My 7th Great Grandfather, Jean Baptiste DeLaChaumette, The Emigre, The Traveler… Seriously, This Guy Couldn’t Sit Still! Becoming LaChaumette, A Journal

I have been thinking about my 7th great grandfather, Jean Baptiste DeLaChaumette, who was born, in France, about 1664. I have been thinking about him, as perhaps an explanation for what appears to be wanderlust, at least amongst some of the Shumate/LaChaumette descendents.

Ya see, Jean Baptiste, was a Huguenot, and Huguenots were in and out of trouble with the Catholic church at this time in hiastory. Times changed here and there, persecutions got laxxer or more rigid over time, I suppose. But In Jean Baptistes time, his family, had had enough.

They had left their holdings in France, moving on, within France, a couple times I believe, but eventually, they left for Sweden, when Jean Baptiste was a young adult, presumably newly married. They traveled with his brothers and father, we know, and are pretty sure numerous other friends and relatives left around the same time..

Now these weren’t peasants, they were in all liklihood, well to do. nor were they sheep, no, they were leaders in the movement. They were lawyers, and ministers and such, and their names appeared on warrants, reports and edicts regarding the Huguenots in France. They ran from the authorities locally, in France when warranted, but eventually, they pulled up stakes to leave for good.

Now, historically speaking, think about that. Historical tides had turned. Those that were peasants and even middle class, were pretty much forced to deal with the political changes, to, just as in Spain in her earlier Inquisition, to convert or perish.

Only the well to do really had the option to flee, the resources to book passage, to have wagons and stock horses, or the money to buy them. there were no cars or trains. Sure, some peasants might flee across a political border if they happen to live near it. But only the wealthy can afford to emigrate.

Given how far Jean Baptiste and his family actually went, I am thinking they may have been wealthy indeed.

You see, Switzerland was really only a pathway to where they were headed, a waystation, a region of safe passage. They were headed, for England, but going the long way. It would have been much shortera voyage, had they simply traversed Westward across France, across the Channel by boat to England.

England and France, after all were at war, and the Huguenots were being persecuted, probably wouldn’t make sense to try to cross the front lines, then try to book passage on a ship, lol.

Now I am not sure how long they sojourned in Switzerland. I do know the Swiss had a very organized, efficient system in place, even then to deal with these refugees, sending them on to receptive villages, where they were sponsored by locals, or previously arrived refugees, until they got on their feet, and could save up for the next leg of their exodus. The Swiss, thought welcoming to these refugees of Faith, weren’t eager to settle them all en masse, and thus worked out a system to encourage the locals to financially help these refugees along, on their journey, to the next Swiss refuge town, then eventually on to germany, the netherlands, england, etc.

It really was a benevolent system. And, many French huguenots did indeed stay in Switzerland, were elcomed with open arms. But a goodly portion, simply used switzeland as a safe passage to elsewhere, be it the netherlands, germanic princedoms, or the New World.

My Shumates/LaChaumettes were one of the latter group. They stayed a little while in Switzerland, but then headed for The netherlands. It seems, they may have indeed spent a little time in germany as well, perhaps on their travels to the Netherlands. Perhaps, they had intended to go to Germany, but thet didn’t work out, so they went on th Othe Nether;ands, I don’t know.

I do know, that they did arrive in the Netherlands. That they may indeed have stayed in the Netherlands briefly, much as in Switzerland, to catch their breath, and perhaps raise the funds, or procure the right papers, fraudulent or otherwise, to get them passage to London, England. But they did leave for England.

Once in England, it appears they entered the service of the English King, fighting in French Huguenot units for England, against the French!! It appears that jean bapptiste and his brothers all entered service, and indeed may be why they were so well heeled and fondly favored landwise when they eventually, moved on to the New World.

Yup, they weren’t done moving.. All the way around western Europe wasn’t enough traveling for them, they now were going transantlantic, to an uncharted part of the World!

It seems they were in England for at least 10 years, based on marriage records and births of children. And, it makes sense, given the funds, and land grants they seemed to be leaving with. Jean Baptiste and his sons, went to Martinique, Pierre, Jean baptistes brother, went to the colonies, I believe it was in the area of new jersey. On a side note, Pierre’s offspring changed the spelling to Delashmutt, DNA testing has proven the connection.

But Jean Baptiste, grants in hand from the crown, went to Martinique, and became plantation owners. You would think, that after traveling the long way around Western Europe, then a transatlantic voyage, that would be enough, that Martinique would be the end of the road for Jean baptiste deLachaumette.. but no.

After the death of his wife, Jean baptiste and two of his sons(one stayed behing in martinique), left for the American colonies in 1925! After learning his brother Pierre had died long before their arrival in New Jersey, they went to virginia, where French countrymen and distant relatives were living. Again, they arrived well provisioned, able to buy a large tract of land, near Elk run, Virginia.

This journey, this exodus, to me anyway, is epic. I mean, France, Switzerland, Germany, Netherllands,England, Martinique, Virgina.. in one lifetime.

Not only the when, the fleeing persecution on religious grounds, during a great upheaval all over Europe, the World really. The same upheaval that led to the birth of this Nation.

But the how.. We are talking about walking, riding on horseback, or in a carriage. We are talking about going across, the long way, Switzerland, the freaking Alps fer Pete’s sake! Traversing Europe, in an arc going away from your destination, to stay out of harms way. Wars, purges, I mean what a mess!

Ten, I presume, they rested for a bit, licked their wounds, in the Netherlands, for how long, I do not know… but I can’t imagine, that after a couple of years on the road, that you would jump immediately on a ship. And this brings me back to another key point. Money. resources.

Where did the resources come from.How did they afford to do this? How were they able to avoid capture, to stay ahead of the authorities long enough to escape? How much did they possibly escape with? What other resources, or allies were in play? was their international intrigue? They did go to war in the service of the King of England. Was there help from outside, Protestant sources, that facilitated this exodus?

Alot more fascinating questions, to be sure….

Like this one.. before they became Huguenots… were they Catholic? Or something else? What were they, before they were Catholic? From where, did they come to France? I know, contrary to family lore, perhaps, France is NOT their point of Origin, that in fact, Ancestrally we originated amongst the Berbers, of Northwest Africa, where Morocco, Algeria Western Sahara exist now. But which way North did we travel/ Over Iberia(Spainand Portugal?

Or across the Mediteranea to Sicily, Italy, and on to france that way? Or, did they come into Spain, and go later to Italy, as the Spanish Crown held sway over what is now Italy, for a large chunk of the not so distant past?

A bunch of things that make you go… HMMMMM…. as Arsenio would say.


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