Re: DeBerry Family - French Huguenots
The reason the name DeBerry does not appear on any of the lists of French Huguenot refugees is that they were in Virginia before the flood of French Protestant refugees following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. We know with certainty that our ancestor Peter de Berry was in Virginia in March of 1664/65 (Surry Co, VA deeds).The earliest large group of French Protestants to come to Virginia arrived in 1700.Some had arrived in SC a few years earlier, but we can be sure it wasn't as early as 1665.SC was not established as an English Colony until 1670. There were other groups of French Huguenots who settled in New York, Rhode Island and elsewhere, but I don't think any of these came as early as 1665. In other words, the DeBerry family does not fit the usual migration pattern of the French Huguenots. They were in Virginia before there was a colony called Carolina to go to and were well established before the French Huguenots came in large numbers.
It is my feeling that they were originally from France, as the traditions says, and it is a certainty that they were Protestant by the time they got to Virginia.Just when the family left France has not been determined, but it could have been as much as 100 years before arriving in Virginia. Small groups, or in some cases individual families, of French Huguenots had begun leaving France in the 1500s, some with enough wealth intact to get established in other Protestant European countries, such as England and Holland. It is most likely that the DeBerrys were among these early emigrees, who were, for the most part, accepted in their host countries as long as they came in small numbers, were educated and were not poor. The situation changed dramatically, though, after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and large numbers of French Protestants were displaced.
By the beginning of the 18th Century in Virginia, though, the DeBerry family appeared to have been assimilated into the English society and to fit in well with their thoroughly English neighbors. Peter de Berry was one of the vestrymen of Newport or Upper Parish, Isle of Wight Co, VA in 1704. Although the early Vestry Records of that Parish have been lost, a letter from the Vestry in 1704 requesting a minister is of record in England.Among the signatures of the vestrymen is that of Peter de Berry.Peter was also a Lieutenant in the Isle of Wight Co. Militia at that time.These were positions that the newly-arrived French refugees did not enjoy for some years to come. Preliminary research that I have done in trying to establish the identity of Peter's mother, leads me to believe that she was of English descent and of good family. Determining who his father was is more problematic. I know everybody says therewere two Peter de Berrys in 17th Century VA, but I have found proof of only one.
There was an article some years ago in the Transactions of the Huguenot Society of South Carolina about French Huguenots in Virginia. I don't have the article with me, but will post the citation next week. The article mentioned that there were a few French Huguenots in VA before 1700 and that some of them had taken advantage of several of the Naturalization Acts in the mid-1600s.DeBerry was among the names of families who had done so. If there is anyone out there who lives close to Richmond, it would be very helpful to us all if they would go to the VA State Library and Archives and look into this matter further.
I think we should know everything that can be learned from the early Virginia records before we cross the Atlantic to try to figure out the family's origins.