How They Left France

New information about how Jean Latourrette and Pastor Pierre Peiret left France is described in this section.

Note: Footnotes are found at end of text.

Pierre Peiret and Jean Latourrette: From Osse to London

This section replaces the original story of how Pastor Peiret, his family, and Jean Latourrette reached England by way of Frankfurt and Holland.

Based on an analysis of new information which has come to the author's attention, Pastor Peiret was in England as early as February 8, 1686, after leaving Osse, Béarn in mid-September of 1685. Consequently, the author was forced to re-examine the story Jean Latourette was in Frankfurt on November 18, 1685 approximately two months after beginning his flight with Peiret. Re-examining the story about Frankfurt, it has been determined that the source cited by Madame Doerr to document this location and date does not exist. 1Moreover, it would be a major task for a party of several people, including a wife and two children with one less than two and the other five, to travel in approximately 75 days more than 1100 miles even by horseback at the end of the 17th century. In addition, it has been determined Peiret did not attend the Synod in Rotterdam on April 24, 1686, as implied by Cadier in his history of Osse. 2 The conclusion, therefore, is the Peiret party did not travel by what has been called the Swiss route, across southern France to Basel and then down the Rhine River to Rotterdam. 3

In re-examining how Pastor Peiret may have reached England rather quickly, the author considered the less restrictive and punitive conditions for travel that existed before the Revocation on October 18 and the personal familiarity of the Osse villagers with the routes of travel to ports in the southwest of France. Even after the Revocation, with ministers given 15 days to leave the country, we find a high percentage of the ministers from the southwest of France reached Holland, likely by Dutch ships, and attended the April 24, 1686 Synod. 4 So, it appears the Peiret party found its way to a port like Bayonne or Bordeaux. Then, by means described in memoirs about the more desperate period after the Revocation as to how ministers and parishioners challenged the King’s border control and made it porous, they found passage to England. 5 By these means, at least 50,000 refugees fled France. Now, we turn to the new story. Taking advantage of their flight from Osse several weeks before the Revocation of Nantes on October 18, which placed severe restrictions on the exodus of ministers and Huguenots adherents from France, 6 the Peiret party appears to have had a relatively unimpeded opportunity to hasten to a port like Bayonne or Bordeaux. This would have been the shortest and least expensive route, one with which they were very familiar. The annual Transhumance of shepherds and shepherdesses with sheep and livestock between the Aspe Valley and coastal locations, as far away as the Bordeaux area, maintained a strong regional connection, along with the valley being historically a major trade route with what is now Spain. Even in the Basque area there were Huguenot Temples from which they could receive support. At the coast, there were Huguenot, as well as Dutch and English, merchants heavily engaged in a three way trade between England, Holland and France. In particular, Bayonne had a colony of Dutch merchants and a history of enterprising Basque fishermen who ventured as far as the fishing banks of North America. At one of these ports or another like La Rochelle, as documented by the memoirs of refugees who left after the Revocation, they would have been able to negotiate with an English or Dutch ship captain to be picked up off a sandbar or from a small boat after the ship cleared customs and depart without the required passport. 7 Other memoirs indicate British and Dutch ships would cruise near the coast and, based on an agreed signal, would send small boats in to pick up refugees off of isolated beaches. Basically, this was the way thousands of refugees attempted to leave after the Revocation, with general success.

Because we now have evidence that Peiret was in England by at least February 8, 1686, we assume Peiret, his family and Jean Latourrette managed to leave France on an English ship and land directly in England. Although Cadier suggests Peiret attended the April 24, 1686 Walloon Synod at Rotterdam for refugee ministers, he is not on the list of 202 attendees.

London: February 1686 - August 1687

The evidence Pastor Peiret is in London very early in 1686 comes from the records of the Church of Savoy, where on February 8, there is a minister Pieret issuing a certificate to support a couple to be married as confirmed members of the French Protestant Church. Again, on June 30, he is recorded as providing a certificate for a marriage. Pieret is also included in the list of ministers at the Savoy from 1684 to 1900, and identified as being affiliated in 1686.8 This also suggests he received assistance for himself and family from the church, as French refugee ministers were given support from churches as a matter of policy and practice. As far as Jean Latourrette surviving while in England, we would assume he was able to secure some work as a carpenter and iron worker as he did when he was later in New York. To back this conclusion, he never sought any aid from the French Relief Committee, except to travel to Holland and planned to go to Denmark to fulfill Pastor Peiret’s desire to establish or join a ministry.

When the author became aware of the evidence supporting a flight by the Peiret party to the west coast of France and then directly to England, as noted above, he determined that the story about Jean Latourette being in Frankfurt on November 18, 1685, was not collaborated by the alleged source. This has necessitated a reconsideration of the sparse evidence we had about Peiret’s time in England and what Jean Latourrette did to support the pastor’s desire to find a ministry, which eventually led to their voyage to America.

During the spring of 1686, while Peiret was affiliated with the Church of Savoy, he likely became aware of the desire of Anglican authorities to have all refugee churches conform to Anglican rules and discipline, as well as to the state. At that time, the Savoy was considered to be a conformist church, while the Threadneedle Church was non-conformist as the Huguenot refugees practiced there as they did in France. Although generally conforming to Anglican practice, some Anglican authorities did not believe the Savoy was fully conformist. This may have had a profound influence on Peiret and may account, in part, for his desire to come to America.9 Later in NYC, we find Peiret an adamant foe of conformity for Saint Esprit, although he was very ecumenical in working with other ministers and congregations. In fact, the fight against the Anglican Church to maintain non-conformity and yet survive as a church characterizes the history of Saint Esprit during the colonial period until after the Revolution when, in 1803, it accepted the authority of the new Protestant Episcopal Church. 10 This push for Anglican conformity at the Savoy may also explain why, later in the year 1686 while still in England, he sought support from the French Relief Committee.

In considering moving away from the Church of Savoy, Peiret knew he would be treated very well by the French Relief Committee in London. Based on a review of the records, Butler concluded 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 Pierre Le Sade, "Ploughman," who received only 3 pounds (60 shillings) to take his wife and two children to the colonies. He added 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. 11

There are three entries in the French Relief Committee's records about Jean Latourrette and Pierre Peiret. 12 Although all the entries of the committees are relatively brief, they allow one to determine when Peiret likely left the support he was receiving at Savoy and sought living expenses from the committee, and when he left for America. The single entry for Jean Latourrette is found in an alphabetical list of grants made between June 4, 1686, and August 28, 1687. "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." Since these grants were audited at a later date and there are no additional entries for him, this is the final record of Latourrette's assistance in a relief program that continued until 1727.13

In terms of English coinage of the time, with 20 shillings to a pound, 30 shillings was 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, 30 shillings to travel the much shorter distance to Holland or Denmark was very generous, suggesting a high estimate by the committee of the quality of Jean Latourrette or of his mission to find a ministry for Peiret. 14

The committee's audit confirms that Jean Latourrette received two grants and had made the round trip to Holland, but still had sufficient funds to go to Denmark. He did not use the grant to go to Denmark, because he left with Peiret in early August 1687 to go to America. An entry for Peiret is found under MS 1 for the period June 4, 1686, to August 28, 1687. Peiret received three grants, with the first one dated December 6, 1686, as an effective date to receive assistance. 15 This entry includes the action to extend the assistance for six months from December 6, 1686 and to support travel to America. It reads:

"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."

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.

"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.

It appears Jean Latourrette went to Holland to determine what opportunity there was for Peiret to affiliate with or establish a ministry. It is likely Jean found some of the 202 ministers who had attended the April 24th Synod, including the ones from Béarn and the Basque country. The picture he obtained would not be promising. For example, there were the 12 ministers who left France from his region who were in Holland in time for the Synod. Some of them were affiliated in a temporary way with churches as assistants or fill-ins, but few had found a permanent home. 16 The report Latourrette would have delivered to Peiret when he returned to England would be as Jon Butler describes it. "The renewal (in Holland) stimulated by the Huguenot diaspora after 1680 created a surplus of ministers. The thirty-nine French Protestant congregations organized with Holland's old Walloon church after 1695 simply could not provide livings for the 350 exile Huguenot ministers living in Holland by 1700." 17

Why would Jean Latourrette have considered going to Denmark after traveling to Holland and back to London? The two grants given to him suggest a strategy in seeking a permanent home. If not Holland, what about Denmark? Jean Laplacette, a fellow pastor from Pontacq, born there five years earlier (1639) than Peiret, had been invited to a new ministry in Copenhagen by the Queen, who was a French Huguenot. This provides a good explanation for why they might have considered Denmark. But, 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.18

An analysis by Roy A. Sundstrom indicates there would have been very limited opportunities for Peiret to acquire a ministry in England. Sundstrom notes the surplus of French ministers in England, due to the influx of refugees in the early 1680s to the point that Archbishop Sancroft of the Anglican Church issued a circular letter on July 15, 1685, some months before the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, giving the bishops the choice of either having destitute Huguenot ministers come to live with them or sending him the funds for their support. The situation continued to deteriorate after the Revocation in October of 1685.19

After considering Holland, Denmark and England, America became the obvious choice for emigration. The French Relief Committee accounts, corroborating information from Baird and Wittmeyer, as well as London sailing records, yield a clear picture of the departure from London. A grant given after August 3, 1687, as noted above, reads, "To Pierre Peiret, Minister, his wife, two children and two men to go to New Jersey... 50 pounds." The ship Robert which sailed 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, may also have been a major influence on their decisions to emigrate. Sailing records reveal the 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)." 20

Other French refugees accompanied Peiret's group on the English ship Robert. Many who left at this time had been naturalized and had already achieved some success in London. They later became leading members of Peiret's church in New York. Rev. Alfred Wittmeyer indicates that there was a ready-made congregation for Peiret with the refugees arriving in New York at the time. 21 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.

Therefore, we have a new story about how Pastor Peiret and Jean Latourrette fled from France and are documented as being in England by February 8, 1686.

Footnotes— How They Left France

1 The story the Peiret party followed the Swiss route across southern France and then down the Rhine River to Rotterdam was based on the following. “One finds Jean de Latourrette, carpenter of Osse, at Frankfurt the 18th of November 1685.” Quoted from Antoinette Doerr, “Famille Latourrette d’Osse-en-Aspe,” unpublished paper by a member of the Conseil, Center for the Study of Béarnais Protestantism. The original source appeared to have been from private papers held in Osse. A follow-up inquiry resulted in a claim the report about Frankfurt was confirmed by Charles W. Baird in his English edition of Huguenot Emigration to America. But, nowhere in Baird’s English or French edition (the latter being only a direct translation) does one find this information. Baird’s references to Jean Latourrette are limited to his origin in Béarn and some information about his family in America. Vol. II, p.20, ft. 2 and p. 147, ft. 2. On pp. 146-7, Baird repeats the Peyrat hoax that Pastor Peiret was from Foix and does not realize that Latourrette and Peiret fled together from Osse, Béarn.

2 Cadier, p. 202. Peiret is not on the list of 202 French ministers who attended the Synod. See “Liste des Pasteurs des Églises Réformées de France: Réfugiées en Hollande, et Présents au Synode Wallon de Rotterdam, en 1686,” Bulletin de la Société de l’Historie du Protestantisme Français (1852-1865), Vol. 7, No. 10/12, pp. 426-435.) See

3 Bertrand Van Ruymbeke tracked a number of the French refugees to South Carolina and concluded, “Huguenots who resided in southern and eastern France (Béarn and Osse were in southwestern France) usually took the Swiss route and followed the Rhine River (through Frankfurt) to the Netherlands.” New Babylon to Eden: The Huguenots and Their Migration to Colonial South Carolina, (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2006), pp. 60-5 and map on p. 61. )

4 Sarrabère tracked the flight of the ministers from Béarn and the Basque country as to their final destination. Of the 19 he found who stayed in Holland, 12 were there early enough to attend the April 24, 1686 Synod in Rotterdam.

5 Samuel Smiles reviewed the history of the flight of the Huguenots from the west coast of France and noted “France presented too wide of reach of sea-frontier, extending from Bayonne to Calais, to be effectively watched by any guard; and not only the French, but the English and Dutch merchant-ships which hovered about the coast waiting for the agreed signal to put in and take on board their freight of fugitives, had usually little difficulty in carrying them off in safety.” The Huguenots: Their Settlements, Churches, and Industries in England and Ireland (London. John Murray, 1867) pp. 314-5.

6 The Revocation of the Edict Nantes included 12 articles. For our purpose here, the following two are most relevant: the banishment, within two weeks of pastors who did not want to convert-on the pain of the galleys and a ban on members of the Reformed Church emigrating –on pain of the galleys for men and prison for women. These bans were extended in practice, based on other edicts and rules, to include a prohibition for French citizens to assist pastors and Huguenots in their flight from France-on the pain of the galleys or prison and the children of both the fleeing and assisting families to be given to foster parents to raise them as Catholics. In the case of Peiret, because of his “crimes” against the state (king), it could be a trial leading to a death sentence, rather than the galleys. His wife would be imprisoned and the children given to foster Catholic families. The men accompanying Peiret would be sent to the galleys.

7 The memoirs of Jacques Fontaine reveal the hazards a family could face in actually meeting up with and being taken aboard an English ship leaving the La Rochelle harbor. Fontaine, Memoirs, Chapter IX, pp. 114-121.

8 Registres des églises de la Savoye, de Spring Gardens, et des Grecs, 1684-1900, Huguenot Society of London (London, 1922), p.viii (Listing of Pieret) and p.123 (Marriages). As noted, Pieret’s name is listed only for 1686. Unfortunately, the place for a given name for Pieret is blank, likely indicating a relatively short affiliation with the Eglise françoise de la Savoye.

The spelling of Peiret (Peyret) as Pieret required further investigation. It is obvious from the two marriage entries and the listing of the name as a minister, he is a French Protestant pastor. We searched the volumes in which Sarrabère presented all of the ministers who had served in western France since the 1500s. There are three: an Antoine Peyret, a contemporary of Gassiot Latourrette in the 1500s; Isaac Peiret (Peyret), a cousin of Pierre Peiret Peyret who abjured in 1674; and Pierre Peiret (Peyret) who was the pastor at Osse, 1677-1685. An inquiry to Professor Chareyre about a minister from any other area was negative. It was noted that Pastor Peiret's name was written as Pieret on other occasions in official/legal documents. One example is how the pastor's name was written in the 1703 Census of the City of New York, where the family described in the entry matches exactly what we know to be the case. Another example is how the name was written as Pierott and Pierot in the will and probate of the Pastor's son, Pierre Peiret (Jr) in Connecticut in early 1715 (new calendar). It was also written as Pieret for Gabriel Peiret, the son of the pastor, in the will of his brother-on-law Bartholomew Le Feurt in September 1713.

9 The short affiliation with the Church of Savoy, given its conformity to Anglican rules and discipline, and Pastor's later adamant opposition to conformity for Saint Esprit in New York, suggests too that this Pieret is really Pastor Peiret.

10 In Chapter 5 about Huguenot history in New York, Butler provides an excellent summary of the conformity and survival issues faced by Saint Esprit after Peiret's death in 1704. See particularly pp.169-173, 189-193, and 197-198.

11 Butler, p. 52. These entries appear on the Relief committee's list described below as Ms 2, Part 5, Account 12.

12 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.

13 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.

14 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 also may have reflected a request he was associated with a minister and his quest to find a ministry. 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 a cadet, 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 on the author's website “The Marriage of Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau on July 16, 1693, was a First Marriage, not a Confirming One” 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 traveling from London to Holland and return, 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, Vol. II, pp. 291-311) Also, see the author's website 'The Rhode Island Colony: Another Fable where Mrs. Jacob's theory is discussed in greater detail and found to be erroneous.

15 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.

16 Sarrabère was able to track 186 ministers from (just) southwestern France to where they fled, which in the majority of the cases was their final destination. The largest number went to Holland 90; followed by England 68; Switzerland 14; Ireland 8; Germany 4; Denmark 1- Jean La Placette; and America 1- Pierre Peiret. The fate of many, as documented below in England, was to be on some form of relief the rest of their lives.

17 Butler, The Huguenots in America, pp. 25-6.

18 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.)

19 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. 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, p. 50. As late as 1703, there are 280 people in French ministers' families receiving aid. Sundstrom, p. 68.

20 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, pp.46-50.

21 See Registers of the Births, Marriages, and Deaths of the Église Françoise a la Nouvelle York, from 1688 to 1804, 1886, Introduction, p. xxi.