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Huguenots: Protestant Exiles from France

 Protestant Synods in 17th Century France


Two sets of my ancestors represent the Huguenot migrations from France in the 17th century. Laurens Jansen DeCamp was a Huguenot who left France in one of the earlier waves and who traveled to the New World via Netherlands arriving in New York about 1664. Auguste Grasset and Henry DeMoney were in a later migration traveling first to England as refugees and then traveling on to New York in 1689.


Huguenots were French Protestants who were followers of John Calvin. The first Huguenot church was formed informally in Paris in 1555, but the movement grew rapidly, and by 1562 there were an estimated two million followers. Although technically allowed to practice their religion within strict limits, Huguenots were persecuted including the 1572 St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in which many thousands of Huguenots were killed including 3,000 in Paris. There were a series of religious conflicts in France throughout the second half of the 16th century with copious bloodshed on both sides. The growing political power of the Protestants was a threat to the ruling Catholics.


 Propaganda depicting Huguenot aggression against Catholics at sea


The word “refugee” first came into use with the influx of French Huguenots to England when in 1685 French King Louis XIV canceled civil rights that had been granted to Protestants by the Edict of Nantes of 1598. It is estimated that 200,000 Huguenots fled France during this period settling throughout Europe and some in other locations including Africa. Some of the refugees left before 1685 including my ancestors Auguste Grasset and his wife Marie Pele, their daughter Maria, and Henry DeMoney who would later become the husband of Maria Grasset. The Grasset family and Henry DeMoney were naturalized in England 8 May 1682. These families lived in the Spitalfields area of London. Although Huguenots settled throughout England, a large number were concentrated in Spitalfields. At least one of the Grasset children was born there. Many Huguenots stayed in England, but a significant number traveled on to the English colonies especially New York. The Grasset and DeMoney families located in New York by 1689. In 1695, 11% of the New York population was Huguenots, the third largest group after 50% Dutch and 26% English.


Auguste Grasset was born in LaRochelle, France about 1645. He married there, about 1670, Marie Pele who was born in LaRochelle about 1644. They were parents of five children, four of whom were likely born in LaRochelle and the youngest child born at Spitalfields in London. Their daughter Marie, born about 1680, is my ancestor. Auguste Grasset was killed in the 1712 slave insurrection in New York. Henry DeMoney was born at Bordeaux about 1676 son of Henri DeMoney. Henry and Marie were married in Manhattan on 25 April 1701. Henry and Marie relocated to Staten Island and later to Westfield, New Jersey.


Laurens Jansen DeCamp was born in the Picardie area of France about 1645 son of John DeCamp. The DeCamp family relocated to the Netherlands, and it is from there that Laurens traveled to New Netherland in 1664. Laurens married about 1676 Aeltie DeMandeville. Aeltie was born in New Amsterdam about 1660 daughter of Gillis Janz and Elsje Pieters (Hendricks) DeMandeville. The DeMandeville family had immigrated in 1659. The son of Laurens and Aeltie, Hendrick Laurence DeCamp, is my ancestor. Hendrick DeCamp married Maria DeLamars in New York on 17 April 1704. Hendrick and Maria lived on Staten Island where there was a large Huguenot settlement. Hendrick and Maria relocated to Hackensack in Bergen County, New Jersey and were later in Woodbridge.




Agnew, David Carnegie Andrew. 1871-1874. Protestant Exiles from France in the Reign of Louis XIV: or, The Huguenot Refugees and Their Descendants in Great Britain and Ireland. London: Reeves and Turner.


Marshall, Bill. 2009. "French Atlantic Diasporas." In Comparing Postcolonial Diasporas, by Michelle Keown, David Murphy and James Proctor, 189-210. London: Palgrave Macmillan.


Morrison, George Austin. 1900. DeCamp Genealogy: Laurent De Camp of New Utrecht, N.Y., 1664 and His Descendants. Albany, NY: J. Munsell's Sons.



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