The Protestant Reformation, which started in 1517, resulted in the persecution of Protestants throughout Europe. Some relief came with the Edict of Nantes, signed in 1598 by King Henry IV of France in order to give rights to French Protestants of the Reformed tradition. This was made law despite France being a majority Catholic nation. Even so, the persecution of Protestants continued and then increased after King Henry’s grandson, Louis XIV, revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685.
These French Protestants, called Huguenots, sought refuge in other countries throughout the 17th century, enriching the populations of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland with talented and skilled Frenchmen from all walks of life. The French Protestants who came from the area that is now Belgium were known as Walloons, who were also persecuted. Because of the emigration of Huguenots and Walloons into Britain, more than 28 French churches were established in the city of London alone between 1599 and 1753.
The Huguenot migration from England to Virginia and other colonies began after 1629, when an application to do so was first made to the English government. In 1700-1701, more than 500 Huguenot emigrants landed along the Potomac, Rappahannock, and James Rivers in Virginia, but there were numerous others who arrived in the colonies both before and after that influx.
This excellent map found online in “The Migration to Manakin Town,” an article by Daniel Ludington, had neither copyright notice nor contact information, so if I am informed that a copyright has been violated, I will immediately remove it. However, it is extremely helpful to those doing genealogical research to be able to see the locations where their Huguenot ancestors may have landed.
My Huguenot Ancestors, Part 1
Philippe DuTrieux, born about 1586, was from Roubaix, an area in northeast France that is now present day Belgium. He was a French speaker who became a Protestant while Robaix was under Spanish rule. Persecution of Protestants was widespread and marked by repression and loss of life, so many in the Du Trieux extended family fled to England or the Netherlands, which had declared independence from Spain. Philippe settled in Amsterdam, employed as a dyer, and married Jacquemine Noiret in 1615. When Jacquemine died in 1620, Philippe was left with three small children: Marie, Philippe Jr., and Madeleine.
Around this time, the Dutch West India Company tried to develop international commerce by capitalizing on the fur trade that had developed in the Hudson Valley. In 1623 the company got rights to land in the Delaware Valley near the Connecticut River so they could start settlements there. Philippe and his family were among 29 other families who entered into a contract with the company to emigrate to America. Meanwhile, he had married Susanna DuChesne; she was also a French Protestant and had been born in England after her parents sought refuge. With Philippe’s two surviving children, Philippe and Susanna left the Netherlands in early April 1624 on the ship “Nieuw Nederland” (New Netherland), arriving at what is now New York City in mid-May. All of the immigrants came as free people and had freedom to worship as they pleased. They settled in what is now Manhattan instead of the Delaware valley as the company had intended.
Philippe and Susanna eventually had at least four daughters and three sons. He was employed by the West India Company and served as the Court Messenger in 1638. In 1640, he got a patent for land in an area called Smits Valley. He already had a home on Beaver Street, but he sold it in 1643 so he could move to his farm in Smits Valley, near the fort (pictured) on the tip of southern Manhattan.
Today, in Battery Park, there is a monument honoring the settlers who came on the “Nieuw Nederland”. Philippe Du Trieux is in many records of early Manhattan, which was governed by the Dutch. He died about 1652, killed by Indians. A more detailed biography is available here. Even though Philippe did not live in Virginia, he has been verified as a Huguenot immigrant by the Huguenot Society of the Founders of Manakin of the Colony of Virginia.
Though there is no documentary evidence, the tradition is that Antoine Desasurre de Croquetaine (1643-1735) converted to Protestantism in France and subsequently had to flee (according to tradition) to Kenmore Parish, Ireland, with his wife, Louise Dessaix. However, no one has been able to identify “Kenmore Parish”, and it’s quite possible that Kenmare was the true destination. Kenmare is in County Kerry, not far from County Cork where the Watkins family lived. In Ireland, the family changed their name to Crockett. One son, Robert Watkins Crockett, married his cousin, Rachel Watkins, and they had several children who went to the American colonies in the 1700s. Among those who emigrated was their daughter, Hannah Watkins Crockett, who had married Reuben Steele of Argylshire, Scotland. My ancestor Robert Steele, born about 1750 in Montgomery County, Virginia, was one of their seven children. Robert Steele would later marry Mary Keeling, serve in the Virginia militia during the American Revolution, and build a home for his many children in Wythe County. The Crockett lineage has been accepted by the Huguenot Society of the Founders of Manakin in the Colony of Virginia.
My Huguenot Ancestors, Part 2
The progenitor of the Shumates in West Virginia was Jean de la Chaumette, born to attorney Daniel de la Chaumette and Marie Au Courturier, about 1664, in Rochechouart, Poitiers, France. His family was among those being watched by the government because they were Protestant. After the Edict of Nantes was revoked on October 20, 1684, Jean fled France with his two brothers, Josue and Antione, and Clovis Palazy, the pastor of the Reformed Church at Rochechouart. They found refuge in England, but no records have been located to indicate what his life was like between 1684 and 1687. Some speculate that he served in the English army.
One record that does exist is dated September 8, 1687, and can be found in the Huguenot Library in London, England. It shows his name Anglicized to John (hereafter so called) and that his passage to Virginia was to be paid by an English citizen, Nicholas Hayward. Since no wife is mentioned, he was single at the time the document was written. A translation of the document is below.
To severall ye intended for ye West Indies . . . To Lewis Reynaud of Angoumois, his wife and eight children for tools and others necessaries things to go to Virginia granted 8 pounds; and To Nichlos Hayward notary for ye passage to Virginia of Lewis Reynaud, Anne his wife, Francis, Lewis, Mary and Sara Reynaud their children, and Benjamin Reynaud, Mary his wife, Marianne and Mary their children, and John de la Chaumette granted 33 pounds.
However, John did not leave England at that time. It appears he changed his mind and got married instead. He was later widowed, but the wife’s name is not known. There were no known children.
What is known is that, on September 29, 1695, John, a widower, married a widow, Elizabeth Bouvet Bourgeois, in the French Church in London, but it wasn’t until 1708 that John and other wealthy French Huguenots set sail for the West Indies. They were there for several years, but after Elizabeth died in an epidemic, John left the West Indies and headed for Virginia. With him were his three youngest sons: John, Samuel, and Daniel. His oldest son, Antoine, stayed in Martinique (lower right-hand corner on map) at the homestead John had purchased. At some point, his name was further Anglicized to John de la Shumate.
The largest influx of Huguenots to the Colonies, as noted previously, was in 1700. This was at a settlement known as Manakin Town in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. John arrived by 1722, presumably thinking he would join his brother Arnoul; however, he found that Arnoul had died 20 years before. Apparently, that was one factor in John’s decision not to stay in Isle of Wight County, but to head west, where land was more plentiful. He eventually bought 200 acres in Stafford County, where the deed is recorded. In 1724, John was included in the tobacco list of Overton Parish with his sons John, over 16, Samuel, 14, and Daniel, 12. He died about 1734 in what was then known as Prince William County, Virginia. He was murdered at a tavern by a highwayman.
John de la Shumate is recognized as a Huguenot immigrant by the Huguenot Society of the Founders of Manakin in the Colony of Virginia.
[Update 7/7/22: It is now believed that Robert and Benjamin were brothers, not father and son, so my descent is from Benjamin, not Robert.]
There are many spellings of this name: Brasseure, Brashear(s), Brasseur, Brashier, Brushier, and more, which makes it difficult to keep track of the descendants. However, the Brasseurs were French Protestants and left France to avoid persecution. They went to the Netherlands or England before coming to the English Colonies and settling in Maryland and Virginia.
My descent [was previously believed to be] from the immigrant Robert Brasseur, born about 1597, in Provence, France. His wife’s name was Florence, but her last name has been disputed. Robert fled France with his family to Kent County, England, around 1628, but, by 1635, had settled in Nansemond County, Virginia, where there were other French-speaking Huguenots. There, he patented 600 acres. The deed to that land, dated February 1638, is said to be the earliest land record of a Brashear in America.
To all to whom these present shall come: I, Sr John Harvey, Kt [knight], Governor, &c, send &c. whereas, &c. Now know yee that I, the said Sr John Harvey, Kt. doe with the consent of the Councell of State accordingly give and grannt unto Robert Brassure and Peter Rey six hundred acres of land seituate, lying and being in the upper Countie of New Norfolke lying north east and south west along the south side of a Creeke upon the head of the said Creeke and butting upon Nansemund river, alias Matrebers River. The said six hundred acres of land being due unto them, the said Robert Brassure and Peter Rey, by assignment from Peter Johnson to have and to hold, &c. dated the 24th of February 1638. (Va. Land Patents, Book 1, p.622. NOTE: this land now in Nansemond County, Virginia)
Robert also received a grant of 1200 acres in Nansemond County in 1653:
“at the head of the southerne branch of Nanzemond Riv., 600 acres lying on the S. side of the branch & the other 600 on the N. side. Beg. on the No. side etc. Joining land of Adrian Buny. On the S. side being an Indian Towne, beg. at a marked pine standing on a bancke by the branch side joining land of Wm. Haines, etc. Transporting 24 persons: Marg. Stockwell, Geo. Ivory, Robt. Brasseur, Florence, his wife, Mary Brasseur, Persid Brasseur, Kathe. Brasseur, Bennet Brasseur, Wm. Wotton, Tho. Parker, Jno. Sutton, Jno. Stephens, Step. Dordon, Jon. Loyd, Jon. Bott, Symon Iron, Jon Barefield, Eliz. Pateman, Geo. Doldye, Wm. Ball, Nicho. Moroise, Tho. Pursell, Ra. Ellis, Jon. Abby.” (Va. Land Patents, Book 3, p.33.)
Robert’s property in Nansemond County went to his son John in 1667, so Robert had died by then. His oldest son, Benoit—or Benjamin—[now assumed to be brother] had relocated to Calvert County, Maryland, well before then, but died around 1662. Documentary evidence of his residence in Maryland includes probate records and his citizenship application.
Both Robert and Benjamin are listed as Huguenot ancestors by the Huguenot Society of the Founders of Manakin of the Colony of Virginia, even though they arrived over 50 years before Manakin was founded.
The Noell family, French-speaking and Protestant, lived in Sedan, France, near the border of Belgium, in the early 1500s. Pieter Noell (Anglicized spelling) and his wife, Jeanne Vintier, were born there. Seeking safety from those targeting Protestants, their son Jacob, born about 1599, left France and went to Leiden, in the Netherlands, where he married Treintje Cornelis on January 13, 1620. Treintje’s family had also come from France.
Jacob and Treintje had a son named Cornelius, who was born October 1623 in Leiden. Cornelius is the immigrant ancestor. He married Elizabeth Page in the Netherlands and had at least six children. Exactly when they came to Virginia is not known, but there are land records in Essex County with his name on them in 1670, if not earlier. Cornelius died in Essex County, Virginia, in 1699. His will mentions his wife and children. Cornelius Noell has been verified by the Huguenot Society of the Founders of Manakin in the Colony of Virginia.
Copyright ©2018 Kitty Steele Barrera All rights reserved
Sources Historical Background: R. A. Brock, Documents . . . Relating to the Huguenot Emigration to Virginia, edited and compiled for the Virginia Historical Society,Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1962. v-ix., accessed at https://archive.org/details/documentschiefly05broc Du Trieux: Huguenot Society Philippe Du Trieux, Findagrave.com Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970 [on-line]. Crockett: Huguenot Society Janie French and Zella Armstrong, “The Crockett Family and Connecting Lines,” in Notable Southern Families, Vol. V, The King Printing Company,Bristol. Carl Edmond Steele, Jr., Steele, A Gathering of the Clan, 1981, accessible at https://archive.org/details/steelegatheringo00stee Steele Home photo scanned from the History of Bland County, Virginia, copyright 1961. Shumate: Huguenot Society My Heritage.com Shumake.org Ancestors.chashartley.com Public domain map Brasseur: Huguenot Society Robert Brasseure, the Huguenot