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Huguenots and Walloons in Devon

The Huguenots and Walloons were, respectively, French and Fleming-speaking protestant refugees from persection on mainland Europe. According to Peskett: "Immigration began in the 16th century, when 'Flemings' figure in the registers of Dartmouth St Saviour, and Walloons came to Plymouth. . . However these earlier immigrants were few and rapidly assimilated into the local communities and the Anglican Church. Those which are particularly relevant in the local context were French refugees from the persecution before and after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, 1685, at which period the Devon congregations were formed.". He goes on to give brief accounts of the history of congregations in Barnstaple, and Bideford, Dartmouth, Exeter, and Plymouth and East Stonehouse. Only in the case of Plymouth and East Stonehouse are there extant pre-1840 registers.

Barnstaple & Bideford: Two congregations formed in 1685, both of which closed in 1761. No separate registers exist - some entries are to be found in Barnstaple and other Anglican registers.

Dartmouth: A congregation formed in 1686/88 but split into separate nonconformist and conformist congregations in 1711. No separate registers exist for either; the conformist congregation used and appears to have registered at St Saviour parish. The nonconformist congregation joined the Presbyterians and is at recorded, at least in part, from 1726 in their registers. Both congregations had ceased to exist by 1750.

Exeter: A nonconformist congregation existed from 1620 to 1720. Some entries relating to this congregation can be found in the registers of the Exeter United Dissenters, and the Anglican church of St Olave. A conformist congregation was formed 1686. It had use of St Olave, in whose registers some entries may be found. This congregation closed in 1758, when its members joined the Anglican church.

Plymouth and East Stonehouse: A nonconformist congregation formed in Plymouth 1681, and closed c1762, the remaining members joining the Batter Street Presbyterians. Some records of their children are listed as births of dissenters in the Plymouth St Andrews and the East Stonehouse anglican registers. A conformist congregation was formed in 1681 in Plymouth, from which an East Stonehouse congregation split off in 1691. These congregations used St Andrews Church and first its Chapelry at East Stonehouse and then a Church (with separate registers) there. The Plymouth and East Stonehouse congregations merged in 1785, and were dissolved in 1810. For details of the extant pre-1840 registers see under Church Records in the respective parish pages, and Lart (1912) below.

References:

Bracken, C.W. The Huguenot churches of Plymouth and Stonehouse. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 66, (1934) pp.163-179.
Currer-Briggs, Noel and Gambier, Royston. Huguenot Ancestry, Phillimore & Co. (2001) 160 pp. [ISBN: 1860771734]
Lart, Charles E. The Huguenot Settlements and Churches in the West of England, Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of Londpn, vol. 8, (1901-4) pp.286-298.
Lart, Charles Edmund. (ed.) Registers of the French Churches of Bristol, Stonehouse, and Plymouth. Huguenot Society of London pubs. vol. 20. Spottiswoode and Co. (1912) [Includes Plymouth baptisms 1733-1807; marriages 1734-1740; burials 1733-1734.] [Available on CD-ROM]
Peskett, Hugh. Guide to the Parish and Non-Parochial Registers of Devon and Cornwall, 1538-1837, Torquay, Devon and Cornwall Record Society; extra ser., v (Printed for the Society by The Devonshire Press) (1979).
Pickard, Ransom. The Huguenots in Exeter. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 68, (1936) pp.261-297; 76, (1944) pp.129-131.
Rogers, Inkerman. The Huguenots of Devonshire, Bideford, Gazette Printing Service? (1942). [BL DSC L70/1555]
Smiles, Samuel. The Huguenots: Their Settlements, Churches, and Industries in England and Ireland, (1972) 448 pp. [ISBN: 0806304979]

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Last updated 16 Oct 2014 - Brian Randell.

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