The Huguenot legacy is rich and diverse. Paul de Lamarie is considered to be the finest silversmith this country has ever produced and the Courtaulds, Simon Pantin, Pierre Harache and David Willaume, were incredibly talented gold and silversmiths. Think of elaborate gentlemen’s pistols and the name Pierre Monlong and Pierre Gruche spring to mind and think of clockmaking and Blachett, Collo and the outstanding Nicholas Ourseau, who constructed Hampton Court’s great astronomical clock, were all prominent; glassmaking was the talent of Jean Carre of Arras and the ceramicist Andre Planche founded the Derby Porcelain factory. Thomas Vautrollier established new print works in London and Le Blon introduced new methods of colour printing; Issac Basire was the first of four generations of Huguenot engravers; Paul Fourdrinier specialised in architectural plans; Simon Gribelin specialised in publishing pattern books; and Jean Rocque, cartographer, created the first A-Z of London. Huguenots are everywhere we look!
Huguenots, such as the playwright Thomas D’Urfrey and the actor-manager David Garrick, were also distinguished in the worlds of theatre and music. Peter Prelleur published the guide for musicians entitled The Modern Musick – Master which, for 300 years, was the most important singing manual.
The Huguenot legacy in science and medicine is also quite extraordinary. The Chamberlen family are notable for their invention of the obstetric forceps; Gideon de Laune, the appointed Royal Apothecary to Anne of Denmark, (wife of James I of England), was instrumental in the founding of the Society of Apothecaries and we have to thank Théodore de Mayerne for first recording patients’ medical notes.
Earl Ligonier, Commander in Chief of the British Army, was a Huguenot, and the Glorious Revolution of 1688 would have been a bloody revolution had it not been for the Huguenots and Sir John Houblon, the first Governor of the Bank of England, was also a Huguenot.
Most notably, the Huguenots revitalised the textile industry and, in particular, silk weaving. Huguenots who arrived in the 16C mainly went to Norwich, but the majority settled in Spitalfields at the edge of the City of London after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. They settled in Spitalfields where there was already a fledgling narrow silks industry. Talented individuals such as James Leman, Peter Lekeux, Simon Julian and the Ogier family designed and created beautiful silk patterns that can now be found in museums round the world.
Our aim is to encourage cultural organisations to include, as appropriate, the word ‘Huguenot’ in descriptions of interpretative materials and printed and digital displays rather than being solely identified as ‘French’. We aim to see that Huguenots are credited for all their many achievements in the history of this country. It is estimated that one in six of us has Huguenot ancestry and many of the surnames we presume to be English are from our French ancestors – many have been translated, e.g. Wood from Du bois / Dubois and many anglicised, e.g. Meunier to Miller, Fournier to Fuller.