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Jared Smith, My Maternal Ancestry

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…

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Title Page

17 Sep 2022, by

Memoirs Of A Huguenot Family

Translated And Compiled From The Original Autobiography Of The Rev. James Fontaine

And Other Family Manuscripts, Comprising An Original Journal Of Travels In Virginia, New-York In Virginia, New-York Etc, In 1717 And 1716.

By Ann Maury

With An Appendix, Containing A Translation Of The Edict Of Nantes, The Edict Of Revocation, And Other Interesting Historical Documents

1872

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Original Preface

17 Sep 2022, by

In bringing before the public this history of a private family, part of which was published some years ago, we feel it to be possible, that in our own admiration of the virtues of our forefathers, and our deep interest in the vicissitudes of their fortunes, we may over-estimate the pleasure a perusal is likely to afford the general reader. There are, however, so many individuals in the United States who are lineally descended from James Fontaine, that we think the publication is required for them alone. We believe, also, that the work will address itself to the hearts of a numerous body of Christians, who glory, like ourselves, in a Huguenot origin, and who, in reading the following pages, may realize, more fully than they have hitherto done, the trials of their own ancestors in leaving the homes of their fathers for the sake of the Gospel, and be thereby incited to more steadfast faith.

We have been so much struck with some remarks upon the benefits to be derived from family history in a preface to the “Lives of the Lindsays,” that we venture to make a quotation which we think equally applicable to the volume we are now introducing to the reader.

“Every family should have a record of its own. Each has its peculiar spirit, running through the whole line, and, in more or less development, perceptible in every generation. Rightly viewed, as a most powerful but much neglected instrument of education, I can imagine no study more rife with pleasure and instruction. Nor need our ancestors have been Scipios or Fabii to interest us in their fortunes. We do not love our kindred for their glory or their genius, but for their domestic affections and private virtues, that, unobserved by the world, expand in confidence towards ourselves,and often root themselves, like the banian of the East, and flourish with independent vigor in the heart to which a kind Providence has guided them. An affectionate regard to their memory is natural to the heart; it is an emotion totally distinct from pride,—an ideal love, free from that consciousness of requited affection and reciprocal esteem, which constitutes so much of the satisfaction we derive from the love of the living. They are denied, it is true, to our personal acquaintance, but the light they shed during their lives survives within their tombs, and will reward our search if we explore them . Be their light, then, our beacon—not the glaring light of heroism which emblazons their names in the page of history with a lustre as cold, though as dazzling, as the gold of an heraldic illuminator; but the pure and sacred flame that descends from heaven on the altar of a Christian a heart, and that warmed their naturally frozen affections, till they produced the fruits of piety, purity, and love-evinced in holy thoughts and good actions, of which many a record might be found in the annals of the past, would we but search for them, and in which we may find as strong incentives to virtuous emulation as we gather every day from those bright examples of living worth, which it is the study of every good man to imitate. And if the virtues of strangers be so attractive to us, how infinitely more so should be those of our own kindred, and with what additional energy should the precepts of our parents influence us, when we trace the transmission of those precepts from father to son through successive generations, each bearing the testimony of a virtuous, useful and honorable life to their truth and influence, and all uniting in a kind and earnest exhortation to their descendants so to live on earth, that followers of Him through whose grace alone we have power to obey Him—we may at last be reunited with those who have been before, and those who shall come after us—

“No wanderer lost,
A family in heaven.”

Be grateful, then, for your descent from religious, as well as noble ancestors; it is your duty to be so, and this is the only worthy tribute you can now pay their ashes.”

On the former appearance of a portion of the present book, many supposed it to be a work of imagination merely, presented under the guise of autobiography. It is therefore proper, now, to state that it is in truth what, on the title-page, it purports to be, an authentic narrative of actual occurrences, and is drawn entirely from family manuscripts.

We have translated and printed in an Appendix various documents and edicts throwing light upon the history of the times, some of which, we believe, have not been published at length in the English language for more than a century. We took infinite pains, without success, to procure a translation of the Edict of Nantes, and were therefore induced to translate it for ourselves, and we think it desirable to place it within the general reach of the descendants of Huguenots, as a document in which they cannot fail to take an in terest.

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New Preface

17 Sep 2022, by

According to Bob Juch’s Kin, the Rev. James Fontaine is my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather. He was born in France, on the 7th April, 1658. At the age of sixty-four, he wrote an autobiography for his children, the beginning of which reads:

“I, James Fontaine, have commenced writing this history, for the use of all my children, on the twenty-sixth day of March, 1722; being sixty-four years old.

My Dear Children—Whenever I have related my own adventures to you, or given you details of the incidents that befell your ancestors, you have evinced so deep an interest in them, that I feel I ought not to neglect making a record of the past for your use; and I am determined to employ my leisure time in this way. I would fain hope that the pious examples of those from whom we are descended, may warm your hearts and influence your lives. I hope you will resolve to dedicate yourselves, wholly and unreservedly, to the service of that God whom they worshipped at the risk of their lives, and that you, and those who come after you, will be steadfast in the profession of that pure reformed religion, for which they endured, with unshaken constancy, the most severe trials. You cannot fail to notice, in the course of their lives, the watchful hand of God’s Providence, supporting and preserving them through hardship and suffering.”

In 1838, Ann Maury, a descendent of Rev. Fontaine, published the first edition and what appears to be an abridged version of this autobiography. It was entitled, ”A Tale Of The Huguenots Or Memoirs Of A French Refugee Family (De La Fontaine)”. Thirty-four years later, in 1872, a new edition was published which appears to be the unabridged version, entitled “Memoirs Of A Huguenot Family”.

As a sidenote, I belong to a circle of historic churches known as the Strict and Particular Baptists. One of the leading figures of these churches in the early 18th century was a man named John Gill. Dr. Gill, though a Baptist, subscribed to the Five Points of Calvinism, which Rev. Fontaine himself embraced. He was born in 1697, when Rev. Fontaine was thirty-nine years old, and had been serving for two years as the pastor of the Goat Yard Chapel, when Rev. Fontaine wrote his autobiography in 1722. Perhaps not of interest to anyone else who may read these pages, it warms my heart to know these men were contemporaries in the gospel ministry.

As I stated in the preface of the first edition, I am pleased to make the writings of my forefather available through the online resources of the AHB. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ, who enabled us both, for that He counted us faithful, putting us into the gospel ministry.

“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”—1 Timothy 1:17

Jared Smith

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Table Of Contents

17 Sep 2022, by

Chapter 1

Reasons for writing these memoirs — Noble origin of our family — John de la Fontaine born — Obtains a commission in the household of Francis I. — Embraces Protestantism — Persecution — January Edict — John de la Fontaine resigns his commission — Assassination — Flight of his sons to Rochelle — Marriage of James de la Fontaine — Attempt to poison him — Henry IV. At Rochelle.

Chapter 2

James Fontaine — Fond of study — Travels abroad — Called to the churches of Vaux and Royan — First marriage — Children by it — Second marriage — Children by it — My father’s person — Habits — Labors in the ministry — Summons before the governor — Second summons — Death.

Chapter 3

My birth — Lameness — Imitation of my fathers prayers — Meditations upon the heavenly bodies — Sent to school — Anecdotes of boyhood — Disgusted with study — Letter to sister — Mr. De la Bussier — Admirable preceptor — College — Take degree of Master of Arts — My mother’s death — Division of property.

Chapter 4

Study with Mr. Forestier — His persecutions — His wife’s firmness — Return home — Pray with neighbors — Absent at Easter — Poor people assemble in the woods — A spy — Warrants issued — A mason taken up — Recantation — Repentance — My return home — Warrant against me — Grand Provost and archers appear — Prison — Permitted to pray.

Chapter 5

Provost and archers make another tour — Twenty country people brought to prison — Well supplied by Protestant brethren — Prayer — Indictment — Confrontation — Recollement — Examination of witnesses — Apply to be set at liberty — Accusation of the King’s advocate — Dungeon — Removed to Town Hall — Bribery proposed to me.

Chapter 6

Trial before the Presidency — Digression — Defense — Angry discussion with the President — Query — Reply — Sentence.

Chapter 7

Appeal to Parliament — Factum — President’s remarks — Sentence reverse — Register refuses copy of decree — Apply for redress — Return home.

Chapter 8

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

Chapter 9

Revocation of the Edict of Nantes — Preparations for flight — Difficulties and dangers of embarkation — Land in England — Cheapness of bread — Speculation in grain — Cruelty of a captain of a vessel.

Chapter 10

Singular proposal from a lady — Marriage — Mode of living — Removal to Bridgwater — Assistance from Committee — Why discontinued — Application for relief — Unkindness — Attempt to recover property.

Chapter 11

Remove to Taunton — Receive ordination — Keep a shop — Manufactory — Prosperity — Summoned before the mayor — Defense — Speech of recorder — Discharge.

Chapter 12

Revolution of 1688 — Landing of the Dutch — Unexpected visitor — Soldiers billeted on me — Retirement from business — Calimanco — Profitable manufacture — Crippled weaver — Secret discovered — Visit Dublin and Cork — Send sons to Holland — Increase of family.

Chapter 13

Arrival at Cork — Pastoral charge — Manufactory — Happiness — Dissension in the church — Resignation — Reply — Remarkable dream — Visit fishing stations — Death of Aaron — Become fisherman — Remove to Bear Haven — Loss of the Robert — Bad season — Trading voyage — Successful fishery — Loss — Irish neighbors.

Chapter 14

Attacked by a French Privateer — Defence — Letter to the Duke of Ormond — Ammunition furnished by government — Small fort — Visit Dublin — London — Pension — Copy of warrant — Return home.

Chapter 15

Attacked by a second Privateer — Outhouses fired — Breach in the wall — Wounded — Surrender — Carried off to the vessel — Expostulation with captain — Ransom — Peter left as a hostage.

Chapter 16

Affidavit before Magistrates — Retaliation on French prisoners — Removal to Dublin — Haunted house — Appear before grand jury — Award school — Education of children — Peter enters College — John gets a commission in the army — Moses and Francis enter college — Moses studies law — Emigration to America — Marriage of children — Death of my wife — Failure of health — Conclusion.

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Chapter 1

17 Sep 2022, by

Reasons for writing these memoirs — Noble origin of our family — John de la Fontaine born — Obtains a commission in the household of Francis I. — Embraces Protestantism — Persecution — January Edict — John de la Fontaine resigns his commission — Assassination — Flight of his sons to Rochelle — Marriage of James de la Fontaine — Attempt to poison him — Henry IV. At Rochelle.

Let our beginning be in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.

SEVENTY-EIGHTH PSALM

“Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” Amen.

I, James Fontaine, have commenced writing this history, for the use of all my children, on the twenty-sixth day of March, 1722; being sixty-four years old.

My Dear Children—

Whenever I have related my own adventures to you, or given you details of the incidents that befell your ancestors, you have evinced so deep an interest in them, that I feel I ought not to neglect making a record of the past for your use; and I am determined to employ my leisure time in this way. I would fain hope that the pious examples of those from whom we are descended, may warm your hearts and influence your lives. I hope you will resolve to dedicate yourselves, wholly and unreservedly, to the service of that God whom they worshipped at the risk of their lives, and that you, and those who come after you, will be steadfast in the profession of that pure reformed religion, for which they endured, with unshaken constancy, the most severe trials. You cannot fail to notice, in the course of their lives, the watchful hand of God’s Providence, supporting and preserving them through hardship and suffering.

You need not look farther back than the period over which your own memories can stray, for numberless instances of the providential care of that same God, whose “hand is not shortened.”

I have gained the knowledge of those events which occurred before my day from my mother, my older brothers, and my aunt Bouquet, my father’s sister; and I have the most perfect conviction of the truth of all which I relate.

For my own part, I trust that, while recording the past mercies of God for the benefit of my descendants, I may derive personal advantage from the review. The frailties and sins of the different periods of my life, thus brought to mind, ought to cause me to humble myself before the throne of grace, and tremblingly implore pardon for the past, through the mediation of my blessed Saviour; and the…

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Chapter 2

17 Sep 2022, by

James Fontaine — Fond of study — Travels abroad — Called to the churches of Vaux and Royan — First marriage — Children by it — Second marriage — Children by it — My father’s person — Habits — Labors in the ministry — Summons before the governor — Second summons — Death.

I continue the narrative with what I know of my father, the youngest child and only son of James de la Fontaine, who received his own name, James. He was of delicate constitution, and he was from the earliest age very fond of books, which circumstances decided his father not to bring him up to a trade of any kind, but to make every possible effort to culti vate his taste for study, and to give him an education to fit him for one of the learned professions. He was assisted by several friends in this undertaking, but most effectually by Mr. Merlin, a sincere and worthy servant of God, a Protestant minister in Rochelle, who gave James gratuitous instruction in various branches of knowledge.

My father’s inclination towards the office of the holy ministry soon evinced itself, and he did not hesitate to follow the pious impulse, though fully aware of the dangers incident to the vocation. When his education was somewhat advanced, his pious and generous friend, Mr. Merlin, further assisted him by recommending him to the Countess of Royan as a suitable tutor to a young relation of hers. In that capacity he accompanied the young man to the college of Saumur, and superintended his studies there, while he availed himself of the advantages, thus opened to him, of completing his own preparation for the ministry.

After leaving college, he travelled with his pupil through various countries, and he was thus enabled to perfect himself in several living languages. In the course of their travels they went to London, and they remained there long enough to allow my father to fall in love with…

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Chapter 3

17 Sep 2022, by

My birth — Lameness — Imitation of my fathers prayers — Meditations upon the heavenly bodies — Sent to school — Anecdotes of boyhood — Disgusted with study — Letter to sister — Mr. De la Bussier — Admirable preceptor — College — Take degree of Master of Arts — My mother’s death — Division of property.

I have now arrived at the history of my own life, which I shall give more in detail, as being more immediately interesting to you than the annals of past generations. You will find a varied tissue of adventures, checkered with alternate extremes of prosperity and adversity, but amidst its joys and sorrows, you will not fail to discern the hand of Almighty God leading me by his good Providence, watching over me, and making all things work together for my good.

I was born at Jenouillé, on the 7th April, 1658. The first sorrow of my life proceeded from the carelessness of my nurse: she trusted me to her daughter’s care, who was a young and giddy girl, and she played and romped with me, tossing me in the air and catching me in her arms. At last she missed her hold and let me fall on the ground, by which my leg was broken a little below the knee. The nurse lived at Royan, and being desirous to conceal the disaster from my parents, she took me of her own accord to an ignorant surgeon, near at hand, who relieved her apprehension by pronouncing that no harm had been done. He was entirely mistaken, and the bone, not having been set, united of itself in process of time, with considerable enlargement at the place, and making the leg shorter and weaker than the other, thus causing lameness for life.

I inherited something of the family beauty of face, and resembled my father more than any of my brothers and sisters, and I was of a very lively and inventive turn. When I was only four years old, I was so taken with hearing my father read the Scriptures and pray with the…

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Chapter 4

17 Sep 2022, by

Study with Mr. Forestier — His persecutions — His wife’s firmness — Return home — Pray with neighbors — Absent at Easter — Poor people assemble in the woods — A spy — Warrants issued — A mason taken up — Recantation — Repentance — My return home — Warrant against me — Grand Provost and archers appear — Prison — Permitted to pray.

Having made all necessary arrangements for the management of my property, I went once more to the house of my brother in-law, Mr. Forestier, at St. Mesme in Anguomois. I knew that I should find in him an able and willing friend, to help me in the prosecution of my theological studies. My sole wish now was to dedicate all the talents, God had bestowed on me, to his glory.

I spent a year with Mr. Forestier, during which time he took great pains with me. He taught me to prepare sermons, and showed me how far it was desirable to use Commentaries for such purposes. When he thought me qualified, he allowed me to preach sometimes in his church.

While I was with him, a complaint was lodged against him that he had received a Papist into the communion of the Protestant Church, contrary to the king’s edict. Upon this accusation, he was seized and carried to prison with much degradation: he was placed on horseback, with his legs tied together under the horse’s belly.

If you had but seen the Papists of Angouleme collected upon the road to enjoy the spectacle! They were in such numbers that I may say they were literally piled up by the…

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Chapter 5

17 Sep 2022, by

Provost and archers make another tour — Twenty country people brought to prison — Well supplied by Protestant brethren — Prayer — Indictment — Confrontation — Recollement — Examination of witnesses — Apply to be set at liberty — Accusation of the King’s advocate — Dungeon — Removed to Town Hall — Bribery proposed to me.

When I had been in prison about ten days, the Provost and his Archers set out upon another circuit to look for those who had been at our meetings, and as I had foreseen, the country people would no longer flee. They had received timely warning, and the timid retreated to the woods, but the Provost was met by more than one hundred and fifty persons, who accosted him with the utmost intrepidity, saying: “We have all attended these holy meetings and prayed to God in the woods, and we are ready to justify our conduct.”

The number who presented themselves was much greater than those against whom he held warrants, so he was obliged to make an examination, and he drew off to one side all those whose names did not appear upon his list. After this rejection, the number left was still too large to take to prisons al ready well filled with papists who had been committed for real crimes, so the Provost declared he would take only twenty. A holy strife then arose amongst these followers of the Lord as to who should be of the number.

The Archers were themselves struck at the scene they beheld. “What are you about?” said they. “Do you set no value upon life? What fury urges you to the gallows? Think for a moment of your wives and children! What will become of them?” They tried every expedient to intimidate them, and swore to them, by all that was sacred, that if once they were taken to prison they would only exchange it for the rack, the gibbet, or, at any rate, the galleys. They adduced numerous instances of such and such persons, who, for similar offences, had been hanged, broken on the wheel, &c., &c. It was all of no use, their words seemed to act like wind upon fire; the more furious and violent were the Archers the more was the zeal of the people kindled.

At length, by a refinement of cruelty, the Provost determined to leave behind those who were most anxious to go, and he selected those to take with him who appeared the least eager. They were bound together two and two, as dogs are coupled for hunting, and tied to the…

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Chapter 6

17 Sep 2022, by

Trial before the Presidency — Digression — Defense — Angry discussion with the President — Query — Reply — Sentence.

The month of August had come round by the time that the process was ready to be brought before the Presidency in the Hall of Justice./p>

In this court, the prisoner has to depend upon himself, he is not allowed the help of an advocate to plead for him. The door is locked, and guarded byArchers. 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 which admits of appeal to Parliament, the answers are recorded. As soon as the examination is over, 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 for my defence I thought much more of my poor neighbors than of myself, because I was really innocent of the charge in the indictment, they were not. Knowing that they would not be assisted by an advocate, I could not help feeling some apprehension for them, and I determined, if any opportunity offered itself, I would say something applicable to their case. I thought it possible that I might be able to soften the hearts or alarm the consciences of the judges; and I made it a subject of special prayer to God.

I will make a digression here, which you will presently perceive is not altogether irrelevant. My apartment in the tower of the Town Hall looked down into the…

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Chapter 7

17 Sep 2022, by

Appeal to Parliament — Factum — President’s remarks — Sentence reverse — Register refuses copy of 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 jailer, contented with the payment of his entrance fee, allowed us to go and come on “parole” as we pleased. This promised to be a very advantageous arrangement for me, as I could thus have the opportunity of making personal application to Parliament, proving my own innocence, and exposing the injustice of the Presidency of Saintes in its true colors.

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 the 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 jailer’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…

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Chapter 8

17 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 from emigration — Interview with him — Gloomy forebodings — Departure of Protestants — Dragoons appear — I leave home — Visit sisters — Traverse the country — My betrothed.

The year 1685 opened with a bitter spirit of persecution far beyond all that had preceded 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 taking possession of an enemy’s country. In the history of the past we look in vain for any record of cruelties such as were inflicted upon the unoffending and unresisting Huguenots. They were not accountable to any one for their acts; each dragoon was a sovereign judge and an executioner; he who had ingenuity enough to invent any new species of torture was sure of applause, and even reward for his discovery. My blood boiled under the sense of injury, and I desired earnestly that the Protestants should take up arms in a body, and offer resistance, instead of waiting quietly to be slain like beasts at the shambles.

Early in the year I received an invitation to attend a meeting of ministers and elders at Coses, to hold a consultation as to what ought to be done in the present cruel crisis. Twelve ministers and as many elders were present in answer to the summons. As I was only a candidate, and not a minister, I had no right to appear in such a meeting, and still less to give a vote, but my deportment in prison had gained me so much reputation, that young as I was, the ministers requested to have my opinion.

I pointed out to them what I considered the great error of which they had been guilty, namely, preaching the doctrine of non-resistance from their pulpits. I said it appeared to me that our quiet submission to all the grievous edicts and declarations of the king had encouraged him to go on. Our obedience to one edict only paved the way for another more intolerable to be issued, and I thought we might blame the timid policy of the day for much that we had endured. I dissented totally from the generally received doctrine that our lives and estates are the property of the king, and I thought such an admission reflected discredit upon our forefathers, who had obtained for us, sword in hand, the privileges which were now taken away from us. To make short of the matter, my opinion was that there was nothing left for us but to take up arms and leave the issue to the Lord of Hosts.

I was listened to thus far with impatience, and they then rebuked me sharply for the…

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Chapter 9

17 Sep 2022, by

Revocation of the Edict of Nantes — Preparations for flight — Difficulties and dangers of embarkation — Land in England — Cheapness of bread — Speculation in grain — Cruelty of a captain of a vessel.

In the month of October, 1685, the edict of Nantes was actually revoked[1] by that great persecutor, Louis the 14th. Of course no choice was now left for Protestants; flight was the only alternative.

I went to Marennes to make preparations in good earnest, and I was so fortunate as to find an English captain of a vessel, with whom I was able to make a bargain. He agreed to take me, and four or five persons with me, to England, at the rate of ten pistoles each, and it was arranged that we should assemble at Tremblade for embarkation. I went im mediately to fetch your dear mother, Anne Elizabeth Boursiquot, and her sister Elizabeth, and my niece Janette Forestier; the latter was my god-daughter, and I felt it incumbent upon me to provide for her safety.

I mentioned the plan to some few persons, and I expected they would have rejoiced at the prospect of getting away, but their fears were stronger than their hopes, and they dared not venture to encounter so many dangers. The coast was carefully guarded both by sea and land to prevent emigration.

We went to Tremblade to be ready, and took up our abode in the house of a man who was to act as our pilot be cause he could speak English. He was a very imprudent as well as a drunken man, which made our situation very dangerous while under his roof.

After several days of cruel suspense, the Captain sent us word that he should be ready to sail the next day, and he wished us to be in readiness also. He said that he should pass between the Isle of Oleron and the main-land, and that if we would be on the sands near the Forest of Arvert, he would send a boat ashore for us.

We set off during the night, and had two horses to carry the few little possessions we were able to take with us. In the course of the following day, upwards of fifty persons assembled on the sands, with the hope that they might be taken on board the vessel, and make their escape with us. Most of them were very young, and they had not taken due precaution to conceal their intentions, so the…

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Chapter 10

17 Sep 2022, by

Singular proposal from a lady — Marriage — Mode of living — Removal to Bridgwater — Assistance from Committee — Why discontinued — Application for relief — Unkindness — Attempt to recover property.

I have already mentioned that I had been hospitably received into the house of a Mr. Downe at Barnstaple. 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 easy circumstances. Miss Downe was worth about £3000, and her brother had an estate near Minehead, worth £10,000.

The poor lady most unfortunately took a great fancy to me, and she persuaded herself that it would be greatly for the benefit of all concerned if she were to be married to me, and her brother to my intended. I should have supposed it an easy matter for any one to have fallen in love with your dear mother in those days, for she was very beautiful, her skin was delicately fair, she had a brilliant color in her cheeks, a high forehead, a remarkably intellectual expression of countenance; her bust was fine, rather inclined to embonpoint, and she had a very dignified carriage, which some persons condemned as haughty, but I always thought it peculiarly becoming to one of her beauty. The charms of her mind and disposition were no way inferior to those of her person, so that altogether she seemed formed to captivate the most indifferent, yet I am almost sure that Mr. Downe only yielded to the solicitations of his sister, and had really no love in his heart.

Miss Downe opened her project to me one day by observing that she thought we must be two fools, to think of being married to each other, when our only portion would be beggary. I did not at first comprehend her, but she persevered in her attacks upon me at every opportunity, and began to give me broad hints that if I would only open my eyes, I might plainly see where I could do much better for myself. I then discovered her meaning, but I was determined not to appear to understand it, and our languages being different, made it very easy for me to appear as ignorant as I pleased. However, it so happened that her brother entered the room one day when she was trying to drive it into me, that a more suitable match was within my power than the one I was in tending to make. She turned to him and begged he would make the…

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Chapter 11

17 Sep 2022, by

Remove to Taunton — Receive ordination — Keep a shop — Manufactory — Prosperity — Summoned before the mayor — Defense — Speech of recorder — Discharge.

I went over to Taunton, to look about me, for any prospect of improving my circumstances, and I was so far successful that I obtained a few pupils to instruct in the French language. At first I went there only for the day, three times a week, to give lessons, but after a while, I decided that it would be the most advantageous plan to remove my family there entirely, and keep a shop as we had done in Bridgewater, and I hoped that the addition of the profits, from teaching, to those from the shop, would maintain us all.

I went over to Taunton, to look about me, for any prospect of improving my circumstances, and I was so far successful that I obtained a few pupils to instruct in the French language. At first I went there only for the day, three times a week, to give lessons, but after a while, I decided that it would be the most advantageous plan to remove my family there entirely, and keep a shop as we had done in Bridgewater, and I hoped that the addition of the profits, from teaching, to those from the shop, would maintain us all.

I had been in the habit not only of having family worship, but of preaching to the circle of relatives who clustered around us. When I removed to Taunton, three or four French families wished to join us, and so form a small congregation. I then thought that I ought to receive that authority from man which I had already received from God.

I was aware that the Episcopalians possessed all the Church Benefices, and filled all the offices of trust throughout the kingdom, but I was not dazzled by their splendor. I preferred the simplicity of Divine worship, to which I had been accustomed from my childhood, to the grandeur and wealth of the Episcopalians.

Some of the Presbyterians with whom I had become acquainted, actually hated the Episcopalians, and they made me believe that the Church of England was a kind of Romanism. I held in abhorrence all the…

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Chapter 12

17 Sep 2022, by

Revolution of 1688 — Landing of the Dutch — Unexpected visitor — Soldiers billeted on me — Retirement from business — Calimanco — Profitable manufacture — Crippled weaver — Secret discovered — Visit Dublin and Cork — Send sons to 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 busy hanging and quartering when I landed in England.

The Prince of Orange marched with his army to Exeter, where he was welcomed by the same party that had declared for Monmouth. Three sorry-looking Dutchmen were sent to Taunton, and they were suffered to take possession of the place without the slightest show of resistance from any quarter. The common people hailed their arrival as a joyous event.

The Mayor and Aldermen were most decided Jacobites; they stood aloof to watch the course of events, and contented themselves, meanwhile, with noting down the names of all persons who appeared to favor the Dutch, in the expectation of having them hanged after awhile, as those had been who joined the Duke of Monmouth. I felt very 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 told 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 happened fortunately for me, that the Captain of this company was a French Protestant, who had taken refuge in Holland, and entered the…

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Chapter 13

17 Sep 2022, by

Arrival at Cork — Pastoral charge — Manufactory — Happiness — Dissension in the church — Resignation — Reply — Remarkable dream — Visit fishing stations — Death of Aaron — Become fisherman — Remove to Bear Haven — Loss of the Robert — Bad season — Trading voyage — Successful fishery — Loss — Irish neighbors.

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

At first I preached in Christ Church, the use of it being granted to us after the English had finished the services of the day. We then 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, which we had regularly fitted up for the purpose with pulpit, benches, and everything necessary.

My manufactory here was altogether different from that which I had carried on at Taunton. I considered it most for my advantage to make something for which there would be a demand near home. The great article of manufacture in Cork at that time was a sort of coarse baize, two yards wide. I thought I would try to make something better than that, and I soon succeeded in making good broadcloth, for which it was only necessary to use finer wool than for baize and to weave it more closely and compactly.

I took a large house, a little out of town, in which I established my manufactory. I gave out the spinning and weaving. I put up a hot-press and a cold-press in my house, and the latter was so contrived as to compress the bales of goods. I had all the tools and machinery required for teasing and dressing the cloth, and for combing and carding the wool I built my dye-house near the river for the convenience of pumping up the water. A dyer in the city applied to me for permission to make use of my apparatus, which I granted on condition that he should dye all my worsted and cloth without charge, and make me a certain allowance out of his…

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Chapter 14

17 Sep 2022, by

Attacked by a French Privateer — Defence — Letter to the Duke of Ormond — Ammunition furnished by government — Small fort — Visit Dublin — London — Pension — Copy of warrant — Return home.

After having well deliberated, a force was brought to bear against me that, to all human appearance, would be amply sufficient to accomplish the purposes of my enemies.

Early in the morning of the first day of June, in the year 1704, a French privateer hove in sight; she floated gently towards my house, in a perfect calm. She had a force of eighty men on board, besides four of my Irish neighbors who acted as guides. She mounted ten guns. I watched her progress, and thought their object was to bring her to the south of my house, where at high water the guns would have full scope and bear directly upon the front. I would prevent that, if it were possible, and therefore I mustered all the men I could find, exactly twenty in number. I furnished all the Protestants with muskets, and the Papists with clubs to carry on their shoulders, which made them look like armed men when seen from a distance. I gave directions that all should 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 the more certainly be seen from the privateer. I then ordered all the men to go behind a large rock near the shore, while I stood alone on the top of it, within sight of the vessel. I told 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 round and made angry gesticulations, as if I were finding fault and striking some of them, and at the same time I directed them all to show their heads on the other side of the rock; I turned again, and appeared as if I were…

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Chapter 15

17 Sep 2022, by

Attacked by a second Privateer — Outhouses fired — Breach in the wall — Wounded — Surrender — Carried off to the vessel — Expostulation with captain — Ransom — Peter left as a hostage.

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

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 unfortunately, both he and the Lieutenant happened to be absent at that time, they had gone to Bantry, and the Ensign was left in command of the company. He was an imprudent inexperienced youth, without any sort of judgment.

A French privateer entered the harbor during the night, and anchored off Bear Haven, about five miles from my house, and entirely out of our sight. She 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 to board her, in order to regale himself with rum punch, a beverage of which he was unhappily much too fond. He was made a prisoner the instant his foot touched the deck of the vessel, but the Captain and the officers behaved towards him with the greatest civility. He was a little shocked at first, but they made him so very welcome, treating him to the best of wine and brandy, that he soon lost the…

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Chapter 16

17 Sep 2022, by

Affidavit before Magistrates — Retaliation on French prisoners — Removal to Dublin — Haunted house — Appear before grand jury — Award school — Education of children — Peter enters College — John gets a commission in the army — Moses and Francis enter college — Moses studies law — Emigration to America — Marriage of children — Death of my wife — Failure of health — Conclusion.

Leaving Peter on his cruise, I will return to myself. As soon as I was well enough to mount a horse, I rode over to Kinsale with my son James, and two of the servants, and waited on the Chief Magistrate, and made an affidavit to the effect, that after capitulating upon terms with the express stipulation that we should have life and liberty, I had been forcibly carried off 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 the other £70.

The Governor, or commanding officer of Kinsale, as a retaliatory measure, immediately put all the French officers in irons who had been taken in the war, and were stationed there. He sent a copy of my affidavit to Plymouth, where there were numbers of French prisoners, and all these were likewise put in irons. You may suppose the letters of complaint from Kinsale and Plymouth were very numerous.

By the time the Captain got back a second time to St. Maloes, 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…

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Title Page

5 Sep 2022, by

A Tale Of The Huguenots Or Memoirs Of A French Refugee Family (De La Fontaine)

Translated (From French) And Compiled From The Original Manuscripts Of (Jacques) James (De La) Fontaine

By One Of His Descendants (Ann Maury)

With An Introduction By F. L. Hawkes, D. D.

Shewing to the generations to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, that they should make them known to their children; that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments. — Psalm 78.

New York: John S. Taylor
Theological And Sunday School Bookseller
Corner Park Row And Spruce Street.

1838

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Preface

5 Sep 2022, by

According to Bob Juch’s Kin, the Rev. James Fontaine is my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather. He was born in France, on the 7th April, 1658. Mr. Juch provides the following account of the life and adventures of the Rev. James Fontaine:

“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.”

One of Rev. Fontaine’s descendants, Ann Maury, came into possession of his original French manuscripts, detailing much of his extraordinary experiences. The manuscripts were translated into English and prepared for publication in 1838. The book was entitled, “A Tale Of The Huguenots, Or, Memoirs Of A French Refugee Family (De La Fontaine)”.

The Huguenots were French Protestants of the 16th and 17th centuries, subscribing to the teachings of John Calvin. The name “Huguenot” is of uncertain origin, but some believe it is derived from the combination of German and Flemish phrases which describes the practice of worshipping God in the home. At that time, the French Catholic Government sought to quell the Huguenots by enacting severe measures of persecution against them. Eventually, tens of thousands fled France, seeking refuge in many parts of the world, including Europe, Africa and America. Around 50,000 Huguenots migrated to England, among whom was the De La Fontaine family.

Samuel Smiles published a book in 1876 entitled, “The Huguenots: Their Settlements, Churches And Industries, In England And Ireland”. The appendix provides a list of distinguished names, including that of the De La Fontaines:

“Fontaine, De La Fontaine: many members of this family settled in England.—James Fontaine, son of James de la Fontaine, pastor of Vaux and Royan, married for his first wife an Englishwoman, a Miss Thompson, in 1628, and had by her five children;—of whom Judith, married to a M. Sinermot, was left a widow with four children. After being herself shut up in a convent, and compelled to make abjuration of her religion, she succeeded in escaping with her daughters to London, where they maintained themselves by needlework.—James, pastor of Archiac, in Saintonge, died and left a widow, who, after being confined in a dungeon for three years because of her faith, succeeded in reaching London with her three sons, one of whom became a Protestant minister in Germany.- Elizabeth, married to M. Santreau, pastor of Saujon, in Saintonge, who first emigrated to Ireland, and left it for America with his family, but their vessel being wrecked, they were all drowned within sight of Boston.— Peter, pastor of Vaux, who, after imprisonment for six months, escaped to England, and settled in London, where he became minister of the Pest House chapel. One of Peter’s daughters married John Arnauld, a London merchant.—James Fontaine married for his second wife Marie Chaillon, in 1641, by whom he had two sons and three daughters;—of whom Mary married Peter Forestier, a zealous pastor, who took refuge in London, and whose son was a celebrated chronometer maker; Ann, who married Leon Testard Sieur des Meslars, and escaped to Plymouth with her husband, but died shortly after reaching England; James (see narrative at p. 301); and Peter, who, under the influence of his wife, abjured his religion, became a Roman Catholic, and remained in France. James Fontaine, so celebrated for his exploits at Bearhaven, died in Dublin, but nearly all his family subsequently emigrated to Virginia, and settled there. His eldest daughter, Mary Anne, married Matthew Maury, of Castel Mauron, Gascony, who for a time settled in Dublin, but afterwards left for America; and from this branch the Maurys of Virginia are descended. The only one who remained in this country was Moses, who pursued the calling of an engraver, in London, in which he acquired considerable reputation. A lady in Australia writes to us as follows: “My great-great- grandfather Fontaine, or De la Fontaine, was at one time Lord of the Manor of Nismes. He was greatly persecuted for his faith. For a long time he preached to the people in the mountain gorges of the Cevennes. He ultimately escaped from France with his betrothed and his sister. After reaching London, one of his sons was employed in the Bank of England.””

I am pleased to make the autobiography of my forefather available through the online resources of the AHB. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ, who enabled us both, for that He counted us faithful, putting us into the gospel ministry.

“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”—1 Timothy 1:17

Jared Smith

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Chapter 1

Reasons for writing these memoirs — Noble origin of our family — John de la Fontaine born — Obtains a commission in the household of Francis I. — Embraces Protestantism — Persecution of Protestants — January Edict — John de la Fontaine resigns his commission — His assassination — Flight of his three sons — Arrival at Rochelle — Charitable reception — Marriage of James de la Fontaine — Attempt to poison him — Application for pardon to Henry IV.

Chapter 2

James Fontaine — Fond of study — Travels as tutor to a young nobleman — Called to the churches of Vaux and Royan — Marries an English lady — Second marriage — His personal appearance — Habit — Labors in the ministry — Capuchins and Jesuits come to hear him preach — Summoned to appear before the governor for preaching on the ruins of the Church — A second summons — Anticipation of future persecution — Death.

Chapter 3

My birth — Lameness — Imitation of my fathers prayers — Meditations upon the heavenly bodies — Sent to school — Disgusted with study — Letter to sister — Mr. de la Bussiere — Admirable preceptor — Eccentric man — Enter college — Take degree of Master of Arts — My mother’s death — Division of property.

Chapter 4

Study with Mr. Forestier — His persecutions — His wife’s firmness — Return home — Pray with neighbors — Leave the neighbourhood at Easter — Poor people assemble in the woods — A spy watches them — Warrants issued — A mason taken up — He recants — His repentance — My return home — Warrant against me — Determine to remain and wait the issue — Grand Provost and archers appear — Conducted to prison — Obtain permission to pray night and morning in prison.

Chapter 5

Provost and archers make another tour — Firmness of the poor country people — Twenty brought to prison — Supplied with necessaries by Protestants of Saintes — Attempt to shake their faith — Precaution in anticipation of separation — Indictment against me — Confrontation — Recollement — Examination of witnesses — Agoust — Two criminals — Gaoler — Gaoler’s wife — Apply to the seneschal for enlargement — Accusation of King’s advocate — Placed in a dungeon — Removed to the Town Hall — Proposal to regain freedom by bribery.

Chapter 6

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

Chapter 7

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

Chapter 8

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.

Chapter 9

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

Chapter 10

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.

Chapter 11

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

Chapter 12

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.

Chapter 13

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.

Chapter 14

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.

Chapter 15

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

Chapter 16

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.

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Introduction

5 Sep 2022, by

The history of the little work now in the reader’s hands, is briefly this. Among the private documents, belonging to one of the most respectable families under the parochial charge of the present writer, there has long been preserved, with pious care, a manuscript autobiography of one of its ancestors, who, as a persecuted Huguenot, endured much for the sake of his faith. It was the labour of his latter days to prepare for his descendants the record alluded to, as a memorial of his gratitude for the Providence that had sustained him in many dangers and trials, and as an admonition to his posterity to adhere to the faith for which their forefathers hazarded life. The work, which extended to several hundred pages, was written in the French language, and without any view to publication.

In the friendly confidence growing out of parochial relations, the existence of this manuscript became known to the writer of this introduction. Curiosity led to its examination; the strange and interesting nature of the incidents it recorded, related as they were with unpretending simplicity, soon fixed his attention. It struck him as being a vivid picture of by-gone times sketched by an honest eye witness; and the page of past history thus illustrated was not the least interesting in the records of Protestantism.

There was also, as it seemed to the writer, many an useful lesson to be gathered from the leading events of the story. Independent of the spirit of piety that pervaded the book, and of the testimony it afforded to the doctrine of God’s providential care of the Christian, who in humble faith cast all his care upon Him, there were valuable lessons of wisdom, applicable to “the life that now is;” and it was thought that youth might here find an example worthy of its imitation.

Here was the spectacle of a man, accustomed in his early days to the…

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Chapter 1

5 Sep 2022, by

Reasons for writing these memoirs — Noble origin of our family — John de la Fontaine born — Obtains a commission in the household of Francis I. — Embraces Protestantism — Persecution of Protestants — January Edict — John de la Fontaine resigns his commission — His assassination — Flight of his three sons — Arrival at Rochelle — Charitable reception — Marriage of James de la Fontaine — Attempt to poison him — Application for pardon to Henry IV

My dear children,

Having observed the deep interest you have taken in all that has befallen your ancestors, when I have related their adventures to you, I am induced to write down their history for your use, to the end that the pious examples of those from whom we derive our origin may not be lost to you, or those who succeed you.

I trust that it may be the means of engaging you to dedicate yourselves wholly and unreservedly to the service of that God whom they worshipped at the risk of their lives, and to be steadfast in the profession of that pure faith for which they suffered the severest hardships with unshaken constancy. And also that you may admire the watchful and wonderful providences of God exerted in supporting and preserving them through every trial. Indeed, without looking beyond the compass of your own memories, you may recall numberless instances of the providential care of that same God “whose hand is not shortened.”

For my own part, I trust that the making of this retrospect may be attended with great benefit, bringing before me the frailties and sins of each age and condition of my past life, and making me humble myself before the throne of grace, and with trembling pray for pardon through the mediation of my Blessed Saviour: and by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, I may hope for more watchfulness and circumspection for the time to come. And when I review the uncommon, innumerable, and unmerited mercies I have received through the whole course of my life, I hope my gratitude will be increased towards my Almighty benefactor, and surely I shall be encouraged to put my whole trust in him for the future. If I owe such a debt of gratitude for the things of this life, its comforts and conveniences, how incalculably great must it be for his mercy to my immortal soul, shedding the blood of his only begotten Son for my redemption. Oh my God! I entreat thee to continue thy goodness during the few days that may yet remain to me, and at last receive my soul. Amen.

Before proceeding to the history, I should mention that our name was originally De la Fontaine, and not Fontaine.

My father, from motives of humility was the first to cut off the De la, an indication of nobility; my older brothers wished to resume it, but he would not consent, having a large family and little property; for you must know that in France no one of noble family can engage in trade or the mechanic arts without forfeiting his claim to nobility.

The father of my great grandfather, who was a nobleman, could not bear the thought of bringing up his children without employment, according to the usual custom, and therefore placed his son in the King’s service.

It is with this John De la Fontaine that I commence these annals, he being the first of whom I have any accurate knowledge.

He was born in the province of Maine, about the year 1500, and as soon as he was old enough to bear arms, his father procured him a commission in what was then called Les ordonnances du Roi in the household of Francis I of France. It was in the tenth or twelfth year of this monarch’s reign that he…

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Chapter 2

5 Sep 2022, by

James Fontaine — Fond of study — Travels as tutor to a young nobleman — Called to the churches of Vaux and Royan — Marries an English lady — Second marriage — His personal appearance — Habit — Labors in the ministry — Capuchins and Jesuits come to hear him preach — Summoned to appear before the governor for preaching on the ruins of the Church — A second summons — Anticipation of future persecution — Death

I now proceed to my own father, who at an early age discovered great aptitude for study, and a very serious turn of mind. He was fortunate in gaining the friendship of Mr. Merlin, a minister at Rochelle, and this worthy servant of God assisted him greatly in his education, and recommended him as tutor to a near relation of the Countess of Royan, in which station he accompanied his pupil to the College of Saumur, and while superintending his studies there, completed his own preparation for the ministry.

Before entering on the sacred office, he travelled with this youth through various countries, and thus had the opportunity of acquiring several foreign languages in perfection. They made a long stay in London, and there my father fell in love with a very beautiful girl of the name of Thompson. She was of good family, well educated, spoke the French language with fluency, and played well on the spinette. They exchanged vows and portraits, and he returned to France with his young lord.

No sooner had he arrived than he received a call from the united churches of Vaux and Royan, and he was settled there by the authority of the synod; and from the very first he was most tenderly beloved by his charge. At the end of a year, he asked and obtained permission to go to London, to fetch her who had all this time held his heart captive, and who was herself faithfully waiting for him. They were married in the year 1628, my father being about twenty-five years of age. They lived together twelve years, and had several children.

In about a year after her death, my father married my mother, Mary Chaillon, of Rue au Roy, a village about a mile and a half distant from the town of Pons, in Saintonge. She was a handsome brunette, twelve years younger than her husband, and had a fortune of four thousand francs. During the life of his first wife, my father had lived in a small, inconvenient, ready-furnished house in the borough of Vaux. After his second marriage, he was persuaded by my mother to purchase a pretty little estate called Jenouille, and the manor of Jaffe near to it; he added some commodious apartments to the house, and made it a very comfortable and desirable residence. I was the youngest child of my parents, and have but little personal recollection of my father, being only eight years old when he died. He was a man of…

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Chapter 3

5 Sep 2022, by

My birth — Lameness — Imitation of my fathers prayers — Meditations upon the heavenly bodies — Sent to school — Disgusted with study — Letter to sister — Mr. de la Bussiere — Admirable preceptor — Eccentric man — Enter college — Take degree of Master of Arts — My mother’s death — Division of property

I have now arrived at the history of my own life, which I shall give more in detail, as being more immediately interesting to you than those which have preceded it; and you will find a tissue of adventures, checquered with extremes of prosperity and adversity, but amidst all its varied joys and sorrows you cannot fail to discern the hand of Almighty God, whose good providence may be distinctly traced watching over me and making all things work together for my ultimate advantage.

I was born at Jenouille, on the 7th April, 1658. The first disaster which befell me proceeded from the carelessness of my nurse; she trusted me to her daughter, a young, and giddy girl, who played with me, tossing me in the air and catching me in her arms, until at last she missed, and I fell to the ground and broke my leg. The nurse, afraid to inform my parents, took me to an ignoramus of a surgeon, who pronounced that no harm had been done. The result to me has been lameness for life, my right leg being shorter, thinner, and much weaker than the other. I inherited something of the family beauty of face, and was of a very lively and inventive turn. When only four years old, I was so taken with my father’s reading of the Scriptures, and praying with the family, that I had a fancy to imitate him, and calling together the servants and my sisters, I made them kneel down while I prayed. They gave my father such an account that he had a curiosity to be present also; I would not proceed unless he knelt down with the rest; and my mother has since told me that he was much affected by the earnestness of my manner, and discovering, as he thought, the germ of future talent and piety, he himself prayed heartily to God to preserve and bless one who evinced a zeal unusual among children. I was younger by seven years than any of my brothers and sisters, and this circumstance occasioned my being left much to myself, and I used to reflect a great deal; and some of my meditations in childhood being a little remarkable, I will not pass them by. You must bear in mind that my knowledge was derived from no book save the Holy Scriptures, which I hear my father read daily. I beheld the…

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Chapter 4

5 Sep 2022, by

Study with Mr. Forestier — His persecutions — His wife’s firmness — Return home — Pray with neighbors — Leave the neighbourhood at Easter — Poor people assemble in the woods — A spy watches them — Warrants issued — A mason taken up — He recants — His repentance — My return home — Warrant against me — Determine to remain and wait the issue — Grand Provost and archers appear — Conducted to prison — Obtain permission to pray night and morning in prison

Having made all necessary arrangements for the management of my property. I went to my brother-in-law Mr. Forestier who was a minister at St. Mesme in Anguomois to prosecute my theological studies, for I had now no other wish than to devote to the glory of God all the talents he had bestowed upon me.

While I was at Mr. Forestier’s, a complaint was made that he had received a papist into the communion of the Protestant Church, contrary to the King’s edict. Upon this accusation, he was taken to prison on horseback with his legs tied under the horse’s belly. If you had but seen the papists of Augouleme collected on the road, in such numbers that I may say they were literally piled up, and they were uttering the most horrid maledictions and throwing stones at him and at us who accompanied him to the prison door; I say, if you had seen them, you would have supposed the prisoner had murdered his father, committed violence on his mother, or attempted the life of the King. Oh my God! to what a horrid pitch of barbarity does the blind zeal of superstition and idolatry carry mankind!

My sister was throughout her trials resigned to His will, who she felt assured, in His infinite wisdom ordered all for the best. After a tedious imprisonment Mr. Forestier appealed to the parliament* of Paris. and was acquitted. The Church of St. Mesme being condemned, he was removed by order of the Synod to Coses in Saintonge, and though it is rather anticipating events, I think I had better finish at once the history of his labours in the ministry, before returning to my own life. The church at Coses having been condemned, the papists in the neighborhood wished to put a stop to…

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Chapter 5

5 Sep 2022, by

Provost and archers make another tour — Firmness of the poor country people — Twenty brought to prison — Supplied with necessaries by Protestants of Saintes — Attempt to shake their faith — Precaution in anticipation of separation — Indictment against me — Confrontation — Recollement — Examination of witnesses — Agoust — Two criminals — Gaoler — Gaoler’s wife — Apply to the seneschal for enlargement — Accusation of King’s advocate — Placed in a dungeon — Removed to the Town Hall — Proposal to regain freedom by bribery

When I had been in prison about ten days, the Provost and his Archersset out upon another circuit, and my idea was correct that the country people would no longer flee. They had warning time enough for the timid to retreat to the woods, but more than one hundred and fifty persons met the Provost, and accosted him with the utmost intrepidity, saying: “we have all attended these holy meetings and prayed to God in the woods, and we are ready to justify our conduct.” The number who came forward being much greater than those against whom he had warrants, an examination commenced, and those whose names were not on the list were put on one side; after this was done, the remainder was still too large, (the prisons being already filled with Papists who were commited for real crimes,) and the Provost said he would only take twenty. A holy strife then arose amongst these followers of the Lord as to who should be of the number. The Archers were thunderstruck at the scene they beheld. “What are you about?” said they. “Do you set no value upon life? What fury urges you to the gallows? Think for a moment of your wives and children! what will become of them?” They tried every expedient to intimidate them, and swore by all that was sacred that they would only leave the prison for the rack, the gibbet, or at any rate the galleys. They adduced numerous instances of such and such persons, who, for similar offences, had been hanged, broken on the wheel, &c. These words acted upon them like wind upon fire, the more furious and violent were the Archers, the more was the zeal of the people kindled.

At length, by a refinement of cruelty, the Provost determined to leave behind those most anxious to go, and to select those to take with him who appeared least eager.

They were bound together two and two as dogs are coupled for hunting, and fastened to the horse’s tails. These poor countrymen betrayed no apprehension, they bade adieu to their wives and children with dry eyes, and the wives themselves, having put their hands to the plough, saw their husbands depart without a murmur, trusting in Him who has promised to be a husband to the widow, and a father to the fatherless.

It was certainly not more than half an hour after their arrival at the prison, when ten beds with all complete and an abundant supper were sent to them; and it deserves to be recorded, that during the…

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