entry in the accounts he signed in 1683. If this is the case, in the genealogy cited above, it is likely Eleazar was David's father. Then, this Jean Tourret would be the uncle to David and great-uncle to the Jean who came to America.

One of the many acts of King Louis XIV to eliminate the ability of Protestants to maintain their place and means of worship was the declaration of January 15, 1683, which required Pastor Peiret to produce a list of the legacies left to the consistory by parishioners between June 1662 and the end of 1682, which was notarized by David Latourrette. On this list one finds the legacies left by Eleazar de Latourrette in 1664 and by Jean de Latourette in 1674. (30) As noted above, their deaths are assumed to be in the years recorded because Jean de Latourrette made the pledge listed by David Latourrette in 1666. The impact of this act was recorded in the history of the Temple as follows:

"1683: The consistory of the church of Osse is stripped of the legacy with which they were endowed for the poor and for the expense of worship." (31)

David appears again at the end of the registers after Pastor Peiret's last entry of April 16, 1685, in an undated account about the payment of debts. It appears the consistory records were maintained by some person or persons, perhaps by David Latourrette until his death in 1697, after this entry to finally reconcile the debts and payments made. Entries to this effect were made in 1701 in various minutes. Perhaps, the Calvinist tradition of propriety in economic and social affairs accounts for the extraordinary and extremely rare survival of these consistory records, even though the temple, cemetery, and apparently all other temple records were destroyed in 1686.

Based on the evidence described here, the leadership of the Latourrettes in the Reformed religion in Osse was continuous from Gassiot, assuming his ministry in 1563, down to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 and beyond, when the religion is banned but secretly practiced. This is confirmed by a report from Jean de Tapie, procureur du Roy au Parsan d'Aspe, dated September 2, 1685, just 6 weeks before the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. (32)

Tapie was sent by His Highness Dalon, president of the Parliament of Navarre, to register all of the "indomitable" Protestants who refused to convert to Catholicism in the Aspe district. Notably, all of the names are from Osse, supporting Cadier's conclusion that Osse was the one remaining Protestant community in the Aspe valley after the destruction of the temple at Oloron in February 1685. Also, we know from Cadier that the other 4 temples are already closed. It appears, therefore, that Osse was the only place remaining in Bearn in early September of 1685 where Protestantism was still being openly practiced. (33)

One of the names on Tapie's list is Magdeleine Latourrette, described as living out of wedlock with David Latourrette, who bears the title of abbe laique d'Osse. In this context, it is obvious the charge against Magdeleine by the local priest, who drew up the list for Tapie, is based on a marriage by a Protestant pastor rather than a Catholic priest. As noted in the section on this website about Peiret's history and genealogy, included on the list are Peiret's wife Marguerite Latour, and their two children, respectively 5 years and 18 months old, and 18 other individuals from Osse. (Peiret himself was already under house arrest for refusing to convert and practicing against the edicts of Louis XIV.)

The second chapter will describe in more detail how David Latourrette and Pierre Peiret remained defiant until the dragoons come to Osse. Peiret and his family fled with Jean Latourrette and other parishioners. The other Protestants went into the deep forests until the dragoons were sent off to the Rochelle area. (34) David Latourrette lived until 1697 and continued to practice the role of notaire, as noted above, and, although perhaps not as influential as he was before 1685, never appears to have adjured his faith. (35)

By orders of Louis XIV the parishioners were forced to destroy their temple and cemetery in 1686. (36) The Reformed religion went underground for the next 100 years. Families were forced to bury their dead under their houses and barns. The faith was practiced deep in the surrounding forests until the Declaration of Human and Citizen Rights, August 26, 1789, allowed the Protestants to worship openly. Prior to the declaration, an Edict of Tolerance was circulated in November of 1787. On December 1, 1788, the village's first jurat, Antoine Latourrette, a direct descendant of David, legalized the 59 Protestant marriages and 151 baptisms done in secret. (37) The persistence of the Reformed faith in Osse is in sharp contrast to other communities where Protestantism completely disappeared in 30 to 50 years. (38)

As testimony to the strength of the ministry originally established by Gassiot Latourrette in 1563, the Temple Bethel was rebuilt in 1805. The 200 th anniversary of its reconstruction was celebrated in Osse on August 7, 2005, with a rededication service. During the preceding week, a pastoral play featured a Latourrette, described generically as a descendant from one who left, who returned to tell the history of Protestantism in Osse. The planning and staging of these events were a village-wide initiative. Confirming the historical cohesion of the people of Osse, both Catholics and Protestants participated in the pastoral play, the rededication of the Temple, and the associated social functions. (39)

Note: The author, John E. LaTourette, and his son Marc attended the week long celebration and Marc, fluent in French, read the author’s paper about Jean Latourrette and Pastor Peiret fleeing from Osse in mid-September of 1685, later being in New York City by October of 1687 and establishing the “French Church of New York” by November of 1688. The paper was published in French in the fall of 2005 by Professor Philippe Chareyre’s research center, Centre d'etude du protestantisme bearnais (cepb) (The Center for the Study of Béarnais Protestantism) in the fall of 2005.


Pierre Peiret and Jean Latourrette: Their Flight from Osse, Bearn, in 1685

The previous chapter explained how Osse, Bearn (now Osse-en-Aspe) became wholly Protestant after the religious war of 1569. The role of educated elites, including the Latourrette family, which provided Gassiot as the first minister in 1563, is identified as a critical factor in the acceptance and persistence of the Reformed religion. After 1685, the Protestants practiced their faith secretly for over one hundred years. The Declaration of Human and Citizen Rights, August 26, 1789, allowed the Protestants to worship openly, and the new Temple Bethel opened in 1805. Two centuries later, on August 7, 2005, the parishioners celebrated the Temple's reconstruction. This chapter examines the fate of the parishioners in Osse, leading up to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the flight of Pastor Pierre Peiret and Jean Latourrette.

OSSE-EN-BEARN, 1569-1620

In 1569, Bearn became an independent Protestant state under Queen Jeanne d'Albert, the mother of the famous Huguenot King Henry IV. Protestantism dominated Osse, but the rest of the Aspe valley remained essentially Catholic. There was no conflict between the two faiths, however, and Osse Protestantism was strengthened under the ministries of Gassiot Latourrette and Jean Codures. (1)

King Henry IV, a convert to Catholicism when he assumed the throne of France, signed the Edict of Nantes, April 13, 1598, granting civil rights and freedom of worship to Protestants under strictly prescribed conditions and in specified locations. (2) Forced by political and religious pressure from the Catholic clergy and Pope Clement VIII, Henry IV, also sovereign over Bearn (Lower Navarre), issued an Edict on April 15, 1599, restoring Catholicism to Bearn. This Edict subjected Bearn to the provisions of the Edict of Nantes, with its many restrictions on Protestantism. It also allowed Catholics the right to have two bishops and twelve priests in Bearn, but by 1620 the number of priests had expanded to over 300. (3) The 1599 edict re-establishing Catholicism did not appear, however, to have a direct impact on Osse.

OSSE-EN-BEARN, 1620-1661

Louis XIII, the son of Henry IV, entered Pau with an army on October 15, 1620. Bearn and Lower Navarre were joined to France and Catholicism was restored as the state religion. This began an extended period of repression, complete with Kafka-like edicts, decrees, and legal decisions to force Protestants to convert. (4) The repression, accompanied by barbaric attacks, continued even though Louis XIII reaffirmed the Edict of Nantes. Token adherence to the Edict continued even after 1661, when Louis XIV, at age 23, assumed the powers of the throne and accelerated the repression and savage acts to the point where he could say in 1685 that the Edict was no longer needed because there were no more Protestants; all of them had been "converted." (5)

Louis XIII issued a declaration in 1633 forbidding ministers to preach outside their parishes. In 1640, the bishop of Oloron secured a decree forbidding the practice of the religion in places where less than 10 families resided. These actions likely eliminated Protestantism in the Aspe valley, leaving Osse the only exception. (6) State subsidies for ministers were reduced and then eliminated. In 1669, even self-imposed levies to support ministers were banned. (7) It is obvious from the events described below that the Osse consistory (parish) fought against all of these acts up to 1685.


When Louis XIV assumed the throne in 1661, the persecution of Protestants accelerated even in the remote mountain village of Osse. The consistory registers of Osse for 1665-85 demonstrate how the ability of the village Protestants to maintain their pastor, temple, and worship was systematically destroyed. (8)

The first five years of the registers, however, yield some hints of what the Protestant community was like before it was destroyed by the accelerating pressure. (All references to the consistory registers are cited in the text by the dates of the minutes.) One finds discussions about the use of discipline and sanctions against members who had transgressed the rules of the Reformed faith. Young people were sanctioned for dancing on July 5, 1665, and December 26, 1667. Another discussion on December 26, 1667, included charges that members said Catholic Masses seeking a miracle or called on a magician to cure a spouse's illness. The minutes of March 25, 28 and 31 and May 3 and 19, 1668, deal with quarrels or disputes among members and the role that David Latourrette and Jean Latourrette (Tourret), played in arbitrating these situations. Minutes also deal with the debt of and loans taken out by the consistory, which had the backing of elders for payment. An entry for September 29, 1666 describes a loan which was guaranteed by four elders, including David Latourrette. Also, on March 18, 1668, it is noted that the sieur de Latourrette, notaire, stood as a guarantor of a debt and that Jean Tourret (Jean de Latourrette) paid a debt of 20 francs as collected by him in his role of deacon.

The only positive event during the years of steady pressure by the Catholic clergy against the Osse consistory was the conversion of Jeanne Dagource to Protestantism on August 9, 1665, with the testimony of faith accepted by the minister and seven elders, including David Latourrette.

Major commitments were made by the heads of the households, including the replacement of Pastor David Casaucau by Francis Benoit (August 2, 1666); the engagement of Pastor Jean-Jacques Mauzy (July 10, 1667), who later fled France in 1685 with Jean Fontaine; the renewal of Mauzy's contract (July 8, 1668), with the signature of David Latourrette, notaire; and the appointment of Pastor Josue Medalon (April 12, 1671) with a "precise" agreement prepared and executed with Medalon on behalf of the elders by David Latourrette, notaire.

One of the most repressive measures levied in Bearn was the Edict of 1668, reducing the number of Protestant temples from 123 to 20. It was designed to limit the number of pastors and establish barriers to practicing the faith. As with so many earlier edicts, the guarantee of 20 temples as "perpetual and irrevocable" was soon breached and, in 1685, completely violated. (9)

Osse was no longer exclusively Protestant, as 1569 is described in Chapter 1, but the census for 1665 indicated the Reformed were at least 36 percent and perhaps as much as 50 percent of the population. (10) The minutes show, moreover, that the Reformed attempted to maintain their parish in the face of overwhelming repression, with a full complement of elders and deacons and minutes recorded up to the last meeting dated September 5, 1684.

The consistory's financial problems are revealed within the first year of Pastor Medalon's appointment. The heads of households assembled on April 17, 1672, to address a lack of funds to pay Medalon, without which he indicated he could not survive. This situation was not fully resolved and at a meeting of May 20, 1673, he asked to be sent back to Pau. Ultimately he left in 1677.

More and more discussions are recorded about the failure of members to make their pledges and the inability to meet current expenses, including contractual payments to pastors. Minutes of meetings between May 26, 1670 and May 31, 1672 indicate some elders and deacons did not attend meetings, or were identified as not making their pledges or fulfilling their assignments to secure payments from households. One has the sense that some of the faithful, including elders and deacons, are drifting away because of external pressure. There are frequent references to pignoration, a process of seizing property from households that do not pay their pledges or debts to the consistory. The problems only grew more severe after 1672.

After the religious war of 1569, there had been a general accommodation between the two religions and a re-emergence of the historic resentment against the imposition of outside authority in the Aspe Valley as restricting the local authority granted by the Fors de Bearn. The ascent of Louis XIV, however, encouraged Catholic priests to be more aggressive. In 1665 the Osse priest attempted by a suit, using some previous actions of the Catholic - controlled Pau Parliament, to interfere with the free selection by villagers of the four Osse jurats (magistrates). Here, we must rely on Cadier, because the consistory records are silent on the issue. (11) The local priest charged that the selection of the jurats had to be determined by the actions of parliament, which had given a preference to the selection of Catholics; the estate of the Catholic Church was being managed by a Protestant (as abbe laique, David Latourrette); since 1650 the jurats had used the estate funds for community and other profane purposes and not for the Church; and the existing jurats and David Latourrette, notaire, had insulted him and attempted to break the door to the Catholic cemetery. The suit resulted in favoring the selection of Catholic jurats. The other charges were not considered for the lack of evidence or were dismissed.

Having lost control over the selection of jurats, there was no respite for the consistory. In 1672 a Catholic premier jurat taxed the Protestants to support the Catholic estate. The consistory meetings of

December 14 and 18, 1672 resulted in actions to block the levy and to seize all the monies which had been paid. The resulting litigation involved the consistory in heavy expenses to defend itself, but the case was lost. (12)

The next action against the consistory was in March of 1673 when the Reformed were deprived of the use of public funds for their school. Two detailed reports of expenses incurred to fight this litigation were presented at the September 8 meeting, which Cadier quotes at length, noting that this case illustrates "the simplicity of our mountain people's customs." (13)

There had been a long-standing agreement in Osse referred to as the Premice, which was used to provide funds for the needs of both churches. Although this agreement had been approved by the Count of Toulongeon on February 9, 1675, the local priest contended in the same year that the Premice was not a separate fund but part of the Catholic estate, and claimed the funds which had been allocated to the consistory. These funds were managed by David Latourrette, who continued to give funds to the Protestants. This resulted in endless litigation which extended beyond his lifetime and involved personal claims against him for the funds the priest claimed were due the Catholic Church. (14)

Resolved to maintain their parish, it took a subterfuge at the synod of June 23, 1677, to foil Louis XIV's plan that Josue Medalon, pastor from 1671 to 1677, was to be the last minister at Osse. The synod employed a procedure whereby it freed Medalon from his charge and entrusted it to Pierre Peiret, as if the ministry itself, rather than the person, was continuous. With Peiret's appointment, the heads of households met on two occasions to make significant contractual commitments. On August 1, 1677, Peiret, recognizing the consistory's financial difficulties, was appointed at a rate of 300 francs, reduced from 400 per year, with an agreement of reciprocal commitments, signed by David Latourrette. At the time, the consistory still owed Medalon 717 francs. On April 29, 1679, Peiret's contract with expanded duties, signed by David Latourrette, was renewed at 360 francs, a figure he requested in order to subsist.

Peiret arrived in Osse unmarried, but wed Madelaine Latour in 1680. His ministry was suspended for a year by the synod of June 25, 1681 as a disciplinary measure for consummating his marriage before the ceremony. He was reinstated on June 28, 1682, upon a recommendation of the consistory of Oloron and acceptance by the Osse consistory. (15) Suffering both personal adversity and mounting repression from the authorities in Pau, Pastor Peiret remained committed to his ministry and defiant of the King's authorities. The consistory and the parishioners, although financially burdened, remained unbowed in their faith. The support and participation of the elders to the very end is demonstrated by the last act of the consistory on September 5, 1684, with Peiret and eight elders present, dealing with a long list of pledges which had not been paid to the consistory. The final act against the consistory to eliminate its funding, described in the first chapter, took place in 1683, when all the bequests to the temple and the poor were expropriated for the use of Catholic hospitals.

The story of David Latourrette over this period is a complex one. How did he maintain his titles of abbe laique and notaire when it was the intent of Louis XIV, the authorities in Pau, and the local priest to eliminate all Protestants from these positions? We have recounted his involvement in the consistory as an elder over two terms, the last one ending in 1681, and his opposition at personal risk to the claims of the local priest. Yet he remained as notaire in 1683, and is referred to officially in that capacity by the Catholic jurats (magistrates) in carrying out the audit and certification of the bequests to the consistory and the poor, which were expropriated, including those of the two men who were likely his father and uncle, Eleazar and Jean. It appears he never abjured his faith. Did his prestige, political and economic power, and the support of the Catholic Laclede family of Bedous allow him to remain as notaire after 1685? Is this why only his wife is identified on the Tapie list, described below, as living in sin because they were married by a Protestant pastor and not a Catholic priest? Or was she just more vocal in expressing her faith in the months just before the Revocation in 1685? And how quickly were the old traditions of these mountain people, with their preference for local autonomy, resistance to external authority, close family ties and mutual protection, reestablished once the attention of the authorities in Pau shifted to other issues? This chapter about David is still to be fully explored and written.

Note: The reader is directed to the section about David Latourrette on this website which has more information about David and his life in Osse.

The author is updating all the major sections of the website as of the summer of 2022. In terms information about David that has become available there are three points that should be added.

David’s death is reasonably determined to be in 1697 at about age 72. Given the burial of Protestants at the time, restricted by the Catholic priests from the local cemetery, it is assumed that his grave is under the Latourrette-Casamayou (later Mayereau) house. The author and many others have seen these graves under the house. No archeological work, however, has been done there to examine the burials.

In the website section about David, it is said David’s wife Magdeleine dies in 1696. But, there is an entry in the records of the Catholic Church of Osse by a priest that indicates her death was about 10 years later. The date is available and will need to be stated in the revision of that section.

Perhaps, most important, is the information about the marriage of Mairie (ca 1661-1731), daughter of David and Magdeleine Latourrette and sister of Jean who comes to America, on March 5, 1685, to Jean Laclede (Nov. 22, 1660- Jan 18, 1725) of the leading Catholic family of Bedous. This confirms the statement by Cadier that the Leclede family always supported the Protestants of Osse and “never turned them away from their door.” This cemented the strategic relationship between the two families and came at the peak of the attack on the Protestants of Osse and Pastor Peiret in 1685. David and Magdeleine, with Jean’s older brother Jacob, are recorded at the Catholic Church in Bedous for the baptisms of the several children born to Marie and Jean Laclede during the period after 1685 into the 1690’s.

Nicholas Foucault, L'Intendant (the King's administrator) for the region, was sent in March 1684 to convert the 30,000 Protestants of Bearn. (16) Foucault employed every possible method one could imagine, including the infamous dragooning, to achieve his objective. "The soldiers, excited by this fanatic, showed themselves much more cruel than those at Poitou" who in 1681 were deemed so excessive that Charles II and the Parliament of England granted extensive privileges to French refugees. This forced Louis XIV to stop the dragooning until it was again instituted in 1684. (17)

The assault by Foucault placed Peiret in a very perilous position. Peiret was arrested in November 1684 for violating the orders of Louis XIV "for preaching in private houses and in places where the practice was not allowed" and was placed under house arrest for trial. (18) This trial could have resulted in a death sentence, rather than "just" being sent to the galleys.

On February 26, 1685, the Parliament of Navarre recorded an edict, proclaimed by Foucault, which reduced the number of Protestant temples in Bearn to five from the 20 which were supposed to exist by the "perpetual and irrevocable" edict of 1668. The remaining locations were Garlin, Jurancon, Bellocq, Saint-Gladie and Osse. Osse was the only Temple left to serve the Aspe Valley, because the act eliminated the temple at Oloron, which was immediately destroyed. Foucault had an underlying sinister purpose. "I decided, he said, to allow only the temples, precisely five of them, where the ministers had been hit by an (earlier) decree which condemned their temples to be demolished, of which knowledge was sent back to parliament, so that, by this means, there could be no temple left in Bearn." (19)

All temples, including Osse, were closed by April of 1685. The other ministers were arrested or fled. Peiret remained in Osse but he absolved the consistory of any further responsibility for or obligation to him. "I undersigned declare that I am paid all the wages, hay and wood for the whole time I have served the church of Osse and in this way acquit the said church fully and entirely promising never to petition it nor to make a request, written in Osse April 16, 1685, Peyret, minister."

Peiret continued to visit the Protestants in Osse in open defiance of the November decree against him. A report cited by Cadier has a Kafkaesque quality, as it condemned Peiret for fleeing to avoid the galleys or death: "Osse lived in as big a rebellion; the minister preached in private houses and in places where the practice was not allowed. The information decreed and the search made for his person, he abandoned his people and fled, so that the practice of the said religion stopped in the district of Oloron in the said year 1685 and the temple was demolished in 1686." (20)

After the temples were closed and 47 companies of dragoons were employed to terrorize Protestants into conversion, and after the public abjuration of some key ministers, like Pastor Goulard at Oloron on June 17, 1685, Foucault announced to the King at the end of July there officially were no more Reformed in Bearn. (21) But it is obvious the Reformed of Osse and Peiret were still defiant, openly holding to their faith. The previous chapter cited the list of Jean de Tapie, dated September 2, 1685, identifying the Protestants of Osse, including David's spouse and the Peiret family, who refused to convert. It appears that Osse may have been the only place remaining in Bearn in early September of 1685 where Protestantism was still being openly practiced. Tapie also noted that a greater number of people recanted officially, but did not go to Church or take part in the Mass, and cursed Roman Catholicism. (22)

It is certain that Peiret was marked for death or the galleys. Peiret refused to abjure, so there could be no safe passage out of the country, as some ministers had negotiated. Nicholas Laplacette, originally from Pontacq like Peiret, had slipped away from Foucault in March and secured a passport in Paris to leave France. After a year in Germany, he was invited by the Queen of Denmark to establish a new ministry in Copenhagen. Jean-Jacques Mauzy, pastor at Osse, 1667-71, left on a ship for England on November 30, after securing passports for his family. This is reported by Jean Fontaine in his famous Memoirs of a Huguenot Family, which chronicles how his family secretly escaped on the same ship. (23)

M. Charles Weiss's description of how the remaining Protestant ministers were treated at the time of the Revocation demonstrates how precarious Peiret's position was. He certainly fell into the "most dangerous" category described by Weiss: "The ministers went first. A delay of fifteen days had been granted them within which to leave the country. --- To many were refused the passport, without which they could not cross the frontiers, in order that the time allowed for their retreat might elapse, and they might be imprisoned, as having infringed the provisions of the edict. For some of them, who appeared the most dangerous, as they were most influential, the delay granted to all others was abridged." (24)

Peiret had no choice except to flee with his young family. At first, one might wonder why Jean Latourrette accompanied them. (25) He was a member of an Osse family which had land, wealth, and important positions in the community ever since Gassiot Latourrette became the village's first minister in 1563. His parents remained in Osse. His brother, Jacob, stayed and assumed important positions after 1685, including "avocat," an advocate to the Parliament in Pau (the regional King's Court in Pau) in the early 1700's. Jean's family enjoyed protection from the leading Catholic Laclede family in the valley. (26) Was religion and the desire to see minister Peiret to safety the motives, or were there other reasons?

From the 8th century to the French Revolution in 1789, the Fors de Bearn prescribed the family structure of Osse, as well as its political, economic and social aspects. (27) This family structure gives us a greater understanding of why Jean Latourrette may have readily volunteered to accompany Pastor Peiret, even with the attending risk of arrest and, perhaps, death.

L'ostau ("house" in Bearnais) was the locus of an extended family unit which included the house and land. The name Jean de Latourrette meant that Jean lived at the ostau of the Latourrettes. The first son was the heir of the ostau. (Or the first daughter if there was no son.) The first son then became a chef de famille, the head of the family and a member of the assembly that governed the village. The heir could marry a cadette, a younger daughter, to perpetuate the ostau, but not an heiress. Cadets (younger sons), became shepherds or, among the more elite families, craftsmen. This is why Jean became a carpenter. If a cadet, like Jean, married an heiress, he took the name of her ostau. That was rare, as was the case of a cadet and a cadette marrying and establishing a new ostau. Thus, as a cadet in Osse, Jean's economic and social opportunities were limited. With his strong faith and the King's continuing repression, Jean's risk to leave with Peiret may have been worth the danger. He was a cadet without an inheritance and not married at 34. It would have been difficult for him to establish a new ostau, especially in 1685.

The prohibitions against Protestants occupying any position that would assure a livelihood extended down to even craftsmen. Madame Gilberte Gaubil reported a legend about three other men leaving Osse in 1685, and noted that afterward the villagers were greatly concerned about a shortage of carpenters. Perhaps one or more of the three men were carpenters, like Jean Latourrette. (28)

After the issuance of Tapie's list, the dragoons came to Osse and the Reformed fled to the woods. September is likely the time, because in early October "seven to eight thousand fusiliers just come, as it is said, from converting the Protestants in Bearn" entered La Rochelle. (29) The timing described here fits with Foucault's action in Bearn and the issuance of Tapie's list on September 2. Given its isolation in the Aspe valley, Osse was likely the last village to be invaded by the dragoons. (Note: An arrest warrant was issued for Peiret on September 25, when he was not found at Osse by the dragoons. This pins down his departure to the time between September 2 and September 25.)

The cohesion of the Osse consistory is confirmed by the story that "upon learning of the imminent arrival of the intendant's armed emissaries, the ten elders united with the heads of families by solemn oath, swearing not to abandon their country or faith." (30) As during the religious war of 1659, the parishioners fled into the high mountains and impenetrable forests where they had always maintained barns for tending livestock during the summer months. According to this story, the dragoons found only one woman in the village. (31) Pastor Peiret, his wife and two children had already left with Jean Latourrette and several other parishioners.


Peiret and Jean Latourrette apparently fled to Frankfurt; Rotterdam; and finally London. Cadier suggests Peiret and the other ministers who fled from Bearn attended an April 24, 1686, conference of the Synod Eglise Walloones in Rotterdam. (32) The London record, cited below, of Jean Latourrette going to and from England and Holland after this conference, tends to confirm this path.

Note: The description of the flight of Pastor Peiret, his family of a wife and two children, and Jean Latourrette, with several men from Osse, not identified by name, first to Frankfurt and then to Rotterdam has been found to be based on a false assumption and lacks any creditability. Moreover, Peiret’s name is not on the list of the pastors who attended the Synod in April of 1686 in Holland. The actual path of the Peiret family and Jean Latourrette was to the west coast of France and then by ship to England, where Peiret is found in early February of 1686. See the new section of this website, describing this flight, “How They Left France,” at

London: June 1686- August 1687

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 travel to other countries, including America. (33) In reaction 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." (34) The timing of these events, the Synod of April 24 and the collections of April 23, 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. But why would they leave Holland, which had always been a safe haven for French Protestants?

Note: Based on new evidence that Peiret and Latourrette went from the west coast of France to England, the following explanation indicates why Peiret would not have gone to Holland to find or establish a new ministry. As described below, it is likely that Latourrette went to Holland to assess the situation there for Peiret, while the pastor and his family stayed in England in 1686.

Jon Butler suggests an 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. "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."(35) The lack of ministerial opportunities in Holland and information that they would be treated very well by the Relief Committee were likely the key factors in the decision to move to London. (36) Based on a review of the records, Butler concludes that the committee granted assistance in widely different amounts according to the "quality" of the people. It is obvious from the committee's records that they considered ministers to be persons of high quality. One of the comparisons Butler makes is the amount granted Peiret (50 pounds sterling) to go to America and that granted to Peter Le Sade, "Ploughman," who received only 3 pounds (60 shillings) to take his wife and two children to the colonies. He concludes that most refugees received between 2 and 4 pounds for their voyage to America. The Peiret/Le Sade comparison is immediately evident as they appear sequentially in the handwritten records. Le Sade with his family of 4 received less than a pound per person (or 15 shillings), while Peiret with a party of 6 received over 8 pounds per person. (37)

There are three entries in the relief committee's records about Jean Latourrette and Pierre Peiret. Although all the entries of the committees are relatively brief, they allow one to determine approximately when Jean and Pierre went to London and when they departed for America. The single entry for Jean is found in an alphabetical list of grants between June 4, 1686 and August 28, 1687. Since these grants were audited at a later date and there are no additional entries for Jean, this is the final record of his assistance in a relief program that continued until 1727. (38)

"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 for a person to travel to America, cited above, 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. (39)

The committee's audit 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, however, use the grant to go to Denmark, because he left with Peiret in early August 1687 to go to America. This may also explain, as noted below, why Peiret requested the funds to include Jean and another man to accompany him to America.

An entry for Peiret is found under MS 1 for the period June 4, 1686 to August 28, 1687, cited above. Peiret received three grants, with the first one dated December 6, 1686, as an effective date to receive 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 December 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"

Note: The date of the first grant to Peiret has been changed from October to December 6, 1686 to correct the entry for the 10th month of the old English calendar which had the New Year begin in March. The date of October cited earlier in this article would not be the 10th month of the year as cited in the French Relief committee’s records. The timing of December, suggests that Peiret had support from the Savory Church from early 1686 to December of 1686. See new article at

Found separately 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. (40)

"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 after the April 24 meeting in Rotterdam to determine if relocation to London was feasible. Jean certainly was in London before Peiret arrived and sought refugee aid, which was authorized on December 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.

Note: The paragraph above and the one following are modified by the new evidence that Peiret and Latourrette went from France directly to England by ship and later Latourette went to Holland to scout it for a possible ministry.

Peiret was granted living assistance for two six-month periods starting December 6, 1686, but both he and Jean were gone from London by August 28, 1687. Peiret left before the second six-month grant expired and Jean never drew the funds to go to Denmark. But why did Jean Latourrette consider going to Denmark after traveling to Holland and back to London and seeing Peiret and his family safely to London?

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? The story, described above, about Jean Laplacette, a fellow pastor from Pontacq, being invited to a new ministry in Copenhagen by the Queen provides a good explanation for 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. (41)

An analysis by Roy A. Sundstrom indicates there were very limited opportunities for Peiret to acquire a ministry in England. Sundstrom notes the surplus of French ministers in England, due to the emigrations of the early 1680s, to the point that Archbishop Sancroft of the Anglican Church issued a circular letter on July 15, 1685, giving the bishops the choice of either having destitute Huguenot ministers come to live with them or sending him the funds for their support. (42) The situation only deteriorated after the Revocation in 1685. (43)

After considering Holland, Denmark and England, America became the obvious choice for emigration. The Relief Committee accounts, corroborating information from Baird and Wittmeyer, as well as London sailing records, yield a clear picture of their departure from London. A grant given after August 3, 1687 and a sailing from London by August 18 suggest there may have been a relatively quick, but well calculated, decision by Peiret to leave London to establish a ministry for French refugees going to America. King James II, self-designated as the "Most Catholic King," with his open hostility to French Protestants, was a major reason to leave. As a consequence, groups of French refugees went to America in 1686 and 1687.

Other refugees accompanied Peiret's group on the English ship named Robert. Many who left at this time had been naturalized and had already achieved some success in London, and later became leading members of Peiret's church in New York. The Glorious Revolution in England was soon to occur in 1688, but the outcome would not have been predictable to the departing refugees. Rev. Alfred Wittmeyer indicates that there was a ready-made congregation for Peiret with the refugees arriving in New York at the time. (44) The good prospects for a ministry in America is demonstrated by how quickly Peiret established a congregation and built the first church structure exclusively for the use of French Protestant refugees in New York. All of this took place within one year of his arrival there in 1687.

Sailing records reveal the English ship Robert left London between August 4 and 18, 1687. Other records indicate the Peiret party was aboard this ship, which likely arrived in New York in October. At this time the English did not record free people on voyages, limiting their entries to the name of the ship, the captain, and people shipping goods. Hence, the record for the Robert on this particular voyage is shown as "4-18 August 1687: Shippers by the Robert, Mr. Richard Burt, bound from London to New York (followed by six shippers)." (45)

Arrival in New York, October 1687

The arrival is documented by Wittmeyer: "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." (46) Baird references the arrival of Elie Nezereau: "He (Nezereau) was naturalized in England, March 20, 1686, and came over in the ship Robert, with Pasteur Peiret, in October, 1687." (47) 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." (48) By November of 1688, the church was established and built on Petty-Coat Lane (now lower Manhattan). The first entries in the church Registers are two baptisms on November 4, 1688. (49)

The church established by Peiret was highly successful until his death in 1704. Butler, Wittmeyer, and Maynard describe his ministry in some detail. (50) Based on the documented work that Jean Latourrette later did on the church building, one can assume he played a major role in its construction in 1688. He also played a major role in establishing the French Church on Staten Island, near where he built his home at Fresh Kills. (51) Like the story of Jean Fontaine fleeing France, his name became a legend in America as the fictional Count de La Tourette, signifying the plight of refugees forced to flee at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. This legend is the subject of the next chapter. ( Note: Recent research demonstrates that the count tale/legend was a hoax. See "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes" on this webpage.)


The Legend of the Count de La Tourette

Note: The first count story, discussed below, appearing in Hannah F. Lee's 1843 book has turned out to be a complete hoax. Later research shows that all the alleged facts, except for the daughter Marie Latourrette, were fabricated. See 'A Critique of Fay's Count Hoax' in "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes" on this web site.

The second hoax, discussed below, created by an American descendant of Henry Latourrette (1708-1794), represents an attempt to rescue the first hoax presented by Lyman Latourrette by creating an even more farfetched count story by distorting and inventing facts. In addition to the information presented below, there is a two part critique of this hoax in "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes" on this web site: 'The Post-Lyman Latourette Count Hoax' in which about 99 percent of the information is shown to be false. This would be a farce, if it wasn't the case that some Latourrette descendants still want to believe the hoax and went as far as installing the shield of a Catholic family in the French Church of New York around 1980 to represent the Latourrettes of Osse, Bearn. The shields or coats of arms are compared in 'The Blason (Coat of Arms) of Jacob de la Tourrette' found on this site under "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes."

The previous two chapters focused on the origins of Jean Latourrette and Pastor Pierre Peiret in France, their flight from Osse, Bearn (now Osse-en-Aspe) in 1685 and their arrival in New York in 1687. This chapter examines the two most important tales fabricated about Jean Latourrette: that he and Marie Mercereau were married in France before 1685 and they fled as a count and countess after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. (1) These two tales are inexorably linked because, to accept the count fable, one must believe a marriage occurred in France before they came to New York.

In reviewing the evidence cited to support the romantic story of a count, one finds the hope of descendants of Jean recovering wealth abandoned in France, a claim of family nobility to enhance one's social status, and a cover-up of the revelation that a child was born two months after the only marriage of Jean and Marie. Once a fable is launched, evidence must be invented to support it or the historical record must be altered, as in the case of the record of their marriage ceremony on July 16, 1693 in the French Church of New York. The author has examined the original marriage record and the section on this webpage "Tales, Fables, and Hoaxes" contains an article which analyzes the corruption of the marriage register and the alteration of the birth and baptism dates of their first child by one year. In spite of the fabrications, some good does emerge from correcting the count fable. The real story of Jean Latourrette, as presented in the two preceding chapters, is much more interesting, noble and inspirational for his descendants. Even as a fable, the tale of the count and countess, risking death to flee, represents the degradation and suffering thousands of Huguenots experienced to adhere to their religious beliefs.

How and why did this legend of a count begin and why was it perpetuated down to today? The most obvious and simple answer is the lack of knowledge among Jean's descendants about his background and the history, geography, language and customs of Bearn, in particular, and France, in general. (2) This is clearly evident in the histories of the Latourrette family in America written by Lyman E. Latourette and by Mrs. Verna Jacob. (3) Both of these histories repeat the count legend and present an altered, misleading version of the marriage ceremony of Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau, as recorded in French on July 16, 1693, by Pastor Pierre Peiret. (4)

Another error contained in the histories of Lyman Latourette and Mrs. Jacob is the wrong location for Osse, Bearn (Osse-en-Aspe). What they describe is the location of Osses, a Basque village. (5) The correct location is described in "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes." The count legend and the wrong location of Osse have caused American descendants to descend on Osses to locate the Latourrette castle. One even claims to have located it, but it is obvious from the context of his remarks that he is describing Osses, not Osse-en-Aspe, the latter name used in the modern French postal system to avoid this kind of confusion. (6) Others who have posted messages on the Latourette Family Genealogy Forum, ,

say they have found the Latourrette castle in France, but when questioned, refuse to identify its location. The mysterious castle, not identified on the Family Forum, appears to be the one discussed at the end of this chapter.

One possible source of the count fable was the opportunity presented, after the French Revolution, to the descendants of French Protestants who had fled religious persecution to gain French citizenship and recover lost property. This possibility may have created the count fable in the early 1800s or, at least, influenced its persistence until it appeared in publications in mid-century. As one descendant observed in 1913, "The vast estates awaiting the heirs of the LaTourettes is persistent (in the legend), and many of the early documents bearing on the family history have been gathered by lawyers for the purpose of securing this mythical estate." (7)

Even today, the appeal of the count fable to some Latourrettes in America is the romantic fantasy that they are descendants from French nobility. Thus, though it is obviously no longer possible to recapture lost wealth, there is a quest to locate these roots in France, identify the castle from which the count and countess fled and display the family shield.

The count fable, frequently cited, appeared in two books published in the 19th century: Mrs. Martha N. Lamb, History of the City of New York, and M. Charles Weiss, History of the French Protestant Refugees. (8) The fable was repeated a century later by Lyman Latourette and Mrs. Jacob, except for the note by Lyman that Weiss refers to Henri de La Tourette and Lamb to Count de la Tourette. Although both authors imply a linkage to Jean Latourrette, no explanation is given as to how "Henri" becomes "Jean", and neither author cites a source. (9)

A search to locate an original published source for the count fable led to a two volume work by Hannah F. Lee, The Huguenots in France and America. (10) In the Preface to Volume 1, one finds a more complete version of the story, which is quoted below. Lee notes that this story came to her as a letter written after 1841, when the volume was delayed after apparently going to the publisher and before it was published in 1843. There is no citation as to the author of the letter, but the context reveals the branch of the family from which it originated. The Lee volumes appeared in print in 1843, the Weiss work in English in 1854, and Lamb's history in 1877. Thus, the Lee version predates both the Weiss and Lamb volumes and may be the first time the story appears in print.

From Lee:

"I give the following quotation from a letter which I have recently received from a lineal descendent of the Huguenots.

'My great-great grandfather was a native of La Vendee, and had there an estate on which he lived, and from which his family took the name, La Tourette. After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, several Huguenot families in his neighborhood endured great persecution, and Henri de la Tourette was warned, that he was soon to be molested, any attempt at flight would be discovered, and only serve to hasten his condemnation. To avoid suspicion, he gave a large entertainment to which all the neighboring families were invited, and while the guests were assembled in the house, he left it with his wife, reached the seacoast, which was not far off, and made his escape on board a vessel bound to Charlestown. The ship was cast away on Staten Island, or, being in distress, was obliged to put in there, and there my great-grandmother, Marie de la Tourette, was born. A branch of the family still exists in France, which has adhered to Catholicism. The only female member of it is the Superior of a Convent, and the head of it, the Marquis de la Tourette, who is, or lately was, prefet of Aix-la-Chapelle. The chateau of La Tourette is still standing, but I do not know whether it is possession of the family. A few years since, one of the descendants, the Comte Eugene de la Tourette, came over from France in the hope of obtaining the family Bible, which Henri brought over in his flight. It contained the register of the births and descents (sic) of the family, which, had it been in our possession, would have enabled as Huguenot descendants to claim property which was confiscated at the time of the persecution. The Bible, however, had been long since given to a family who had removed to Germany, and could not be traced.' "

At some time, although there is no evidence of the existence of such a person except in fables, there may have been a Count Henri de la Tourette, and some descendant of his may have once come to America. (11) As documented in the previous chapters, however, Jean Latourette left Osse, Bearn, in 1685, not La Vendee, and came to New York in 1687 as a cadet, a single male without an inheritance. Although he later moved to Staten Island, he certainly wasn't cast away there on a ship in distress, but arrived in New York on the ship Robert with Pastor Peiret from London. In fact, his route to America with Pastor Peiret was through Frankfurt, Rotterdam and London. His marriage in the French Church of New York on July 16, 1693, is preserved in the church records and recorded as a first marriage to Marie Mercereau. (12) His first four children, including the above mentioned "Marie de la Tourette," were born in New York, not on Staten Island, and were baptized in Peiret's church, as shown by entries in the church records. (13)

Again, the Lee version of the story suggests a fantasy: a search for estates and wealth left behind and a romantic wish for nobility. The fable also provided an explanation for what might be an embarrassment for this branch of the family. The birth of Marie de la Tourrette, described in the Lee version by the unidentified author as "my great-grandmother," was recorded in the French Church Registers as September 23, 1693, just two months after the marriage. (14)

(Note: Later research demonstrates that the story appearing in Lee's volume is a complete hoax with all the facts cited manufactured by a descendant of the daughter Marie (born 1693) of Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau. See 'A Critique of Fay's Count Hoax' in webpage section "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes.")

By 1853, the count story in Lee's book found its way back to France, without attribution to its source, in the original French publication of Weiss' book, cited above. There is an interesting addition, however, to the story as described by Weiss, "A long list of respectable and pious descendants trace their origin to this source; and one of them is now pastor of a Dutch Reformed church not far from Richmond (Staten Island)." (15) The reference is to Rev. James A. M. LaTourette, on whom Lyman Latourette appears to have relied heavily in his Annals for information about Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau, including the unsubstantiated dates of birth for Marie as ca 1665 and the marriage in France as ca 1684 to match the count fable. (16) Lyman also cites Rev. LaTourette who, based solely of the similarity of names in the Romance languages, states without any reservation that the Latourrettes of Osse came originally from Italy. (17) No evidence is given for this assertion. The history of the Latourrettes in Osse clearly indicates that the name really is of a Bearnese language origin rather than Italian or even French. (18) (Note: See 'Another Fable: The Latourrettes of Osse, Bearn Came From Italy' in "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes.")

Although he may not have authored the fable, the Rev. LaTourette had a hand in promoting this tale on an international scale, as witnessed by its citation in Weiss' original text in French. One is tempted to conclude that, though the Reverend spent a considerable amount of time in pursuing his branch of the family (from the son David born December 29, 1699), he appears to have had an overactive imagination about areas in which there was no evidence to support conclusions that he reached. Or, perhaps to improve his social status, he desperately wished to believe the fable.

A century later, the fable is still known by Marie Candau in Osse. Madame Candau's version of the tale is associated with an aide to Henry IV, who promulgated the Edict of Nantes in 1598. The name of Count Henri de La tourette is mentioned in a letter from Madame Candau to Mrs. Jacob in 1954 as a General of the Royal Guard to Henry IV. The story told by Madame Candau is similar to that cited by Lee, Lamb and Weiss. (19) (Note: It is likely, given the Fay hoax about a Count Henri de La tourette, Madame Candau in Osse was responding to a question raised in a letter to her from Mrs. Jacob about whether this Henri was Jean Latourrette's father. In reviewing Mrs. Jacob's correspondence, it is obvious that she spent her lifetime trying to track down the fictitious Henri created by Fay's count hoax. Other correspondence with a pastor in France found in Mrs. Jacob's notes cited Alfred Cadier that David was the likely father of Jean Latourrette.)

"This Count left France after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes because he was to have been arrested, and after having given a festival he disappeared and left, taking his wife, jewels and his Bible. No one knows where he found refuge, perhaps in America, perhaps in the North countries. It is, however, certain that he existed since someone in America had an exact description of his coat of arms several years ago."

This version of the tale which, again, focuses on a Henri de La tourette, rather than Jean Latourrette, has a fatal flaw. The count would have had to live well over a hundred years to have reached an age to be a General of Henry IV's Royal Guard and still be alive in 1685, when the Edict of Nantes was revoked. Henry IV was assassinated in 1610. So if this count was even a young general of 30 at the time of the assassination in 1610, he would have been 105 in 1685. (20)

How can one account for the persistence of this legend, which turns out to be merely a fable? Stories and family traditions that are passed from generation to generation over 150 to 200 years are subject to error, reinterpretation and embellishment. They may also be subject to romantic interpretation, as Weiss suggests by describing the story of the flight as "almost the reality of romance." (21) Frequently these tales evolve from a few known facts about the subject which then are fantasized into a story. In this count/countess tale, the facts which are correct include the person's lineage back to Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau. It is also true that Jean and Marie eventually moved from New York City to Staten Island sometime after 1698. However, in the various sources that mention Jean Latourrette and the Mercereau family coming to or being in New York, it is never indicated anyone was cast away on Staten Island.

The department of Vendee did not exist at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. (22) The area at that time was essentially the old province of Poitou, which historically had a substantial Huguenot population. The Mercereau family was from another old province, Saintonge, in western France. The Mercereau family history shows both of Marie's parents were from Moeze, Saintonge, with birth dates for her father Jean (John) ca 1627 and her mother Elizabeth Dubois in 1643. Marie was born and baptized in Moeze in 1670. (23)

Jean Latourrette came from Osse in the old province of Bearn. The Latourrette genealogy can be traced back to at least 1510. It is clear that the Latourrettes inhabited Osse from the time that Gassiot Latourrette, who began his ministry in the Aspe Valley in 1563, was born some years earlier in the village. (24) Other evidence suggests that the Latourrette family name is indigenous to Bearn. Thus, neither family was from La Vendee, or after the French Revolution, the department of Vendee.

The conclusion reached here is the count legend has no substance. The question which must be addressed is why it has persisted down to today in the lore of Jean Latourrette's descendants. The most logical explanation is that it allowed Jean's descendants to account for his being in America and how he came eventually to Staten Island. As suggested by Weiss, it is a romantic tale that captured people's imagination in the middle of the 19 th century. Later it became a symbol for the deprivations Huguenot refugees suffered as they were forced to leave France. What more compelling story could one envisage than a young count and countess being forced to leave their castle and wealth behind to flee in the night to a ship waiting nearby and then to be cast up on Staten Island, with only the clothes on their backs and the family Bible? The story represents in a symbolic way the tale of many who fled France. This particular story seems to have taken on a life of its own in terms of Huguenot lore in America, extending well beyond Jean's descendants. One finds even as late as the 1930s the tale being reenacted in church services and pageants. The following is an example from a memorial and pageant on June 28, 1931, at the Church of the Huguenots on Staten Island, commemorating the 270 th anniversary of the first permanent Huguenot settlement on Staten Island in 1661. (25)

"Part I, Act I- Scene 2


Of those who went from France and crossed the sea

To work with God and found a nation true,

Whose banner should exult in every storm

As Freedom's sign and symbol to the world,

With stars of hope to light the coming days,

Of these I tell-and summon them to come.

A man and wife, whose home and lands were fair,

With spoil of ancient wealth and harvests rich-

The LaTourettes, with name and fame secure-

Have found a Book which shows the soul its God;

And reading gladly all its living truth

Have yielded heart and fortune to the Cause.

And now they garnish viands for a feast,

They bid their friends and neighbors come,

The castle's lighted, and the feast is spread,

And noble words are spoken, brave and fair.

To-night they choose! 'Tis home and friends or faith.

(Theme music-leading up to scene of feast,- renunciation, departure, flight.)

(The Latourettes, husband and wife, quietly rise from the table, go out thru the hallways, fling down jewels and finery, wrap cloaks about them, and pass out into the night. Horses' hoofs are heard, as they begin their perilous journey to the coast, and so to America.)

And thus they went, by hidden woodlands ways

Thru rock-hedged passes, to the lonely coast,

Where lonely boats were riding on the crested sea.

And thus they fled forever from the joys of France,

To lonely lands of freedom far away.

(Psalm of courage and trust, dying in the distance)


Lyman Latourette's Annals appeared in 1954 with the count fable and a discussion of family shields. Inspired by the prospect of ancestral nobility, some American descendants of Jean Latourrette thereafter spent years searching for the mythical caste in France. Recently, there have been postings on the internet page for the Family Forum claiming the castle has been found and there is a vineyard associated with the family now living near the ruins of the chateau. The castle identified is neither at Osse-en-Aspe nor in the Department of Vendee, the two likely sites given the count fable and Jean Latourrette's origins, but at a great distance from these locations.

What this search found is the ruins of the Chateau de la Tourette 2 miles south of Vernoux-en-Vivarais and about 22 miles WSW of the city of Valence on the Rhone River. (26) There is a family living in the restored guardhouse at the ruins. The family claims the title of de la Tourette and the name is associated with a well-known vineyard, the wine from which is labeled "Hermitage, Marquis de la Tourette." (27) Of course, since the French Revolution, titles carry no special recognition or privileges, but the seigneur is called Count Gonzague de la Tourette because of his heritage.

Imagine the euphoria experienced at the discovery of a Chateau de la Tourette and identifying a "real" count! However, there is one small problem. The family now occupying the castle grounds and carrying the title, as described by the count, has always been Catholic!

Undaunted by this factual problem, a story is invented that the family living at Vernoux, when Lutheranism came to the Rhone region 1520-30, was forced to flee to Calvinist Bearn to find protection. Furthermore, Gassiot Latourrette, born in Osse (Osse-en-Aspe) ca 1540 and the first Calvinist minister in 1563, is claimed to be a direct descendant of the family from Vernoux, with a Henri being the father. (28)

A little research dispels this revised version of the count tale. There are several sources which document the history of the de la Tourette castle and the families which, over several centuries, took the title of Count de la Tourette. In the Armorial du Vivarais, one finds, "The La Tourette castle, near Vernoux, has been owned successively by several noble families who took the name of this domain." --- "The first family with this name is known in 1240. It died out in 1330, with Hugon de La Tourette, killed at Tournay (battle), in Flanders, without heirs." (29) The full description contained in Armorial du Vivarais clearly indicates the castle was possessed by several different families, each taking the title of sovereign of the domain down to the French Revolution. There is, therefore, no linear family blood line at this castle.

Given the revised version of the count tale addressed here, there remains the question as to whether, at some time in the early 1500's, one of the sovereigns was Protestant and abandoned the castle to flee to Bearn. This also implies the family would have been willing to convert from Lutheranism to Calvinism. This is unlikely because of the deep animosity between the two faiths at the time. Further, the conversion would have to have been very profound in order to have a son, Gassiot, born ca 1540 after a flight to Bearn, accepted as the first Calvinist minister at Osse in 1563. (30)

The possibility of a Count de la Tourette at Vernoux fleeing before Gassiot is born in Osse ca 1540 is also quickly dispelled by the ownership of the castle over this period. "In 1420, Antoine de Chambaud inherited from Raymond de Caume, co-lord de La Tourette, and reunited the whole lordship (domain)." (31) The domain remains with the Chambaud family during the period allegedly that someone fled to Osse. We have from another source, Revue du Vivarais, a description of the Chambaud family at this time. "In 1544, the seigneur de La Tourette was Gabriel de Chambaud, who lived in his castle with his wife, Magdeleine de Joyeuse. His oldest son Pierre succeeded him in the seigneurie. His two other sons were monks. Jean was Prior and seigneur de Rochepaule in Velay, and Antoine was Prior of the Etoile, in Dauphine. There were also six daughters, of whom three: Jeanne, Louise and Isabeau, were nuns." The same source indicates the castle remained in the Chambaud family until 1548 when it was acquired by Louis de Presle, after the death of the son Pierre, who had inherited from his father Gabriel. (32) Clearly, no one from the Chambaud family fled to Bearn in this period. The Chambaud family was Catholic; therefore, there is no substance to the revised count fable.

Fables that somehow overcome all logic and persist in the face of facts can lead to bizarre results. The Dictionnaire Historique Heraldique de La Noblesse Francaise indicates the family holding the La Tourette castle in 1639 separated and their two "blasons" (shields) are different. The Armorial du Vivarais displays one shield, which appears to be the earliest one associated with the castle. It represents a castle tower and is described as

"Azure (blue background) with (the fortified top of the) tower in silver, and the brick (lower part) in sand (color). (33)

This shield is shown first in Les Chateaux Historiques du Vivarais, with four other shields and a picture of the ruins of the castle, including a shield labeled De La Rivoire, associated with the La Rivoire family. (34) A description of this shield is easily found on the internet.

DE LA RIVOIRE DE LA TOURETTE, en Vivarais : écartelé, aux 1 et 4 de gueules, au lion d'argent, qui est de la RIVOIRE ; aux 2 et 3 d'or, au lion de gueules, qui est de GINESTOUS LA TOURETTE. (35)

This is a shield quartered in the form of a cross with the first and fourth of red, with a silver lion, which is de la Rivoire; with the second and third of gold, with a red lion, which is de Ginestous La Tourette.

In heraldry the figure in the first and fourth quadrants represents the primary family and in the second and third the alliances. In the history of the castle de la Tourette, one finds the family of Ginestous coming into the possession of the chateau by marriage with a daughter of the de Presle family in 1593 and again by marriage in 1666 comes name La Rivoire. (36) In addition to representing a Catholic family, the Rivoire shield, established after 1666, comes more than 70 years after Gassiot Latourrette's death in 1595. Moreover, it has no association with Jean's father, David, or Jean himself as described in Osse in the period 1665-85.

As a consequence of the overzealous search for nobility and the tortuous manipulation of the facts, the La Rivoire shield described above from a Catholic family is the one that hangs in the French Church of New York, L'Eglise Française du Saint Esprit, today to represent the Huguenot family of Jean Latourrette. (37) Unfortunately, this is the end result of the long history of the overzealous promotion of a fable that has no substance. The La Rivoire shield as in hangs in the church is included in the section including pictures and illustrations. (Note: The Catholic shield discussed here is shown in the article, posted on this web site, as 'The Blason (Coat of Arms) of Jacob de la Tourrette.' This article conclusively demonstrates that the Latourrette family of Osse, Bearn did not have a shield or coat of arms and the one shown in Layman's Annals was granted to Jean's older brother Jacob as an individual after 1696. This was at least 30 years after the Catholic shield, above, was established in 1666.)

As a direct descendant of Jean Latourrette from the son, Pierre, born to Jean and Marie Mercereau November 22, 1697, the author hopes that all the many fables about Jean, especially nobility, can be set aside. From the story in the first two chapters of this monograph, the American descendents of Jean and Marie have much about which to be proud. True nobility is found in the real story of Jean.

End Note: In addition to the count hoax, there is the “Latourette family origin in Italy hoax,’ stated without any evidence, or cited sources or the construction of a story, like the original count tale by Fay in Lee’s book, based on manufactured sources and citations. The Italy hoax is blown away by the section on this webpage by what is the Béarnais origin of the Latourrette name. The name originally was that of a miller who ground grain in the fields with a wheel. La torreta has an occupational origin as a miller. See The Origin of the Family Name Latourette (originally Latourrette) from Osse, Béarn” on this website at:

When translated from la Torreta into French, the “eta” was replaced by “ette,” which means “small,” when added to a French noun. Then, the “u” was added to the double r in torr, converting the Béarnais word implying “turning” (as of a grain wheel) into tour and with la as la tour meaning the tower. The author notes that when Gassiot was confirmed as a minister in Pau in 1563 the “u” is not in the name cited as Latorrette.

So the miller’s name la Torreta in Béarnais becomes la Tourrette, the French small tower. It is noted elsewhere that the Latourrette family in the 18th and 19th centuries had the most desirable site for a water mill along the creek that flows through Osse, being located at the beginning of the water race way (or millrace) near the Latourrette Pon house on the west side of the village.


* The name Latourrette is used here because it is the original form found in Osse. Although Jean Latourrette is generally referred to as Latourette, his signatures in the original Registers of the French Church of New York are always with a double "r". (See his signatures presented on this webpage.)

(1)The earliest history of the church is by Rev. Alfred V. Wittmeyer in the Collections of the Huguenot Society of America, Volume 1, 1886. This volume of the Registers of the church contains a Historical Sketch of the Church (pp. ix - lxxxviii), which is reduced to only three pages in reprints. A later historical account is by John A. F. Maynard,The Huguenot Church of New York: A History of the French Church of Saint Esprit, 1938. Jon Butler's The Huguenots in America: A Refugee People in a New World Society, 1983, has a detailed analysis of the French Church in Chapter 5 (pp. 144-198). From Butler's comparison of the experience of the other Huguenot churches in America, the author has concluded that Peiret's ministry was the "most successful and influential."

(2) This is the subject of Chapter 3, The Legend of the Count de La Tourette.

(3) See Lyman E. Latourette, Latourette Annals in America (1954), p.18 and Mrs. Verna A. Hill Jacob, The Latourette Family and Associated Families (1965). They describe a village named Osses as about 29 miles from Biarritz. Actually, Osse, now Osse-en-Aspe, is about 100 road miles from Biarritz. (Note: See 'The Correct Location of Osse, Bearn' described on this webpage.)

(4) 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.

(5) 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 vallee d'Aspe, 1892, with references to the 2003 edition)

Philippe Chareyre in "Les Pasteurs d'Osse-en-Aspe de 1563 a 2005," Bulletin No 38, Centre d'Etude du Protestantisme Bearnais (CEPB), December 2005, pp. 21-4, presents a complete listing, with short biographical statements, of all ministers at Osse, starting in 1563 with Gassiot Latourrette down to 2005. For Peiret, see p. 22.

(6) Marc Forisser, Les Eglises Reformeee du Bearn, 1963, p. 167. Except for Jean Latourrette, the author has not been able to find in New York, after 1685, any other names of people who are mentioned by researchers or villagers as leaving Osse at the time.

(7) See Gilberte Gaubil, "Les Protestants d'Osse-en-Aspe," Bicentenaire de la Reconstruction du Temple d'Osse-en-Aspe, 2005, overleaf and p. 6. The research of three French genealogists, Jean-Luc Bilhou-Nabera, Yves Lafournere and Bernard Cazenave-Latourrette, clearly indicates Jean Latourrette was single when he left Osse. See, for example, the genealogical chart of Yves Lafournere under Latourette (58):;m=N;tri=A;o=A;k =

(8) This is the subject of Chapter 2, Pierre Peiret and Jean Latourrette: Their Flight from Osse, Bearn, in 1685.

(9) Relative to Jean, born ca 1651, being a younger brother to Jacob born ca 1650, see Lafournere's genealogical chart above and Gaubil, "Les Protestants," p. 6. In an unpublished paper, "Famille Latourrette d'Osse en Aspe," given at Osse, Antoinette Doerr, member of the Council for the Centre for the Study of Bearnais Protestantism (CEPB), describes Jean as "menuisier d' Osse," carpenter of Osse. The work described in the records of the French Church indicates that Jean is practicing carpentry. See Maynard, The Huguenot Church of New York, p. 80.

Under the Fors de Bearn, as a second son and not an heir to the household wealth and the status of the father, and with lesser opportunities for a good marriage, Jean may have had other reasons than faith to leave with Peiret. The economic outlook for Huguenots both before and after the Revocation, with the many restrictions placed on the Reformed to practice a trade or profession, was very bleak for cadets. Gilberte Gaubil, cited above, shares a legend from Osse that so many of the young carpenters left in 1685 that the villagers complained there was no one to do the work.

(10) See Cadier, Le Bearn, Part I, Chapter VI, "Gatiot (sic) de Latourrette, minister de la palaure de Diu en Aspe," pp. 81-8; Chareyre, p.2; Gaubil, "Les Protestants," p. 1; and the short biographical statement by Chareyre, "Les Pasteurs," p.21. Reference is also directed to the genealogical chart of Yves Lafournere. Biographical statements on all of the Protestant ministers of Bearn are found in Albert Sarrabere, Dictionnarie des pasteurs basques et bearnais du XVIe et XVIIe siecles, CEPB, 2001.

In the Bearnais dialect Gassiot Latourrette was originally called Gassioo de la Torreta. Gassiot in French is pronounced as in Bearnais Gassioo with a long o and silent t. (Note: On this web site see the section 'The Latourrettes of Osse, Bearn, Came From Italy: Another Fable' in "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes" for what is known about the origin of the name Latourrette in French and an explanation of why the tale the family came from Italy is erroneous.)

For a discussion of the history of Osse from 1665, see Forissier, Les Eglises Reformeee du Bearn, Chapter XII, 'L'Eglise D'Osse,' pp. 167-87. The first several pages (pp. 167-9) confirm that Peiret is from Pontacq and that he is accompanied to New York by Jean Latourrette.

(11) For Gassiot's ministry, the simultaneum regime, the role of the mountain region and the trade routes that may have brought the Reformed faith to the Aspe Valley, see Philippe Chareyre, "Nouvelles Recherches sur Le Protestantisme a Osse-en-Aspe," Bulletin No 38, Centre d'Etude du Protestantisme Bearnais (CEPB), December 2005, pp. 1-5; Cadier, Le Bearn, pp. 81-88; and Gaubil, "Les Protestants," pp. 1-3.

(12) Chareyre, "Nouvelles Recherches," p. 2.

(13) Le Bearn, p. 87.

(14) Le Bearn, p. 88.

(15) Pierre Latourrette, ca 1570- ca 1655, recommended to study theology by the Synod of 1596, became a famous minister in his own right for over 50 years at Castetnau (now Castetnau-Camblong). See Sarrabere, Dictionnarie des pasteurs, p. 171.

(16) See Codures' (Coudures) biography in Chareyre, "Les Pasteurs," p.21 and explanations about the impact of the religious war of 1569 on Osse in Gaubil, "Les Protestants," pp. 2-3 and Chareyre, "Nouvelles Recherches," p. 2.

(17) Chareyre, "Nouvelles Recherches," pp. 2-4 and Gaubil, "Les Protestants," pp. 2-3.

(18) Chareyre, "Nouvelles Recherches," p. 5.

(19) Chareyre identifies three elite families: the Latourrettes, Salefranques and Minvielles. "Nouvelles Recherches," p.2. Bernard de Salefranque, loyal to Queen Jeanne d' Albert, was from Borce, and for that reason the village was not burned by Baron d'Arros in October of 1569. Of these elite families we find only the Latourrette name when the list of people refusing to abjure was drawn up on September 2, 1685.

(20) During this period, abbots are either "reguliere" or "en commande." "Reguliere" denotes a religious abbot with jurisdiction over the monks. "En commande" describes an abbot who is secular and enjoys "la dime," a share of the income from the land. The distinction traces back to the 5 th century in France when some abbeys and their lands were usurped by secular owners and were passed on by inheritance or sold to other parties.

(21) Because the title abbe laique d'Osse was associated for a long period with the Latourrettes, many in Osse believe that the Seigneur de Gayrosse, associated with the Abbaye de Gayrosse in a census of the houses of Osse in 1385, was the first Latourrette. This suggests nobility, but it is clear that the property and title did not come to the Latourrettes by inheritance. Antoinette Doerr, cited above, dispels that tale and indicates the association is from a later period.

(22) This document comes from Bernard Cazenave-Latourrette of Pau, France who had the document handed down to him by his family in Accous. ( Note: See David's signature under "signatures" on this site.)

(23) See Yves Lafournere's genealogical chart- - Latourette (58). Chareyre indicates at the beginning of the 18th century, Jacob (ca 1650-1711) became an "avocat" (advocate) to the Parliament of Navarre in Pau (the regional King's court, not a representative body) and provided protection for the Protestants of Osse. See "Nouvelles Recherches," p. 5.

(24) This is a condensed description of the Fors de Bearn. The seminal work on the Fors is Les Fors Anciens de Béarn, Edition et Traduction par Paul Ourliac et Monique Gilles, Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Centre Régional de Publication de Toulouse, Editions du CNRS, 15 quai Anatole France, 75700 Paris.

Pastor Cadier explained the role of the ostau (household) in determining one's status and inheritance as outlined above for Jean Latourrette and his brother Jacob. See La vallee d'Aspe (1906), pp. 64-71.

(25) "Les Protestants," p. 6. Gaubil cites a number of other reasons why there was a great deal of tolerance by the Catholics after 1685: religious worship was very personal in the high mountain villages; the blood relations among people of both faiths were strong in Osse; the leading Catholic family, the Lecledes, in Bedous (about 1 km away) provided support and intervened to help the Protestants of Osse; the federating role of the non-religious patrimony; and a general acceptance of the Protestants if they did not create any public disorder and practiced their religion deep in the forests. (Gaubil p.7)

David Latourrette's ability to continue to be the notaire and not to abjure his faith after 1685 was likely tied to a very personal relationship with the Lecledes of Bedous, the nature of which currently is privileged information.

(26)Cadier's chapter, "Organisation interieure de l'eglise d'Osse de 1665 a 1685," Le Bearn, pp. 139-84, relies heavily on the consistory registers of the period.

(27) An excellent example of David's signature is found in the record of the December 2, 1668 meeting. (See 'signatures' on this site.) See January 3 and 5, 1671, March 7, 1672, and April 12, 1672 for samples of Jean Tourret's signature as de Latourrette. (See signatures) The local dialect was Bearnais, but the Protestants learned to read the Bible and Hymnals in French, to count and sign their names, but were not accustomed to write, which was generally the responsibility of ministers and notaires. (Also, see article on this webpage about the tale of Latourrettes coming from Italy and the emergence of the use of the French language in Bearn and the continued use of the Bearnais dialect.)

(28) See Cadier, Le Bearn, p.181 for the legacy.

(29) See Cadier, Le Bearn, p. 171 for the pledge and p. 182 for the legacy.

(30) Cadier, Le Bearn, pp. 180-2.

(31) See "Dates Memorables" of the Osse Temple. Cadier summarizes this period, "The last years of Peyret's (Peiret's) ministry were very troubled; the consistory's minutes become rare, no more disciplinary action, no more deliberation: only finances, borrowings of money, threats from the temple's creditors are reported." Le Bearn, p. 150.

(32) A copy of the Tapie list was provided the author by Madame Gilbert Gaubil. The list is cited in the pastoral play, "Bethel, Spectacle Deambulatoire," written by Alain Munoz and performed at Osse, August 2-4, 2005. The script of the play is included in the Gaubil booklet cited above and repeated on this web site.

(33) Cadier cites a report, when all of the five Protestant Temples remaining in Bearn, including Osse, are closed in April 1685: "Osse lived in as big a rebellion; the minister preached in private houses and places where the practice was not allowed." Le Bearn, p. 189.

(34) Baird's research documents that the dragoons left Bearn in the early days of October 1685 to go to La Rochelle. See Huguenot Emigration to America, Vol. I, p. 315.

(35) For David's death, see Yves Lafournere's genealogical chart, cited above.

(36) See Forissier, Les Eglises Reformeee du Bearn, p. 168 and Gaubil, Les Protestants, p. 6. Both tell the story of the destruction of the Temple. From Gaubil, "Some Catholics, watching the demolition, mockingly play the trumpet to mark their triumph. From now on, the land where the church had been is Jericho, after the Biblical story."

(37) From privileged information, we know that Antoine had converted to Catholicism and this explains why there is a Catholic branch of the Latourrette family. Thus, some Latourrettes who came to America from the Aspe Valley in the 19th century were Catholic.

Andre Eygun, "Peuple d'Aspe," 1989, pp.64-5 Eygun comments as follows on the act of December 1, 1788: "What maybe said is that religious hatred never divided these two communities (Catholic and Protestant); with regard to the disinherited, the solidarity of the villagers was totally practiced whatever the belief of one or the other. Thus, over the village of Osse, breathes the true Christian spirit which elevates these farmers above the disputes of doctors and theologians. This date of December 1, 1788, dear to the Protestants of Osse reminds all, Christian or not, that persecution . . . did not shatter the resistance of the oppressed."

(38) Speaking of the period of the Desert, 1757-1788, when the Osse parish was re-established but worship was still held in secret, Forissier indicates, "The Protestant population of Osse was then the same in numbers as before the Revocation," and "the history of the Church of the Desert of Osse was one of the brightest and most efficient in all of Bearn." Les Eglises Reformeee du Bearn, p. 168.

The persistence of Protestantism in Osse is unique in comparison to the rest of France, in terms of the many studies cited by Butler (The Huguenots in America, pp.21-2) which show the size of the Protestant population dropping in many communities to a small fraction of what it had been in 1685, within 30 to 50 years. The Protestant faith in Osse for a hundred years after 1685 is a radically different story and attests to the strength of the ministry established originally by Gassiot Latourrette in 1563 and the legacy left by David Latourrette after his death in 1697.

(39) There were five Protestants and six Catholics on the Council of the association, Les Amis de Bethel, which organized the 200th anniversary. About one-third of the organizers and actors were Protestants. The rest and the vast majority of the singers and dancers were Catholic. This information comes from Madame Gilberte Gaubil, President of the Presbyterian Council of the Osse-Oloron Cultural Association.


(1) Pastor Alfred Cadier argued that the number of secret adherents to Catholicism was not significant. See Le Bearn Protestant, 2003 (Reprinted from Osse: histoire de l'eglise reformee de vallee d'Aspe, Paris, 1892), p. 89. Recent research, however, shows Osse was the exception in the mountain valleys of Bearn with none of the other villages exceeding a Protestant population of more than 10 percent. Philippe Chareyre, "Nouvelles Recherches sur Le Protestantisme a Osse-en-Aspe," Bulletin No 38, December 2005, centre d'etude du protestantisme bearnais, University of Pau, Pau, France, p. 5.

(2) The full text of the Edict is available on the internet at:

(3) Cadier, Le Bearn, p. 102.

(4) For the many atrocities, see Cadier, Le Bearn, pp. 133-4 and Gilberte Gaubil, "Les Protestants d'Osse-en-Aspe, du XVIe au XXe siecle," in Bethel: Bicentenaire de la Reconstruction du Temple d'Osse-en-Aspe, Co-Print Editions, 2005, p. 4.

There were more then 300 decrees, edicts and orders issued in Bearn between 1657 and 1685 to repress Protestants. See Bernard de Pesaulhe, The Book of Reason, covering the years 1661 to 1705 in Bearn, cited in ADPA Library: U 2970/20.

(5) See M. Charles Weiss, History of the French Protestant Refugees, from the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes to Our Own Days (in two volumes, translated from the French by Henry William Herbert, New York, 1854), Vol. I: pp. 28-9, pp. 49-51, and pp. 99-100 for "Edict no longer needed."

(6) Cadier, Le Bearn, pp. 130, 132, and 135.

(7) Cadier in 1892 noted how these actions may have impacted the Aspe Valley with its small and remote villages: "It is likely how the Aspe Valley, with Osse being the exception as the only remaining place of practice, returned to the domination of the priest, in its entirety." See Le Bearn, pp 130-2. However, Chareyre's analysis, cited in footnote (1), suggests that Osse is truly unique and that Protestantism never really took hold in the rest of the valley.

(8) The consistory registers are at Temple Bethel in Osse and photo and CD copies are available in the archives at Pau. The author has examined these copies provided by Madame Gilberte Gaubil and the Center for the Study of Bearnais Protestantism at Pau, France.

(9) Cadier asked, "What does perpetual and irrevocable mean under a regime of the King's pleasure?" See Le Bearn, pp. 136 and 186.

(10) In 1665 there were 469 Protestant families in the Oloron conference, with 75 of them, consisting of "nearly" 400 people, at Osse. See Cadier, Le Bearn, p. 140-1. However, at that time, the hamlet of Lourdios, mostly Catholic and about one-third of the total population of 1000, was counted as part of Osse. Confirming the conclusion of the first chapter that after 1789 there were as many Protestants as before 1685, one finds in another record of the consistory, Registre des Deliberations Consistorie local--- Eglise reformee d'Osse pres Bedous--- Commence 8 April 1805-Fin 1855, there were 82 Protestant families and 365 individuals in 1817.

(11) See Le Bearn, pp. 175-80.

(12) Also, see Cadier, Le Bearn, p.175-6.

(13) Le Bearn, pp. 176.

(14) As noted above, a ruling from Parliament in 1669 had prohibited Protestants from raising funds for the support of their religion. It is obvious the Osse consistory had ignored that ruling.

(15) Cadier, Le Bearn, pp. 148-50, indicates the reason for the suspension is not given, but Chareyre's recent research shows Peiret consummated his marriage before the ceremony. See Philippe Chareyre, "Les Pasteurs d'Osse-en-Aspe," Bulletin No 38, December 2005, centre d'etude du protestantisme bearnais, University of Pau, Pau, France p.22. This appears to be supported by the Tapie list, cited below as dated September 2, 1685, where one of his children is said to be 5 years old.

(16) See Cadier's "L'intendant Foucault en Bearn," Le Bearn, pp. 185-98.

(17) See Weiss, History of the French Protestant Refugees, Vol. I, pp. 94-97, who describes the horrible acts associated with dragooning in Bearn.

(18) Cadier, Le Bearn, p. 186.

(19) Cadier, Le Bearn, p. 186.

(20) Le Bearn, p.185. This report suggests a search was made for Peiret when the dragoons came to Osse, but he, his family, Jean and the other parishioners had already departed. The topography of the Aspe valley permitted only one access from Pau to the south by a large group to the small glacial valley in which Osse is located, so the advance of the dragoons would have been detected long before they reached Osse.

(21) Pesaulhe, Book of Reason, and Cadier, Le Bearn, p. 192.

(22) The attitude of the "new converts" in Osse is illustrated by Madame Gaubil. "In 1723, the priest, Mr. Guirail refuses to take confession and to admit sacrament any of Osse's villagers, saying that he would 'rather take confession from dogs than the said inhabitants'." See "Les Protestants d'Osse-en-Aspe," p.6.

(23) Laplacette's flight is described by Weiss, History of French Protestant Refugees, Vol. II, pp.242-64. The safe passage of Mauzy is described in Fontaine's Memoirs of a Huguenot Family, 1885 (Second edition, 1986), p. 111.

(24) Weiss, History of French Protestant Refugees, Vol. I, p. 105.

(25) Jean Latourrette is reported as the "most well known" of the parishioners leaving with Peiret. See Marc Forissier, Les Eglises Reformees du Bearn, p.167. See also Gaubil, "les Protestants d'Osse-en-Aspe," overleaf. Other than ministers fleeing, the departure of Jean Latourrette and the other parishioners from Bearn was a rare event, considering the number who left the province in 1685. It is estimated that Bearn had 30,000 Protestants, but had the lowest percentage of those fleeing France, 500 or two percent. See Jon Butler, The Huguenots in America: A Refugee People in New World Society, Harvard University Press, 1983, pp.22-4.

(26) As noted in Chapter 1, the Protestants of Osse enjoyed the protection of the most influential Catholic family in the adjoining village, Bedous. See Gaubil, "les Protestants d'Osse-en-Aspe," p.6. Privileged information indicates there was a special relationship between the Latourrette and Laclede families.

(27) The seminal work on the Fors de Bearn is Paul Ourliac and Monique Gilles, Les Fors Anciens de Béarn , Edition et Traduction, Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Centre Régional de Publication de Toulouse, Edition du CNRS, Paris.

(28) Weiss describes all the restrictions placed on Protestants to earn a living. See History of French Protestant Refugees, Vol. I., pp.87- 123. These restrictions included banning Catholics from employing Protestant craftsman and servants. According to Madame Gilberte Gaubil, the surnames of three men are mentioned as leaving Osse: Aulap, Lagunpocq, and Menvielle (or Minvielle). Only surnames are given and there is no indication as to where they went or whether they accompanied Pastor Peiret and Jean Latourrette. The author doesn't find these names at the French Church of New York, during the ministry of Peiret, 1688-1704. The Minvielle names found in the registers are not from Osse. (Note: See 'The Tale of Two Latourrette Brothers Coming to America' on this web site for a discussion of other parishioners who may have left Osse with Jean Latourrette and Pastor Peiret.)

(29) See Charles W. Baird, Huguenot Emigration to America, New York, 1885, Vol. I, pp. 313-17. Neither Cadier nor the consistory records give an exact date.

(30) See Cadier, Le Bearn, Ch. 4, pp.197-8. See also the Temple's list of memorable dates for 1685 in "Dates Memorables de l'Eglise Chretinne Reformee d'Osse."

(31) The "Dates Memorables" for 1685 cites one poor woman whom the dragoons would force to worship the image of the Virgin, an anathema to one of the Reform faith, responded, "This, the Blessed Virgin, is it possible? I believe the Blessed Virgin in the Sky." Cadier indicates she was the only one found in the village and eventually the dragoons let her go. Le Bearn, p. 198.

(32) "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. From the Frankfort area, one could travel down the Rhine to Rotterdam through areas sympathetic to Protestantism. This was the historic route that the settlers of New Paltz, NY, used earlier and the Protestant refugees from the Palatine used in the early 1700s. For the reference to Rotterdam, see Cadier, Le Bearn, p. 202.

(33) 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.

(34) Baird, Huguenot Emigration, p. 155.

(35) Butler, The Huguenots in America, pp.25-6.

(36) The sentiment towards the French refugees is summarized by Baird: "England was their friend. The sufferings of the Protestants of France had stirred the heart of the English people to its very depths; and the Protestant feeling of the nation, aroused as never before by the arbitrary conduct of the king, and his undisguised purpose to reinstate the Romish religion, went out in kindness and helpfulness to these strangers who had fled to them for protection. The Church of England extended to them a generous welcome. The non-conformists greeted them as brethren. The refugee pastors were aided from the 'Royal Bounty.' Worshipers who could not find room in the 'temple' already existing in Threadneedle Street, were assisted in obtaining new sanctuaries; and in the single year, fifteen French churches were built with the aid of moneys drawn from this charitable fund; three in London, and twelve in provincial towns." (Huguenot Emigration, Vol. II, p. 157)

(37) Butler, The Huguenots in America, p. 52. These entries appear on the Relief committee's list described below as Ms 2, Part 5, Account 12.

(38) Following Smith, Records of the Royal Bounty and Connected Funds, this entry is found under Schedule A: The First Brief of James II, 1686, Aa Committee Registers MS 1, p. 12.

(39) 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 may have 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. 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. Also, see "The Marriage of Jean latourrette and Marie Mercereau' which explains why 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 final arrangements for the Colony were negotiated in America on October 12, 1686 and less than a month later the settlement was made on November 9, 1686. (See Baird, Huguenot Emigration, Vol. II, pp. 291-311) Also, see on this web site 'The Rhode Island Colony: Another Fable' where Mrs. Jacob's theory is discussed in greater detail and found to be erroneous.

(40) 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. It should be noted here that according to the usage of the time "West Indies" referred to the entire American continent.

(41) 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 2 of the 617 refugee families receiving aid to leave London went to Denmark. (Author's calculations from tables in Hands and Scouloudi, French Protestant Refugees Relieved)

(42) 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.

(43) The surplus of ministers in England is further documented by Relief Committee records for the period November 1689 to July 1693 which show that 345 clergymen, their wives and children were receiving annual aid. Sundstrom, Aid and Assimilation, p. 50. As late as 1703, there are 280 people in French ministers' families receiving aid. Sundstrom, p. 68.

(44) See Registers of the Births, Marriages, and Deaths of the 'Eglise Francoise a la Nouvelle York,' from 1688 to 1804, 1886, Introduction, p. xxi.

(45) 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.

(46) Registers, page xxi of the 1886 edition.

(47) Huguenot Emigration, Vol. 1, p. 290, ft. 7. It is likely the arrival was in October. The Calendar of the New York (Colony) Council Minutes, 1668-1783 (Reprinted in 1987 from New York State Library Bulletin 58, 1902), page 56, show that at the Council meeting of November 10, by a petition from Samuel Burt, brother of the deceased captain, Pierre Peyre (Peiret), Peter Reverdy and Michael Peck (Pare) testified as to the manner of his death by drowning.

(48) Registers, p. xxi.

(49) Registers, p. 1.

(50) Butler, The Huguenots in America, Ch.5 pp. 144-198; Wittmeyer, Registers, Introduction, (1886 edition) pp. ix-lxxxviii; and John A. F. Maynard, The Huguenot Church of New York: A History of the French Church of Saint Esprit, 1938, pp. 67-119.

(51) See Lyman E. Latourette, Annals, pp. 21-5 for a description of the house and church at Fresh Kills. For Jean Latourrette's role in the formation and building of the Fresh Kills Church, see Richard M. Bayles (editor), History of Richmond County, (Staten Island) New York, From its Discovery to the Present Time, 1887, pp 92-5. For his role in major carpentry projects at the French Church of New York in 1693, see Maynard, The Huguenot Church of New York, p.80. Also, from the author's inspection of photocopies at the NY Historical Society of Gabriel Le Boytealx's (also as Le Boisteulx or Le Boyteau), "Accounts of Collections and Expenditures, March 1693 -April 1699," there is another entry about work at the church, dated December 17, 1695. His craft skills as a carpenter, the work that Jean did for the church which is documented in these sources, and the significant part he had in building the church on Staten Island strongly suggest that he very likely played a major role in building the first church in New York on Petty-Coat Lane in 1688.


(1) See on this site 'The Marriage of Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau on July 16, 1693 was a First Marriage, Not a Confirming One.' It addresses the marriage of Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau in the French Church of New York, July 16, 1693, and explains how the original record was doctored to make it appear as a confirming ceremony.

In addition to the count legend, there are several other fables about Jean Latourrette which are not substantiated by the evidence. The author has addressed and corrected these tales on the Latourette Family Genealogy Forum, and this web site . See "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes" for several articles correcting all the tales and hoaxes: the Schenectady massacre, the Rhode Island Colony, the First Latourrette in America, Two Latourrettes Brothers coming to America and the location of Osse, Bearn. The fable of the Latourrettes coming from Italy is also found in this section.

(2) Chapters 1 and 2 described Bearn as an independent state before 1620. The language was Bearnais, the dialect which continues to be used today in Osse-en-Aspe. Historically, the region had closer ties with Spain than France, as reflected in the Bearnais dialect. See the tale about Italy and the Bearnais origin of the name Latourrette and its evolution from de la Torreta. Modern French incorporated only a small percentage of what is called the language of the South. Moreover, the customs and laws of the region were governed by the Fors de Bearn down to the French Revolution. In Bearn a person was identified by the house (l'ostau in Bearnais) with which he/she was associated. So Jean de Latourrette meant Jean lived at the house of the Latourrette family. It did not denote a title of nobility, as suggested in the count fable. These considerations need to be taken into account in considering Jean Latourrette's family background in Osse-en-Aspe before 1685.

(3) Lyman E. Latourette, Latourette Annals in America, 1954 (reprinted by Higginson Book Company, Salem, MA) and Mrs. Verna A. Hill Jacob, The LaTourette Family and Associated Families, A Compilation of Notes, 1965 (Available from the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN.)

(4) Lyman, Annals, allegedly cites (page 19) the Registers of the French Church of New York as found in the Collections of the Huguenot Society, Vol. I, p. 29. However, as explained on this site in 'The Marriage of Jean Latourrette and Marie Latourrette on July 16, 1693 was a First Marriage, Not a Confirming One' the record as presented by Lyman has been doctored to support the theory of a confirming ceremony of a prior marriage in France. Mrs. Jacob repeated the same altered record in her The LaTourette Family. Both of them repeated the count fable. See, for example, Latourette, Annals, pp. 5-8. (Page numbers could not be discerned by the author in the copy of Mrs. Jacob's notes received from the Allen County Public Library.)

(5) See, for example, Lyman, Annals, p. 18.

(6) The following posting clearly confuses Osses as Osse (now Osse-en-Aspe): Compare this with the location described in "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes" on this web site.

(7) J. F. Keve, The History of the Keve Family: Also Short Histories of the Following Families; The Coles, The Fullwoods, The Latourettes, The Floreys, The Whipples , The Longs, published privately in Arlington, IA, about 1913, pp 7-8. This is probably an accurate assessment of the hopes of Jean's descendants, but there is no evidence in Osse that any private property was confiscated, other than the legacy of the Osse temple. However, Keve's text about the Latourette family is filled with many errors, including the story that Jean was a sea captain and he came to America with a brother. There is also a very confused discussion about his marriage. See the tale about two Latourrette brothers leaving Osse under "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes."

(8) See Lamb, History of the City of New York (published in three volumes, 1877), Vol.II, p.383. Also see Weiss, History of the French Protestant Refugees from the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes to Our Own Days (full title as translated from French and published in two volumes in 1854), Vol.II, p. 316.

(9) Three current entries on attempt to establish a lineage for this mysterious Henri de La Tourette. The nature of these entries clearly reveal a contorted attempt to justify some relationship between this mythical Henri and Jean Latourrette, allegedly with Jean (born 1651) as the son of Henri, based on a superficial knowledge about the history of France. For example, one entry identifies Jean's birth at "Dosse En Bearn, Guienne, Basses Pyrenees, France." Osse (correct spelling/ d'Osse means of Osse), Bearn was not part of Guyenne (correct spelling) during the 16th and 17th centuries, during which time the Latourrette family lived in Osse. Moreover, Basses Pyrenees is misleading because it was not made a department until 1790, long after Jean left for America in 1685. Another entry places Henri from Veridee, Saintonge, France. It is obvious that the reference to Veridee was meant to be Vendee, but the Department of Vendee wasn't established until after the French Revolution in 1789. Also, the Department of Vendee was in the old province of Poitou, not Saintonge.

The three reliable genealogies of the Latourrette family, cited in the previous chapters, show Jean as the son of David de Latourrette (ca 1625- 1697) from Osse. Nowhere, moreover, in the Latourrette lineage at Osse during the 16th and 17th centuriesdo we find the given male name of Henri used. The post Lyman Latourette (1954) version of the count fable, as explained below, takes another tack and claims that this mythical Henri didn't come to New York, but went from Vernoux-en-Vivarais, near the Rhone River, to Osse, Bearn, and was the father of Gassiot, born ca 1540, over a hundred years earlier than Jean in 1651. In addition to the name of Henri not being used by the Latourrette family at Osse, Pierre, born ca 1510, is the father of Gassiot.

The art of genealogy would be well served if the entries about this mythical Henri de La Tourette were deleted from and the count fable expunged from the printed page.

(10) See Lee, The Huguenots in France and America (originally published in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1843), p. xv.

(11) Mrs. Jacob searched in vain for any evidence of a Henri de La Tourette in New York and Staten Island. As noted above, Jean Latourrette's father was David, not Henri, and there is no record in the family genealogy of the name being used at Osse before Jean left in 1685. Also, see the article on this site about David being Jean's father.

(12) See Rev. Alfred V. Wittmeyer, editor, Registers of the Births, Marriages, and Deaths of the Eglise Francoise a la Nouvelle York, from 1688 to 1804, published 1886, pp. 29-30. Also see the author's analysis of the marriage record in "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes."

(13) See Wittmeyer, Registers, for the birth and baptism dates: p.33 (Marie, 1693); p. 43 (Jean, 1695); p.56 (Pierre, 1697); and p. 69 (David, 1699). It is possible that David was born on Staten Island and brought to New York for baptism, because there is some evidence that Jean and Marie may have moved to the island after 1698

(14) See Wittmeyer, Registers, p. 33.

(15) Weiss, History of the French Protestant Refugees, Vol. II, p 316.

(16) Annals, p.50.

(17) Annals, p. 3.

(18) See the fable about Italy on this site under "Tales, Fables and Hoaxes."

(19) Widely circulated letters from Mrs. Jacob to Jean Latourette's American descendants in the 1950s. Author has copies of the letters.

(20) Henry IV was born in Pau, Bearn, December 14, 1553 and died May 14, 1610 in Paris after his assassination.

(21) Weiss, History of the French Protestant Refugees, Vol. II, p 316.

(22) Even Lyman recognized that Vendee did not exist in 1685, but was created after the French Revolution. However, he clearly wanted to believe the tale. See his discussion of the tale in Annals, pp. 5-8.

(23) See the Mercereau Webpage by George E. Sawyer,

file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/User/My%20Documents/MERCEREAU%20family%20information.htm . Sawyer's genealogical facts about the family in France appear to be correct. Although expressing skepticism about its accuracy, he repeats the fable about the Schenectady Massacre. He also is confused about the marriage issue and believes that Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau were married earlier in France and Jean came to New York with her family, rather than with Pastor Peiret.

(24) See Chapter 1.

(25) The Huguenot, Volume 1, Number 5, November 1931, p. 9.

(26) Valence is on the east bank of the Rhone River. Vernoux-en-Vivarais and the castle Tourette, shown on some of the Rand McNally maps of France, are about 22 miles WSW from Valence, west of the river.

(27) The family's location at the ruins of the castle, and the use of the shield described below as De La Rivoire de la Tourette, was confirmed by a letter from Mayor Jean Pontier of Tournon-sur-Rhone, France, dated September 29, 2005 and an e-mail from the Tournon Office of Tourism, dated September 20, 2005. The family associated with the castle has lived at Tournon, which is about 8 miles north of Valence on the west bank of the Rhone. There one finds two properties named after the family: The Ancien Hotel du Marquis de la Tourette from the 18th Century and the La Tourette Cultural Center. Across the river from Tournon to the east is the village of Tain l'Hermitage. The village sits below the famous Hermitage hill which produces the wines carrying the name Hermitage, in this case the Domain Delas: Hermitage, Marquis de la Tourette.

(28) This is shown to be just another version of the fable by the evidence presented in the previous two chapters. Moreover, there is no Henri mentioned in the history of the castle, cited below, in the 16th century. Only a Just-Henry de Ginestoux (Ginestous) becomes the seigneur a century later. It is obvious he remains at Vernoux, and is not the father of Jean in 1651 in Osse, because the family surname Ginestoux is found in the De La Rivoire shield currently being used at the castle. There is no Henri who is either the father of Gassiot, born ca 1540, or Jean, born 1651. Again, the entries mentioned in footnote 9 above are completely misleading and likely were posted to support the fable.

(29) Florentin Benoit d'Entrevaux, Armorial de Vivarais, Paris 1908, listed under the title of L. de La Roque.

(30) See Chapter 1.

(31) D'Entrevaux, Armorial de Vivarais and Florentin Benoit d'Entrevaux and G. Jourda de Vaux, Les Chateaux Historiques du Vivarais, "La Tourette, Community and Canton of Vernoux," 1914, p. 157.

(32)Cited here is M. J. de Lubac, Vernoux Ancien, "Revue du Vivarais," 1894, p 267. This is also quoted in Les Chateaux Historiques du Vivarais, "La Tourette, Community and Canton of Vernoux," p.157.

(33)This is the oldest shield, shown and described in d'Entrevaux, Armorial de Vivarais. The split in the family is noted in Dayre de Maihol, Dictionnaire Historique et Heraldique de La Noblesse Francaise, Paris 1895-6, p.256

(34) See d'Entrevaux and de Vaux, Les Chateaux Historiques du Vivarais, pp. 157-9. Shields are shown on p. 158.

(35) Source:

See footnote 27 above for verification that this is the shield currently being used by the family associated with the chateau.

(36) Armorial de Vivarais and Les Chateaux Historiques du Vivarais, p.159.

(37) The author has personally viewed the Latourette shield in the church on E. 60th St in New York. Included above are pictures of the shield as it now hangs in the church and at the time of its installation.