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The family of James Malseed (Shankill, County Dublin), believes that the Malseeds are of French Huguenot origin.  I have found some information that would support that theory, and I have also found information which one could use to refute the theory. 

Also included is the text of the following document which discusses the settlement of French Huguenots in Ireland.  From "The Huguenots & Ulster 1685 - 1985"   (FHL 941.6 H23h)  Why The Huguenots Left France And Where They Settled In Ireland.

The French Huguenot theory is supported by the following information.

The Scotch-Irish  A Social History” by James G. Leyburn of Washington and Lee University and published by the University of North Carolina Press contains references to Huguenots in Ulster and America.  The following are the Ulster references.

On page 128, in talking about Ulster, he states:

One of the most fortunate occurrences that happened to it came in the closing years of the century.  In 1685 France revoked the Edict of Nantes, which for many years had assured religious liberty to the Huguenots.  Historians estimate that some half-million of these Protestants left France as a result of the revocation of the Edict, to the benefit of the industry of the countries to which they migrated.  Many of them (no figures are anywhere cited) came to Ulster, and since they, too, were Calvinists, for the most part they joined the Presbyterian Church and soon became a part of the Scottish communities.  Their thrift and industry were beneficial; but their particular contribution was an improvement of the methods of manufacturing linen, for which the colony was already noted.  Ulster's trade thereafter took another forward leap.

On page 159, in talking about the passage of the Woollens Act prohibiting the exportation of Irish wool and woolen cloth to any places except England and Wales, he states:

The setback to economic prosperity in northern Ireland did not immediately prove disastrous because a second industry, linen, was just then developing.  This industry had been greatly stimulated by new methods introduced by the Huguenots recently arrived in Ulster.  King William III in 1689 had invited a colony of these French expatriates to settle in northern Ireland, partly in gratitude to the Huguenots in Holland who had sent a regiment to help him against James II and who had played a role in the decisive battle of the Boyne.  Knowing their industrious habits and their ingenuity, and having the welfare of his whole domain at heart, William sagely induced a number of them to settle at Lisburn (county Antrim), a few miles upstream from Belfast.  There they stimulated the cultivation of flax and initiated the large-scale manufacture of linen, which soon became a very profitable enterprise, taking up the slack caused by restrictions on woolen export.  They organized the industry on a domestic basis, with piecework distributed widely through the homes of the region, thus giving employment to many women.

The rapidity with which the new industry grew indicates the place the Huguenots made for themselves in Ulster.  Their Calvinism made them welcome to Presbyterians and Puritans, and their proverbial thrift and application inspired emulation.  Irish linen soon entered the English and foreign markets, somewhat restoring the prosperity of Ulster.  Before King William's death in 1702 linen exports amounted to £6,000 annually.  Yet for all the progress of the linen industry, the development of Ulster had been seriously set back by the Woollens Act.

By the way, this sentence from the second quote above puzzles me.  “King William III in 1689 had invited a colony of these French expatriates to settle in northern Ireland, partly in gratitude to the Huguenots in Holland who had sent a regiment to help him against James II and who had played a role in the decisive battle of the Boyne.”  The Battle of the Boyne was fought in July 1690.  If the invitation had indeed been extended in 1689, it could not have been in gratitude for assistance rendered the following year.

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The French Huguenot theory is refuted by the following information.

1. John Molsed, 1614 and Archibald Malseed, 1665

A John Molsed was leased land in All Saints parish, County Donegal, on 1 November 1614, and according to the Hearth Money Rolls of Co, Donegal, Archibald Malseed was living in Ballyconnelly, Tullyfern Parish, in 1665.  However, the Huguenots did not settle in Ireland in great numbers until after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes on 22 October 1685.  Some had migrated earlier, but the vast majority settled later.

2. Huguenot Surname Lists.  (On the web at

These lists were taken from "Irish Pedigrees", vol.2, by John O'Hart. Pub 1892, Dublin. Note: Pronunciation marks were not copied. According to Agnew's Third Volume of the French Protestant Exiles from France (London: Reeves and Turner, 1874), the Foreign Refugees and their descendants, who settled in Great Britain and Ireland, are divided into three Tables: 

TABLE I contains the names of those who settled in these countries before the reign of Louis XIV., of France. (1643) 
TABLE II contains the names of those who settled in these countries during the reign of Louis XIV. (1643-1714) (GIVE IT TIME TO LOAD
large table.)
TABLE III contains the names of the Refugees who were Naturalized by Letters Patent. The reader, who desires full information under each of these headings will find it in Agnew's elaborate works on the subject. (GIVE IT TIME TO LOAD
large table.)

 The tables were searched and no Malseed, Molseed, Maltseed, etc was found.

3. The location of Malseed families.

As you can see from the Donegal Information page, Malseeds settled in that county, apparently beginning in Tullyfern parish and gradually spread out from there.  The Huguenots, however, settled generally along the east coast of Ireland as seen in this map based on a map in "The Huguenot Settlements in Ireland" (FHL 941.5 W2L)

The following document discusses the settlement of French Huguenots in Ireland.
From "The Huguenots & Ulster 1685 - 1985"   (FHL 941.6 H23h)


 The 'Huguenots' (the origin of the term is obscure) were French Protestants of the Presbyterian kind who followed the teachings of John Calvin (1509-64).  The growth of Calvinism in France during the sixteenth century led to a long period of persecution (notably the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572) and religious wars which only ended in 1598 when the Protestant leader Henry of Navarre changed his faith in order to become king of France.  When he did so, he safeguarded his former co-religionists by signing the Edict of Nantes, which guaranteed the right of the Huguenots to exist as a Protestant minority in a Catholic country.

At first the privileges granted by the Edict - freedom of conscience, liberty to practise their religion in public, and equality with Catholic citizens in all civil offices and professions-were buttressed by the right to maintain garrisons in a number of castles and fortified towns (such as Montpellier and La Rochelle).  By 1629, however, this 'state within a state' had been removed.  Thereafter the Huguenots depended solely on the protection of the king, and for that reason were among his most loyal subjects when the authority of the crown was challenged by some of the nobles in the 1640s and 1650s.  When Louis XIV began his rule he promised to observe the terms of the Edict in full.  Despite frequent assurances of this kind, the Huguenots nevertheless soon found their freedom restricted when everything not expressly mentioned in the Edict - such as their annual Synod, new church buildings, daytime burials of their dead - was forbidden.  All churches put up after 1598 were pulled down (by 1685 only 243 remained out of a total of 813).  In 1677 a fund was started to buy conversions.  Much of this pressure was due to a religious revival in the French Catholic church, (it was the age of St. Vincent de Paul and St. François de Sales) and to the growing influence of the Jesuit order, which led the fight to recover ground lost to the heretics.  Toleration of religious minorities anywhere in Christian Europe was rare.  Most French Catholic clergy detested the toleration of the Huguenot faith, while many Catholic laymen detested the guarantees of civil equality.  Pressed in this way, some Huguenots conformed and others emigrated.

Repression and the flow of refugees (a term first used in English to describe the Huguenots) increased significantly from 1678 onward.  The legal guarantees in the Edict were withdrawn, the movements of ministers were controlled, mixed marriages were forbidden, children over the age of seven could be converted and removed from the care of their parents; for a time, pastors were forbidden even to visit the dying.  In addition to these religious restrictions, Huguenots were excluded from all public office, were barred from the legal profession, could not practise medicine and could not print or sell books. The last straw, from 1681, was the dragonnades, the billeting of large numbers of dragoons on Protestant families with free rein to terrify and ruin them unless they converted.  Thousands conformed, many others fled.

Finally, Louis XIV, perhaps believing reports that there were few Protestants left, agreed to get rid of the Edict altogether.  The revocation of 22 October 1685 forbade all Protestant services; ordered all their remaining churches to be destroyed; threatened death to any of their clergy who remained in France after a fortnight but forbade any lay members to leave the country; and decreed that their children were to be baptized and reared as Catholics.

The majority of the Huguenots, some 700,000, remained in France and most of these became nominal converts.  More than 200,000, however, risked imprisonment or the galleys by going abroad.  The largest number fled to Holland, many to Switzerland and Germany, some to Denmark.  Forty to fifty thousand escaped to England, where they joined those who had settled there earlier.

About 10,000 came to Ireland.  They were not the first.  Some of those who had left France in earlier years were already settled here, though the numbers were small.  In the 1660s, indeed, special inducements to encourage immigrants were offered in Ireland which did not apply in England.  Charles II's lord lieutenant, the Duke of Ormonde, in 1662 sponsored an act of parliament which made it easy for 'Protestant strangers' to become naturalized citizens and freemen of towns and guilds; and grants of land were made to them.  Ormonde himself established a colony of Huguenot linen weavers at Chape1izod near Dublin and groups of wool workers at Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir.  Most of those who came in Charles II's reign, however, settled in Dublin, where two French congregations were established.  Under James II the act of 1662 was annulled and the pastor of the congregation attached to St Patrick's cathedral was imprisoned. None of the Protestants in Ireland more devoutly wished for the victory of William of Orange and his French allies than the Huguenots.

That victory and the restoration of easy naturalization made Ireland an attractive place of refuge, especially when an act of 1692 granted the newcomers a degree of religious toleration greater than that enjoyed by Catholics and Protestant Dissenters.  Of the 10,000 or so who settled in Ireland, some came directly from France but many more had escaped first to England or Holland before moving on.  One group of 600 families that arrived in 1690 came from Holland; so too did the families that Louis Crommelin brought later to Lisburn.

A significant part in William's victory in Ireland - and in many a later campaign against the armies of Louis XIV and his allies-was played by Huguenot soldiers.  The best known of them was his commander in Ireland, Frederick Duke of Schomberg, once a Marshal of France, who was killed at the Boyne.  Two years later the commander-in-chief in Ireland was another Huguenot, Henri de Massue de Ruvigny, whose brother had been killed at the Boyne and who himself had commanded the victorious cavalry at Aughrim.  William created him Earl of Galway and rewarded him with a large grant of confiscated land at Portarlington, where he established a colony of French officers.  This aristocratic and military settlement retained its French character longer than any of the others in Ireland; its French church did not close till 1841.  Other French soldiers settled at Youghal in Co. Cork, but the colony was not a large one and its members either moved away or became assimilated during the following century . Some of the rank and file of Schomberg’s army settled at Belfast but since, unlike the Huguenots at Lisburn, they never had a separate congregation or meeting-place, they have no distinct history.

Apart from those who were ex-soldiers, most of the Huguenot refugees who settled in Ireland were merchants or craftsmen.  The Lisburn colony of linen weavers, from which the cambric manufacture at Lurgan and later enterprises at Dundalk and Waterford derived, is dealt with in more detail elsewhere.  A later venture of a similar kind was the attempt by Thomas Adderley to establish the manufacture of silk on his estate at Innishannon in Co. Cork in the 1760s.  Sixty families of refugees arrived in Cork from France in 1765 at his invitation, fleeing from renewed persecution (the last of their ministers to die for the faith was hanged in 1762).

Merchants and traders were attracted to the ports on the southern coast of Ireland which had long had direct trading links with France.  Waterford had a numerous colony with a flourishing congregation and church for most of the eighteenth century; there, Huguenots were especially prominent in the linen trade and the manufacture of sailcloth.  There was a smaller settlement at Wexford, which at one time had its own minister but no separate church; all trace of it had gone by the later eighteenth century, however.  Much more important than either of these was the settlement at Cork where a congregation was established which lasted until 1813.  Huguenots were involved in the growing manufacture and trade of Cork in the eighteenth century to such an extent that much of the wealth of the city was in their hands.

Inland in south Leinster, there was a settlement at Kilkenny (where there were even plans at one time for a French university) and another at Carlow.  Both had congregations and clergy for the first generation or so, but both appear to have become assimilated rapidly thereafter.  Still less is known about the history of small groups at Enniscorthy and Wicklow, and about others at Bandon and Tullow in Co.Cork.  In the north, there was a short-lived agricultural settlement at Castleblayney in Co. Monaghan and mention of an early colony at Killeshandra in Co. Cavan.

Above all, the Huguenot refugees in Ireland settled in Dublin.  In the early years of the eighteenth century there were for a time no fewer than four congregations in the capital, two of them conforming to the established church, the other two retaining their Calvinist form of worship.  It was estimated at one time that nearly 2,000 members of the professions in Dublin were Huguenots - many of them among the clergy of the Church of Ireland and in the legal profession.  Huguenot names are also prominent in the list of sheriffs of the city (D'Olier Street was named after one of them), a reflection of their importance in the guilds of merchants and craftsmen which controlled its industrial and commercial life - merchants in linen, wool and wine; craftsmen catering particularly for the luxury and fashion trade, such as goldsmiths and silk weavers.  The leading private bank in Dublin in the eighteenth century, La Touche's, was started by a Huguenot who had established a poplin factory after coming to Ireland with William and taking part in the battle of the Boyne; his grandson was appointed first governor of the newly-founded Bank of Ireland in 1783.  James Gandon, the architect whose great public buildings such as the Custom House and the Four Courts transformed the appearance of Dublin during the same period, was the son of a London Huguenot; and Richard Cassels or Castle, architect of Leinster House, the Rotunda Hospital and parts of Trinity College (as well as many fine country houses and the parish church of Knockbreda near Belfast), was probably also of Huguenot stock.  The nonconforming Huguenots maintained a separate church in Dublin until 1814.  Three years later, the church attached to St. Patrick's cathedral also closed.  By that time, the descendants of the refugees had long been part of the Protestant section of Dublin society.

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