Rev. Elias Neau

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Rev. Elias Neau

Also Known As: "Élie"
Birthplace: Moëze, Charente-Maritime, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France
Death: September 07, 1722 (59-60)
Place of Burial: New York
Immediate Family:

Husband of Suzanne Neau
Father of Suzanne Neau
Brother of Susan Neau and Rachel Neau

Occupation: SPG Church of England minister
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Rev. Elias Neau .."was a French Huguenot. After the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, he fled first to the French colony of Saint-Domingue, then to Boston, where he became a prosperous merchant. In 1692, he was captured by a French privateer near Jamaica, and for being a fugitive Protestant, was first sentenced to a life sentence as a galley slave, imprisoned in a castle dungeon in Marseille for two years, [1][2] and then transferred to the Château d'If off the coast of Marseille for 50 days.[3] He was released in 1697, following the intercession of King William III, whose ministers argued that Neau was an English subject.[1][4]

Once back in North America, Neau's story made him "probably the most famous refugee in British America at the time" because his refusal to gain his freedom by converting to Catholicism attracted "a wide Protestant readership in both French and English."[5][6]

In 1704, Neau cut his ties with the French Protestant church in New York and converted to Anglicanism. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel then appointed him as minister to black slaves in North America, and he established the first school open to African-Americans in New York City.[7][8] In 1706, he secured passage of a bill in New York allowing slaves to be catechized."

1712, Apr. 7 - Caromantees [Ashanti/Fantee] Revolt in New York; seized guns, swords and hatchets and began setting fires and killing slavemasters. Kwako, one of the leaders, and twenty others were broken on the whell and burnt at a slow fire. As a result, Neau's work with religious instruction of slaves was curtailed.

Both Elias Neau and his wife Susanne are buried in the old churchyard at Trinity Church.


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Rev. Elias Neau's Timeline

Moëze, Charente-Maritime, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France
October 27, 1692
New York City, New York
September 7, 1722
Age 60
Age 60
Old Trinity Churchyard, New York