By The Rev. Thomas Gimlette, Waterford.
The foregoing records sufficiently attest the fact that "the Refugees," for the first half century of their settlement in Waterford, maintained a distinguished position both in Church and State; that manufactures and commerce flourished in their hands; that the learned professions were well represented; and that literature was also their debtor. It would seem that several of the Williamite officers of the Huguenot soldiery fixed their abode here about the same time. In the Appendix to the Journal of the Irish House of Commons, in the year 1719, a return is made and signed by Theophilus Desbrisac, of the different pensions which had fallen in from the French troops, and also of those who were placed upon the pension list: amongst those settled in Waterford one was -- "James D'Augier, who died in Waterford, Sept. 11, 1718 -- pension, £27 7s 6d." Lieut. D'Augier was one of Ruvigny's soldiers in 1711. lie was taken off the pension list, but restored in 1713 by letters from her Majesty Queen Anne.
Peter Chelar, who had been quarter-master to Lord Galway's horse. Captain du Chesne of the same regiment, Captain Abraham Pranquefort, of the Piedmont army, Captain John Vaury, who afterwards removed to Portarlington, Captain Louis Belafaye, all veterans of King William's victorious army, appear to have made Waterford their resting-place. The parochial registry assists us also in tracing some others. The following are extracts:--
"February 18, 1708. -- Susannah, wife of Lieut. Emmanuel Toupelin Delize, was buried by Mr. Denis in the French Church."
"April 14, 1708. -- Thomas, the son of Captain Louis Duschenne, and Catherine his wife, was buried in the French Church by Mr. Bolton."
"January 27, 1710. -- Blount, the son of Captain Louis Belafaye. and Mrs. Martha his wife, was baptized by Mr. Bolton in Alderman Graves' house."
"Sept. 25, 1712. -- Mary, the daughter of Mr. Francis Delaville, and Jane his wife, baptized."
Lieutenant Besard De Lamaindre settled shortly after: and Major Sautille, whose descendants, through his daughter Mary Sautelle, are extremely numerous all claiming the right of laying their bones beside the gallant old soldier in the French Church -- all proud of their French descent, and reckoned amongst the most valued and respected citizens in Waterford.
But while many of the refugees attained to comfort and wealth, there were some of them also in indigent circumstances; for even such are the "changes and chances" of this mortal life. The poorer brethren of the household -- the infirm, the widow, and the orphan -- were not, however, forgotten by their own countrymen, who were "willing to give and glad to distribute" of their abundance. In the Registry of the Wills in the Prerogative Office, Dublin, are found the following pleasing reminiscences of their charity:--
"1719. John Vaury, Esq., bequeathed to the French Church of Waterford, £10,"
"1732. Mrs. Ab. Sandoz, to the poor French of Waterford, £5."
"1738. Peter Chelar, to the French Church in Waterford, £10."
Although no other bequests appear on record, we may well suppose that the church maintained its own poor, and that the widows were not forgotten in the daily distribution. For the orphans there was no occasion to fear, inasmuch as the French settlers were all of them freemen of the city; and under the 129th section of the City Charter the Mayor, Sheriif, and Citizens of Waterford were a "Court of Orphans," obliged to undertake the guardianship in like manner as the City of London, and empowered to allocate £6 per annum from the stock purse for the maintenance and education of each child entrusted to their charge. From this enactment and practice no doubt was first suggested the idea of establishing the City of Waterford Protestant Orphan Asylum. It is creditable to the citizens that their Protestant Orphan Society should be the first established in Ireland. It is no less creditable to the French Protestant Refugees that their last pastor should, amongst his other charitable benefactions, have bequeathed to it the endowment by which an apprentice fee is provided for the little inmates of the Asylum as soon as they have become of suitable age to be placed out to a trade or profession, and learn how to earn a livelihood with honest independence. The name of this benefactor was the Rev. Peter Augustus Franfquefort. Previous, however, to his appointment, we have mention made of three others who succeeded Mr. Denis in the ministry. The first, the Rev. Guidon Richion, of whom the mention made is very trivial; and equally so appear the records respecting the Rev. George Dobier, -- some few were baptized, or married or buried by them, -- the same tale is repeated -- and then their names disappear with the generation amongst whom they had ministered. The Rev. Daniel Sandoz and the Rev. Josiah Franquefort, who were both of French descent, although occasionally officiating in the French Church, do not appear in the Visitation records as officially connected with it. They were both licensed for the curacy of Saint Olave's. The former subsequently received a valuable preferment in the diocese of Waterford, and was also one of the prebendaries of Lismore. The Rev. Josiah Franquefort, who is buried with his wife in the nave of the abbey, which forms the entrance to the French Church, appears to have been active about schools, and desirous of promoting Scriptural education.
In 1761 the Rev. Augustus Devoree appears in the Visitation book as having duly presented himself before his ordinary, as pastor of the French Church. It does not seem that he fared as well as his predecessors in the way of Church emolument; the account of his stewardship had reference simply to the French Church, and no rich prebend fell to his lot which might make his circumstances easy and secure.
The name of the Rev. Augustus Devoree appears frequently in several parochial registries, generally performing an official service for those whose names tell their origin, and whose parochial residence caused them to be married in their parish church or buried in their parochial cemetery. We have the several surnames -- D'Maison, Blanche, Coquin, Denis, Latrobe, Dermozan, Dugay, Marcel, and Chenevix, amongst those to whom Mr. Devoree administered the rites of the church: but the last parochial entry connected with his name establishes the fact, that he did not confine Ins ministry to his Gallic brethren; and a pair of fond Milesians appear to have been made happy under his hand, on the 8th Doc. 1761. This is the entry -- "William Barry and Mary Murphy, both of St. John's, married Dec. 8, 1761, in the French Church, by the Rev. Augustus Devoree." Such was Waterford a century ago: to-day Mr. Devoree was burying Claude Marcel and Antoine D'Maison, and to-morrow he united in the bands of holy wedlock a happy pair of Hibernians, rejoicing in the unromantic names of Bill Barry and Moll Murphy. The Barrys and the Murphys are with us still, like our native Shamrocks, green on every hill: the Devorees, Marcels, and D'Maisons have all long since withered from the soil, which seemed to prefer the hardy native before the rich and rare exotic.
It appeal's strange, that the Rev. Augustus Devoree did not succeed as well as his prodecessors in the way of Church preferment; and it is the more singular, from the fact that the see of Waterlord was at this time filled by Bishop Chenevix, who was translated thither from Killaloe on the 15th of January, 1745-6. The exertions of this bishop on behalf of the humbler refugees has been already alluded to; but he was one who, like his Master, "went about doing good." He is described as a man "of great singleness of heart and benevolence." Mr. Devoree's death must have been the cause which prevented his promotion by one whose entire sympathies were called forth on behalf of the descendants of the foreign settlers from France, as he himself claimed to be a scion of the same honoured stock. Dr. Chenevix, as before stated, was undoubtedly of French extraction: his family settled in England immediately after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes; he himself had been Chaplain to the British Embassy at the Hague, when Lord Chesterfield was Ambassador, and had much intercourse with the Huguenots. When that nobleman was appointed Lord Lieutenant, Dr. Chenevix accompanied him as first Chaplain, and was promoted in 1745 to the Bishopric of Killaloe, and translated, in the following year, to Waterford and Lismore. His episcopate lasted for thirty-five years; and his name will be ever held in honoured remembrance by the clergy, from the memorial which he has left them to his memory. By his will, dated August 13th, 1777, he bequeathed the sum of £1600 to the diocese of Waterford, the interest to be given to the widows of clergymen of that diocese. He also left £1000 to the diocese of Lismore. A Bishop and his clergy, of Waterford, in the preceding century, had welcomed the Protestants of France, and had rendered them a kind and courteous greeting; a fitting return was now made by a bishop who was himself a descendant of the refugees, in providing for the widows of his fellow pastors. During the period of Bishop Chenevix's episcopacy many of the ablest sons of the refugees were drawn around him, and many of them received well deserved promotion, John Jaumard was Archdeacon of Lismore; William Grueber was first Chancellor, then Treasurer, and afterwards the Precentor of the same cathedral; Henry Gervais was Vicar Choral, and subsequently Treasurer; Daniel Sandoz was prebendary of Mora; Philip Chenevix, prebendary of Kilgobinet; and on his promotion to the chancellor's stall in Waterford, George Lewis Fleury succeeded him. On Mr. Fleury's exchange for the Treasurership, Peter Augustus Franquefort, who had been Treasurer, became the possessor of it. James Grueber and Arthur Grueber became successively prebendaries for Kilrosantie; and William Grueber was prebendary for Modeligo. Antoine Fleury, whose reputation is, "that he was the crossest man in Ireland," succeeded Gervais as Vicar Choral, when the latter was made Archdeacon of Cashel; and in 1773, George Lewis Fleury was appointed Archdeacon of Waterford, after the dignity had remained dormant and the stall unfilled from the year 1667.
About the same time, the French settlers in Waterford, who had been diminishing by death, removal, and their gradual merging amongst the inhabitants by intermarriage, and by the adopting of their language and habits, expected to have received a large accession from the continent. A number of Genevese, many of them French settlers, had become dissatisfied with their own city, and expressed a desire to become domesticated in Ireland, and to employ themselves in the manufactures by which they obtained their livelihood. The men of "82" and the Parliament of "82" were glad to encourage a movement which would resuscitate the trade and manufacture of the south; and accordingly, under the viceroyalty of the Earl of Northington, and subsequently, of the Duke of Rutland, measures were adopted to facilitate their removal. A Board of Commissioners was appointed forthwith; the neighbourhood of Waterford appeared the most suitable position to plant them; and the village of New Geneva was planned as their home, on the banks of the Suir, and about six miles from the city, in the parish of Kil St. Nicholas, which was then, as now, ministered to by a descendant of one of the refugees. From the Accountant-General's balancesheet, submitted to the House in 1784, we learn that the money voted for the settlement was originally £50,000, but subsequently increased nearly by £6,000 more; and that the lands of New Geneva were purchased from the Alcock family, at this time the leaders of the Corporation of Waterford. Under date October 1st, 1783, we find the following entry:--
"Paid the Commisioners for settling in Ireland a colony of Emigrants from Geneva, in further part of £50,000 net, making £55,855 2s 8½d gross, granted them to defray the expenses of carrying the plans prepared for the Settlement into execution, by three warrants, dated 7th June, 1783, 29th Sept. 1783, and 15th Dec. 1784."
Farther on, in the same account, appears the following entry:--
"1784, July 8th -- Paid the Commissioners for settling in Ireland a colony of Emigrants from Geneva, to be by them applied in effecting the purchase of the interest of Alexander Alcock, Esq., and others, in the lands of Knockroe, and other lands in the county of Waterford, £12,796 14s 3½d."
Farther on we have the account of the works:--
"Oct. 1788, -- Paid William Kendy and J. Donnellan, contractors for building the town of New Geneva, on account of the extra expenses and loss they sustained by the unexpected stop put to the building of the said Town, in further part of £55,855 2s 8½d gross, granted for the building and settling the said Town; Warrant, 29th Jan., 1788. £310 17s 1d."
"Paid the Right Honourable James Cuffe, in consideration of his trouble, attendance, and expense, in superintending and overseeing the works of New Geneva, in further part of £55,855 2s 8½d, granted for the building and settling the said Town, £465 10s 9d -- Warrant, 27th March, 1788."
"Paid William Gibson, architect, for conducting the works at the said Town, on further account of the said letter. Warrant, 10th July, 1788, £207 16s 1d."
In the Account of Arrears remaining undischarged, Lady-day, 1788, appears the following entry:--
"The Commissioners for settling in Ireland a colony of Emigrants from Geneva, a balance of £55,855 2s 8½d gross, granted them to defray the expenses of the said settlement, £33,088 11s 0¼d."
And the following Report was presented to the House in 1789:--
Extract from Report of the Committee on the Comparative State of the Public Expenses, for the year ending Lady-day, 1789.
"It appearing to your Committee that there was no intention of carrying into effect the settlement of a colony of Emigrants from Geneva on the lands of Knockroe, now called New Geneva, in this kingdom, your Committee came to the following resolution: -- Resolved -- That it is the opinion of this Committee that the sum of £32,519 18s 5d, balance remaining unapplied of £55,855 2s 8½d, granted to certain Committees for settling in Ireland a colony of Emigrants from Geneva, be deducted from the Arrears."
The reason why the Government abandoned this plan of emigration, after incurring an immense expenditure, seems unaccountable; but unforeseen difficulties had arisen before the plan was fully matured. The few Genevese who had come over as pioneers, regarded the undertaking with no agreeable feelings, and soon became discontented. The South of Ireland, at the period of which we speak, was far different from either Switzerland or the sunny South of France; and the silver Suir, although so beautiful to the gaze of the burgomasters and citizens of Waterford and Clonmel, was a different stream from the bright blue lake which watered the homes of their fatherland. Some few emigrated and others returned home; one or two of them removed to Waterford; and after a short period the Government turned their factories into barracks, which are still known by the nane of New Geneva, and in which, during the war, strong reinforcements were continually kept up and shipped in transports to the Peninsula. They are now a ruin.
The fate of one of the chief leaders of these Genevese settlers was a melancholy one. His name was Monsieur Clavière; he was a man of independent means, and great commercial ability, but in political matter's a disciple of Rousseau. His house, which was afterwards the abode of the French minister Franquefort, is still standing in Colbeck Street; it is now the residence of the registrar of the diocese, James Lorenzo Hickie, Esq., to whom it came through intermarriage with one of the Briscoe family. On the fall of the Bourbons, Clavière's republican tastes and fancies incited him to remove to Paris, where he soon after became Minister of Finance under the Jacobins; but his elevation was short-lived, and Clavière was one of the earliest victims of the guillotine.
The members of the French congregation, although recruited by these few accessions, were now gradually dwindling away; but still the services were conducted with all decorum, and the flock were fed by their good old pastor. In 1762 Augustus Devorce died, and Peter Augustus Franquefort took upon him the charge, which he kept for 57 years. lie died in Dec., 1819, and was buried in the French Church, beside the remains of his uncle, the Rev. Josiah Franquefort, and surrounded by the ashes of the people whom he had baptised, and married, and buried, during his lengthened ministry. They had given him many a proof of grateful affection during his lifetime; but at his death few of them were left to say a kind word of him that was gone, and to breathe the solemn Amen in the silent choir, (which was even then becoming a ruin,) as his dear friend Archdeacon Fleury read over his remains the beautifully expressive words--
"Où est, ô mort! ta victoire? Où est, ô sepulcre! ton aiguillon? Graces à Dieu, qui nous a donné la victoire par nostre Seigneur Jesus Christ."
Mr. Franquefort's ministry commenced at the beginning of the reign of George III., and reached to its very close. He lived to hear of the dreadful excesses of the French Revolution, and the gigantic despotism of Napoleon; and, ere he died, the field of Waterloo was won, and France lay humbled to the dust. In 1803 many of the descendants of the refugees returned to France, and laid claim to the paternal estates of which they had been dispossessed. An elder branch of the Franquefort family was settled in La Rochelle, and the French minister crossed over to interchange a kindly greeting with his cousin, Colonel Franquefort. He had scarcely landed, however, ere he was made a prisoner of war, as the hollow truce between the countries was brought to a speedy termination; and it was not till some months had elapsed that he was released, through the interference of his relative, he was passed over to England, but hardly had he set his foot on London bridge ere he was again laid hold of, at this time accused of being a French spy; nor could William Pitt's emissaries be persuaded that such was not the fact, until Sir John Newport, the member for the city of Waterford, enlightened them by the information that their valuable prize was a simple French minister, who was entrusted with the care of a little flock within the walls of the old city which Sir John himself so efficiently represented. Great was the rejoicing on his return; the joy bells of the French tower rang out cheerily; and one mercurial friend of his is described as having danced a pirouette round him.
Many amusing stories are told by some of the old inhabitants respecting Claude Souberment, (or, as they termed him, "Johnny Brumo") who acted for many years as clerk to Mr. Franquefort: pleasing ones, also, respecting Le Grediere. Souberment, as the violinist of the city, was the sine qua non at every social reunion. Mr. Franquefort, that is the Rev. Peter Augustus Franquefort, (for we must draw a distinction between Peter Augustus and his cousin Peter James) is described as a man of great single-mindedness, benevolence, and piety, a learned scholar, and yet as simple as a child. So conscientious was he in the discharge of his duty, that when the roof of the French Church fell in, some short time before his death, and no vestry cess could be raised for its restoration, he has been known to attend on the wettest days in winter, and perform the ritual to his confrères, Claude Souberment, and Jean Legrediere, the latter some times protecting his venerable head with a capacious umbrella. The services were for a short time after performed in the vestry; but at last, until Mr. Franquefort's death, a morning service was conducted at St. Olave's Cliurch: it was then but thinly attended. The clerk who succeeded Souberment at that period, a young and smart garçon, and a protégé of Mr. Franquefort's, is still living, growing to be an old man in appearance now, but as vivacious and frolicksome as ever, he still attends St. Olave's Church, and, as a worshipper, reads from his French prayer-book, while those around him pray in the vulgar tongue. He is the sole surviving member of the flock; and should any reader at any time visit Waterford, and desire an hour's entertainment, Charlie Taylor will wile away the time most pleasantly, with pleasing anecdotes and funny stories, respecting Louis Perrin, Monsieur Ponseaux, Jean Petipres, Jean Roquet, John Frank, Mademoiselle Latour, Doctor Tournere, Francois Adderle, and Monsieur Martel; but most gladly will his tongue wag as he discourses of the two great heads of the French descendants, the Rev. Peter Augustus Franquefort, and the venerable Archdeacon George Lewis Fleury, or, as he is still called, "the good old Archdeacon," and pleasurably also of one who has but lately passed away from the honourable post of Clerk of the Peace of the county, which he for more than half a century so ably filled. There lived not within the city a man of more single piety, single-heartedness, and honest worth; there died not one who was more respected and regretted by men of every class and creed; and there was not a fitter specimen of the character of the descendants of the refugees than Bartholomew D'Landre, of Waterloo. His name yet lives in the person of his worthy son and sturdy grandsons, and their proudest boast is that Huguenot blood flows through their veins.
The intimacy between the Fleurys and Frauqueforts would seem to have dated from an early period, as their grandfathers both served under Colonel La Bouchetriére, whose dragoons rendered King William such signal service. Captain Franquefort commanded a troop under him, and the Rev. Philip Amaury Fleury was chaplain. An antique silver cup is now in the possession of Caplain John Franquefort Fleury, of Waterford, out of which King William is said to have drunk at the Battle of the Boyne. It is preserved by the gallant captain with almost religious veneration. The Communion-cup belonging to the French Church is also an interesting relic, bearing on it the inscription Ecclesiae des Françis Waterford, and appearing to be nearly two hundred years old.
It remained in the possession of the Rev. Richard Chencvix Fleury, of Dunmore, until his recent death, and is now in the keeping of the Rev. Bartholomew Labarte, his successor. Beside me, as I write, is a treasured relic -- "Le Noveau Testament," printed in Paris, by Anthoine Cellier, in 1668, with Clement Marot's "Pseaumes de David," la forme des prières Ecclesiastiques, le Catechisme, los articles de la foi et confession de foi faite d'un commun accord par les Eglises Reformées du Royaume de France." It is a pocket edition belonging to one of the first settlers here, and its worn pages well attest the fact, that the good men who claimed its ownership took heed unto the divine command which is inscribed upon its opening page:--
"Enquètez vous diligemment les Eseritures, car par elles vous aurez la vie éternelle." -- Jean, v., 39.
During the ministry of the Rev. Peter Augustus Franquefort, he was frequently assisted by the venerable Archdeacon Fleury. Both commenced their ministrations in Waterford, at nearly the same period, and for more than half a century "they lived and loved together."
The Fleurys were not amongst the first settlers here, and seem to have accompanied Bishop Chenevix. In 1683, the Rev. Louis Fleury, with Esther his wife, and with his little family, consisting of one son and two daughters, fled from his pastoral charge at Tours, and arrived safely in England, where he obtained letters of denization, on the 27th of April, 1687, in London, and was shortly after appointed chaplain to William III., after which ho was pastor of Leyden.
Philip Amauret Fleury, who was but twelve years of age when his father fled, graduated at Leyden, and was ordained "to preach the Gospel to the French in Ireland." His letters de bene decessit are dated May 5, 1697, and signed by the ordinary, John Mank, D.D. He rendered many signal services to the crown of England. His son, Antoine Fleury, was also educated at Leyden, and on the 4th September, 1728, was ordained there. He came thence to London, and subsequently had charge of the French congregation, in the crypt under St. Patrick's. In 1761 he succeeded the Rev. Henry Gervaise, as one of the Vicars Choral of Lismore. His wife was of the noble De Rochebrune family; she is buried in the French Church at Waterford: his son George Louis, the Archdeacon, appears to have been ordained by his father's friend, the good Bishop Chenevix. The Archdeacon has left many worthy scions of the good old stock. His daughter was married to the Rev. R. Ryland, of Waterford, (author of the History of Waterford,) and has a numerous family; three of his sons entered the ministry; two of his grandsons are already ordained, and a third called to the bar.
One of the Waterford Huguenot descendants, Louis Perrin, is a judge of one of her Majesty's courts; the assistant-barrister of the county is a Bessonet; the stipendiary magistrate here is a Tabiteau; the late clerk of the peace a Delandre; the governor of the city prison is one of the Latrobes; the last officer of the constabulary was a Dubourdieu. In church and state the refugee descendants are honoured and respected; and Waterford has been no loser by the trying circumstances which drove them from their native land.
The ruined church where once they worshipped is well deserving of more than a passing visit. The present Dean of Waterford, the Rev. Edward N. Hoare, has exerted himself with laudable zeal to preserve it from desecration. The descendants of the old veteran Sautelle are resting there, side by side with Sir Hugh Purcell, who fought with Fitz Henry, and Sir Neale O'Neale, who lost his life in fighting for James II., at the Boyne. And their ashes should rest in peace.
Its tombs and history would deserve a special notice, and would serve as so many links in the eventful history of our country.
The thoughts which insensibly steal over the mind as one stands alone in the solemn stillness of the old grave yard, must be serious and impressive. Beneath your feet mingle the dust of the old Norman Knight who crossed the sea with Strongbow, Fitz Gerald, and Morton; and of the old friars who sung out the matins, or chaunted the dirge in quiet seclusion; around you are the memorials of the old citizens who won from the seventh Henry their character for loyal fidelity; and the escutcheon of one of the noblest of the sons of Ulster, who held not his life-blood dear for the cause of the faithless Stuarts; beyond are the humble grave-stones of the French Huguenots, and the simple record of the departure of one who ministered to them from the Book of Life; and side by side repose the mortal remains of the sheriffs who obtained their chartered rights renewed from the Royal Charles, and the Chief Magistrate who so boldly withstood the Puritan Protector. Within its sacred precincts all worshipped God. Each in his own day and generation held firmly by the faith he deemed most true, which in the succeeding generation was questioned as either heresy, idolatry, fanaticism, or schism; but all have surrendered their spirits to Him who gave them being, and are laid in that common sepulchre "where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest."
The above article is reproduced from the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, vol. 4, 1856.