Religious Refugees

Religious convictions drove some continental Europeans to risk reestablishing  themselves in the English colonies. In 1722, Reverend Fontaine recorded the struggles of his Huguenot family in France and his own narrow escape to England in 1685. He distributed copies of this memoir to his children, several of whom migrated to Virginia in the early 1700s.

The Spanish Inquisition forced Sephardic Jews out of Spain, a few of whom found their way to the Americas. In the eighteenth century, a trickle of Ashkenazic Jews from central and northern Europe followed, settling primarily in Atlantic seaports. Like other religious refugees, Jews tried to reconstruct the communities of worship they had left behind.

view large image

“A History of the Family of the Fontaines” by the Reverend James Fontaine, 1722.

Copied and translated by descendant Ann Maury, 1825-1826. Deposited by Mrs. George M. Maverick (MSS 6769)

view large image

Prayer book for the festival of Passover in the Ashkenazic tradition, which includes special hymns (Krovot) for the holiday. Inscribed: Kaufmann Hirsch, Fredereksburg [sic] Va. Sulzbach, Austria: S. Arnstein & Söhne, 1826.

(BM675 .P3 A3 1826)