The Richbourg Family in America

(Compiled from various sources by Jean Grunewald and borrowed from Dianne Blankenstein pages)


The Richbourg family in America seems to begin with the Rev. CLAUDE PHILIPPE DE RICHEBOURG and his wife ANNE CHASTAIN who emigrated to this country with the colony of Huguenots, which founded Manakin Towne, Va. They were passengers on the “Mary and Ann” and arrived at the mouth of James River, July 23, 1700, after a voyage of 13 weeks. He married before leaving France and if any children were born to them there, they did not accompany them to Va., for the “List of ye Refugees” gives only CLAUDE PHILIPPE, at sa femme.

One version states they came from france in the year 1690; another that they came to America from England, where they had probably lived for several years after their exile from France. The latter version also says they might have been of an anglicized family. There had been Richebourgs in the Wallorn Congregation at Canterbury since 1592, if not longer, in the Parish Registers of that congregation.

There are 97 entries of the name besides several others in the various other registers of Huguenot congregation in London between 1692 and 1700. The name is spelled 27 different ways, among which we find Richebourg, Richbourg, Ricquebourg, Riqbourg, Riquebour and 22 other variants. I have not had the opportunity to investigate for myself which is the correct version. They both agree on the following:

The Rev. CLAUDE PHILIPPE DE RICHBOURG was one of three French clergymen, who came with the Huguenot colony, headed by the Marquis de la Muce and like most of the Huguenot pastors, had taken orders in the Church of England. He had been a Roman Catholic priest in early life. One of the 2 surgeons of the expedition, was Dr. Chastain or Castayne, probably the father or brother of ANNE CHASTAIN who became DE RICHEBOURG’s wife.

The Huguenot settlers were received cordially in Va. A large tract of land was set aside for them west of the Virginia settlements. Richmond, the fartherest settlement on the James River, which was navigatable only up to this point, was at that time called “Lands End” and here the Virginia Assembly was glad to place on her western frontier, these high type, competent people from another country, who were seeking surcease from their religious persecutions. They were a wonderful bulwark against the Indians who had been prohibited by act of Assembly in 1646, from hunting or making any abode nearer the English plantations, than Yapin, the black water, and from the head of the black water upon a straight line to the old Mankin Towne. The Virginia Legislature granted the French refugees land which was tax free for 7 years, also bread until a crop could be raised. What was the motive then for leaving this refuge on the James?

Matters had not been running smoothly for some time at Manakin Towne. A letter written by the pastor, PHILIPPE DE RICHEBOURG, on April 19, 1707, to the Honorable Colonel Jennings, Pres. and to the Honorable Council of Va., states that, “we are extremely troubled to see dissension in our parish, caused by some person. We supplicate you to remedy this to restore order. There are some persons, particularly Abraham Salls, who are the cause of difficulties in the parish for more than three years, in such manner that some of the members have felt obliged to relinquish everything rather than dwell in contention. God knows how much we have suffered and if the Honorable Council could realize the oppressions we endure, and the very irregular conduct of Mr. Salls, of which we have already made complaint, to the council, in May 1704.” signed C. PHILIPPE DE RICHEBOURG., Jacques Lacage, Estienne Chastain and Antoine Rapine.

On September 2, 1707, Abraham Salls made answer to the charge of DE RICHEBOURG. It appears form his letter, also to the council, that the ministers had refused to recognize the regularly elected vestry of which Abraham Salls was one and had demanded the register of christenings out of “ye clerk of ye vestry’s hands” on peril of excommunication.

“The decision in this difficulty was made against DE RICHEBOURG. He remained at Manakin Towne until November 21, 1711, on which date he recited for five months salary.” (from vol. 9, page 16 Y “SOME VIRGINIA HUGUENOTS IN THE CAROLINAS”, by Mrs. Wm. H. Lanabeth.)

Sometime after that date he and some of his followers removed to Trent River in North Carolina, where they were the second body of French emigrants. After a time, about 1711 or 1712, he with a portion of his people proceeded further south and planted themselves on the Santee River in South Carolina. Here DE RICHEBOURG succeeded Pierre Robert as minister of the French Settlement, called Jamestown on the Santee.

The following is taken from SOUTH CAROLINA HISTORICAL AND GENEALOGICAL MAGAZINE, Vol. 32 #4 article: “South Carolina Indian War of 1715 as seen by the clergymen” by Edgar Legare Pennington, p. 258.

“The two French missionaries, John La Pierre and RICHEBOURG were just preparing to quit the country on account of their great want, when relief reached them through the Society’s bounty.” Mr. RICHEBOURG, in acknowledging the bounty of the Society (Huguenot), described the want which he, his wife and his five children had experienced on account of the war. A garrison had been kept constantly at his home, since the army had destroyed all his provisions. His Parish, St. James Santee (an incorporated church of which he was the first Rector), was the remotest of the provinces and therefore the most exposed. His parishioners had been forced to run away the 6th of May, 1815. The following week they returned to fortify themselves. ‘Our fortifications’, he writes, ‘being not yet finished, we heard the terrible news of Mr. Barker and his company killed. The Shen King (Schendkengh) fort taken and ye garrison miserably murdered by 500 Indians, whom they trusted but proved to be their enemies by burning a plantation and killing negroes in our settlement and by a plot to fall upon us and cut our throats.’ CLAUDE PHILIPPE DE RICHEBOURG died there in 1717-1719.”

From ANNALS OF HENRICO PARISH by Rt. Rev. Lew to Burton, D.O., we find these words on page 86: “The same records also show that in 1701, CLAUDE DE PHILIPPE RICHEBOURG is mentioned as minister of Henrico Parish (he was minister in charge of the Huguenot church at Manaking Towne on James River 1707-1711).”

The following is taken from page 15 HISTORY OF SUMTER COUNTY by Anne King Gregorie: “A number of the later settlers of the Wateree came from the Huguenot families of French Jamestown on Santee. Claudius Richbourg obtained grants in 1765 (It is possible that this is one of CLAUDE PHILIPPE’S sons).