|Huguenot refugees arriving in England in 1685|
After their arrival in England, James and Anne were taken in by Protestant families in Barnstaple, which was about six miles east of Appledore. Anne went to live with the Faine family. James went to live with Mr. Joseph Downe, a middle-aged, well-to-do bachelor, and Miss Downe, his spinster sister. James first approached friends and family regarding partnership in his proposed grain export venture but without success. He then decided to present his grain export plan to Joseph Downe, and he offered the 20 pistoles, jewels and gems as collateral in case the project failed. Mr. Downe agreed to provide the needed capital for the project. They promptly put their plan in motion and shipped a large load of grain to France. In France, one of James's cousins sold the grain and used the resulting funds to buy wine, chestnuts and salt which he then shipped back to England for James to sell there. The venture was a great success. James and Mr. Downe made "a considerable profit" from it. (p. 125)
While James was riding around southwest England making arrangements for his business ventures he "saw everywhere heads and quarters of men who had been executed a few days before my arrival in England, which were at the crossroads, towers, and gates of the cities looking like butchers's[sic] shops."(p. 133) James believed the men had been executed principally because they were Presbyterians. The Presbyterians did not submit to the authority of the Anglican Church, which was the official state church of England. As a result, Presbyterians suffered some persecution in England. James had just escaped religious persecution for not practicing the official state religion of France (Catholicism). He was so revolted by what he thought was the mass execution of Presbyterians, that he foreswore ever joining the Anglican Church. James decision to align with the Presbyterian Church would cause him difficulties later. In reality, the bodies on display were not those of men who were executed for merely being Presbyterians. They were executed for treason because they had participated in the Monmouth Rebellion against King James II of England, a Roman Catholic.
|James II of England in 1685|
Attributed to Benedetto Gennari II [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
James and Anne turned down the Downes' proposal. James told Anne that it would bring him "more happiness to be poor with her all the days of my life than to be rich with any other woman on earth". (p. 126) James and Anne decided to marry as soon as they could. They were married on February 24, 1686 by Mr. Wood in St. Peter's Parish Church, Barnstaple, England. (February 24, 1686 is the date recorded in church records. In his memoirs, James gave February 8, 1686 as the date of his marriage.)
|St. Anne's Chapel, Barnstaple, England in 1854|
This is where James and Anne would have attended Huguenot church services in Barnstaple.
Photo found at www.barnstapletowncouncil.co.uk
|The green dots indicate the spots in which James Fontaine and Anne Boursiquot lived while in England.|
The green dot on the left indicates the location of Barnstaple, the middle dot Bridgewater and the dot on the right Taunton.
After the failure of his last export-import effort, James decided in the spring of 1688 that he would move his family and shop to Taunton to be close to his school. There were several other Huguenot families living in Taunton, and James wished to be able to start a church and preach to them. In order to do this, he needed to be ordained. On June 10, 1688 James was ordained as a Presbyterian minister.
As an ordained minister, James was eligible for a monthly pension set up for the Protestant refugees. However, when he went to collect the money due him, he was rebuffed. The committee in charge of the fund would not give James any money because he had joined the Presbyterian church rather than the Anglican Church. He was told that if he was short of funds, he and his wife could go into service to earn money and send their children to a home. James was incensed by this and replied in no uncertain terms that he would not abandon his wife or children. This incident reinforced James's dislike of the Anglican Church. "This treatment soured my feelings still more against the Episcopalians. Experience told me that the more we oppose and torment those who disagree with us, the more offensive we appear to them and the less likely we are to persuade them of the things which we wish them to accept." (p. 135-136)
James returned to Taunton. He set his energies to increasing his income so that he could support his family without the pension. He worked to increase the revenue of his shop. Anne ran the shop while James purchased the items to go in it. It was "the most handsome shop in town" with "the best location in the marketplace opposite the cross". They sold raisins and needles at or below wholesale prices and this brought in the customers. James "bought from French manufacturers in the Netherlands. This did not cost half what would have been charged by the English". He was the only merchant in his area that sold beaver hats, and he sold his brandy undiluted. "In short, I managed so well that we had more customers that any other shop". (p. 137) False modesty was not one of James's failings.
|Taunton Cross. The Fontaine's store was located near it.|
Both James's woolen cloth manufacturing business and Anne's shop flourished. Not unsurprisingly, some of the English shopkeepers and cloth manufacturer's in town resented how well the Fontaine's businesses were doing. Eventually, James was brought before the local court on the charge of practicing a trade in which he had not been apprenticed. James defended himself:
My father, who was a worthy pastor of the gospel, brought up four boys in good manners, and the liberal arts. I was the youngest. He hoped that wherever fate might transport us, our education might serve instead of riches and we would have respect among people of honour. The only apprenticeship I have served since the age of five has been to turn the pages of a book. I took my degree of Master of Arts at the age of 22 and have since given all my time to the study of Holy Scriptures. Wherever I have been I have been thought deserving of the best company and have received both charity and honour.The court recorder defended James and reminded those present that if James was not allowed to earn money that the town would be responsible for the financial support of James and his family. James was released, but the damage was done. The town's merchants and leaders were against him. They taxed him heavily, spread rumors about him and in general tried to make life difficult for him.
When I came to the town I saw that knowledge without riches was regarded as a tree without fruit, in a word, a thing worthy of contempt. If a poor ignorant wool-comber were to accumulate money he would be honoured and become on of the leading men in town. I have, gentlemen, renounced my studies and become a wool-comber and seller of pins and laces to see if I can one day become rich and be also among the distinguished men in the town. (p. 139)
The end of 1688 saw King James II of England pushed out of power. Protestant England would not tolerate a Catholic monarch. William of Orange and his wife Mary, both Protestants, became king and queen of England. Protestant troops were stationed in Taunton for several during this transition time, and the Fontaines were required to provide lodging for eight soldiers. Their original allotment had been two, but when James complained about the two, more were sent. He "complained no more for fear of having 16". (p. 142)
|By Painting: Sir James Thornhill; Photo: James Brittain [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
At that time, no one in Taunton produced calamanco, a woolen fabric used in petticoats, dresses and waistcoats. So, James decided calamanco was the cloth he would make despite the fact that no one in Taunton, including him, knew how to make the stuff. But his "determination (which others called obstinacy)" paid off, and he did indeed successfully manufacture calamanco. (p. 143) He designed his equipment and developed his own method for production of the cloth. Soon he had hired and trained several weavers to produce it, including a weaver who had lost one leg but was able to work a loom after James adapted it for his use.
James's cloth manufacturing business was so successful that he retired from teaching and opened a shop to sell his cloth. He closely guarded the designs of his equipment and his methods for making the calamanco. As a result, he had no local competition until 1693. By then, others had figured out how to produce the fabric, and the market became flooded with it. James responded to the competition by developing more intricate designs. He spent 1694 exhausting himself inventing new patterns, only to be imitated and undersold. "Finally I was weary of the business". He decided to close his business, take his profits and move "to Ireland if I could find a French church in need" of a pastor. He found such a church in Cork, and he set off to make arrangements to move his family there. (p. 147)
To be continued.......