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Thanks for dropping by :-) This blog contains an assortment of tips, advice, resources and other useful bits and pieces for anyone researching their family history in the UK and Ireland. If you want to keep up with the posts, don't forget to subscribe using the links to the right.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Resources for tracing your Huguenot ancestors

Some time ago I promised to write about tracing ancestors who were immigrants to Britain and Ireland - finally, here is the first post in that series. I'm going to begin with a look at the Huguenots because, although a sizeable number of people in this part of the world are descended from them we rarely hear much about them.


Who were they ? The Huguenots were French Protestants (Calvinists) who fled their home country to escape persecution following the Wars of Religion. Approximately, 60,000 made their way to Britain and Ireland where they were broadly made welcome. In Britain, the largest Huguenot communities could be found in London, East Anglia and Warwickshire - they are credited with the development of the weaving industry in the latter.

I have a French surname, am I of Huguenot descent? Not necessarily. Prior to the arrival of the Huguenots, there were a significant number of people in Britain and Ireland who had French surnames. These were people who were either of Norman descent, or who were closely connected to the Normans in some other way, for example: servants, tenants or soldiers. If your surname can be traced back beyond the 17th century, it is more likely to be Norman. Having said that, many people in Britain and Ireland are of Huguenot descent, especially in the areas where they mainly settled - it is estimated that 25% of Londoners have a Huguenot ancestor.

How do I find out more? You can make a start by visiting the website of The Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland which contains lots of useful information for anyone starting to research in this area. The Family History page includes a number of really helpful files you can download.




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