Suzanne de la Tour Lamoreaux
I prepared this narrative to be presented to a group of young women. It is hard to “be”
Suzanne. She left no written history. She signed her name as a capital letter “L” in 1720. I am
not sure if she ever learned to read & write. Few men did read and write in her day and even
fewer women. I have pieced together what we know about the time and events she witnessed.
I have only written about where I know she was & what I know was happening. I have
supposed many things about her feelings. I add some of my own feelings about what she went
through. I don’t really know how she felt, I can only guess. Knowing something about her life
and having left a loved home, I call it an educated guess. For more details on her life see my
timeline/document lists. April Coleman, 2 Aug 2000
Suzanne de La Tour Lamoreaux
A narrative based on known facts from her life - akrc
Bonsoir, Mes Amies. Comment allez-vous? Que Belles Mademoiselles! Je m’
appelle Suzanne de laTour Lamoureux. Je suis tres jolly a ---- Ah, Pardonez mois.
Parlez-vous Francais? Non? Je parle en anglais.
You don’t speak French? I will speak in English.
Good evening, my dear friends. What beautiful young ladies. How are you? My
name is Suzanne de laTour Lamoureux. I am happy to be here tonight. I see so
many beautiful things here. These pretty things remind me of my home in France.
I loved my home in France, with its gardens & flowers & such. I miss it very much.
I would like to tell you a little about myself and my life. I was born in France a
very long time ago, more than 300 years as a matter of fact. My family lived in the
village of Méché, located on the banks of the Gironde River. This river runs
between La Rochelle and Bordeaux. You have heard of the Bordeaux wines, no?
This river is very important for trade and travel. My husband, André Lamoureux,
was a pilot on this river… a very important job.
André had to lead the large ships that travel the oceans, safely up river, past the
dangerous rocks and sand bars. This is a difficult job. Many ships run aground on
these sand bars. André never let the ships he led run aground. André spent many
years learning his trade. He had to pass strict tests to get his papers to be a pilot.
The sea laws of France are some of the first to be established. They were written in
1681. The rules for pilots were very strict and precise. For instance, if he were to
accidentally run a ship aground, he would lose his license forever and be whipped
by the hangman. If anyone ran a ship aground on purpose, to claim the booty, they
were to be hanged on the mast and their body forever left at the site. Rather
André was a good man and a hard worker. He provided well for his family. He was
well educated. He could read and write. That doesn’t sound very impressive now,
all of you can probably read and write. But back then very few people could; only
about 3 out of every 100 people could. I used to love to hear him read the
scriptures. It was so wonderful to have the scriptures written in French so we
could all understand them. This was not always so. They used to be only written
in Latin and the Priest was the only one who could read them. Also, none of the
people used to have scriptures. Only a few copies were made before the printing
press was invented. Now our family can have their own copy.
When I was young, girls didn’t learn to read & write. People thought all we needed
to know how was how to cook & sew & wash & clean. Most of my time was spent in
taking care of my family. I never learned to read & write. I learned to sign my
name with my “mark.” It was the letter “L”. You are very blessed to be able to go to
school to learn to read & write.
André & I had a very good life. We were very happy. We had friends and family
near us all the time. And we had our religion. We gave up everything for our
religion. Our church was our life. We hated to leave France but we had no
religious freedom there. We had to meet in secret “in the wilderness.” So one day
All the years we stayed in England we hoped to be able to go back to our homes.
We kept very good records of our children’s births so we could prove who they were
and so they would be able to inherit our lands. But, it took another 100 years after
we left France before the persecution ended and for it to be safe for Protestants to
be there. And that was too late for us; our family was already settled in the new
There has been much uneasiness in France over religion my whole life. One king
decreed that we, protestants for the faith, were to be protected, the next King
advocated persecution. All my life I remember hearing the story of the St.
Bartholomew Day Massacre, were all who believed in the Reformed Religion were
slaughtered in the streets, Noblemen as well as common people, killed in cold
It was a little safer where we lived & in the area around La Rochelle. There were
many Reformed Church members who believed as we did. We felt protected. We
were able to stay there longer. Some people had to leave France as early as the
1500’s. It eventually got to be too dangerous for us, even there. Starting in 1681,
the dragonnades, soldiers of the worst character, were beginning to be billeted in
our homes. In the mid 1680’s it got too bad, we could not stay any longer. We
packed up our children and with a few family and friends we left France in André’
s small boat under the cover of darkness. We had to leave quickly and quietly. I
remember, we left in such a hurry, we left dinner on the table and candles
burning so no one would know we had left. It wasn’t an easy trip. I was expecting
a baby at the time.
We reached the shores of England early the next morning. We were permitted to
anchor there without any questions. We were blessed to get out of France alive.
Many people were captured trying to escape and hanged or sent to galley ships to
die as slaves. They did horrible things to people who would not convert, and they
would not let them leave France. They wouldn’t let us teach our children what we
believed. They took away our schools and churches. They wanted to force
everybody to be taught in the Roman faith. People say things were a lot worse after
we left. It doesn’t seem possible for them to be too much worse. They even said we
didn’t need rights because we didn’t exist.
It was very frightening traveling on that boisterous English Channel in André’s
small boat. André was not frightened; he had been out many times to meet the
incoming ships. He was used to the sea travel. I was still uneasy. Elizabeth &
Jacques were so petite. And I had to leave so much behind… so many people, my
family, some of my friends, my home, my garden and all my beautiful things. It
makes me sad to remember. Still, we were blessed to have that small boat. Without
a boat, we would never have gotten out of France to enjoy the freedoms we have
here. You are so blessed to live in a free land. Don’t ever forget.
Ah, where was I? Oh, yes, we made it safe and settled in Bristol, England. It was so
good of the English to allow so many of us to immigrate. They treated us so very
kindly. The Queen even let some of our faith meet in her own chapel at a time she
wasn’t using it. There were many people that André already knew because of
piloting ships up the Gironde. He had met seamen from all over the world. And I
had friends who were able to be with us. The French Church register at Bristol
reads almost like the one back home with most of the families represented here. It
was nice to have so many who spoke the French language. English was always
difficult for me. Bristol was so different from my little village back home, with all
the hustle & bustle of a busy city.
It was a busy time. André was now a ship master, He was very busy and gone a lot,
sailing. So much happened so fast. In 1689, Judith was born. In 1690, my little
boy, Jacques, died. We buried him in Bristol. In 1693, our first Daniel was born.
He died soon there after. Our friends got married and had children, too. We stood
as witness for several of them. People honored us by making us godparents for
their children. Life goes on. These were happy and sad times. Our second Daniel
was born in 1695.
It is difficult to build a new home with so little salvaged from the last one, but we
did it. But this was to be a temporary home. We always thought we would be able to
go back home to France. It wasn’t to be. André needed to have British citizenship
to be able to work. So, finally, in 1694, we were denized. It was André & I & our
two daughters, Elizabeth & Judith. Denization isn’t exactly being a citizen but it
isn’t being an alien either. It was somewhere in-between. It was good for a while
but we didn’t have all the rights of a citizen, our children couldn’t inherit
anything. We didn’t stay in England very long.
Every one was talking about a “new world” on the other side of the ocean. I had
already left one home and country. New York was a long way away. I had two sons
buried in England. It was hard to leave them there. I looked out over the giant
ocean and was both very frightened and very excited. New York was so new and so
wild. There were all those stories about wild Indians and forests & all. And, I
really just wanted to go back home to France where they spoke French and I knew
what to expect. But that had all changed and was now impossible.
So, once again, we loaded everything we had on André’s ship and we sailed across
the Great Atlantic Ocean. We were in New York by 1700. It wasn’t so bad. Again
we brought friends and family with us. There was a little French Church in the
area with a strong congregation. People came from miles around and camped out
in their wagons for the weekend so they could enjoy services. School was held in
the church for the children during the week. All my children learned to read and
write. We had everything we needed. This was finally home. This is where I would
live till I die.
New York started out as New Amsterdam. It had first been settled by the Dutch.
They were very open to the new Reformed religion. We sometimes attended the
Dutch Reformed Church here in New York. Many of the Huguenots, that’s what
they call us over here, settled in Holland before they came to America. The Dutch
had the best merchant navy in the world in the 1600’s. André had often dealt with
the Dutch as a pilot in France. He already knew many of the ship masters. Now he
was a ship master, himself. He was gone much of the time. He traveled up and
down the coast of this new world. It was such a worry to me having him out to sea
so much. He traded in the West Indies. That is how he was captured by that pirate.
I suppose they weren’t really pirates, they were privateers, legal pirates. But the
outcome was the same. He lost his ship and all his goods and had to “procure his
releasment.” It was horrible. It was wartime. France and England were fighting
over control of the colonies. It was legal for ship captains who had been given a
“Letter of Marque” from their government to attack ships from other opposing
countries. André flew the British flag. On one of his journeys, he was captured by
French Privateers. We were blessed that he wasn’t taken back to France and
thrown into a dungeon like his good friend Elie Neau. He had escaped France
illegally like us. Many people were taken back to France even years later.
André was released by the privateers on the island of Curasao, in the Dutch West
Indies. He had to ship himself back to New York on board a sloop called “The
Orange.” But, the ordeal doesn’t end there. When the ship sailed into New York
Harbor the crewmen on “The Orange” were impressed into service in the British
Navy on board Her Majesties ship “The Triton’s Prize.” He was kidnapped! In
March, Governor Cornbury had issued a warrant authorizing Captain Miles, of this
“Triton’s Prize” to impress seamen from incoming vessels. If André were on his
own ship he would not have been taken. André wrote a petition and it was
presented to the Governor and André was released from impressment. That was in
May 1706. Our son, Daniel, was 10 years old at the time. He loved telling the story
to his friends.
My family is now grown and all are safe at the present. I have had a good life. This
week, 29 May 1720, I was godmother to my son Daniel’s son Daniel. It is good to
see the rising generation, even though the children are all getting away from the
French ways. They all speak English more and more. My grand children will
probably all marry English people. The English are good people, but we have
preserved and spoken the French for 40 years now in this country. I hate to see it
go. And I still miss my home in France sometimes.
[The last entry of Suzanne’s name in the records of the French church was 29 May 1720. We
don’t know exactly when she died. As new information comes to light, some of this information
will have to be altered. If you know of any error or addition to this narrative please contact me.
Thank you, April Coleman, PO Box 31184, Mesa AZ, 85275-1184. Or email me at