Huguenot Church in the United States

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History in the United States[edit | edit source]

Huguenots were French Protestants who held to the Reformed, or Calvinist, tradition of Protestantism. The term has its origin in early-16th-century France. It was frequently used in reference to those of the Reformed Church of France from the time of the Protestant Reformation. Due to persecution, n 1685, about 200,000 Huguenots fled to foreign nations, including Germany, the Netherlands, England, and America. Often Huguenot families would settle in one country, then move to another.

  • Barred by the government from settling in New France (Quebec), Huguenots sailed to North America in 1624 and settled instead in the Dutch colony of New Netherland (later incorporated into New York and New Jersey)'. A number of New Amsterdam's families were of Huguenot origin, often having emigrated as refugees to the Netherlands in the previous century.
  • Huguenot refugees also settled in the Delaware River Valley of Eastern Pennsylvania and Hunterdon County, New Jersey in 1725. Frenchtown in New Jersey bears the mark of early settlers.
  • In 1700, several hundred French Huguenots migrated from England to the colony of Virginia.
  • Through the 18th and 19th centuries, descendants of the French migrated west into the Piedmont, and across the Appalachian Mountains into the West of what became Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and other states.
  • In the early years, many Huguenots also settled in the area of present-day Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston, South Carolina, is home to the only active Huguenot congregation in the United States.

For additional early history, see:

Huguenot Church Records[edit | edit source]

Huguenots often merged with other Protestant religious groups. Records for Huguenots can be found in the records of these churches.

State Church
Kentucky Presbyterian
New Jersey Dutch Reformed Church
New York
New Amsterdam (now New York City)
Dutch Reformed Church
North Carolina Presbyterian
Pennsylvania Presbyterian
Protestant Episcopal
Rhode Island Presbyterian
South Carolina Congregational
Protestant Episcopal
Virginia Anglican

Look for online records.[edit | edit source]

Some records have been digitized and posted online, where they are easily searched. More are being added all the time. Partner websites such as, FindMyPast, MyHeritage, and American Ancestors can be searched free-of-charge at any Family History Center.

Caution sign.png

Online databases are incomplete. This can lead to two common errors:

  1. Near matches: Researchers might mistakenly accept an entry very similar to their ancestor, thinking it is the only one available "so it must be mine". Only use information that matches your ancestor in date, place, other relationships, and details.
  2. Stopping research: Researchers might assume the database proves church records do not exist. Actually the record is still out there, just not in this incomplete collection of records. Keep searching!

Societies[edit | edit source]

  • National Huguenot Society
    7340 Blanco Road, Suite 104
    San Antonio, TX 78216-4970
    Telephone: (210)366-9995
    Education section of web site includes Who were the Huguenots, Important dates in history, and bibliography
    Resources section includes Huguenot ancestral name listings, Selected publication for Huguenot reseach, Other Huguenot specific web sites
List of Qualified Huguenot Ancestors, National Huguenot Society

List of qualified ancestors

  • This society published the periodical, The Huguenot. A full index to The Huguenot is available online.

  • Its purpose is "to perpetuate the memory of the Huguenots". Members of the society include descendants of Huguenot families immigrating to America before November 1787 and anyone who has made the Huguenots a subject of research papers, etc.

  • Its purpose is to preserve the memory of the Huguenots who left France prior to 1787.  They have a research library containing over 4,500 books, journals, and files covering the history of French Protestants and on South Carolina history and families. The library is open to non-members for a research fee of $10. It is suggested to contact the library so materials will be available.  The society also provides research for a fee.

History in the United States[edit | edit source]

Florida[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: René Goulaine de Laudonnière
  • From South Carolina, French Huguenots led by René Goulaine de Laudonnière settled in Florida in 1564. An initial plantation of 300 established Fort Caroline now part of present day Jacksonville. By 1565, Spanish military efforts had wiped out the colony, martyring many Huguenot settlers.
  • In 1562, a French Huguenot colony was established in the present site of Astor on the St Johns River. The entire colony was wiped out by the Spanish, in 1566.
  • In 1564, the Huguenots attempted to colonize North America, building a colony nearby the modern day Jacksonville, Florida. The Spanish had already staked claim in that locality and soon rid the area of the French.

Kentucky[edit | edit source]

About half of the early pioneers of Kentucky were descended from French-speaking Protestants, including the Huguenots from southern France and the Walloons from southern Belgium. These unindexed papers contain the history of these two groups of people.

Massachusetts[edit | edit source]

French Huguenot Church, 1686-1748/1764: There are no extant records.

Michigan[edit | edit source]

  • Huguenot Society of Michigan, Applications for membership in the Huguenot Society of Michigan, abt. 1937-1942. Each application gives a genealogy of the applicant. FHL film 860658 Item 2

New Jersey[edit | edit source]

Between 1677 and the early 1700s, Dutch-speaking French Huguenots from Harlem and Staten Island, New York, settled at Schraalenburgh (now Bergenfield) in the Hackensack Valley of Bergen County. Other Huguenots settled in Monmouth County.

New York[edit | edit source]


One of the important legacies of the New Netherland colony was religious tolerance. The Dutch Reformed Church, a Calvinist denomination, was predominant at first. However, from the beginning the colony was also a haven for religious minorities such as Huguenots (French Protestants), and Jews.[1]

Huguenots settled on Staten Island and in New Harlem, Bushwick, and Flushing in 1657 and 1658. New Paltz, Ulster County, was founded in 1677 by Huguenots. In 1688 the Huguenots established New Rochelle in Westchester County.

New York Sources[edit | edit source]

  • Life in New Rochelle, America's city of the Huguenots. (New Rochelle, NY: New Rochelle Trust Co., 1953),At various libraries (WorldCat)
  • Carlo, Paula Wheeler. Huguenot Refugees in Colonial New York: Becoming American in the Hudson Valley. (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2005).At various libraries (WorldCat)
  • Darlington, Henry, Jr. "The Significance of New Rochelle as a Huguenot Settlement", from Huguenot Refugees in the Settling of Colonial America, edited by Peter Steven Gannon. (Huguenot Society of America, 1985).At various libraries (WorldCat)

North Carolina[edit | edit source]

In the early 1700s, small groups of French Huguenot, German Palatine, and Swiss immigrants founded towns on the coast.

Pennsylvania[edit | edit source]

French Huguenot and Swiss families mingled with the Germans. Some Huguenots from New York migrated to Pennsylvania and settled in Berks and Lancaster counties.

Rhode Island[edit | edit source]

The liberal religious culture, laws, and policies in colonial Rhode Island created a wonderful location for French Huguenots.

South Carolina[edit | edit source]

Jean Ribault established a French Huguenot colony in South Carolina in 1562. American Presbyterianism can trace its origins to this foundation. A group of French origin, mostly descendants of Huguenots, came to the area beginning in 1680. The Huguenots had their beginnings in Charleston in 1681.  In 1687, a second church was built along the Cooper River. Both of these structures fell victim to fire, but they were rebuilt. By 1686 Huguenot settlements existed in Charleston, Santee River, St. John's Berkeley and Cooper River. Rev. Elias Prioleau was the first recoginzed and regular pastor of the French church.[2]

South Carolina Sources[edit | edit source]

Virginia[edit | edit source]

Huguenots came in 1700. Their settlement, in King William Parish, near Richmond on the James River, was known as Manakin Town.[3] They and many of their descendants lived in Henrico, Goochland, Cumberland, and Powhatan counties.

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

Carefully compare any record you find to known facts about the ancestor[edit | edit source]

You will possibly find many different people with the same name as your ancestor, especially when a family stayed in a locality for several generations, and several children were named after the grandparents or aunts and uncles. Be prepared to find the correct church records by organizing in advance as many of these exact details about the ancestor as possible:

  • name, including middle name and maiden name
  • names of all spouses, including middle and maiden name
  • exact or closely estimated dates of birth, marriage, and death
  • names and approximate birthdates of children
  • all known places of residence
  • occupations
  • military service details

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.pngCarefully evaluate the church records you find to make sure you have really found records for your ancestor and not just a "near match". If one or more of the details do not line up, be careful about accepting the entry as your ancestor. There are guiding principles for deciding how to resolve discrepancies between records that are seemingly close. For more instruction in evaluating evidence, read the Wiki article, Evaluate the Evidence.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "New Netherland" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at (accessed 4 November 2008).
  2. Thomas Petigru Lesesne. History of Charleston County, South Carolina. Charleston, S.C.: A.H. Cawston FHL book 975.7915 D3l or FHL film 1598278 item 2
  3. "Manakin Town: The French Huguenot Settlement in Virginia 1700-ca. 1750," National Humanities Center Resource Toolbox. Becoming American: The British Atlantic Colonies, 1690-1763,, accessed 23 June 2012.