I have used the spelling 'Lavalade' rather than 'Lavallade' for this post.
I’ve recently had great help from the curator of the Musée de la France Protestante de l’Ouest, Denis Vatinel, who has clarified certain issues for me regarding Bertrand de Lavalade, Charles de Lavalade and Pierre de La Vallade; he has also supplied me with the genealogical details for Pierre de La Vallade of Fontenay.
Denis Vatinel is currently working on a dictionary of French Protestants from Poitou - you can visit his excellent museum website at http://www.bois-tiffrais.org/
This post is a holding pen for whatever information I can dredge up on the family of Bertrand de Lavalade who may be an ancestor of the Lisburn pastor, Charles de Lavalade.
(Benjamin Fillon, who wrote several texts on the history of Fontenay, maintained that the pastor of Fontenay, Pierre de La Vallade, was related to Bertrand de La Vallade.
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.’)
The family of Bertrand de Lavalade was closely allied to the Kings of Navarre and the duchy of Albret; as already mentioned, they followed the Kings of Navarre to the town of Nérac, the royal seat of Henri IV near Agen.
Bertrand’s father was supposedly Pierre de Lavalade who was the procureur generale, or attorney general, of Albret in the 1520s. Captain de Lavalade, the governor general of Albret was probably this same individual. The ‘Bulletin de la Société Historique et Archaeologique de Périgord’ records a legal document (1520 - 1528) which seems to be the lease of forestry to Pierre de Lavalade, the attorney general of Albret:
‘Copie d’affievement de la foret de Montignac a Pierre de Lavalade, procureur generale d’Albret.’ (As far as I can work it out, ‘affievement’ refers to the leasing of land under the old feudal system.)
In 1523, a Bertrand de Lavalade, along with his colleague, du Fraisse, both of them advisors to the King of Navarre and both members of the Chambres des Comptes (the department of finance) represented the King at Nerac and assisted at a land deal which benefited Anthoyne Mosnier, lord of Planeaux. This seems very early to be the Bertrand de Lavalade who is the subject of this post - I wonder was there an earlier one in the same family? (The later one died in 1603.)
In ‘Documents Inédits Pour Servir a l’Histoire de l’Agenais’, a paragraph is devoted to Bertrand de Lavalade:
‘The best-known member of this family was Bertrand de Lavalade, attorney general for the Queen of Navarre in the Duchy of Albret and in the Chambre de Comptes at Nérac (1566), the maitre de requetes ordinaires for the King of Navarre (1582), president of the Chambre des Comptes in Nérac (1598 and 1604). Henry IV wrote to him on 28th January 1591; the letter was printed in Mr. Berger de Xivrey’s collection. The consul who served in 1603 or 1605 is probably a son of President Lavalade.’
The death of a Bertrand de Lavalade in 1603 was recorded by Isaac Peres in his Nerac journal - since a Bertrand de Lavalade was still working as the president of the Chambre des Comptes in 1604, it seems to confirm that there were at least two members of the family with the same name.
‘Mr Bertrand de Lavallade, advocat et Jurat de la ville de Nérac, morust le dimanche 30me Mars 1603.’ (Revue de l’Agenais)
Land Deals Involving Bertrand de Lavalade:
Bertrand de Lavalade’s role seemed to be primarily as secretary to the King and also as the head of the department of finance, overseeing the paying of wages and the administration of countless sales and leases of land.
By 1550, there is mention of Bertrand de Lavalade, in relation to a message he sent to Henry II, King of Navarre, about land deals in Perigord and Limousin. Henry II of Navarre was the father of Jeanne d’Albret and the grandfather of Henri IV.
‘Vente de la justice de Saint-Antoine, pres Auberoche, par Bertrand de la Valade, commissaire de Henri III de Navarre, a Léonard de Calvimard, seigneur du Cros, conseiller au parlement de Bordeaux.’ (No Date - ‘Bulletin de la Société Hist. et Arch. De Perigord.’ - Henri III of Navarre was later Henri IV of France.)
From ‘Bulletin de la Société Historiques et Archéologiques du Perigord’:
‘1571 - Commissions (originales) de Jeanne d’Albret, reine de Navarre, a Jean Alespée et Bertrand de Lavallade, maitre des Comptes a Nerac, pour aliéner les justices de Saint-Orse, Atur, Salon etc.’ In this document, Bertrand de Lavalade and Jean Alespée were ordered by Jeanne d’Albret, the queen of Navarre, to dispose of certain properties.
From ‘Le Trésor de Pau:Archives du chateau d’Henri IV’:
On the 8th May 1589, Jehan Martin wrote from Bordeaux to M.de Lavalade, counsellor and ‘maitres de requetes’ for the King of Navarre, to inform him that a courrier had arrived at Bordeaux that morning carrying the news to M.le Maréchal that the King of France and the King of Navarre met up last Thursday at Tours, that the news from France was good and that the rebels would soon be punished.
On 6th April 1582, the King himself wrote to M.de Lavalade telling him how much he had enjoyed seeing the queen mother, and of his intention to organise an general assembly of all the churches at St.Jean d’Angely at the end of May.
In Berger de Xivrey’s collection of Henry IV’s correspondence, there are several in which the King speaks warmly of Bertrand de Lavalade.
In 1589, Henry ascended to the French throne and four years later he conferred noble status upon Bertrand de Lavalade. The existence of the relevant documentation is recorded in the ‘Bulletin Héraldique de France; ou Revue Historique de la Noblesse, Vols 9 - 10’:
‘Avril 1593.- Lettres de noblesse pour le sieur Bertrand de La Valade, Sgr. De Laumont.’ (Laumont was a rural area north of Nérac; Bertrand also had a residence in Nerac at the Porte de Marcadieu which was passed on to his descendants.)
The sons of Bertrand could inherit this noble status. In the ‘Revue de l’Agenais’, there is a further reference to Bertrand de Lavallade’s noble status:
‘On retrouve le nom d’Imbere Allere…dans la registre des affieusements et affieffements faicts par les commissaires députés a la Réformation du domaine d’Albret, NOBLES Secondat et Bertrand de Lavalade.’
His closeness to the royal family would also suggest that he was of the nobility.
(Several texts insist that Pierre and Bertrand de Lavalade were of the same family - as Bertrand could only pass on his noble status directly through his sons, then Pierre de La Vallade, who was definitely not noble, could conceivably be a nephew or a cousin. On the other hand,the supposed link between the two men might just be a genealogical error!)
'La Chronique d'Isaac de Peres' who was the Concierge to the royal household at Nerac records personal details of the Lavalade family. Isaac was the secretary at Nerac in the early 1600s and kept a simple journal there from 1586 on, in which he noted births, deaths, marriages etc. The Lavalade family of Bertrand de Lavalade gets a few mentions: a relation of Isaac - Pierre de Peres - married Janne de Lavallade who was related to Bertrand, the president of the cour des comptes in Nerac. Catherine de Lavallade, Bertrand's daughter, married Jan Pinole in April 1596. She died the following year in the town of Bordeaux; Isaac mentions that Jean Pinole was his own brother-in-law - Isaac was married to Jan's sister, who was the daughter of Guillaume de Pinolle. The niece of Bertrand de Lavallade died in August 1596.
He also recorded the death of Bertrand de Lavalade:
' Mr Bertrand de Lavallade, advocat et Jurat de la ville de Nérac, morust le dimanche 30me Mars 1603.’ (Revue de l’Agenais)
In 1606, the Tarn et Garonne archives record land deals in Armagnac organised by Bertrand de Lavalade and Théophile Dulong, of the Chambre Des Comptes in Nerac. This Bertrand was probably the son of the original Bertrand de Lavalade.
A serious fire in Nérac on Thursday 7th January 1611 was recorded in ‘Histoire de l’Agenais, du Condomois, et du Bazadais, Vol.2’ by J.F.Samazeuilh. The fire started when gunpowder caught fire in a cupboard in an attic at four in the morning. The building was destroyed along with many important papers; the neighbouring houses were seriously damaged, including the home of the heirs of Monsieur Bertrand de Lavalade.
(Another possible relation with Protestant leanings in the same district:
In Bordeaux in 4th October 1542 '...a certain Monsieur Helie de la Valade for having said that church candles served no purpose and that it would be better to give them to the poor, and that he didn't want a mass said for him after his death, was condemned to pay a fine and to retract his statement...'
The same Helie de la Valade was held prisoner in Bordeaux in 1542. I found another incomplete reference to Helie de la Valade, of the town of Monsegur,which stated that he was a 'licencie es-loi' which I presume refers to the legal profession, and that he was related to Antoine de la Valade. The town of Monsegur is immediately south of Bergerac, and midway between Nérac and Bordeaux.)
The details of the Lavalade family of Nérac are thin on the ground, but the following snippet of information is promising and concerns the fate of the family following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. I sourced this sample of text in the book ‘Des Archives Départmentales Antérieures a 1790, Gironde’ which has not been fully published to the internet.
On 3rd Sept, 1685, Jacques de Lavalade, attorney general of the Duchy of Albret, renounced heresy. This from the Canton de la Réole, midway between Nerac and Bordeaux.
(‘Abjuration d’hérésie par Jacques de Lavalade,receveur general du duché d’Albret, at par deux autres personnes.)
I came across a second publication, ‘Annales du Midi, Volume 96’ which, again, only shows up samples of text, but the same Jacques de Lavalade reappears:
‘Samuel Viguier qui est aussi accompagné de ses cinq enfants. Mais parmi les autres il y a par example les quatres fils Ducassé dont la mere est une Brisac; Jacques de Lavallade et son épouse qui iront retrouver en Hollande leurs quatre filles et, peut-etre deux fils…quels sont les pays du refuge pour ces Néracais?….’
(Samuel Viguier was also accompanied by his five children. Among the others, there is also, for example, the four Ducassé boys whose mother is a Brisac; Jacques de Lavallade and his wife would go looking in Holland for their four daughters and, maybe, two sons…which countries were the centres of refuge for these people from Nérac?)
Samuel Viguier was the pastor in Nérac who had been ordered to leave the county in 1685.
As for Jacques de Lavallade, it is tempting to think that this might be the father of Charles de Lavalade of Lisburn.