Pierre de La Vallade was the Protestant pastor of the Reformed Church in Fontenay-le-Comte from 1603 until his death in 1633. He might be a relation of our ancestor, Charles Lavalade of Lisburn but this is, as yet, inconclusive. The fact that Pierre de La Vallade was not a nobleman makes it unlikely that Charles Lavalade was a close relative.
Pierre de La Vallade came from the Languedoc and was a protestant pastor in Bergerac. On the 14th September 1603, the Protestants of Fontenay, on the advice of the lawyer, Hilaire Vernede, dispatched Pierre Béreau of la Marchetiere, and Dr.Francois Miziere, to ask him to take over the duties of minister at Fontenay, which request Pierre accepted in 1603.
In 1607, the Third Synod of Rochelle stated that...'Monsieur de la Vallade is confirmed in his ministry unto the Church of Fontinay, unto which he was formerly presented, nor shall the Province of Guyenne or Bergerac claim any right to recall him; and this Decree passed without any opposition from the Deputies of the said Church and Province, who declared they had no Commission to redemand him. So that all Agreements and Covenants betwixt the said Vallade and his Father and the said church are ratified and become perpetual. However, this Assembly doth not approve of that form in which they be drawn up, especially with reference unto the Moneys, which they pretend to have furnished him and in case the Church of Bergerac should demand him, the Provincial Synod of Xaintonge is impowered with Authority to determine finally of him, and all matters between him and them.'
(From 'Syndicon in Gallia Reformata' by John Quick, Minister of the Gospel in London, 1692.)
Benjamin Fillon, who wrote several texts on the history of Fontenay, maintained that Pierre de La Vallade was related to Bertrand de La Vallade, advisor to the King of Navarre, and whose family had followed the Kings of Navarre to their seat in Nerac.
In the ‘Revue, Scientifique et Literaire - 1875’ the writer of ‘Controverses Religieuses - De La Vallade’ added a paragraph to the bottom of the page:
‘This family had come to Poitou following the Princes of Navarre and Condé. One can see a Jean de la Vallade, commissioned by the princes to receive the funds resulting from the sale of the ecclesiastical institutions of Lucon and Maillezais….this Jean de la Vallade was perhaps the father of the pastor (ie:Pierre de la Vallade), and was certainly related to Bertrand de la Vallade.’
Pierre de la Vallade published a number of texts which virulently attacked the local Catholic clerics, including Cardinal Richelieu who was the bishop of Lucon at that time; this book was placed on the Index by the Catholic church. In 1620, at a debate between the Catholic clerics and Pierre de la Vallade in Fontenay, La Vallade worked his supporters up to such a degree that a riot ensued; luckily no one died as a result.
In 1626, Pierre de La Vallade represented Fontenay at the National Synod of the Reformed Church at Castres. It was decided that 'the hand of God having weighed down Vallade, while he was visiting the town of Castres', a quarter of the sum of ten thousand livres, which had been donated to the assemble by the Province of Anjou, would be paid to Mr.Vallade to help him in his illness. The sum donated was not to be entered into the accounts books, and M.Couper was ordered to advance the money to him. (This info from 'Tous Les Synodes Nationaux Des Églises Réformées de France, Vol. 2')
In 1608, Pierre de La Vallade married Louise Billaud, the daughter of Pierre Billaud, of Moulin Billaud, and Francoise Delespée.
The couple had four children - an unnamed child, Renée, Elisée, and Jean.
The Children of Pierre de La Vallade:
Jean de La Vallade of La Merlaudiere who was a lawyer in parliament, and an elder of the church in Fontenay from 1657 - 1663, and who attended the Synod of Chatellerault in 1663. In 1681 he was living on the outskirts of Fontenay at St.Germain de Princay. Jean died at some time between 1681 and 1684; it is known that the descendants of Pierre de La Vallade suffered much at the time of the revocation.
Jean married Marie Thubin on 22 September 1646. Marie had been born circa 1618 to Charles Thubin of Chandoré, near Xanton outside of Fontenay, and to Marie de Vernede. Charles Thubin was a parliamentary lawyer like his son-in-law.
Jean de La Vallade’s wife, Marie, died on 30th June 1684 aged 66.
Elisee de La Vallade, esquire, married Marie Genays, and had an unnamed child who was baptised on 9th June 1647 and whose godparents were named as the nobleman Isaac Gaudin and Miss Marie LeBloy.
From an official list of people who were condemned as false nobles in 1668 and 1670, we see Elisée de la Vallade and Jean de la Vallade, both of Xanton, and both of them declared to be common peasants. (Roturiers.) Elisée was fined 500 livres, as was his brother’s father-in-law, Pierre Billaud, the lord of Moulin Billaud. Élisée de La Vallade had bought an office - the office of maitre d'hotel du Roi - which brought with it the temporary status of noble; following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, he had probably been excluded from the post because of his religion and had, therefore, lost his noble status as a result.
Jean and Elisée’s sister, Renée de La Vallade, was noted as a godmother to her nephew, Jean, in 1649; nothing is known of the fourth sibling.
The Children of Jean de La Vallade and Marie Thubin:
Jean was born 25th December 1648 and was baptised 24th February 1649 at Fontenay; his godparents were Elie Thubin of Hauteroche and his aunt Renée de La Vallade.
Louise de La Vallade, baptised 6th February 1656; the godparents were Jacques Easmes, esquire, of Lugre, and Miss Marie de Congnac, the wife of Philippe Agroué of La Tourteliere. Louise de La Vallade married the Catholic, Claude Lamoys, sieur de La Grange, on 12th November 1687. Claude Lemoys had been born in about 1653 and died at Pissotte on 22nd May 1692 aged 38. He was the son of Claude Lemoys and Catherine Berland.
Louise de La Vallade, who stayed in France despite the dangers, at the time of the revocation, was close to the Genays family, and the suffering of this part of the family was documented in ‘Histoire des Protestants et des Eglises Reformées du Poitou’ by A.F. Lievre:
Elie Genays du Chail had earlier converted to Catholicism in order to win the hand in marriage of a wealthy heiress, Marie Cardin. He convinced his wife to secretly convert and to rear their children in the Protestant faith. He fell gravely ill in 1673, however, and, wishing to clear his conscience, he declared his faith to both the president of Fontenay and to the local minister, who was duly arrested and thrown in jail in Poitiers for four months. Genays du Chail himself was put under house arrest, and,as he was dying, was contantly persecuted by the monks, the authorities and his own Catholic mother-in-law, who were desperate to bring about his final conversion. He died having declared before two public notaries that he wished to be buried in the Protestant cemetery. The authorities forbid his family to bury him in either a Protestant or a Catholic cemetery; his widow, who was secretly attending communion in La Rochelle from time to time, was allowed to rear their children herself, provided she promised to raise them in the Catholic faith. This she refused to do, and, having been disinherited by her wealthy mother, and having risked losing her children to the Jesuits who threatened to take them from her, she managed to escape to England in 1681 with five of them. The oldest son, Michel-Élie Genays, stayed behind to try and rescue his inheritance, but was thrown into the Bastille in 1711.
Two of the Genay children returned to France a few years later - Jacques-Venant and his sister, Francoise Genays who married the sieur de la Guimeniere, but she was deported again, under pain of death, in 1688. Her property was confiscated and given to the Genay family of Gourdeau, and to her niece, Louise de La Vallade who lived at Pissotte. It was thought that Louise had converted to Catholicism, but police reports suggest that she had done no such thing.
The oldest daughter of Jean de la Vallade and Marie Thubin was Suzanne de la Vallade who was born on 22nd December 1646 and was baptised on 26th February 1647 at Fontenay. Her godparents were Etienne Thubin and Suzanne Charrieu. Suzanne de la Vallade married Louis de Gorron, esquire, of La Maison Rouge and of Thénies (at La Chapelle Saint-Laurent); in 1667, they were living at Saint-Germain de Princay.
Suzanne de la Vallade and her husband, Louis Gorron de la Thénies, appear in many records.
In ‘Inventaire analytique des archives du château de La Barre, Volume 1’ by Alfred Richard, Suzanne de la Vallade is mentioned as one of the witnesses to the marriage contract of Louis-Charles Gourjault and one of the Thubin family, Suzanne des Moullins:
‘Louis-Charles Gourjault, chev., sgr de La Grangerie, Cls de Pierre Gourjault, chev., sgr du May, avec Suzanne des Moulins, iille de Daniel des Moullins, sgr de La Tour, et de Françoise Thubin; le futur, de l'avis d'Anne Gourjault, dame de La Maisonrouge, sa tante, de Lucien Gorron, chev., sgr de Thorcy, d'Auguste et de Marc-Antoine de Gorron, ses cousins-germains, et la future de l'avis de Jacques-Charles des Moullins, éc, son frère, de mss. Le Francq, chev., sgr du Plessis, de Philippe Le Francq, chev., sgr des Martinières, ses cousinsgermains , d'Etienne Thubin de Chandoué, chev., sgr de La Bionnière, et de Suzanne de La Vallade, sa cousine-germaine; par suite de ce contrat ladite Gourjault reçoit pour dot sa part de La Guarangerie, la métairie de Darlay,une cabane dans l'île de Maillé, des salines dans l'île de Ré, une borderie à La Lande, etc ; — la copie des lettres de bénéfice d'âge accordées en 1721 à Perside, âgée de 21 ans, et à Charles-Honoré Gourjault, âgé de 18 ans, et la séparation 'de corps et de biens de Suzanne Gourjault, d'avec Jacques Richier-Garnier, son mari.’
Louis de Gorron de la Thénies was the son of Louis Gorron, esquire, who died in 1667. Both Louis and his widowed mother had their noble status confirmed by the local official, Monsieur Barentin, at this time. Louis was given the ‘chatellerie’ of la Thénie by Jacques de Gourjault, and the name ‘Thénies’ or ‘Thénie’ would later be used as his surname instead of ‘Gorron’.
Louis de Gorron de Thénies joined the army of William of Orange and served in Col. Cambon’s Regiment of Foot. The records in London mention him many times:
'Passes and post warrant for Nicholas Domerling to go to Harwich and Holland; for George Carne, ditto; for Matthew Weddell, ditto [S.P. Dom. Warrant Book 37, p. 122]; for Peter Maurin and John his son, ditto; for Capt. la Cherois and Capt. Thenie, ditto; for Stephen Howell, ditto [Ibid., p. 123]; and for Peter Lombart, ditto [Ibid., p. 123]; for Mr Joseph Anthony, Mr. Lawrence Southey, and Samuel Hopping, a servant, to go to Holland; and for Catherine Cumberford and her two children to go to Flanders [Ibid. 38, p. 331].' (Aug 12 1693. Calendars State Papers.)
Whitehall.Commissions for Gabriel Brocas de la Motte, gentleman, to be lieutenant of the company whereof Capt. Lewis de Garron de Thenie is captain in the regiment of foot lately commanded by BrigadierGeneral Francis du Cambon; for Francis Gilbert de la Motte, gentleman, to be ensign to Capt. Daniel de Virasel in the same regiment [H.O. Military Entry Book 2, p. 385.’
'Nov. 25.1693 (State Papers W & M)
Whitehall.Commissions for Francis Joly de Ternac, gent., to be ensign to Capt. Jeremiah Bancon in the regiment of foot commanded by William Frederick Count de Marlou; and for James de Crosat, gent., to be ensign to Capt. Lewis de Thenie, in the same regiment. [H.O. Military Entry Book 3, p. 137.]'
His name appears in ‘English Army Lists and Commission Registers, 1661-1714, Vol 3.’
Lewis de Garron de Thenie, to be Capt. Vice de Feron.in Col.Cambon’s Regt. Of Foot.
Footnote stated that Thenie was out of the regiment in Nov. 1693.
A later entry from 1693 states that Gabriel Brocas de la Motte was to be lieutenant to Thenie and that Thenie would be vice.captain to Thos..St. Leger de Bacalan.
Capt. De la Cherroy (Cherois) was also named in the regiment.
It is interesting to see Louis de Gorron de la Thénie travelling from London to Holland in the company of Daniel de la Cherois in 1693. In 1699, Daniel de la Cherois married into the Crommelin family when he wed Marie-Angelique Crommelin in the French Church of Swallow Street in London; Marie-Angelique was the daughter of Marie-Angelique Crommelin, who was herself the daughter of Abraham Crommelin of Saint Quentin and Marie Boileau of Paris.
Daniel de la Cherois served alongside Louis de Gorron de la Thénies in Colonel Cambon’s Regiment of Foot; his brothers, Nicholas and Bourjonval, served with him.
In 1689, William, Prince of Orange, being called to the throne of Great Britain, formed two regiments of the French Huguenots, of which Nicholas de la Cherois was appointed major, Daniel captain, and Bourjonval lieutenant. Bourjonval was killed in the war, but both Nicholas and Daniel later settled in Lisburn.
Of course, this Crommelin connection is interesting, since the sister of the Lisburn pastor, Charles Lavalade, Madeleine, had also married into the same family when she married Alexander Crommelin, and had moved likewise to Lisburn.
I also came across Louis de Gorron de la Thénie’s name in the snippets of a Dutch book - in Dutch - called ‘Nederlands archief voor kerkgeschiedenis Volumes 57-58’ which details the archives of the church in the Netherlands from this time; a date of 1692 appears in one snippet. The name of Louis de Gorron de la Thénie appears along with other French names -the noble Louis Lévesque de la Boisliniere, Jean Valat, Louis Rigaud and a Francois Hélies who had represented Fontenay at the provincial synod at Thouars in 1682. Also present was a M.De La Valade, who was most likely a relation of Louis's wife, Suzanne.
Both Suzanne and her husband, Louis, moved to Ireland - but no address is noted - where Louis was in receipt of a pension for a year or two, but Suzanne is later noted as being in receipt of a widow’s pension:
‘List of Persons to be Pensioned [In Ireland]. These persons to be paid monthly or quarterly on appearance or sending certificates to shew they are alive, and not otherwise employed. Pensions to commence from 24 June, 1702.
Thenie….5d per day.’
(From Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Anne 1702)
Pensioners who have not served and Officers' widows on the foot of Charity:
Susanna Thenie….£45 12s 6d. (Treasury Books 1717)
The Treasury Book of 1718 mentions that Susanne Thenie was in receipt of a pension in Ireland:
‘A List of French Pensioners: to be paid monthly upon their personal appearance; or, if absent, to be paid quarterly upon authentic certificates of their being alive and in no employment.
Susan Thenie ….£45 per annum (From Treasury Books 1714 -1715)