Patrick Delaforce

'The Delaforce Family History' - Chapter 17
The Guisné Delaforces

Previous Page

Next Page

Back to Patrick's
Index page

Back to Ken's
genealogy site

Other books by Patrick

Chapter 17

The Book of Common Prayer
"Lord, thou has been our refuge from one generation to another"

The Guisné Delaforces

Sieur Jean Delafous, jeweller arrived in England after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 and later married Susanne Massienne from Paris. Jean in his records stated that he was 'from Chateau Herault' which is modern Chattellrault close to Poitiers, but 300 km from Paris. It must have been a difficult question for Jean to answer. He could equally correctly have said

(a) Guisné near Calais, (b) Paris, (c) Chatellrault, (d) the Auvergne, (e) Gascony, (f) Bordeaux and the Gironde (Bourg, Bazas, La Reole etc.) and (g) Navarre. That was the route which his family had travelled before they reached England. In this chapter he is called Jean(1), his father Jean(2), his grandfather Jean(3) and his great-grandfather Jean(4).

Both Jean (1672-1730) and James (1494-1550) descended from Sir Anthony of Paris, Bordeaux and Gascony (1475-1530). This chapter sets out to prove the line of Jean/Johns from 1600 to 1672. They spent about 70-75 years as merchant traders/secret agents, possibly goldsmiths in Guisné which was the major refuge for Huguenots not only in France but in Europe. Occasionally they took refuge in Bruges. They spent some time in Paris, Orleans Poitiers, Chatellrault area.

The Huguenot temple in Guisné was founded between 1562 and 1568, a few years after the capture of Calais by the Duke of Guisné. At one time 3000 Huguenots, out of a total of 15,000, were worshipping at the largest Huguenot temple in France. It is sad that there is now no vestige of traces of the original temple in Guisné, which was a few miles inland from Calais.

UnFortunately only a small part of the Guisné church records -from 1668-1680 - have survived. The Huguenot Society (Volume 3) have produced an admirable record of this twelve year period. The original records are in the Boulogne archives. In the Oxford Bodleian library the Tanner MSS XCIV p.103 states that 'de la Force is a common Guisné name'. It is true that from this short period almost 80 years of family history can be traced.

Boulogne was famous for false names and forged documents, as refugees endeavoured to leave the country: The Delaforces adopted an alias. They chose Jennepin. They came from Oleron -Olehain - AIbuagne - Lomagne, and perhaps the alias derived from an amalgam of their past. A later version in London was Gillemain. The alias was used in the Calais and Guisné area, and only in this period - perhaps 1600-1680. The church records would say 'Jean Jennepin 'dit' de la Force'. It would have been interesting to know whether they were known overtly and particularly to strangers as 'Jennepins'. The Christian names given were mostly from the Old Testament; Isaac, Daniel, Abraham, even a Solomon are to be found, but John is the name carried through the century.

Jean Delaforce(4) was born in Paris in 1600, probably came to seek refuge in Calais and Guisne after 1610 when Henry IV was assassinated. By 1628 the last bastion of the Protestants - La Rochelle, had fallen to the Catholic armies and the Protestants were on the defensive. In 1640 the French Catholic armies devastated Guisné.

Jean(4) married about 1620. His son Jean(3), a 'marchand', married in 1642 at Guisné to Juditch Boucquoi. This marriage produced four sons: Jean(2) born 1643 (and married in 1671), Abraham born 1644 (and married in 1675), Claude born in 1645, and Daniel born in 1646 who emigrated to England was mentioned in Chapter 8 (le chevalier), and a daughter Judith, baptised in 1656 and married in 1677.

In 1671 Jean de la Force(2) married Madeline Jacob; Abraham his brother and Jean Jennepin de la Force (father) were witnesses. Children born to them were Jean(1), Mary and Isaac.

In 1677 and again 17th December 1683, Daniel de la Force wrote direct to King Charles II to enable his brother "a merchant in Calais who desires to settle in England, to come to England with his effects". UnFortunately the first letter had no affect, and there is no reason to believe that the second letter had either. Now John and Abraham his brother were certainly merchants in 1675, but in 1683/5 it is Isaac who is known to be in England and writing to the Archbishop of Canterbury for help!

In 1677 the Temple records showed Jean(4) Jennepin dit La Force pere "Le Dit Jean Dois Etre Enrigitre Dans Le Mois Avril De L'Annee Passes A Ssavoir 1676.11 N'a Pu Estre Enregitre En Son Rang" of Sieur or Sir. On 22nd October 1678 Jean de la Force(4) senior died in Calais aged 78.

Chapter 20 gives some account of the family as secret agents in this period when the family were always uncertain when the Catholic troops would throw them into the Channel.

The State papers of Charles I, William & Mary show some more news items.


26 Nov 1625 "The Council of Charles I wrote to Monsier la Force at Calais that 'their owners might have their goods, saved from the wreck of various English vessels sunk off Calais' ".


20 Nov 1647 "My Lord Willoughby arrived at Nantes and lodged att M. Fos an English merchant, his house upon the fosse".


May 1647 the Samuel Pepys letters show that "De la Fosse, a merchant of St Valery en Caux, near Boulogne was dealing in corn and cloth".


9th May 1648 "Mr Le Force is Master of the Mermaid at Calais."


1657/58 "M de la Force, the English Government agent at Calais."


14 Ap 1661 Hester de le Fosse, daughter of Mary Force writes to Lady Arlington for help "Her mother dead in 1659 and family recently over from France". Possibly this was Jean(4)s wife whom he married about 1620.


July 1666 Lord Arlington to the Mayor of Dover "The King is informed of the breaking out of the infection (plague) in M La Force's house in Dover." An account to be returned to him (Charles II State Papers).

Certificate of Fellowship of the Huguenot Society of London

By chance the Huguenot Society volume 3 showed clearly the French connection, with generations of the family perched uneasily in Calais, and occasionally in Dover, waiting perhaps for the blow to fall, as indeed it did in 1685. When Louis Quatorze, under consistent and growing pressure from the Catholic Church, agreed to sign the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, he had no idea that so many wealthy, skilled artisans and traders would emigrate. France suffered a considerable commercial recession for nearly a century after the Huguenots left the country.

The French civil servants faithfully recorded "Estat des biens (goods) abandonne' des fugitifs des Villes & Gouvemment de Calais et Ardres en 1687 - Abraham "Jennepin" de La Force et ester Barizeau, sa femme, maisons et terres a' Calais, moulin (mill) a' huile (oil), proche de le pont Saint-Pierre".

Abraham had fled the country, and so did his brothers and their families, leaving practically everything they owned behind them.

Sieur Jean DELAFOUS (1672 - 1730) jeweller ex Guisné, Chatellrault etc left after the 1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. More about the Edict. 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) link to text = 1. (1749) Elizabeth

six children - see next family tree

= 2. (18/8/1765) Mary WILLBY

= 3. (28/51780) Sarah WILMOTT

four more children - see next family tree

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

Follow the link to Chapter 4.


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

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

Susan DELAFORCE (1711 or 1716 - alive in 1779)



Previous Page

Next Page

Back to Patrick's
Index page

Back to Ken's
genealogy site

Other books by Patrick

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. All rights reserved Last revised 17/12/2005