Huguenot Church in St. Dennis Parish - Steven J. Coker
Subject: Huguenot Church in St. Dennis Parish
From: Steven J. Coker
Date: September 13, 1998

Transactions of the Huguenot Society of South Carolina
No. 5.  pp 63-66, Charleston, South Carolina,  1897.
Press of Walker, Evans & Cogswell Co.


   Allusion has already been made to the Huguenot Church in the Parish of St.
Dennis. Soon after the Revocation and contemporaneously with the settlement on
the Santee, several families of French refugees - the annals of the time say 32
- located on the banks of the eastern branch of the Cooper River. Their
settlements extended from Quinby Creek southwardly and they were numerously
seated on the stream now known as French Quarter Creek.[1] This settlement was
distinguished by the name of Orange or French quarter.
   We may infer from the bequest of Cæsar Moze, already mentioned, that a Church
was organized by the Huguenots in that quarter, and a house of public worship
erected about the year 1690, thirteen years before the first Episcopal Church at
Pompoin Hill in the adjoining parish of St. Thomas. Humphrey says: "The Rev. Mr.
Hasell was sent to the parish of St. Thomas in 1709, and was the first Rector of
the Parish Church built of brick in 1707-8." The St. Thomas Church which still
stands (1897), is located on a bluff of the eastern branch of Cooper River
between the plantations Middleburg and Longwood. The St. Dennis Church which was
probably never of brick has disappeared for years. It may have been near the
residence of the Brabant plantation, at one time owned by Bishop Smith of South
Carolina. This was near French Quarter Creek where it crosses the St. Thomas
public road and generally accessible from all points of the settlement. There
are several unimportant places in the neighborhood whose names now much changed
in their spelling, are thought to have been French. Kirwan or Kirvan is one, by
which a small creek emptying into French Quarter Creek is known.
   The last surviving members of the original settlement in 1870 was Mr. Dutart
the original spelling of which name was Dutarque. [*]
   In reference to the missionary labors of Mr. Hasell, Humphrey says: "A great
many young persons descended from dissenters of various tenents conformed to the
Church of England and several young men of French parentage in Orange Quarter
who understood English, constantly attended this Church (the St. Thomas's
Church). This district of Orange Quarter is a French settlement, but in the
first division of the country into parishes, was a part of St. Thomas's Parish.
Few of the people attended service in the English Church for want of the
language. The major part usually met together in a small Church of their own
where they made a pretty full congregation when they had a French minister among
them. They were poor, however, and unable to support their minister, and made
application to the Assembly of the Province to be made a parish and to have some
public allowance for a minister, Episcopally ordained, who should use the
liturgy of the Church of England and preach to them in French. Accordingly they
were incorporated by the name of the Parish of St. Dennis, 'till such time as
they should understand English."
   The Rev. Mr. Le Pierre was the only minister of the Huguenot Church in the
Orange quarter whose name has been transmitted to us. He died in 1728.[*] He
appears to have been, like the members of his Church, in indigent circumstances.
He was never Episcopally[*] ordained and could therefore never have received a
license to preach from the Bishop of London.
   He was consequently never a real Rector and was necessarily excluded from the
benefits of the Church, Act of 1706, which provided for a maintenance out of the
public Treasury of the several ministers having parochial cures. He was indeed
an object of charity and the Assembly, in view of his necessities, by Act of
Oct. 1711, appropriated for his relief the sum of £20 currency, which by Act of
June, 1712, was increased to £100 currency.
   Humphrey moreover states that during the Yemassee war of 1715, Col. Rhett,
the Agent of the Missionary Society, was pleased very kindly to pay all
missionaries who applied to him the money the Society had directed he should
receive, and also the Reverends Le Pierre and Richebourg, two French
missionaries not employed by the Society, £30 each. They were both preparing to
leave the country on account of their great want, but were prevented by so
seasonable a relief.
   The first regularly ordained Minister of St. Dennis Parish was John James
Tissot who received his appointment from Dr. Gibson, Bishop of London. He
officiated in the French language, using Mr. Durell's [2] translation of the
book of common prayer.
   In the year 1755, the Rev. Commissary Garden informed the Society that most
of the French refugees who had dwelt in the parish were dead, and that their
descendants, understanding the English language, had united themselves to the
Church of the Province and of which many had become communicants.
   The Rev. Mr. Tissot died in 1763, and in 1768 an Act was passed for vesting
the lands and effects, lately belonging to the French Church in the Parish of
St. Dennis, in the Church Wardens and Vestry of St. Thomas and St. Dennis
   The Huguenot names found in the early records of the Parish of St. Thomas and
St. Dennis are Videau, Dupré, Poiterin, Huger, Bonneau, Dutarque, Roche, Simons,
Lejeau, Lesesne and others.

1 The present Mr. Langdon Cheves, grandson of the distinguished congressman of
the same name, a thoroughly painstaking investigator into the records of the
past, is of the opinion that the Orange Quarter, or French Quarter Settlement,
consisted of the refugees who arrived on board the ship of war Richmond, in
1680, as related on page 4.

2 John Durell, a Huguenot refugee, who sought an asylum in England. He was
pastor of the French Church of the Savoy, in the Strand, London, 1861.

[*] Indicates that a handwritten note reading "error" was found at this place in
the document.  These notes were made at unknown dates by an unknown critic (or
critics).  No supporting reasons for the inserted comments are found.

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