Huguenots: Visiting your Huguenot roots
It is said that even though your original homeland was forsaken by your ancestor many decades or even centuries before, the desire to find your roots over the years can and for many, does grow into an all-compelling craving. Not all the descendants of Huguenots have been able, for one reason or another, to make that journey, the nearest that they have perhaps undertaken such an expedition is a genealogical one via research then being able to build a family tree. For some, however, the dream has been realised, even via a third party, in some cases.
One such third party pilgrimage was undertaken by US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s wife and granddaughter on behalf of his mother. The Delano family were descended from Philippe de Lannoy (1602-1681), who arrived in Massachusetts in the early 1620’s. The family had originated in the Walloon area of Flanders that lies partly in Belgium and partially in France.
Eleanor Roosevelt wrote about the special day spent ‘going back to the Huguenot roots’ of the De Lannoy family (also variously spelt: De la Noy or Delano or even Delanos).
23 January 1952
Eleanor wrote - “my granddaughter and I were joined by Mr Maurice Schumann, Mr Tyler, Mrs Singer and a few others as we boarded a plane at Orly airfield just outside of Paris for the short flight to a field not far from Lille. We landed about 11 oclock. Mr Schumann, who, although he is a minister in the Government, still represented the Nord Department, of which Lille is the capital, had told me a good deal about his area of the country”.
Lille is not a remarkable nor scenic area, being rather flat it can look monotonous and dull to the eye, but it is a great textile area and has nearby coal fields with which to feed the industry of the area.
Eleanor continued to pen her observations “First I visited the little town of Lannoy, perhaps the smallest town in France, but with a big population. There was once a chateau there, with its deep moat and strong towers and around it clustered the little houses of the town. In it had lived Jean De Lannoy”.
Chateau de Lannoy, Herbéviller before the removal of the chapel in the tower. Wikidata
Eleanor kept her mother-in-law in her thoughts all day during this special visit to the ancestral homeland, Eleanor felt that her mother-in-law, would have thoroughly enjoyed the day learning about all the Lannoy ancestors who had fled their homes to seek a better life. Initially they had travelled to Holland before some of the family members decided to set out for a better life in the New World – America.
“All the past seemed to come alive as I listened to the good people whose families had lived for many years in Lannoy. They made me a citizen of the town and gave me a copy of a lovely old painting that showed the town at it had been in medieval times”.
When Eleanor and her granddaughter returned to the US, they took with them not only precious memories but many souvenirs for their library to show the family connection to the little town of Lannoy in Northern France.
The Hotel de Ville, Lannoy Northern France. Wikipedia
I hope that this blog has inspired those with Huguenot ancestry to seek out the town or village from where their own ancestors had once lived and worked.
Eleanor Roosevelt, "My Day, January 23, 1952," The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Digital Edition (2017), accessed 10/11/2023, https://www2.gwu.edu/~erpapers/myday/displaydoc.cfm?_y=1952&_f=md002125.
Delano family papers from 1686 - 1959 at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library