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Brief Historical Overview of Huguenots
Huguenot - any of the Protestants in France developed during the 16th century Protestant Reformation and who suffered severe persecution for their faith for many years.
The Edict of Nantes in 1598 guaranteed the Huguenots virtual freedom of religion. In 1685 the Edict of Nantes was revoked, which despite laws against emigration more than 250,000 Huguenots fled to Germany, Holland, England, Switzerland and America.
The main wave of Protestant refugees was the one of the late 17th century, emigration started well before 1685 (revocation of Edict of Nantes), but the trickle of 1675 onwards became a flood after 1685. It has been estimated that over 40,000 refugees settled in England, in addition to those who passed through on their way to Ireland or America.
All sections of the French population were represented from nobility to labourers, the majority came from artisan classes, weavers were especially numerous.
The origin of the term 'Huguenot' is uncertain, one theory attributes the word to the French inability to pronounce the German word 'Eidgenosse', meaning a companion, comrade or partner who has sworn an oath i.e., a confederate. In Swiss-German 'Eidgenosse' became 'Eignot', and thus 'Huguenot' in French. Whatever the origin the term was applied to the French Protestants from about the middle of the 16th century.
These were compiled by Henry Wagner, F.S.A. one of the founders of the Huguenot Society of London, and there are over 900 in all, kept (in separate envelops for each family) at the Huguenot Library.
The names are arranged in order, and the matter gathered around each name will be found in the envelope bearing that superscription. The list which follows contains only the names of the families, but in addition, and for further guidance, there will be found at the Hospital a card reference catalogue directing the searcher more particularly to the information he is seeking. Beyond the material connected with and collected under definite families there are a number of manuscript notebooks and further undigested material.The Wagner collection pedigrees and other materials have been microfilmed and are available at Family History Centers.
The Huguenot Society of London was founded 15 April 1885 and the publications are found in the Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of London