Huguenots Community in London

Huguenots Silversmiths in London

1780_WilliamHodges_SevenDials-CoventGarden.jpgWilliam Hodges, Seven Dials-Covent Garden, 1780Hoguenots silversmiths lived in the neighborhood, concentrated around Soho in the West End. Francis Harrache, John Derussat I and John Derussat III lived and worked in very narrow area around Seventh Dial near Covent Garden (William Hodges draw the place in 1780).

Abraham Harache (1661-1722), the father of Francis Harrache, emigrated and settled at Compton Street in 1686 as a smallworker goldsmith (producing mostly spoons and snuff boxes) but was not endenizened until March 1700. He moved to St. Giles in Great St. Andrew Street, Seven Dials in 1708.

The rate book recorded the son of Abraham, Francis Harrache, in Great St Andrews Street from 1732 to 1754, where was his father's premises. It took a few minitues just going straight cross the Seventh Dial from the Francis Harrache's house to John Derussat I's house in Little St Andrews Street where he lived from 1744 to 1757. He moved to larger premises nearby in Little Earl Street where he remained until his death in 1757.

His premises was inherited and used by his wife Jane (Grignon) until her death in 1758. After her death, her executors sold this premises to John Derussat III in 1759.

John Derussat III was apprenticed in 1742 to his uncle John Derussat I in Great St Andrews Street and presumably continued working for him until John Derussat I's death or departure in 1758. After then John Derussat III took the former premises of Francis Harrache in Little Earl Street, and lived from 1759 to 1778 according to the rate books.

The strong relationship of the Huguenots silversmiths and their day-to-day communication might be reflected in their works, especially specific designs of the Naturalistic Spoons. I can observed the strong relationship among them from the view point of design, workplace and business relations.

The Naturalistic Spoons vividly tell me the strugling but glorious lives of the Huguenots.

Oct10#08.JPGDetail of John Rocque's map of London 1747 (courtesy of Guildhall Library)

Oct10#09.JPGThe map and list from Brian Beet, "Foreign snuffbox makers in eighteenth century London", The Silver Society Journal, 14, 2002.

Huguenots Community in London

Following the dragonnades, forced conversions to Catholicism which began in 1681, and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 which outlawed the practice of Protestantism in France, hundreds of thousands of men and women were forced to flee to the Netherlands and America, and as far afield as the Cape of Good Hope.

Between 50,000 and 80,000 of these committed Calvinists settled in England, with perhaps half this number eventually finding a home in the Greater London area. Because emigration was illegal under French law, many came with few resources, buoyed up only by strongly felt religious conviction. At the same time many of the refugees possessed skilled trades associated with weaving, clockmaking and financial services. There was also a large number of intellectuals.

On arrival in London, French refugees found two already well-established French churches. The first was in Threadneedle Street in the City, where a strict and continental Calvinist form of worship was practiced, and the other at the Savoy, in the West End, where an Anglican form of worship was followed. These two churches became the focus for the growing number of refugees, and the centres of two largely coherent communities. These two early churches were then followed by others. By 1700 there were nine French churches in the East End (all of which practiced a Calvinist form of worship), and twelve in the West End (six of which celebrated Anglican communion, and six a Calvinist liturgy).

The traditional and virulent anti-Catholicism of Londoners, in combination with propaganda depicting the atrocities committed against Protestants in France, ensured that the refugees had a surprisingly warm welcome. More positively, particularly after the Glorious Revolution in 1688 and the accession of William and Mary, Huguenots received a remarkable level of charitable support. At the end of the seventeenth century, for example, some 64,713 pounds was raised by royal brief for their relief, while William and Mary donated 39,000 pounds to help Huguenot resettlement between 1689 and 1693 alone.

WilliamHogarth_FourTimesOfDay-Noon_1738.jpgWilliam Hogarth, Four Times of Day - Noon, 1738At the same time, the concentration of French speaking immigrants in well defined communities ensured the survival of a distinctive culture and identity for several generations. Both their language and fashions set the French apart, and there were complaints about their unfamiliar diet. But they acquired a certain respectability. Even in 1738, William Hogarth could contrast the clothing and behaviour of a French Protestant congregation leaving church with the poverty, squalor and sexual immorality of other Londoners. And many prospectiveEnglish gentlemen about to set off on the Grand Tour made an initial visit to the East End to polish their language skills.
Huguenots made substantial contributions to economic sectors, particularly watch making, silver smithing and finance of which most activities were concentrated in the community around Soho in the West End.

Other important business area was Textile manufacturing, in particular silk weaving, formed the largest single occupation for the French refugees. This work was concentrated in Spitalfields, and a substantial number of large workshops were established. The decline of silk weaving in the late eighteenth century, as new Indian and Chinese fabrics became more readily available and as smuggling of continental silk became more commonplace, adversely affected the community around Spitalfields. The "Spitalfields Acts" passed between 1765 and 1801 attempted to regulate wages and working conditions, and to protect the domestic market from overseas competition. Nevertheless, the economic prosperity brought by the trade slowly ebbed away, leading to frequent and violent clashes between masters and journeymen over wage rates and the introduction of new machinery (particularly in 1768-69 and again in a series of violent strikes in 1829). Despite the economic problems of the industry, made worse by trade liberalisation from 1826, a substantial community clung on in the area around Spitalfields and adjoining Bethnal Green. Even in 1850 the industry employed some 30,000 individuals, generally at starvation wages. By the end of the nineteenth century some 60 working looms remained in the garrets of the once elegant eighteenth-century townhouses of Spitalfields.

History of Huguenots

The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France (or French Calvinists) from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Protestants in France were inspired by the writings of John Calvin (1509-1564) in the 1530s and the name Huguenots was already in use by the 1560s. The French Wars of Religion (1562-1598) and Louis XIV's persecution forced about one million of two million Huguenots emigrate to surrounding Protestant countries: England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Prussia, South Africa and North America. Among them, an estimated 50,000 Protestant Walloons and Huguenots fled to England, about 10,000 of whom moved on to Ireland.

Persecution of Protestants in France ended in 1787 with the Edict of Toleration. Three years later, during the French Revolution, Protestants were finally granted full citizenship.

Early History

Huguenots became known for their criticisms of worship as performed in the Roman Catholic Church, in particular the focus on ritual and what they viewed as an obsession with death and the dead. They believed the ritual, images, saints, pilgrimages, prayers, and hierarchy of the Catholic Church did not help anyone toward redemption. They saw Christian life as something to be expressed as a life of simple faith in God, relying upon God for salvation, and not upon rituals, while obeying Biblical law.
Like other religious reformers of the time, they felt that the Catholic Church needed radical cleansing of its impurities, and that the Pope represented a worldly kingdom, which sat in mocking tyranny over the things of God, and was ultimately doomed.

The French Catholic Church fanatically opposed the Huguenots, attacking pastors and congregants as they attempted to meet in secret for worship. The height of this persecution was St. Bartholomew's Day massacre.

Huguenot numbers grew rapidly between 1555 and 1561, chiefly amongst nobles and city dwellers. During this time, their opponents first dubbed the Protestants Huguenots; but they called themselves reformés, or "Reformed." They organized their first national synod in 1558, in Paris. By 1562, the estimated number of Huguenots had passed one million, concentrated mainly in the southern and central parts of the country. The Huguenots in France likely peaked in number at approximately two million, compared to approximately sixteen million Catholics during the same period.

French Wars of Religion

In 1561, the Edict of Orléans declared an end to the persecution, and the Edict of Saint-Germain of January 1562 formally recognized the Huguenots for the first time. However, these measures disguised the growing tensions between Protestants and Catholics. These tensions spurred eight civil wars between 1562 and 1598. The French Wars of Religion began with a massacre at Vassy on March 1, 1562, when dozens (some sources say hundreds) of Huguenots were killed, and about 200 were wounded.

The Huguenots transformed themselves into a definitive political movement thereafter. Protestant preachers rallied a considerable army and a formidable cavalry, which came under the leadership of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny. Henry of Navarre and the House of Bourbon allied themselves to the Huguenots, adding wealth and holdings to the Protestant strength, which at its height grew to sixty fortified cities, and posed a serious threat to the Catholic crown and Paris over the next three decades.

Persecution diminished the number of Huguenots. Close to 70,000 Huguenots were killed during St. Bartholomew's Day massacre alone in 1572, and many times that amount before and after. Many fled from France to Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy, and England.

Edict of Nantes

The warfare was definitively quelled in 1598, when Henry of Navarre, having succeeded to the French throne as Henry IV, and recanted Protestantism in favour of Roman Catholicism, issued the Edict of Nantes. The Edict established Catholicism as the state religion of France, but granted the Protestants equality with Catholics under the throne and a degree of religious and political freedom within their domains. The Edict simultaneously protected Catholic interests by discouraging the founding of new Protestant churches in Catholic-controlled regions.

However, enforcement of the Edict grew increasingly irregular over time, and it was increasingly ignored altogether under Louis XIV. Louis imposed dragonnades and other forms of persecution for Protestants, which made life so intolerable that many fled the country. The Huguenot population of France dropped to 856,000 by the mid-1660s, of which a plurality lived in rural areas. The greatest concentrations of Huguenots at this time resided in the regions of Guienne, Saintonge-Aunis-Angoumois and Poitou.

Edict of Fontainebleau

In 1685, Louis revoked the Edict of Nantes and declared Protestantism to be illegal in the Edict of Fontainebleau.

After this, Huguenots, with estimates ranging from 200,000 to 1,000,000, fled to surrounding Protestant countries: England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Prussia, South Africa and North America (settling instead in the Dutch colony of New Netherland - later incorporated into New York and New Jersey, as well as the Thirteen Colonies of Great Britain and Nova Scotia although barred from settling in New France) — whose Calvinist Great Elector Frederick William welcomed them to help rebuild his war-ravaged and underpopulated country. Following this exodus, Huguenots remained in large numbers in only one region in France: the rugged Cévennes region in the south, from which a group known as the Camisards revolted against the French crown in the early 18th century.

Emigration into United Kingdom and Ireland

An estimated 50,000 Protestant Walloons and Huguenots fled to England, about 10,000 of whom moved on to Ireland. In relative terms, this could be the largest wave of immigration of a single community into Britain ever.

The French Protestant Church of London was established by Royal Charter in 1550. It is now at Soho Square. Huguenot refugees flocked to Shoreditch, London in large numbers. They established a major weaving industry in and around Spitalfields (see Petticoat Lane and the Tenterground), and in Wandsworth. The Old Truman Brewery, then known as the Black Eagle Brewery, appeared in 1724. The fleeing of Huguenot refugees from Tours, France had virtually wiped out the great silk mills they had built.

Of these refugees, upon landing on the Kent coast, many gravitated towards Canterbury, then the county's Calvinist hub, where many Walloon and Huguenot families were granted asylum. Edward VI granted them the whole of the Western crypt of Canterbury Cathedral for worship. This privilege in 1825 shrank to the south aisle and in 1895 to the former chantry chapel of the Black Prince, where services are still held in French according to the reformed tradition every Sunday at 3pm.

Some of these immigrants moved to Norwich which had accommodated an earlier settlement of Walloon weavers; they added to the existing immigrant population which made up about a third of the population of the city.

At the same time other Huguenots arriving in England settled in Bedfordshire, which was (at the time) the main centre of England's Lace industry. Huguenots greatly contributed to the development of lace-making in Bedfordshire.

Many Huguenots settled in Ireland during the Plantations of Ireland. Huguenot regiments fought for William of Orange in the Williamite war in Ireland, for which they were rewarded with land grants and titles, many settling in Dublin. Some of them took their skills to Ulster and assisted in the founding of the Irish linen industry, particularly in the Lisburn area.

End of persecution and restoration of French citizenship

Persecution of Protestants in France ended in 1787 with the Edict of Toleration. Three years later, during the French Revolution, Protestants were finally granted full citizenship.

The December 15, 1790 Law stated : "All persons born in a foreign country and descending in any degree of a French man or woman expatriated for religious reason are declared French nationals (naturels français) and will benefit from rights attached to that quality if they come back to France, establish their domicile there and take the civic oath." This might have been, historically, the first law recognising a right of return.

Article 4 of the June 26, 1889 Nationality Law stated : "Descendants of families proscribed by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes will continue to benefit from the benefit of the December 15, 1790 Law, but on the condition that a nominal decree should be issued for every petitioner. That decree will only produce its effects for the future."

Foreign descendants of Huguenots lost the automatic right to French citizenship in 1945 (by force of the ordonnance du 19 octobre 1945, revoking the 1889 Nationality Law)."Ordonnace du 19 octobre 1945" also states in article 3 " This application does not however affect the validity of past acts by the person or rights acquired by third parties on the basis of previous laws."

In the 1920s and 1930s, members of the extreme-right Action Française movement expressed strong animus against Protestants, as well as against Jews, and freemasons - all three being regarded as groups supporting the French Republic, which Action Française sought to overthrow.

Protestants in France today number about one million, or about two percent of the population. They are most concentrated in the south-eastern France and the Cévennes region in the south.

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