The Huguenot Colony at Portarlington, in the Queen's County.
by Sir Erasmus D. Borrowes, Bart.
THE REGISTER OF PORTARLINGTON.
The first volume of the register still wears the coarse and primitive brown paper cover, in which it was originally invested by its foreign guardians, 161 years since; one side bears the following inscription in large capitals:-- LIVR...DES. BAPT...MARIAG...ET, ENTEREMEN...1694. The first page is thus written:--
"Registre contenant Les Baptesmes, Les Mariages, and Les Sep......des Protestans francois de L'Eglise Réformée qui s'assemble en la Ville de Portarlington dans le comteé de La Reine En Vertu de L'acte passé au Parlement tenu dans La Ville de Dublin Le 5me d'Octobre, 1692, en La 4me Annee du Regne de leurs Majestés Le Roy Guillaume et La Reine Marie, en La presence de Son Excellence Monseigneur Henry Vicomte Sidney, Viceroy et Gouverneur Général d'Irlande."
Then follows in a more modern writing:--
"Pasteurs de l'Eglise Francoise de Portarlington.
|Depuis 1694||jusquen||1696 Gillet.eBellaquier.||Calvinistes|
|5 Octre 1696||... ... ... ... ...||" " "|
|1 Decre 1696||... ... ... ... ...||1638 Gillet.||" " "|
|15 May 1698||... ... ... ... ...||1698 Darassus. Ducasse.||" " "|
|26 Juin 1698||... ... ... ... ...||1702 Daillon.f||" " "|
|3 Octre 1702||... ... ... ... ...||1729 Bonneval.g||Anglicans|
|14 Augt 1729||... ... ... ... ...||1739 Desvories.||" " "|
|16 Febre 1739-40||... ... ... ... ...||1767 Calliard.d||" " "|
|2 Sep 1767||... ... ... ... ...||1743 Des Voceux||" " "|
|Jan. 1793||... ... ... ... ...||1817 Vignoles||" " "|
|1817||... ... ... ... ...||Charles Vignoles.|
From 1803 to 1817, a Swiss clergyman named Rebillet was employed as assistant chaplain, when the performance of the service in the French language terminated. -- The first page is thus inscribed.
"Nostre ayde soit au nom de Dieu qui a fait le Ciel et la Terre. -- Amen."
Among the records on this page is the following:--
"Mariage du Jeudy 20me Septembre 1694. Cejourd'huy après La troisième proclamation publique qui s'est faite pendant trois dimanches consecutifs à l'heure de V assemblée sans qu'il y ait eu nulle opposition: A été benit pubquement, et à La face de toute L'Eglise, Le mariage du Sieur Pierre Le Maignan Maréchal des Logis au Regiment de Galway, fitz de feu Pierre Le Maignan Vivant Marchand drappier demeurant a Condé sur...pays de Normandie, et Demoiselle Isabeau Fournier ses Pere et Mere d'une part, Avec Demoiselle Jeanne Jaqueau fille du Sieur Isaac Jaqueau officier de Marine, demeurant en L'Isle d'Oléron Province de Saintonge en France, et Demoiselle Judith Véron ses Père et Mère d'autre part; Etant signé Le present acte avec leurs amys ainsy que nous ministre et anciens du Consistoire. J. Grillet, pastr. Pr. Maignan. Jeanne Jaqueau. Charles De Bures Bethencourt, ancien, Proisy D'Eppe, ancien. D'Aunis. De Choisy."
The following is a registry of burial:--
"Du Dimanche 2me Decembre 1694 Sepulture -- Le Vendredy 20 Novenbre, 1694, sur les deux ou trois heures du matin, est morte en La foy du Seigneur, et dans L'Esperance de la glorieuse resurrection dans La Ville de Portarlington au Comté de La Reine, Dame Anne Miffaut, femme de Charles De Bures Ecuyer Sieur De Bethencourt, Capitaine pensionnaire de leur Majestés: dont Fame éstant allée à Dieu le corps a été enterré, Le premier du present mois dans Le cimetière de Lea, paroisse du dit Lieu en plein jour à trois heures après midy, suivant La discipline etLa forme ancienne et ordinaire de nos Eglises de France; ce que le dit Sieur De Bethencourt a signé avec quelques uns des assistans a le dit enterrement, et nous anciens du Consistoire, Les Jours &c. susdits. Charles De Bures Bethencourt, ancien. Proisy D'Eppe, ancien.. Michel De Bures Sailly. Du Petit Bose. J. Baucher, ancien. Claude Guiot, ancien."
The next shows the form of registering baptism:--
"Du Dimanche 31 Mars, 1695, Baptesme. Cejourd'huy sur Les deux heures du matin sont nés un fitz et une fille à Isaac Serre et à Jeanne Ponset sa femme, qui ont eté présentés ce même Jour au Baptesme, Scavoir, le fitz par Messire David de Proisy, chevalier, Seigneur Chastelain, D'Eppe, parrain; et par Dame Anne de Vivefoy du Petit Bosc; et La fille par Mr Caesar De Choisy, et Dame Angélique Boisbelland D'Aunis; et nom leur a ésté imposé, Sçavoir, David au fitz, et Jeanne à la fille, par nous, J. Gillet, ministre Isaac Serre. Proisy D'Eppe. De Choisy, Anne de Vivefoy Petit Bosc, Maraine. Angélique, B. D'Aunis, Maraine."
"Du Dimanche 6me Jour d'Octobre, 1695, Baptesme, Le Vendredy 4me Jour d'Octobre, même mois et an, Sur Les 9 heures du soir est né un fitz à Messire Daniel Le Grand, Chevalier, Seigneur du Petit Bosc, Lieutenant Colonel, et à Dame Anne de Vivefoy son Epouse qui a été cejourd huy présenté au Baptesme par Charles De Bures, Escuyer, Seigr de Bethencourt, Capitaine, Parrain, Et par Demoiselle Gabrielle D'Ully fille de Mr Le Vicomte de Laval, représentant Demoiselle Catherine Charlotte de La Goupillère, fille de feu Monsieur Le Baron de Dolton, Maraine; et nom Luy a été impose Charles Gaspar par nous, J. Gillet, ministre," &c.
The next page shows the baptism of Daniel David De Laval son of
"Messire Henry Robert D'Ully, chevalier, Seigneur Viconte De Laval, et Dame Magdeleine de Schelandre sa femme."
Then follows the baptism of the son of "Le noble Homme Louys Le Blanc,i Sieur de Perce, Capitaine pensionné, et Dame Marie Pistard son Epouse." Louys Le Blanc is the only name in the register styled "noble homme," which is the same as the term "gentleman" with us. He is thus described evidently to distinguish him from another family which bore the same name, viz., "Claude Le Blanc, boucher a Portarlinton," 1699. Both families suffered severe persecution. In noticing this subject, though painful it may be to raise the veil and disclose the wounds of the gallant and enduring soldiers of the Cross; nevertheless respect, love, justice to their undying memory, and to their glorious and exalted example, demand the portraiture of some of those sad scenes which furnish the unerring test of the indomitable spirit, unshaken courage, and steadfast faith with which they braved the extremes of cruelty, indignity, and insult, in maintaining the dictates of their conscience and the purity of their creed. -- In ecclesiastical dignity and eloquence as a preacher the name of Jacques Abbadie claims precedence.j Having been driven from France a few years previous to the Revocation, Abbadie, with many others of his distinguished countrymen, availed himself of the encouragement and welcome extended to the Refugees at the court of Brandenburg by the Elector, Frederick William: descended from a noble family in Béarn, he acquired at an early age a remarkable knowledge of theology, and took a doctor's degree when in his eighteenth year. Count de Beauveau, master of the horse, having induced him to reside at Berlin, he became attached to the rising church in that city, and soon enjoyed the favourable opinion of the Elector, whose panegyric eloquently written by Abadie became known at the Courts of Europe, and aided the fame and the success of Frederick William. About this time his "Treatise on the Truth of the Christian Religion" added considerably to the literary celebrity of this eminent divine, and excited the admiration of the great and learned sçavans of the day, including Bayle, Rabutin, Madame De Sevigné, &c., who were eloquent in praise of its author. This work was dedicated to the Mark-Grave of Brandenburg. It is to be found in Marsh's library, with the following note on its fly leaf -- "Don de l'auteur. Bouhereau." Soon after the publication of this master-piece, Abbadie brought out his "Treatise on the Divinity of Jesus Christ," and "Idea of a good Pastor," &c. After the death of the great Elector, Marshal Schomberg, who had conceived the warmest friendship for Abbadie on the occasion of his visit to Berlin, induced him to accompany him to Ireland, and he was present when the great commander fell at the Boyne, He had exercised his able pen in the service of King William, and was appointed Dean of Killaloe in 1699. The deanery of St. Patrick's would have been given to him had not a want of facility in the English language incapacitated him for a dignity so elevated and active. He continued Dean of Killaloe until 1727. He had also been minister to the Savoy church in London. Abbadie resided occasionally in Portarlington, naturally preferring the refined society of his countrymen, civil, military, and ecclesiastical, all more or less distinguished, to the solitude and seclusion inseparable in that day from the residence of a French Refugee on the remote banks of Lough Dearg and the wilds of Clare.
In the Portarlington register he is styled "doyen de Cilalou ;" he died in 1727.
J. Gillet, the first minister of the French church in Portarlington, had previously served the chapel De la Tremblade, and the church in Crispin St., London, and was married in the latter, in 1701, to Jeanne Mestre. -- In reference to the two families of Le Blanc, it appears that Theodore Le Blanc was minister of La Rochelle, and afterwards chaplain to the Queen Dowager of Denmark, and was probably of the same stock as Louis Le Blanc, "noble homme;" he with other clergymen was declared attainted, and convicted, for having received into their church Marie Gautier, a "relapse," and Renée de la Serre, contrary to the decrees of the Council of State. These names occur constantly in the Portarlington registries. Le Blanc and his brother clergymen were condemned to be led by the executioner with ropes round their necks, naked, except their shirts, to the entrance of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of La Rochelle; holding in their hands flaming torches of two pounds, and, being on their knees, were to declare that it was through their mistake of the decree of the king that they received the said Gautier, that they repented, and asked pardon of God, the King, and Justice. They were to be banished for ever from the kingdom, and their property to be confiscated.k
From a list of some of the persecuted in France we extract the following names, which constantly occur in the Portarlington registries. They were principally the victims of the relentless Marillac, the scourge of Saintonge and Poitou.
"Jeanne Micheau, veuve, ageé de 72 ans. Jean Micheau. Jean Broussard....Pillot. Marie Guillon. Noirt et environs. Caillard de St Maixant. Lusignan.....Canche. Les freres, Micheau, fermiers. En Saintonge et Aunix par L'Intendant De Meux, Micheaus, Les Villeneaux, Jeanne Gautier prisounier à La Rochelle, Mercier de. La veuve la Brousse et sa fille, indignitez qui n'expriment point, De Largere et sa femme, gentils homm, prisons affreuses. Angoumois,....... Champlorier, volé par paisan habille en dragon. Anjou et environs, Pierre Gautier et sa femme; la même fumez et brulez. Poitou, Jacques Guérin, laboureur, pendu. Louis Billonard, medecin. Guyenne, Dame De St Germain de Lus, sa maison démolie, et les bois conpez. La Dame De Virazel succombée. Brassard, ministre à Montauban pris par les Algériens. Cevennes, Manuel De la Salle, pendu. Metz. Chevenix, conseiller. La Dlle Du Clos. Normandie,........ Hamon, Marchand à Rouen et sa famille. Bretagne, Bel Grient et sa femme. Bergerac, La Dlle La Serre. De Virazel, conseiller à Bourd. Montauban,...... Beauchamp. Do La Dlle......... De Belcastel, deux doigts coupez. Do De Castelfrance, gentilhomme. Brie, David De Proisi d'Epe. Do Vicomte De Laval. Guyenne,....... David, médecin à Monflanguin. Do De Labat, habitant de Clairac, meurt dans les fatigues des logemens. Montauban,....... La Grange, gentilhomme, cachez quinze mois. Provence, Dlles Gautier. Do Dlle Freau. Do Nicholas Porcher, sa maison abbattue. Saintonge, Pièrre Gautier, Do Isaac Guérin Sieur De la Loge, mort en prison. Perche,....... Le Fevre, marchant. Bourgogne, Le Fevre, avocat. Isaac Le Fevre, prisonnier.
Of the Portarlington families who suffered as slaves on board the gallies were the following members:--
"Sur La Hardie, Antoine Mercier, Luzernois. Pierre Boyer. Sur La Belle, Jean Billonard. Sur La Galante, Jean Durand. Sur La Porte, Pierre Allix. Sur La Grande. François Sabattier. Sur La Victoire, Pierre Blanc. Sur L'Ambitieuse, Jacques Blanc. Sur L'Heureuse, Pierre Blanc." In other gallies not named were Pierre, David, and Jean DeSerres, of Montauban, Anthoine Durand, Pierre and David Mercier, and Pierre Nicolas.
Among some half dozen families, remnants of the French, still living in Portarlington, are the "Blongs;" the rapidly fading memory of the gallant refugees, and the oblivion of everything French, having entailed on the original name this corrupted form: the Christian names however, of the gallant martyrs of the galley being transmitted from one generation to another with most religious accuracy. With similar precision the trade, said to be most hereditary, that of butcher, has been taught by father to son in the same town for at least 155 years; for the name of "Claude Blanc, boucher" is found in the register in 1699. The following bill, furnished to a lady of rank, the widow of a French field ofiicer, shows the continuation of the trade; and the price of meat in 1743:--
"Feb. 23, 21 pound of beef, 3s. 6d.; a Qr. of Lawm, 1s. 7½d.; a koofs head, 10d; a...5d; 7 pound of beef, 10½d; 3 pound of beef, 6d; 21 pound of beef, 3s. 6d.; 8 pound of beef, 1s; a brest of wail, 1s. 3d. Peter Blong."
The receipt of Peter Blong, and his signature, in orthography and penmanship are quite of a superior order to the bill, which bears the date of 28th April, 1743. A descendant of this family now flourishes successfully in the town as butcher, salesmaster, &c.; and we may here mention the singular fact, that our own foreign ancestors in the maternal line, and ourselves for a period of 150 years to the present day, have purchased our rounds and sirloins from the well-stored stalls of these hereditary French Knights of the Cleaver.
The Micheaus, who are described above as "fermiers," were tenants of the French estates of the Robillard family, Seigneurs De Champagné, &c.; we find their names on the rentroll of the Chevalier De Champagné: from their frequent recurrence, they are thus distinguished by a sobriquet as customary also among Irish tenantry:-- "Jean Micheau, dit gros Jean; Jean Micheau, fils de Sanson," &c. It is a remarkable coincidence, that they again held land from the Champagnés, in the neighbourhood of Portarlington, and were appointed Portreeves of the borough, where their old French landlords were for many years sovereigns. "Louise Micheau, wife of Jean Couturier, of Mauze, was violently insulted (outragée) by the police who lodged in her house at discretion; they broke sundry articles, and took her husband prisoner to Rochfort, with Cujau and Tavers, for not having changed."l A member of the family of Micheau is now sexton of the ci-devant the French Church in Portarlington. -- A name of martial renown now presents itself, of especial interest at the present moment, and full of hope of adding another laurel wreath to the glory of our gallant French allies; need we name the name of "Pellissier!" As in the present day, so of old, we find it connected with war, and the individual who bore it held military posts of importance. The register records the marriage, in 1698, of "Abel Pelissier cy-devant mareschal des logis, et Aide maior du Regt de Galuuai, fils d'Abel Pelissier et d'Anne Nicolas de la ville de Castres, prouince de Languedoc d'une part, et de Marie de Choisy, fille de Caesar de Choisy et de feu Marie Gilbert de Chef-boutonne prouince de Poitou d'autre part" &c., signed "Pellissier. Marie de Choisy. De Choisy. Benjamin De Daillon, ministre. Du Petit Bosc, ancien; Laval, ancien; Proisy D'Eppe. ancien; Billonard, ancien." -- Benjamin De Daillon, "Escuyer, Sieur de la Levrie," who succeeded to the Portarlington church in 1698, had become distinguished in France, prior to his emigration. He had been minister of the Church of La Rochefoucauld, in Augoumois. He states in his remonstrance on the sentence subsequently passed on him, that the Curé and Carmelites of that town had long formed the design to interrupt the exercise of the reformed religion in Daillon's church, and made many efforts to accomplish their purpose; that they pretended, on the ground of some ancient titles which they had falsified, that the spot on which his church was built belonged to them, that the clock erected in his church was taken from their place of worship, that he had placed it above the cross, and that the building was altogether too near to them. The Sieur de la Levrie rebuts the charges, but is nevertheless sentenced by "le Lieutenant criminel" to discontinue his ministerial office, to be banished from the province of Angoumois for nine years, the consistory of La Rochefoucauld to be suppressed, the exercise of the reformed religion to be interdicted for ever in the said town, the church to be demolished within one month by its own members, which if not done within that time, it is to be pulled down at their own expense, and the said Daillon and elders of the church to be fined in the sum of 3,000 livres. In April 1685, Daillon was a prisoner in the Conciergerie of Paris. In 168S he was minister of the church de la Patente, in Spitalfields, London; and in the same year he published at Amsterdam, in 2 vols., a work entitled "Examen du principal prétexte de l'oppression des réformés en France." -- In our list of "persecutez," the name of François Sabatier merits special notice. In 1695, before Portarlington had sufficient extent to accommodate the refugees, John Sabatier, with many others of his countrymen resided at Lea, one mile from the new town, the ancient village and its venerable castle still contending for the mastery, and welcoming with the temporary shelter of their declining days these interesting emigrants from a foreign land. Now all there is ruin and desolation. --
"Along thy glades a solitary guest,
The hollow-sounding bittern builds its nest,
Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies,
And tires their echoes with unvaried cries;
Sunk are thy bowels in shapeless ruin all,
And the long grass o'ertops the mouldering wall."
To be continued...
[f] Daillon was one of the noble family of Du Lude. An individual of the name, Benjamin de Daillon, was pastor of the French Church at Catterlough (Carlow) in Ireland, and died in 1709. [Haag.]
[g] Bonneval was the name of a Protestant branch of the noble family of D'Agoult, which lost the estates of Pinet and Chastelard, in Provence, in consequence of having embraced the reformed faith. -- [Ibid.]
[h] Gaspar de Caillard was French pastor in Dublin, and published sermons there in 1728. -- [Ibid.]
[i] Tostein Le Blanc bore the standard of the Conqueror at the battle of Hastings.
[j] Abbadie was born at Nay, a small town of Béarn, and after studying at Puylaurens, and Saumur, took his degree at the academy of Sedan. It is stated in his biography that the indigence of his parents was such that the expense of his education was defrayed by the chief churchmen of the province. The last years of his life were passed in England and Holland. -- [Haag.]
[k] Decree of the Court of Parliament of Paris, 18th January, 1685.
[l] MS. Memoires d'Aunix, Sept. 1681.
The above article is reproduced from the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, vol. 3, 1855.