The Edict of Nantes
The Edict of Nantes guaranteed religious freedom in France from 1598 until it was revoked in 1685

I  started researching the Bonnin family after I had married one of them. I discovered (very quickly, thanks to the earlier researches of another family member), that ‘our’ branch of the Bonnins was descended from one James Bonnin, who appeared out of nowhere and got married in St Marylebone, London, in 1770. I have been trying to find out where he came from for the last thirty years, but so far without success.

One thing is clear, however. James Bonnin was of French Huguenot descent – many of his children were baptised in Huguenot churches. The Huguenots were French Protestants who had to flee France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Edict had permitted tolerance of the Protestant religion – after its revocation all French people were expected to practice Catholicism. Huguenots fled France to all parts of the globe, including England.

Frustrated by my failure to track down James’ parentage, I decided to research all records of Bonnins in or passing through England in the 17th and 18th centuries to see if I could find any clues. So far, I’ve eliminated a few possibilities, but I’m otherwise no closer to a solution. I’ve uncovered a few interesting stories on the way, though.

Jane Bonnin