More About Manakin Town

More About Manakin Town

Kathryn La Rue Tingley
The Cross of Languedoc, March 1995

….The British Government saw the opportunity to acquire settlers for the largely vacant land of the colonies, with the consequent development, enrichment and strengthening of the colonies. Small wonder that men on both sides of the Atlantic favored the plan of William of Orange for Huguenot settlement. Two such men were Dr. Daniel Coxe of England and Col. William Byrd of the Virginia Colony. Coxe held land near the Gulf of Mexico and Byrd argued for lands on the frontier of Virginia. The Colonel eventually won out, but was not entirely altruistic in his efforts. The proposed settlement would serve as a buffer between his land and marauding Indians! This area proposed by Byrd was on the James River at a site formerly occupied by a village of Monocan Indians, a warlike tribe that the King Powhatan in vain had attempted to subdue. When the first shipload of refugees arrived at Hampton on the James River, they were told that they would proceed to the Monocan area where free land would be given them. Thus Monocan became Manakin.

The first ship was the “Mary and Ann” with Capt. George Haves that took 13 weeks crossing the Atlantic. It arrived at Hampton on 23 July 1700 with 118 men, 59 wives and girls and 38 children. These were not indigent people as the passage price was 5 £ for each man and woman and 50 shillings for each child under 12 years. The second ship was the “Peter and Anthony” with Capt. Daniel Perreau (Perault) which arrived 6 October 1700 with approximately 250 persons. The third ship “The Galley of London,” captain name unknown, arrived 20 October 1700 and dispersed passengers chiefly among the lower plantations. The fourth ship, “Le Nasseau,” so named in honor of the House of Orange, with Capt. Tegain, arrived at the York River 5 Mar 1701. Only 23 went up the James River to Manakintown.

The first sloop load suffered great hardship as the sloop sank at James town with all their provisions, clothes, and blankets. Although in great want, they persevered against all odds and were cheerful and asked Governor Byrd only for bread until the next harvest. They survived that first terrible winter thanks to William of Orange, the Protestant leaders of London, the Chamberlain of London, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who acted as Custodians and donated many thousands of pounds of sterling. Cool. William Byrd supplied them from the stores at the Falls (site of the present city of Richmond) and his Falling Creek mill.

The morale of the settlers, already low following the difficulties and monotony of the long voyage, was further shattered when they learned the nature of the land which they were to settle. They had arrived on a vast frontier in a wilderness of dense forests. Most of the men had spent their lives in business, commerce or industry. Even those who had engaged in agriculture were completely ignorant of farming under the conditions that faced them. They felt themselves almost helpless to wrest a living from these dreadful forests. They looked, too, with apprehension on the prospective loneliness, barrenness, and crudeness of the frontier existence.

The Falls of the James was the last outpost of western settlement in Virginia. The Monocan village lay 25 miles away through virtually trackless forest. Twenty-five miles is today a very short jaunt. In 1700 it could be a very long journey into a green and silent wall of loneliness standing between the French and their nearest white neighbors.

A plan for a town, not as it ever existed, but as the Huguenots expected it to develop, was drawn up in a pattern familiar to French villagers, but unfamiliar to Virginia. Following the French custom, the plan anticipated that the settlers were to live together in the town and go to and from their farms each day. A majority of the French probably did live in Manakin, but when the allotted land had been surveyed, and the danger of Indian attack faded, most of the settlers found it more convenient to live on their farms. Actually, the town itself never contained more than a handful of houses, the church and possibly a story or two.

Just as their language was diluted so was their blood as the young generation intermarried with their English neighbors. As the years passed and the frontier moved further west, farms and plantations replaced the virgin wilderness and the French became increasingly absorbed into the general population. By 1750 or thereabouts the village was completely deserted.

Matters pertaining to the French Protestant Refugees were brought before the Royal Council in Williamsburg in the fall of 1700 with the leaders Charles de Sailly and Oliver, the Marquis de la Muce, Col. Byrd and Dr. Coxe, the latter two, you may be sure, intending to look out for themselves! After the land for the refugees had been surveyed, Dr. Coxe reserved for himself certain royalties on all mines, quarries or even pearl fisheries if discovered! After a storm, the bank of a creek had been washed away and a Huguenot settler discovered an outcropping of coal. After this area was surveyed, the patentee was Col. William Byrd! The settlement area was known as King William Parish and the county as Henrico, and all those residing therein would be exempt from payment of public and county levies for seven years, paying only a ripe ear of Indian corn in the season, if demanded. Upon expiration of the 7 years, the levy was 5 shillings sterling to be collected as a quit-rent for every 500 acres of land so taken up. Col. Byrd kept a careful record of all the settlers who were to receive one bushel per person monthly of Indian meal from the miller at Falling Creek mill. This grist mill was some 20 miles from the settlement. He also recorded two horses for the settlers’ use for the sum of £10 and £11 worth of nails from his store, besides a quantity of money, meat, fish, corn, and wheat given by several charitable persons. There was much sickness during the first winter and how the poor refugees survived is somewhat of a miracle – considering they had lost all their possessions when the sloop sank…but they endured!

Bonaventure Chauvin, Seigneur de la Muce Ponthus, whose seat was near the city of Nantes in southern Bretagne, France, was one of the first to embrace the new faith in the early days of the French Reformation. He became its most earnest supporter, and his descendants inherited the same devotion. His grandson David, Marquis de la Muce, presided over the political assembly of the protestants held in La Rochelle in 1621. For his attendance at the assembly, contrary to the King’s commands, he was condemned to be drawn and quartered, a sentence which was executed upon his effigy while his beautiful castle was actually demolished and razed to the ground. Caesar, his son, and Olivier, his grandson, were elders in the Reformed Church in Nantes. Under the provisions of the Edict of Nantes,the Seigneurs de la Muce claimed the rights of holding religious services in their own house. Soon after the Revocation of the Edict, Olivier de la Muce fled from his home but was arrested while waiting for an opportunity to make his way to England. Imprisoned for two years, he resisted every effort to persuade him to deny his faith. At length an order was given for the expulsion of the Marquis de la Muce from the kingdom as an obstinate heretic. Accordingly, he was placed on board a foreign ship. The captain received orders to land him in England, but carefully to conceal from him the fact that he was about to be set free. Twelve years later, he headed the expedition to Virginia and became the founder of the Manakintown settlement.

CHASTAIN. The immigrant was Pierre (Peter), born probably in the town of Charost in the province of Verri, France. Many Chastains in that town were notaries, merchants, and vineyard keepers. It is difficult to trace many of our people as being former Catholics as pages regarding them were torn out of the church records. Before Pierre was 40, he sailed to America with his wife and five children. We believe his first wife was Marie Magdaleine de la Rouchfoucauld. His second wife was Anne Soblet Chastain and his third wife was Magdelaine Flournoy Trabue Chastain. He died in 1728. He was active in the service of the little community, serving on the ship’s first vestry and also being a church warden. He had been trained in France as a physician or surgeon and he had brought his medical books with him.

FAURE. Pierre, the immigrant ancestor of this family, had a coat-of-arms which showed he was from the Faure family of Auvergne, France. He was born circa 1675 and his first wife was Elizabeth Agee. His second wife was Judith Bingli. He died 1744, leaving many issues. There have been many famous Faures including the President of France in 1895, Francoise Felix Faure, also a Premier, a composer and a politician. Horace Greeley, Adm. W. H. Sutherland, USN, and the singer Tennessee Ernie Ford are descendants of the immigrant Faure family…yes, the name changed many ways!

de RICHEBOURG. This family was of the nobility, their seat being the village of Richebourg near Rouen in Normandy, France, where Claude Phillipe was born in the last half of the 1600’s. For at least a century before his birth, this family possessed strong Christian convictions. John Calvin, the great theologian, was a family friend.

While protestantism scarcely touched the French peasantry, the believers were strong among the nobility and among the rising classes of intellectuals and artisans. The educated of the nobility were inclined to rely on freedom both within their church and within their government. Independence and education among the nobles encouraged resistance to the centralized Catholic anarchy which did not allow for individual thought, either politically or religiously. The extremists of the Catholics continued the persecution of all persons who did not proclaim to be affiliated with their organization. One of the most sadistic of the persecutions was the Massacre of New Testament Believers, called the Huguenots, on St. Bartholomew’s Day which began in Paris on Sunday, 24 August 1572, spreading throughout France for a period of three weeks during which at least 50,000 were slain.

After Henry IV granted the Edict of Nantes in 1595, the Huguenots were permitted a limited amount of religious freedom and some substantial civic liberties. But, less than a century later, on 17 October 1685, Louis XIV revoked the Edict. Within a few weeks 800 protestant churches were demolished and all corporate property was lost. Note: I use the small “p” as they were protestants. Later they were identified as Protestant. They never referred to themselves as Huguenots.

Then, emigration was forbidden. The refugees, men or women, if caught, were sent respectively to the galleys or to prison and their property was confiscated….Although every border was patrolled, the exodus was general. The number of Huguenots who made it to safety and freedom at this time alone exceeded 300,000 or some 50,000 families where the intellectual gifts and practical skills of the refugees strengthened the lands which received them. Until the Japanese took over the watch industry in Switzerland, all watches there were made by Huguenots. Much beautiful iron work in London was made by them, as well as skills of the weavers and lace makers.

In 1700 Rev. Claude Phillipe de Richbourg set sail in the “Mary and Anne” to be a spiritual leader in the new world. Having renounced his noble heritage, de Richbourg is listed on the ship’s manifest and other records as simple, Mr. Philippe. In 1712, Mr. Phillippe led a group to North Carolina to pioneer in that part of the country. After an attack on this settlement by braves of the Indian tribes of the Tuscarora and Cree, Mr. Phillippe moved on and finally settled in Jamestown, South Carolina. He died 1719, leaving his wife Anne Chastain de Rouchebourg and six children.

SALLE (SALLEE). Abraham Salle, progenitor of this family in America, was born circa 1675, a son of Jean and Marie Salle of Picardy, France. He was an important merchant of Manakintown, clerk of the parish, captain of the Militia and Justice of Henrico County. He lived first in New York were he petitioned the governor and council for denization (privileges of citizenship) in 1700. He married Olive Perault (Peraux), probably a relative of Capt. Daniel Perrault of the “Peter and Anthony.” By 1701 he had moved to Manakintown. A letter extant from Abraham Salle to George I of England asks that the French settlers in Virginia be granted land in some more fertile spot, possibly Ireland! He obviously was not thrilled about the qualify of the soil that had been allocated to the settlers. He died in Manakintown in 1718, leaving considerable land, slaves, and property, to five sons and one daughter.

In 1701 the Huguenots built the first church in Manakintown with Benjamin de Joux as first minister, who died 1704, and was succeeded by Mr. Phillippe, who moved on and was succeeded by Jean Cairon, who died in 1716, the last regular minister of Huguenot descent. Thereafter the vestry had to rely on neighboring communities, paying a visit minister 20 shillings per sermon. The second church was built in 1710. Then in 1730, the third and larger church was built at a cost of 21,600 pounds of tobacco or ca £ 130. This church was used until 1895 when it was torn down. With the emergence of modern light and heating facilities, the congregation decided that the fourth church was no longer adequate. Therefore in 1954, with the generous financial help of the National Huguenot Society of the Descendants of Manakintown, the fifth church was built–and built of brick. This is a very lovely church and the needlepoint kneeling cushions were dedicated in July 1979. It is now an Episcopal church and the designs on the cushions display the history of the French refugees who first lived on this site.