~ MALT HOUSE CHAPEL ~
These registers, which are in a large, thin folio of about thirty pages, are described in the official "certificate" annexed to the book as follows: "The original Register-book of marriages and baptisms of the Conformist French Chapel, commonly called the "Malt-House," being of the Episcopal Church denomination, situate in the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral, in the county of Kent, founded about the year... (1709), and now dissolved. The book has been from time to time in the custody of the scribe for the time being, and is sent to the commissioners from the same persons who held the registers of the Walloon Congregation of the Cathedral Undercroft, in the city of Canterbury, who kept it since 1817. Signed the 12th of September, 1837. J. F. Mieville, minister; Charles N. Miette, elder."
There are not more than thirty entries of baptisms and marriages in this book, the greater part of which is filled with matters relating to the discipline and government of the congregation. It appears form one of the first of these notices that the "Malt-House" dissenters formed themselves into a congregation in October 1709, when forty-eight men and twelve women signed a public declaration, expressing their "unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing contained and perscribed in and by the Book entitled ye Book of Common Prayer and Administration of ye Sacraments and other Rites and Cermonies of ye Church of England." The leading men of this congregation, who were chosen "anciens," or elders, on its formation, appear to have been Jean de Cleve, Abraham de la Neuve Maison, Jean de Lon, Gabriel Pain, and Paschal Lardeau. The notices immediately following show that hot quarrels broke out at once between the members of the "Walloon Church" and the worshipers at the "Malt-House", chiefly on account of a sum of "one hundred and fourscore pounds," assigned from a charitable fund in London to the Canterbury refugees, and of which the new society claimed a fair share for its own poor. The dispute about this money was carried on with much bitterness, but how it ended is not stated. The first minister elected by the "Malt-House" congregation was Pierre Richard, who certifies, under date of July 30, 1710, that he has received the sum of fifty shillings from Monsieur de Cleve, as his monthly salary, declaring himself "fort content et satisfait." Pierre Richard left his charge soon after, and in September, 1710, Jean Lardeau was chosen minister, with no fixed pay, but on the understanding "qu'il jouira des benefices et priviledges de ceste Eglise." Whatever the privileges consisted of, the benefices probably were very small, for Jean Lardeau too quitted his post at the end of a few months, and after him came a quick succession of other pastors. Under date of January 25, 1713, there is an entry stating that the ministers and elders have learnt "ave douleur et un sensible deplaisir," of there being "une diminution considerable des deniers qui se recuillent a la porte de cest Eglise;" and they exhort the members of the congregation to come forward more freely with their money, each "selon les moyens qu'il plaist a Dieu de lui fournir." The appeal seems to have had little effect, as far as can be judged from the next entries, which show a decline in the number of members. In 1716, Pierre le Sueur was chosen Minister, succeeding Jean Charpentier, and retained his charge till 1744, when the entries cease. Pierre le Sueur made several conversions, which are noticed at great length; and baptized sixty-three children during the term of his ministry, or about two per annum. There is only one marriage-entry in the book. In very few of the entries of baptism is the origin of the parents given; but it appears, from the names which occur, that natives of France were most numerously represented in the congregation. This is farther shown in some of the notices, where the members of the old French church are referred to somewhat contemptuously as "Walloons." Among the names entered most frequently are Sequin, Tevelin, Blanchard, De l'Estang a ete batisee le 30 de Sept, 1728, et a enpour parrain Monsieur Pierre Layard et pour marraine mademoiselle Francoise de St. Paul."
The Huguenots: their settlements, churches, and industries in England and Ireland. by Samuel Smiles, 1868
A view of the Archbishop's Palace 1784
Names from Christenings in the Malt-House
Aubri / Aubry
Blanchard / Blanchar
De Lestang / De L'Estang
De Veisme / De Veismes
Fromi / Fromy / Froumy / Fommy
Godier / Gaudier / Gaudiere
La Caux / Lacaux
Seguin / Seguyn
Tevelin / Tevelain
Tourteau / Tourtau
Many dissensions arose from time to time among the "Strangers," meeting in the Undercroft; jealousies prevailed, especially when the emigrants from Lyons, Tours, and the South of France, brought considerable additions to their numbers. The French Church separated; and although subsequently they rejoined their co-religionists in the Undercroft, we find, A.D. 1709, they met at a place then called the "Malt House," within the precincts of the Archbishop's Palace, and their separate church was denominated the "French Uniform Church." It was about 1745, that they returned to the Undercroft. A division took place in the Walloon church in 1651; another in 1662; but a reconciliation was speedily effected; and, by an order from the King in Council, it was declared to constitute a part of the "Foreign Reformed Churches," to avoid the penalties of nonconformity, and the members of it were exempted from taxation for any poor but their own. *See Burn's "History of the French, Walloon, and Dutch Foreign Protestant Refugees." pg 38-54 Canterbury in the Olden Time, John Brent
"It appears from numerous letters and petitions copied into the register of this church, that it was formed about 1709, and was a secession from the Walloon Church assembling at the undercroft of the cathedral, and then consisted of about three hundred persons. It was called the "French Uniform Church," and the congregation met at a place called the malthouse.*"
*"There was in 1720 a French Chapel or meeting house within these precincts (Canterbury Cathedral and Priory) for Anne Herault of Canterbury, spinster by her will, proved that year, gave the sum of 10 pounds to the adorning and repairing of the French chapel or meeting house in the Archbishops palace here, belonging to the French congregation."
Hasted's Kent, vol. iv. Fol. P. 502. This was probably the malthouse chapel which was situate where formerly the dissenting congregation of the Rev. Edward Perronet assembled, when a French Church, the Church of England's rites and ceremonies were performed. The house now occupied by Mr. Austin near the green court is built on the site on which the malthouse stood.
© T. Machado 2007