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Records of the French Protestant School.


Collated and arranged by W. M. BEAUFORT, Secretary to the Institution,


THE little school, of which this volume contains the existing records, was founded in 1747 by the more wealthy Huguenot refugees for the benefit of the children of their poorer brethren. It is one of four surviving Huguenot institutions of London. The eldest of these is the French Protestant Episcopal Church of the Savoy founded in 1661 by Charles II, who in that year, acceding to the petition of the "Somerset House congregation gave them a place of worship in the precincts of the palace of the Savoy, on condition that they used the liturgy of the Church of England, and submitted to the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London. The Pasteur Mons. Durel, who subsequently was appointed Dean of Windsor, translated the "Book of Common Prayer" into French; and the service has been persistently conducted in strict conformity with the usage of the Church of England from 1661 to the present time. After the lapse of some years the congregration, having become unable to keep up the due repair of the building in the Savoy, migrated to Spring Gardens and joined one of the other Huguenot Churches there. Thence it migrated to other places and finally in 1845 a Church, designed by Mr Ambrose Poynter was built and consecrated in Bloomsbury Street, with a house for the accommodation of this little School along side of and attached to it. The children have for many years formed the choir of the Church, making the responses and singing the psalms and hymns in French.


* For a correspondence with the Government regarding the high-handed and shameful refusal to continue the payment of money due to the Church vide vol. II. of the Society's proceedings p. 491.



Another of the surviving Huguenot institutions is a poo: fund, which was established in 1794 for aid to the aged members of the community. The fund is administered by the members of the vestry of the Church; and the dole is distributed at the Church on the last Sunday in the month to about fifty or sixty poor men and women of not less than sixty years of age, who have to prove their French origin before their admission to the benefits of the fund.

The remaining Huguenot institution, the most flourishing of all is "The hospital for poor, sick, and infirm French protestants," which was founded in 1718. For many years it was in the parish of St. Luke, which was at that time an open suburb of the City. In the course of time that part of the City became crowded and unsuitable for such an institution and a new and handsome building was designed and its erection carried out under the loving and gratuitous supervision of the late Mr Robert Louis Roumieu. There, in close proximity to Victoria Park and Hackney Common the forty old women and twenty old men, all, unless admitted for some special reason over sixty years of age, enjoy the benefit of fresh air, and the comfort of a healthy and sanitary home with a Chaplain, a Doctor, and a Steward to see to their welfare and contentment. The School has existed since 1747. In it the little girls are housed, fed, clothed, and educated gratuitously. They cannot be admitted before they are seven years old or after twelve: and they leave at 143. In former years many candidates who had been registered for admission became too old before & vacancy occurred for their admission-but lately great care has been taken that no one should thus lose the benefit of the institution. Particular attention is paid to their French pronunciation, so that they may do their duty in the adjoining French Church creditably; and it is a small advantage that they have never been taught French previously and have therefore nothing to unlearn as regards accent. The education given is a simple elementary one corresponding to their station in life-and a certain number are told off each week to assist in the household work in order to qualify them for servant's places when they grow up. Even if the accommodation in the School house would adinit of more than fifteen girls being received, the funds of the charity would not suffice for its extension to a larger number.

I extremely regret to say that the records of the school are imperfect. The volume or volumes which contained the minutes of the meetings of the Directors of the schools before

1868 are missing; and the registers of the boys and girls, approved for admission, and of those who eventually entered the school, begins for the girls in 1786, and for the boys in 1787. Whereas we know from many of the certificates catalogued in this volume, that many children, both boys and girls, had passed through the school before that time-how many, it is now impossible to say.

On the death of the Rev. Mr Bouverie, I was elected secretary in May, 1884, and a year or so after, I came upon an old brown paper parcel, which contained about half of the certificates noted in this volume, rolled up without any care, and in "most admired confusion." These I smoothed out, catalogued, and pasted on to guards in two bound volumes. A year or so subsequently, another similar parcel was discovered, and these certificates have also been treated in a similar manner.1 It then occurred to me that our useful Society could not do a more helpful work than that of printing the lists which I have prepared. In all our Huguenot charitable institutions the candidates are required to prove their French origin. This from the lapse of time, and want of care of these documents among the poor, has become very difficult; but material aid can be given by such lists as these, inasmuch as in all these institutions we accept proof of relationship to any previously accepted recipient of any one of these charities as furnishing the necessary proof of the French origin of the candidate before us.

The first two lists in this volume give alphabetically the names of all those who appear in the existing old register as having been admitted as candidates from 1786.

The third list gives also alphabetically the names of all those whose certificates are now among our records.

The fourth list is simply an index to all the names of whatever description, other than the names of the children themselves, which are to be found upon these certificates.

The deciphering of the signatures upon some of these certificates has been very difficult; but I have done my best, and when in permanent doubt I have added a note of interrogation.

I have added as giving information of the names and dates of Huguenots, a transcript of the lists of "gifts" and legacies" inscribed upon five boards, which adorn the walls of the Committee room. The school is supported partly upon the interests of these sums, and partly by subscriptions.

1 The first set of Certificates have an asterisk before them in the general list.

In conclusion may I express a hope that what they find in these records may so interest the Fellows of our Society, as to induce them to assist in supporting this interesting and useful Huguenot institution.


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