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The alleged French origins of the Crockett family in America

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French Crockett ancestry

A well-known theory of the origin of the Crockett family (or families) in America makes them descendants of Antoine Desasure de Croquetagne, a French Huguenot. According to this theory, "Antoine Desasure Perronett de Crocketagne" was born in 1643 in Montauban. Described as "one of the most handsome young men in the south of France", he drew the personal attention of king Louis XIV who placed him second in command of the household guards. He met his future wife "the beautiful Louise de Saix" among the nobility. Antoine started working as a commercial agent in the wine and salt trade of Southern France for the Maury family, and under their influence converted to the Protestant faith.[1] In 1672, (several years before the Edict of Nantes was revoked) Antoine, with his wife and infant son, Gabriel, fled across the English Channel and remained in England for a short time, but shortly fled to Ireland.[1] There, they changed their name from "de Crocketagne" to Crockett, either to escape their French identity or because their name was too difficult to pronounce.

This version of the Crockett ancestry appears widely accepted: it is found in numerous online genealogies, including Roglo and Rootsweb and in Wikipedia. It is reported in many books, from recent biographies of the famous Davy Crockett to compilations printed by Daughters of Texas Revolution and the Huguenot Society.[2] Antoine Desasure de Crocketagne and his family have their own Find A Grave memorials (strictly virtual memorials with no known place of burial).

Why is this French theory dubious?

  1. DNA analysis: DNA research does not seem to support the theory of the French origin of Crocketts. The results also show that not all Crocketts are related, contradicting the Crocketagne theory which makes all Crocketts descentants of the Croquetagnes. See a discussion at Rootsweb (possibly now offline) or FamilyTreeDNA.
  2. Inaccuracies:
    1. It is not true that with the revocation of the edict of Nantes "heretics were ordered out of France", as told in some (not all) versions of the story. On the contrary, Louis XIV initially forbid them to leave the kingdom - he wanted them to convert, not go away. To be accurate, the edict was revoked in 1685, not 1672,[3] although life had been made harder for Huguenots in France for years prior to the revocation.
    2. It is alleged that Louise de Saix, Antoine de Crocketagne's wife, was "a cousin of the Marquis de Lafayette's mother", without other information. There is apparently no connection to a de Saix family in the ancestry of Louise-Marie-Julie de La Rivière, marquise de La Fayette.
    3. There are several towns called Montauban in France, including one South, in Tarn-et-Garonne, and another, Montauban-de-Bretagne, in Brittany. Proponents of the Antoine Desasure de Crocketagne legends don't agree on which of the two was his birthplace. Montauban (Tarn-et-Garonne) was a Protestant stronghold[4] - which does not help, since Antoine is said to have converted as an adult, at a time where persecution against Protestants was intensifying and he had everything to lose by converting.
    4. The "de Croquetagne" family is elusive. There is no agreement on their originis: some claim that they were from Montauban, others that they were from Normandy or Brittany. The source of these claims is unclear. There are no contemporary mentions of a Crocketagne or Croquetagne family anywhere in France. Internet searches show that the only trace they have left us is the alleged Crockett descendance. Yet they supposedly lived in France until 1670. Some documents mentioning the name should have survived.
  3. Lack of sources: Not one available genealogy provides sources. Yet, those sources can probably be found, if they exist: Baptisms had to be recorded well before 1650 (keeping a double register was compulsory from 1668). We have no records of the "De Croquetagne" family, no records of their emigration or arrival in Ireland, no records of Antoine de Croquetagne's alleged service in Louis XIV's guards. Yet, as this article points out, these records could have been looked for. Some people have attempted a research, but they found nothing. As one French proponent of the Crocketagne story puts it, obviously without realizing the irony : "Le temps me manque pour rechercher dans les registres protestants des alentours de Montauban au XVIIe siècle, mais gageons que l'un de vos perspicaces lecteurs retrouvera probablement la trace des Croquet" (I have no time to research the protestant registers around Montauban in the 17th century, but I bet one of your readers will probably find a trace of the Croquets)[5].

Origins of the Crocketagne story

Gilles Havard, a French historian specialized in New France[6], believes the Croquetagne story is a hoax, propagated by two American authors and repeated everywhere since then. He says "I have looked into this issue, but until there is a proof to the contrary, no source indicates that Davy Crockett had French ancestors. This looks like a hoax (...) it seems advantageous to be descended from Huguenots who were persecuted in Europe. This tells us more about how myths are created than about anything else"[7].

The story is in fact older than the 1920s. In 1908, John Wilson Townsend and Samuel Woodson Price mentioned Antoine de Crocketagne in their Biographical Sketch of Colonel Joseph Crockett.[8]. The story is repeated in more detail by Zella Armstrong and Janie Preston Collup in Notable Southern Families.[9]

But the first mention of Antoine de Crocketagne is found in a letter written in 1858 by Davis T. Maury of Essex County, Virginia to S.M. Duncan of Nicholasville, Kentucky. This letter provides the foundation for Volume V "Notable Southern Families - The Crockett Family and Connecting Lines" by Janie Preston Collup French and Zella Armstrong (1928). The letter is also published in the periodical "Huguenot Society of Manakintown" vol.7 p180.[10] In this letter, Davis Maury writes: "I have an old record of the Crockett family, brought from France by some member of the family in 1716, 1717, and 1718. The name in France was de Crocketagne ... " It has not been possible to locate the original records mentioned by Maury in his letter, and there is no known original French version of these alleged documents. This is consistent with the details provided in the letter being invented by Maury to flatter his correspondent.

Contents of the "Maury letter"

The following is a quotation of the Maury letter. The genealogy given here is not accurate. Indeed, it is presumed that it was invented by Maury to flatter his correspondent.

"I have an old record of the Crockett family, brought from France by some member of the family in 1716, 1717, and 1718. The name in France was de Crocketagne. After the family changed their religion and became protestants, they were banished and forced into exile by Louis XIV, before he revoked the Edict of Nantes. Many of the Protestant families from the south of France fled to England, Scotland and Ireland. Some of the Crocketts lived for some time in England, but were afterwards employed by the Maurys and Fontaines as commercial agents in the wine and salt trade as the Maurys and Fontaines had the monopoly of the trade in those times."

"Antoine Desasurre Perronette de Crocketagne, the son of Gabriel D. (sic) de Crocketagne, was born at Montauban, in the south of France, July 10, 1643. In Ireland the name was changed to "Crockett". In 1664 Gabriel de Crocketagne obtained for his son a commission in the household troops of Louis XIV. This son of Gabriel ... was said according to tradition, to be one of the handsomest young men in the south of France. He was an excellent horseman and devoted to his calling. He drew the attention of the King by his fine personal appearance and love of duty. The King was eager to retain him in his service, and to place him as second in command of the household guards."

[Antoine] m Louise Desaix in 1669 and had the following children:

  1. Gabriel Gustave - b at Bordeaux 10-12-1672 - "In that year the Bishop of Lyons, through the King, ordered all the heretics (Huguenots) to leave the south of France within 20 days. The Crockett family as commercial agents for the Maurys and Fontaines, took up their abode at Bantry Bay in the south of Ireland where six children were born to them."
  2. James Crockett - b 11-20-1674 m Martha Montgomery, dau of Thomas Montgomery (a sailor in the naval service of England)
  3. Joseph Louis Crockett - b 1-9-1676 m Sarah Stuart of Donegal
  4. Robert Watkins Crockett - b Kenmore Parish 7-18-1678 m Rachel Watkins, a third cousin, in 1702
  5. Louise Desaix Crockett - b Kenmore Parish 3-15-1680
  6. Mary Frances - b Kenmore Parish 2-20-1682
  7. Sarah Elizabeth - b Kenmore Parish 4-12-1685

James Crockett and wife Martha Montgomery had 10 children - 6 sons and 4 daughters including:

  1. Joseph Louis Crockett Jr. - b Donegal, Ireland 5-6-1702
  2. Thomas Stuart Crockett - b Donegal, Ireland 3-9-1704
  3. John Crockett - b Bantry Bay 6-10- 1707, m Eliza Bewley dau of Jean Bewley in 1732 "The father of John Crockett visited France after the death of Louis XIV, and such was the hatred against the heretics and to persons who had changed their religion that he left France and settled in the Huguenot Colony of New Rochelle in the colony of New York. At New Rochelle was born ..."
  4. William Crockett, "the first of American birth, born according to the records before me, 8-10-1709. The family afterwards removed to the Colony of Virginia, where many of the French refugees with the Maurys and Fontaines had settled in 1716-1717-1718."
  5. James Edwin Crockett b in VA 11-1711
  6. Jason Spotswood Crockett b 12-2-1713
  7. Elizabeth Lee Crockett b 6-30-1715
  8. Martha Ellen Crockett b 9-10-1719
  9. Mary Dandridge Crockett b 8-1721
  10. Sarah Jane Cochran b 5-9-1723

(4) Robert Watkins Crockett m third cousin Rachel Watkins in 1702 in Ireland; they had 3 sons and 2 daughters. The daughters were:

  1. Rachel Elizabeth Crockett - b 5-1-1703
  2. Hannah Watkins Crockett - b 6-20-1705

(3.3) John Crockett taught school at White Post Academy in Culpepper Co., VA. He moved to Albemarle Co. after his marriage to Jean Bewley where he was a high school principal until his death in 1770. John and Jean had at least 5 children:

  1. Eliza Crockett - b at Culpepper Court House m James Pryor of Augusta Co., VA
  2. Sarah Crockett - b at Culpepper Court House m James Cummings of Rockbridge Co., VA
  3. Mary Crockett - m 1st Thomas Nicholson who died shortly thereafter; remarried and moved to northern KY
  4. Elizabeth Crockett - m Charles Watkins of Mecklenburg Co. [It does not say whether it was VA or NC]. Elizabeth d in Mecklenburg Co. after the Revolutionary War
  5. Joseph Crockett - b 5-7-1742; he and his brothers were soldiers in the Revolutionary War
  6. William Crockett - Revolutionary War
  7. Alexander Crockett - Revolutionary War - "William and Alexander were brothers of Joseph Crockett and served in the armies of Washington and Gen. Green in the campaign of 1780-81. He was under Gen. Shelby and his brother at the battle of King's Mountain. William Crockett married Agnes Richie of Powhattan, a sister of Capt. Hugh Richie. Later in life Alexander Crockett married Sarah Nelson. He and his brother William died in Tennessee in 1816."

(3.5) James Edwin Crockett m Mary Virginia Wood 7-3-1733. They had 4 sons and 4 daughters including:

  1. Walter Leake Crockett - m Mary Richie of Prince Edward Co., VA 12-9-1752
  2. Gabe Crockett
  3. Alexander William Crockett

The children of Walter Leake and Mary Crockett were:

  1. Mary Virginia Crockett - b 7-3-1753
  2. Hannah Watkins Crockett - b 10-30-1754
  3. Anthony Crockett - b 1-19-1756; Colonel in Revolutionary War; settled in KY afterwards
  4. Cynthia Jane Crockett - b 9-20-1758
  5. William Crockett - b 1-7-1760
  6. Charles Hamilton Crockett - b 1-16-1762
  7. Walter Crockett Jr. - b 2-22-1764
  8. Susan Elizabeth Crockett - b 12-11-1766

(3.6) Jason Spotswood Crockett m Margaret Lacy of Lancaster Co., PA 1-30-1740. They lived in PA for 7 months and then moved to Granville Co., NC. "It is said that he was the grandfather of the celebrated David Crockett who lost his life in Texas during her war for freedom in 1836*. "[*French and Armstrong footnote - D.T. Maury was mistaken in thinking that Jason Spotswood Crockett was the grandfather of David Crockett.]"

Notes on the Maury letter

  • "Antoine Desasurre Perronette de Crocketagne" is an extremely odd name and would hardly be recognized as French by a French person. If the family existed, it would be spelled "Croquetagne" or "Crocquetagne", and not with a K. The name "Perronette" may be the deformation of "Perronnet" or "Peyronnet", possible nicknames for Pierre (Peter) but would be unlikely to appear with this spelling on an original French document. "Desasurre" is probably a corruption of "de Saussure" but it is a family name and would be placed after Perronet, not before.
  • The name may be inspired by Antoine de Saussure, seigneur de Dompmartin (1514-1569), , a real Huguenot who settled in Switzerland.[11][12]
  • The use of "middle names" such as Watkins and Desaix, for children of Antoine de Crocketagne and Louise Desaix, both French, is very unusual. It is not the custom in France to use family names as forenames.

Dealing with affected profiles

Profiles connected with the unfounded De Crocketagne family history have been listed in this category, and those with no verified source attesting their existence have been disconnected from the ones representing real people.

Profiles listed in the category have been affected by the Croquetagne myth; some are real people, some are not. Listing in this category does NOT mean that the profile itself is fraudulent; hopefully it is listed because the fabrication has been identified and corrected. If you find a new affected profile, add it to this category using the string [[Category: Crockett Mythical French Ancestry]], and add a brief comment about the fraud at the top of the profile.

If you can't find other sources besides an unsourced genealogy, website or book (ask for G2G help), also add the template {{Uncertain Existence}}, detach it from any profiles of real people, and add a strong warning at the top of both real and unreal profiles to not reattach them.

If you do find sources that seem to prove the existence of a person from this category, make sure they are primary sources and do not remove any profile from the category without discussing the issue on G2G. Again, every real profile must be detached from all the fictive ones.

This helps prevent the creation of new versions of these fake profiles, since they will match to the existing documented and commented profiles.

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 Antoine Dessaure Perronette de la Crocketagne, Rootsweb/Worldconnect, accessed July 2020
  2. See bibliography below.
  3. Wikipedia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Fontainebleau Edict of Fontainebleau
  4. See Wikipedia article on the Siege of Montauban (in French)
  5. Article from La Dépêche Davy Crockett et ses aïeuls, la controverse prospère
  6. Gilles Havard, Wikipedia page (in French)
  7. Article from La Revue Française de Généalogie, Day Crockett a-t-il des origines françaises?
  8. Biographical Sketch of Colonel Joseph Crockett: A Paper Read Before the Filson Club at Its Meeting April 6, 1908, Num 24. Authors John Wilson Townsend, Samuel Woodson Price. Ed. J.P. Morton, 1909
  9. Notable Southern Families, Vol. V, The Crockett Family and Connecting Lines, by Zella Armstrong and Janie Preston Collup (pub. Bristol, 1928.).
  10. See: https://lists.rootsweb.com/hyperkitty/list/huguenot@rootsweb.com/thread/25662651/ Richard Bain, 6/27/1997, 9:34:33 AM - accessed 2019
  11. Correspondance de Théodore de Bèze, Tome I, 1539-1555, p. 146. Google Books; accessed July 2020.
  12. Notices généalogiques sur les familles genevoises depuis les premiers temps, jusqu'à nos jours, Jacques-Augustin Galiffe, J. Barbezat, 1831. p. 350-351. Google Books; accessed July 2020

Bibliography

  • https://books.google.fr/books?id=dUoDAgAAQBAJ&lpg=PT52&ots=J-a5Q-Djyx&hl=fr&pg=PT52#v=onepage&q&f=false Three Men of Destiny, Billy Kennedy, Ambassador International, 2008 - 199 pages (includes discussion but still assumes the Huguenot story is true and "well documented")
  • The Life of James Francis Leonard: The First Practical Sound-reader of the Morse Alphabet, Number 24,Parties 1 à 2 John Wilson Townsend J. P. Morgan (incorporated), 1909 - 85 pages
  • "Irish America: Southern and border states, Plains and Rocky Mountain states, Western and Southern states"
  • ""We Cousins" (Virginia to Texas): A Genealogy of Several of the Families Comprising the Alabama Settlement of Austin's Colony, 1830 and 1831, Now Texas, and Including the Other Virginia Lines of the Sutherland Family, Volume 2"
  • Notable Southern Families, Volume 5 / The Crockett family and connecting lines by Zella Armstrong and Janie Preston Collup, French Lookout Publishing Company, 1928
  • Biographical Sketch of Colonel Joseph Crockett: A Paper Read Before the Filson Club at Its Meeting April 6, 1908, Number 24 John Wilson Townsend, Samuel Woodson Price J.P. Morton, 1909 - 85 pages
  • Daughters of the Republic of Texas Patriot Ancestor Album, Volume 2 Google Books, accessed 2020




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Useful, thank you. The "Crocketagne" legend did feature prominently in The Annals of Tazewell County, Virginia, which--otherwise--has been a helpful reference as I try to verify the huge portion of my tree that hails from that direction.
posted by Emily Gillespie