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arrivalCropped240Dover’s coastal position and proximity to France made it a natural landing and first point of settlement for Huguenot refugees. Many stayed temporarily, moving on to larger communities in London and Canterbury, or before returning home during periods of relatively greater safety. Early in the seventeenth century a census was taken of the foreign persons residing in Dover; it was found that there were seventy-eight 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; two were maidens; one the wife of a shepherd; one a gardener and one a nondescript male”.

As in many towns where Huguenots had settled, the Dover textile industry grew and was an important means for the newcomers to earn a living. Dover, and nearby Sandwich in Kent, South England, were particularly known for woolcombing, the process of arranging the fibres so that they are parallel, ready for spinning.

There was a French Church in Dover from the 1640s, following the tradition of the Flemish congregation that had been in the town since the 16th century. 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. The Dover Huguenot settlement was considered sizable enough between 1689 and 1693 to receive monies from the civil list given by William and Mary.