Image: Roman bridge at Beziers, Languedoc (name derived from the traditional language of southern France, in which the word oc means “yes,” in contrast to oïl, or oui, in northern French; hence the langue d’oc or Occitan languages).
From: Socialism Today of November 2005:
“…16th and 17th century anti-Catholicism…expressed solidarity with Protestants on the European continent experiencing repression, such as the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 70,000 French Huguenots in 1572, and the Spanish ‘eighty years war’ against the Protestant Dutch republic after 1568 (where the then mercenary Guy Fawkes served in the armies of the Spanish emperor).
Above all, it represented a folk memory of the oppression English Protestants had experienced at the hand of Catholic monarchs and bishops…”
Theo Bosanquet wrote in The Londonist this week:
“Did you know that one in six of us (myself included) are descended from the Huguenots? These remarkable people — Protestants fleeing persecution in France in the 16th-18th centuries — originated the term ‘refugee’* and made an immeasurable contribution to the life of this country…
…In common with many refugees the Huguenots often changed their surnames to adapt to their new country, or were forced to change them due by impatient immigration officials. As a result, many common English surnames have Huguenot roots (e.g. Andrieu/Andrews, Boulanger/Baker, Barbier/Barber, Delacroix/Cross, Reynard/ Fox, Le Cerf/Hart, LeBlancs/White).
My own surname heralds from the Languedoc region (see image), from where a certain David Bosanquet fled in 1685. He became a banker and merchant and settled in Essex; besides me his descendants include the cricketer Bernard Bosanquet, inventor of bowling technique the ‘googly’, and his son Reginald, who became a much-loved television newsreader…
…Today, countless high-profile individuals can claim Huguenot ancestry. Examples include:
Simon Le Bon – the lead singer of Duran Duran is the eldest son of John and Ann-Marie Le Bon, a family of Huguenot descent.
Princes William and Harry – the Royal brothers have Huguenot ancestors on both sides of the family, including William of Orange, Charlotte de Bourbon Montpensier, the Marquis de Ruvigny, Viscount de Rohan, Gaspard de Coligny, Duke de Schonberg and the Rochefoucaulds.
Jon Pertwee – the first Doctor Who is a member of a noted theatrical family who are said to come from Pertuis in Provence.
Eddie Izzard – the comedian and marathon man is descended from a Huguenot family thought to originate from the Pyrenees (the name ‘Izard’ means mountain goat).
Charlize Theron – ancestors of the Oscar-winning actress were early Huguenot settlers in South Africa, a popular destination for the Huguenots.
Nigel Farage – it may seem ironic that the leader of the Brexit Party is descended from Huguenot refugees, but his surname almost certainly indicates these origins.
Jessica Chastain – the Hollywood star is descended from Pierre Chastain, a Huguenot physician who escaped to Switzerland from France and subsequently travelled to America.
Notable figures from the past with Huguenot roots have left their marks on spheres ranging from entertainment (Laurence Olivier, David Garrick, Judy Garland) and language (Peter Mark Roget, author of the Thesaurus) to politics (Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Winston Churchill)…”