Alençon is a town in Lower Normandy on the banks of the Sarthe River, 170 kilometers southwest of Paris.

Old town of Alençon.
Photograph taken in 2011 by David Merrett and retrieved through Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

The Protestant Reformation was preached in the Duchy of Alençon from 1524 and the town became a centre of the reform movement. In 1598, with the Edict of Nantes, King Henry IV gave limited protection to French Protestants (Huguenots), but with its revocation in 1685 by Louis XIV, Huguenots were open to persecution in France. Many left Alençon, emigrating to England, the Netherlands, and the Channel Islands.

Among these were my eighth great grandparents Israel Granger and his wife Marie Granger née Billon, their son René and daughters Marthe and Magdalen.

Israel Granger was an apothecary who had lived in Alençon, on the Rue de Sarthe. He was the son of Pierre Granger , Sieur des Noes, bourgeois of Alençon, and Suzanne Granger née Groustel. Israel was baptised on 4 March 1635. He married Marie Billon on 20 December 1662. Israel and Marie had nine children. Two daughters and one son lived to adulthood.

Israel Granger was prosecuted in 1685 for taking part in an illicit assembly in the woods of la Fuie des Vignes near Alençon. He and his family went to Paris and he was imprisoned for religious reasons. His
property was seized: land called La Bouillière and a house on rue de Sarthe. A decree of the King’s Council of March 20, 1789 (or 1790) ordered the release of these assets in favor of a woman named Marie Victory Jacqueline Duval de la Poterie.

On 14 July 1687 his daughters Magdalen, age 20, Marthe age 21, both of Alençon, made their Reconnaisances at the French Church of the Savoy in London. A Reconnaissance was a recognition of fault in attending a Catholic service and the public avowal of faith on admission to communion.

Savoy Chapel London photographed 2007
Image retrieved from Wikimedia Commons, taken by user Neddyseagoon (CC-BY-2.5)

René, son of Israel Granger, was commissioned as Ensign in the English army 1692, appointed on 25 February 1693 as ensign to Captain Taylor of Sir George St George’s Regiment of Foot. By 1698 he had been promoted to Lieutenant. In August 1699 Lieutenant René Granger, one of the officers of Matthew Bridges’s Regiment of Foot, received 2 shillings when the regiment was disbanded.  (Sir George St George’s Regiment of Foot became Sir Matthew Bridges’s Regiment of Foot when Sir Matthew Bridges became colonel. The regiment eventually became the 17th (Leicestershire) Regiment of Foot). In 1701 René was appointed as an ensign in Sir Matthew Bridges’s Regiment. In October he was appointed quartermaster. On 12 February 1702 he was appointed as Lieutenant to Captain George Withers.

Magdalen married Thomas Champion on 12 February 1695 at St Mary Magdalene, Old Fish Street, City of London. They were both of the parish of St Anne, Westminster. Thomas, later known as Thomas Champion Crespigny, was an officer in the English army.

The Church of Saint Mary Magdalen Old Fish Street from The Churches of London by George Godwin (1839) retrieved through Wikimedia Commons

In January 1697 René, Marthe and Magdalen were mentioned in their father’s will. Israel died in 1700 and the will was proved in 1700 at London.

On 8 July 1699 Marthe married Florand Dauteuil at the French Chapel, Savoy, the Strand, London. They were married by licence issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury on 4 July. Florand Dauteuil was an officer in the English army.

In 1699 René was naturalised. He was stated to have been born at Alanson in Normandy, son of Israell Granger by Mary, his wife. He was attested by Isaac Eyme and John Peter DesBordes.

Mary’s will was drawn up in 1711. Her daughter Marthe had died but Mary left half her estate to Marthe’s three children by Florand D’Auteuil. The other half was left to her daughter Magdalen. René was not mentioned. He presumably had also died before 1711. Mary died in 1713.

Magdalen was widowed in 1712. She and Thomas had six children, two of whom died young. Her relatives by marriage, particularly her brother-in-law Pierre Champion de Crespigny, helped her financially.

Magdalen died in London in 1730.

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