Patrick Delaforce

'The Delaforce Family History' - Chapter 16
The London Churches and the Threadneedle Street Capers

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Chapter 16

Thomas Carlyle 1795-1881:
'The three great elements of modern civilisation, Gunpowder, Printing and the Protestant Religion.'

The London Churches and the
Threadneedle Street Capers

The London churches were very important to the persecuted Huguenot refugees from France. They were a haven in a very dangerous and hazardous life and maintained a degree of family continuity with baptisms, marriages and the inevitable deaths and burials. Baptisms were frequently recorded not only in the French churches but also in the equivalent neighbourhood family church. The Delaforces, being an Anglo-French family, dutifully recorded their saga in both English and French churches. The London plagues of 1584, 1604, 1625 and 1665/6 took their dreadful toll. Many Delaforces lost their lives and the long lists of burials make sad reading.

Before 1666 the City of London had 97 churches within the wall and 10 without. Some were Saxon, some were Norman. Generally they had small towers with Norman arches and fonts. The Norman churches were built of Caen stone. Those with surviving Roman tiles after 1600 years were showing signs of turning to powder. In the Great Fire of 1666 no fewer than 86 parish churches were gutted. Sir Christopher Wren rebuilt no less than 51! Rebuilding was helped by a tax of three shillings on every ton of coal entering the Port of London. Wren's wife gave a lot of silver candlesticks to hasten the work on certain churches. By 1939 the number of City churches was reduced to 46, of which Wren had built 35.

The main English churches used by the family were St. Botolphs Bishopsgate, St. Leonards Shoreditch, Christchurch Spitalfields, St. Mary Whitechapel, St. Dunstans Stepney and later St. Matthew Bethnal Green. Most of them have records dating from 1558. Less frequently used were St. Olave Hart Street, St. Luke Old Street, St. Giles without Cripplegate and St. Martins in the Fields.

St. Botolphs is near the ancient gate dating from the 13th century and maintained by merchants of the Hanseatic League. St. Botolph the Saxon Saint was the patron saint of wayfarers which was appropriate to the early Delaforces. Mr W. Challen has summarised in 3 volumes the St. Botolphs parish registers. Many Delaforces were recorded there in the period 1558-1730 including James/Jaques and Mary's large family of weavers.

St. Leonards Shoreditch is just north of St. Botolphs with excellent records dating from 1558 available in the Guildhall library. Over 30 Delaforce marriages are recorded there in the period 1692-1731, 23 deaths and about 50 baptisms - mostly weavers living nearby in Cock Lane, Black Lion Yard, Holywell Street, Rose Alley, Godderds Rents, Long Alley etc.

Christchurch, Spitalfields Stepney was an important parish from 1729 for the weaver families living in Pearl Street, Browns Lane, Farthing Street, Brick Lane, Quaker Street, Wheeler Street, John Street, Old Artillery Ground and Gun Street. 20 Delaforce families worshipped there for 100 years. The parish bordered with St. Botolphs and St. Mary Whitechapel.

St. Dunstans Stepney was more isolated, about a mile from Bishopsgate and half a mile south of Bethnal Green. 40 Delaforces were married here in the period 1646-1849.

St. Matthews Row Parish of Bethnal Green was built by George Dance in 1746. Until the 18th century Bethnal Green was a small hamlet with the remains of a medieval Bishops ball and a rich mans country house. Silkweaving worked up from Spitalfields into the south west corner and the population of 15,000 in 1742 had increased to 82,000 in 1847.35 Delaforces died and were buried at St. Matthews and 32 baptisms recorded. There was considerable overlap with St. Dunstans Stepney, St. Mary Whitechapel and Christchurch Spitalfields.

King Edward VI signed a Charter allowing the French Huguenots and Flemish Walloon churches to open in London. During Queen Mary's reign they were dissolved. There were a number of French Huguenot churches in London well documented by the Huguenot Society. From 1550 when it was built, the Threadneedle Street church was the most important. In 1846 it moved to St. Martins-le-Grand and finally in 1893 to Soho Square. The original records are kept at the PRO Chancery Lane. As early as 1627 Jacque's and Marie's family were worshipping there. Three other Huguenot families were closely linked to the early Delaforce weavers - the Caulliers, des Carpenteries and the Largilliers. The four families intermarried. Since the Temoins or witnesses were always recorded for each wedding and baptism over a period of a hundred years, one could trace the familiar names in varying patterns.

The original French Huguenot Threadneedle Street Church
- 17th Century

Fournier Street Huguenot Temple
in London's Spitalfields district

The last part of this chapter consists of verbatim extracts from the Actes de Consistoires which were the daily or weekly minutes of the deliberations of the Elders of the French Threadneedle Street church. The Actes were compiled by Antoine du Ponchel session clerk of St. Anthony's chapel. Huguenot Society volumes 38 and 48 record most of the earlier years from 1550 onwards in diary form. The Elders were very strict and families entered in the records were definitely in disgrace. This seemed to happen to 16th century Delaforces quite frequently.


In 1560 Jehan Fortin (Latin version of De Force) was on the mat!


In 1564 "Jaques de la Fose, quy a espouse (Denise) la vecue (widow) de feu (late) piere le cuiginier se presenty pour comuniquer a' la Cene (Masse) se excusant que de 2 ans ny avoyt point este prometant aire meilleur diligence pour launiere, lui fut a corde de sy presenter. Jeudi dernier de Novembre".


In 1564 "ledy jour Jehan Fortin amenyt une fille au consistoire nomme Katerine Gergart. Ledyt Fortin de prendre pour femme ladyte Katerine. Jehan Fortin fut admoneste' de ce qu'il ne honte point les sermons ne qu'il ne vient a' la Cene..".


In 1564 "Ledyt jour fut faiet Raport par Maistre Fichet du scandale adueau a la maison de Jaques de la Fosse et Jaques Chaumois de ce que la femme didyt Jaques a appelle' son beau pere (father-in-law) "Ruffien", et "Maqueaureau" (Pimp!): il furent tous appelle's an Consistoire".


In 1571, 12 September "Jan de le Fosse venu de Lille depuis Un an. En quis comme desus a dit qu'il na cognu la fille fly comment la chose est venue seullement qu'il a entendu que Si l'homme se fut bien garde' ii ne fut pas mort et que les voisins (neighbours) disoient que le cop (body) restoit mortel qu'il a cognu le personage et veu aller les rues frequentant les tavernes et yttonnant comme de coustume par lespace de 3 sepmaines (weeks) apres le coup (blow) donne.".


1572 Jan de la Fosse sera manle pour mercredy prochaine par Fontaine (name of the Priest).


2 January 1572 Jaques de le Fosse, sa femme et la femme de Jacques Chermoise ont faict plaincte (complaint) de Jean de Vick disans que ledict de Vick auroit dict que Pierre le Cuisinier estoit ung larron (thief) et qu'il jamais faict autre chose que de rober et quant il estoit trouve' au faict disoit qu'il ne faisoit que jover et disent les dictz plaindans que ledict de vick aur&it dict en presence de Jaques Chermoise et de Pierre Hernet dict Le Pelau. Tout ce different et debat ne procede que dune cedule portant a la somme de 23s 4d sterlin que le dict Jaques de la Fosse demand au dict de Vick (Viguer).


16 January 1572 Jan De La Fosse enquis sil na point baille un soufflet a Anthoine Troielle en plaine vue sil ne la point appelle faux raporteur aiant une fausse lange de serpent (!) un garcon et Un Glistre Confesse que ovy se plaindant quil avoit charge' sa femme destre pailarde mesme en ce pays...


30 January 1572: Fontaine (the Minister) a exhibe par escrit les plaintes de Jan de la Fosse on les envoiera a Nordwis (Norwich) et les remains seront ovys pour mercredy prochain...


6 February 1572 Jehan de la Fosse plaintif contre Anthoine Truyelle demovant a Nordwits la produict pour tesoins Jeanne L'homme femme a' Hubert Lengle... que A.T. disoit en sa maison que la femme Jehan de la Fosse estoit ribaude (ribald) ce propos furent tenus en Arras plus par le chemin de Nordwits il y a demy an ehviron...


9 January 1574 Jaques de la Fosse et Jan de Vignes sestant remis pour un different en arbitrage, Robert Huttal, Estienne Le bras et Thomas Hasqvent raportent que Ledyt de Fosse ne veut obtemperer.


in 1574 Isabeau Pennis venue au Consistoire remonstrance luy a este faite des injures dites par elle a Jean Fortin lesquelles elle n'a voulu recognoistre et sa mocquant desdytes admonitions et du Consistoire sen est allee.


1574 Remonstrance luy a este' faicte touchant ses rebellions appiniatres et detractemens quil a fait et dict par cyderant tant de leglise (church) du consistoire que des arbittres lesquels sestvient emploies affin de la pacifier avec Jean Fortin. Dont il en a recognu faute en consistoire en la presence desdict arbittres et s'est reconsilie' a' la compagnie et ausdictz arbittres confessant sa faute en demandant pardon a Dieu et a tons ceux qu'il avoit offer se promettant aussy de vivre plus christienement a lavenir.


1577 Des promesses que Guillaume Fortin auroit faire a la Fremine et quilz ont trouves.
Although the old French is difficult to translate the gist of the capers of John, James and William with their spouses or girlfriends is clear. The Elders obviously thought they were a difficult family to have in the congregation, either because they thought the sermons too boring or because of noisy domestic scenes which were brought to the notice of the Elders. In a foreign land the new churches were on their best behaviour and the Elders were most strict with their sometimes unruly flocks.

The Dutch Walloon church of Austin Friars has records from 1559 and the parish records are published in books by Mr W.J.C. Moens. On 29 August 1594 Bernard de la Fosse of Bruges married Abigail Vrombouts of Sanwits (Sandwich, Kent). 6 daughters were born. In 1619 their son Bernard la Fosse was a wedding witness. Bernard was grandson of Bernard Le Fors/La Fosse who was married to Margaret (nee Tannekin Van Alselot) and born about 1544. They were silversmiths living in Dukes Place near the Cree church in Bishopsgate.

Various Anthonies (Anthoni de Fosse in 1594) were also recorded as being part of the Dutch church congregation during the 16th century. Peter Duffoij(s) of Bruges married Tannekin Backer of Brussels on 5 May 1590 in the Dutch church.

Immigrants from the Low Countries came into England to escape from the Spanish invaders catholic regime. The repressions in the Low Countries were severe but not on such a scale as in France where major pitched battles were fought between rival armies of Huguenots and Catholics. Members of the French family who as refugees had found refuge in Bruges usually worshipped at the Austin Friars Dutch Walloon church rather than at Threadneedle Street which was dominated by the French silkweavers. The Bernards, Anthonies and Peters in the Dutch church were either 'money men' or politicians and certainly not silk weavers.

The other French Huguenot Churches were La Patente, Spitalfields; Thorney; Bristol; Plymouth; Stonehouse; Thorpe-lesoken; Savoy; Le Carre'; Berwick St; Spring Gardens; Les Grecs; Chapel Royal; St. James; Swallow St; the Tabernacle; Glasshouse St; Leicester Fields; Rider Court; Hungerford Market; Le Petit Charenton; West Street; Pearl Street Crispin St; Swallow St; St. Martin Orgars; St. Jean Spitalfields; Artillery Church, Wheeler St; Swanfields, Hoxton; La Patente de Soho; and Rerpertoire Generale.

There were Huguenot churches in Ireland: St. Patrick & St. Mary, Dublin; various French Nonconformist churches in Dublin and Portarlington. Some 40 churches spread over England and Ireland served the spiritual needs of the 100,000 Huguenots who had fled from France. Baptisms and marriages are faithfully recorded and well indexed. These volumes should be considered a prime source for families with Huguenot ancestors.

The main sources for this chapter are the Huguenot Society volumes of Parish Registers of Threadneedle Street church and well researched books containing the registers of the Walloon church at Austin Friars.

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Contact: Ken Baldry for more information, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)20 7359 6294 but best to e-mail him
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