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Description

 

Huguenots were French followers of the ideas of John Calvin, the great Protestant thinker of the mid sixteenth century. Their equivalents in England were known as Puritans. Unfamiliar religious ideas were a threat to the established order, and Calvin's followers were persecuted, causing religious wars between Catholics and Protestants to rage for several centuries in Europe.

 
By the late seventeenth century, in 1678, the records of the Huguenot Society of London attest to the presence there of a 'Thomas Pierresenay'. A decade later three members of his brother's family (from Dieppe) lived in London as religious refugees. Their surname recorded as Piercené, they were amongst thousands of Huguenots who fled the religious extremism then sweeping Catholic France.
 
In later English records, the family name is spelled correctly as Pierssené. It is a most unusual surname, and is clearly difficult to spell, encouraging misreporting in parish records and Anglicization by those wishing to assimilate. In addition, the Pierssenés have not been good 'breeders' of males, many of whom died young, so the Huguenot line with this surname has almost died out. The French name remains, in very small numbers, in Catholic Europe.
 
Many of today's descendants from the Huguenot Pierssené family in fact descend from a female, Ann Pierssené, who married Thomas Fatt in London in 1766. Some of Ann's descendants changed their name back to Pierssené, adopting the French pronunciation (Pierssenay). Those who descend through the male line generally spell their name as Pierssene and pronounce it as Piersseen.
 
Worldwide, the name Pierssene/Pierssené is currently carried by fewer than 100 descendants of the original Huguenot refugees who fled to London. But thousands of people will find that this name pops up unexpectedly in their family tree. Will future generations keep the Pierssené name alive? This volume gives them a reason to do so.
 
The book focuses on the Pierssené line, but is also very useful for the descendants of Stephen Pierssené Fatt through his two sons Stephen Flockton o'wise Stephen Fatt and Frederick Fatt, and daughter Ann Fatt who married Emanuel Edward Moritz Schmaeck. The book contains useful information about the children of Thomas Pierssené Fatt, especially his sons Brownlow Fatt and John Fatt.

Readers' Comments

Review in 'Huguenot Times', No 11, Autumn (May) 2008, Huguenot Society of Australia, Sydney, NSW - a well written and detailed history of a family with an unforgettable name, nowadays carried by fewer than 100 descendants, though there are many more who have that name in their family tree. The author writes in a relaxed and easy style, yet manages to avoid the many pitfalls of family histories: she includes a lot of information without being too lengthy; she puts the family in its historical context and thus relates it to all London Huguenots, taking the story from thence to the Northern Territory, by way of Threadneedle St and La Providence; and she presents the information in a way which is well laid-out and illustrated so that our attention is kept throughout. The book also has a good index, which is a must for a useable family history, and makes careful use of documented evidence. This book is an enjoyable read for anyone interested in the Huguenots of London'.
 
Review in 'Ancestor', Quarterly Journal of the Genealogical Society of Victoria, Inc, Vol 29, Issue 4, December 2008, p 32 - If your family had any connection with the Pierssené family of London there is no doubt you would want to read this book, however, even if you had no family connection, if your ancestors were Huguenots you would gain a lot from reading it. Your emotions would probably swing from jealousy at the amount of detail found to enthusiasm and the thought that perhaps you too could find more on your Huguenot families.
 
The book is peppered with lessons for the reader and there is nothing better than following in the footsteps of those who have been successful in finding many family references - predominantly from Huguenot archives in London.
 
Some people are intimidated by the introduction of a foreign language into their family history research and will often shy away with the excuse that it is too hard and instead tackle a different branch of the family. The reader may benefit from this book about a real family rather than generic discussions on Huguenot research.
 
Although the Pierssené family may have been rather better off than many of our Huguenot ancestors it is worth looking at the detailed references provided by Louise Wilson as a guideline for your own research. Regardless of the amount of background research you have done into Huguenots, it is well worth taking time with the first chapter and sections such as Historical Context; Rise of Protestantism; The Term Huguenot; and Catholics versus Protestants. You may find that your Huguenot research is not as intimidating as first thought after reading a book such as this.
 
Gordon Pierssene, London, UK - 'I have now had time to sit down and read THE BOOK. I think you have done a wonderful job. I especially like Part 1 which starts off with the history of the Protestants and Huguenots. I have never seen it better explained. Your research has been most thorough and has even thrown up a number of relatives of which I have never heard.'
 
Kathleen Pierssene (as reported by her husband, Gordon), London, UK: 'Kathleen has just read your book. She does not like non-fiction and said she was not expecting to find it interesting. Kathleen was therefore surprised to find how interesting it was and how enjoyable to read. She also says what a lot of work you have put into the book and how well written it is, as easy to read.'
 
Ronald Pissens, Belgium - I finished reading the book yesterday night. It's an interesting and very good documented work. The presentation is very professional and I am impressed by the amount of old pictures you could find knowing that the family moved from the UK to Australia. If this is your first publication, congratulations for your excellent book!
 
Maryanne Sharp, Darwin, NT - 'I think that you have done a brilliant job with this book. I thank you for doing all that research, you really have done the name justice, and on the off chance that I do have any more children (though I'm not planning any in the near future) you may be interested to know that I plan on giving them the middle name of Pierssene!'
 
Lex Pierssene, Albury, NSW - 'Have received the BOOK and think it is great.'
 
Andrew Pierssene, Norfolk, UK - 'Well done - it arrived today, and it's a super book, absolutely packed with information gathered from so many sources.'
 
Robert Steggle, Gloucestershire, UK - 'Many thanks Louise for the wonderful little book, it arrived at lunch time and I haven't put it down all day. Congratulations to you both for a great piece of work, you are too modest in the intro. Over and above a good historical read, I was amazed to discover that you had actually found the marriage of Martin and Mary Pierssene and the christening of William Steggle. These are two vital documents which bind together the whole of the Steggle family tree.'
 
Julie-Ann Hamilton, Hamilton, NSW - 'I found your book on the internet, just by chance. The book arrived yesterday.  I have read a little bit and I am very impressed.  Your book is really well set out and logical.  Of course I jumped into the middle of the book to read about "me", but I am going to start at the beginning and work my way through.  It was never mentioned in the family that we were descended from Huguenots.  I guess the fact was lost or even if it was known perhaps no importance was placed on it.'
 

Penelope T, Norfolk, UK - Your wonderful book arrived this morning and I'm about to order another copy for my mother. It's absolutely fascinating and full of stuff I didn't know. I haven't had a chance to read it comprehensively yet as I've been darting from one bit to another, but I look forward to settling down and reading it properly. My sister's copy arrived today as well and she also says a huge thank you.'

News and Updates

 

Please refer to my blog http://pierssene.blogspot.com
 

Publication Details

 

Published.
Format.
ISBN.
Louise Wilson, South Melbourne, VIC, November 2007
Paperback, perfect bound, 208 A5 pages, black & white illustrations
978-0-9804478-0-4

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