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Benjamin Marion Sr. (abt. 1670 - 1734)

Benjamin Marion Sr.
Born about in Chaunay, Vienne, Poitou-Charentes, Francemap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Husband of — married about 1687 (to about 1708) in Chaunay, Vienne, Poitou, Francemap
Descendants descendants
Died at about age 64 in St. James, Goose Creek, Berkeley County, Province of South Carolinamap
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Profile last modified | Created 14 Dec 2008
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Biography

Benjamin Marion Sr. was a Huguenot emigrant (1540-1790).

Benjamin Marion was a French Huguenot (Calvinist Protestant) from Chaunay, in the Poitou-Charentes region of western France. [1] Benjamin Marion left France for the English colony of South Carolina before 1690. This followed the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, guaranteeing French Huguenots a measure of toleration, by French King Louis XIV, in 1685. Benjamin Marion was the son of Jean Marion and his wife, Perinne Boutignon, of Poitou. Like many Huguenots, the family was of upper-middle-class origins and Benjamin was educated and literate.

His family have preserved the letter he received from a local Roman Catholic priest, apparently in 1688 or 1689, when he was already a young married man, ordering him to flee abroad on pain of death. A translation states (emphasis added):[2]

Your damnable heresy well deserves more in this life than purgation by fire which awfully awaits you in the next - But in consideration of your youth and worthy connections, our mercy has condescended to commute your punishment to perpetual exile. You will, therefore, instantly prepare to quit your country forever, for if after 10 days from the date hereof, should you be found in any part of the Kingdom, your miserable body shall be consumed by fire, and your impious ashes scattered on the winds of Heaven.
(Signed) "Pere, [la] Rochelle"

Whether or not the text is 100% accurate, it reveals the spirit of the times and that Benjamin's "worthy connections" (i.e., his family's social status) led the local authorities to permit him and his wife to flee, no small feat as it was a crime to allow Huguenots to leave France. His village was called "Chaumé in Poitou," today it is spelled "Chaunay" in the Vienne departement. The area was known to favor the "Reformed Christian Religion" and its proximity to the port of La Rochelle allowed many Huguenots to escape by boat, first to England, and then on to English colonies in North America.

Benjamin and wife, Judith (Baluet) Marion, are said to have taken a ship at the "Ile de Ré," just off the coast at La Rochelle, most-likely in 1688 or 1689. Several months later, in 1690, they arrived at Charleston, South Carolina. They bought a plantation on Goose Creek in nearby Berkeley County, already home to several other Huguenot refugee families.

Benjamin and Judith (Baluet) Marion had 3 children who reached maturity.[3]

  1. Gabriel Marion, b: 1691, Goose Creek, Berkeley, South Carolina; m. Esther Cordes; had 5 sons, 2 daughters; d: 1750 in St. John's Parish, Berkeley, South Carolina
  2. Esther Marion, b: 1693, Goose Creek, Berkeley, S.C.; m. Henry (de) Gignilliat of Switzerland; had 2 daughters
  3. Benjamin Marion II, b: 1695, Goose Creek, Berkeley, S.C.; m. Elizabeth Cater; had 6 sons, 3 daughters; d: February 1778

Judith (Baluet) Marion passed away around 1708 at the family plantation by Goose Creek, Berkeley County, South Carolina. Benjamin Marion survived her death and remarried to a woman named Marie ("Mary"), whose surname remains Unknown. They had 8 children together:

  1. John Marion, b: ?; d: 1739; will names 1 son, 3 daughters
  2. Paul Marion, b: ?; d: Dec. 1738; will names 2 sons
  3. Peter Marion, b: ?; died 1795, a widower, without issue
  4. James Marion, b: ?; youngest son, no dates; had 3 sons
  5. Judith Marion, b: ca. 1710; m. Mr. Grier
  6. Mary Marion
  7. Ann Marion
  8. Elizabeth Marion

French Huguenot emigrant Benjamin Marion was the paternal grandfather of American Revolutionary War patriot, General Francis Marion via his first-born son, Gabriel Marion.

Benjamin Marion wrote and signed his will on 13 January 1734 and it was proven on 2 May 1735. He died in the spring of 1735 at his plantation at the head of Goose Creek, Berkeley County, English Province of South Carolina.[4] He is mentioned in the obituary for his great-granddaughter: Frances Porter Singleton. When his 2nd wife, Mary (Unknown) Marion died is not known.

The following story repeats some of the material above but also adds new material. The story is provided on Ancestry.com by Diane Pedersen on 12 Feb 2021 and Wendy Skogheim on 14 Feb 2022.

The Huguenots were French Protestants of the 16th–17th centuries. Largely Calvinists, the Huguenots suffered severe persecution at the hands of the Catholic majority, and many thousands fled France.

The French Huguenot Church of Charleston, which remains independent, is the oldest continuously active Huguenot congregation in the United States.

According to family lore, Huguenot Benjamin Marion (Abt. 1670-1735) had received the following letter (Source, Cheryl Hudson Passey):

"Your damnable heresy will deserve more in this life than purgation by fire which awfully awaits you in the next-But in consideration of your youth and worthy connections, our mercy has condescended to commute your punishment to perpetual exile. You will, therefore, instantly prepare to quite your country forever, for if after 10 days from the date hereof, should you be found in any part of the Kingdom, your miserable body shall be consumed by fire, and your impious ashes scattered on the winds of Heaven. (Signed) Pere Rochelle"

Benjamin and wife Judeth Baluet lived in Chaume, Poitou, France and were members of the French Protestant Church, known also as Huguenots. In 1685 Louis XIV declared Protestantism illegal and renounced the Edict of Nantes which had protected non-Catholics for many years. Intense persecution began. It is said that over 400,000 French Protestants fled the country. After the death of his fist wife, Benjamin married Marie (maiden name unknown).

The Marions were among those who fled for their lives and their religion making their way from France to South Carolina. Records show that they arrived in [America] about 1690 and the first record of Benjamin's many land purchases was in Goose Creek, South Carolina in 1704. Benjamin did well in his new country. By the time of his death in 1735 his estate including over 1,000 acres of land was worth 6,851.75 pounds. Warrants for Land in South Carolina, 1692-1711 record land warrants for Benjamin and his brother Gabriel at 500 acres each in Berkeley County on 24 Feb, presumably 1692. [5] Not only did Benjamin Marion find a way to escape from persecution and make a new life of freedom for himself and his family, he paved the way for generations that followed him. Grandson, Francis Marion (1732-1795), better known as the "Swamp Fox" was a powerful leader in the Revolutionary War and helped pave the way for American Independence.

Sources

  1. Different secondary sources state that the Marion family's native village was called "Chaumé," "Le Chaume" or "Chauné," always with "in Poitou". "Chaunay" and "Chauné" are pronounced the same in French. There is also a district called "Le Chaume," just south of La Rochelle along the coast; it may have been a separate village in the 18th Century. "Chaume" in French means "thatch" as in a "thatched roof" so it is a common word. A 3rd candidate for the Marion family's home village is "la Chaume de Poitou," a medieval castle with small hamlet, now disappeared, in the Doussay (Doussais) Parish near Châtellerault, Vienne, Poitou, France. See:Royal Acts 1400s in Poitou, Note 2 In French. Chet Snow.
  2. Genealogy Report: Descendants of Benjamin Marion on www.genealogy.com
  3. "The Marion Family," article by Charles J. Colcock, in Transaction of the Huguenot Society of South Carolina, 1909, pp. 37 ff.
  4. Memorial: "Find a Grave", database with images
    Find A Grave: Memorial #200132937 (accessed 6 February 2024)
    Memorial page for Benjamin Marion (1670-13 Jan 1734); Maintained by TBarfield (contributor 47912954).
  5. Land Warrants, 1692-1711: "Warrants for Land in South Carolina, 1692-1711", database with images
    Land Warrants, 1692-1711 > image 227 of 264
    Ancestry Sharing Link - Ancestry Image (accessed 6 February 2024)

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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Benjamin by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage of DNA with Benjamin:

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Birth year was 1665 - Changed to 1670 to match FindAGrave

Death year was 1735 - Changed date to match FindAGrave

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Categories: Huguenot Emigrants