Thursday 21 June 2012

The Huguenot Settlement in Lisburn


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The History of the Huguenot Settlement in Ireland,
By Thomas Gimlette, D.D. -- 1888.

This work was, unfortunately, never finished owing to the death of the author, and only brings the narrative down to about the year 1690.

The story of the persecution, suffering, and exile of the Huguenots in France is told, and their wanderings traced. The whole is an awful record of bigotry, folly, and inhuman cruelty (embracing the years 1540-1690), whereby the best blood of a mighty nation was shed on the altar of clerical intolerance and stupidity.

There is little in the work bearing directly on the Huguenot settlement in Lisburn. An account of the well-known meeting between the French refugee René Bulmer and King William III. is given. The Wolfenden family at Lambeg is also referred to.

In 1508 the great Henri of Navarre promulgated the Edict of Nantes, which made every Frenchman a freeman in matters of faith. This just and equitable measure was, however, violently opposed and unfairly carried out by his lieutenants and by his successors. For more than a century the French Protestants still struggled for their rights. At last, crushed by the bigoted and despotic Louis, the lamp of the Divine truth was all but extinguished, and by 1685 the edict of freedom was revoked. Three hundred and fifty thousand voluntary exiles then left the shores of their native land. Switzerland, German, Russia, and America received many of the persecuted strangers with open arms. A considerable number found shelter in England. Holland afforded homes for some of the wealthiest, and employment for the most enterprising. In William, Prince of Orange, they found a kind protector. Many of them followed his fortunes when he succeeded to the throne of Great Britain, and in Ireland the greatest of his victories was attained by the steady bravery of the French Protestant refugees.

The Huguenot Colony at Lisburn,
By Dr. Purdon,

This interesting article may be seen in the Ulster Journal of Archæology, vol. 1, 1853. It contains valuable information regarding the colony, and, in addition, extensive notes relating to individual families -- Crommelin, De La Cherois, Dubourdieu, De Lavalade, Roche, Geneste, De Blackquicre, Perrin, Gullot, Jellett, Saurin, Mangin, Goyer, Bulmer, Dupre.

Louis Crommelin.

A concise sketch of his life and work appears in the Dictionary of National Biography and in the "Northern Whig" of July 13, 1885.

The Huguenots In Ulster,
By R. A. M'Call, K.C.
("Lisburn Standard," 21st May, 1915.)

This article contributes practically no new matter of local interest to the narrative of the settlement in Lisburn as given by Hugh M'Call, 1870, and Samuel Smiles, 1889.

From the Ulster Journal of Archæology.

In the "Rounds" on the other side of the mill-race adjoining the Castle Gardens, Lisburn, there is a very fine lime-tree walk, and on one of those lime-trees -- the eleventh on the south-east side -- is clearly cut the following:--

Saumarez Dubourdieu
Aug. 28, 1789.

The cutting has been very carefully made and is in a good state of preservation. On the same tree is also clearly cut the year, 1764. It is considered that this Saumarez Dubourdieu was a grandson of the Rev. Saumarez Dubourdieu, being a son of John Dubourdieu, who was rector of Anahilt. The Rev. Saumarez Dubourdieu, who died in 1812, was minister of the French Huguenot Church in Castle Street, Lisburn, for almost half a century, and subsequently was presented with the living of Lambeg.

The Huguenots and their Settlement in Ireland,
By C. D. Purdon, M.D. -- 1869.

This pamphlet, of some sixteen pages, contains a general history of the Huguenot settlements in the various districts of Ireland. It records numerous items of local interest.

Laval, in his History of the Church of France, has an appendix of one hundred pages, in which he describes in detail the seven different ways they tried to force the reformed to change their religion. Many of the highest rank and station were consigned to the galleys, where they died, under the hands of their task-masters, after having lived in chains many years, However, numbers escaped out of France into the adjoining countries, and were kindly welcomed in each.

Those that escaped into Holland received the patronage and protection of William. Several regiments were formed of the refugees, who accompanied him into England, whence they went to Ireland, grouped into three regiments of infantry and one of cavalry, who did their duty so well that Schomberg, writing to King William, said that from them William had more service than from double the number of others. It is almost unnecessary to mention that to these regiments  the victory of the Boyne was, in a great measure, owed. When old Duke Schomberg, pointing to the Irish and French troops, said to them, "Come my friends, bear in mind your courage and resentment -- yonder are your persecutors," which so animated them that they impetuously charged and broke through the French regiments opposite them, commanded by the Duke de Lauzun; and it was after this charge that the aged warrior received his death-wound, and fell in the arms of his chaplain, the Rev. John Dubourdieu, a relative of the old French pastor of Lisburn.

Several Protestant noblemen had printed papers circulated in France to induce the Protestants to come and settle on their estates. Many of them took advantage of these invitations, and came over, who afterwards were joined by others from England and Holland, and, with the officers and soldiers, settled at Belfast, Lambeg, Lisburn, Dundalk, Portarlington, Dublin, Wicklow, Waterford, Kilkenny, Youghal, Innishannon, Bandon, Tallow, Cork, Carlow, and Killeshandra; and we divide these places into two classes -- viz., those that had chapels, and those that had none. In the former we include Lisburn, Dundalk, Portarlington, Dublin, Kilkenny, Waterford, Innishannon, and Cork. Amongst the latter, Belfast, Lambeg, Wicklow, Youghal, Bandon, Tallow, Carlow, and Killeshandra. I may mention that this division was caused by the Government providing endowments of £60 per annum for chaplains to minister to them, when this number exceeded sixty souls; consequently many of these mission settlements very soon merged into larger ones. We shall now take up the first class, and amongst them we find Lisburn holds the chief place, and as we owe to this settlement the present position of the linen trade throughout Ulster, it may be interesting to enter into the cause of its origin more fully than we otherwise would. This settlement derived its prosperity from the fact that the Government of that day, yielding to the representations of the English, were desirous to discourage the woollen manufacture in Ireland, and after having succeeded in almost suppressing it, they, in return, passed a bill to foster that of linen; but though this was passed there was no one left in the country who was able to instruct the Irish in the perfect way of manufacturing linens, notwithstanding that it was formerly used largely by the Irish, and that Lord Strafford had promoted its production in every way. So after this AC was passed, according to the representations of the "Commissioners of Trade," the King, who took a great interest in this manner, invited over from Holland Louis Crommelin, a "Huguenot," whom he appointed "overseer of the Linen Manufacture of Ireland," and encouraged him to bring over others of his countrymen both of high and low rank, to take part in establishing the manufacture and instructing the natives, who were induced by the Act, which gave £10 to every female "who should before the Judge, Sheriff, and Foreman of the Grand Jury at every Summer Assizes spin the best thread on the double wheel, and also receive a certificate as a mistress spinner; and also every weaver was to receive £10 for the best piece of cloth."  Crommelin having accepted the King's offer, and also the premium of £5 for every loom that was kept going, brought over from Holland 1,000 looms and spinning wheels of improved construction, and a good number of Huguenots, who formed this colony. Neither were their spiritual wants unprovided for. The Rev. Charles Lavalade, who was a connection of the family, was appointed their pastor, and a church was built for them, and on their assembly each Lord's Day they could join in the worship of the sanctuary in their usual manner, repeating in the beloved language the prayers of their church, and thankful in being able to serve Cod according to their consciences. The reminiscences of this colony are very numerous, but we shall only select two of them -- namely, one respecting the Dubourdieu family, and Peter Goyer. The former one is, that when the son of the last pastor was at the taking of Martinique, the commanding officer of the French, in surrendering his sword to him, said: "My misfortune is the lighter as I am conquered by a Dubourdieu, and a beloved relation. My name is Dubourdieu." This individual was in after years an admiral of France. The latter incident was that Peter Goyer, after having seen his brother killed by Louis' soldiers, who added to their cruelty the mockery of tearing a leaf out of his Bible and forcing it into his mouth before he was killed, escaped concealed in a wine cask. This colony existed for upwards of 80 years, and gradually became extinct by its members moving to other places, by inter-marriages with the original inhabitants, and by joining the Established Church; and though nothing exists of the colony except a few tombstones in the churchyard and kindly recollections of the older inhabitants, yet the fruits remain in the present state of the North of Ireland, towards the prosperity of which it largely contributed in forming the linen and cambric manufacture.

Of the Belfast settlement, some went to Lisburn, where they had their worship celebrated in their native tongue; others remained here, no doubt being influenced in their selection by the appointment of the Rev. M. Saurin as the vicar. But nothing now remains of this settlement. The Lambeg settlement consisted of a few workers who brought their skill with them, and the only tradition we have respecting them is René Bulmer and his wife, who met, along with others, William III. on his route to the Boyne. René requested permission to detail his grievances to the King, which request his Majesty kindly granted. He then requested permission to salute the King's cheek, which was also granted, and then King William jumped off his horse, saying: "And thy wife also;" and she being a very pretty woman, the King kissed her, as the old chronicle says, "right heartilie." This colony was speedily absorbed into the Lisburn one.

(Next week: Origin of the People of Killultagh.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 21 June 1918 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

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