Huguenots in Germany
After the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 almost 50,000 French Protestants fled from France to various German States. About 20,000 of them settled in Brandenburg, where Duke Frederick William had granted them special privileges. Hessen, Hessen-Nassau, Franconia, the Palatinate, Braunschweig, and Baden were other preferred areas of settlement. During the early years local residents0 took them into their homes until primitive housing was built.
• Hugenotten (Huguenots) – originally a derogatory term meaning “conspirer” – used as umbrella term for all early French-speaking Protestant groups
• Wallonen (Wallooons) – Protestant inhabitants of the French-speaking Wallonie, a region in today’s Belgium
• Waldenser (Waldensians) - A specific group of early Protestants founded in Southern France in the 12th Century and their descendants
In most areas the French-speaking refugees created closed communities and maintained their culture and language for well over a hundred years. Eventually most merged with local German-speaking Protestant congregations. The early parish registers reflect French record-keeping practices. They are usually written in French until well into the 1800s using the Roman, not German Gothic Script. Women are recorded with their maiden names.
The original spelling of French surnames may have been retained unchanged, modified for easier spelling or pronunciation, or translated into German [less common]. Descendants who emigrated to North America during the 19th Century may be thought to have come from Alsace-Lorraine because of their French surnames.