Friday, 29 June 2018


De la Coste coat of arms

 One branch of my husband's family were Hugenots, that were French protestants who had to flee France because of religious persecution. Leen Arie's  8th great grandfather Louis De la Coste came to Rotterdam in the Netherlands when he was 10 years old in the autumn of 1684. His parents later traveled further to Geneva in Switzerland and his sisters and brother ended up living in London, England, but Louis stayed in the Netherlands were he studied and became a Preacher. When he was  44 he wrote a short record of were his ancestors were from and why they were forced to flee for their beliefs and were given refuge in a foreign country. He wrote -"For the honour of God, and praise for his goodness and for the instruction of my children and descendants, have I, Ludovicus De la Coste, Pastor in the Reformed church of Jesus Christ in Dordrecht, written the following that my children will know who their forefathers were and why it was necessary for them to leave their Fatherland ......"
Louis's (or Ludovicus as he was later known) ancestors were originally from the area  of Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. They probably left this area in the 16th Century because of religious persecution and settled in La Rochelle which was a predominately Protestant city. Many Hugenot families came to settle in La Rochelle during the wars of religion and as a centre of trade it became a rich and powerful city in the late 16th century. The De la Coste family were merchants and probably prospered in this cosmopolitan city.
They would have also suffered during the great siege of the city from September 1627 to October 1628. At the beginning of the siege the population of the city was 28,000 and at the end the population had dwindled down to only 5,400 through famine and disease.
Persecution of Protestants intensified at the end of the 1670's and in 1681 at the young age of 7, Louis and his brother David were sent by sea to Bristol, England so that they could receive an education in the Protestant religion, they spent two years in Bristol. During the sea voyage home his brother David died and was buried at sea.
In 1685 the Edict of Nantes was revoked, this Edict which had been signed in 1598 by Henri IV granted the Protestants relative liberty to practise their religion. However with the revocation of this edict, Protestants were compelled to renounce their religion or to flee the country.
Louis and his siblings left La Rochelle in the autumn previous to this year, sailing with his maternal aunt Elizabeth Chintrier and a cousin. They left from Saint-Martin-de-Re, a small fortified city on the Ile de Re, to the Netherlands, it was a journey of 12 days, they arrived in Rotterdam on the 9th of October. His parents travelled later to Holland,probably after closing up their business affairs, and on the 14th May 1686 his Father and family were given citizen rights to the city of Rotterdam.
Last week me and my husband were able to visit the beautiful city of La Rochelle and walk in the footsteps of his ancestors in the city which offered them refuge for several generations but which they were also forced to flee. What a blessing that we have to live in a time and country which allows us to practise our religious beliefs in freedom, this is something that we should never take for granted.  As Ludovicus also wrote " .... so that they will learn to trust in God, having a good conscience which is better than all worldly goods, and that they shall never forget what God commanded the Israelites in Deuteronomy 10:19 -  Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."

Hugenot refugees

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