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Friday, 26 August 2011

Still Hunting for the La Valade Family!

This Huguenot La Valade family are proving elusive! I've joined Geneanet which is excellent value - only €40 for a year's subscription - and have spent a few days dredging through their online library of digitised books, searching for La Valade references in the Langudoc region.
The major problem with French genealogy is that early French families use a 'nom de terre' rather than a 'nom de famille'.  The name 'de la Valade', therefore, signifies an area rather than a specific family, and there are numerous townlands named Lavalade scattered throughout the country.

The only reference to a La Valade family in the old Languedoc area occurs in Moissac/Castel-Sarrasin, but I've been unable to find any mention in the historical genealogies of a Count de LaValade who was, presumably, the father of Charles de la Valade and his brother, the two Huguenot pastors who left France for Lisburn circa 1700. If the family were truly members of the French aristocracy, their lineage would be well-recorded and relatively easy to track down. If our La Valade family were members of the aristocracy, then they were surely minor members of it.
I have, however, made a little progress although it's mostly speculative at this stage.
In a book of armorials, the family coat of arms of the Valade family of Languedoc is mentioned - 'Palé de gueules, d'or,  d'azur d'or et de gueules' - so they must have existed somewhere in the region!

I mentioned in an earlier post that Pierre de la Vallade was the protestant pastor of Fontenoy-le-Conte from 1603 - 1633 and that he had been born in the Languedoc before moving west to Bergerac. Several of the texts hint at a family link between this Pierre de la Vallade and Charles de la Valade who went into exile following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.
The journal of Paul de Vendée, a Huguenot captain, mentions Pierre de la Vallade twice - in an entry for February 1622, he mentions that he saw M. de la Vallade preaching at la Buardyere, and earlier in 1619, that la Vallade went to spend the night at Escoue.
In another text, I read that Pierre de la Vallade died during an epidemic of either scarlet fever or cholera which struck the town of Fontenoy in 1633.
Yet another text relates that Pierre and his wife, Louise Billaud, had four children, although only one was mentioned - Elysée or Élie, who was an equerry and master in the house of the King. He married a Marie Genays in 1647. This text was incomplete.

Another link: A Saran Udel was the wife of Hanael d'Espée, doctor and brother-in-law to the pastor La Vallade.  (Pierre de Lavallade's wife was of the family d'Espée - her mother was a Francoise d'Espée.)  Later, a Huguenot, Jean Hudel of Fontenoy-le-Conte, engaged in protestant propaganda at Bazoges-en-Pareds, was jailed from 1690 to 1717, before leaving France for good.

Most of the literature links Pierre de la Vallade to Bertrand de la Vallade who likewise worked for the King of Navarre and for his protestant mother, Jeanne d'Albret.  An early historian, Samazeuilh, wrote a note about Bertrand de la Vallade but gave little information on his origins.  Bertrand, he writes, was the 'procureur générale' for the Queen of Navarre in the duchy of Albret and in the Chambre des Comptes in Nerac in 1566.  By 1582 he was the master of 'requetes ordinares' for the King of Navarre, and the president of the Chambre des Comptes in Nerac in 1598 and 1604.  Bertrand, with the authorisation of the King, sold the title of president to the Chambre des Comptes on 28th September 1610 to a Du Maurier.
Bertrand de la Vallade appears in numerous texts and seemed to play the role of notary overseeing commercial land transactions between various members of the Perigord nobility, and also seemed to play the role of messenger for the royal house of Navarre.
Working alongside Bertrand in the Chambre des Comptes in Nérac were Jehan Alespée, Sieur de la Grange, and Jehan de Secondat, Sieur de Roques.
The daughter of Bertrand de la Vallade, Catherine, married Jean Pinolé on Sunday 28th April 1596.
Bertrand de la Vallade's niece - unnamed - died on 16th August 1596.

From 'The Revue d'Aquitaine' we learn that the family of the pastor, Pierre de la Vallade, came to Poitou following the princes of Navarre and Condé but it doesn't say where they originated from!  The same text mentions that a Jean de la Vallade was possibly the father of Pierre de la Vallade and was certainly the father of Bertrand de la Vallade.
This Jean de la Vallade, who is sometimes called by the archaic form of Jehan, also worked in the royal household of Navarre and a letter exists written by him from Fontenoy-le-Conte on 19th May 1569, in which he states that he was commissioned by the princes of Navarre to collect funds due to the state following the sale of ecclesiastical goods in the dioceses of Lucon and Maillezais.
The published records state that Bertrand de la Vallade was of the town of Laumont, which is just south of Brive-la-Gaillarde in Perigord. In some texts he is called Bertrand BRUN de la Vallade which seems to link him to the Brun de la Valade family who lived in the same area of southern Brive-la-Gaillarde.
By 1540, there is mention of Jean Brun, Seigneur de la Vallade at Grospuy and l'Estrade which are in the area of Laumont associated with Bertrand de la Vallade.
There was a chateau belonging to the Brun family in Grospuy south of Brive-la-Gaillard since the thirteenth century but the name of La Vallade doesn't make its appearance alongside the Brun name until about 1500 when there is mention of Jean and Antoine Brun, co-seigneurs de la Vallade.  The daughters of Jean Brun de la Vallade married into the illustrious d'Abzac and d'Aubusson families and the land passed quickly into those families.

I mentioned earlier in this post that Bertrand de la Vallade served alongside a man by the name of Jehan or Jean Secondat in the Chambre des Comptes at Nérac.  He was the seigneur of Roques who became the steward of Henry II of Navarre. Henry's daughter, Jeanne d'Albret, awarded Jean's service with 10,000 livres so he could become lord of the domaine called Montesquieu north of Moissac in the Languedoc. This family later reverted to Catholicism.
There are links between the Secondat and la Valade families although in this instance the nom de famille is 'Viguier de la Valade' and this branch of the family is associated with Moissac/Castel-Sarrasin in the Languedoc.
In the 1550's, Catherine de Secondat was married to Viguier, sieur de la Valade, who lived close to Moissac in Quercy.
In 1566, Marie-Anne de Secondat was baptised a Protestant and had, as godfather, Henry, Prince of Navarre who was represented at the ceremony by Antoine Viguier de la Valade.
In 1574, the noble Pierre de Secondat, seigneur de Roques, who was the maitre d'hotel ordinaire for Henry IV, had been baptised a Protestant;  the godmother was Anne de Viguier de la Vallade, his cousin.
Later, Catherine de Viguier, the heiress of the la Valade family, married Francois, the seigneur de Pechpeyrou and Montbarla (Montbarla is just north of Moissac), the baron of Beaucaire.
By 1780, the La Valade estates belonged to the Marquis de Beaucaire.

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