Pages 78 - 85

Chastain Coat of Arms

The Emigration of the Hugenots from France to America





Chastain Coat of Arms

The information on pages 81 - 85 came from a book written by James Garvin Chastain. His work has been discredited since the book was written, so these pages do not provide accurate or reliable information.

Page 78 Coat of Arms Historiography Chastain

The Chastain coat of Arms illustrated left was drawn by an heraldic artist from information officially recorded in ancient heraldic archives. Documentation for the Chastain Coat of Arms design can be found in Rieststap Armorial General. Heraldic artists of old developed their own unique language to describe an individual Coat of Arms. In their language, the Arms (shield) is as follows.

“D’azur a la bande d’arg., ch. De trios roses de gu. Et de deux tours d’arg., maconnees de sa.”

When translated, the blazon also describes the original colors of the Chastain Arms as it appeared centuries ago.
Family mottos are believed to have originated as battle cries in medieval times. A motto was not recorded with this Chastain Coat of Arms.
Individual surnames originated for the purpose of more specific identification.
The four primary sources for second names were: occupation, location, father’s name, or personal characteristics. The surname Chastain appears to be characteristic in origin, and is believed to be associated with the English, meaning “child of the manor.”
The supplementary sheet included with this report is designed to give you more information to further your understanding of the origin of names. Different spellings of the same original surname are a common occurrence. Dictionaries of surnames indicate probably spelling variations of Chastain to be Chastien, Chastilain, Chastellian, and Chasten. Although bearers of the old and distinguished Chastain name comprise a small fraction of the population, there are a number who have established for it a significant place in history.
They include ELIJAH WEBB CHASTAIN (1813 – 1874). He served as s Colonel in the Seminole Indian War, and as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He was a member of the Georgia Senate; the US House of Representatives; and state’s Attorney for the Western and Atlantic Railroad.
PETER CHASTAIN (1736 – 1786) Private from South Carolina during the Revolutionary War.
GEORGES Chastain (Chastillain) (1403 – 1475) Burgundian Chronicler who served Philip the Good, Earl of Burgundy. He wrote about the years between 1417 and 1474, which only small fragments remain, a delightful biography of Jean d LaLaing, and others which are valuable for the accurate information they contain.
PIERRE CHASTAIN (Chastillain) (1606 – 1684) French Missionary among the Huron Indians for over fifty years. He wrote a book on the demonstration of the love of Christ among the people of the world, and was noted for his strength of character, and unfailing charity toward all men.
No genealogical representation is intended or implied by this report and it does not represent individual lineage or your family tree.





The Emigration of the Hugenots from France to America

     The term “Huguenot” was originally a derogatory term applied to all Protestants in France by a Roman Catholic monk, but around 1560 was adopted by the Protestants themselves.

     In the 16th century in France there was much conflict between the Catholics and those who professed the evangelical or Protestant faith. Many were burned at the stake; laws were made forbidding Protestant practices, people were cruelly murdered if they were not Roman Catholic. Life was almost unbearable for all except those who were loyal to the pope.

     In 1535, and edict was ordered requiring the extermination of all heretics, and resulted in a mass emigration. The struggle continued for about 125 years. Particularly notorious was the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, in which prominent Roman Catholic lords murdered the unsuspecting Huguenots (about 20,000 – 30,000 of them) who had gone to Paris to celebrate the wedding of their leader, Henry of Navarre.

     Later, the Edict of Nantes was issued (1598) by Henry IV of France (Henry of Navarre), granting tolerance to Protestants, however in October 1685, by Louis XIV, it was revoked. This caused the departure of about 300,000 from France. Among these were several Chastains and Chastaigniers.


Author’s note: for any interested in reading a realistic fictionalized account of the Hugeunots and their plight in France, I highly recommend THE ARM AND THE DARKNESS by Taylor Caldwell. Critics have acclaimed its authenticity. The story is action-packed and exciting, making a reader feel as if he were actually part of the Huguenot movement. What better way to get to know about our ancestors?





Hugenot Character

Huguenot Character

The Protestant Huguenots in France were unmercifully persecuted, so there were three choices open to them: to forsake their faith, to accept torture and death, or to leave. Some, no doubt, chose to convert. Thousands were put in prisons, and more than 100,000 died trying to escape or were killed outright by the supporters of the Pope. However, possibly as many as 300,000 actually did manage to leave the country and settle elsewhere, in spite of threats of terrible punishments if caught, and constant patrolling of the borders by guards.
What kind of people were they, those in the group to which our ancestors belonged? It is reported that as workmen, they were industrious, skillful and progressive. They were known to be truthful, honest, and virtuous. Obviously, they truly valued their religious liberty. As immigrants, the Huguenots were peaceable, pious, gentle, anxious to earn an honest living by the labor of their own hands. They had convictions and the courage to defend them. They were determined to find a land of refuge where they might be allowed to worship God according to the dictates of conscience. In spite of their suffering, they held firmly to their faith in Jesus Christ. They formed high moral ideals and lead clean godly lives, thus were good, desirable citizens in a land that promised religious freedom.
Our French ancestors believed with Paul that “All things work together for good to them that love the Lord.” Their trial was one of suffering and blood; they sacrificed kindred, country, and worldly possessions for the sake of conscience.
Who can help but be proud to know that from these brave Christian people, we came!




Chastain Emigration to America                                 

The name CHASTAIN belongs to a distinguished house that traced its lineage back uninterruptedly to the eleventh century in France. The early spelling of the family name, CHASTAIGNIER, meant “A lord, a count, or a nobleman.”

  1. Chateigner, Lord of the Chateignier, lived in France about 1084 A.D.
  1. Jean (John) Chateigner,  Chevalier Sgr. De la Me.
  1. Gilbert Chateigner, Chevalier (first of the name Gilbert), was living in 1246.
  1. GIlber Chateigner, Chevalier, Sgr. Do la Mellaraie et de Reaumur (second of the name Gilbert), died in 1318. M. Jeanne Barrabin.
  1. Jean Chateigner, Sgr. De la Melleraie, living in 1304.
  1. Simon Chastain (Chateign), Sire de St. Georges and of Rexe, was living in 1322. He married Letice of La Guerche.
  1. Jean Chastain, Chevalier, Lord of Reaumur, m. Isabeau Jousseraude.
  1. Jean Chastain, Chevalier. M. the young Isabeau of Gourville, living in 1364.
  1. Helie Chastain, Lord of St. Georges, died in 1396. m. Phillipe de la Rochefatou.
  1.  Geoffroi Chastain, Chevalier, killed in the Battle of Patai, October 29, 1942, with four of his brothers. He married Louise de Preuilly.
  1.   Pierre Chastain, Chevalier, married Jeanne de Varere. Their marriage contract was signed 20 March 1443.
  1. Gui Chastain, Chevalier, Marechal de France, married Madelene De Pui (Puy), January 4, 1502.
  1. Jean Chastain, Chevalier, was in the siege of Pairre, 1522. m. Claude de Monleon.




                                                                                                                           Emigration Continued

14. Jean (or Janet or John) Chastain, Gentleman, died at Poitier, 6 January 1581: M Jeanne de Villiers, 1564.

15. Francois Chastain, m. Louise de Foutlebou, 1605.

16. Rene Chastain, Page to Louis XIII, King of France from 1610 to 1643.

• 17. Rene Chastain, m. Marie Madeliene Helen de Dampiere. He as the father of Pierre (Peter) Chastain, the emigrant.
** 18. Pierre Chatain (1660 – 1729), b. in the Province of Dauphiny, in southeastern France, m. Marie Madeline de la Rochefaucauld of Doffine (Dauphiny).
His father and grandfather were both named Rene, which comes from the Green word “Eirene” meaning Peace. Irene is the feminine form.

(Note: Apparently, John, a traditional Chastain name in American, was also a common Chastain name among the earliest of our ancestors. The name Rainey is common among American Chastains, and it is no doubt, the Americanized form of Rene, being handed down from generation to generation also, and going back to these, our earliest forefathers.)

During religious persecution in France, some of the Chastains did not abandon the Catholic church, and the descendents of these are still in France.

For centuries, the Chastaigniers had lived mainly in the province of Bearn (southwest France), but in due time, they spread to other areas, including LaRochelle and the province of Dauphiny, in the southeast. Here, our progenitors resided. Three Chastains, Pierre (Peter), Jean (John) and Estienne (Steven) abandoned their landed estates and fled to England with their families where they attached themselves to the Church of England, along with many other Huguenots.




                                                                                                                           Emigration Continued

As the English kings were anxious to colonize the new world, from 500 – 700 French Huguenots sailed from England to Virginia and settled on the southside of the James River, about 20 miles from Richmond (now Powhatan County). Here they were given land previously occupied by Manikin Indians, and they established Manikintowne Episcopal Church there.


The passenger list on the first ship (1699) included these names:


   Pierre (Peter) Chastain, his wife and six children. (Three others were born  to them in Manikin.)


Jean (John) Chastain, wife and four children


Dr. Estienne (Stephen) Chastain and wife

* * * * * * *

John Chastain, a cousin, or perhaps a younger brother of Peter, must have been a man of some prominence as he is spoken of as having served for several years as a member of the City Council in his native town in France before leaving. He was an attorney and served as clerk of King William’s parish in Virginia from 1762 – 1754.


Dr. Stephen Chastain, perhaps a second cousin of Peter, was a much younger man. He had practiced medicine in France, and also in England, and continued in the same career after reaching Manikintowne. He was married in England to Martha DuPuy, a daughter of Bartholomew Dupuy. The ship’s passenger list shows that at the time of their coming to American, they had no children. They reared in America four daughters. Sons were evidently born to Dr. Stephen Chastain and his wife later since his Chastain descendents now live in Missouri and easily trace their ancestral line back to him in Manikintowne. He died 18 December 1761.


Peter Chastain, the emigrant (1770 – 1729) and his wife Marie Madeline de la Rochefaucald (1660 – 1729) were of the province of Dauphiny and brought with them to America six children:




                                                                                                                           Emigration Continued

  1. John Chastain, d. 1762
  2. Peter Louis Chastain
  3. Rene Chastain, b. 1692. d. 1756 at Manakin
  4. Judith Chastain b. 1694, m. Mr. Ballew
  5. Marianne Chastain, b. 1696 in France. d. 1724 in Manikintowne.
  6. Susanna Chastain, m. Abraham Soblet
  7. Mary Chastain
  8. Elizabeth Chastain
  9. Magdeline Chastain, m. William Salle


It is probable that Peter Chastain and his wife had other children born to them and that they died young, their names not being preserved to us.

Up to this time, the Chastains that came to America had been Episcopalians. Old Peter was a vestryman in the Manakin Church. All his children and grandchildren were Episcopalians, but his grandsons, John and Rene, in their young manhood, came under the influence of friends and were converted to the Baptist faith. These two men both became famous in history as Baptist preachers, Rene in Buckingham County, Virginia, and John in South Carolina. John, because of his eloquence and musical voice, was known as the “Ten Shilling Bell.”


Peter Chastain and his wife were buried on his farm near Manikintowne, Virginia. His grandson, Rev. Rene Chastain sleeps in the cemetery of New Canton Baptist Church in Buckingham County, Virginia. Rene’s cousin, Rev. John Chastain (“Ten shilling bell”), and his wife, Mary O’Brien, were buried near his mill some four miles west of Greenville, S.C.




                                                                                                                           Emigration Continued

Reverend John Chastain’s son, Edward Chastain (called the “Patriarch” because he had such an extensive progeny, at least 16 children) is buried on his place with his wife Hannah Brown, some 3 – 5 miles from Blue Ridge, North Carolina. None of the graves are marked, thus cannot be accurately identified.

It is not strange to find variation in spelling the name. That is explained in different ways, however, we are all members of one large family, having the same French Huguenot origin, though in some cases, it is a little different to find every single link in the connection back to Manikintowne, due to the fact that family records are not available. No doubt, if records were available, we would all find ourselves as direct descendents of Peter of Manikintowne, Virginia.

Note: Quote taken directly from the James Garvin Chastain book where most of this information was found: “The many Chastains in and around Thomasville, southern Georgia, came from northern Georgia, which means that they belong to our line.”