Rev. Elias Prioleau
Rev Samuel PRIOLEAU (1615 - 1683) was Pastor at Jonzac in 1637, Niort in
1642, and followed JeanConstans as Pastor at Pons, France, from 1654 to
1683. In 1660, he was for a brief time Pastor at La Rochelle. In Pons, he
defended the faith with superhuman courage in the dark days when Louis XIV
was being pressed by the Jesuits and clergy to strip the Reformed Churches
of the rights granted by the Edict of Nantes. In 1667, Samuel Prioleau was
Moderator at the Synod of Pons, where Reformed Church leaders tried to rally
support. Later, the title of pastor was denied and they were prohibited from
wearing clerical robes. There were many other restrictions imposed. Pastor
Prioleau preached boldly in his pulpit against these restrictions. His words
were taken down and serious charges were prepared against him by a Father
Mayac. In spite of efforts by prominent citizens of Pons, he was condemned,
imprisoned for a year, and ordered to pay a fine of 600 pounds to the
catholic priests so that they might "pray for the extirpation of heresy". In
1677, he gave "A Huguenot Exhortation" which is reprinted in French and
translated into English in the Transactions # 26 of the SC Huguenot Society
in 1921. The last years of his life were full of distress. For a short time,
he was assisted by his son Elias, just returned from theological studies in
Geneva. When he died in 1683, Elias was called to be his successor.(1)
Rev Elias PRIOLEAU (1659 - 1699) studied theology at Geneva and was Pastor
at La Mothe - SaintHeraye after 1678. In 1683, he followed his father as
minister at Pons and was subject to the same persecutions. In Feb 1684,
DuVigier, Councillor of the Parliament at Bordeaux, charged with looking
into religious infractions, came to Pons with 2 monks and demanded all the
church papers. One monk, La Roussie, made extracts of all of the Prioleau
sermons, distorted them and gave them to the Deputy Commissary. The other,
Mayan, who had persecuted the pastor's father, formulated 16 charges against
him. These were finally dismissed, but persecutions increased. On 22 Oct
1685, the Edict of Nantes was revoked, protestant churches were ordered
destroyed, ministers were ordered to leave France in 15 days, and parents
were ordered to present their children for catholic baptism under penalty of
a 500 pound fine. Prioleau did not leave at once and organized secret
assemblies. On April 15, 1686, his church was battered by a mob and burned
to the ground. He escaped to England and stayed there for over a year. He
obtained rights of denization to Carolina on April 15, 1687. Having been
granted 8 pounds by the King to defray the costs, he sailed for Charles Town
with his wife and daughter.(1)
Elisee Prioleau was the son of Elisee, minister of Niort,
1639-1650. He was minister of Exoudun, Poitou, 1649-1663.--(Lievre,
Hist. des prot. et des eglises ref. du Poitou,
III., 288, 306.) Samuel, a younger son of the pastor of
Niort, was minister of Pons in Saintonge, from 1650 to 1683.
He was succeeded in that charge by his son Elie Prioleau,
who came after the Revocation with some members of his
flock to Charleston, S. C. (2)
Mr. Prioleau, his wife Jane, and their two children, Jane and Elias,
were denizened April 9, 1687, in London. There is a possibility
of their having gone to Carolina before that date, for after
having taken the oath of allegiance, papers of denization
could have been issued to them in absentia on the above date.
Mr. Prioleau was not naturalized in Carolina until June 14,
See Letters of Denization, page 190.
Thus we see the greater part of a congregation, forsaking
Pons, in France, emigrating by way of Great Britain, where
they were presented with letters of denization, and being
transported as a church organization led by its minister, to
continue its life in South Carolina. Mr. Prioleau there was
associated with the Rev. Philippe Trouillard. This church
represents the principles of the Reformed Church of France
in its purest period. These people came as the professors of
its faith. They brought over and established its worship in
"List of French and Swiss Protestants Settled in Charleston"
by Daniel Ravenel as published by Theodore Gaillard Thomas
New York, Feb 18, 1888.
The present publication is made from a volume of the
City Gazette in the Treasury Office of Charleston,
kindly lent me for the purpose by the Hon. P.
C. GAILLARD, Mayor.
The names with an asterisk (*) have the word
"Fridenizons" or "Fridenize" in the margin of
the manuscript. Opposite the name of I. CAILLABEUF,
the note is "Fridenize 2 fois."
These notes refer, no doubt, to grants of civil
privileges from the Lords Proprietors, or from the
King. One of the names with the asterisk is that
of the Rev. ELIAS PRIOLEAU. I am in possession
of a notarial certificate of "Letters Patent of Denzation"
granted to him and his family on the 15th
of April, in the third year of James II. It is dated
"London, 25 April, 1687." As the document be
longs to the history of the Colony at that period a
copy is added in an appendix.
Des Francois Et Suisses Refugiez En Caroline Qui
Souhaittent D'etre Naturalizes Anglois.
1. *ELIAS PRIOLEAU, fils de Samuel Prioleau et
de Jeanne Merlat, ne a en Xaintonge
Jeanne Burgeaud, sa femme, ne en L'isle de Re.
Jeanne, leur fille, nee a St. Jean D'Angely.
Samuel, Marie, et Ester, leurs enfans nez en
A Certificate of the Denization of Elias Prioleau
His Wife and Children.
I, Nicholas Hayward, Notary & Tabellion Public
dwelling in London, admitted & sworn, do hereby
certify and attest unto all whom it may concern,
That I have seen & perused certain Letters Patents
of Denization, granted by our Soveraign Lord King
JAMES the Second, under the Broad Seal of
England, dated the Fifteenth day of April, in the
Third year of his said Majesties Reign; Wherein,
amongst others, is inserted the Names of Elias
Prioleau, Clerk, Jane his wife, Elias and Jane their
children, who, though born beyond seas, are made
His Majesties Liege Subjects, and to us held,
reported, and taken as subjects born in this Kingdom
of England; and may, as such, purchase, buy,
sell and dispose of Lands, Tenements, and Hereditaments
in this Kingdom, or any other of his Majesties
dominions, as freely peaceably & entirely as
any subject born in this Kingdom; and that the
said Elias Prioleau, Clerk, Jane his Wife, Elias and
Jane their Children, by Virtue of the said Letters
Patents, are to pay Custom and Duties for their
Goods and Merchandise only as Natives do and
ought to do and to enjoy all Liberties, Privileges
and Franchises of Subjects born in this Kingdom,
without any disturbance, impediment or molestation,
as by the said Patent, relation being thereunto had,
may more at large appear. Of all which, Act being
required of me, the said Notary, I have granted
these Presents to serve and avail the said Elias
Prioleau, Clerk, Jane his Wife, Elias and Jane their
Children, in time & place convenient.
London, the 25th day of Aprill Anno Dom. 1687.
In Testimonium Veritatis, signo meo
Manuali solito sigavi & Tabellionatus
[SEAL.] mei Sigillum apposui rogatus.
NICo. HAYWARD, No. Pub.
Certe Naturalization, Elias Prioleau, Minister of
Ye Gospel. 1697 Carolina.
The Rt Honble JOSEPH BLAKE,
Esqr One of the true & absolute Lords
[SEAL.] and Proprietors of Carolina, Commander
in Chief, Vice-Admiral and Governor
Genl of South Carolina.
To all Judges, Justices, Magistrates, Ministers
and Officers Ecclesiastical and Civil and to all
persons whatsoever, to whom this shall come to be
seen, heard, read or known, Greeting.
Know ye that Elias Prioleau, Minister of ye Gospel,
and Janne his daughter, born under the allegiance
of the King of France, hath taken the Oath
of allegiance to our most Royal Sovereign William
the Third, over England, Scotland, France, and
Ireland King, Defender of the faith, and hath done
every other thing which by Act of Assembly made
at Charlestown, in the ninth year of the Reign of
our Sovereign Lord King William, Anno Dom.
One Thousand Six hundred & Ninety Six and
Seven, entitled An Act to make Aliens free of this
part of this Province and for giving Liberty of
Conscience to all Protestants, he was required to
do, and fully & effectualy, to all intents, constructions
& purposes qualified and capacitated to have,
use and enjoy all the privileges, Powers and Immunity
of any person born in the Kingdom of
England, to certify which I have hereunto sett my
hand and fixed the public Seal of the province att
Charlestown this Third day of June Anno 1697,
Recorded in the Secretary's Office, June the 4th
1697, pr me
Memorials of the Hugenots In America, with Special Reference To Their
Emigration To Pennsylvania, Chapter IV, Huguenot Settlements in
America by Rev. A. Stapleton, Life Member of the Pennsylvania Historical
Society, 1901. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 64-19753
Postscript - An comparison of the Pons Huguenot Church registry 1648-1680
to the list of families denized on the same day as Rev. Prioleau does not
support the assertion that many of the Pons Church members went with the
pastor to England and then to Charleston. Ray Timmons 3-Jan-2004
(1) Personal email from Horry Frost Prioleau, 22 May 2003.
(2)The Huguenots of Colonial South Carolina,
By Arthur Henry Hirsch, Professor of History In Ohio Wesleyan
University, 1928, Duke University Press, Chapter III, Page 5.
(3)Happy Heritage, By Lyndon Lee Cannon
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