Kent Family History Society Update

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Report on Michael Gandy’s talk, March 2019, to Thanet Branch, Kent Family History Society.

Well known family historian Michael Gandy gave us the history of the Huguenots, French Protestants, challenging a number of myths, and describing records relating to them. Bloody civil wars between them and French Catholics effectively ended with the 1598 Edict of Nantes, giving them religious and other rights. But Louis XIV, a fervent Catholic, revoked the Edict in 1685 and required all Protestants to convert, with those reluctant to do so harassed by his troops. Under pressure, the Huguenots conformed with varying degrees of sincerity, but around 250,000 shortly emigrated-with perhaps 60,000 to England. They were from a wide range of social classes, not just artisans. In England, most went to London, with others to East Anglia and the South East.

Around 1567, Protestant refugees had left Flanders for England, fleeing Spanish oppression. These were the Walloons. They tended to concentrate in the same areas as the later Huguenots. As skilled cloth workers, they were welcomed by the Government, but required to teach their skills to English apprentices. They helped revive Canterbury from its depression with the loss of pilgrimage business.