Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Huguenots in Carlow


The following was taken from  "French Church Street and the Huguenots" on

The Huguenots were French Protestants who fled from religious persecution during the seventeenth century. When the Edict of Nantes, which had granted religious freedom to French Protestants in 1598, was revoked in 1685, many Huguenots chose to leave France, with about 5,000 of them settling in Ireland.

The community of Huguenots in Cork city never numbered much beyond three hundred. Another, smaller wave of Huguenot émigrés followed in the latter half of the eighteenth century, until the French Revolution finally ended the denial of civil and religious liberties to Huguenots. 

On coming to Ireland, some of the Huguenots conformed to the principles of the Church of Ireland while others chose to worship in independent or non-conformist churches of their own. The non-conformist Huguenots in Cork bought some property in Cork in 1712 and established a church between the modern-day French Church Street and Carey's Lane.

A graveyard was later established adjacent to the church. The Huguenots worshipped at the church in French Church Street until 1813, when declining numbers caused the closure of the church. The original building was demolished in 1845 and a new church was erected by the Primitive Wesleyan Methodists. 

The Primitive Wesleyan Methodists had been using the old church since 1819 and continued to use the new church until 1897. Many of the Huguenots remaining attended worship in churches of the Church of Ireland. The Huguenots became prominent in the commercial and civic life of the city soon after their arrival in Cork. From the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries many Huguenots served as Sheriffs and Mayors of Cork.

In the commercial field the Huguenots were prominent in trading and textile manufacture, while as craftsmen they were noted as goldsmiths and silversmiths. Some of the best known Huguenot surnames in Cork included: Besnard, Pick, Lavit/Lafitte, Perrier, Godsell, Quarry, Hardy, Malet, Perdrian, and Delacour.


The following is from BYU Family Historian Volume 6 Article 9 9-1-2007 Researching Huguenot Settlers in Ireland by Vivien Costello. Pages 1 - 145.

Huguenot Communities with One Church and a Minister (with more than 70 Huguenot families) : There was a Huguenot church in Carlow (formerly Caterlough), Co. Carlow from about c.1693.

Genealogical research on Huguenots in Ireland is seriously hampered by the loss of much archival material either in the 1922 Public Record Office fire or through the ravages of time. The missing items include the original Huguenot church registers of Carlow, as well as early 18th-century Church of Ireland registers for most of the parishes where Huguenots were numerous.

Overview of the Carlow Huguenot Community Bordering on Counties Kilkenny, Laois (Queen’s County) and Wexford,

Carlow was within easy reach of many other Huguenot settlements. The Huguenot church was established in c.1693 and a succession of ministers was employed until 1747. Because records about the Carlow Huguenot community are few and diffuse, Carlow is often omitted from articles about the Huguenots in Ireland. All traces of the church and its registers are now gone but the Church of Ireland registers of Carlow and neighbouring towns like Tullow along with a variety of other records, especially Registry of Deeds records, yield a considerable number of Huguenot names.

The Carlow Huguenot Church and its Ministers
We know that the Huguenot church in Carlow was nonconformist in the 1690s. A state paper office memorial dated 1696 [destroyed in the 1922 PRO fire] lists the French churches that observed the discipline of France and Geneva and gave the list of congregations and ministers (unfortunately not named) including Carlow.

The Rev. Benjamin de Daillon came to Carlow in 1708 from Portarlington to serve as a nonconformist minister consequent upon a bitter conformist/nonconformist split in Portarlington. He died in 1710 and was buried in the churchyard along with his wife Pauline. It was clearly difficult for the community to replace Rev. de Daillon.

A petition was sent to the Queen around 1711 requesting funding for a new minister as the Carlow Huguenot community could not themselves afford to support his salary, especially as many of the military officer settlers were fighting abroad.

The petition signatories were: G. Fontiny, Al. St. Agnan, Ch. Denroches, J. Michel, Jean Dumont, Ch. De La Boulay, P. Lamy, P. Balandrie, Pierre Bermond, Jean Livraux, Sam. La Motte Graindor, L. Darques, F. La Bastide Barbut, Jean Rouviere, Jean Gallant, Fr. Michel. The next minister was apparently Rev. Henri Briel who was berated c.1711 by Archbishop King for having been ordained by “schismatical presbyters among ourselves.” The Archbishop expressed the fear that if Huguenots continued in this manner they would be “on the same foot as the dissenters in relation to communion which would be of ill consequence….”

Despite the Archbishop’s misgivings, Rev. Briel would appear to have continued at Carlow until 1720, thereafter acting as minister in Swanfields, England (1721–34). His successor was dissatisfied with the salary offered. On 4 February 1721 another petition was sent to the Lord Lieutenant, Charles, Duke of Grafton from the churchwardens of the Carlow Huguenot church requesting an increase in salary for Rev. Charles Louis de Villette as they were in fear of losing him and not securing another clergyman at the present salary.

The Rev. de Villette whose family stemmed from Burgundy, although he was born in Lausanne in 1688, did in fact remain in Carlow until 1737 when he was appointed to the French Church of St. Patrick’s, Dublin. A further Carlow minister was David Chaigneau, who served from 1744 until his death in 1747.

A Brief Selection of Carlow’s Huguenot Families. One of the reasons why the Carlow Huguenots seem to have faded rapidly into obscurity is that there were few commercial enterprises and most of the settlers were military pensioners such as the signatories of the above-mentioned petition and also Pierre Gilbert de Pagez, Achille de La Colombine and Marguerite de Najac de Geneste of Carlow, sister of Captain Mark Anthony Najac (deceased) who received a pension in his stead (1714). She had married military pensioner Honorat de Bernardon in Dublin 18th June 1695.

Their son Mark Anthony Bernardon died in Carlow in 1742. Their daughter Marguerite Bernardon married Rev. Charles Loius de Villette who subseqent to his appointment at Carlow went to the French church of St. Patrick’s, Dublin. Amongst the few traceable Carlow Huguenot craftsmen was Peter Le Maistre, watchmaker of Dublin Gate, Carlow who had three sons Charles, William and Mathew. Elizabeth Le Maistre, resident in Carlow, is mentioned as being the mother of Michael Le Maistre, apprenticed to a Dublin goldsmith in 1739.

The info above was taken from the following source: BYU Family Historian Volume 6 Article 9 9-1-2007 Researching Huguenot Settlers in Ireland by Vivien Costello. Pages 1 - 145


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