Monday, 31 January 2011

A huguenot family - let's start at the very beginning ...

Born on 20 February 1748 in the small village of Beaurevoir, northern France, Jean Petit is the beginning of the Petit family story (so far).  He was the fourth son of Etienne Isaac Petit, a farmer and his wife Angelique Miniot and was a Huguenot.  Sometime in the late 1770s he left France for London.

French Protestants, Huguenots, were persecuted by French Catholics in the 16th and 17th centuries and many thousands left the country for safer places. It was not until the late 1790s that French Protestants in France were given the freedom to worship. By the end of the 17th century it is believed that as many as 200,000 Huguenots had left France for England, Dutch Republic, various parts of northern Europe, Switzerland, South Africa and North America.  It is believed that as many as 50,000 Huguenots fled to England during that time.   Jean Petit left France in the last 25 years of religious persecution to join his family that was already established in London.

The first mention of Jean Petit in London is as Godfather to his niece in 1779 at the Church in Threadneedle Street  London, a French Protestant Church.  In 1781, Jean, now John, formally renounced his Catholic faith at the same Church and was accepted into the Protestant Faith.  Unfortunately, the French Protestant Church at Threadneedle Street no longer exists but more information can be read and a picture of it found at the following link:

For some reason, not yet known, Jean Petit decided that better opportunities lay elsewhere and in the early 1780s moved from London to ....

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