The Testart Family: "Who's Who?"
In the 17th century there was a great deal of intermarriage between the Crommelin and Testart families in France and, later, between the Crommelin and de la Cherois families in Ireland. Religion, of course, was likely a prime factor for the intermarriage that occurred frequently amongst a minority population which espoused Calvinism. The Testart [Testard] family in St. Quentin, France, is an example of how intertwined two families could become. In order to sort out their various names and signatures that appear frequently in the Lehaucourt church records of the 17th century, I have prepared a chart that hopefully will clarify these ties.
Pierre Testart was the son of Cyprien Testart and Marie Bossu. He died in Holland, November 1693.
1. The first of Pierre Testart's three wives was Catherine Bossu. Two of their daughters married Crommelins (ie brothers Jacob and Daniel Crommelin).
2. His second wife was Rachel Crommelin who happened to be a sister of Jacob and Daniel!
3. He married a third time to Anne Baullier after Rachel died while giving birth to their eighth child.
Pierre Testart was an elder at the Protestant 'temple' (church) that was permitted to serve the Protestants at St. Quentin under the provisions of the Edict of Nantes. Two other elders were Louis Crommelin (father of the 'Louis of Lisburn') and Samuel Crommelin (reputed to be the richest man in the region of Vermandois which included the area around St. Quentin). Louis was married to Marie Mettayer, a daughter of Jean Mettayer the pastor at Lehaucourt for many years. [Jean Mettayer was pastor from 1623 to 1668.] His son, Samuel Mettayer, who succeeded his father as pastor served from 1660 to 1685. When Samuel Mettayer, the new pastor, was occasionally absent to perform a baptism, marriage or burial, Pierre Testart would officiate at the ceremony as we can see through his distinctive handwriting.
The burial of Jean Mettayer on May 8, 1668 was attended by all the elders of Lehaucourt
showing the signatures of Pierre Testart, Louis and Samuel Crommelin, Samuel Mettayer, and perhaps Abraham Bossu.
Susanne Testart [a daughter of Pierre Testart by Rachel Crommelin]
Even though the church records convey a sense of calm and normalcy relative to church affairs, the church at Lehaucourt suffered hardships and persecution difficult to imagine. We have the records from 1592 to 1617, but after this date the church underwent renewed turmoil and persecution which forced it to meet in different places for fifty years. The Crommelin website has a page that summarizes the trials and tribulations that beset our forefathers at St. Quentin. It explains what transpired in the 'missing years' between 1618-1667 when no church records were kept. Had the church at Lehaucourt been allowed to continue uninterrupted throughout the 1600's, we would certainly have more complete genealogical records because the Crommelin family took the church very seriously. They faithfully had as many births, marriages and deaths recorded there as possible. When the church finally emerged from this 'dark age' in 1668 the very first page, first record, and first signature to appear is that of Pierre Testart at the baptism of his daughter, Susanne, the child that would be the last for Rachel Crommelin. She was born on New Year's Eve of 1667.
First record of 1668 when the church 'began again' after a 50-year gap in record-keeping shows Pierre Testart's signature
at his daughter Susanne's baptism, January 1, 1668. The Rachel Crommelin signature is not that of Pierre's wife
but of the daughter of Louis Crommelin and Marie Mettayer who married Robert L'Allemand.
She was Susanne's 'maraine' (godmother). The handwriting is that of pastor Jean Mettayer who died 4 months later.
Marie Bossu [Pierre's Mother]
The last time Pierre Testart's signature appears in the church registers is in September 1685, a month before the church was forcibly closed and destroyed. On October 22 the Edict of Nantes was revoked, and the Huguenot exodus of some 300,000 refugees out of France began in earnest. A short time later Pierre and his family were in Holland, having left most of their earthly possessions behind.
Last appearance of Pierre Testart's signature along with that of his mother, Marie Bossu,
who were the godparents of this boy baptised on Sept. 4, 1685, a son of Marie Testart.
Four generations are represented on this baptism registry which took place
a month before the Edict of Nantes was revoked and the church at Lehaucourt was forcibly closed.
Marie Bossu is the great-grandmother of this baby, Pierre Balshasar de Villette.
Rachel Crommelin [Pierre's Second Wife]
Pierre's three wives bore him 16 children over a period of some 35 years. Large families were common in those days partly because it was feared that few children could be expected to grow into adulthood. For example, of the 15 children born to Jean Crommelin and Marie de Semeries, 10 died young, and of the 15 children born to Jean Crommelin and Rachel Tacquelet, 6 died young while only 3 were still alive when Rachel Tacquelet died in Paris in 1686. [Jacob and Catherine were at her bedside while Daniel was living in Greenway Court, Kent, England when their mother died.] And of the 23 children that were born to Samuel Crommelin and Madelaine Testart, 13 died young. Obviously medicine has improved over the 300 years since these signatures were entered into the registers! Pierre Testart, however, had a more successful posterity since only two of his sixteen children died in childhood, and one died at birth along with his wife, Rachel Crommelin.
Burial of Rachel Crommelin on January 21, 1669 was attended by brothers Jacob and Louis Crommelin.
Husband Pierre Testart, likely overcome with grief, was absent.
Jean Testart [a son of Pierre Testart by Rachel Crommelin]
Several children remained single including his son, Jean Testart, the child of Rachel Crommelin. Unfortunately his birth occurred in 1664, four years before the 'dark age' of the church ended, thus his birth is not recorded at Lehaucourt. He fled to Holland after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. At some point he became a druggist or apothecary, either at St. Quentin or Amsterdam. Later he joined Francois Leguat and a band of adventurers that attempted to set up a colony on a desert isle in the Indian Ocean. This adventure began in Amsterdam in 1690 and lasted until his death in 1696 when he drowned while attempting to escape from a prison island at Mauritius. From 1691 to 1693 he and 8 others inhabited the desert island of Rodrigues near Mauritius and his saga can be found in Francois Leguat's book, A New Voyage to the East Indies by Francis Leguat and His Companions. Containing Their Adventures in Two Desart Islands published in 1708. This book is available as a free download from Google Books. Unfortunately we haven't been able to find Jean Testart's signature amongst the records of Lehaucourt church. These signatures, incidentally, usually appear because a person assisted at a burial, or they were principals at a wedding ceremony, or because they were the godmother ('maraine') or godfather ('paraine') of a child being baptized. Apparently Jean Testart did not fit into any of these categories before he departed from France for Holland, followed by his ill-fated journey to the desert island of Rodriques and Maurice (Mauritius) in the Indian Ocean.
A diagram of the settlement on the desert island of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean where
Jean Testart spent two years, 1691-1693. His hut is shown as "Hut 7". The settlement was
located at the present capital of Port Mathurin. The island now has some 40,000 inhabitants.
Marie Testart [Pierre's oldest child, by Catherine Bossu]
Pierre Testart's oldest child [by his first wife, Catherine Bossu] was Marie Testart. She gained notoriety later when she boldy caused some Roman Catholics to become Protestants. The senior canonry of Saint-Quentin petitioned against three members of the Huguenot church, namely Samuel Mettayer, Elisabeth Bossu and Marie Testart. Six major charges were drawn up against pastor Mettayer.
1) Holding secret assemblies in his house.
2) Having performed baptisms in the city of St. Quentin which should have been done in Lehaucourt.
3) Having allowed foreign ministers to preach.
4) Having converted Catholics, of whom Pointier and a certain other from Luxembourg, converted by his preaching, were now practicing the reformed Protestant religion.
5) Having taken in several non-religious or secular people for the purpose of proselytizing.
6) Having repeatedly converted people.
Elisabeth Bossu and Marie Testart were accused of having contributed to the conversion of two Capuchins and a nun [Father Constantin, Father Delafons and Sister Agnès]. The accused persons defended themselves skillfully, point by point, but the prosecutors supported the charges raised against them. Samuel Mettayer was condemned to a fine of "six hundred pounds towards the king" and was forever banned from being a clergyman in the kingdom. Elisabeth Bossu was condemned to be reprimanded in the presence of the people and fined three hundred pounds. On appeal to Parlement, the final judgment handed down to Samuel Mettayer, Elisabeth Bossu and Marie Testart on July 17, 1684 was severe. Samuel Mettayer's religious services and function as a minister would be curtailed and the church of Lehaucourt would be closed permanently following a short period of grace. The two women were sentenced to be reprimanded in public and ordered to pay a fine of three hundred pounds each.
Elisabeth Testart [Pierre's second child, by Catherine Bossu]
Pierre's second child [by his first wife, Catherine Bossu] was Elisabeth Testart who married Jacob Crommelin in 1663. She bore him 12 children of whom 3 died young. Jacob, son of Jean Crommelin and Rachel Tacquelet, was born 26 May 1642. He was destined for the ministry and went to Rouen with his mother in 1653 to attend the theological college at Quevilly [the Protestant church that served the people of Rouen] where he studied two years and several months. He left there on the advice of his brother-in-law Francois de Coninck who, with his wife, brought him to Holland where they chose to settle. He didn't succeed here because of his lack of submission to his teachers and left Holland when his father, Jean Crommelin, died in 1659. He returned to France to be near his mother and brother Louis in early 1660. He lived with this brother for about two and a half years then went to live with his mother who gave him her business in 1663 for his marriage to Elisabeth Testart in St. Quentin on 16 September 1663. Elisabeth was born in St. Quentin 10 August 1645. They had eight children at St. Quentin where they lived initially over a period of ten and a half years, and several more in Paris. Jacob and Elisabeth left St. Quentin in 1674 to establish themselves at Paris where he founded a banking house. His name appears at the bottom of an act of abjuration signed by prominent reformed Parisian merchants in 1685. In 1686 he and his sister, Catherine, were at the bedside of their mother, Rachel Tacquelet when she died in Paris 10 August 1686. Elisabeth, more constant in her faith, fled the country in 1685 with her five daughters, a servant, and a son-in-law, the banker Moise Cousin, and his children, Moise and Marie. They were miraculously rescued by the La Rochelle which landed them in England where she stayed for several months. Then afterwards she went to Holland with her daughter Babet, residing near her father, Pierre Testart, her stepmother Anne Baullier, and her brothers and sisters of Pierre Testart's second and third marriage [ie Rachel Crommelin and Anne Baullier]. She left the four youngest daughters with four of their relatives in England. Meanwhile, Jacob, having lost some fifty thousand ecus (currency) over the period of 12 years that he lived at Paris, went back to Saint-Quentin in 1686. Jacob took up the linen business again by the blessing of the Lord who had humbled him, but for the love of his children he earned enough to fund the marriage of five daughters and a son, and then had enough money to live leisurely in Holland where God's providence led them in 1708. In 1712 Jacob completed a genealogical account of the Crommelin family on his seventieth birthday. This account appears as an Appendix to J.H. Scheffer's Crommelin Family Archive published in 1878. Jacob died in Rotterdam 12 August 1721. Elisabeth died there a year later on 14 September 1722.
Anne Testart [Pierre's third child, by Catherine Bossu]
Pierre's third child [also by his first wife, Catherine Bossu] was Anne Testart who married Daniel Crommelin [Jacob's brother] in 1674. They spent about 10 years in the 1680's living at Greenway Court, Kent, England on rented property where Daniel undertook farming. Daniel eventually settled in New York, arriving there in 1694. Daniel and Anne had only two children, Charles and Isaac. Unfortunately she and Isaac died in 1702 when a yellow fever epidemic swept through New York killing 10% of its population of 5000 inhabitants. Through their remaining son, Charles, Daniel and Anne Testart were the founders of the U.S. branch of the family, and the grandparents of another Daniel who, at age 17, sailed from New York to Holland where he founded the hugely successful Daniel Crommelin and Sons bank and trading firm that lasted for several generations. Thus we have ample reason for becoming better acquainted with the Testart family in general, and Pierre Testart in particular.
Cyprien Testart [Pierre's oldest son, by Rachel Crommelin]
Like so many of the Protestants at St. Quentin, Pierre apparently was a successful businessman involved in the wholesale trade of linens and fabrics. His oldest son, Ciprien, [a child of Rachel Crommelin] eventually took over his business before the family fled to Holland. Of this Testart family, only Cyprien abjured and remained in France.
The fact that Pierre Testart's signature appears so frequently throughout the Lehaucourt records attests to his dedication to the life of the church. He was an active businessman with a large brood of children to look after, and yet he found the time to frequently travel the road from St. Quentin to Lehaucourt, a distance of 8 kilometres on foot, or via some horse-drawn vehicle through snow, rain, or shine in summer and winter. Those who went on foot took a road called 'the road of the exiles'. It took them two hours of travelling through ruts and mud, and as much time to return. To go there by cart, it was necessary to take a road more suitable for carriages which required a longer detour. The church at Lehaucourt was reputedly quite a large edifice in order to accommodate the growing number of Protestants at St. Quentin. On days when services where held, therefore, one could expect to see quite a large number of people making the arduous journey from St. Quentin to Lehaucourt.
This area of Picardy lies on a flat plain that today sports a large wind farm. We can be assured, therefore, that the 'anciens' (elders of Lehaucourt church) whose signatures appear so frequently in the church registers faced some brutal weather at times in order to perform their official duties, not to mention the inconvenience of transporting babies and bodies over such a long distance for baptisms and burials. Baptisms were almost always done on Sundays, very often several at once: five, ten, eleven, even seventeen on the same day, and similarly there were up to four marriages taking place on the same day. In general the first name of the child and the names of the parents, godfather and godmother were fully declared. Often we find that the functions of godfather and godmother were assumed by children who accompanied their father and mother.
All that remains now of the Protestant 'temple' at Lehaucourt is an old land registry plan that shows where the temple and cemetery once stood. When the temple was demolished, its building materials were sold for 1100 pounds of which 600 was allocated for repairs to the roof of the local catholic church. Benches that had been transported to the court of justice in St. Quentin were still there in 1806.
Angélique Testart [a daughter of Pierre by Rachel Crommelin]
In the late 1800's when an archaeology report was made on the site where the Lehaucourt temple once stood, the following paragraph with reference to the land registry plan of 1837 (above) perhaps says something about Pierre Testart's daughter, Angélique:Finally when in 1862 we built on the place of N 400 the current barn, we found by digging in the extremity (towards the letter C on the sketch) a quantity of bones. Later, while making in N 398 a covered watering place and, quite recently for the spring of 1893, while establishing foundations towards the same place, we discovered several skeletons (among others that of a girl about seventeen years old) and coffin nails.
Angélique Testart, the daughter of Pierre Testart and Rachel Crommelin, was 17 1/2 years old when she died at St. Quentin in 1683.
The Family of Pierre Testart