תמונות בעמוד

Incidents of Huguenot History in the

Reign of Queen Anne.


HAVING lately had occasion to investigate the history of certain events occurring during the early part of the 18th century, I have come across several matters relating to the Huguenots in England at that period. Although these are new to myself, they may possibly be well-known to other Fellows of the Society, but I have thought it might be worth while to bring them to the Society's notice on the chance of their being of some service. The few notes I have made are chiefly taken from Boyer's Annals of the Reign of Queen Anne, London, 1703-13, 11 vols. 8vo., and relate to various petitions and addresses presented to Queen Anne by the refugees, and to military and naval affairs in her reign in which they played a more or less prominent part.

In May, 1702, when a Declaration of War against France was impending, a motion was made in the House of Commons, " that an humble address be presented to Her Majesty, that no person be an officer in England or Ireland in Her Majesty's new raised forces, but such as were born in England, Scotland, or Ireland, or the dominions thereunto belonging, or of English parents, unless they were before in half-pay.' As this motion tended to exclude the French Protestant officers, though naturalized, who had served in the late wars, it was strongly opposed by Colonel Mordant, who urged that he had some French officers in his regiment, on whose loyalty and courage he could implicitly rely, and who had maintained as good discipline as any English-born officers. The Marquis of Hartington also spoke in favour of the refugees, representing what a reflection it would be upon the British nation to abandon those who had so often risked their lives in its defence. Another member desired those who had made the motion to explain themselves, saying that if it were intended by it to exclude all foreigners, what would become of the Duke of Schomberg, on whose father the House had thought fit to bestow a present of VOL. IV. NO. I.


£100,000 for his eminent services; and also of Prince George of Denmark, to whom the Queen had lately given the title of Generalissimo ?

These representations resulted in the question being negatived.

On the ratification of the treaty with Portugal in the following year, 1703, the Queen appointed the Duke of Schomberg

to be general of the English and Dutch auxiliaries, which, by the terms of that treaty, Her Majesty and the States General had engaged to send to the aid of the King of Portugal. At the same time a commission was given to the Duke to raise à regiment of dragoons, consisting of 20 companies, to be commanded by French Protestant Officers. For some reasons, however, which I shall presently mention, the commissious granted to these officers were all recalled, to the great dissatisfaction of the Duke, to whom the Queen endeavoured to make amends by bestowing on him the order of the Garter.

I still possess a letter, dated September 17, 1703, written by my ancestor, Pierre de Labilliere, in which he refers to this matter. He was one of the officers selected for the regiment in question, and after alluding to his elder brother Paul having gone out with Sir Cloudesly Shovel's fleet to the Mediterranean, he goes on to say,—“My own destination was near being Portugal. Her Majesty having thought fit to raise a regiment of dragoons under the coinmand of the Duke of Schomberg, and the French Protestant Officers, refugees in England, the matter was in course of being carried out and the necessary appointments made. I received a commission as cornet in M. de la Fabrigue's company, La Rouviére being his lieutenant, and he himself having the rank of major. The regiment had been raised to nearly its full strength, when it was represented to her Majesty that it would be scarcely possible to get it in readiness for inmediate service in Portugal, and that moreover Parliament would be ill-pleased at a regiment of foreigners being raised without its sanction. Consequently, our commissions were cancelled some fifteen days after.”

The debate in the House of Commons, to which I have already alluded, as to the employment of aliens in the army, , was doubtless fresh in Pierre de Labilliere's memory, and doubtless had some influence in this sudden abandonment of the Queen's scheme.

Passing over four years, I now come to 1707, on the 31st March in which year the Ministers of the French Churches in the City of London, and the principal persons among the refugees, met in the French Chapel Royal in the Savoy. There, M. de la Riviere, one of the ministers of that chapel, opened the assembly by a prayer" that it would please God to continue his blessing on the victorious arms of her Majesty Queen Anne, and make her the glorious instrument of the restoration of the Protestant Churches in France." After this, M. de la Riviere was chosen moderator of the assembly, and read the draft of an address to the Queen, in which the French refugees in England expressed their congratulations on “the wonderful successes with which it had pleased God to bless Her Most Sacred Majesty's Government both at home and abroad ; insomuch that the very beginning of her Majesty's auspicious administration exceeded the long reign of the great Queen Elizabeth of glorious memory." They then proceeded to represent," that the Protestant Churches of France, though ever struggling under oppression, did formerly hold a considerable rank ; and that her Majesty's predecessors had always such a tender regard for them, as to protect and support them, as far as it lay in their power; that the famous Edict of Nantz, in favour of the protestants of France, was, in great measure owing to the great interest Queen Elizabeth had with King Henry IV. of France; that King James I., her Majesty's great grandfather, did often interpose by his ambassadors, in behalf of the French Reformed Churches; and that King Charles I., her Majesty's grandfather, intervened as mediator, in the treaty which Louis XIII made with the people of La Rochelle (who held the principal rank among the protestants of France) and afterwards, upon the

French King's infraction of that treaty, began a war with France on that account. Moreover, they set forth, that they found and accounted themselves so happy in living under her Majesty's gentle and equal government, and among a nation where they had been so kindly entertained when driven from their native country by the violence of persecution, that if they had nothing but their own private interest in view, they would sit quiet and easy, and be contented to share the felicity of Her Majesty's natural born subjects; but that the just concern they ought to have for their brethren, relatives, and friends, who still groaned in France under the pressure of persecution, obliged them to lay hold on this occasion, most humbly to beseech her sacred Majesty, that when her thoughts should be employed in settling the great concerns of Europe in a treaty of peace, Her Majesty would graciously vouchsafe to take into her royal care the interest of the poor distressed churches of France, which

having been ruined by the superstitious vanity of the enemy, so it would add solid glory to Her Majesty's reign to be instrumental in restoring the same."

This Address having been approved, and signed by most of the persons present at the assembly, was presented to the Queen by the Earl of Lifford, son of the late Count de Roye, accompanied by M. le Coq. M. St. Leger, and several other French Protestant gentlemen, ministers, and merchants, introduced by the Earl of Sunderland. To this Address the Queen was pleased to return the following answer:

“I have always had a great compassion for the unhappy circumstances of the persecuted Protestants of France. I will communicate my thoughts upon this matter to our allies, and hope such measures may be taken as may effectually answer the intent of your petition.”

Two years after this, in 1709, the young Marquis du Quesne, son of M. du Quesne, Envoy from the Protestant Cantons of Switzerland to the States-General, and an ancestor, I believe, of our Vice President, Sir Edmund Du Cane, was sent to England with recommendatory letters from the King of Prussia, the Elector of Hanover, and the Duke of Marlborough. His mission was to solicit the Queen's interposition in favour of the Protestants of France, and on the 12th June he had his first audience of Her Majesty, being introduced by the Earl of Sunderland, one of the principal secretaries of state at the time. The Queen received him very graciously, and was pleased to tell him, “that though she had already given particular instructions to the plenipotentiaries engaged in the matter of dealing with the French Protestants under the treaty of peace, yet she would be glad to receive and countenance any memorials he should think fit to present, relating thereto."

The Marquis du Quesne accordingly presented three memorials, one of which was to beg recommendatory letters to the States-General in favour of the French Protestants, and these letters the Queen was graciously pleased to grant.

Acting also, probably, on the strength of this assurance of Her Majesty, we find the Earl of Sunderland a few days later, presenting to her the following Address from the French Churches in London:MADAM,

It is three years since your Majesty was graciously pleased to declare, in answer to an humble address from us, that you were sensibly touched with the unhappy circumstances of the


persecuted Protestants of France, and would have it in your royal thoughts to take effectual measures in conjunction with your allies, to redress that calamity.

We do not presume to approach the throne of your sacred Majesty as diffident or forgetful of a promise so worthy a great and protestant Queen.

Those expressions of your Majesty's goodness are deeply imprinted in our hearts; in them we have ever since placed all our joy and hope; they have been the comfort of our brethern that are prisoners in dungeons, of our confessors who are slaves in the gallies, and of all who suffer for a good conscience under an oppressive government.

Our brethren in foreign nations send deputies to beseech your Majesty's protection ; but we approach at this time your Majesty, only to return our thanks and express our gratitude in the most respectful manner.

Your Majesty's great piety has prevented any present petition from us, your Majesty having, in imitation of providence, whose instrument you are, granted before we have asked; and without an application from us, in behalf of the Reformed of the French nation, we received the joyful account that this has been most particularly recommended by your Majesty to your ministers in the treaty of peace.

May heaven continue to bless your arms, favour your great designs, and long preserve your person for the tranquillity of the Church, the happiness of Europe, and the joy of your people.”

On the 23rd February, 1710, a petition was presented to the House of Commons from Pierre Jaquin St. Pierre, Matthieu de Gastigny, Paul Boyer, Jean Dubourdieu, and Pierre Silvestre, on behalf of themselves and many other French Protestants, as also of several children of deceased refugees, seitled in England. This petition set forth :-" that the French King had made several Edicts, Decrees, and Declarations, whereby all the French Protestants who had fled for refuge into her Majesty's dominions, on account of their Religion, were declared and adjudged to be outlawed, and to have forfeited their goods and estates, and excluded from claiming and enjoying any inheritance in France; which Edicts and Declarations were put in execution with the utmost vigour :—that on the contrary, many persons living in France did frequently either come themselves into this kingdom of Great Britian, or appoint proxies and attorneys to claim and inherit the estates of their deceased relations; and being possessed of them, did afterwards

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