History, Aims, and Accomplishments of the Manakin Huguenot
In France as early as 1522 certain clergy and laity became so concerned with the
worldliness within the Established Church of France that they sought reforms. This
having failed, they began to withdraw and form congregations which they felt
adhered more closely to the Bible. The French Court and the Church were allies and
considered the Reformers heretics, calling them Huguenots in ridicule. Persecutions
became so severe that hundreds fled to other countries rather than give up their new
faith. After two tragic massacres King Henry IV granted them the Edict of Nantes in
1598. This Edict gave them limited religious and civic privileges. Afters his death in
1610 the extreme persecutions were renewed. In 1685 Louis XIV revoked the Edict of
Nantes thus outlawing the Reformers. Hundreds of thousands escaped under drastic
circumstances to friendly countries, many of whom reached the American Colonies.
In 1700 King William III, and other prominent leaders of London, concerned with
the welfare of the Huguenots who reached England, made possible the emigraiton to
manakintown. The first settlers came on the "Mary and Ann" and "Ye Peter and
Anthony." Some who came on the "Nassau" and two other ships also settled at
The Virginia House of Burgesses granted them 10,000 acres for homes and farms on
the south side of the James River west of subsequent Richmond. On December 5,
1700 the House of Burgesses established King William Parish and the church which
became manakin Episcopal Church. The first church building was erected in 1701 on
glebe land granted for that purpose. The present brick building, the fifth church
building, is modeled after Col. William Byrd's Church at Westover. The Parish House
is nearby. manakin Church is the only congregation in King William Parish.
The Huguenot Society of the Founders of Manakin in the Colony of Virginia was
organized April 17, 1922 in memory of the French Protestant Refugees who settled at
Manakintown and in the Colony of Virginia prior to 1786. The aims of the Society
To promote interest in the study of the Huguenots who settled manakin, and thelines descended therefrom.
To erect a lasting memorial at Manakintown in memory of its valiant settlers.manakin
To collect all existing documents relating to manakin and the Manakin Huguenots to be placed in a library for the use of the Society.
To encourage the preparation of fully documented papers and essays on the Manakin Huguenots and their ancestry for deposit in the Society Library and for publication in "The Huguenot" Magazine, when space permits.
To sponsor Huguenot Memorials for the training of young people in intellectual and spiritual growth and development.
The first annual assembly was held in 1932 and the Society has convened annually
since that date. The assembly is held in odd years in Virginia. The Society's governing
body between assemblies is its Board of Management and its Board of Directors of
the Incorporation. For the convenience of achieving the Society's objects, state
societies, called branches, bearing the name of the state, and chapters allied with it,
may be organized.
In a joint venture of the Society and Manakin Church the fifth church building was
erected and the dedication was held on May 25, 1959. On an inside wall of the Church
is a tablet stating: "This tablet records the gratitude of the members of the
congregation for the generosity of the Huguenot Society of the Founders of Manakin
who made possible the erection of this building."
Manakin Episopal Church Today
The Society's continued efforts have been to foster for posterity what the Huguenots
at Manakintown and in the Colony of Virginia personified--piety, ethics, honesty,
industry, inventiveness and thrift. They left a mark of rare distinction that greatly
enriched colonial Virginia and the nation. Various memorials reminds us of these
staunch and eminently brave people.
The Society owns over 400 acres of land, of the original grant to the Huguenots, in
the direct line of growth and expansion of Richmond to the west. It is in the part of
Powhatan County known as the Huguenot District, and is well set in growing long
leaf loblolly pine trees. A handsome stone monument, by the side of the Church,
commemorates the Huguenots. An annual scholarship of $1,000 is given to
undergraduate students in colleges and universities of the recipient's choice. The
subject must be on, or include, the story of the Huguenots. The Institute of Early
American History and Culture of William and Mary College receives the essays and
makes recommendations to the Society. The Huguenot Room, located in the Parish
House for the exclusive use of the Society, safeguards valuable items, the Library of
documented records and books on the Huguenots and their descendents, and a
military roster recording the names and records of servicemen who are of Virginia
Other memorials of the Huguenots at Manakintown include the Huguenot Bridge
erected by the Virginia Highway Commission over the James River on Route 147
(named Huguenot Road in Chesterfield County) and the Huguenot Trail that runs in
from of Manakin Church.