The Huguenots were French Protestants. There was a reform movement in Catholic France
prior to John Calvin's influential 1536 publication, but it was accelerated
King Henry II repressive also.
The massacre of Saint Bartholomew's Day in 1572 was a
thereafter. Under were periodically heavy blow to the prevailed in their
religious in 200
wars. In 1598, Henry IV, by issuing the Edict towns, proclaimed freedom of worship,
of Nantes, established Protestantism and allowed substantial political
independence. During the next 50 years more and more bourgeoisie became Huguenots, who thus constituted
skilled artisans and one of the most
members of the industrious and
economically advanced elements of French society.
In the reign of King Louis XIII,
Richelieu decided to suppress Protestant political privileges. the Huguenots lost all the strongholds given to them by the
LaRochelle (the Richelieu after a
region from which the Poinsetts 14 -month siege, during which King
emigrated) was captured in 1628 by Charles I of England attempted to send
some aid to the Protestant defenders. The Peace of political power but assured them of continued religious the French Catholic clergy, moved to suppress the
Alais stripped the Huguenots of all tolerance. King Louis XIV, urged by
encouraged and dragoons were quartered the Edict of Nantes was revoked (but our This act had disastrous consequences.
in the homes of the Huguenots. Finally, in 1685, ancestors had departed from England about 1680). Entire provinces were depopulated as countless
Huguenots fled to England, The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and America. religious freedom was not attained until 1905 when church and state were separated. Baird, 1966, for additional details of the Huguenot emigration to America.)
Our ancestors came from the province of Saintonge, south of LaRochelle, now embraced in the department of Charente-Inférieure. This area has an exceedingly broken coast line, the sandy shore everywhere indented by bays. Here many rivers enter the Bay of Biscay, including the Charente and the Seudre. It is a land of sea inlets and broad marshes and was populated by a simple and hardy band of sailors, fishermen and salt makers. A large portion of the population were Protestants. Saintonge lost many of its most industrious and virtuous families as the result of Catholic persecution. The opportunity for escape was available, as the harbors and landing places along the Atlantic coast on the West and up the broad gulf of the Gironde, on the south, provided places for ships to secretively depart. Although there were mounted guards, stationed at intervals along the coast, they could not prevent all escapes from the many ports and bays.
Our Poinsetts lived in Soubise, anciently a fortified town, and the capital of a small principality. It was named for the noble house of Soubise, one of the last to abandon the Protestant cause. Baird (1966, p. 18) cites a list which contains the names of Pierre Poinsett, son of Pierre Poinsett and his wife Marie; Pierre Poinsett the younger,