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FRONT COVER: 13th Century Seal Matrix, Yeovil Museum Drawing:Leslie Brook

This article came from the Chronicle published October 1987. Page. 12

 

TWO 18th CENTURY FRENCH REFUGEES IN DORSET

Author: Isabel M. Rendall

 

On the wall of the north aisle in Beaminster church is a plaque commemorating one Gershom Levieux. It reads thus :-

“Near this place lies the body of
GERSHOM LEVIEUX who died in the
year of Christ
1735
in the 41st year of his age
and was the son of THEODORE LEVIEUX
who was born at the City of UZES
in the Lower Languedoc”

In a book which belonged to Peggy Barnes and is now given to the Beaminster Comprehensive School is a further note which says that Theodore (the father) was buried in the church in 1744 and he is listed as “a French refugee”. This note is in the church register. Gershom would have been born in 1695, so he was probably born in England. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 sent many French Protestants over here as refugees and Theodore may well have come over as a result. The Lower Languedoc was I believe, notorious for the amount of religious persecution which took place there. A more famous name from Uzes is that of the playwright Racine who spent 1661 – 63 there studying theology with his uncle, the Vicar-General Antoine Sconin. Racine had been brought up by his grandmother and educated at Port Royal school, a Jansenist religious establishment, and his desire to write plays for the theatre scandalized Port Royal – Nance his banishment to Uzes. However, he returned to Paris, entered whole-heartedly into society and the theatre world and began writing his tragedies.

Could the forebears of Theodore and Gershom have met Racine in his sojourn at Uzes? Such speculation may be interesting but it is certainly one of the byways of history!


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