Patrick Delaforce

'The Delaforce Family History' - Chapter 13
The 16th century Huguenot families in London - first arrivals

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Chapter 13

"At length they all to merry London came'
Edmund Spenser 1552-99.

The 16th century Huguenot families in London -
first arrivals

The Silkweavers come

The beginning of the 17th century was notable for the large families of silk weavers descending from Jaques/James and Marie his wife, with homes in Valenciennes, northern France and in London. His successful textile business ensured that most of his descendants later in the century were relatively well-off.

What is not clear at this stage is the link if any, between the textile traders/silk weavers and the jewellers/brokers deriving from Guines/Calais. The first group of Delaforce families emigrated from France mid-l6th century and the second group at the end of the 17th century. The religious war of 1562 produced the James/ Jaques textile family and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 the John/Jacques jeweller family.

Luckily there is an amazing amount of information available about the Delaforces in 16th century London. Despite the variety of strange permutations of the name (which is shown as seen in the appropriate records and archives) there seems to be a clear continuity throughout the century. Most of the sources are shown in chapter 1 - Sources under Aliens/Immigrants. In particular the Huguenot Society volumes VIII, X, XVIII, XXVII and XXXV were invaluable. Parish records exist sketchily for the last 30 years of the century. The first part of this chapter concentrates on the saga of the James/Jaques. Since marriages were made earlier - the man being about 20 - one must reckon on five generations to the century and the clues now forthcoming have been numbered 5,4,3,2 and 1 for each James (the earliest being numbered one). James the textile merchant is now shown as James 5. Research of course is not always a neat and tidy operation and clues do not appear always in chronological order! There was a major gold-strike immediately.

The Huguenot Society showed the Denization Rolls, Westminster 36 dated 1st July 1554. The long original parchment Roll can be seen (776a Roll of Queen Mary's reign) at the PRO Chancery Lane.


"Jakys Delafowsse of Dorchester in Dorset. Aged 60 years is stayed for his age: 1 July 1554: came from France".


"James De La Force came to London in 1532. Born in Paris. In 1554 was servant to Robert Snellying Esquire in Westminster". They both appeared on the same roll with effectively the same name spelling. It is logical to assume they were father and son. So Jakes/James(1) was born about 1494, was alive in 1554, came originally from France and lived or had property in Dorset. James(2) was born in Paris about 1514/15 came to London when he was 18 and was living in Westminster and alive aged 40 in 1554. Subsequent research showed that in 1595 Robert Snelling as Chief Revenue Officer at Chichester had collected that year £1243-14-6_ in import duties. The implication is that James(2) had been allocated a job with an important revenue officer by an influential trader (which is what James(1) turned out to be).


The next three clues have been linked together since they refer to the same man. On 29 January 1551 James De La For(c)e was on the Denization Rolls 'from Lombardy'. As James Fosse he was shown in 1559 as a 'Lamberdes man, Parish of the Hospital'. In 1571 as "James Le Forsey dennyzein and Frenchman hath byn here twentie yeares.". The Lombards were money-men and James was probably a merchant banker/goldsmith. He lived in St. Olaves, Hart Street parish near the Tower of London. It is probable that he was James(3) born about 1533, but more likely to be grandson of Peter Force a goldsmith 1475-1525 living in Canterbury.


In 1549 Tewes/James Fourse, stranger, servant to Thomas Brydges, pd VIIId tax: possibly James(3) born 1533.


"James De Lafirs, stranger (i.e. foreigner) died 3 November 1573 St. Olaves, Hart Street parish" - from St. Botolphs, Bishopsgate records. This may refer to James(2).


On 7th May 1595 Jaques dell Force was buried at St. Botolphs, Bishopsgate and this refers to a James (3) or (4).


On 14 January 1562 James Fosse was on the Denization Rolls from the Dominion of the King of Spain and paid 6s 8d i.e. came from the Low Countries, but no clue about age or profession.


In 1571 "James Drewriye (Drury) and Elye Fossie parteners, borne in Valencia (Valenciennes) came into this realme about 11J yeares past (i.e. 1568) for religion and live by dressing of flaxe". They worshipped at the French church and lived at St. Nicholas, Acorn, Langbourne Ward in London. Elye/Helie was born perhaps in 1540, married in 1560. (The first Helie appeared in the family in Bordeaux in 1080).


In 1569 "Wa(l)ter Fose and Degyn his wyf borne in Flanders' with daughter Nell, sons Peter and James, dutch persons", were living in Est. Smithfeylde (the sons perhaps born about 1550).


In 1550 James Dewfousse was a 'prentes', St. Clements Ward. Born about 1534 and probably a weaver. Possibly made a first marriage in 1554.


November 1564 Jaques de la Fose/Fosse was already married to Denise, widow of late Pierre le Cuiginier at Threadneedle Street Church. As a widow perhaps of 28, and James about 30, almost certainly he was the 'prentes' of (10) and as an early member of Threadneedle Street congregation, certainly a silk weaver.


In 1569 it was recorded that "Jacques de Fosse, ville (viel/vieux)" was alive and he and younger Jaques would have been born respectively about 1534 and 1554.


James Fesse or Fosse and Jaqueline his wife and 1 servant were living in 1597 in St. Botolphs parish, possibly born 1554 and married 1574.


In 1539, at a major wool sale in Calais, Jaques de Ford(?) and John Deffort/Delufall were buying large quantities of English wools at the Calais Staple. If they were brothers, despite the spelling, then there is a textile link much earlier in the century.


The records at Valenciennes in northern France were carefully checked. "Les Chanteries de Valenciennes", and Pierre Joseph le Boucq's "Troubles a' Valenciennes" (both in BM library). Helm Faulset/Fosset was mentioned in both, a John De Fors but no Jaques.

The clues most appropriate to James(5) born about 1574 and a textile merchant are (7), (10) and (11). It looks probable that James(5) was the grandson of the Threadneedle Street Capers Jaques and the widow Denise who thought so little of her father-in-law that she called him a Ruffian and Pimp! It is also probable that Helie/Elyne Fossie of Valenciennes was James(5) uncle.

The clue to Jaques(4) is number 13. James and Mary Delaforce were members of the St. Botolphs, Bishopsgate congregation and so were James and Jaqueline. James(5) obviously had money and capital to finance his merchanting business. James(4) and Jaqueline had a servant so they were not exactly destitute.

There is now no reason why Jakes Delafowsse(1) 1494-1560 and Jakes De La Force(2) of Paris 1514-1573 should not be the originators of the Jaques dynasty in the 16th century.

There were 'money men in the family in this century -goldsmiths, silversmiths and Lombards men John Des Forts, 'Duch', a Goldsmith was in Aldersgate 1583 from Bruges. Peter (de) Force was the first. Born in 1472 in the Auvergne (elder son of Sir Bernard chapter 18 and brother to Anthony, chapter 17), he was a Goldsmith from 1500-1523 in Feversham and Canterbury and paid taxes for at least 3 years! A Peter Foytz 'stranger' of Norton Folgate/Bishopsgate of 1559 was possibly a son. Peter Du Four(c)e who died on 18 August 1576, St. Annes Blackfriars, Peter Duffoij(s) of Bruges who married Tannekin Backers of Brussels on S May 1590 and lived in Redd Lion Alley, Pierre Du Fosse, a wedding witness in 1607 were probably all related. So too was Peter Force born about 1590 who sailed in the Mayflower as a member of the crew, with the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620.

There were several Edwards. Edward Force (1) lived in London in 1555, Edward Fousse (2) had a large family: Jellyan (Gillian) born 1566, Edward (3) born 1569, Emanuel 1574, William 1576 and Barbara 1572.

There were also Bernards in this century (the first recorded was in 1039 AD). Bernard Le Fors/La Fosse was born about 1540, married 1565 to Margaret Tannekin Van Alselot, lived at Dux or Dukes Place, by the Cree Church near the Tower of London. Their son Bernard was a Sylversmith, born 1566, married Abigail Vrambouts in 1594 and died in 1613 at St. Katherines, Cree Church. His son Bernard was a witness in 1605 at his cousins wedding the De Langhes at the Dutch Austin Friars Church. In 1598-1600 Barnard Le Fort/Laffort was living at Dukes Place with 3 widows. His mother Margaret was one, Tannekin and Jane the others.

In this century Peter, James, Edward and Bernards were all recorded as 'money men' of one kind or another.

At the end of the century in Tower Ward there were six related families. John married to Margaret Smith: Thomas and Jane Wright, William and Margaret Hatterley, William La Force/Le False/Fortin and Mary; Jaques and Mary (the textile merchants), and Michel (the Taylor) and Marie.

There were of course several unexplained oddities.


In 1524 Gerard le Fosse a 'Dutchman' was living in Villa West Monastery (Westminster) with a lay subsidy of XL shillings.


In 1541 William de Fore from the Duche' de Cleves in England 1 year.


In 1542 "Gossen" Fosse was living in Tower Ward with lay subsidy of llJd.


In 1554 John De Foce was a baker from Davern, Picardy in England 30 years married to an Englishwoman.


In 1544 Gylys Fowcie of Dorchester, Dorset, Carpenter, aged 30, married to a Frenchwoman, in England 20 years "Impotent in his leg and broken in his bely".


In 1544 Guillam Forton a "Helyer" born in Normandy, in England 25 years.


In 1571 "Leavan" Fauser and Madeleine his wife 'twister of silkes' Douche, born in England 111J yeares' had 4 servants and lived in Coleman Street Warde (as did Jaques family 35 years later). Leavan might be a permutation of Jehan or John.


In 1567 John Forte, Dutchman, lived in Tower Ward.


In 1576 Daniell, his wife Judick/Judith de Fore/Force and daughters Lucy and Rebecca, Guy de Force (his son perhaps) and his wife Collette were living in Stone Alley, near St. Clements. Daniel died in 1574 and another Daniel in 1584 - a young son and later the father.

By using all of the sources listed for tracing Aliens and Immigrants a comprehensive picture of the 16th century Delaforces shows that the main family derived from Paris through Jakes/ James father and son. They were amongst the earliest Huguenots to leave France and be naturalised British Citizens in 1554.

Two firm links and bridgeheads with France have now been established: John who arrived in London about 1685 after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and James(1) and (2) just before the first French wars of Religion commenced. Just what were these wars all about? We will see in the next chapter.

The French Huguenots arrive on the English beaches - 1685

Sieur Jean Jennepin DELAFORCE (about 1621 probably Guisné) 'marchand' & secret British Agent in Calais = (1642 Guisné) Judith de BOUCQUOI

Sieur Jean DE LA FORCE (1643 - ?) merchant of Calais, secret agent for England, emigrated to London = 1. (1671) Madeline JACOB

Sieur Jean DELAFOUS (1672 - 1730) jeweller ex Guisné, Chatellrault etc left after the 1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Also a secret agent = (1702 in London) Susanne MASSIENNE of Paris

See next family tree below


Isaac DE LA FORCE in England in 1683-5

Abraham DELAFORCE (1644 merchant - ?) = (1675) ?

Claude DELAFORCE (1645 - ?)

Daniel DELAFORCE (1646 - 8/1719) emigrated to England. Major-General of Horse in the Huguenot army in Ireland, Le Beau Chevalier' link to text

See chapter 8

Judith DELAFORCE (1656 - ?) = (1677) ?

= 2. Mary?

All Jean Jennepin de la Force' children seem to have fled France in time after
the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

Sieur Jean DELAFOUS (1672 - 1730) jeweller ex Guisné, Chatellrault etc left after the 1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Also a secret agent = (1702 Crispin Street French Church, Stepney) Susanne MASSIENNE of Paris

John DELAFORCE (bap 29/11/1703 - 1779) Pawnbroker = 1. (22/10/1726 St Vedast, Foster Lane, London) Hester GALES (? of Dunstable - 1730?)

John DELAFORCE (1728 - 18/12/1788) see chapter 8
Patrick's family

William DELFORCE (1730 - aft 1793) = 1. (1750) Ann BOWERS

William DELFORCE (1751 - 1751)

Ann DELFORCE (b 1753)

William DELFORCE (1756 - 1758)

Peter DELFORCE (b 1760) = (1786) Sarah LANE

= 2. (18/5/1761) Mary COFFEE


(1768 - ?) = (1786) Mary PERRY

See chapter 4
Ken's family


Thomas DELFORCE (b 1770) = (1790) Elizabeth ELIOT

= 2. (1731 Chelsea) Mary DORY (? - aft 1779)

Susan DELAFORCE (1711 or 1716 - alive in 1779)



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Contact: Ken Baldry for more information, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)20 7359 6294 but best to e-mail him
©1980-2004 Patrick Delaforce & Ken Baldry. All rights reserved Last revised 25/8/2015