Huguenot Refugees in Brandenburg and Berlin, Germany
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==== Introduction ====
==== Introduction ====
If your research journey takes you to the city of Berlin, Germany, or the former Prussian province of Brandenburg, you will probably sooner or later establish a “French Connection.” The Edict of Nantes had granted some freedom of religion in France; however, when King Louis XIV revoked the Edict in 1685, persecution and forcible conversion of Huguenots (French Protestants who were members of the Reformed Church established by John Calvin) caused thousands to flee. These religious refugees were accepted into many Protestant states, including Prussia. A large number settled in Brandenburg, but the refugees also had an impact upon Saxony-Anhalt (particularly Magdeburg), East Prussia, the Palatinate and other areas near the Rhine (including Alsace); the Frankfurt/Main area, Hesse-Kassel, Franconia, cities in northwestern Germany, Switzerland, England, Holland, and America. Because the Huguenots migrated not only to Prussia but found homes in many Germanic areas, it is important to understand their history and influence. Sources for researching Huguenot families are extensive. The church books (usually written in the French language) for the most part have been preserved.
If your research journey takes you to the city of Berlin, Germany, or the former Prussian province of Brandenburg, you will probably sooner or later establish a “French Connection.” The Edict of Nantes had granted some freedom of religion in France; however, when King Louis XIV revoked the Edict in 1685, persecution and forcible conversion of Huguenots (French Protestants who were members of the Reformed Church established by John Calvin) caused thousands to flee. These religious refugees were accepted into many Protestant states, including Prussia. A large number settled in Brandenburg, but the refugees also had an impact upon Saxony-Anhalt (particularly Magdeburg), East Prussia, the Palatinate and other areas near the Rhine (including Alsace); the Frankfurt/Main area, Hesse-Kassel, Franconia, cities in northwestern Germany, Switzerland, England, Holland, and America. Because the Huguenots migrated not only to Prussiabut found homes in many Germanic areas, it is important to understand their history and influence. Sources for researching Huguenot families are extensive. The church books (usually written in the Frenchlanguage) for the most part have been preserved.
==== Example from Church Record<br> ====
==== Example from Church Record<br> ====
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If your research journey takes you to the city of Berlin, Germany, or the former Prussian province of Brandenburg, you will probably sooner or later establish a “French Connection.” The Edict of Nantes had granted some freedom of religion in France; however, when King Louis XIV revoked the Edict in 1685, persecution and forcible conversion of Huguenots (French Protestants who were members of the Reformed Church established by John Calvin) caused thousands to flee. These religious refugees were accepted into many Protestant states, including Prussia. A large number settled in [[Brandenburg|Brandenburg], but the refugees also had an impact upon Saxony-Anhalt (particularly Magdeburg), East Prussia, the Palatinate and other areas near the Rhine (including Alsace); the Frankfurt/Main area, Hesse-Kassel, Franconia, cities in northwestern Germany, Switzerland, England, Holland, and America. Because the Huguenots migrated not only to Prussia but found homes in many Germanic areas, it is important to understand their history and influence. Sources for researching Huguenot families are extensive. The church books (usually written in the French language) for the most part have been preserved.
Example from Church Record
If you are researching a family in Berlin, you may encounter an entry such as the one below that was found in the Sankt Georgen Lutheran parish in Berlin. It provides the following information [translated from the German]:
Charlotte Sophie Louise Kottke, age 34, eldest daughter of the citizen and clothmaker Johann David Kottke, separated from the deceased Johann Kowalis, shoemaker of this place, was married in the French Church to Abraham Devrient, age 39, Victualienhändler of this place, eldest son of the deceased Kantor of Gross Ziethen Abraham Devrient. The death certificate of Kowalis was returned and the divorce certificate of the bride has been given to the French Church.1
The entry was recorded in the year 1823 but no marriage date was given. Additional information regarding this couple can be found in the French Reformed church records of Berlin. It reads:
Le 31 Aout 1823 le Min. Cat. Henry a beni le mariage d’Abraham Devrient, Marchand de Vions[?], nat. de Gross-Ziethen, fils de def. Abraham Devrient et de def. Marie Elisabeth Mathieu d’une part et de Charlotte Sophie Louise Kotke, veuve Kowalis, nat. de Berlin, fille de Jean David Kotke et de Sophie Charlotte Schulz.
By checking both the Lutheran church record and the French Reformed church record, additional information regarding this family was obtained.
Huguenots in Brandenburg
The background and history of the Huguenots in Brandenburg is well presented in History of the French Protestant Refugees, from the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes to our own Days by Charles M. Weiss. Extracts from this work have been included in this article.
Religious liberty, banished from France, found in Brandenburg an inviolable asylum. The French Protestants could depend on a kinder and more earnest reception, because the court of Prussia was Calvinist and nearly French itself. In 1611 the Margrave Johann Georg went to the university of Saumur, where he contracted the strictest friendship with Duplessis Mornay, several of whose descendants subsequently attached themselves to the French colonies. In 1614 he openly embraced Calvinism, whether that he preferred the doctrine of the Genevese Reformer to that of Luther, or that he desired thus to consolidate his alliance with Holland. His brother Joachim Sigismund was sent, a few years later, to the university of Sedan.
The calamities that afflicted the House of Brandenburg, during the 30 Years’ War, left Frederic William no opportunity of visiting France. But that prince who was the real founder of the greatness of his house, received notwithstanding a truly French education at the court of Orange, where his father George William sent him in his earliest youth. The Princes of Orange, heirs of the ancient Counts of Chalons, had been long established in Holland, but their court was French, and Frederic William there became intimate with the Bouillons, the Turennes, and the flower of the French Protestant nobility. His marriage with Louisa Henrietta, daughter of the Stadtholder, Frederic Henry, grandson of William the Taciturn, and of Louisa de Chatillon, daughter of Coligny, contributed to secure even more firmly the ascendance of the French language at the court of Berlin. The first offices of the state were filled only by men who had lived long in Paris, and both spoke and wrote French. One of the most distinguished families of that country, that of the Counts of Dohna, had almost ceased to be German, from its long residence in France, and the alliances it had there contracted.2
But it was not the birth and education only of Frederic William which gave him a lively sympathy with the refugees. Reasons of state engaged him yet more strongly to receive warmly all who applied to him for an asylum. On his accession to the throne, in 1640, he had found his country depopulated by war, its fields left desert, its commerce and manufactures utterly ruined. Wherefore he strove above all things during his long reign, to heal the wounds that Brandenburg had received. All strangers who would settled there were certain to receive succor, establishments, or lands for cultivation. The persecutions directed against the Protestants by Louis XIV seemed to afford him a favorable opportunity for introducing from other parts into his own states, a portion of that honest and industrious population, which had participated in the general progress made by industry, commerce, literature, and arts in the French kingdom. He perceived that in receiving them it was not fugitives void of resource to whom he was offering an asylum, but to active industrious men, who would give their talents in exchange for the advantages extended to them.3
Edict of Potsdam
Schwerin, his minister near the court of Versailles, took advantage of the first rigorous measure put in force against the Protestants, to invite them to establish themselves in Brandenburg. As early as the year 1661, several French families took up their abode in Berlin. Their number increased by degrees, and at the end of a few years the elector permitted them to found a church, in which service was performed in the French tongue for the first time on the 10th of June 1672. This community, which was the cradle of the colony of Berlin, was not at the first composed of above a hundred families, the most illustrious of which was that of Count Louis de Beauveau d’Espenses. The number of refugees did not greatly increase until the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. But scarce had Louis XIV committed that irrevocable error, ere Frederic William resolved to turn it to his profit. He hastened to reply to the edict of revocation, on the 29th of October 1685 by the edict of Potsdam. He declared in the preamble of that memorable act –
"29 October 1685
Inasmuch as the persecutions and rigorous proceedings recently had, in France, against all of the reformed religion, have compelled many families to leave that kingdom and establish themselves abroad, we have determined, as being touched by the just compassion, which we are bound to feel for all who suffer for the Gospel’s sake, and for the purity of that faith, which we hold in common with them, to offer to the aforesaid French, by this present edict, signed with our own hand, a sure and free asylum in all the lands and provinces of our dominion; and to declare to them at once what rights, franchises, and privileges we intend that they should enjoy, to console them, and repair in some degree the calamities with which divine Providence has seen it good to strike so considerable a portion of his church."
The declaration of Potsdam opened to the refugees a safe and inviolable asylum in the states of the elector. It promised them, moreover, the most efficacious protection, while traversing the countries that must be passed in order to reach Brandenburg. The representative of Frederic William near the States General of the United Provinces at Amsterdam, received charge to furnish them with provisions and transport of Hamburg, where the Prussian resident had instructions to aid them in reaching the towns where they should desire to settle. Those who escaped from France by way of Sedan, the district of Metz, or by Burgundy and the provinces of the south, were invited to repair to Frankfurt an the Main, where the Prussian resident would supply them with subsidies, and find them means of transport. Thence they were instructed to descend the Rhine to Cleves, and to establish themselves in that duchy, or in the county of La Marck, which the provisional partition of Santen had adjudged to the House of Brandenburg. Great facilities were granted to those who should prefer to penetrate farther into the Prussian states. The goods which they brought with them should pay neither duties nor tolls. What deserted houses might be found in towns, should be assigned to them in fee simple. The local authorities were instructed to furnish them with timber, lime, bricks, and every thing necessary for their reconstruction. For the space of six years they were declared exempt from all taxation. The gardens, meadow land, and pasturages belonging to the properties were to be equally assigned to them.4
The freedom of the boroughs was secured to all the refugees in the towns where they should fix their abode. They should be admitted at once into the corporations of the trades they should choose on their arrival. To such as should desire to create manufactories, the edict secured the privileges and aids necessary for the success of their enterprises. To the agriculturists, land was offered for cultivation.5
To the refugee nobles, offices, honors, dignities, and in case of their purchasing fiefs, the same rights and prerogatives possessed by the nobility of the country. In cities, wherein several families of the refugees should settle, they were allowed to appoint judges for the arrangement of their private differences apart from any formal process. Should disputes arise between the French and Germans, they must be jointly decided by the ordinary magistrate of the palace, and the person freely chosen by the newcomers. A preacher was attached to each colony, for the performance of church service in the French tongue, according to the ceremonial of the reformed churches in France. Special commissioners were appointed in every province for the protection of the refugees, who were instructed to correspond, for that end, with the general commission at Berlin, having it in charge to report to the elector.6
The declaration of Frederic William rapidly spread through France. The intendants of the Provinces in vain published severe orders to oblige all who might receive copies, to deliver them over to the magistrates. They affirmed, in vain, that the edict of Potsdam was a forgery. No one was deceived by this falsehood. The town of Frankfurt was speedily filled with emigrants hurrying from the provinces of the east of France. The resident of the elector, Matthew Merian, provided for all their necessities. The princes, whose states they must necessarily traverse, especially the Landgrave of Hesse, had been forewarned of their coming. Therefore he caused them to be hospitably received in all parts of his dominions, not as distressed exiles, but as the adopted subjects of a powerful monarch. On the frontiers of Brandenburg, they found commissioners waiting to receive them, succor them, and introduce them into their new country. Scarcely, indeed, had they the means of discerning that they had entered a foreign land.
Those who had made their exit by the provinces on the frontier of the Low Countries, found at Amsterdam eager and sincere assistants in the two agents of the Elector, Romswinckel and Dietz, and thence the resident Gericke dispatched them to the different parts of Brandenburg, in which they wished to reside. Therefore their arrival in that country did not in this respect partake the appearance of a flight. They were expected, welcomed with a friendly hand, and found the base of their new fortunes laid in advance by their generous protector. The refugees naturalized in Brandenburg were not, however, absolutely mingled with the natives of the land. For, apprehending that they might subsequently desire to transfer themselves to England or Holland, whither a population more industrious, more commercial, and more advanced in arts and letters, would seem to attract them, and wishing to attach them to a land, the language, customs, and manners of which were entirely strange to them, the elector suffered them to continue in some measure a separate national body. They had, as in France, their courts of justice, consistories, and their synods; in a word, all the affairs which concerned them were transacted as in France. Thus it appeared to them, that they were still actually living among their friends, so much to them did Brandenburg resemble their lost country. Therefore, not only did these colonies subsist undiminished, but were constantly increased by the successive arrivals of refugees at first established in Switzerland, Holland, and England. Waldenses, Walloons, Orangists, whole families from Geneva, the pays de Vaud, Neufchatel, and Montbeliard arrived, each after each, to enjoy the privileges of the new country offered to their adoptions.7
The establishment of the new refugees imposed yet new expenses on the elector. The charges of transportation, the subsistence of the poor, the advances to the merchants, manufacturers, artisans, and laborers, the pensions, which were necessarily granted to a host of nobles and officers for whom employment was not to be found, entailed burdens the more onerous, because the state, consisting of but two millions of souls, deprived of her industrious pursuits, and exhausted by a recent ruinous war, seemed to offer but feeble and insufficient resources. Frederic William prudently avoided all recourse to taxation, the effect of which would have exposed the refugees to the hatred of his German subjects. He hesitated not to draw on his own privy purse. "I will sell," said he, one day, "my very plate, before they shall want resources." In the early times of their arrival, all claimed the aid of the prince, even the most active and industrious. But the elector foresaw that his sacrifices would be but temporary, and that the industry of the exiles would ere long repay with usury his slender advances. He presumed, farther, that in the end the most of them would recover a portion of the fortunes which they had possessed in their native country. It was also an erroneous idea, that the first refugees carried abroad only their misfortunes and their hopes. It was estimated that the average sum which each individual brought with him from the kingdom, was no less than two hundred crowns. In the first years subsequent to the revocation, French silver formed the greater part of the circulating medium of the country, guineas which had been put into circulation by the refugees, were commonly found in Germany, known as old guineas. The elector took advantage of these early resources. Most of the refugees had but the revenues of their capital whereon to subsist, and it was difficult for them to realize the value of these. He came, therefore, to their aid, by ordering such sums as they chose to deposit, to be received by his treasury, for which obligations were given to them, bearing interest of six, seven, and eight per centum, redeemable, at three months notice on the treasurer.
Four illustrious refugees, already some years established in Brandenburg, were placed in charge of all that concerned the domiciliation of their future companions in exile. The Count of Beauveau, Claude du Bellay, Henry of Briquenault, and Walter of Saint Blancard.
The Count de Beauveau, Lord d'Espenses, had been originally a lieutenant-colonel in the service of Louis XIV. His promotion in the French army had been precluded because of his religion, and he had obtained permission to leave the kingdom, and had been a resident in Brandenburg 15 years before the revocation. He was made lieutenant-general of his armies, colonel of the body guard, and master of the horse. He was the actual founder of the church of Berlin. It was he, whom the elector appointed to watch over the settlement of the original emigrants of the Isle de France, in which he had passed his youth.
Claude du Bellay, Lord of Anché, was the issue of one of the most ancient families of Anjou. He had arrived at Berlin several years before the revocation. The elector named him his chamberlain, and intrusted him with the education of the three Margraves, Albert Frederic, Charles Philip, and Christian Louis. At a later period, he associated him with the Count de Beauveau, for the establishment of the original refugees of Anjou and Poitou.
Henry of Briquemault, Baron of St. Loup, in the Duchy of Rethel, was descended from one of the most considerable of the reformed families. The elector had named him lieutenant-general, appointed him to raise a regiment of cuirassiers, confided to him the government of Lippstadt, and given him charge to preside over the establishment of the original refugees of Champagne, who had taken refuge in Westphalia. He it is, who organized the first colonies at Lippstadt, Ham, Soest, and Minden, and founded the French churches of Cleves, Wesel, Emmerich, and Duisburg. Walter de Saint Blancard, ex-pastor of Montpéllier, was named chaplain of the Court of Berlin, and charged with the settlement of the refugees of Languedoc. It was he who presented to the elector the French of high birth. The Electress Louisa Henrietta, and the future Queen Sophia Charlotte, caused the women, driven from their country, to be presented to them; and by a delicate attention, the strictness of the court etiquette was relaxed in their favor, and they were presented in their black dresses, as if clothed in that voluntary indigence, which they had preferred before apostasy.8
Among the other leaders of the emigration, one of the most notable was David Ancillon, the pastor of Metz. In spite of the Edict of Nantes, and the treaty of Westphalia, on the strict execution of which the tranquillity of all Europe seemed to depend, the district of Metz, hitherto regarded as a conquered country, was involved in the common calamity which fell on all the Protestants in 1685. Measures had been so well taken, that the revocation of the edict was registered on the same day as at Paris. It was carried to Metz on October 22. The temple was closed on the 24th, and on the following day the demolition was carried into effect. The pastors, Ancillon, De Combles, Joly, and Bancelin, vainly invoked the privileges. “What?” cried Louis rudely, “when they have but one step to take to leave the kingdom, are they not yet out of it?” On the news of this reply they set off for Brandenburg. The elector received them with honors, and appointed Ancillon pastor of the court church at Berlin. Those who remained, underwent a cruel persecution. Paul Chinevix, the president of the councilors of the parliament of Metz, at the time above eighty years old, of which he had sat fifty-three upon the Fleurs de lis, courageously resisted, on his death-bed, both the entreaties and menaces of the governor, and drew his last breath refusing the communion of the Romish church. The inferior court of judicature commanded that his body should be dragged to burial on a hurdle. The indignant parliament, in vain, issued a supersedeas on the execution of that barbarous decree, which was authorized by the rigor of the edicts. An order of the Court removed the supersedeas, and the body of the old gentleman was infamously trailed through the streets. This barbarous sentence, and the dread of having their children torn from them, determined two or three thousand of the inhabitants of Metz to take refuge in Brandenburg. Many of these settled in Berlin, whither the reputation of Ancillon attracted them.
David Ancillon watched over the settlements of the refugees from Metz, as did the County de Beauveau over that of the refugees from the Isle of France, Henry de Briquemault over those from Champagne, Walter de Saint Blancard over those of Languedoc, Claude du Bellay over those from Anjou and Poitou. It is not possible to state correctly the number of all the French who arrived in Brandenburg. For the space of several years, they migrated, not only from one colony to another, but often from one country of refuge to a neighboring realm. Frequently they arrived one by one, without having their names inscribed on the rolls of entry. In the list of colonists which Charles Ancillon was instructed to draw up, in 1697, the number of immigrants amounts only to 12,297; but in this statement were not included those who scattered themselves through the country, and became confounded with the ancient inhabitants, or settled in towns which possessed no French churches. Above all, the soldiery, who at that time composed five regiments, were not included. If to these be added the 3,000 French refugees who, having at first planted themselves in Switzerland, afterwards joined the colonies of Brandenburg, in 1699, and about 2,000 refugees from the principality of Orange, who arrived in the first years of the 18th century; the sum total cannot amount to less than 25,000 men. These may be divided into six classes, soldiery, gentlemen, men of letters and artists, merchants, manufacturers, and agriculturists, without taking account of proletarians wholly devoid of means. All received assistance in money, employment, and privileges, and all contributed in degree vastly superior to their numbers, to the greatness of their adopted country.
Many of the exiles devoted themselves exclusively to trade. In the outset they sold only at retail; they had no cash-keepers, no bookkeepers, no clerks. It was the merchant himself or sometimes even his wife or children, who filled these offices. They went to the most frequented fairs, often on foot, their wares on their backs. Their simplicity of manner and stern economy laid the foundations of great fortunes. With the growth of their means they aspired to extend the growth of their busines. Soon they contented themselves no more with domestic traffic, but frequented foreign frontiers. These incipient efforts were facilitated by the immigrant Protestants, already settled in nearly all the German cities. The central position of the market of Brandenburg also great favored that traffic. By slow degrees, the merchants established in that province rendered themselves the commercial agents for all who trafficked in the Northern States. Berlin, Magdeburg, Frankfort, became commercial places. The Elbe and Oder were covered with ships; all the great roads were thronged with carriages importing foreign merchandise, and exporting the manufactures of the country.9
Encyclopedia of German Huguenot Places
A comprehensive list of sources for all the Huguenot places in Germany (within the borders of 1919) can be found in the Encyclopedia of German Huguenot places Lexikon deutschen Hugenotten-Orte by Johannes E. Bischoff. This book contains many abbreviations but if you spend some time examining its many facets, you will find a treasure trove of information.10
In addition, Eberhard Gresch has published Reformierte Gemeinden in Sachsen-Anhalt und Sachsen. This book offers valuable references regarding the history of the individual communities and the existence of the preserved church books. By searching the Encyclopedia of German Huguenot places, We can discover information about Gross Ziethen, the place where the Devrient family resided in the early 1800s:
Gross Ziethen was established in 1686 as a French-Reformed parish in the Prussian province of Brandenburg. [The villages of Gross and Klein Ziethen were previously burnt to the ground in the 30 Years' War]. Refugees came in four waves in 1686/87, 1695, 1697/98 and 1700. First sermon in the German language was preached in 1801, services then alternated between French and German, and since 1813 services have been in German. The oldest church books were destroyed in a fire in 1726. Records for these years are available in Gross Ziethen, Germany:
However, repeated attempts to receive information information from this parish by correspondence have failed. [Transcripts of parish registers for Gross and Klein Ziethen for the years 1796-1874 can be found in the collection of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City; film numbers 1273013-1273015].
Published literature for Gross Ziethen as listed in Bischoff includes these titles:
Muret, Eduard. Geschichte der Französischen Kolonie in Brandenburg-Preussen, unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Berliner Gemeinde, pp. 278-282. (Berlin, 1885).
Devaranne, Eugène. Die Französisch-Reformierte-Kirchengemeinde Gross und Klein Ziethen. Berlin, 1885. Also published as Geschichtsblatt des Deutschen Hugenotten-Vereins e.V. II, 5, 1893.
Fischer, Otto. Evangelisches Pfarrerbuch für die Mark Brandenburg seit der Reformation. Berlin, 1941, p. 191.
Manoury, Karl. Die Geschichte der Französischen Kirche zu Berlin 1672-1955. Berlin: Consistorium der Franz. Kirche, 1955, pp. 81-89.
Oqueka, Johanna. 300 Jahre reformierte Pastoren in der Uckermark. Berlin, 1979, pp. 45-52.
Historisches Ortslexikon für Brandenburg. VIII. Uckermark; pp. 1165-1168. Weimar: Böhlau, 1986.
Die Hugenotten in den Dörfern Gross und Klein Zeithen 1686-1986. Vereinigten Presbyterium des franz.-reform. Pfarrsprengels Gross Ziethen, 1986.
Béringuier, Richard. Die Colonieliste von 1699. Berlin, 1883.
The above bibliography represents the type of information that can be found in the Encyclopedia for each of the Huguenot places identified in the Bischoff book.
By 1687 Huguenots made up about 20 percent of the population of Berlin, making Berlin seem almost as much a French town as a German one. In the 18th century Germany looked to France as the model of civilization. French became the language of the educated elite and of the court at Potsdam on the outskirts of Berlin. However, as the century progressed from the time of the arrival of the colonists in Berlin, usage of the French language gradually decreased until it was no longer used as the language of their daily conversation. Their commercial dealings with the Germans, and the marriages contracted between the persons of the two nations, gradually merged them together. The reorganization of Prussia in 1808, when it deprived the French corporate communities of the particular constitution which had existed from the first years of the emigration, and confounded them, so far as the administration of justice, and the supervision of their churches and schools, with the other communes of the kingdom, tended far to produce the same result. The single colony of Berlin resisted still, for years, the encroaching operation of Prussian nationality, and would perhaps have sustained yet longer its peculiar character, had not two decisive circumstances, the victorious revival of German literature and language, which followed the death of Frederic the Great, and the political reaction of 1813 and 1814, intervened to hasten a transformation, which was sooner or later inevitable.
The humiliating defeat of Jena, and the desolating treaty of Tilsit, finally dissolved the last surviving sympathies of Prussia, for the tongue yet spoken by most of the families of French origin. From that time forth, the people of Berlin gave up the practice of writing French addresses to letters written in German. Many of the refugees followed the example; many, indeed, had already translated their family names into the corresponding German terms. The Lacroix, Laforge, Depré, Hareng, and Sauvage families had already adopted the German equivalents of their names: Kreutz, Schmidt, Wiese, Hering, Wild. Others had merely altered their real names by adopting a pronunciation which assimilated them to the German pronunciation. It is thus that the family of Boutemont, destined to give to Germany one of her most famous Hellenists, found its appellation changed to Buttman. 11
German Huguenot Societies
Those with Huguenot genealogy will be well-advised to become acquainted with the German Huguenot Society (Deutschen Hugenotten-Gesellschaft e.V.) This association with headquarters in Bad Karlshafen has an extensive archive with library and museum as well as numerous publications. It is an indispensable source for the Huguenot family researcher. For example, in this archive you will find the church books of the French Reformed community of Stettin available on microfilm. Two other organizations with many good resources for Huguenot genealogy are: Arbeitsgemeinschaft Genealogie im Kultur- und Heimatverein Magdeburg e.V. and also the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Mitteldeutsche Familienforschung. 12
The French Reformed church in Berlin (Hugenottenkirche) was established in 1672. By 1700 approximately 6,000 French Huguenots had settled in Berlin which was approximately one-third of the population at that time. Other Huguenots settled in other cities and towns in Brandenburg, particularly in the Uckermark.
Up to the year 1819, the refugees had possessed in the Berlin area seven churches; those of the Klosterstrasse, of Werder (Friedrichswerder), of the Dorotheenstadt; of the Louisenstadt, of l’Hôpital, of the Catechists, of the Friendrichstadt, constructed on the model of the Temple at Charenton, and during the whole of this long period, they had exclusively celebrated, in all these, their worship in the French language. From this year forth, however, the sermons in them were preached alternately in French and German. From the year 1830, the German tongue began to prevail and worship was only performed yearly in the French tongue, and that only in respect to the wishes of a few aged persons. In Berlin today, sermons may be in German or French.
French Reformed Communities in Brandenburg
Early French Reformed church communities were established in these localities in Brandenburg:
Berlin-Cöpenick (later known as Luisenstadt)
Parstein or Paarstein
The most complete collection of French Reformed church books can be found at:
Consistorium der Französischen Kirche
Bibliothek, Archiv, Museum
Early records for Berlin-Friedrichstadt for the years 1673-1875 are available on 36 rolls of microfilm in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and its branches throughout the world. [FHL film numbers 1271124-1271142 and 1270799-1270815]. Early church entries in this parish often identify the former place of residence in France or Germany. This parish would be the first place to search if your ancestors were Huguenots in Berlin. Birth, marriage, and death information may be found in Dom church before the establishment of the church in Friedrichstadt.
The Family History Library microfilm collection also contains French Reformed church records for Angermünde (1852-1853); Cöpenick (1693-1832); Frankfurt an der Oder (1686-1692); Französisch Buchholz (1692-1875); Gramzow, including Potzlow ( ); Potsdam (1723-1875); Prenzlau (1687-1931); and a few extracts from Strasburg. These records for the most part are written in the French language.
1St. Georgen Parish Register, Berlin, Brandenburg, Preussen [FHL ]
2Weiss, The French Revolution in Germany, p. 128.
3Weiss, The French Revolution in Germany, p. 129.
4Weiss, The French Revolution in Germany, p. 131.
5In conformity with the promises of the Edict of Potsdam, commissioners chosen by the elector distributed among the French agriculturists the lands that appeared most suitable to their use. Not only did they enjoy, in common with the other refugees, immunity from taxation for a number of years, but were moreover exonerated in perpetuity, themselves and their descendants, from all statute labor, liable to a fixed annual redemption. This, in fact, placed them in a vastly higher position than that of the French peasantry, who were ground to the earth by the combined burdens of public dues and feudal duties. Frederic William's commissioners assigned to the refugees, not only lands, but also materials for the construction of houses and granges. Each individual received about fifty crowns for the purchase of implements of husbandry; and with a view to attach them more strongly to their new settlements, and removed all inducement to removing from them, lands were assigned, not only to the several families, but to the colonies corporate. It was expressly declared in the statute, that they should descend from parents to children, and that, in case of the extinction of any family, their lands should be salable only to refugees, the descendants of refugees, or to persons uniting themselves to the French colonies.
The French cultivators, who settled in Brandenburg, came principally from Champagne, the district of Sedan, Picardy, the district of Metz, and French Flanders, recently overrun and conquered by the armies of Louis the Fourteenth. Their numbers continued to increase, for some years at least, by the successive arrivals of a multitude of Waldenses, driven from the valleys of Piedmont by the Duke of Savoy; but the greater part of these returned to their own country, in 1690, when that prince rejoined the allies in that year, and declared war on France; after which time few only of these families remained in Brandenburg.
Two other immigrations farther augmented the agricultural colonies; the one was the arrival of about 3,000 refugees, who first established in Switzerland, where they found themselves but scantily subsisted among its rugged mountains, withdrew thence into Brandenburg in 1698; the other, five years later, consisted of the influx of about 2,000 Orangists, formerly subjects of William III, who, flying before the troops of the Count de Grignau, sought an asylum in the states of the elector. Most of these attached themselves to the establishments set on foot by the French cultivators at Halle, Magdeburg, Neuhaldensleben, Halberstadt, and Stendal, and participated in all the privileges extended to their precursors.
The most valuable branch of agriculture with which the refugees enriched Brandenburg was the culture of tobacco; the soil of the Ukraine marches, and that of the duchy of Magdeburg, being especially adapted to that new article, which was introduced and speedily brought to perfection by the French colonists. Weiss, p. 166.
6Weiss, The French Revolution in Germany, p. 132.
7Weiss, The French Revolution in Germany, p. 133.
8Weiss, The French Revolution in Germany, p. 136.
9 Weiss, The French Revolution in Germany, p. 163.
10In addition, Eberhard Gresch has published Reformierte Gemeinden in Sachsen-Anhalt und Sachsen.
11Weiss, The French Revolution in Germany, p. 208.
12Familienforschung in Mitteldeutschland 40:3:142.
Bellon, Eugen. Scattered to All the Winds, 1685-1720: Migrations of the Dauphine French Huguenots into Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. West Lafayette, IN: Belle Publications, 1983. [FHL 944.97/Q1 W2b or fiche 6068505].
Beringuier, Richard. Die Stammbäume der Mitglieder der französischen Gemeinde in Berlin. [Genealogy of families of the French colony in Berlin]. [FHL 106811]
Bischoff, Johannes E. The Huguenots in Franken [FHL 943.3 F2hf].
Bischoff, Johannes E. Lexikon deutscher Hugenotten-Orte mit Literatur- und Quellen-Nachweisen für ihre evangelisch-reformierten Refugies-Gemeinden von Flamen, Franzosen, Waldensern und Wallonen. Bad Karlshafen: Verlag des Deutschen Hugenotten-Vereins e.V.: 1994. [FHL 943 F2gd Vol. 22].
Desel, Jochen. Hugenottenkirchen in Hessen-Kassel. [FHL 943 F2gd v. 21].
Dubief, Henri. Le College Royal Français de Berlin en 1880 [The Berlin French Royal College in 1880]. In Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français. 129(4) 539-545 (1983). The French Royal College was founded in Berlin on 1 December 1689 by French Huguenots who had taken refuge there after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685). The article focuses on changes in teaching orientation and curricula, particularly following the time of the French educational reforms in 1880.
Duranton, Henri. La vie quotidienne des Pasteurs du Refuge Huguenot dans l'allemagne du nord au temps de l’Aufklärung. [The pastors' daily life in the Huguenots' refuge in northern Germany during the Enlightenment]. In: Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français 130(2): 175-192 (1984). Article is based on the voluminous correspondence of Jean Henri Samuel Formey (1711-97), Perpetual Secretary of the Academy of Berlin. Formey corresponded for more than 50 years with Huguenot pastors who had taken refuge in Northern Germany at the time of the Enlightenment. His correspondence consisted of more than 20,000 letters with approximately 700 correspondents, many of them pastors. Based on sources in the East Berlin Staatsbibliothek and the Jagellonian Library in Cracow.
Ferguson, Laraine K. "From France to Prussia. Huguenot Refugees in Brandenburg & Berlin," in German Genealogical Digest, 20:3: 70-84.
Giuseppi, Montague S. Naturalization of Foreign Protestants in the American and West Indies Colonies. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1979. Includes the naturalizations records of 6,500 individuals, 1740-1722.
Gresch, Eberhard. Reformierte Gemeinden in Sachsen-Anhalt und Sachsen, Bad Karlshafen, 1998.
Hayes, Arnaud. "Jean Henri Samuel Formey (1711-1797): Un Journaliste de la Republique des Lettres" [Jean Henri Samuel Formey (1711-97): a journalist of the Republic of Letters]. In Francia 1994 21(2): 245-253 (1994). A summary of the author's 1993 dissertation on Formey, who was the French Huguenot secretary of the Royal Academy of Science and Letters in Berlin.
Heimann, Heinz-Dieter. "Brandenburger Toleranz zwischen Anspruch, Mythos und Dementi: Historisch-Politische Annäherungen An Das "Edikt Von Potsdam" [Tolerance in Brandenburg between claim, myth, and refutation: a historical-political approach to the Edict of Potsdam]. In: Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte [Netherlands] 52(2): 115-125 (2000).
Die Hugenottenkirche, im Selbstverlag des Consistoriums der Französischen Kirche zu Berlin, 1947-.
Hugenotten in Meichow/Uckermark. [FHL 943.15/M1 F2o].
Jensen, Larry O. ”The Huguenots in Germanic Areas” in German Genealogical Digest 2:4:198 (1986).
Die Kolonie. Organ für die ausseren und inneren Angelegenheiten der französisch-reformierten Gemeinden, Berlin, 1875-1882. (Index to contents can be found in Geschichtblätter des Deutschen Hugenotten Vereins e.V. 18:6 ). [FHL 943 F2gd vol. 18 pt. 6]
Kuke, Hans-Joachim. “Jean de Bodt: Huguenot Architect and Engineer”. In: Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland 26(4): 500-510 (1996). This article discusses the work in Germany of the Huguenot architect Jean de Bodt (1670-1745) and his contribution to civil and military architecture and engineering in Brandenburg and Saxony.
Magdelaine, Michelle. “Exil et Voyage: Le Refuge Huguenot et L'errance” [Exile and journey: Huguenot refuge and wandering]. In Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Geschichte 49(1): 105-114 (1999). This article is based on recent research regarding the migration and exile of French Huguenots after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. A new computerized database incorporating archival material from France, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Great Britain provides a more comprehensive picture of the migration and reception of this exiled population.
Magdelaine, Michelle. "Le Refuge: le Role de Francfort-Sur-Le-Main" [The refuge: the role of Frankfurt-am-Main] in Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français 131(4): 485-494 (1985). Studies the French Huguenot exodus following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 through an analysis of the archives of the French church in Frankfurt, Germany, which recorded the passage of 46,000 refugees in 1685-93. Few settled in Frankfurt, as it was a Lutheran town and they were Calvinists, but the church did assist them by allocating food, clothing, and funds, on presentation of proof of their refugee status. The majority of them came from the Dauphiné province in southeastern France, and were textile and agricultural workers. Based on documents from the Frankfurt municipal archives (Französische Reformierte Gemeinde), Basel, Switzerland city archives (Kirchen Akten), and secondary sources.
Magdelaine, Michelle. "Les Huguenots sur le Chemin de l'Exil" [The Huguenots on their way to exile]. In Histoire (77): 68-73 (1985). An account of the clandestine exodus of 200,000 Huguenots who, at the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, 1685, preferred exile in Germany, Switzerland, or other countries rather than to remain in France and suffer persecution.
Muret, Ed. Geschichte der Französischen Kolonie in Brandenburg-Preussen, unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Berliner Gemeinde. Berlin: Büxenstein, 1885. [FHL Q943 F2me or film 824133]. This book describes colonies in Berlin and also provides histories for most of the colonies in Brandenburg and elsewhere including these places: Pasewalk, Potsdam, Prenzlau, Schwedt, Vierraden, Soest, Spandau, Stargard, Stendal, Stettin, Strassburg i. Uckermark, Tornow, Hohenfinow, Wesel, Gross and Klein Ziethen. It also includes a list of family names of the French colony in Berlin (566 names) as of 31 December 1700. Colonists are also listed for Kölln (1604 names), Werder (571 names); Dorotheenstadt (1519 names), Friedrichstadt (1067 names), and many of the other French colonies in this area.
“Naissances Illegitimes dans la Communaute Française de Berlin au XVIIIe Siecle” [Illegitimate births in the French community in Berlin in the 18th century]. In Histoire, Economie et Société [France] 1990 9(4): 555-565. Article presents a statistical analysis of illegitimate births in the French (mostly Huguenot) community in Berlin in the 18th century.
Olson, Alison G. "Huguenots And Palatines." In Historian 2001 63(2): 269-285 (2001). Compares and contrasts the reception the English gave to the Huguenots (French Protestants) in the 1680's and Palatine German Protestants in the early 1700's.
Pennendreff, A. de. Un Village Huguenot en Allemagne: Friedrichsdorf. [A Huguenot village in Germany: Friedrichsdorf]. In Miroir de l'Histoire 7(81): 319-323. (1956). Friedrichsdorf was founded by Huguenot refugees in 1686.
Quelques listes de Colonies de 1709 et de1710. Lists of persons and families in various French Huguenot and Walloon colonies in Sachsen and Brandenburg, Germany. Includes register of births, marriages, and deaths for the colony in Frankfurt an der Oder. [FHL film 1949481].
Reaman, G. Elmore. The Trail of the Huguenots in Europe, the United States, South Africa, and Canada. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1963; reprinted 1993.
Ruymbeke, Bertrand van. “Escape From Babylon”. In Christian History 2001 20(3): 38-42.
Weiss, M. Charles. History of the French Protestant Refugees, from the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes to our own days. Translated from the French by Henry William Herbert, 2 vols. New York: Stringer and Townsend, 1854. [FHL 940 W2w].
Yon, Catherine. “La Communate Huguenote de Karlshafen au XVIIIe Siecle” [The Huguenot community of Karlshafen in the 18th century]. In Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français [France] 131(2): 189-213 (1985).
Zwerg, Otto. Auszüge aus den Kirchenbüchern der Französische -Reformierte Kirche zu Strasburg. [FHL 943.1/S2 K28zo].