The Boissevains, a Huguenot Family

 

 

The following has to do absolutely no claim concerning historical or genealogical revealing. At a certain moment I recognise that we, descends of the Refugiés, do not have the inner strength and the holy fire to carry out our belief and to be an example through our life attitude. But nevertheless it does not make to the current situation in the world improbable that on a day also to us the question will be asked too abjure our belief. Will we then still have the courage and put our life in danger?

 

 

Thus François den Tex, after he have been installed as a deacon of the Walloon church of Amsterdam on a Easter 1963 by the preacher, Marc Jospin. Preacher Jospin reminded by this occasion that the grandmother of François pine Tex and its twin brother Charles Boissevain approximately hundred years before, in 1861, have been confirmed on the same place also on Easter day as a member of the Walloon church. It was particularly this great-uncle, Charles Boissevain, who passed the Huguenot fire through by writing his book “Onze Voortrekkers” for his children and grandchildren.

 

François den Tex continues:

‘Did he realised then that the generation of its grandchildren would live in a time, in which it was almost indecent to speak openly concerning God? In his book he describes the history of our ancestors who left Bergerac, where they lived until the time of the ‘dragonades’ a life of substantial citizens and who gave up all their property, their health and their life to their Protestant belief.

 

Lucas Bouyssavy

The first of our ancestors who escaped as a refugié to the Netherlands and of which we retrieve the name in the books of the Walloon church was named Lucas Bouyssavy, born in Bergerac in 1660. After the revocation of the edict of Nantes (1685) Lucas decided to leave the country in 1688. After three years dangerous travelling through the country, he succeeds with help of Protestant friends to embark on a sailing ship full of barrels wine to Amsterdam. Before the departure of the ship he had to hide days and nights between the barrels without eating anything. Some weeks later he arrived in a deplorable situation and without money in Amsterdam.

 

Amsterdam

Fortunately the Regugiés in the Netherlands received much support of the church and of their belief-enjoyed and in fact of the whole population, even of different catholic families! After the States of Holland had given the example everywhere collections were made, lotteries were organized and a special tax on wine, grain and silk was levied.

 

Marthe Roux

Nevertheless the first years were difficult for Lucas, who proved to have courage and perseverance. He got married with Marthe Roux whose family he knew from Bergerac. The flight of Marthe with its two children is a beautiful tale which has been frequently told. In order to cross the border they had to hide at the bottom of a hay hamper. A soldier pricked with a bayonet in hay to if check if someone was hidden and touched her in her buttock. But she could master herself and brought out no sound. This way she succeeded to leave the country. Unfortunately one of her children died in Antwerp to the impact of the depravations of the long travel.

 

Jérémie Bouyssavy

Lucas Bouyssavy provided for its maintenance by giving drawing lessons (he was very gifted) and French lessons and by keeping up the books for a couple traders. He died at the age of 44 years after 5 years of marriage and left grandmother Marthe behind with two children. This small widow survied and maintained het small family with French lesson and lesson in fine embroideries. With her son Jérémie, who was born on 8 October 1702 and who was baptised three days later in our large Walloon Church by Monsieur Jean Fesan, the tale continues.

 

London

After by the dead of his mother Jérémie Bouyssavy went to London, where he worked during 4 years on and trade office and where he learned to know Marie Charlotte du Chesne, with which he got married in 1733. In the wedding register we read:

2 April 1733:

 

Jeremias Boissevin from Amsterdam,

 

30 years old,

 

as best man Jean Saint,

 

and Marie Charlotte du Chesne from London

 

 

as best man Dr. benjamin the Brissac

As well as his father Jérémie earned his money as an accountant and by giving French lesson, but that was not enough to provide for his maintenance.

 

Hospice Walloon

He and his wife adopted in 1750 the functions of ‘père and ‘mère' of the Walloon Hospice of Amsterdam. And so in the “Livres of the résolution of the l'Hospice Walloon" of Amsterdam we can read:

1753, July 6:

"Jérémie Boissevin, 50 years old, and Marie Charlotte du Chesne, 48 years old, its spouse, have been chosen by the ‘Double Consistoire' on the 3e of this month as ‘père’ ‘mère' of this house and they accepted this job"

Because Jérémie was often sick, it was especially due the firm character of its woman, the mère, that the Constitoire had chosen them between the many applicants. Further in the Résolutions we can read:

3 August

“President Preacher Desmazures

In the chamber of ‘Messieurs les régents'’ the affirmative of the new ‘père', Jérémie Boissevin, and of its spouse Charlotte du Chesne took place. Firstly père Boissevin and his spouse have been asked in. To them the preacher asked if they still wanted to accept the profession that the ‘Double Constitoire’ has brought out as ‘père’ and ‘mère’ of this house. And they have answered that they wanted this and that they would care this out with devotion and would fulfil their duty, on which the preacher called what their task is expected from them, which they have promised that they will do with all their strength, whereupon M. Desmazures wished them the blessing of God and they took place beside the chimney where for each of them a chair had been placed on which they took place. "After that the clerks entered, afterwards the orphan boys and orphan little girls and finally the elderly people, whereupon everyone went to the cave refectory, where the preacher pronounced a very striking and very stirring speech."

 

The tree and is fruit

If I would conclude my story at this point, this would only be of value for the descendants of those ancestors who firstly had the courage to leave their birth country and who founded later here in the Netherlands with its fairly ‘severe’ climate and inhabitants.

Mr Charles Boissevain tells about people who all have something special in common: characterising for all of them is a pleasant and city like life attitude. They were civilised, religious, hard-working and all had an exemplary family life. Now then, that is not to explain by their French origin or by the simple fact that they were Protestant. Their mystery was that they had a unflinching belief and this was their way of living.

This means that the direct contact with God was a guiding principle for them in their way of thinking and living. I could substantiate this statically, but something deep inside of me says that in the course of history of people these actions of a high moral quality are performed by someone who brings its Christian belief really in practice or by someone of which parents brought this in practice and from who he adapted the life attitude unperceived. Because from the fruit one recognises the tree said Jesus.

François den Tex

Deacon of the Walloon Church of Amsterdam