Based on Bob Juch’s Kin, I have traced my maternal ancestry to Jean de la Fontaine, born in the year 1375. The information contained in this article is gathered verbatim from Descendants of Jean de la Fontaine. This website acknowledges: “Some information in this family tree is taken from the book, “From Riches to Rags to Respectability – a Fontaine Family,” written by Winston F. Fontaine and published for the author by Alabama Ancestors, Mobile, Alabama, 1987, and is submitted with the permission of the author.”

I have chosen to submit this article to the online resources of the AHB, because I share the sentiments of David—“Thy faithfulness is unto all generations.” (Ps 119:90) One of my descendants was Gilles de la Fontaine, who was converted to Christ in 1535 when the Reformed faith was first preached in France. He forthwith joined a band of Christians who were given the nickname of “Huguenots”. Hailing from this man’s pedigree have come five pastors whose ministries have sought to promulgate the gospel of sovereign grace.

In light of this generational story, it may well be said that “the counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” (Ps 33:11) Indeed, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry…This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Tim 1:12-16)

1. Jean de la Fontaine – Born in France in the year 1375.

Believed to have descended from Jean de la Fontaine, who fought in the First Crusade under Godfrey, at Jerusalem in 1099, and who established the de la Fontaine family at Fontenay, anciently prominent in Normandy, Anfou, Maine, Poitou, and Picardy which maintains descent from Arthur, Duke of Brittany. 

Jean married Buyonne de Monthibault in 1399 who gave birth to Guy de la Fontaine Lord of Seville in 1400. 

2. Guy de la Fontaine Lord of Seville – Born in France in the year 1400. 

Guy married Buyonne de Audigne in the 1420’s who gave birth to Jean de la Fontaine in 1425. 

3. Jean de la Fontaine – Born in France in the year 1425. 

Jean married Guyonne Le Royer in the 1440’s who gave birth to Arthur de la Fontaine in 1450.

4. Arthur de la Fontaine – Born in France in the year 1450. 

Arthur married Susanne de Gordan in the 1470’s who gave birth to Gilles de la Fontaine in 1475.

5. Gilles de la Fontaine – Born in France in the year 1475.

He converted to Protestantism on the first preaching of the Reformed faith in France, about 1535. When the teachings of John Calvin reached the people of France, many believers embraced the Reformed faith who were given the nickname of “Huguenots”. These “French Protestants” were so persecuted by the Roman Catholics, that, although only a tenth of the French population, they took up arms and for nearly 100 years, performed feats of valor which were renowned in history and fiction. They succeeded in placing upon the throne, Henry the fourth, who by the “Edict of Nantes” granted them religious toleration. This was revoked in 1685 by his successor, and a cruel persecution, for many years, followed, in which it is computed, that 300,000 Protestants were lost to France by emigration. How many fell martyrs to the cause has never been known, for “their blood flowed like water.” Some idea may be formed, by the fact that in the one massacre of St. Bartholomew, 50,000 perished. These horrid assassinations, under the name of Christianity, caused men to regard religion as a sham; made France a nation of infidels, and fostered that recklessness of temper which brought on the “Reign of Terror.” The Huguenot refugees relocated primarily in England, Switzerland, Holland, the German Palatinate as well as to what is now South Africa and North America. Gilles de la Fontaine’s son and many of his descendants were converts to the Reformed faith and therefore part of the Huguenot heritage.

Gilles married and had a son who was named Jean de la Fontaine in 1500.

6. Jean de la Fontaine – Born in France in the year 1500.

As soon as he was old enough to bear arms his father (Gilles) procured him a commission in the household of Francis First (in the King’s Royal Ordinance). It was in the tenth year of that monarch’s reign that he entered his service, and he conducted himself with such uniform honor and uprightness that he retained his command, not only to the end of the reign of Francis First, but during the reigns of Henry Second, Francis Second and until the second year of Charles the Ninth, when he voluntarily resigned. He converted to the Reformed faith in 1535, along with his father. While at court, he married and had four sons. Although he wished to retire to private life at an earlier age, being in the King’s service was a sort of safe-guard from persecution, and gave him the means of shielding his Protestant brethren from oppression. He was much beloved by his brother officers and by the men under his command, which made the Roman Catholic party afraid to disturb him. In January, 1561, there was an edict of pacification, he resigned his commission and retired to his paternal estate in Maine, where he hoped to end his days peacefully in the bosom of family, worshipping God according to the dictates of his conscience. In the year 1563 a number of ruffians were dispatched from the city of Le Mans, by the Roman Catholic Church, to attack his house at night. He was taken by surprise, dragged out of doors and his throat cut. His poor wife, who was in a few weeks of her confinement, rushed after him in the hope of softening the hearts of these midnight assassins; but, so far from it, they murdered her also, and a faithful servant shared the same fate. His eldest son was never heard of afterward, but was supposed to have been massacred also. God spared the lives of the three younger ones, and guided them to a place of safety. 

Jean married and had four sons, the second was named Jacques de la Fontaine, born in 1549.

7. Jacques (James) de la Fontaine – Born in France in the year 1549.

The eldest of the three surviving children after the massacre of their parents and eldest brother. By one blow, these poor children were deprived of parents and property, but they received protection after entering Rochelle, a fortified city and stronghold of Protestantism. A shoemaker, in easy circumstances, received him in his house, taught him his own trade, but without binding him to it as an apprentice. This was not time for pride of birth, or titles of nobility to be thought of. It was not long before he was in receipt of sufficient wages to support his young brothers, but they all lived poorly enough, until James reached manhood. He then engaged in commerce, and his after career was comparatively prosperous. He married, and had two daughters and one son. Like the Fontaines, generally, he was a very handsome man, as we shall see by the following incident. Having married a second wife, who was a very wicked woman, she tried to poison him, though she did not succeed, for medical aid was promptly obtained; she was taken to prison, tried and condemned to death. It so happened that Henry Fourth was then at Rochelle, and application was made to him for pardon. He replied that, before making an answer, he would like to see the man she was so anxious to get rid of, to judge for himself whether there was any excuse for her. When James Fontaine appeared  before him, he called out, “Let her be hanged! Ventre Saint Gris! He is the handsomest man in my kingdom.”

Jacques had three children with his first wife, the second was named James Fontaine, born in 1603.

8. Rev. James Fontaine – Born in France in the year 1603.

After leaving college, he visited London where he became engaged to a Miss Thompson. Upon returning to France, he was appointed pastor of the united churches of Vaux and Toyan at the age of 24. He returned to London, married Miss Thompson, and took her back to France. For reasons of humility, he dropped the “de la” from his surname. He had five children with Miss Thompson. After her death, he had five more children with his second wife, Miss Marie Clallon. His daughter married Rev. Mr. Santreau who left for America with his wife and children after his church was condemned. However, the vessel was shipwrecked in sight of Boston, and all the family perished.

James was married to Miss Thompson who gave birth to James Fontaine in 1658.

9. Rev. James Fontaine – Born in France in the year 1658.

Like his father, he too became a minister. His life was full of adventure. He was imprisoned for a long time, and at length escaped from France. In England he married a French lady, Anne Elizabeth Boursiquot, also a refugee. Although he was lame from a fall in childhood, yet he was active and energetic, and sued many ingenious devices to support himself and family. He received Holy orders from the Protestant Synod, assembled at Tannton. Here his first child, Mary Ann Fontaine, was born 12th April, 1690. He moved to Cork, Ireland, in 1694, and supported his family by having baizee manufactured on hand looms, for power looms had not yet come into use in England. He preached to a congregation, but they were so poor he declined to receive any compensation. On the day of a baptism of a son, he made a great supper, as though he intended to eat the wealthiest of the French reggaes in Cork; but instead of that, he invited the poor of his flock, and after they had eaten and drank abundantly of the best, he gave each a shilling to take home. Mr. Fontaine then concluded, as his family was becoming large, to find a country home, and he rented a farm on Bear Haven Bay. His plan was to eke out his income by a fishery. But here he encountered trouble entirely unexpected. One morning in June a French privateer hove in sight. She floated gently toward his house in perfect calm. She had a force of eighty men on board, besides four of his Irish neighbors who acted as guides. She mounted ten guns. He made a feint which deceived the enemy as to his numbers. The privateer entered the mouth of the creek and anchored a long musket shot from the house, presently the lieutenant landed with twenty men and marched directly toward the house, Mr. Fontaine had seven men with him in addition to his wife and children. He placed them at different windows and he posted himself in one of the towers over the door, and as the lieutenant was advancing with every appearance of confidence he fired at him with the blunderbuss loaded with large shot, some of which entered his neck and the rest his side. His men took him up, crossed the ditch and carried him to the vessel. The captain was furious at this unexpected resistance from a ministry; and sent another officer on shore with twenty more men and two small cannon, which were discharged against the house; but the position of the battery was oblique, and the balls glanced from the heavy stone walls. The conflict became a hot one. During the time there were several hundred Irishmen collected on a neighboring height, rejoicing in the anticipation of the defeat of the Fontaines. The Frenchman who was pointing the cannon was killed, and an incessant fire was kept up, and as soon as a musket was emptied it was handed down to one of the children to reload, and he was given another. Mrs. Fontaine was here and there and everywhere, carrying ammunition and giving encouragement to all, as well by what she said as by her own calm deportment. She was praying incessantly, but she took care “to keep the powder dry,” and in good supply. Claude Bonnet, a French soldier, received a ball in the fleshy part of the arm, and she applied the first dressing to it with her own hands. The engagement lasted from 8 o’clock in the morning until 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and during the whole time there had been no cessation of firing. The enemy then retired with three men killed and seven wounded. The name of James Fontaine, and his wife, too, became known throughout Europe by means of the newspapers giving the history of this defence. The government furnished him with ammunition in abundance, and he bought several six pounders which had been fished up from a wreck, and he raised a fortification and planted his guns upon it so as to command the mouth of the inlet. Mr. Fontaine then went to Dublin to wait on the Council and concert measures for the better defence of the coast. During his absence a privateer approached the house. Mrs. Fontaine was on the alert, had all the cannons loaded, and one of them fired off to show that all was in readiness for defence, and when they saw this they veered about and sailed away. Then and there the coat-of-arms of the Fontaine family ought to have been changed, and instead of the mysterious emblems known only to a herald’s office, should have been substituted the picture of a lady bravely applying the fuse to a cannon, the smoke rolling in volumes from its mouth, and the ball flying through the air in the direction of a vessel in the offing. No blood ever mingled with the Fontaines and Maurys, more noble than that of Anna Elizabeth Boursiquot. But a French privateer attacked his house for a third time, in the night, and sent eighty men in three boats on shore. Although taken by surprise, Mr. Fontaine prepared for defence. The enemy set all the outhouses on fire, and in a half hour the defender was enveloped in smoke, so that he was unable to see his enemies. He had to fire haphazard; and overloading his piece it burst and he was thrown down with such violence that three of his ribs and his collar-bone were broken, and the flesh of his right hand much torn. After he was prostrated, Mrs. Fontaine assumed the command; she had an eye to everything; she went round to furnish ammunition as it was required; and she gave courage as well by lier exhortations as her example. But such heroic efforts were of no avail and they were conquered, and Mr. Fontaine and two of his sons were carried away prisoners; the Captain announcing that he would release them on the payment of œ100. Did the lady sit down and weep? Nothing of the kind! She flew around to borrow the money. She succeeded only partly, and seeing the vessel under sail, she determined to follow by land, and keep the vessel in sight as long as she could. She ran to a promontory, and made a signal to the pirate with her apron tied to a stick. A boat was dispatched to hear what she had to say. After a great deal of bargaining the Captain agreed to release her husband upon a cash payment of œ30, and retained her son Peter as hostage for the payment of the balance of the money. Peter was subsequently released. Mr. Fontaine left this inhospitable coast, and removed to Dublin. James Fontaine and his wife had a large family of children. Of them the Rev. Peter Fontaine removed to America. He was rector of Westover parish, in Virginia, and his daughter, Mary Ann, married Isaac Winston, who had “a good fortune and a spotless reputation.” He is the ancestor of a large family of wealthy and respectable citizens of Alabama, which gave a governor to that State in the person of John Anthony Winston.(*) A daughter of James Fontaine, Mary Ann Fontaine, married Matthew Maury, in Ireland, on the 20th of October, 1716. She had been born in England, in 1690. He was of Castle Mauron, in Gascony, France. He had lived in Dublin about two years, having come hither as a refugee, on account of his religion. He was not a minister, as some have supposed; was “a very honest man, a good economist, but without property.” There is no doubt of his having been well educated, as we shall show when we come to speak of his sons. His wife (who lived until she was sixty-five) had a checkered existence. She was a girl of fourteen when she had to assist her father in defending his home against the French privateers; and, after the family came to Virginia, although the public wars with the Indians had ceased, yet the frontiers were frequently visited by their incursions, and fire, and sword, and perpetual alarms, surrounded them all the latter days of her life. The effect was to form one of the most perfect characters in the whole list of men and women belonging to her descendants (who have never been wanting in nerve or intellect). Matthew Maury and his wife came to Virginia in 1719, and settled in King William county, on the Pamunkey. They had three children–James, Mary and Abraham.

James married Anne Elizabeth Boursiquot who gave birth to Peter Fontaine in 1691.

10. Rev. Peter Fontaine – Born in Somersetshire, England in the year 1691.

He entered Trinity College, Dublin, in June 1711 at the age of twenty and received his degree in 1715. Ordained by the Bishop of London and licensed as a minister to Virginia on March 12, 1715. He arrived in Virginia on December 11, 1716 and in 1720 became Rector of Westover Parish. Established Himself on a plantation in Charles City County, Virginia, on the James River, and served as Rector of King William Parish until his death in July 1757. 

Peter married Elizabeth Wade, Elizabeth Fourreau, Sarah Wade; with Sarah he had six children, the fifth son named Aaron Fontaine, born in 1753. 

11. Capt. Aaron Fontaine – Born in Virginia, America in the year 1753.

This is transcribed from a copy of a newspaper article “Century of Old Fontaine Estate” by Mary Lytle Byers: “Col. Aaron Fontaine came from Virginia in 1798 with a family of twelve children and his son-in-law, Judge Fortunatus Cosby, and settled on Harrods Creek in Jefferson county, of this State. He afterward removed, on January 17, 1814, to the banks of the Ohio river west of Louisville and established his family on a large estate which was purchased by him from Mr. William Lytle, of Cincinnati, O. This estate was part of 3,000 acres purchased by his son-in-law, Judge Fortunatus Cosby, from Sarah Beard, July 7, 1806, the property being known as part of the Connolly and De Warnsdorff tracts. The estate purchased by Col. Aaron Fontaine from William Lytle embraced … acres and at the time of its purchase the property was called “Carter’s ferry”. It was afterward named “Fontaine Ferry” by Col. Fontaine in 1814 and the place was laid out in orchards lawns and grass lands. The house, of substantial construction, faced the Ohio River, where a boat was kept for pleasure and service. A fine cypress avenue opened on what is now Main and the old “Fountaine Ferry Road” was a famous drive leading into the country retreat. Here Col. Fontaine lived the life of a country squire in the good old days in peace, plenty and hospitality, 100 years ago. Col. Fontaine was a gentleman of the old school whose type almost has passed away. He was of French descent and a member of a noble Huguenot family in France. Among the number of the ancestors of this Huguenot was the noted Peverence Peter Fontaine, rector of Westover parish, Charles City County, Va., in 1716. It is said of Col. Fontaine that he was particularly courteous and polite to everyone with whom he came in contact and particularly so to his wife to whom he always doffed his hat before taking his morning toddy and insisted that she taste the toddy first. Col. Fontaine, previous to his emigration to Kentucky in 1798, married Barbara Terril, of Virginia, who traced her lineage to the royal house of Stuart and was the granddaughter of Col. William Overton, of “Glencairn,” Hanover county, Va. Twelve children were born of this marriage as follows: Mary Ann, the wife of Judge Fortunatus Cosby; Mathilda, the wife of Thomas Prather; Martha, the wife of Aexander Pope; America, the wife of William S. Vernon; Sallie, the wife of Gov. George Floyd; Deborah, the wife of Judge Edmund Bullock; Maria the wife of Sterling Grimes; Barbara, the wife of John Sanders, Ann Overton, the wife of John I. Jacob, and Peter, John and Maury Fontaine, sons. Soon after the death of his first wife, Barbara Terrill Fontaine, Col. Fontaine married Mrs. Elizabeth Whiting Thruston, the widow of Col. John Thruston, of “Sans Souel,” of Jefferson county, who was with Gen. George Rogers Clark in the campaigns against the British and the Indians at Kaskaskia and Vincennes. Mrs. Thruston had ten children when she married Col. Fontaine and four children were the result of this marriage. Mrs. Elizabeth Whiting Thruston’s children were Charles M. Thruston, Sr., lawyer in Louisville from 1800 to 1856; Alfred Thruston, cashier of the Bank of Louisville in 1833; Algernon Thruston, Attourney General of Texas, killed at the side of Davy Crockett in “The Alamo:” Lucius Thruston, Louisville; Mrs. Kitty Luckett, Louisville; Mrs. Worden Pope, Louisville; Mrs, Mollie January, St. Louis, Mo.; Mrs. Fanny Rector, of Arkansas; Mary Thruston, of Louisville, and John Thruston, II, Louisville. The children of the marriage of Col. Fontaine and Mrs. Thruston were Aaron B. Fontaine, Alexander Fontaine, Henry W. Fontaine and Emmeline Dillon Fontaine.”

Aaron married Barbara Overton Terrell, Elizabeth Thurston Whiting (half brother of Col. John Smith Fontaine who married Patrick Henry’s daughter); it was with Barbara he had 12 children, the eleventh named William Maury Fontaine, born in 1793.

12. Col. William Maury Fontaine – Born in Virginia, America in the year 1793.

He moved to Alabama from Kentucky. He was Quartermater’s agent at Mobile, Alabama during the War of 1812. He later taught school and had a farm in Clarke County, Alabama.

William married Elizabeth Garnett Pearson who gave birth to nine children, the eighth son named George Peter Cosby Fontaine, born in 1836.

13. Rev. George Peter Cosby Fontaine – Born in Alabama, America in the year 1836.

He Taught school for two years, held office as Justice of the Peace, served in the Confederate Army and afterward became an itinerant Methodist minister and a merchant. During the War Between the States, he enlisted in the Grove Hill Guards, state troops, and served as a First Lieutenant of Company B, 38th Alabama Infantry. He was Tax Assessor of Wilcox County (1880-1884), a Royal Arch Mason. He is buried in Grove Hill, AL. 

George married Margaret Dumas and Martha Meyers; with Martha he had seven children, the sixth named Willie Naomi Fontaine, born in ?.

14. Willie Naomi Fontaine – Born in Tennessee, America in the year ?.

Willie Married Sherwood Dycus and gave birth to one child, Catherine Fontaine Dycus, born ?.

15. Catherine Fontaine Dycus – Born in ? in the year ?.

Catherine married James Henry Plemmons and gave birth to three children, the first named Sylvia Naomi Plemmons, born 1952.

16. Sylvia Plemmons – Born in Illinois, America in the year 1952.

Sylvia married Rev. David Smith and gave birth to five children, the second named Jared Austen Smith, born 1977.

17. Rev. Jared Austen Smith – Born in London, England in the year 1977.

Having trained for the Gospel Ministry under the private tutelage of several eminent Bible scholars, he was ordained and became the pastor of the Baptist Church on Kensington Place, London, England, in 1999. He staunchly holds to the root teachings of the church, namely, a restricted communion table and a high-calvinist stance. He is also a co-founder of the Association of Historic Baptists—an organisation designed to promote the historic and doctrinal values of the Strict and Particular Baptists.

Jared married Maria Elna Calvo Loberiano, whose 13 children were lost through miscarriage.

Thus ends, through my direct line, the Fontaine story.



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