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de Luneau, resided before and after his conversion in San Just. Ester escaped to England, and Jeanne married Jean Allaire, brother to Alexandre Allaire, the refugee, and one of the founders of New Rochelle, Westchester County, in the State of New York. Another sister married a Mr. Du Pont of La Rochelle, and her son Jacque, along with Jeanne's son, Louis Allaire, accompanied their uncle Gabriel Bernon to America. André and Benjamin Faneuil, connections of the de Bernons, accompanied this party in their flight.
Gabriel was forty-one years of age at the time of the revocation of the Edict, and was one of the leading merchants of La Rochelle. He married Ester Le Roy, the daughter of a landed proprietor whose residence faced the royal palace. He was an inflexible Huguenot and had materially assisted the refugees who had settled in Quebec. Gabriel attempted to settle in Quebec, but on account of his religious convictions was obliged to leave Canada. Upon his return to France he was arrested and thrown into the prison of la Lanterne, from which, after an imprisonment of several months' duration, he was released through the influence of his Catholic brothers, Samuel and Jean.
After his release, Gabriel disposed of his remaining property, but he received only about one-tenth part of its value. He managed to escape with this into Holland, where his wife was to meet him; but she was arrested in her attempt, and was only set at liberty upon feigning conversion. She speedily joined her husband, however, and they sailed to England, landing in London, where they were met by their relatives Louis Allaire, Jacque Du Pont, and the two Faneuils.
Bernon, with the intention of settling in America, had sent several sums of money to his agent in that country, who purchased a tract of land of twenty-five hundred acres not very far from Boston; and later
on he sailed for his new home with his wife and relatives, along with forty other refugees whose expenses he paid to his colony.
Arriving in Boston, he was put in possession of his grant by the custom of investiture of twig and turf, by Chief Justice Dudley. Bernon and his nephews remained in Boston, leaving his agent to act for him in the colony called New Oxford; in which houses, and a fort and church were soon built.
The community all together amounted to about eighty persons; amongst whom was the family of Lydia Sigourney's husband. To all To all appearance there was every sign of success and an increase of the infant colony, as other refugees frequently joined it.
During King Philip's war, the Nipmucks ravaged the surrounding country, and the Oxford colonists became greatly alarmed. Bernon's agent, foreseeing danger, disposed of all the stock and furniture Bernon had provided, and made off with the proceeds to unknown parts. A visit from the Indians, attended by the usual massacre, caused the colonists to take refuge in the fort, which they soon after abandoned to return to Boston. The minister also went off, carrying with him the books provided for the use of the colony, and all papers of importance.
All that remains to mark the spot of the once prosperous settlement is a huge cross bearing the following inscription:
IN MEMORY OF
EXILES FOR THEIR FAITH
WHO MADE THE FIRST SETTLEMENT
OF OXFORD 1680
WE LIVE NOT FOR OURSELVES ONLY
BUT FOR POSTERITY.
"I might have remained in France and kept my property, my quality, and my titles if I had been willing to submit to slavery," wrote, in his old age, Gabriel Bernon the refugee.1
The family of Allaire, to which Louis belonged, was another ancient family of France; and one long identified with the Huguenot cause in La Rochelle. This family was represented in their congregation, at the time of the revocation, by several prominent members, viz., Antoine, sieur du Bugnon, Jean, the royal secretary, and Henri, Councillor and Lieutenant General in Admiralty, who were brothers.
Belonging to a younger branch of this family was Pierre, whose son Alexandre Allaire came to America by way of St. Christopher in the year 1686. 1686. He finally came to New Rochelle, of which settlement he was one of the most prominent members. Pierre's grandson, and Alexandre's nephew, Louis, as we have already stated, came to Boston with his uncle, Gabriel Bernon, and his other relatives, Jacque Du Pont and the Faneuils. Louis remained some time in Boston carrying on business between that city and southern parts under the name of Louis Allaire & Co. He afterwards removed to New York City where he died of a lingering illness.
André Faneuil located in Boston, of which city he became a prominent member. His descendant Peter Faneuil was the founder of the building bearing his name, and given by him to the city for a town hall and market. In this building, located on Merchants Row and Faneuil Hall Square, were held all the townmeetings during the dark days preceding the Revolution which inspired and kept alive the spirit of liberty. Benjamin settled in New York City, from which place he exported goods to London.
1 Huguenots in America, Baird.
In 1707 the mate of a sloop that had been captured by a French privateer while on its way to England, set the report afloat that the French inhabitants of New York were plotting for the capture of that city by the French; and that Captain Benjamin Faneuil bore a prominent part in the matter. Also that they were in correspondence with the French government to that effect.
The Huguenots, upon hearing the slander, addressed a petition to His Excellency Lord Cornbury, requesting that the mate, Morris Newinhuysen, as well as any other person implicated in the slander, might be examined; and if it was found that any one had given just foundation for the report, he should be punished and the innocent freed from suspicion.
The petition was headed:
A Full & Just Discovery of the weak &
Raised against the
French Protestant Refugees
Inhabiting the Province of New York generally but more particularly affecting Capt. Benjamin Faneuil
person of considerable note amongst them
The captain of the vessel, John Van Brugh, testified that the mate had told him that a boatswain found some letters on board of the sloop which were addressed to France under cover to persons in England. That the contents of the letters were to the effect that the French would find the condition of things in New York in great disorder if they chose to avail themselves of it. That upon questioning the said mate as to his knowledge of the writers of said letters, he said there were no names signed but that the handwriting in one letter resembled that of Captain Benjamin
Faneuil. The mate being sworn, made in effect the
AT A COUNCIL HELD AT FORT ANNE IN NEW YORK
Present His Excellency Edward Viscount Cornbury
Rip Van Dam
His Excellency and council having considered the Depositions of Maurice Newenhuysen and John Van Brugh concerning a Letter writ from hence to France, and taken in the sloop Constant Abigal, giving some account (as is said) of the condition of this place, do declare unanimously, That they do not think that there is any ground to suspect Capt. Faneuil of holding correspondence with France nor to prosecute him here on the aforesaid Depositions
By Order of His Excellency in Council
Another petition was laid before the governor, requesting that his secretary should provide the Huguenot congregation with a copy of the "minits and Entries" relative to the search and inquiry, along with the opinion of the governor and his council, and also a license for the printer to imprint the same; that their reputation might thereby be vindicated, which was granted.
The signers of the two petitions were Stephen D'Lancey, Elias Nezereau, Abraham Jouneau, Thomas Bayeux, Elias Neau, Paul Droilet, Auguste Jay, Jean Cayale, Benjamin Faneuil, David Cromelin, Jean Auboyneau, Francis Vincent, and Alexandre Allaire.1
Although many other names of the refugees are of sufficient interest to insert here, we have only selected from them such names as belonged to relatives of the family of Freneau.
1 Doc. Hist. N. Y., vol. iii.