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Huguenot Refugees in Colonial New York

Becoming American in the Hudson Valley

Paula Wheeler Carlo is Professor of History at Nassau Community College, State University of New York. She has received several awards for both teaching and research, including the prestigious State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence and the National Huguenot Society Outstanding Book Award for her doctoral dissertation

This unique book examines two rural New York communities that were settled by Huguenots in the late-seventeenth century.

Utilizes wills, census materials, manuscript sermons, church records, SPG letters, and private documents to explore church and family life

Provides a fascinating insight into colonial America, the Atlantic world, and religious history

Challenges the idea that Huguenots in North America abandoned French language and culture in favour of Anglo-Americanism

A unique volume that follows on from other successful Sussex Academic Press Huguenot titles, Huguenot Heritage and The Huguenot Soldiers of William of Orange

Drawing comparisons with the broader Huguenot diaspora, this book reassesses the prevailing view that Huguenots in North America quickly conformed to Anglicanism and abandoned the French language and other distinctive characteristics in order to assimilate into Anglo-American culture. Although the standard interpretation may still be true for Huguenots in heterogeneous urban communities, it should be modified for Huguenots in ethnically and religiously homogeneous rural settlements like New Paltz and New Rochelle, where the process was more akin to a gradual acculturation.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-059-0
Hardback Price: £55.00 / $67.50
Release Date: March 2005
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-060-6
Paperback Price: £29.95 / $44.95
Release Date: March 2014
Page Extent / Format: 324 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: Pictures of Colonial life, Huguenot churches and settlements in colour


List of Illustrations
List of Tables


1 The Huguenot Diaspora

2 Creating Communities in the Wilderness

3 The Churches of New Paltz and New Rochelle

4 Religious Beliefs and Practices

5 Educating Children and Young People

6 Families and Households

7 “Considering the Shortness and Frailty of Life”

8 Masters and Slaves

9 On the Eve of Independence

Conclusion A Gradual Process of Acculturation


Paula Wheeler Carlo has produced a concise, richly detailed, and thoroughly researched account of rural New York Huguenots that gives us a more nuanced understanding of this group’s role in colonial America… Essential reading for anyone studying the Huguenot experience in colonial America, and an important reminder that much of rural colonial America consisted of ethnic and religious communities that resisted, with varying degrees of success, the forces of homogenization.
Journal of American History

In 1983 Jon Butler published his groundbreaking study of the Huguenot migration to British North America. His main argument was that the French refugees, who were fewer than previously estimated, vanished wherever they settled leaving no ethnic or religious mark on American history. Two decades after the publication of this work a new wave of Huguenot scholarship in the United States has challenged this thesis. Paula Carlo’s Huguenot Refugees in Colonial New York is part of this new orientation in the historiography of the Refuge in North America.
... The originality of Carlo’s work lies in her comparative study of two little known rural communities, New Paltz (partly Walloon and Huguenot) and New Rochelle instead of the traditional focus on urban refugee centres such as New York City, Boston, and Charleston. The author follows the history of these settlements from their foundation in the 1670s and 1680s until the Revolutionary War, which provides a real historical perspective on these communities and allows her to gauge to what extent Huguenot distinctive ethnicity became extinct.
... Using genealogies, probate and church records, tax lists, and censuses, the author also presents a thorough socio-economic and demographic study of these two highly literate communities over four generations of refugees and their descendants, accompanied by very useful tables, and devotes a chapter to the Huguenots’ testamentary practices. This type of work, which can be hindered by a lack of sources especially in South Carolina, is a much needed contribution to the historiography of North American Huguenot communities which have rarely been studied in such detail. Like many other settlers the Huguenots owned slaves and they did so also in the rural north. Carlo devotes a chapter to Huguenot slave ownership in the two settlements and to the position of the churches and pastors towards the Christianization of the slaves. The Huguenots turned out not to be specifically benevolent masters but they showed much less resistance to Christianizing slaves in New York than in South Carolina.
... The book is richly illustrated with sixteen colour plates and contains three interesting appendices (an inventory of Stouppe’s sermons and two lists of New Paltz and New Rochelle Huguenots with the number of slaves they owned). Carlo’s original and thorough study of these two New York Huguenot communities is a welcome addition to the growing – yet still small – body of academic literature on the Refuge in British North America. Her thesis of gradual and incomplete assimilation, which parallels findings in South Carolina, is compelling.
Proceedings of the Huguenot Society

A review by Tessa Murdoch of the 2013 released paperback edition was published in The Huguenot Society Journal, Vol. XXX, No. 3 (2015), formerly Proceedings of the Huguenot Society.

Carlo observes a gradual process of acculturation in these two rural areas – not a quick assimilation – and bases her observation on the continued use of French in the private sphere, such as manuscript sermons, church records, and business and family records. … Chapters on family structure, inheritance patterns (testators in both communities adhered to French and Dutch practices rather than English), slaveholding, and the run-up to the Revolution (both were pro-Independence) are full of interesting detail that places these two communities squarely into the context of other colonial communities, while also establishing some differences.
De Halve Maen

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