One of my eighth great grandfathers, born on 10 February 1636 at La Rochelle, was a Huguenot linen merchant named Zacharie Fonnereau (also known as ‘Zacharia or ‘Zachary’ Fonnereau).
In 1674 he married Marguerite Chateigner, and in 1677 they had a son, Claude.
La Rochelle is a seaport on the French Atlantic coast. From 1568, La Rochelle became a centre for the Huguenots, and the city declared itself an independent Reformed Republic on the model of Geneva. La Rochelle suffered religious wars and rebellions including the Siege of La Rochelle in 1627-8 (which resulted in a victory for King Louis XIII and the Catholics), the expulsion of 300 Protestant families in November 1661, and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 by Louis XIV who claimed to be entitled to do so because there were no more Huguenots in his kingdom and their special privileges were no longer needed.
In 1689 Claude, 12 years old, was sent to England. In 1693 he received his certificate of denization (granting permanent resident status and the right to own land) and was naturalised in 1698.
In 1698 Claude Fonnereau married Elizabeth Bureau (1670-1735), who was also from La Rochelle. Claude and Elizabeth had eight children, among them Anne Fonnereau (1704-1782), who married Phillip Champion de Crespigny (1704-1765). Anne Fonnereau was my sixth great grandmother.
Claude’s mother Marguerite Fonnereau née Chateigner died in England on 1 October 1720 and is buried in St Stephen Walbrook in the City of London.
I do not know when Zacharie died. There is no record of the death of Zacharie in England. It may be that the record has not survived or that he never emigrated there. There is also no record of his denization nor can I find a record of him in an English Huguenot church. It would be useful to have témoignages credentials, for example, which were certificates of sound doctrine and good behaviour from his previous congregation presented by a person moving to a new church.
While I have been able to find records which refer to Claude Fonnereau as the son of Zacharie, I have not been able to find records of Zacharie’s parents. I have found family trees which suggest that Zacharie was the son of a Zacharie. The earlier Zacharie may have been a notable watchmaker but at present I feel unable on the evidence to claim Zacharie Fonnereau watchmaker of La Rochelle as my direct forebear.
Sotheby’s gives a biography of Zaccharie Fonnereau the watchmaker: “Originally from Geneva, he was apprenticed in Lyon in 1618 and then became Compagnon in 1622. As a master watchmaker in 1641, he settled in La Rochelle.”
The watch auctioned by Sotheby’s in 2008 was displayed in an exhibition of watchmaking in Geneva in 2011-2012.
a watch made by the watchmaker Zacharie Fonnereau will also be displayed. Circumventing the ban on crosses decreed by the goldsmiths’ guild in 1566, he created, like other Genevan masterwatchmakers, this cross-shaped timepiece. Dating from 1620 and worn around the neck at the time, the watch is more a piece of jewellery than a precision instrument. The valuable case is carved from rock crystal.
- Agnew, David C. A. Protestant Exiles from France, Chiefly in the Reign of Louis XIV; or, The Huguenot Refugees and Their Descendants in Great Britain and Ireland. vol. 2, pages 399-400 Edinburgh, 1886, archive.org/stream/protestantexiles02agne_0#page/398/mode/2up
- 1693 denization records from http://genealogy-quest.com/1693-english-denization-records/
- Shaw, William Arthur, editor. Letters of Denization and Acts of Naturalization for Aliens in England and Ireland. 1 1603-1700, page 252, Huguenot Society, 1911, archive.org/stream/lettersofdenizat01shaw#page/252/mode/2up/.
- Sotheby’s press release: GENEVA, MAY 11th, 2008 – The first evening sale of Important Watches to take place at Sotheby’s in Geneva
- “Catalogue Entry for Fonnereau Watch.” Important Watches, Sotheby’s, 2008, www.sothebys.com/it/auctions/ecatalogue/2008/important-watches-ge0801/lot.81.html.
- “Watchmaking in Geneva: Treasures of Gold and Enamel at the Muse D’art Et D’histoire.” Edited by Ignacio Villarreal, Artdaily, Artdaily.org, 2011, artdaily.com/news/52756/Watchmaking-in-Geneva–Treasures-of-gold-and-enamel-at-the-Mus-e-d-art-et-d-histoire#.WuYQVC9L060.
- F is for fleeing from France– the emigration of the Huguenot Champion de Crespigny family from France
- 52 ancestors: Whitehall June 15 1727 concerning Philip Crespigny (1704-1765) who married Anne, grand daughter of Zacharia Fonnereau
- Champions from Normandy see pages 150-151 concerning the Fonnereau family