"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed in the Taylor Daily Press - 5 July 2001

“To Huguenot or Not”

What is a Huguenot? They were exiles who fled France during the Reign of Louis XIV when he revoked the “Edict of Nantes” and began the wholesale persecution of his Protestant subjects in 1685.

The “Edict of Nantes,” made in 1598 by Henry IV, gave Huguenots limited religious freedom. When it was revoked, Huguenots were no longer safe in France and they fled North, South, East and West to every foreign port possible. A future anywhere was preferable to a life in France where Huguenots no longer had civil or religious liberties. They were forbidden to proselytize, forbidden to criticize the Catholic Church, forbidden to conduct their daily lives as freely as their neighbors, and finally even forbidden to exist.

The term Huguenot was applied to non-Catholics and is supposed to derive from the word Hugeon that is defined as individuals who walk at night. For over a hundred years, the only safe place of worship for Protestants had been dark caves, thus the term nightwalkers.

For Louis XIV, the matter of religious beliefs was merely a pretext as he used the Catholic Church as a club for wholesale confiscation of property owned by Protestants. He used the proceeds to line the pockets of the dissolute nobles of his Court.

Huguenots, spanned every layer of French society, they were nobility, wealthy, merchants, teachers, artists, as well as the poorer classes. It is estimated that the population loss to France by the Huguenot persecutions was over 400,000.

Huguenots could not join some trades and professions. They were excluded from serving in public office. There were restrictions related to practicing medicine and law. There were arbitrary and discriminatory taxes. Those who could not prove that they had converted to Catholicism were not allowed to inherit from deceased estates. Lastly, children were forcibly removed from their parents and placed in homes where they could be raised as Catholics. A comprehensive and scholarly Chronology of Huguenot and Protestant Reformed History by Charles H. Bobo of California can be viewed at: http://www.kopower.com/~jimchstn/timeline.htm.

For resources relating to Huguenot genealogy visit Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites at: http://www.cyndislist.com/huguenot.htm.

Charles Baird’s book, “History of the Huguenot Emigration to America” (Vol. I & II) (ISBN: 0806305541) is considered to be the standard work on the Huguenot emigration to America. It is so thorough that there are few Huguenot names for which some new fact or illustration is not supplied. The bulk of the work is devoted to the important emigration of French Protestants (via the Netherlands and Great Britain) in the last quarter of the 17th century to the time of the Revolutionary War. Throughout the text, in both narratives and records, there is a wealth of genealogical detail on the early Huguenot families of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia, later families having dispersed to Pennsylvania and other states.

In 1998, the Genealogical Publishing Co republished Baird’s book, originally published in 1885. It is available for $45+shipping http://www.genealogical.com/ or telephone 1-800-296-6687.

“Freebies for Genealogists”

Freebies for Genealogists is a fun website http://www.imagin.net/~tracers/freebies.htm and offers a variety of free things from genealogy charts, to webmaster tools, to form letters, inflation calculators, birth date calculators and much more! Bye for now as I’m a going to explore this fascinating website!

In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 11 July 2001 and was last revised on ___________ 2001

Copyright © 1999, 2001 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604