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  • Louise Courbonne, SM/PROG (1657 - 1689)
    Louise Courbonne * x Jean Mesnard * From: Cabrieres D'aigues/St Martin De La Brasque, Provence* Arrived Cape: 04/08/1688 on Berg China * Farmed: Drakenstein Family in BoucherThe largest party to re...
  • Susanne Reyne (1667 - 1688)
    Oorlede voor die skip "Berg China" Rotterdam op 20 Maart 1688 verlaat het, of tydens die boot se reis na die Kaap.==Suzanne Reyne in Harry Booyens' 'God Bless the good ship China'One of the more intere...
  • Pierre le Grange, SV/PROG (c.1661 - c.1728)
    le GRANGE gebore omstreeks 1664, van Cabriere in Provence was 'n Franse Hugenoot wat in 1688 met die Berg China in SA aangekom het, en op 16 November 1704 met Margaretha KOOL, gebore omstreeks 1690, va...
  • François Amiel (deceased)
    Amiel in BoucherAnother possible emigrant from Provence on the Wapen van Alkmaar is Mathieu Amiel, also listed among the departing members of the Walloon church of Amsterdam on July 18, 1688. His name,...
  • Jean Roux (c.1665 - aft.1735)
    In addition to the Rousse girls, there were two settlers from Provence named Roux at the Cape: Pierre and Jean. .. The second Roux, Jean, was born about the year 1665 at Lourmarin. In his will, drawn u...

Please attach the profiles of French Huguenots who were born in Provence. If possible, also add their names into the text below, according to their country of emigration.

  • All welcome to join & contribute (Map: Coertzen, Pieter. 1988. Die Hugenote Van Suid Afrika 1688-1988: Cape Town, Tafelberg.)

Background History of Provence at the time of the Huguenot Diaspora

The French provinces of Provence and Dauphine, together with south-eastern Burgundy, lie within this part of Europe. .. Apart from the coastal strip and the river valleys, particularly that of the Rhone, this region is dominated by the massive mountain ranges of the Alps and the Jura. Here, and in the Vosges to the north, many of the rivers of the Rhone-Saone system have their sources, among them the Durance, the Drome and the Doubs. It is a land of hardy mountain folk in many districts, often living in isolated towns and villages and speaking dialects of Provencal in the south, a language in eclipse in the seventeenth century, but certainly more widely spoken than is the case today. Those from Provence, as a contemporary pointed out, did not consider themselves Frenchmen.

…In Provence, Calvinism had suffered greatly during the civil wars of religion and was only numerically significant in a single bloc of territory north and south of the Luberon range above the lower valley of the Durance. Here lived more than half of the members of the reformed church in Provence. Many of the Protestants of such villages as Cabrieres-d’Aigues, Lourmarin and Merindol between the Durance and the Luberon heights, and Lacoste and Joucas north of the mountains, were descendants of Vaudois refugees from Piedmont and Dauphine who had established themselves there at an early date. Village names in Piedmont have close affinities with Provengal patronymics: Malano (Malian, or Malan); Sambuco (Sambuc); Pellenchi (Pellanchon). The Malans of modern South Africa are not the only descendants of Cape refugees with a Vaudois background.

Calvinism in Provence had a sad history of persecution. The anti-Prot-estant violence of 1545 led to the burning and pillaging of the villages south of the Luberon from Merindol to Saint-Martin-de-la-Brasque and the temporary exodus of many of the population. The Vaudois and other villagers of that region and Calvinists in other parts of the province suffered greatly in the massacres of 1561 and 1562. Among those who lost their lives were certainly some who were ancestors of Cape refugees in the next century: Guillaume Perrotet and Claude Gardiol of Lourmarin, for example; Jean Roux and Jeanne Jo(u)rdanne from the neighbourhood of Cabrieres-d’Aigues; the Antho(u)ard children, who died of hunger in the same village.

The Edict of Nantes was registered, somewhat tardily, by the parlement of Provence on August 11, 1600125 and in the following year there were twenty active churches, although a dearth of pastors to serve them.126 This situation was, however, greatly ameliorated in the course of the next fifteen years, but between 1642 and 1647 Calvinist worship was prohibited in a number of localities, among them Antibes and Ey- guieres, although it was restored in the latter place in 1654. Calvinism remained strongest on the Luberon slopes, but Catholic hostility resulted in a decree of the royal council on July 14, 1661 by which services were forbidden and the temples destroyed in two villages whose congregations were attached to the church at Cabrieres-d'Aigues.

Further restrictions followed the findings of a commission of enquiry undertaken by Charles d'Arbalestier for the Calvinist party and the intendant Francois Bochart de Champigny for the Catholics. Their report signed at Pertuis on May 17, 1662 formed the basis for three royal decrees of May 4 of the following year. Most of the temples of the Luberon churches were ordered to be destroyed, among them those at Cabrieres-d'Aigues, La Motte-d’Aigues, Lourmarin and Lacoste. Worship was also prohibited at Souliers, now Sollies-Pont, near Toulon. The demolition of temples was charged to the Calvinists of the various localities concerned, although they were given the opportunity of carrying out the work themselves if they so wished, with the free disposal of the materials remaining.130 It is not surprising to read in the pages of Locke’s diary that members of the reformed church in Provence “complain that those who are garantie of the Edict of Nantes interpose noe thing in their behalf’.131 In 1677, shortly after Locke’s visit to Provence, a Catholic mission led by Henri Robert made many converts in the Aigues valley,132 but Calvinism remained strong numerically in the region until the revocation.

The prohibition of worship at Cabrieres-d'Aigues and other Luberon villages compelled members of the reformed church in such localities to make use of more distant temples. One was at Merindol, scene of several provincial synods until 1679.133 The little town was 90% Calvinist, but arguments put forward in 1683 by Jerome de Grimaldi, cardinal archbishop of Aix-en-Provence, were found sufficiently persuasive to bring the exercise of the reformed faith there to an end in the following year. Entitled “Moiens pour obtenir de la piete et du Zele de S.M. pour lextirpation de lheresie la demolition du temple”, the cardinal’s memorandum advanced several reasons why Merindol should be deprived of its Calvinist privileges: the local seigneur, Jean-Baptiste d'E- tampes, was also the Catholic bishop of Marseilles; extensions to the temple had been financed from a community fund and not from purely Protestant sources; the temple was too near the church and the intermingling of congregations outside “cause souvent du desordre, surtout lors quon faict des processions”.Merindol’s minister, Etienne Villet, was among the many from his congregation who took the road to exile, dying in the United Provinces in 1701. He first took refuge in Orange, but was forced to leave when the troops entered the principality in 1685.

Worshippers from the Aigues valley could also use three other temples: Manosque to the east, Eyguieres to the south-west and Velaux, the temple for the Calvinists of Aix-en-Provence and Marseilles. A few other churches survived the pruning of 1663.136 One was Le Luc, southwest of Draguignan, serving an extensive area both inland and along the Mediterranean coast from Toulon to Antibes. Another, Seyne in north-eastern Provence, was specially recommended to the charity of the Geneva consistory in 1654 because of its poverty and its isolation in a largely Catholic region. Finally, the small church of Riez-Roumoules, east of Manosque across the Durance, survived until the approach of the revocation,137 as did that at La Charce in the Sisteron enclave within the boundaries of Dauphine.

In the last months before the revocation attitudes towards those professing the reformed religion hardened in Provence. On August 4, 1685 the intendant Thomas-Alexandre Morant banned the exercise of the Protestant faith in the free port of Marseilles to all except foreigners, of whom there were a number in the commercial world from the United Provinces, Switzerland and England. However, the Dutch consul and merchant Nicolaas Rutz of Amsterdam, married to Bernine Zollikoffer of a Marseilles trading family from Sankt Gall in Switzerland noted that foreigners, unless armed with a pass, were not exempt from the growing attacks on Protestants.Once Calvinism had been officially proscribed, Louvois ordered the dragoons into Provence, billeting the troops on members of the reformed church at Merindol, Lourmarin, Eyguieres and other centres. Marseilles was to be spared, but Calvinists there refused to abjure and the lieutenant general Grignan was forced to take military action. The result there, as elsewhere, was mass conversion or escape.

• M. Boucher.M (1981). French speakers at the Cape: The European Background. Pretoria, UNISA: Ch 7: Cape Settlers III: from South-Eastern France and Adjoining Territories pp 169-72; 183-5

Countries of Dispersal

South Africa

North America



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