The Huguenot Society

of the

Founders of Manakin in the Colony of Virginia

French Place Names in Virginia

James W. Gordon, Jr.

Originally written as an MA thesis for University of Virginia in 1933, this was republished by the Virginia Place Name Society in 1975 without documentation). The original may be read at the University of Virginia (Manuscripts division) or the Library of Virginia. Below are selections which mention immigrants known to be Huguenot. A primary source is R. A Brock, Huguenot Emigration to Virginia.

AMISVILLE, Rappahannock County

On October 2, 1810, the Post Office at Amissville was established with Thomas Amiss as first postmaster. We conclude the town was named for him. Whether this family came from England or direct from France is not easy to say. We have proof there was a family by the name of Amias living in England. There was also a family of Amis among the Huguenots who fled from France during the time of the persecutions. We cannot tell from which of these two branches came the Thomas Amis who patented two hundred and ninety-five acres of land in Gloucester County on November 20, 1678. But whether from England or from France, the fact remains that he was French.

AYLETT, King William County

A village on Route 360 at the head of navigation of the Mattaponi River. The surrounding land was an original grant to the Aylett family, who were Huguenots, by Charles II. A post office was established here before 1811.

BERNARD, Orange County

This town represents a family which had two immigrant branches in Virginia. Richard of the English branch came over before 1647, as in that year we know he rented Pryor's Plantation in York County. Le Roman de Rou lists four Bernards who were in the train of the Conqueror when he came to England. The other branch of the family was represented by the Huguenot immigrants among whom was Joseph Bernard, a refugee from Ré in 1685. We find that a certain Richard Bernard patented three hundred and ninety acres of land in Orange County on August 30, 1744. This Richard was possibly the son of John Bernard who died in 1709 and was descended from the first Richard of the English branch, or he may have been Richard, the son of William, coming two generations later. There are no Richards listed in Brock's book. This would seem to establish the fact that Richard, the patentee in Orange, came from the English family. The name of the person for whom the place was named and his connection with the original Richard have not been established.

BERTRAND, Lancaster County

This Post Office was established on May 22, 1902. It does not necessarily follow that the place was named at this time. We find an account of two brothers, John and Paul Bertrand, who, escaping from France during the persecutions of Louis XIV, went to England. They then came to America. John settled in Rappahannock County and Paul in Calvert County, Maryland. From this we may supposed that the town was named for the Bertrand Family and probably for that branch descended from John, the Virginia settler.

DABNEY, Caroline County

This town we may suppose was named for the Dabney family of Caroline County which was founded by Cornelius Dabney who patented land near Piping Tree Ferry.

DABNEYS, Louisa County

This Post Office was founded on March 13, 1878, and Joseph W. Dabney was appointed postmaster. From this we may infer the place was named from Joseph W. Dabney. He was the great-great-grandson of Cornelius Dabney who founded the third branch of Dabneys in Virginia. Cornelius was in turn a descendant of Agrippa d'Aubigné, the Huguenot.

DEJARNETTE, Caroline County

According to the Virginia Land Office there were three members of this family to come to Virginia: James, Daniel, and Munford, who patented land in 1772, 1759, and 1750 respectively. Leaving aside these three progenitors of the family, the history of the family is not very clear. There are several accounts which are at variance with each other, except that all of them mention Joseph as one of the immigrants. One account states that Samuel and Joseph were the two brothers to come over to America and that they fled from La Rochelle in 1685 after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Joseph settled in Virginia towards the end of the seventeenth century, after first going to South Carolina. The other account by Mr. E. H. Dejarnette of Orange, Virginia, states there were three members of the family to come over: Joseph, James, and Daniel Dejarnette. James Dejarnette, the great-great-grandson of the immigrant Joseph, inherited the Pole Cat estate in Caroline County from his father, Elliott Hawes Dejarnette. The Post Office was formerly Pole Cat but the people in the neighborhood did not like such an unsavory name so they changed it to Dejarnette.

DURAND, Greenville County

Lower tells us this family is Anglo-Norman and is found as Durandus in Doomesday Book. Brock mentions two Durands in his list of the refugees from France who were to receive one bushel of Indian meal per month from the miller of Falling Creek. Lacking the name of an English immigrant spelled Durand and having before us the names of the Huguenot settlers, we may reasonably suppose that the town in Greenville County was named for the latter branch.

FONTAINE, Henry County

This family starts with John de la Fontaine who was born in the Province of Maine, France, about the year 1500. Peter Fontaine, the great-great-grandson of John de la Fontaine, came to Virginia in 1716 and was Rector of King William and Westover Parishes. John Fontaine, the grandson of Rev. Peter Fontaine, was the founder of the family in Henry County. It was for his great-grandson, Samuel Cole Fontaine, that the place Fontaine, in Henry County, was named.

LATANES, Westmoreland County

This Post Office was established on March 18, 1926 with the name Latanes. The Government named the place for the families of Latané living nearby. The progenitor of this family in Virginia was the Rev. Lewis Latané who came to Virginia in 1700. He was minister of South Farnham Parish in Essex County.

LAVENDER, Montgomery County

This name is a corruption of the French de La Vinder and was borne by a family of Huguenots who fled from France following the Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day in August 1572. At first they went to England but later, after the close of the Revolutionary War, two brothers, Richard and William, came to America. Thomas, a descendant of one of them, settled in Roanoke County, Virginia. We have no explanation for the fact that the present town of Lavender is in the adjoining county of Montgomery.

LESUERS, Buckingham County

Mr. W. A. Lesuer of Richmond says this place was named from his family when a siding was put in by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad about thirty years ago. The first of the family to come to Virginia was David le Sueur, a Huguenot, who settled at Manakin Town. There are two patents listed to David Lesueur and these patents coincide with the location of the present place.

MACON, Powhatan County

This place was originally known as Macon's Tavern and was founded by 1753 by Henry Macon, a descendant of William Macon who held a Royal Patent for 400 acres in the County as early as 1729. William was the son of the Huguenot immigrant Gideon Macon who settled in New Kent County about 1670. The records of the Post Office Department show that the Post Office at Macon was established shortly before January 1, 1795, under the name of Powhatan Court House; that the name was changed to Scottsville on December 4, 1828; to Powhatan Court House on February 11, 1847, and to Macon on October 13, 1855. The western Magisterial District of the County is also named Macon.

A portion of the original Macon Tavern is still standing and well preserved at the southwest intersection of Giles Bridge Road, Route 609, and Route 13. Mrs. Jervey writes that the winding staircase is most interesting for the use of beautiful lattice work in place of the usual balusters. The basement has exposed timbers and a tremendous fireplace with the chimney block overly large, even for the period when it was built. There is a curved recess where a barrel of whiskey was kept in tavern days. The original of the name Mâcon is found in Matisco, a Celtic village in the Duchy of Burgundy from which we have Matisconem which evolved into Mâcon. The will of Charlemagne in 806 AD mentions the place as a part of the inheritance of Louis of Aquitaine, his oldest son. The Mâcon family is an ancient one in France, having been established as early as 1836 AD in the canton from which it took its name. In the year mentioned Guerin was Count of Mâcon and in 800 Bernard was confirmed in the same title.

MARYE, Spotsylvania County

Rev. James Marye, the founder of the family in Virginia, came over to Manakin Town in 1729. He was in charge of the Parish of St. James' Northam in Goochland. In 1735 he went to St. George's Parish, Spotsylvania and remained there until his death in 1767. Rev. James Marye patented four hundred acres of land in Spotsylvania County in 1744. It is not known for certain who named the place (probably a descendant of the Huguenot, James Marye).

MAUZY, Rockingham County

There are two places by this name in Rockingham County. We will deal first with the town near McGaheysville on the Chesapeake Western Railroad. The site of this town Mauzy corresponds to the home place of Thomas Mauzy. He settled there in the latter part of the eighteenth century. As the place has been in the Mauzy family for about 115 years it is not surprising that the name was located there. Brock tells us the Mauzeys were Huguenots. They fled from France during the persecutions and Henry Mauzy came to Fauquier County, Virginia.

MICHAUX, Powhatan County.

This Post Office was established under the name Michaux Ferry on June 23, 1876. On February 13, 1884, the name was changed to Michaux. This place was named from the family of Michaux living in the neighborhood. Abraham Michaux patented land there in 1705. This land has come down in direct line to the present day and is now owned by Mr. W. W. Michaux. He is the great-great-great-grandson of Abraham Michaux, the Huguenot, who came to Virginia in 1701.

PERROW, Campbell County

The original spelling of this name was Perault. Brock lists Charles Perault among the settlers at Manakin Town. In Virginia Soldiers of 1776 by Louis A. Burgess we find that Stephen Perrow was the head of a family in Campbell County at "Apple Grove." We do not know whether "Apple Grove" is the site of Perrow, Virginia. But we can be reasonably sure the name is derived from the family which descended from Charles.

PERROWVILLE, Bedford County

We have not found the name of the person responsible for naming this place. We do know, however, the Stephen Perrow settled in Campbell County. As Bedford is an adjacent county this name may come from Stephen Perrow's family.

RUE, Accomac County

We find a patent to John a(sic) Rue of three hundred acres of land in Accomac County in 1666. Whether this is a mistake from John La Rue we do not know. Lower says the name Rue may be derived from the French De la Rue or from the parish in Devonshire called Rewe. The presence of the unexplained a would seem to show the name was originally La Rue of De La Rue. It has not yet been proven conclusively that the place was named from John a(sic) Rue or his descendants. Lacking definite proof we may presume such as the case.

SABOT, Goochland County

This Post Office was established under the name Sabbot Island on July 29, 1870. The name was changed to Sabot Island on December 4, 1883. On January 14, 1903 the name was changed to Sabot. The place was named for the island formed by two creeks and having the shape of a wooden shoe (French sabot). Looking at a topographic map for Goochland County a shoe seemed to be formed by Dover Creek and the unnamed creek between the former and Genito Creek. We must suppose that the name had been located here before the Post Office was established [note: many Huguenots moved here from Manakin Town, across the James]. The French element in the population should have diminished or have been assimilated by 1870. [The area is now known as Manakin-Sabot.]

SHACKELFORDS, King & Queen County

The legendary history of this family goes back to Baron Jacques Lefort(e), a nobleman of Normandy. He went to England with William the Conqueror. William Shackelford joined the cause of the Huguenots in 1550, going to France to join the army of Henry of Navarre. His grandson, John Shackelford, was a knight and cavalier of Charles I and was forced to fly the country after his patron's arrest. He settled in King and Queen county in 1649. The place in King and Queen County may be supposed to have been named for the family. Alfred Bagby in King and Queen County Virginia, New York, 1908, speaks of Shackelford's church which was rebuilt in 1823. Perhaps this is the site of the town. The Post Office was established on October 1, 1802. It is not certain whether the name was given to the town at this time.

SUBLETTS, Powhatan County

This Post Office was established under the name Subletts Tavern on March 8, 1819, with William Sublett as postmaster. The name was changed to Subletts on April 28, 1890. From this we may presume the office was named for William Sublett. Susanne Soblet and her three children are mentioned in Brock as among the French refugees coming to Virginia. Abraham, father and son, Jacques, and Louis Sobler are mentioned as being in Manakin Town in 1714. The spelling of the name, in the old records, varies from Sobler to Soblet and Sublett. Abraham Soblet was one of the first vestrymen at Manakin Town. Subletts have been located near the place for the last two hundred years and the family has owned property there for that time.

TACKETT MILLS, Stafford County

This name can be ascribed to the family of Tacquetts who were among the Huguenots who went to Old Prince William. Lewis Tacquett appears in the land books in 1711. Landmarks of Old Prince William states that Tacquetts Ford is named for the family. The difference between Tacquett and Tackett lies only in the spelling. There is no difference in the pronunciation. For this reason we surmise the two to be the same and that Tackett Mills is named for the family of Lewis Tacquett.