By E. Joyce Best




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 III :

"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."


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.


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 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. George 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 1844.

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.


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.


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 little span 
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.


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 behaved.

He gained his MA at Oxford in 1737 and was Prebendary of Saint Andrew's in Down Cathedral 1741-1742.


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 constancy.

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 de Brequet history is partly told by Thomas Breakey in his diary, written over a hundred years after the first deTHE REV. WILLIAM BREAKEY 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.

Rev John James Carlyle Breakey, 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.