Another Latourrette Fable: The Rhode Island Colony

by John E. La Tourette

In the author's paper, "Jean Latourrette Leaving Osse: Why and How?" both concrete and circumstantial evidence is presented that he accompanied Pastor Pierre Peiret and his family from Osse to London and ultimately New York, arriving there in the fall of 1687 on the English ship Robert. There are two other theories about how he came to America. One is advanced by Mrs. Jacob. The other speculates that he came to America with the Mercereau family. These hypotheses are not backed up by any evidence and rely mainly on family connections established after Jean Latourrette is in America. Furthermore, it is obvious that none of the genealogists or researchers, who have considered this question, were ever aware of the fact that both Peiret and Jean Latourrette left Osse and traveled together to New York. Otherwise, it is likely these theories would never have been proposed. Here, the Chadeayne/Rhode Island theory is examined.


Mrs. Jacob, without any documentation, indicates by family tradition Jean Latourrette is said to have landed in Rhode Island and later moved to New York. She briefly reviews the short history of the ill-fated colony, established in the fall of 1686. The following is her justification for linking what is a family tradition, a vague statement that he was first in Rhode Island, to Jean Chadeayne.

"By 1690 all but the doctor (of the Huguenot Colony at Narragansett) who had been accepted by the English for his care of them had moved on to other parts of the colonies, most having left within two years. A map in the British Land Office demanding redress for the losses sustained was presented in 1700 and showed (the)location of each family. The name of Jean LaTourette is not on the map but being single he undoubtedly was attached to another household, most likely that of Jean Chadeayne whose lot was near the center of the village. Jean Chadeayne came to New York, dying in 1708 in New Rochelle. His daughter Marie married Josue Mercereaux (Mercereau) in the St. Esprit Church on July 16, 1693, the same day that Josue's sister Marie married Jean LaTourette. Henry Chadeayne, brother of Marie appears as witness to wills of his nephews La Tourette."

Because Jean Latourrette leaves Osse in 1685 and later is associated with Jean Chadeayne in New York at the French Church and on Staten Island, Mrs. Jacob hypothesizes that Jean Latourrette was with the Rhode Island colony. Based on family tradition, as noted above, this explains, in her view, the absence of information about him between leaving Osse in 1685 and a June 1693 entry in the "Registers" of the French Church. Therefore, following the section we have quoted from her 1965 "Compilation", she states "The first recorded mention of JEAN LA TOURETTE in America is found in St Esprit Church in New York; in June 1693 he is sponsor in baptism to Pierre Masse son of Pierre Masse and Elizabeth Mercereaux." With the family tradition Mrs. Jacob cites, this hypothesis appears to offer an explanation where Jean Latourrette was between 1685 and perhaps 1690, when the Narragansett colony appears to have been completely abandoned. Relative to recorded evidence of the Chadeaynes being in New York, 1691 is the date given on the Chadeayne family page. This date is confirmed by the entry in the church "Registers", June 21, 1691 which shows that Marie Chadeayne, who is to be married in 1693 to Josue Mercereau, is a godmother at a baptism and already in New York. The facts, however, do not support Mrs. Jacob's hypothesis.

If he had linked up with Jean Chadeayne in France, Jean Latourrette would have had to leave Osse before 1681 or 1682, because Charles W. Baird (Volume II, pages 21 and 22 and footnote 4 on page 21) indicates that "Jean Chadaine, shipmaster, fled from Hiers in 1682, (Webpage noted below indicates 1681-2) with his family, to Cork in Ireland" eventually going to Rhode Island, New York and Staten Island. The village of Hiers is near the seaport town of Marrenes in the Province of Saintonge. The family Webpage,, developed by Phil Chadeayne, suggests that Jean Chadeayne may have been the captain of the French ship Le John, later renamed John of Dublin, when it was declared the property of Ireland. It appears that this twenty ton ship, described on the family pages, may have been the means by which the settlers of the colony were transported to America, because a record of a one-fourth interest being conveyed to Jean Chadeayne is dated November 2, 1686 in Salem, Massachusetts. The Webpage also indicates that the actual settlement dates from November 9, 1686.

The departure of Jean Chadeayne from Hiers in 1681 or 1682 is before the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. It is related to an earlier action of Louis XIV in 1680 to convert Protestants who lived along the coast. As noted by Baird and Maynard, in April of 1680 it was conveyed to the "warden of every port that his Majesty was resolved 'little by little' to remove from the navy all those of the Pretended Reformed religion". (See Baird, Vol. II, p. 23 and Maynard, p. 98) The earlier departure of Jean Chadeayne and others who planned and joined the Rhode Island Colony places their timetable for settlement before Peiret and Jean Latourrette arrive in London, as documented by the author's paper cited above. In addition, Chadeayne was already in New England by October of 1686, and likely earlier given the actions described above that occurred in early November. Further, given the 2- 3 month voyages of the day to transit the Atlantic, the Colony would have to have left Ireland or England at least by June of 1686, about the time that Jean Latourrette sought aid from the French Relief Committee in London to travel to Holland.

The colony of Huguenots in Rhode Island is well-documented. Mrs. Verna Jacobs believes that the absence of any property record for Jean Latourrette is explained by his being single and possibly living with Jean Chadeayne. (In passing, we note the inconsistency between the basis of this theory, a single male living with a family, and the frequently stated belief he and Marie Mercereau were married in France, as argued by Lyman Latourette in his "Annals". Note: The author's posting cited below demonstrates there was no previous marriage in France.) However, given his family history in Osse in the 16th and 17th centuries of being Protestant ministers, elders and of strong Protestant conviction, and his trade as a carpenter, it is strange that his name doesn't appear on any of the lists of colonists who contributed either money or work to build the church for the colony. Looking only at the property lists and later claims for reimbursement for property lost when the colony was forced out of Rhode Island does not tell the full story. Baird, Vol. p. 296 reproduces the land plots, but included on the Chadeayne family page are three lists which (1) contain the names of settlers who contributed yearly to the salary of their minister, Ezekiel Carre, (2) names of contributors, either funds or work, to build their temple and (3) names of contributors of funds and work to compete the temple. The name of Jean Latourrette is not found on any of these lists. It would seem likely that Jean Latourrette, an accomplished carpenter and a descendant of a family that held an important position in the Protestant community, would have at least contributed work to build or complete the temple if he were a member of the colony. If, as Mrs. Jacob hypothesizes, he lived with one of the members of the colony (i.e., Jean Chadeayne) it would seem he would be obligated to provide some work for the temple as a contribution to the colony. Furthermore, given the history of Latourrette family with the temple in Osse, as described by the author's several postings, and his involvement in the building Peiret's church in New York City in 1688 and the one at Richmond on Staten Island, one would expect to see evidence of some association of Jean with the colony's effort to build a church and support a minister in the records cited above. This conclusion is reinforced by the records of St. Esprit church, cited by Maynard (p. 80) that he did "the floor of the temple and provided the iron work" in the spring of 1693. Maynard also indicates in this context that he constructed the gallery for the Temple a little later in the year. On at least one other occasion, found as a result of a personal inspection of the actual "Accounts of collections and expenditures between March 1693 and April 1699" kept by Gabriel Le Boyteulx, he installed two windows in the church in the fall of 1695.

Other records raise considerable doubt about Jean Latourrette ever being part of the colony. Given the fact that he received French Relief (Royal Bounty) payments in London in 1686 and 1687, as documented in the author's earlier paper, clearly indicates he was not in Rhode Island at the beginning of the colony in November of 1686, which had a precarious life from the very beginning and was abandoned by all but two or three families by 1690 or even earlier. (See Baird, Vol. II, Chapter XIII). Ezechiel Grazillier, whom Baird identifies as being in the Colony, and later affiliated with St. Esprit (The French Church) in New York, is already there by April/May 1689 when he and his wife participate in two baptisms, including the one of Daniel, the son of Pierre Masse and Elizabeth Mercereau. (Listed as Ezechiel Grazilly, Wittmeyer, "Registers", p.4) This suggests that the colonists were leaving Rhode Island long before the final breakup reported by Baird. Baird uses the Masse baptism to indicate that the Mercereaus were in New York at least by 1689. (Baird, Vol. II, p.20, ft. 2)

Later Jean Chadeayne's daughter, Marie, is married to Josue (Joshua) Mercereau on the same day (July 16, 1693) that Jean Latourrette married Josue's sister, Marie Mercereau, in Pastor Peiret's French Church in New York. The close relationship with the Chadeaynes in New York, however, doesn't confirm the Rhode Island story. The French refuges formed a tight-knit community of a couple of hundred families under Pastor Peiret in the early 1690s in the city and it is highly likely they would have first met there.

Jean Chadeayne later moved to Staten Island, where he died in 1708, not in New Rochelle as suggested by Mrs. Jacob. The Chadeayne Webpage describes the history of the family on Staten Island and a large number of connections with the Latourrette name (need to enter Tourette on the Chadeayne search page), like the ones described in the Mercereau family history. However, all of connections listed are after the marriage of Jean Chadeayne's daughter in 1693.

Inspecting the records of the marriage of Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau and the baptisms of the four children (Marie, Jean, Pierre, and David) in St. Esprit, no godfather, godmother, or witness at these ceremonies is associated with the Rhode Island Colony. The long friendship between Jean Latourrette and Jean Chadeayne appears to be established with the French Church in approximately 1691. Clearly, it was present with the two marriages on July 16, 1693, between Jean Latourrette and Marie Mercereau, and between Josue (Joshue) Mercereau and Marie Chadeayne. Josue (Joshue) was Marie Mercereau's brother and Marie Chadeayne was Jean Chadeayne's daughter. All of these families move to Staten Island around 1698 and it is obvious that they formed a close-knit group as part of the very small French community. Butler cites the so-called 1706 census of Staten Island as yielding the names of 100 French adults and 72 children. (Butler, p.47)

As noted at the beginning of this paper, if scholars and genealogists had realized that Pastor Pierre Peiret was also from Osse, the connection with Jean Latourette would have been explored and fables about him would not have been necessary to explain why and how he came to America.