Registers of the French Church of Portarlington 1694-1816


Cat No.:   IET0095:

Edited by Philip Le Fanu and published as volume 19 of the Publications of the Huguenot Society of London in 1908, the Registers of the French Church of Portarlington is the record of the success of one man in establishing a Huguenot settlement at Portarlington in Co. Laois, Ireland, and a fascinating story it makes. Henri Massue, Marquis de Ruvigny, had represented the Reformed Church of France at the Court of Louis XIV. Following the Edict of Nantes and the death of the Duke of Schomberg, Massue became the recognised leader of refugees in England and Ireland, who had fled religious persecution in Europe. Many of these had joined the armies of William III and after the William's victory in Ireland, were demobilised on pensions. By the beneficence of De Ruvigny, elevated by William to the Earldom of Galway, established a small settlement at Portarlington to aid his fellow refugees and former brothers-in-arms.

Le Fanu paints a fascinating picture of the establishment of the French colony at Portarlington, the trials and tribulations of the disparate army pensioners who, conservative by nature, harked back to their homelands and customs, creating what was, to all intents and purposes a French village in Ireland. In the early eighteenth-century visitors to Portarlington reported that is was a place of most congenial of society and this society made up of mostly literate refugees soon sought the means to educate their children born in Ireland. This led to a most remarkable feature of Portarlington and a lasting legacy of the French community there. In 1714 the wife of Mark Champlorier, a wounded veteran of the Siege of Limerick, established the first elementary school. However, Madame Champlorier's school was soon joined by others, including schools that taught French and Latin. The proliferation of education establishments was such that by the mid-eighteen century the small village of Portarlington could boast of possessing sixteen educational establishments, including the renowned school of the Rev. Thomas Willis, where many eminent scholars received their early tutelage.

The published registers for the French Church at Portarlington date from June 1694 and the ministry of Jacques Gillet and continue unbroken until 20th September 1816. At this point the registers cease to be recorded in French and although the Church continued to exist independently of the Established Church until 1841, the cessation of French is seen as the end of a wholly French Church at Portarlington.

The registers of the French Church are republished here in fully searchable CD-Rom format and paint a fascinating picture of successive generations of French refugees who made their home at Portarlington. As such this CD-Rom must appeal to any who have an interesting in Huguenot society Ireland and in particular the French community and Portarlington. 

No. of CDs is:  1 ;   Format is:  PDF ;   Searchable?:  YES;

FastFind:  No;  ISBN No.:   unavailable;