Françoise Crespin du Bec, Dame de Buhy et du Grand-Plessis-Marly

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About Françoise Crespin du Bec, Dame de Buhy et du Grand-Plessis-Marly

Du Plessis' mother was a daughter of the Vice- Admiral du Bee Crespin, Sieur de Wardes, and Normandy where all her kinsfolk lived was specially open to outside influences through its ports. It was a natural highway from England and Scotland on the one hand to Southern Germany and Switzerland on the other. In du Plessis' boyhood Dieppe was almost wholly a huguenot town and Knox, in his journeys to and from Geneva stayed long months there preaching constantly. The family of du Bee Crespin were many of them ardent protestants even before du Plessis' birth. When Madeleine, a girl of sixteen, married Francois de Mornay, Sieur de Buhy, she must already have been imbued with the strong theological bent which made her subsequently so shining a light in the reformed church. She might have been in the minds of the writers of the English and Scottish Confession of Faith 1643, when they spoke of the importance of the mother of the family. " And doubtless many an excellent Magistrate hath been sent into the Commonwealth, and many an excellent Pastor into the Church, and many a precious Saint to Heaven, through the happy preparations of a holy education, perhaps by a woman that thought herself useless and unserviceable to the church."

From the little sketch of the Sieur de Buhy, given in his son's memoirs, Francoise du Bee Crespin would seem to have been fortunate in her marriage. The family at Buhy must have been an exceptionally good example of a sixteenth century household. It did not belong to the highest nobility, although it could claim kinship in some degree with many of the greatest names. At a moment in middle life when du Plessis needed all the powerful support possible, such families as the Tremouilles, the Rohans, the Chatillons and that of Turenne, then Duke of Bouillon, willingly acknowledged his claims on them as their kinsman. But if the Mornays were not of the highest nobility they were far above the mass of the country gentry, mostly poor and often much below the bourgeois landed proprietors in education and decencies of life.

Dame Francoise de Bee, his wife, was thus left a widow at the age of twenty-nine, having been married at sixteen and having borne her husband tenchildren, of whom four sons and two daughters were living, all very young.

".....Four months later [after 31 Dec 1590] our sorrow was grievously renewed by the death of Dame Francoise de Bee, Mile de Buhy, M. du Plessis' mother, who loved us all dearly. Up to her last breath she showed her zeal and love for our religion. She was assisted on her death-bed by M. du Buisson, a minister of the Gospel, who is also known by the name of Viau. He has often testified that he never met anyone who was more willing to leave this world or more assured of salvation in Jesus Christ. Her death obliged us to send to Mantes to fetch our youngest child, Anne, which involved a most perilous journey. This daughter of ours had been brought up by my mother-in-law who V loved her dearly up to her last breath. She left her a legacy as well as one to my son. Her body was taken to Buhy to be buried by the side of her husband. Our tears at her loss are not dried even at the date I write, and I pray God keep the rest of the family in His mercy."

Le Plessis- Marly was the estate of the Duplessis-Mornays,

the family which gave the statesman Philippe de Mornay to the Protestant cause in the troubled days of Henri IV. Le Plessis-Marly came into Philippe’s possession through his mother Francoise, daughter of Charles du Bec-Crespin, vice- admiral of France. Formerly owned by her maternal aunt Jeanne de Deauvilliers, the property was acquired by Francoise in June 1561.7

The church was chosen in 1601 by the royal commissioners Francois d’Angennes and Pierre Jeannin to serve the Calvinists of the Montfort- l’Amaury bailiwick, replacing an earlier place of worship at Garan- cieres-en-Beauce to the south-west.8 The Mornays made personal provision in 1606 for the salary of a minister and for the support of the poor. The church was included in the Beauce colloquy of the synodal province for the north-east of France and had close connections with the seigneurial church of La Norville in the Hurepoix, sharing the same pastor, Maurice de Lauberon de Montigny, for a number of years after 1626. The Paris temple had been sited in the Hurepoix before 1606, first at Grigny and later, in 1599, at Ablon-sur-Seine. both south of the capital, but with the removal to Charenton, Le Plessis-Marly and La Norville alone served the region.9

It was for Jansenism, rather than Calvinism, that the Hurepoix was noted in the seventeenth century. The Calvinist reform movement had made little headway there and was very much a minority cult. Jean Jacquart has put forward some tentative reasons: the ease with which repressive measures could be introduced to counter heresy in towns and villages close to the capital; few complaints of a material kind against the Catholic church and close family ties between many of the clergy and their parishioners; social stability in a region which remained relatively strong economically during the wars of religion. Here then was no fertile field for religious innovation and proximity to Paris strengthened the efforts of Catholic reform: mission priests, following in the footsteps of Vincent de Paul, were active; eucharistic devotions, a counterpoise to Calvinism, were encouraged. A number of landowners returned to the Catholic faith and those who remained members of the reformed church do not appear to have strongly influenced their tenants.10

The anti-Calvinist drive mounted by Louis XIV drove the pastor Jacques Rondeau of Le Plessis-Marly to England,11 while Charles Marais, his wife Catherine Taboureux and their children Claude, Charles, Isaac and Marie-Madeleine made their way to the United Provinces. Like so many other refugees of the period they had been compelled to accept Catholicism at the revocation, but returned to the reformed faith in their first country of refuge. Charles, his wife and the older children rejected their forced conversion at the Walloon church in The Hague on September 14, 1687.12

(M.Boucher. (1981). French speakers at the Cape: The European Background. Pretoria, UNISA p 105-7)


  • 7. On the Mornay background see HAAG and HAAG, France protestante, VII, pp. 512-542. Le Plessis-Marly is discussed in M. BOUCHER. ‘Cape and company in the early eighteenth century’, Kleio, IX, 1 and 2, June 1977, pp. 67-68.
  • 8. 5642, Collection Auziere, Ile-de-France, Eglises, L-Z: Le Plessis-Marly, Pays chartrain, p. 23 (Bibl. Prot., SHPF).
  • 9. JACQUART, Crise rurale, p. 582 and n.; J. PANNIER. ‘Notes sur l’eglise reformee de La Norville; les origines; un registre de 1671; la disparition’, BSHPF, L, April 15, 1901, p. 175.
  • 10. Crise rurale, pp. 168-169; 583.
  • 11. MOURS, 'Pasteurs’, BSHPF, CXIV, Jan.-March 1968, p. 81.
  • 12. AB ZH Gra dtb, ’s-Gravenhage, Lidmaatschap, ens., 1621-1893 (copy): 1225-1227, p. 78, where the names are given as Marets and Taboureur (CBG).

Françoise Crespin du Bec, Dame de Buhy et du Grand-Plessis-Marly的年谱

Buhy, Val-d'Oise, Île-de-France, France
Mantes-la-Jolie, Yvelines, Île-de-France, France
Buhy, France