Notes for Jean De Forest: "Jean de Forest was the first Protestant of the family. He left Avesnes around 1598, at the time of the Edict of Nantes, and moved to Sedan.
"He was baptized Catholic, but during his upbringing, Protestant uprisings were taking place all over France including the Hainaut area, particularly in 1566. The following year the Catholics came to the fore once again with massacres and burnings. William of Orange (Protestant) invaded the region and his soldiers preyed upon the inhabitants of the city and region.
"During this time, Jean married Ann Maillard, daughter of the mayor of the neighboring town of Felleries. The first four children of Jean and Ann--Melchior, Jesse, Gerard, and Anne--were born while the family still resided in Avesnes. Jean was a draper but probably business was scarce in those hard times of war and deprivation. By 1598 the entire Walloon region had been devastated as a result of the religious wars. Apparently by 1601, Jean--who was by now an avowed Protestant-- moved to Sedan in Protestant Luxembourg. He is noted in Sedan records as being "a merchant residing in this city", most probably a wool merchant. His reasons for moving were probably a combination of religious and economic ones.
"Some 500,000 Protestants had left their homes to live elsewhere by the early 1600s, many of them ultimately settling in Holland, where much more liberal religious policies prevailed. In 1602 Jean and his wife Ann had moved to Berhen op Zoom in Holland, where they joined the church. A year later, they were members of the church in Leyden, and within another year they belonged to the church in Amsterdam. In 1604, the daughter Anne De Forest was betrothed to Jean le Vere of Leyden, and she needed the written consent of her father. He apparently was not living in Amsterdam at the time--the paper was signed by the minister at Vosmeer, near Berghen op Zoom. Perhaps Jean was ill at that time or had possibly already died. There are no further known records of Jean De Forest.
"Jean de Forest, son of Melchoir de Forest III, was born 1543. He married Anne Maillard. Jean's brother Gilles was a prominent Canon of the Catholic Church. Jean left Avesnes around 1598, at the time of the Edict of Nantes, and moved to Sedan."
(website: The DeFreest Family History )
"Jean De Forest, the father of Jesse and the first Protestant in the family, was the son, probably the youngest son, of Melchior de Forest and Catherine du Fosset. The date of his birth must have been not far from 1543. But before we give the meagre details which are available regarding his life, it behooves us to sketch briefly the religious conditions of his time and near his home; for religion became a vital factor in determining Jean's life and the lives of his children. When Jean and his brothers and sisters were baptized, it was as members of the Catholic church, for the Walloon country up to about that time was still Catholic in faith. But while Jean was yet young, the Huguenot preachers were earnestly at work among the Walloons exhorting, distributing Bibles, and stirring up the people against their mother church, and it may be that even so early in his life Jean became a convert. In any event, Protestantism through these means took a firm hold upon many of the people and in 1566 Protestant uprisings took place in a number of the neighboring small cities. Nothing of the kind happened in Avesnes, however. Why, we do not know; possibly there was a Spanish garrison within its walls.
"The following year the Catholics came to the front once more with furious onslaught and there were massacres and burnings and confiscations all around. Thus the religious war waged on in the unfortunate province of Hainaut, with first one party and then the other in power. William of Orange only made things worse by coming into the Walloon country at the head of a German army. He was completely routed, and his soldiers, wild and famished hordes, were left to prey upon the long-suffering inhabitants. Surely Avesnes was not then a pleasant city in which to dwell.
"Nor should we suppose it is a propitious moment in which to think of love and marriage. Yet it was at about this period that Jean took to himself a wife. We cannot tell the exact date of this event, for the church records are missing and the town records give us little information of any kind. It must have been about 1570. The name of the bride was Anne Maillard and she was the daughter of Michel Maillard, mayor of the neighboring town of Felleries.
The site of Jean's house is still to be seen on the market-place of Avesnes, although a modern house now replaces the old one. Here his four children--Melchior, Jesse, Gerard, and a daughter, Anne--were born. The city records make few references to Jean, which may indicate that he was often absent from Avesnes. He was a draper, and as there must have been little demand at home for fine woolen cloth during those war times, it is possible that he had to travel in search of a market.
"Jean de Forest was probably not a declared follower of the Reformed religion while he continued to live in Avesnes; many of the new faith were there at that time, but they had to practise their religion in secret for fear of the horrors of the Inquisition. When at last in 1598 peace between France and Spain was declared and the Spanish soldiery were withdrawn, the whole Walloon country was in a terribly devastated condition. Cities were wrecked, fields ruined,and highways destroyed or overgrown. Avesnes suffered with the rest and was certainly not an advantageous centre for a wool merchant with a wife and family to support.
"Perhaps Jean decided to leave the city of his birth and to remove with his family to some less disquieted region in order to carry on his trade with more security. It seems likely, however, that his main reason was a religious one, and the other members of his family apparently were influenced by the same consideration. At any rate, in 1601, three years after peace was declared, Jean, now an avowed Protestant, is found making his home in the city of Sedan (in the little Protestant principality of Luxembourg), his son Jesse being with him and avowing the same faith. In the Sedan records of 1601 Jean is called a "merchant residing in this city", undoubtedly a wool merchant. Soon after, we find Jean's son Melchior, also a Protestant, in Lisle, and before long the youngest son, Gerard, was residing in Leyden, Holland, where he became a member of the Reformed Church "by confession of faith." Surely a "scattering of the clan". It therefore seems as if something untoward must have occurred--the disasters of war or religious persecution, or both--to drive the de Forest family from their former home.
With the breaking up of the old home ties Jean seems to have become permanently unsettled and thereafter was more or less a wanderer. Holland in the early seventeenth century was an attractive goal for the Protestants. She was rich and free and prosperous in every way. Already five hundred thousand Walloons had emigrated from France and the Roman Catholic Netherlands and most of them had taken refuge in Holland, carrying with them their skill in manufactures, their industry, and their splendid warlike qualities. So what more natural than that Jean and his family should also seek this free country, where every one had an opportunity to make the most of his talents. As we have said, Jean was living in Sedan in 1601 and we know that he was then present at his son Jesse's wedding in that town. The following year Jean and his wife had already gone to Berhen op Zoom, where they remained long enough to join the church there. In 1603 we hear of them as members of the church in Leyden, and the next year they belonged to that in Amsterdam.
"Here Anne Maillard, Jean's wife, elected to remain, and with good reason, for her young daughter, Anne, had lived there, probably with relations, ever since 1601. Anne de Forest was only seventeen when her mother joined her in 1604, and the mother probably felt that the young girl needed her care. Two years later we find a betrothal taking place, that of Anne de Forest, aged nineteen, and Jean le Fevre of Leyden, "a boy of twenty two". He was called a "caffatier", though what that might have been it is now impossible to say. The would-be bride was told to get the written consent of her father, but when the paper came, it was found to have been signed by the minister at Vosmeer (Near Berghen op Zoom), where presumably her father was then living. He may have been ill at the time and so have asked the minister to sign for him or it is even possible that he may have died; in any event, this episode marks the last discoverable trace of Jean, the first Protestant in the de Forest story. "(1)
More About Jean De Forest: Date born 2: 1543, Avesnes, Hainaut, France.
More About Jean De Forest and Anne Maillard: Marriage 1: 05 Jun 1570, Avesnes, France. Marriage 2: 05 Jun 1570, Avesnes, Hainaut, France.
Children of Jean De Forest and Anne Maillard are:
+Jesse De Forest, b. 1576, Avesnes, Hainaut, France, d. 22 Oct 1624, Guiana, South America.