Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Our 11th Great Grandparents. Persecuted Religious Reformers

French Huguenots Lovers Painted in the Time of our Great Grandparents

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Happy Independence Day!
So far a quiet day at the Fortress. I woke early and drove to Timp Cave to hike the cave trail. Its a great 3 mile walk up the mountain and back again. This afternoon I'm working on family history. This evening we have friends and family over to watch Pleasant Grove's fireworks from the decks. The view is fantastic considering the fireworks are launched from the junior high school at the bottom of the hill.

Regular visitors to our digital family reunions here at the Fortress have heard me say over and over again how surprised I am when I uncover more facts describing how fiercely independent our ancestors were on both sides of the family. Today I wanted to post something more about, considering the holiday.

I learned something new today about a group of people called Walloons.
The Walloons, who live in Belgium's southern provinces, are the country's French-speaking inhabitants. Their culture contrasts with that of the Flemings, who inhabit the northern part of the country and speak Flemish, a language similar to Dutch. The Walloons' closest cultural ties are to France and other countries in which Romance languages are spoken.

In the fifth century AD the Franks, a Germanic people, invaded the region that includes modern Belgium. They gained the most power in the northern area, where early forms of the Dutch language took hold. In the south, the Roman culture and Latin-based dialects continued to flourish. During the feudal period between the ninth and twelfth centuries AD , the Flemish and Walloon cultures continued developing along separate lines.

John Calvin

Our 11th Great Grandparents were French speaking Walloons. They turned their backs on the dominant Catholic religion of Belgium and France and became Huguenots (members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France / French Calvinists). Protestants in France were inspired by the writings of John Calvin in the 1530s and the name Huguenots was already in use by the 1560s. By the end of the 17th century, roughly 200,000 Huguenots had been driven from France during a series of religious persecutions. They relocated primarily in protestant nations: England, Switzerland, the Dutch Republic, the German Electorate of Prussia, the German Palatinate, and elsewhere in Northern Europe, as well as to what is now South Africa and to North America.

Huguenots became known for their harsh criticisms of doctrine and worship in the Catholic Church from which they had broken away, in particular the sacramental rituals of the Church and what they viewed as an obsession with death and the dead. They believed that 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 the Church's sacraments or 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 ruled the Church as if it was a worldly kingdom, which sat in mocking tyranny over the things of God, and was ultimately doomed. Rhetoric like this became fiercer as events unfolded, and eventually stirred up a reaction in the Catholic establishment.

The Catholic Church in France opposed the Huguenots, and there were incidents of attacks on Huguenot preachers and congregants as they attempted to meet for worship. The height of this persecution was the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre when 5,000 to 30,000 were killed. The Huguenots, retaliating against the French Catholics, frequently took up arms, even forcibly taking a few Catholic cities. Many Catholic monuments and shrines were destroyed in this action, a result of the Huguenots' iconoclasm.

The Huguenots took part in anti-Catholic movements in England during the reign of Henry VIII. They were hired by Henry VIII to suppress various Catholic orders in England. They were responsible for confiscation of many of the Catholic Church's possessions at the time on behalf of the king.

St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre

In what became known as the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 24 August – 3 October 1572, Catholics killed thousands of Huguenots in Paris. Similar massacres took place in other towns in the weeks following. The main provincial towns and cities experiencing the Massacre were Aix, Bordeaux, Bourges, Lyon, Meaux, Orleans, Rouen, Toulouse, and Troyes. Nearly 3,000 Protestants were slaughtered in Toulouse alone.The exact number of fatalities throughout the country is not known. On the 23–24 August, between about 2,000 and 3,000 Protestants were killed in Paris and between 3,000 and 7,000 more in the French provinces. By 17 September, almost 25,000 Protestants had been massacred in Paris alone. Outside of Paris, the killings continued until the 3 October. An amnesty granted in 1573 pardoned the perpetrators.

Over time most French Huguenots were forced to convert to Catholicism, because they did not want to emigrate or they could not. More than three-quarters of the Protestant population finally converted to Catholicism; the others (more than 200,000) moved to different countries.

An estimated 50,000 Protestant Walloons and Huguenots fled to England, about 10,000 of whom moved on to Ireland around the 1690's. In relative terms, this could be the largest wave of immigration of a single community into Britain ever.

Of the refugees who arrived 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 was reduced to the south aisle and in 1895 to the former chantry chapel of the Black Prince. Services are still held there in French according to the Reformed tradition every Sunday at 3pm.

Huguenot District of Canterbury England as it looks today

Other evidence of the Walloons and Huguenots in Canterbury includes a block of houses in Turnagain Lane where weavers' windows survive on the top floor, and 'the Weavers', a half-timbered house by the river (now a restaurant - see illustration above). The house derives its name from a weaving school which was moved there in the last years of the 19th century, resurrecting the use to which it had been put between the 16th century and about 1830. Many of the refugee community were weavers. Others practised the variety of occupations necessary to sustain the community distinct from the indigenous population, as such separation was the condition of the refugees' initial acceptance in the City. They also settled elsewhere in Kent, particularly Sandwich, Faversham and Maidstone - towns in which there used to be refugee churches.

Our 11th Great Grandparents Jacques Le Mahieu and Jenne Laman were among those who fled to Canterbury England. They spent their time between England and Holland. Is it any wonder that Henry VIII used these Protestants to help him confiscate the Catholic religious houses in England?

Their daughter Hester married our 10th Great Grandfather and Mayflower passenger Francis Cooke. Hester and Francis emigrated to North America and died in Plymouth MA.

Relationship Chart

11th Great Grandparents
Jacques Le Mahieu born 1559 in Leyland Holland. Died before 1611. and
Jenne Laman born 1553 in Lille, Walloon, Flanders.
Francis Cooke and Hester Mayhieu
LT. John Tomson and Mary Cooke
William Swift and Elizabeth Tomson
Ebenezer Swift and Abigail Gibbs
Ebenezer Swift and Jedidah Benson
Judah Swift and ?
Phineas Swift and Deborah Dearborn
Elmira Swift and Joseph McCrillis
Isabel McCrillis and John Mayberry Dennis
Vesta Dennis and Walter Pierce
Violet Pierce and Walter Mattson
Luella Mattson and Charles Williamson

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