Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thomas Persene, Norwich, 1600

The book 'The Walloons and their church at Norwich: their history and registers 1565-1832', by William John Charles Moens, page 106, contains the following entry for a tesmoinage, in which one of the participants was the (unnamed) wife of a Thomas Persene:

Sara, fille d'Antoine S, Tem. Walerian Marcsal [et] Jan Lieuin; la femme de Jan Deareumauix [et] la femme de Thomas Persene. 29 Juin 1600

Huguenot Registers identify Sara as Sara Six, daughter of Antoine.

Thomas Persene is of particular interest because the name Thomas appeared early in the Huguenot branch of the Pierssene family, in London. Google provides no further clues about Thomas Persene; he may simply have been passing through Norwich, as the Walloon Registers make no further reference to him. But if he lived there for a while, then possibly he paid taxes in Norwich, or received charity payments, or was a tradesperson or merchant there, or left a will, etc. Archival sources in Norwich might hold some very useful information. I'm hoping that members of the Pierssene family living in Norfolk might one day be able to follow up this avenue of research.

No clues have yet surfaced via the other families participating in the above tesmoinage. Men named Jan Lieuin and Jan Deremaux had large families christened at the Walloon Church in Norwich from the late 1590s and their wills, if they exist, might be illuminating. The surname Marcsal was probably Marisal, but I have found nothing more about him.

In Europe, research by Ronald Pissens has found a Jacques/Jacob Piersens who was active in Reformed Church affairs in Beveren in 1584 and was subsequently a religious refugee in Antwerp before it too fell to Catholic forces. Jacob moved to Amsterdam where he was a merchant but he left there as a bankrupt in 1598. It seems that he may have eventually moved to Dieppe, but did he go to a relative in England for a period? The record above proves that the Thomas Persene in Norwich on 29 June 1600 (or, rather, his wife) was definitely part of the significant French Protestant population there at that time.

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