huguenot group landing
Huguenot group landing

Dover, Kent

Dover’s coastal position and proximity to France made it a natural first point of settlement for Huguenot refugees. Many stayed temporarily, moving on to larger communities in London and Canterbury. Early in the 17C a census was taken of foreign residents in Dover. There were 78 people “two were preachers of God’s Word; three were physicians and surgeons; two were advocates; two esquires; three were merchants; two were schoolmasters; thirteen were drapers, butchers and other trades; twelve were mariners; eight weavers and wool-combers; twenty-five were widows and makers of bone; two were maidens; one the wife of a shepherd; one a gardener, one a nondescript male and one other.

As in many such towns where Huguenots, the Dover textile industry grew and was an important means for the newcomers to earn a living. Dover, and nearby Sandwich, were particularly known for wool combing; the process of arranging the fibres so they are parallel, ready for spinning.

Following the tradition of the Flemish congregation that had been in the town since the 16th century there was a French Church in Dover from the 1640s,. It was part of a triumvirate of Churches with Guisnes, in northern France, and Cadzand, in the Dutch province of Zeeland, which had a mobile population, many of whom moved to Dover and then back onto the mainland. Between 1689 and 1693 the Dover Huguenot settlement was considered large enough to receive monies from the Civil List given by William and Mary.

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