Who were the Ferree's?
The Huguenots were French Protestants who followed the teachings of John Calvin and because of religious persecution were forced to flee France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Ferrees were Huguenots from France.
France was unofficially ruled by the Catholic Church. The Protestant Reformation begun by Martin Luther about 1517 spread rapidly in France. The new "reformed religion" was practiced by many of the French nobility to which the Ferree family belonged. Followers of this new Protestantism were soon accused of heresy against the Catholic government and in 1536 a General Edict was issued urging extermination of the Huguenots. The Edict of Nantes in 1598 allowed the Huguenots limited religious freedom. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 rekindled persecution of the Huguenots and thousands fled France.
The family Ferre des Ferris enjoyed in the 13th century the titles and privileges reserved for the nobility "of knightly origin" and can be considered one of the oldest families of lower Normandy. The earliest known member of the family was Robert Ferre des Ferris, son of Raoul (or Rodolphe) Ferre. Confirmation of the presentation of several estates at Forchamps to Robert by his father can be found in the Archives of St. Lo. We have no direct line until Jean (Fuehre) LaVerre, a French Protestant of Picardy, who moved to Flanders at the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Jean LaVerre had a son named Daniel. Our ancestry, as known today, begins with him.
What about the life of Daniel & Marie Warenbuer Ferree?
Daniel LaVerre (Ferree) is thought to have been born about 1646 in Picardy, France and thought to have been a wealthy silk manufacturer. His family was listed in the Patrician ranks of French nobility.
Daniel married Marie Warenbuer. Their home and business were located in Landau, Bavaria, which was then a part of France. They became parents of six children: Daniel, Catherine, Mary, John, Jane, and Philip. Daniel and Marie were Calvinist Protestants which posed a threat to their lives and property. They were forced to flee France. There are conflicting versions of the dates and destinations of the Ferree family's journey to safety. One tradition is they escaped from Landau, in the darkness of night, and fled to Strasbourg where they remained for a time. It was here they met Isaac LeFevre who also fled when his family was martyred. The Ferree's "adopted" him. He later married their daughter, Catherine. From Strasbourg, it is thought, they went to Lindau on the border of Switzerland and then to Steinweiler, Billingheim, in the Palatinate. Their youngest son, Philip, was born in Steinweiler about 1686. It is believed Daniel may have died there about 1707. The following is written in a book titled "The French Blood in America" by Fosdick.
|"The Ferree family was from an old and noble family of Normandy, and at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Daniel, one of the best representatives of the family, was a silk manufacturer of wealth and influential position. Owing to his prominence and the staunchness he displayed in clinging to his faith, he was marked by the dragoons for the bitterest persecution. To save his wife, Mary, and his six children from the abuse and insults of the troopers, he managed to convey them secretly to Strasbourg, where they were in comparative safety. Remaining here for some time, the Ferree's moved to Billingheim in the Palatinate. Here Daniel died. The leadership now devolved upon Mary Ferree, and the difficulties of her position cannot be well overestimated; an exile from her native land and, living amongst strange people, and with but scant means with which to provide for her family . . ."
How did they begin their journey to America?
While still in the Palatinate in early 1708, Madame Ferree and her family began to make plans to leave and obtained a passport which was dated March 10, 1708. They were still there on May 10th, the date on the church letter her son, Daniel, and his family had obtained. When they actually departed from there for Holland, where refuge was offered to oppressed French Huguenots, is not known. Once at the Hague they were given free passes to England by the English envoy. Queen Anne of England in 1708 had issued an invitation to the Protestants of the Palatine to come to England for colonization in America. On August 25, 1708, Daniel, his wife, Anna Marie, and their sons, Andrew and John, along with Isaac LeFevre and his wife, Catherine (daughter of Madame Ferree) and their son, Abraham, renounced their citizenship and swore allegiance to England. Daniel and Isaac obtained space for their families on the sailing ship "Globe". They set sail on October 15, 1708, and after an eleven week voyage arrived in New York on December 31st (some accounts say January 1st, 1709). Madame Ferree remained in Holland for a time with her four other unmarried children. How long she stayed is not certain but records at St. Katherine's Reformed Church in London show they were registered there in May 1709.
What happened in London?
Tradition has it that upon her arrival in London, having heard of the Pennsylvania province and William Penn, who was living in London at that time, she set out to meet him. As the story goes she was on her way to his residence when his carriage passed and she called out to him. He immediately stopped and since he spoke fluent French they were able to converse. It is said Penn was very sympathetic to Madame Ferree's misfortunes and became interested in her and her children and arranged to have her introduced to Queen Anne. It can not be said with any certainty what actually transpired, when or how. Did she really meet William Penn and was she really introduced to the Queen? We do not know. We do know, however, that Madame, as part of a group of Huguenots, was granted approval to receive land in Pennsylvania and as part of the terms in agreeing to colonize in Pennsylvania would have been issued clothing, farming implements, tools, and other necessities. Passage was also paid and lodging was provided while a vessel was made ready. Another term to which they had to agree was to renounce French citizenship and become "free denizens of the kingdom". Ship records are not available so it's not certain when they sailed or aboard what vessel but it is thought they may have arrived in New York sometime during the summer of 1710.
How did Madame secure her land grant?
After their voyage from England and arrival in New York, they traveled up the Hudson River to New Paltz, NY, an already established community founded by French Huguenots. There Madame Ferree and her children were reunited with her son, Daniel, and son-in-law, Isaac, and their families. While in New Paltz they stayed with the DuBois family where her youngest son, Philip, met Leah DuBois who he would later marry. After receiving word the land survey had been completed, the entire family left in the spring of 1712 for Pennsylvania to claim their land. They appeared in Philadelphia on September 10, 1712, for the purpose of securing the two thousand acres promised to them. Having done that they proceeded on to the Pequea Valley.
What did they find in Paradise?
From the book "Memorials of the Huguenots in America" by Stapleton, an unknown writer gives this account of the Ferree's arrival.
|"It was on the evening of a summer day when the Huguenots reached the verge of a hill commanding a view of the Valley of the Pequea. It was a woodland scene, a forest inhabited by wild beasts, for no indication of civilized life was very near. Scattered along the Pequea among the dark green hazel, could be discovered the Indian wigwams - the smoke issuing therefrom in it's spiral form. No sound was heard but the songs of the birds. In silence they contemplated the beautiful prospect which nature presented to their view. Suddenly a number of Indians darted from the woods. The females shrieked when an Indian advanced and in broken English said to Madame Ferree: 'Indian no harm White; White good to Indian; go to our Chief; come to Beaver.' Few were the words of the Indian. They went with him to Beaver's cabin, and Beaver, with the humanity that distinguished the Indian of that period, gave to the emigrants his wigwam. The next day he introduced them to Tawana who lived on the great flats of Pequea and was a Chief of a branch of the Conestoga Indians who at that time occupied this region. The friendship formed between Red Men of the forest with the Huguenots upon their arrival was maintained for many years, each race giving the other assistance in time of need."
Not long after her arrival in Pequea, Madame Ferree selected a plot of ground located on the Daniel Ferree tract to be set aside for use as a family graveyard. First referred to as the Ferree Graveyard, it is now known as Carpenter's Cemetery. Madame was the first one buried there when she died in 1716. From "Memorials of the Huguenots in America" by Stapleton the following is written regarding her death.
"Here this noble woman, who had drunk so deeply from the cup of misfortune, found a peaceful grave in 1716. She had accomplished her purpose to establish a new home for her posterity, many of whom are slumbering by her side. Her great influence still lives in the great multitude of her descendants who belong to the aristocracy of personal worth."
|From this staunch family of French Huguenots come generations of descendants
proud to be a part of this remarkable, historical Ferree Family.