I was given the Puritan name of Joy by my parents, but for various reasons I’ve been known as Jo for most of my life. I’m uncovering details of my Huguenot ancestry and how it has shaped my family through the centuries. Hence: Huguenot Jo.
Who were the Huguenots?
The Huguenots were French Protestants – followers of the Swiss reformer John Calvin, who also inspired the Scottish Presbyterians. After a lengthy political struggle and eight civil wars – the French Wars of Religion, from 1562 to 1598 – the Catholic monarchy in France cracked down hard on Protestants. Many fled to other countries, where they could practise their religion. My own French Huguenot ancestors escaped to England and arrived in Kent in the 1680s.
Why are you blogging about this?
Most people don’t know much about the contribution Huguenots made to the countries they fled to, or about these refugees' place in history. The history of migration is highly relevant today, as is the story of religious fundamentalism and its impact on women in particular. I’m interested in the development of Protestantism, and in the tiny sects which spun around its margins. I was brought up as a Strict Baptist, with many echoes of our Huguenot origins; increasingly I’m finding out about other people who were brought up as Strict Baptists, such as the novelist Sarah Perry, the Conservative MP Johnny Mercer and the poet Lemn Sissay. It's fascinating to see what we've got in common.
What does Strict Baptist mean?
Strict Baptist doesn’t mean what most people think it does. It refers to the concept of a “restricted congregation” – not to how strictly people follow the scriptures. Although oddly, strict adherence to implacable rules is a feature of this religion, so it’s no wonder that people get the origins of the term wrong.
As new relevant books are published, I’ll review them on my blog – watch this space, and follow the blog - just fill in the form below with your name and email address.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie are enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.