Refugees were invited to settle in Thorney, in the fenlands, because of their expertise in maintaining drained land, for cultivation and farming. Moving to Thorney offered advantages. Oliver Cromwell declared that if they newcomers bought or farmed lands they were accounted “free denizens of the Commonwealth”. In a proclamation, the settlers were given extra rights, including some tax relief and exemptions from military service overseas for forty years. They worshiped in the ruins of Thorney Abbey, where there is a marble memorial tablet inscribed to Ezekiel Danois of Compiegne, France, the first minister of the Huguenot colony which fled to Thorney to avoid persecution. He was at Thorney Abbey for 21 years, and buried there, aged 54, in 1674. Huguenot pastors continued to minister at Thorney until 1715.
In about 1685, the French Church in London moved a group of Huguenots into the Thorney area to “take part in that congregation” to “bolster” the population. The French Church had been having trouble with the Walloons at Thorney and Norwich for a long time. The Walloons spoke and readtheir own language, Romand, a romance language very like French but much older. They did not want pastors coming from London to preach in French so they arranged for their pastors to come from the Netherlands.