Excellence in Scholarship and Learning


The Huguenots in Later Stuart Britain

Volume II – Settlement, Churches, and the Role of London

Robin Gwynn is a historian of Early Modern England, formerly Reader in History at Massey University, New Zealand. His speciality has long been the study of Huguenot refugees and the French communities in Britain, and in 1985 he was Director of the “Huguenot Heritage” tercentenary commemoration under the patronage of H.M. The Queen. His books include the widely acclaimed Huguenot Heritage (2nd edn, Sussex Academic Press, 2001), and editions of later seventeenth century letters and consistory minutes of the largest of the many French churches in England.

The Huguenots in Later Stuart Britain is planned as one work to be published in three interlinking volumes (titles/publication dates detailed below). It examines the history of the French communities in Britain from the Civil War, which plunged them into turmoil, to the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, after which there was no realistic possibility that the Huguenots would be readmitted to France. There is a particular focus on the decades of the 1680s and 1690s, at once the most complex, the most crucial, and the most challenging alike for the refugees themselves and for subsequent historians.

This volume explains when refugees fled France, and what drove them to settle in some regions of Britain but not others. Recent scholarship has lowered former estimates of refugee numbers across Europe, but careful analysis of the available evidence suggests that for Britain, previous estimates have been low and need upward revision. European historians have accepted Pierre Bayle’s assertion that the Netherlands were the great ark of the refugees too uncritically. While Bayle’s remark was true enough when the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685, by 1700 England had emerged as the most significant refugee centre. In particular, London came to house by far the largest Huguenot community in exile, and the reasons for the capital’s huge appeal are examined.

Historians have debated the reception that awaited the Huguenots in Britain. Were they warmly welcomed, sullenly accepted, or consciously opposed? The answer varied over time and place, but this book argues that overall they met an exceptionally sympathetic welcome. Part of the evidence lies in the extraordinary efforts made to give them economic support, involving the creation of a special administrative bureaucracy with a high-powered French Committee to administer relief funds under the supervision of an even higher-powered English Committee which audited its work. A chapter is devoted to the relief process. Appendices list all known lay officers of the French congregations and reproduce some little-known key documents.

  • The book provides the first comprehensive study of where Huguenot communities developed in mainland Britain, from Dartmouth to Edinburgh and from Bideford to Dover and Ipswich
  • The different nature of the varying communities is discussed; new information is provided on almost all of them
  • Close analysis of numbers suggests previous estimates have been on the low side, contrary to the pattern in most of the rest of Europe
  • The analysis concludes that by the 1690s it was Britain rather than (as widely believed) the Netherlands which had become the great ark for new Huguenot lay refugees from Louis XIV’s France
  • The appeal of London, the site of much the largest refugee community in exile anywhere, is examined, and a new way offered of making sense of its multiplicity of French congregations
  • Examination of forces favourable and opposed to Huguenot settlement concludes that overall, England’s first ‘refugiés’ met with remarkable support
  • The book exposes the marked divergence of views between the majority of lay refugees and their ministerial leadership
  • Refugee relief is put under the microscope, and the volume examines the first effort made in England to provide assistance to people of all social classes.

Volume I: Crisis, Renewal, and the Ministers’ Dilemma (978-1-84519-618-9) was published in 2015; Volume III: The Huguenots and the Defeat of Louis XIV’s France (978-1-84519-620-2) is due in 2020.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-619-6
Hardback Price: £120.00 / $170.00
Release Date: December 2017
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-919-7
Paperback Price: £50.00 / $70.00
Release Date: December 2018
Page Extent / Format: 384 pp. / 234 x 156 mm
Illustrated: Plate section, maps and 60 tables


List of Maps, Tables, Figures and Illustrations     
Chronological Table and Note on Dates
Glossary of Terms

Introductory Chapter

I            French Communities and Churches in Later Stuart Britain Outside London: Settlements Founded before the Restoration

II           The French Communities and Churches in Later Stuart Britain  Outside London: Settlements Resulting from Persecution in Louis XIV’s France

III           French Communities and Churches in Later Stuart London  
IV           The Scale of Settlement: Estimating Numbers  
V           The Allure of London   
VI           Welcome, Opposition, Assimilation 
VII          The Welcome Confirmed: Refugee Relief and its  Administration

1.  Lay Officers
2.  Lay Elders of Weld House/West Street [contributed by Robert Nash]
3.  The earliest Huguenot settlers at Bideford, March 1687
4.  An English Vicar demands his rights: The Case between Mounsieur de Bourdieu French Protestant  and the Vicar of S. Martin’s
5.  Two contemporary personal experiences of the Dragonnades sent to Bishop Compton, 1685–6
6.  Relief authorities account for their distribution of the first public collection of James’s reign and explain the need for a further
collection, 1688: An Account of the Disposal of the Money


Reading this volume after the first, it becomes clear just how important a contribution these volumes will be to our understanding of the history the Huguenots in Britain as well as making an enormous quantity of material avaialbe for future scholars. Historans should be looking forward eagerly to the publication of the third volume.
John Miller, Queen Mary Univesrity of London, The Huguenot Society Journal, vol. 31 (2018)

Dr Gwynn has devoted 50 years to chronicling the lives of the Huguenots in Britain and this is the second of three volumes which will surely be the definitive study of that resolute and enterprising community. It came as a surprise to this Cambridge dweller to learn that there was a substantial settlement at Thorney in the heart of the fens but one is left with an overwhelming impression of the importance of London as a destination, with churches in Threadneedle Street, Soho Square (still there) and of course Spitalfields. The author shows that it was England rather than the Netherlands which became the refuge for the Huguenots who set up the silk looms they had carried into exile from the persecutions of Louis XIV. The church they built on the corner of Brick Lane and Fournier Street, Spitalfields, still exists, now a mosque, having previously served as a Methodist chapel and Ashkenazi synagogue: a microcosm of the history of the immigrant history of London’s East End. Fascinating material for scholars of the period.
Dr Stephen Halliday, Gresham College, writing in the Times Higher Education, January 2018

In this second volume of a proposed three-volume set (v.1, CH, Mar'16, 53-3222), Gwynn focuses on French Huguenot refugees in England from the 1670s to 1714. Dismissing several historical commonplaces, the author finds that more refugees settled in England over the entire period than settled in the Netherlands. Gwynn traces settlement patterns throughout England, offering a vivid snapshot of the ebb and flow of Huguenot communities over time. Ministers were forced into exile immediately after the 1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, but lay congregants were prevented from fleeing and instead required to convert. They nonetheless found ingenious ways to leave. The refugees came in two major waves: after the launching of the dragonnades (1681) and after James II issued his Declaration of Indulgence (1687). The flow continued, however, in strong numbers after the Glorious Revolution, which overthrew James II. Gwynn demonstrates convincingly that Huguenots emigrated largely for religious reasons and generated more sympathy than hostility from the anti-French, anti-Catholic English, who established effective relief efforts to help those in need with resettlement. The book is full of illustrations, maps, tables, and charts, making it a valuable resource for further research.
Reviewed by B. Lowe, Florida Atlantic University, in Choice

Reviewed in German by Alexander Schunka, Berlin, in Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung 48 (2021), 87–21. 

Books can be ordered by phone or online

Ordering in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australasia, South America and Rest of the World

Gazelle Book Services
Direct sales tel.: +44 (0)1524 528500; email:
Web ordering:

Ordering in the United States and Canada
Independent Publishers Group (IPG)
Direct sales tel.: (800) 888-4741
Web ordering:

Bookseller Ordering
Information is provided under the Resources tab.

eBook Ordering
e-Book type availability can be sourced via by book title. Kindle availability is via Amazon .com and sites.