The French Ancestry of Huguenots

The French Huguenots came to the New World in the 1680’s and 1690’s to escape religious persecution. As early as 1525, a religious reform movement had begun in France and the first dissenters were burned at the stake. Until 1572, when an estimated 50,000 Huguenots were killed in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, intermittent war and peace existed between the religious beliefs. The 1598 Edict of Nantes granted religious and political freedom to all. It was revoked in 1685. In the course of a few years, in the 1680s, more than 400,000 Huguenots fled France for other countries in Europe and America. All our French ancestors had settled in New Rochelle, New York by the 1690s.


Huguenot family, Sicard, from French government records: Ambroise Sycard (1) lived in Mornac, a small village near Rochelle and the Atlantic Coast. He was in France in 1631. In the 14th century, his family also lived there. He was a Saunier, which is a worker in the salt marsh. He had a wife and six children with whom he fled in 1681 leaving a vineyard with an estimated value of 40 pounds.

Ambroise Sycard (1) came to America where he died in 1690 or 1701 in New York City. A son, Daniel Sycart (2), born in 1672 in France, married Catherine Woertman of a Dutch family. He prided himself on spelling his name 16 different ways in the Register of Baptisms in the New York French Church. Their daughter, Catherine Secart or Secord or Sicard, born 10 October 1704, married Daniel Giraud (2), born in New Rochelle NY, 1697. He died at Cortlandt Manor in Westchester NY in 1756 or 1757. He was one of the founders of the Trinity Church in New Rochelle, NY.

The existing Sicard family documents show that in the reign of Louis X of France a certain Marquis de’Sicora was a Marechal of His Majesty’s household. A son of this Marquis embraced the Protestant religion as did younger branches of the family.

During the persecution of the Huguenots, many of them suffered at the stake, and the family estate situated at La Rochelle was confiscated. Survivors escaped the massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day by flight to England along with many other noble families. Eventually five brothers emigrated to America where they settled in New York purchasing large tracts of land, founding New Rochelle, and engaging in lumbering. On the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, the family divided. The Loyalists changed their surname to Sicord by placing the prefix “De” Sicor at the end of the name. These brothers, after as kingsmen losing in common with all the Loyalists their vast properties and estates, emigrated to New Brunswick, again engaging in lumbering and milling operations near Apohaqui, where some of the descendants are to be found there today.


The Angevine family is believed to be from Angers, Duchy of Anjou, France, from about 1550 originating with Louis Angevine who was born in 1632. He married in 1658 Marguerite Chalons and was a glassmaker. Their son, Zachariah Angevine, was born in La Rochelle, France in 1664. Zachariah was a tailor who first married Anastasia Baptiste in La Rochelle, France in 1684. They fled from their home in France in order to escape the persecution. On the way, their baby boy died, and in Belgium, Anastasia died and was buried at Antwerp. Zachariah emigrated to America and remarried to Marie Naudin, daughter of Andre Naudin. Zachariah died in December of 1739 in New Rochelle, Westchester County, New York State. He is very likely to have been buried there in New Rochelle.


1. Angevine Genealogy--Descendants of Zachariah and Pierre Angevine from 1690 to 1976 in America by Clyde V. Angevine. Published in 1977.

Elizabeth Angevine, daughter of Zachariah Angevine and Marie Naudin, married Jean Coutant, who was born in New York 1695 and died in New York 1749. Elizabeth Angevine was born in January 1701 or 1702 in New York City. Jean Coutant was a member of the French Church in New Rochelle, New York. A daughter, Elizabeth Coutant, born 1724 or 1729 in New Rochelle, New York, married Daniel Gerow (3), who was born 26 March, 1725 and died January or February, 1791 at New Marlboro, New York. Elizabeth Coutant Gerow died in February 1816 at Plattskill, New York. They had five sons and seven daughters. One of the daughters, Catherine Giraud or Gerow, baptized in the Trinity Church, New Rochelle, New York, married Johannes Jurckse (John Yerxa) in New York. A Giraud family is recorded as residing in Poitiers or Poitou, France as early as 973 A.D. It is not known when Daniel Giraud (l) arrived in America. His name appears in the French Church records 17 July, 1699.


The Secords settled first at Oak Point, Kings County, New Brunswick on the Saint John River. Three of them, James, Gilead and Carmel Secord moved later to the Kennebecasis Valley and settled on both sides of the river. The Kennebecasis River is a tributary of the Saint John River.

Two of the Secord brothers and their sons moved to Canada West (Ontario) following the Revolutionary War. Among those who settled in the Niagara District was James Secord. His wife, Laura (Ingersoll) Secord, was the heroine of the War of 1812. James Secord had been severely wounded at the Battle of Queenstown Heights and was very ill. Laura learned of the American plans to capture Colonel Fitzgibbon and his detachment of soldiers including Indian allies at Beaver Dam.

In the month of June, 1813, she walked from her home at St. David through the enemy lines by a circuitous route of about 20 miles through the woods and warned the Colonel of the intended attack. With the information given him by Mrs. Secord, he formed his plans and saved his country.


1. Folder #10 - “Loyalist Families” - New Brunswick Museum Archives, Saint John, New Brunswick.


When our Huguenot ancestors were preparing to leave France, they left their homes brightly illuminated. The tables were set with care and all the good things that they would have if they were expecting a number of guests. This was done to deceive the spies.

They were obliged to leave almost everything they possessed. They could only take small things of value which could be converted into money. They left candles in golden candlesticks burning throughout the house.

NOTE: The above story of the Girauds was also told, with a variation, by Sarah (Yerxa) Woolverton (7) to her great nephew, Samuel D. Yerxa (9).


1. Papers in possession of Gerow Family Association, New York, written by Ruth Palmer Giraud (descendant).

DANIEL GIRAUD (1) was a French Huguenot who, with other Huguenots, fled from France because of religious persecution and took refuge in England. According to family tradition, at the time Daniel left France he was living in La Rochelle. He was probably in England for a period of time before coming to America.

The date that Daniel Giraud (1) arrived in America is not known. Presumably it was in 1688. His name first appears on the records in the French Church in New York City in July 1699 when he was godfather at the baptism of Madelaine Roy, daughter of Jean Roy.

On 11 March 1699 or 1700 Daniel Giraud (1) was on the list of persons naturalized by Royal Letters Patent, Westminster. He had apparently returned to England to take the Oath of Allegiance.

Daniel Giraud (1) was one of the early settlers of New Rochelle, Westchester County, New York. Other Huguenot settlers of New Rochelle whose descendants became closely associated with the Giraud family were Ambroise Sicard, Jean Coutant, Zacharie Angevine and Jean Chadaine (Chadeayne). These names appear on the Huguenot Memorial Stone in New Rochelle.

Daniel Giraud (1) who was born in 1664 or 1665 (Arthur Gerow notes) died before 10 August 1757 in New Rochelle, New York. He was married to Jeanne ____ (last name unknown) who was born in 1666 or 1667 in France (Arthur Gerow notes). Their children were Daniel Giraud (2) born in 1697 in New Rochelle, New York and died in 1756 or 1757; Andre Giraud (2), born in 1699 in New Rochelle, New York and died about 1770, and Benjamin Giraud (2), born 1707 in New Rochelle, New York.