Small World

In March 1700, an English ship deposited its cargo–91 Huguenot refugees–on the banks of the York River in Virginia.

The refugees settled in Manikintowne, near present-day Richmond, joining  other Huguenot families who had come in the preceding year. In a strange new land, but sharing a common heritage and language, the families in the settlement must have all come to know each other well, even though they had originated in different parts of France and had found their way to America via different paths.

Eventually the settlement dissolved and the families spread out around Virginia and ultimately the rest of the country.

Over 200 years later a man descended from one of those families met, courted and married a woman descended from another one of those families. They both had unusual surnames, their Anglicisation having made them unique.

But as far as I know, my grandparents never knew that those names came from ancestors who had long ago arrived in Virginia on the very same boat.

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28 comments on “Small World

  1. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, being from the Midwest, my heritage is from Germany and started in the early 1800s. Having cousin John be our family genealogist helped with knowing who my ancestors were. He actually published a family book on the subject with photos. It’s really quite a piece of work. Cousin John lived to be 94 and passed away last year but his daughter has taken up the task of continuing to follow the genealogy of the family. Being the oldest of my generation, I can actually remember all of my great grand parents except one. Unfortunately, it was long after they passed that I realized what a historical wealth of information they could have told me. The last great grand parent died when I was 12 and later I found out that he was actually part of the Oklahoma land rush. It would have been fascinating to hear about that. His son, my grand father I learned after he passed was actually a moon shiner. He didn’t make it but was the neighborhood supplier. I don’t think grandma knew about that. During the depression years times were tough and jobs were scarce so even those on the farms had to do any thing they could to survive. I can only hope that long after I’m gone that my blogs will entertain my family and find it interesting what life was like in the early 21 century …. well …. if mankind is still here that is. 🙂

    Have a great day remembering ancestors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      I think it’s good to keep those old stories alive and to preserve at least some connection with our past. I find that it makes history more interesting.

      And we probably all have moonshiners in our past. I think I’ve heard Cherie say that one of her ancestors sold moonshine during the Depression too.

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  2. Joanna says:

    All I can do is name the counties that my grandparents came from (not countries), so Cumberland, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Worcestershire (pronounced wuster-shire). I do know that going back a little further I am of Scottish, English, French and possibly Welsh heritage 😀 So not quite so far flung as most Americans.

    The reason for the French is my Grandfather’s Grandmother was French and the story goes that his Grandmother did not speak English and his Grandfather did not speak French, so no idea how that worked. I guess they must have understood each other’s language though.

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    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      Good that they found each other, eh? But, as to the unusual surname, living in this part of Ontario, we’re only three hours west of la Belle Province du Québec, so there are many here with French surnames and Guerrant would fit right in… (But I’m betting the pronunciation is a tad different down there, eh?; ) I’ve also wondered, since I first read her name, if your dear Cherie is of French heritage as well?

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      • Bill says:

        Cherie has some South Carolina Huguenot in her distant past, but her maiden name was Stephens. She was named for the Marilyn Monroe character in Bus Stop.

        To the best of my knowledge all the Guerrants in the world are kin. In France the name was Gueran, and anyone with the extra “r” and “t” are descended from the immigrant whose name evolved here.

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    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      Hi Joanna, this may either help or (as in my case; ) confuse you totally… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historic_counties_of_England

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    • Bill says:

      We’re mostly mutts. I think it was in the movie Stripes that the Bill Murray characters says, “We’re Americans! We’ve been kicked out of every self-respecting country on the planet.”

      I’ve got some English heritage too. Any family that’s been in Virginia a long time will likely have English ancestors. Although on my mother’s side it’s mostly Scottish.

      One of Cherie’s nephews is married to a Mexican woman who speaks little English and he speaks little Spanish. So I guess that still happens. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. bobraxton says:

    refugees in order to save their lives (and liberty)

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    • Bill says:

      They fled France to save their lives. Then from their first points of refuge (England and Holland, for example) the journey to the New World was more for opportunity than to avoid persecution.

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  4. I’ve sometimes wondered about your clearly French surname, and Cherie’s French given name and wondered about the background – thought maybe you had Cajun roots or something. I didn’t know about Huguenot refugees coming to America…my high school textbooks were all about emigration to Canada, and hence I know a bit about Acadians – French who fled to Canada and settled in the Maritime provinces, and I knew that many Cajun can trace their roots to those emigrants, but I didn’t know that some had gone directly to your shores. Always learning.

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    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      More to our shame, Cajuns (Canadien) were taken by the English from Acadie and removed to Louisiana; which, at the time, was still a part of France.

      Liked by 1 person

      • shoreacres says:

        An annual festival celebrating the arrival of the Acadians still is held every year in St. Martinville, Louisiana. I’ve been to the Evangeline Oak there, and intend “some day” to write about some of the lesser-known history.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Being French Immersion, our girls have learned far more about the expulsions than I ever did, and yes, it’s pretty shameful. The girls spend a day as Acadian pioneers at the Acadian Village in Caraquet, NB a few years ago, so I got to learn a whole bunch about Acadian history that I never knew, in a very hands on environment.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      I don’t recall anything about the Huguenot immigration in our high school textbooks either. I suppose there weren’t enough of them to justify being the books. The Huguenot settlement in Virginia was small–about 150 people if I recall correctly. There were more in New York and South Carolina, but still a small number by American immigration standards.

      Cherie’s name is French (especially with Guerrant appended to it) but her parents named her after the Marilyn Monroe character in Bus Stop, not because of any French ancestry. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. shoreacres says:

    Your tale reminds me of that of my paternal grandparents. Both were from south of Stockholm, and they came to the U.S. on the same ship, but never met. They settled into the Swedish community in Minneapolis-St.Paul, met, married and moved to Iowa. There’s a song that goes nicely with histories like that.

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    • Bill says:

      What a great song.

      Love your story. Ours is similar, if more circuitous. My grandparents knew they both had French ancestry, but I don’t believe they knew their French ancestors arrived on the same boat. I was surprised to learn that recently.

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  6. I really like genealogy. In fact I spent Tuesday morning at our local genealogical library getting suggestions on how to trace down my Scotch-Irish ancestors. That’s my dad’s side. There were Huguenots on my mother’s side. Odds are we are related. 🙂 –Curt

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    • Bill says:

      Dig deeply enough and we’re probably all cousins. 🙂

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      • Undoubtedly. Since my mother’s side arrived in the country in the 1630s, my father’s in the 1750s, and they all had large families and scattered out across the country, I figure that I am related to almost everyone in the country who has been around for a few generations. 🙂 –Curt

        Liked by 1 person

  7. rhondajean says:

    Hello Bill. I’m fascinated by family and local history. I am the descendant of several convicts who came to Australia in the 1790s. And even though that is my ancestry, one of my 8 x great grandfathers was John Winthrope who founded Boston. Small world, eh?

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  8. EllaDee says:

    I love family history. How intriguing your ancestors were on the same ship. I’ve often wondered if my and the G.O.’s family members ever crossed paths. No doubt my research will be ongoing 🙂 The G.O.’s last name is Welsh but the name is of Scots descent, and his father’s mother’s side was German. I was happy to find Prussian ancestors on Mum’s side to break up the English on both!

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    • Bill says:

      As I mentioned in my response to Curt, dig deep enough and we’re probably all cousins! On my mother’s side we’re almost all Scottish. On my father’s side it’s a western European mix. Those of us who have been in the States a while tend to be ethnic mutts.

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  9. Annie says:

    Love your amazing story. Family history is intriguing. I, too, have Huguenot ancestors who settled in Manikintowne. We know nothing about them except names. One descendent, Sarah Gadberry, eventually married into our Scottish family in Richmond and that’s the end of the story!

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks Annie. Glad to connect with another descendant of the Maniktowne Huguenots! Who were your Maniktowne ancestors? Maybe we’re cousins. 🙂

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      • Annie says:

        That could be. There were fewer families in Virginia back then. I do not have a rich and complete history as you do, but someday I might try to find out more. The family name: Gadberry

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