Help with a Huguenot ancestor please

+7 votes

I have just finished writing the profile for my 7xgreat grandfather, Louis Timothée.  He is an interesting chap, the first librarian in America and an early newspaper editor/printer.

However, the first record we have for Louis is his marriage in the Huguenot church in Amsterdam in 1724. Thereafter we have excellent records for him right up to his death from yellow fever at the end of 1738.

The Dutch tend to have excellent records and I was hoping to find a birth record for him amongst those, but there is nothing.  Timothée cannot be the most common name in France and assuming he was a refugee he may have come from there.  He was fluent in German, French, Dutch and English so that might point to the Palatinate or even England as a place of birth.

I would be grateful for any help or ideas as to where to look next  -  Stephen

WikiTree profile: Louis Timothy
in WikiTree Help by Stephen Trueblood G2G6 Mach 7 (75.7k points)
retagged by Stephen Trueblood

3 Answers

+11 votes
Best answer

The marriage (proclaimation) of Louis Timothé on 9,16 and 23 July 1724 states:

"Louis Timothé, de Hal, dem: dans l'ElandsStraat & Elisabeth Willin, dem: sur l'ElandsGragt." dem: is the abbreviation of demeurant, French for resides.

so it states that Louis Timothé is from Hal and resides in the Elandsstreet and Elisabeth resides on the Elandcanal.

Don't know yet which place with the name Hal is meant. There are two in the Netherlands and two in Belgium:

  1. Hal, Gelderland, Netherlands
  2. Hal, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands
  3. Hal, Limburg, Belgium (near Maastricht)
  4. Hal or Halle, Brabant, Belgium (near Brussels)

Since we are talking Huguenots and since Halle in Belgium is a more well-known city, I would be inclined to look in Halle, Belgium.

by Remko Stift G2G6 Mach 2 (24.7k points)
edited by Remko Stift
I think the one in Belgium is the most likely too.  It would have been in the area subject to Louis XIV at various points and one can easily imagine Huguenot refugees fleeing to the safety of Amsterdam.  The other ones would hardly explain the polyglot printer that was my ancestor.  I wonder if there are any records left in Hal/Halle after the 28 wars that have raged over it...
The archives of Halle can be found on with contactdetails.

Maybe add Belgium as tag to your question and ask someone from Belgium with local experience.
By The Way

Timothé or Timothee sounds like a first name more than a surname. It could be a patronymic.
I don't think so.  We have his signature on arrival in America and that was his family name which he then changes to Timothy when he begins to publish his newspaper.  It also shows up as a surname in the Dordogne region of France (a hotbed of Protestantism).

The marriage registration of 7 July 1724 states that he got married in the "Walekerk". It furthermore states:

"Louis Timothée, from Hal, aged 26, (lives) in the Elantstraat, parents dead, assisted by Paul Trossaar & Elisabet Willin from A: (= Amsterdam), aged 22, (lives) on the Elantsgragt, parents dead, assisted by her stepmother Mari Trossaar." Louis signs "Louis Timothée" and Elizabeth signs with "Elizabeth Villin".

On 7 September 1708, Paul Trossaar, from Paris, napkinweaver, aged 32, married Elisabeth Lamblot. It is stated that he was assisted by his brother-in-law Gloude Vilijn (Dutch for Claude Villin). He signs as Paul Trossard.

So in 1724 he was 26 and therfor born in 1698. Also his parents were already dead. His children are all named after baptismal witnesses and give no clue as to the potential first names of his parents.

From other records (baptisms) I deduct that Claude Villin, the father of Elizabeth Villin, married Marie Madelaine Trossard and that Paul Trossaar/Trossard/Trossart is the brother of Mari, the stepmother of Elizabeth Villin.

On 13 August 1728, one Henry Villin, from Amsterdam, aged 25, married Barendina van Oort in the "Waalekerk" in Amsterdam. He was assisted by his half brother Pierre Timothé.

Henry Vilain was born on 31 December 1703 and baptized on 6 January 1704 in the Old Wallonian Church in Amsterdam as the son of Claude Vilain and Elizabeth Gravot. Witnesses were Henry Lenquet and Cornelia Villiers. This means that Claude Vilain's first wife was one Elizabeth Gravot.

Barendina van Noort was baptized on 10 June 1696 as the daughter of Barnardus van Noort and Christina Bos.

Claude Vilain married Elisabeth Gratio on 13 May 1701 and Elizabet Vilain was born on 30 June 1702.

Claude Vilain married Maria Trosart on 14 March 1704. It is stated that he is the widower of Elisabeth Gratio, lives in the Elandstraat. Maria Trosart is assisted by her sister Dinies Trosart.

Probably unrelated but one Pierre Timothee was baptized on 28 July 1689 in the Old Walonian Church in Amsterdam as the son of Jean Baptiste and Anne Dague. Jean Baptiste is also called Nimegue which is French for Nijmegen.

Thank you so much, Remko.  That means that Elisabeth Gratiot Vilain must've died in childbirth with Henrij or very shortly thereafter.  Claude remarries two months later, which is pretty swift (My Quaker ancestors at that time had to wait a full year). Maria and Claude clearly had no children together judging from his burial notice.

I agree the Pierre Timothee is probably impossible to tie into Louis.  Having said that, it is not a common French name...
I'll start putting some more of this good stuff in!
Remko, do you think the Trossart family is Huguenot too?  the name does not strike as particularly French, but it may just be a Dutch person transliterating a French name, like Gratiot becoming Gratio or Graciot.

Because Henry Villin states that Pierre Timothee is his half brother, I do think that Pierre and Louis are related.

It is difficult to judge whether someone was a Huguenot. I find it amazing how quickly people assume someone was just based on a French sounding name. People forget that in those days all Dutch names were translated in French because the Netherlands were occupied. So Pierre could simply be Piet and Louis is Lodewijk.

Trossard definitely sounds French. But it was also a function in the Netherlands. A Drossaard was a bailiff or a "drost" at the courts.

At the marriage of Denise Trossard (sister of Elisabeth) with Eustache Boucher on 24 April 1706, it is stated that she is from Paris and her father is in Paris. So, definitely from France but funny thing is that Paris was not a Huguenot city.

There's also a Anna Trossard from Paris who married Jean Dupont on 4 October 1720

Well clearly there must have been enough Huguenots in Paris to create the St Bartholomew's Massacre.  Not quite so many after that!

Where does it say that Henry Vilain and Pierre Timothee are half-brothers? The only Pierre Timothee I have tied in so far is Henry's nephew, the newspaper editor Peter Timothy.  All of Louis Thimothee's children are accounted for in South Carolina.  Could he have had a brother who stayed in Amsterdam?

Meanwhile I have found the baptism of Claude Vilain in Melun and added it in, at least we are sure of where he came from.

Indeed, it was after the 1572 massacre that Paris was considered to be cleared of Huguenots. See this map of Huguenots in France between 1520-1680.

On 13 August 1728, at the proclaimation of the marriage between Henrij Villin and Barendina van Oort, "Henry is assisted by his half brother Pierre Timothé". Henry writes his own name as Henri Villin.

His half brother (brother-in-law) would have been Louis Timothee, whose eldest son was Pierre. They don't emigrate till 1731.   Perhaps Pierre was Louis' middle name.  Still doesn't explain the Timothee marrying in Amsterdam much later on...
That's what I thought initially but why call him a half brother rather than brother-in-law which would be "zwager" in Dutch ? Maybe it's the French language playing up. In Belgium they use "schoonbroer" instead of "zwager". A literal translation from the French beau-frère. The only thing I can think of is that he translated beau-frère to something-"broer" and the Dutch speaking administrator put it down as half brother. In that case Pierre must be Louis his second name. Still does not explain that we never see this second name ever again.
+6 votes

According to Frans Debrabandere, Wordenboek van de Familienamen in België en Noord-Frankrijk, the surname Timothée or Thimothée is found in Groningen in the Netherlands.  Groningen is on the German border.

by Joel Lefever G2G5 (5.9k points)
+5 votes
An alternate place of birth for Louis Timothy may be what is now the municipality of Zoutleeuw (part of which is called Halle-Booienhoven) in eastern Flemish Brabant, not far from the German border.  In 1705 Zoutleeuw was besieged during the War of the Spanish Succession and the Duke of Marlborough ultimately captured the fort at Zoutleeuw that had been held by the French.

Fortunately the parish registers for Zoutleeuw and Halle-Booienhoven are available as online scans at the Rijksarchief België.

There is no index for the registers, but a quick look did find a 20 February 1702 baptism in Zoutleeuw for Joanna Maria, legitimate daughter of Jacobi van Hal and his wife Barbara Henrick:

See scan 33.

If your family line was Protestant in the period around 1700, the children may not be recorded in the Roman Catholic parish registers of the Zoutleeuw area, but it may be worth seeing if there are any other entries for people named "van Hal" in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.  

Best of luck with your search.
by Joel Lefever G2G5 (5.9k points)
Thank you for your search. The surname of Louis was Timothé (not Hal). His marriage record states that he is from a place called "Hal". This is written in Dutch and therefor should probably be read as "Halle" in French. They were Protestant.
You are welcome. In the spirit of “leaving no stone unturned,” I have a couple of observations. The register of the Waalse Kerk, Amsterdam is written in French, and in the same scan, London is spelled “Londres” (French) instead of “Londen” (Dutch).  

“Hal” could be many places, including the Halle in Zoutleeuw. I find it interesting that Zoutleeuw was besieged in 1705, likely resulting in refugees who went north. It is also near the German border. I have come across few in Flanders who were fluent in German unless they lived in a German border area.  

Best regards.

As Remko says we are very clear as to what Louis called himself.  When he affirmed his allegiance to the Crown on landing in Pennsylvania, he signed it in his own hand.  It is clearly Louis Timothée.  You can view it in the sources section of his profile or on his Wikipedia page.

No argument here.  Just a friendly suggestion or two in case your leads don't pan out.  For years I searched for an ancestor who was born in "Luik" which is Dutch for Liège.  I searched the Province and City of Liège but with no breakthrough.  Eventually I went back at the original records  and found one reference to the place name "Luik in Braband."  That turned out to be a village called Luyksgestel in Noord-Brabant where my ancestor was born.  I wish I had considered all of the obscure versions of the name "Luik" sooner.

Best regards.

I do agree with you that there are multiple possible Hal/Halle locations.  I was hoping that with a name as rare as Timothée that our man would show up.  It does not help that Belgium has been fought over almost continuously for a millennium and records are fragmented.  I am dubious that it is one of the Dutch Hal locations but am quite open to any of the Flanders/Wallonia ones.

And his German was good enough for him to run a German newspaper for a year...

One more Halle has strong Huguenot connections - Halle/Saale in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.  With the Edict of Potsdam of 1685, Huguenots were encouraged to settle in Halle, and within a few years there was a community of 700 Huguenots there.  Halle had a university established about the same time, and also was a center of manufacturing (often owned by French Huguenots) and printing.  Because the area also was known for adherents to Pietism, there was a link between the German Pietists of the region of Halle and German Pietists in Philadelphia.  I couldn't find a source for Huguenot parish records in Halle, but it seems that there are early surviving records in the city.

Food for thought...

Edit: The Huguenots of Halle (Saale) largely came from the French provinces of Languedoc, Vivrais and Dauphiné as well as from Champagne.  Their community centered around the Halle Cathedral (Dom) from 1688.  The French church records that start in 1688 are located at:

Evangelischer Kirchenkreis Halle-Saalkreis

Scroll down to the final entry: Reformierte Domgemeinde Halle, Taufen, Trauungen & Bestattungen (Baptism, Marriage, & Burials) from 1688.

Here is a blog with some history of the Huguenots in Halle (Salle):

And finally here is a blog that if you do a word search for "Halle" you will find examples of late 17th-century entries from the "Kirchenbuch, Evangelischer Reformierte Domegemeinde, Halle."

Just a note of caution about Halle near Zoutleeuw. This was quite small, and it is not really near Germany at all unless you have modern transport technology. Between Zoutleeuw and German-speakers were international borders, because Liège was still a distinct principality. It is certainly not far from French speaking areas, and there had once been protestants in the area, but I think we'd have to be careful about assuming that anyone from there might be seen as a Huguenot.
Agreed. Halle/Salle Germany, with it’s sizable Huguenot population is a better candidate.

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