THE HUGUENOT PASTORS OF LISBURN
Lisburn was indebted to Louis Crommelin for the
building of the French Church in Castle Street. An early entry to be found in
the Journal of the Linen Board is a copy of a letter from him to King William
|"His Majesty is humbly desired
to provide for the subsistence of some French Ministers as the
establishment shall increase, and there being already a great number of
families settled at Lisburn who art newly come and do not understand
English, it is humbly hoped that His majesty will please allow some
pension for the subsistence of a French minister there."
With Government help a large handsome edifice was built in Castle Street and
the first Minister, the Rev. Charles De La Valade, arrived in 1704. He was a
Minister who had conformed, that is, accepted the help of the Anglican Church
and incorporated some of its forms of worship into the Reformed religion. He was
succeeded by his brother for a short time and then by his great nephew, the Rev.
Saumarez Du Bourdieu, who had previously founded a school in Bow Street in 1756.
Saumarez Du Bourdieu lived until 1812, by which time there was no further need
of a French speaking chaplain, as the Huguenot refugees had completely
assimilated into the local community.
The Rev. Philip Skelton, born in Magheralave, said of the Huguenots:
|"With their industry they
brought their virtuous conduct and civilised manners. These good people
were of great advantage to this place."
REV CHARLES DE LA VALADE
The Comte De La Valade held lands in Languedoc, but two
of his sons were Pastors and so had to leave their country at the Revocation.
They took with them their younger sister, Madeleine, and escaped to Holland.
Their elder sister married James Du Bourdieu of Montpellier, and after his
execution during the "Dragonade" escaped to England, carrying her baby son to
Switzerland, Holland and London.
When the De La Valade brothers were in Holland Madeleine married Alexander
Crommelin, a brother of Louis Crommelin, and when the Crommelins went to London,
the De La Valades accompanied them. In 1699 the Rev. Charles De La Valade
appears in the register of the Huguenot Church in Threadneedle Street as a
Pastor, but in 1704 he was replaced by the Rev. Jacques Saurin, and it seems he
came to Lisburn, again travelling with Alexander Crommelin. He was pastor of the
French Church in Lisburn for over forty years. He made his will in 1755 and died
in 1756. His brother succeeded him for a short time until he was followed by the
Rev. Saumarez Du Bourdieu. Madam Charles De La Valade signed her will in 1759,
after the death of her husband. Their daughter, Anne, married George Russell of
Lisburn and is thought to have descendants. The Rev.Charles De La Valade seems
to have dropped the prefix De, because on the lease of a tenement on the east
side of the Market Place from the Marquis of Hertford (it would appear to be one
of the houses with its front to the Market Square and its back to the
Cathedral), his signature is Charles La Valade. Further signatures of this name
all omit the 'De', such as Alan La Valade, who was a godfather in 1733. It is
possible that this was the un-named brother, who had a family. In the index of
wills, Charles La Valade, 1755-1827, is noted, and in the marriage bonds of Down
and Connor and Dromore are the names Peter La Valade and Catherine Durry in
1793. There is more evidence of this family living near Lisburn and Moira, and
some of their relations live in Norfolk.
THE REV SAUMAREZ DU BOURDIEU
Saumarez Du Bourdieu was the son of Rev. Jean Armand Du
Bourdieu, who had been carried across France to Switzerland as a baby by his
mother. His great grandfather was a Pastor, Rev. lsaac Du Bourdieu who had been
banished from Montpellier in the South of France by the parliament of Toulouse
in 1681, and had become a Pastor of the first conforming French Huguenot Church
in London, the Church of the Savoy. His grandfather James Du Bourdieu had been
executed during the "Dragonade" and his father had been a Pastor at the Church
of the Savoy.
His mother was Charlotte,Countess D'Esponage, and also a Huguenot. He was named
after his godfather, John De Saumarez of Guernsey, who had befriended many
Huguenots. He went to Dublin and was brought up by his grandmother, educated at
Trinity College, Dublin, where he was a classical scholar. In 1756 he came to
Lisburn to open a school in Bow Street, later becoming Chaplain to the French
Church, which was situated in Castle Street on the site where the Town Hall was
later built. Although he became Vicar of Glenavy, he does not seem to have
attended any vestry meetings, and the parish was looked after by his Curate, the
Rev. Edward Cupples. In 1768 he was appointed Curate in Perpetuity of Lambeg,
but his real interests all lay in his school, now called the Lisburn Academy. He
died in 1812 leaving three sons and two daughters. He was the great nephew of
the Rev. Jean Du Bourdieu who had been a Chaplain to the Duke of Schomberg.
THE REV JOHN DU BOURDIEU
The eldest son of Saumarez Du Bourdieu was
also a clergyman. His brothers were both surgeons, the second brother being the
only one to have descendants still bearing the surname Du Bourdieu.
The Rev. John Du Bourdieu was born in Dublin, attended his father's school in
Lisburn, and entered Trinity College, Dublin, at the age of fifteen. He served
as a Deacon at Killead, then as Curate at Annahilt, and later as Vicar there,
where he built the Rectory. He married Margaret Sampson, sister of the Rev.
Vaughan Sampson and William Sampson, the United Irishman. They had four sons and
four daughters. His wife performed many parochial duties, running his Sunday
School, whilst he was busy as a writer. He became absorbed in researching and
writing his Statistical Surveys of Co. Down in 1802 and Co. Antrim in 1812. He
was rector of Moira (1817-1821) and subsequently Drumgooland (1821-1839), where
he built another Rectory and after the death of his wife went to live with his
daughter at Broommount near Moira, where for a time he was a Curate-in-charge.
He died in 1839 and is buried in Soldierstown graveyard.
Two of his sons were killed, the eldest Captain Saumarez, at San Sebastian in
1814 and the third son, Captain George William, died in South America in 1825
fighting for Simon Bolivar. His second son, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Du
Bourdieu, also fought in the Peninsular War, eventually dying in Athlone in
Captain Francis Du Bourdieu of the Hanoverian Fusiliers died in 1861, having
retired unmarried to Broommount, the home of his sister Margaret Gorman, wife of
Stafford Gorman. Three other sisters were Selina, Catherine and Maria.
THE REV HENRY REYNETTE
This was a naval family who escaped from
Vivrai at the time of the Revocation. James Reynette settled in Waterford in
1721. Henri de Reynette had five sons, the youngest returning to France and
regaining the family estate by reverting to the Catholic faith. Henry Reynette
Settled at Sanhills in County Monaghan, where his son Henry was born in 1736.
The younger Henry gained a degree at Trinity College, Dublin, and a doctorate at
Edinburgh. In 1761 he was curate of Annahilt and in 1765 became Rector of
Magheragall, living in Lisburn at Castle Street Subsequently he was rector of
Glenavy (1777-82) and then rector of Billy (1782-90).
He married twice, both times to a clergyman's daughter. His first wife was
Henrietta, daughter of Rev Thomas Johnston, who died whilst living in Lisburn
and is buried in Magheragall with their two children, who possibly died in the
same epidemic. He later married in Belfast in 1770 Mary daughter of Rev. Gilbert
Kennedy. They had a son in 1772, James Traill Reynette and it is thought that
there are descendants.
THE REV SAMUEL PURDY
Rev. Samuel Burdy was born in Dromore, the
son of a merchant Pete Burdy, whose father had come to Ireland in the Williamite
army. Samuel Bundy entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1777, and became curate
of Ardglass in 1783. While there he fell in love with the daughter of the Bishop
of Dromore, Thomas Percy, and she with him, but her father Bishop Percy, was not
pleased and Burdy never rose to a responsible position. Burdy never married, but
wrote books and poetry, some of which is thought to show that he deserved a
better living than he was given. H was appointed Perpetual Curate of Kilclief
near Strangford, in 1817 where he died in 1820. His books include A History
of Ireland and A life of Philip Skelton. His style of poetry varies
but one is:
|Show my dear flock that life's
Teach them their duty, both to God and man
Their sorrows soothe, exalt their homes above
To the pure regions of eternal love
Suit my own life to holy precepts given
And point the road that surely leads to heaven.
THE REV PETER ISAAC CORNABE
Mr Cornabe was described in a letter
written from Hollymount b Mrs Delaney:
|Mr Cornabe, a Frenchman by
birth, has a living in the neighbourhood, a polite, lively, entertaining
man. He was a Chaplain for some years abroad; he is agreeable and well
He gained his MA at Oxford in 1737 and was Prebendary of Saint
Andrew's in Down Cathedral 1741-1742.
THE SAURIN FAMILY
The first reliable record is of Jean
Saurin who was born in N?es in 1682 and who left France at the Revocation. With
his wife and three sons he escaped to Germany. The eldest son, Jacques Surin,
became a well-known preacher, living at The Hague. The second son, John, became
a soldier in the English army and the third son, after living in London, moved
to Ireland, where he died as Dean of Armagh in 1749. He married a Huguenot, Mlle
Cornel La Bretonni?e and they had a son and three daughters. The son, James,
born in London in 1719, became Vicar of Belfast, where he married Jane, widow of
James Duff. He died in 1772 and is buried in the churchyard of St Anne's,
Belfast. He had four sons, all educated by Rev Saumarez Du Bourdieu at Lisburn
Academy. William Saurin, who later became Attorney General. William's third son
became Rev Lewis Saurin, Rector of Moira 1821-1829, then Treasurer's Vicar in
Saint Partick's Cathedral, Dublin.
The Vicar of Belfast's third son became the last Bishop of Dromore before it
joined the Diocese of Down. He spent much of his time in Dublin and died at his
home in Dun Laoghaire. There is a memorial plaque on the south wall of Dromore
Cathedral which says:
|During the twenty two years in
the exercise of a mild and paternal authority, he presided over this
diocese fulfilling the relations of life with purity, affection and
He died in 1842 aged 82 years and is buried in St Ann's church in Dublin.
He also had a family. His eldest son, Rev James Saurin, was for a short time a
vicar in Aghalee in 1822 within sight of his cousin William's parish of Moira.
In 1826 he became Vicar of Seagoe and also Archdeacon of Dromore. He married
twice and left two daughters.
THE REV. WILLIAM BREAKEY AND
REV J. J. C. BREAKEY
The de Brequet history is partly told by Thomas Breakey in
his diary, written over a hundred years after the first de
Brequet had settled in Ireland. Two brothers, Thomas and one unnamed, with their
cousin Guillaume de Brequet, escaped to Holland from Picardy with the help of a
catholic neighbour, and joined the Williamite army.
After the Battle of the Boyne, at which the younger brother was
killed, the elder brother, Thomas, married an English lady. Guillaume (now
called William) married a Catholic neighbour who had followed the Brequets after
seeing her father killed during the "Dragonade" (occupation of homes by Dragoons
with the idea of forcing the occupants to change their religion).
They settled in Monaghan, where he died in 1698, leaving three sons, who
subsequently used the name Breakey. Isaiah became a linen manufacturer and
bleacher, who built Greenvale Mills. He married and had five children, two
emigrating to Canada, two dying in infancy and the remaining son John going to
Dublin. William, the second son, married a Miss Soper whose bachelor uncle was a
Coventanter: he left his property to William on his death. They had thirteen
children and it is from his son John that the Lisburn Breakeys are descended.
John, William's son, born in 1780 married Elizabeth Small, and they had eight
sons and five daughters.
The Lisburn Breakeys were two Ministers from this family. The Rev William
Breakey first served in Loughbrickland before moving to Lisburn where he lived
in Railway Street and became a well known preacher. One of his remarks was
"Christianity is a lake broad enough for many a boat to sail upon without
rubbing one against another." He was a man of many interests, leaving recipes
for the treatment of rheumatism and other prevailing ailments. He kept
meticulous accounts and these can still be seen in the Northern Ireland Public
Record Office with the letter heads of many of the shops in Lisburn. He was
succeeded by his nephew -the Rev John James Carlyle Breakey, who lived in
Lisburn for forty years, only retiring in 1927. The Breakey Ministers seem to be
the only non-conforming Ministers of Huguenot descent to have lived in Lisburn.