John James Dupuy returned home on the evening before his young wife was to be tortured and put to death in France in the late seventeenth century. Dupuy was the grandfather of James Trabue whose writings provide a glimpse into this time period when many Europeans migrated to early America.
The priest denounced her as a heretic for espousing her belief in Jesus Christ instead of the Catholic Church. He postponed her execution until the following day so that her husband, himself a strict Roman Catholic, might change her mind.
The Dupuys, newly-married and very much in love, were young, handsome, and well-to-do for the period. Dupuy owned a valuable vineyard and had been offered a large sum for his farm.
“I believe the Catholics are wrong,” she told Dupuy after explaining everything that had happened. “My belief is in another religion, the true religion of Jesus Christ. I cannot change that.
“The priest came just today and threatened me very severely. He said he would return tomorrow and if I don’t renounce my ways and swear to be a good Catholic I would be put to the cruelest death they could think of.”
Trabue said his great-grandfather agreed with his wife in that he felt the Catholics were wrong in persecuting people for their beliefs. Dupuy decided that he must take his wife out of the country and they immediately made plans to flee to England.
“He found a suit of men’s clothing that would fit his wife,” Trabue recalled from his grandfather’s words. “My grandfather was an officer and could pass anywhere with his regimentals and sword by showing his commission. He was able to pass his wife, dressed in men’s cloths, as a servant.”
They made it safely to England but soon he heard that the priests and inquisitors were very displeased with him for taking his wife abroad. He wrote them several times but was never satisfied with the replies he received so he never returned.
Although he was distraught over the loss of his estate, he felt the king would alter the decree someday and return his property. Petitions were being presented to the king regularly to amend the decree.
The Dupuys met other refugees in England who had fled from France. All had stories of trials and difficulty to tell.
Meanwhile the King of England, William III, wanted to populate their American colony and ordered Governor Francis Nicholson, of Virginia, to make a grant of land to the French refugees and help them settle.
“In 1700, my grandfather Anthony Trabue, great grandfather John James Dupuy, and many others, agreed to embark to the new world as they then called America,” Trabue wrote.
“Grandfather Dupuy still thought he may return to his estate in France someday if times would change.”
They arrived in America and settled 15 miles from World’s End, which is the name given for the Falls of the James River area. That is where Richmond is now located.
Soon they had a minister and their own self-governing congregational church. Although the Church of England was established in Virginia, the King allowed these French immigrants freedom to pursue their religious beliefs.
“Their property had been confiscated before leaving France,” Trabue wrote. “But through their industry and hard work they improved their living standard in the years that followed.”
Although there were plenty of wild deer and other game the Frenchmen were not accustomed to hunting. Instead they “raised cattle and hogs a-plenty.”
Anthony Trabue fathered three sons. One was John, father of Daniel Trabue, whose writings are used for this article.
It was Daniel Trabue who wrote this accounting of his life and that of his forebears in 1827, that allows us a glimpse into this colorful part of our history. copyright Jadon Gibson 2019
Editor’s note: The anabaptists cause an upheaval in the next segment. Jadon Gibson is a widely read Appalachian writer from Harrogate, TN. His writings are both historical and nostalgic in nature and can be read regularly at bereaonline.com. Don’t miss a single posting!