Jared Smith, My Maternal Ancestry (Complete)

Chapter 6

5 Sep 2022, by

Trial before the Presidency — A digression — My defence — Angry discussion with the President — Query — My reply — Sentence

The month of August had come round by the time that the process was read; to be brought before the Presidency in the Hall of Justice.

In this court the prisoner is not allowed to have an advocate to plead for him, but has to appear alone. The door is locked and guarded by Archers. The President sits in the centre, the Judges or Counsellors on each side, the Register remains in the lower part of the Hall, and the prisoner is usually seated near him on a three legged wooden stool, as a mark of disgrace. There is a saying in France, “he has sat upon the stool,” which is tantamount to the English phrase, “I have seen him hold up his hand at the bar.”

The testimony recorded in the confrontation is read to the accused, and he is asked if it be correct, and if the signature attached to it be his. The Judges then examine him more fully, and if it be a case admitting of appeal to Parliament, the answers are recorded. The examination finished, the accused is taken back to prison, and the sentence of the court, in writing is sent to him by a sheriff’s officer.

In preparing myself, I thought much more of my poor neighbours than of myself; because I was really innocent of the charge in the indictment, they were not; and without the assistance of an advocate I was somewhat apprehensive about them, and I determined, if I had an opportunity, to say something that might be useful, either in softening the hearts of the Judges, or alarming their consciences. as might appear most expedient when the time came. I prayed most fervently to God for his assistance.

I will make a digression here, which you will presently perceive is not altogether irrelevant to the subject. My apartment under the Town Clock looked into the court yard of one of my Judges. He was a very passionate man and addicted to gambling though said to be an able jurist. Two or three days before my trial I was awakened out of my sound sleep at midnight, by this man swearing and making the most horrible noises; he had just returned home after…

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Chapter 7

5 Sep 2022, by

Appeal to Parliament — Copy of factum — President’s observation upon it — Sentence reverse — Register refuses copy of the decree — Apply for redress — Return home

The Parliament of Bourdeaux, or rather of Guienne, then held its sittings at La Reolle; and by its order we were removed to the prison of that town, which was so full that the gaoler, contented with his entrance fee, allowed us to go and come on “parole” as we pleased. This was very advantageous to me, giving me the opportunity of making personal application to Parliament, proving my own innocence, and exposing the injustice of the Presidency of Saintes, which I hoped to exhibit in its true colours.

I had my factum printed, of which the following is a true and faithful copy. “FACTUM.”

“James Fontaine is accused of two things. The one of being found in the assemblies held in the wood of Chatelars near Royan, and the other of having been heard praying to God, in the prison of Saintes. With regard to the first accusation, it is based upon the testimony of only one witness, named Agoust, who made affidavit to having seen him at the distance of one hundred paces from his own house, and two hundred paces from the place where the assemblies were said to have been held. At the confrontation this witness admitted that he only thought he had seen him from a window, and that too, in the dusk of the evening, at a distance of three or four hundred paces; and upon the strength of such testimony as this, the said Fontaine has been confined four months in the prisons of Saintes, which are extremely rude in their accommodations. The charge of praying to God rested upon the evidence of four witnesses, who contradicted themselves upon cross-examination, and it appeared that the said Fontaine merely knelt down in a corner of the prison, and spoke in so low a tone that the gaoler’s wife, after acknowledging that she passed within one pace of him when he was kneeling down, was not able to repeat a single word of what he had said. After the breviate of the case was completed, the Seneschal in the most extraordinary manner refused to judge, and the said Fontaine was obliged to take legal steps in consequence; and after four months delay, the Attorney general’s deputy, recognising the…

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Chapter 8

5 Sep 2022, by

Persecution of 1685 — Meeting of ministers and elders — My opinion opposed to the majority — Meeting of Protestants at Royan — Mr. Certani dissuades numbers from emigration — Interview with him — Gloomy forebodings — Departure of many persons — Dragoons appear — Leave home — Visit sisters — Traverse the country — Place betrothed in safety

The year 1685 opened with a bitter spirit of persecution, far beyond all that had proceeded it. There was no longer the slightest semblance of justice in the forms of proceeding, the dragoons ravaged and pillaged without mercy, resembling in their progress a lawless and victorious army in an enemy’s country. In the history of past ages we look in vain for any record of such cruelties as they inflicted upon the unoffending and unresisting Huguenots. They were accountable to nobody, for their acts, each dragoon was a sovereign judge and an executioner, and he who had ingenuity enough to invent any new species of torture was sure of applause, and even reward for his discovery.

Early in the year I received an invitation to attend a meeting of Ministers and Elders to consult upon what ought to be done at the present crisis. The number assembled was about twenty five. As I was only a Candidate and not a Minister, I had no right to be present, still less to give an opinion at such a meeting, but my deportment in prison had gained me so much reputation, that young as I was, the Ministers requested me to give them my views.

I pointed out to them the error I thought they had been guilty of, in preaching as they did, the doctrine of non- resistance from their pulpits, and I added that it appeared to me that our quiet submission to all the King’s grievous Declarations had encouraged him to go on. Obedience to one edict only paved the way to…

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Chapter 9

5 Sep 2022, by

Revocation of Edict of Nantes — Preparations for flight — Difficulties and dangers — Land in England — Cheap bread — Speculate in grain — Cruelty of a ship Captain

In the month of October, 1685, the Edict of Nantes* was actually revoked. Of course there was no choice left, flight was the only alternative, and I went to Marennes to make preparations in good earnest, and was fortunate in finding an English Captain with whom I was able to make a bargain. He agreed to take me, and four or five persons in addition, at the rate of ten pistoles each, and we were to assemble at Tremblade for embarkation. I went immediately to fetch your dear mother, her sister Elizabeth, and my niece Janette Forestier; the latter was my god-daughter and course I felt it incumbent upon me to provide for her safety. I mentioned our project to some few persons who I thought would gladly have availed themselves of it, but their fear was stronger than their hope, and they dared not venture to encounter so many dangers, the Coast being carefully guarded both by sea and land to prevent emigration. We lodged at the house of a drunkard in Tremblade, who being able to speak the English language was to be our pilot. His imprudence and drunkenness combined made our position one of great danger while under his roof. After several days of cruel suspense, the Captain desired us to be in readiness on the next, and told us that he intended to pass between the Isle of Oleron and the main land, and that if we would be on the sands near the Forrest of Arvert, he would send a boat ashore for us.

“Surely this act has been incorrectly termed the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. All its provisions had been repealed long ago by royal edicts and ordinances, except the bare toleration of Protestantism in some few towns and districts. The edict of 22d. October 1685 forbade all exercise of the reformed religion, ordered the clergy to…

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Chapter 10

5 Sep 2022, by

Singular proposal from a lady — Marriage — Mode of living — Remove to Bridgwater — Assistance from Committee — Why discontinued — Application for relief — Unkind treatment — Receive Holy Orders — Attempt to recover property in France

I have already mentioned that I was hospitably received into the house of a Mr. Downe at Barnstapie; this gentleman was a bachelor of some forty years of age, and he had an unmarried sister living with him, who was about thirty three or thirty-four years old. They were kindness itself, and I was as completely domesticated with them as if I had been a brother. They were in very easy circumstances; the brother was worth £10,000 the sister £3,000. This poor lady unfortunately took a great fancy to me, and she persuaded herself that it would be an excellent thing for me to marry her and her brother to marry my intended. I should have imagined that she would have had no difficulty in persuading her brother to fall in love; for in those days your dear mother was very beautiful, her skin was delicately fair, she had a brilliant color in her cheeks, high forehead and a remarkably intellectual expression of countenance, her bust was fine, rather inclined to enbonpoint, and she had a very dignified carriage which some thought haughty, but to me it appeared truly becoming in one of her beauty; altogether she seemed fitted to captivate the most indifferent, yet, I am very sure, notwithstanding all her charms (and those of her person were an index of her mind) that Mr. Downe only consented to court her in order to oblige his sister.

Miss Downe opened her project to me one day, by observing that she thought we must be two fools to think of marrying with no better prospect than beggary for our portion. I took no notice of what she said, but she persevered, and frequently gave me broad hints that I might do much better for myself. I was determined not to understand her, and our languages being different I was able to appear ignorant of her views, until one day her brother happened to…

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Chapter 11

5 Sep 2022, by

Remove to Taunton — Keep a shop — Manufactory — Very prosperous — Summoned before the Mayor — Defence — Recorder’s speech — Discharge

I removed to Taunton for the purpose of teaching the French language, finding that I could obtain some pupils there. Our plan was to keep a shop also, and we were in great hopes that with both together we should be able to pay our way.

I borrowed £100 from a friend. I found the wholesale dealers in Bristol and Exeter very accommodating in the credits they granted me. As fast as I sold the goods I paid for them, and I was then allowed to take a fresh supply on credit; and in this way we gradually increased in our dealings until we had a stock of one thing or other to the amount of £400.

About this time two Frenchmen called upon me whom I had known in great distress in Bridgewater, and I had there solicited charity for them, at the same time advising them to learn a trade so as to make themselves independent for the future; and I had suggested their binding themselves to some of the French manufacturers of light stuffs in Bristol, and assured them they would have to ask charity no more.

They had taken my advice, and at the end of two years they visited me expressly to return their thanks. I did not recognise them; the rags and tatters in which they had formerly appeared had given place to decent and respectable clothing. They told me they were the…

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Chapter 12

5 Sep 2022, by

Revolution of 1688 — Landing of the Dutch — Unexpected visitor — Soldiers billeted upon me — Retire from business — Endeavour to make calimancoes — Profit upon them — Instruct a crippled weaver — Secret discovered — Visit Dublin and Cork — Shipwreck — Place sons in Holland — Increase of family

A short time after the prosecution related in the last chapter, the glorious Revolution of 1688 commenced. I felt very anxious about the effect it might have upon the welfare of me and mine. I had a vivid recollection of the end of the Monmouth rebellion, for they were still hanging and quartering when I landed in England.

The Prince of Orange was welcomed at Exeter by the same party that had declared for Monmouth. Three sorry-looking Dutchmen took possession of Taunton without the slightest show of resistance from any quarter; and the common people hailed their arrival as a joyous event.

The Mayor and Aldermen, who were most decided Jacobites, held aloof to watch the issue, contenting themselves with noting down all persons who appeared to favour the Dutch, expecting to have them hanged after a while, as those had been who joined the Duke of Monmouth.

I felt certain that whichever side I might espouse, my name would have a prominent place in the list of culprits, and I was the more convinced of this from the story that was propagated about me.

On the arrival of a company of soldiers at Taunton, they were informed that there was a French Jesuit in the place, who said mass in his house every Sunday. It so happened that the Captain of this company was a French Refugee, who had settled in Holland, and entered the army of the Prince of Orange; he determined to be the first to seize the French Jesuit, and being directed to my house, he was before the door with a guard of soldiers at so early an hour, that none of the family were stirring except a female domestic who was a Frenchwoman. From her the Captain enquired who lived in that house.

She replied — “Mr. Fontaine, a minister from Royan, lives here.”

The Captain immediately desired her to go to my room and and tell me that Captain Rabainieres was below, anxious to embrace me. I only waited long enough to put on my robe de chambre, and went down to welcome this dear friend who had lived within four or five miles of my residence in France. We embraced each other with the…

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Chapter 13

5 Sep 2022, by

Arrival at Cork — Enter upon pastoral duties — Manufactory — Great happiness — Dissension in the church — Resignation — Copy of certificate — Remarkable warning by a dream — Visit fishing stations — Death of Aaron — Turn fisherman — Remove to Bear Haven — Loss of the Robert — Bad season — Trading voyage — Success in fishing — Loss by mismanagement of partners — Troublesome Irish neighbours

We landed in safety at Cork on the 24th December 1694, and the agreement I had entered into with the congregation was solemnly renewed. You may see the particulars in the act of the Consistory of Cork dated 19 January, 1695, on which day I commenced the discharge of my pastoral duties.

At first I preached at Christ Church, the use of it being granted to us after the English had finished the services of the day; then we assembled in the County Court room for our worship, and finally, I gave up, for the use of the Church, a spacious apartment on the lower floor of my house, and we had it regularly fitted up with pulpit, benches, and every thing necessary.

My manufactory here was altogether different from that which I had carried on at Taunton. I considered it best to make something for which there would be a demand near home. Coarse baize was the great article of manufacture in this place, but I determined to try my skill in something of better quality, and I succeeded in making good broad-cloth for which it was only necessary to use finer wool and weave it closer and tighter. I built a dye house for my own use at the edge of the river for the convenience of pumping up the water. A dyer in the city applied for permission to use my apparatus, which I granted on the condition that he dyed all my worsteds and cloths without charge, and made me a…

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Chapter 14

5 Sep 2022, by

Attacked by a French Privateer — Defence — Letter to the Duke of Ormond — Ammunition furnished by government — Build a small fort — Visit Dublin — London — Obtain a pension — Copy of warrant — Return home

Early in the morning of the first day of June 1704, a French privateer hove in sight, she floated gently towards the house in a perfect calm, she had on board four of my Irish neighbours to act as guides, in addition to eighty men of her own. She mounted ten guns. I watched her progress, and thought the intention was to bring her to the south of my house, so that her guns would bear directly upon the front and have full scope at high water. I would prevent this if it were possible, and so I mustered all the men I could find, exactly twenty in number, I gave the Protestants muskets, and the Papists clubs on their shoulders, which made them at a distance look like armed men. I ordered them to follow me and do as I did. We went round the little cove, stooping very low as if we wished to hide ourselves, though in reality I made choice of the highest ground in order that we might certainly be seen from the privateer. I then placed all the men behind a large rock near the shore, while I stood alone on the top of it, within sight of the vessel; I ordered them all to appear on one side of the rock, as if they were peeping out of curiosity, while I was looking the other way; then I turned, and made angry gesticulations as if I were finding fault and striking some of them, and at the…

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Chapter 15

5 Sep 2022, by

Attacked by a second Privateer — Outhouses fired — Breach in the wall — Wounded — Surrender — Carried away as a prisoner — Expostulate with captain — Ransomed — Peter left as a hostage — His deportment

With a constant apprehension of attack before us we lived on the “qui vive,” from the 1st. June 1704 until the 8th. October 1708, when with all our precautions we were actually taken by surprise.

A French Privateer entered the harbour during the night and anchored off Bear Haven, about five miles from our house, and entirely out of sight. At that time a company of soldiers was quartered among the Irish in the Half Barony, and the Captain who commanded them lodged and boarded at my house, but unluckily both he and the Lieutenant happened then to be absent at Bantry, and the Ensign was left in command of the company. He was an imprudent, inexperienced young man, entirely destitute of judgment.

The Privateer hoisted English colors by way of deception, and she succeeded to her wish, for the Ensign no sooner discovered her, than, concluding she was a vessel just arrived from America, he went down with two or three soldiers of his company, in great haste to be the first on board her, in order to regale himself with rum punch, a beverage of which he was unhappily much too fond. He was a prisoner from the instant he set his foot on board the vessel, but the Captain and officers behaved towards him with the greatest civility. He was a little shocked at first, but they made him so welcome, treating him to the best of wine and brandy that he soon lost the remembrance of his situation, and gave the Captain every information he wanted, and it was of a nature to encourage him exceedingly, for he told him that the…

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Chapter 16

5 Sep 2022, by

Affidavit before Magistrates — Retaliation on French prisoners — Removal to Dublin — Hire a haunted house — Claim compensation from the county of Cork — Disturbance in haunted house — School — Education of children — Peter goes to College — John obtains a commission in the army — Moses and Francis enter college — Moses studies law — Emigration to America — Marriage of children — My wife’s death — Failure of health — Conclusion.

Leaving Peter on his cruise, I will return to myself. As soon as I was well enough to get on horseback, I rode over to Kinsale with my son James, and two of the servants, and waited upon the chief magistrate to make an affidavit before him, to the effect that after capitulating upon terms, with the express stipulation that we should have life and liberty, I had been forcibly carried away as a prisoner, and had only been released on the payment of £30, and leaving one of my sons as a hostage for the payment of other £70.

The governor or commanding officer at Kinsale as a retaliatory measure immediately put all the French officers in irons who had been taken in the war and were stationed there, and he sent a copy of the affidavit to Plymouth where there were numbers of French prisoners, and all of them were also put in irons. You will readily believe that the letters of complaint from Kinsale and Plymouth were very numerous.

By the time the Captain returned to St. Maloes a second time, public feeling was much excited against him, and he was summoned to appear before the Governor of Brest who wished to put him in prison, and even threatened to hang him. He made the most humble apologies, and was set at liberty only upon promising that he would convey Peter immediately to the place from whence he had taken him. Thus he was restored to our arms, and we have never paid the £70.

I went to Dublin with all my family except James, and it is unnecessary to say that we were in miserable plight.

I waited upon General Ingoldsby, one of the Council, and he presented me at once with a warrant for £100, which was the more acceptable as it was altogether unexpected. He had applied for it as soon as he…

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