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Huguenots as Refugees

refugees walkingWhen people leave their country to seek refuge, or protection, in another country, they are called refugees. Sometimes governments force people to leave their country. Other people leave their country because they belong to a group that is being mistreated. Still others leave their country to escape wartime conditions or starvation.

Brick Lane

The Huguenot immigrants sought refuge in order to practise their faith. They were admired for their skills and their commitment to a sober and industrious lifestyle. Many, but not all, prospered. Many refugee French married English people and either had their name translated into English or anglicised their name. For example Mr L'Oiseau changed his name to Mr Bird, Mr Fontaine to Mr Fountain. Now living in a Protestant country, there was no barrier of religion to intermarriage and in fact, it was welcomed. Many Huguenot names disappeared via marriage or by anglicisation.

In addition, there was a coming-together of the way religion was practised by the Huguenot immigrants and their English hosts.  Many Huguenot congregations joined the Anglican system with those in the west of London eg. Soho and Westminster participating in the English service but said in French and those in the east side remained loyal to their old Calvinist way of worship.