1) Gabriel Maturin Mathurin and Maturin were frequently used in archive documents as alternative spellings obviously belonging to the same people. The first mention found so far of a Gabriel Mathurin is as a crew member of "Le Christophe", a 70 ton vessel which left La Rochelle for Newfoundland on 14 April 1535 on a trading voyage to bring back fish and lumber and other "profits" (1). Jacques Cartier had left for his second "exploration" only a matter of days earlier. It has long been thought that the Bretons had been trading to North America since the 1300s. There is, however, no proof as yet that this Gabriel had any connection with the family from Guyenne.
The French region of Guyenne east of Bordeaux, particularly the Bastide Towns centered on Agen, was a cradle of Protestantism from the reign of Francois I (1515 to 1547). Marguerite of Angoulême, queen of Navarre, actively supported the establishment of centres for the "Reformed Church", first at Clairac and later at Nérac, giving refuge to Calvin on his road to Geneva. It seems likely that Gabriel was born in this region in about 1638 and that he and his brothers, Jean (born about 1639) and Jacob were baptised in the "RPR" (Religion Prétendue Réformée). Though "Mathurin Père" is referred to in notes on a Synod in 1637 (2) as the father of Gabriel and Jean he is given no first name and it cannot be inferred for certain that he was a minister. Tradition has it that the family came originally from Montauriol, 25 kms south of Bergerac.
In 1665 Gabriel was appointed as minister to Pujols (noted as being linked with Nérac so it is more likely to have been the tiny hill-top village 2 km south of Villeneuve-sur-Lot rather than the village 6 kms south of Castillon and the Dordogne river and therefore allied to the church in Gironde) and moved in succession to Casteljaloux, Montpazier and then Monflanquin in 1668, remaining in the last town until 1671. At some point he married Rachel Garrigue (probably in Bergerac from family report). Their eldest son, Peter, was born in Monflanquin (according to his declaration at his naturalisation in London) and a birth date of between 1668 and 1671 would seem possible for his later history. If their daughter, Maria, married at the age of 18 to 21 in 1691 she must have been born between 1670 and 1673. A second son, Gabriel, was nine in 1685, so born about 1676 with two further children born in Guyenne in 1678 and 1679 (2). Guillaume was baptised in Holland on 11 March 1686.
Gabriel was in constant demand throughout the area, from Nérac in 1671, to Bergerac in 1677, Casteljaloux (again) in 1678, Clairac in 1679 and finally La Réole in 1682. From 1677 he had been seconded to La Chambre de l'Edit. This Council was created by the Edict of Nantes to ensure that the guarantees given to the Protestants regarding their access to justice were upheld; it was a moveable court, comprising half Catholics and half Protestants, and went wherever it was required or where the officers were available. By 1679 the Chambres were under extreme political pressure to convert the Protestants representatives to Catholicism so such positions would not have been easy places for Gabriel and his companions. In 1679 the Synod noted that Messrs Mathurin, Grenouilheau, Silvestre and Lafargue were the elders sitting at Clairac. In 1681 the Synod at Sainte Foy approved that Gabriel and the elders should also be involved at "Le Parlement", a provincial chamber of justice which for Guyenne would normally meet at Bordeaux but sometimes in other towns in the area including, by chance, La Réole.
Gabriel's brother Jean was also ordained a minister and followed a similar pattern of appointments through Guyenne, apparently in partnership with his brother on several occasions. He is recorded at Théobon (Montpazier) in 1668, Tonneins-Dessous in 1669, Loubés and Penne d'Agenais in 1670, Nérac in 1671, back to Tonneins-Dessous in 1674 (and again in 1683) but at Clairac in 1679 and Ste Foy in 1681. Jean married the well-connected Marguerite de Piés of Puy Baran and had three children: Jacques (born about 1669), Gabriel (born about 1677) and Marthe. When the rest of the family left France in 1685 Marthe was left in the care of her mother's sister, Denise de Piés and, on 9 July 1708 at Bordeaux, (at a Catholic ceremony, of course) married the nobleman Gabriel de Piés, esquire and knight, son of the nobleman Francois de Piés, esquire, Lord of Lamothe and of his wife, Jeanne de Lamargue; they had to obtain Papal Dispensation because of their relationship.
To halt the draining Wars of Religion through the 1500s the declaration of the Edict of Nantes in 1598 by Henry IV allowed France to briefly lead Europe in religious tolerance. Though restricted in many ways, the French Protestants could live according to their belief and conscience. In contrast the English monarchy (and later, Protectorate) could hardly boast religious freedom, imposing draconian penalties for failing to follow the Royal or Puritan lead. By the 1650s toleration of what was seen as increasing pressure on the state by Protestants was taking a toll and first Louis XIII and later Louis XIV started the erosion of the rights given under the Edict. Escalation of the pressure on Protestants was slowed while Louis needed the co-operation of the Puritans, and later the reinstated Charles II, in England, plus the Lutherans in continental Europe, to fight his Dutch war. Political pressure from the French Catholic clergy and Louis' pursuit of Gallicanism" (French Catholicism without direction from Rome) as well as the decided views of Madame de Maintenon (the mistress taken by Louis XIV after the death of his wife Maria Theresa) and the ending of the Franco-Dutch War in 1679 combined to encourage Louis to renew his campaign against the Protestants. From 1680 every effort was made to convert the whole population of France to Gallic Catholicism. The rights of worship were removed from town after town, RPR churches or temples were demolished and the heavy-handed and barely legal practice of billeting Dragoons on Huguenot families or communities ("dragonnades") to encourage and then ensure their conversion, spread through the country.
From 2 January 1681 Jacob Maturin, "avocat", is constantly in the records as one of the protestant "jurats" on the council for Monflanquin (La Jurade was a local government organisation peculiar to the Bordeaux area, originally comprising twelve elected members for a qualifying community). The town was staunchly protestant and therefore a target for the zeal of the converters and reformers. Later, when all property of those who fled France in 1685 was sequestered by the state, Jacob claimed that his brothers' property had been granted to him by his father as part of his marriage contract on 17 November 1659. As he was under suspicion of being "obstinate" and a "personne très dangereuse" he was ordered to hold the revenues from the property for help to those newly converted from RPR to catholicism.
Pressure mounted and by 1682 decrees had been issued which forbade assemblies, particularly those at Protestant churches and temples. Gabriel was a prominent minister at La Réole. On 6 December 1682 he was arrested and, at 6.00 the following morning under the guard of La Fontaine (Officer of the City Provost) and five soldiers, taken the 65 kms (40 miles) to Bordeaux. The party arrived at 10.00 a.m. on the 8 December and Gabriel was immediately imprisoned in Chateau Trompette. He had been arrested for contravening the orders forbidding assemblies. Under interrogation he gave his name as Gabriel Mathurin, minister of the RPR, aged 45 or 50 (!), normally resident at La Réole in the house of M. de Virazeil, Councillor to the Parlement. He declared that he ministered in Gironde and that he had been chosen to work with the officers of the Chambre de l'Edit when it was at Marmande, that he had followed it to St. Macaire and then at La Réole after the suppression of the Chambre. He added that he had been seconded by the Synod of Bergerac and appointed by the Synod at Clairac. (2) On 17 April 1684 he was released and returned to his family. (3)
On the 22 October 1685 Louis XIV declared that as so many Protestants had responded to his policies (and those of his grandfather and father) and returned to the Catholic faith, and the enemies of France had been vanquished, it was time to unify the country by revoking the Edict of Nantes. All the RPR temples and schools were to be demolished without delay and all meetings in public or in private houses were forbidden. Ministers were enjoined to convert, (but of course many were married and so could not become priests) or were permitted to leave the country within two weeks; under no circumstances could they preach during that time on pain of perpetual condemnation to the galleys. All children were to be immediately baptised in the Catholic church or parents would face a five hundred livre fine. Should any member of the RPR be so ungrateful as to disobey the royal command to convert to Catholicism, stay and live in France, but attempt to take their possessions and leave the Kingdom, the men would be condemned to the galleys, the women to imprisonment and their property would be confiscated. (4)
Gabriel, a heavily pregnant Rachel and at least three of their children were permitted to leave the port of Bordeaux, bound for Holland, on 24 November 1685. One report states that his brother Jean, with Marguerite and their two sons, left at the same time (leaving their daughter, Martha with her aunt).
Gabriel settled in Dordrecht (Dort), the oldest city in Holland built on one of the islands in the tangle of channels south west of Rotterdam where the Old Meuse, Noord and Merwede rivers met to flow into the North Sea. At that time it was a major trading port and seat of learning. The magistrates of the town assigned him a pension to provide for himself and his growing family. Guillaume was presented for baptism on 11 March 1686. It must have been in Dordrecht that Gabriel wrote a treatise "Le Figuier ou Vanité des excuses de ceusqui ont succombé sous la persécution" (The Fig Tree - or vanity of excuses of those who buckle under persecution) which was published at the Hague in about 1686 and justified those who fled from France rather than bending to conversion. He was grateful to the Magistrates of the City who had given him refuge and found a number of reasons to deflect a pressing invitation from the magistrate of Arnhem, who had been impressed with the reports of his qualities, and offered an annual pension of 425 livres to lead their congregation. Eventually, because they were so keen to engage him, on 1 November 1686 the magistrate went to the Walloon Consisitory Court at Arnhem to explain how useful Gabriel would be to their community and asked if he could be appointed "ministre extraordinaire" to serve jointly with the existing minister, D Devernejou. A second resolution on the 12th put the case again, even more strongly, and on 22 November the court agreed to offer Gabriel the post. The Arnhem burgermaster and another member of the Court immediately went to Dordrecht with the offer which Gabriel finally accepted, to the joy of the members when it was formally announced on 14 December that he would take up his post the following April (1687). (5)
Though there is little on record of the time at Arnhem, Gabriel was noted as the deputy representative at the Synod at Utrecht on 20 April 1689 together with Pierre de Salve, the minister at Ardenbourg. There was no further news until the court at Arnhem reported on the 1 October 1689 that "People being very surprised at the long absence of M. Maturin, and not having any news which made them hope for his prompt return, decreed (after realising that M. Rivasson (Francoise Rivasson was previously minister of Thiebon, in lower Guyenne) did not want to fill his place any longer) that Madame de Maturin will provide for the ministry of some other refugee minister or a theological student from the Walloon churches, of whom there are a great number in these provinces, or if not the congregation itself will call upon her husband's pledge who must supply according to his contract, half of the cost of the ministry of this church." Several days later on 6th October , "the congregation having received a letter from M. Maturin and from it seen that his absence was legitimate and having above all learnt from the mouth of M. Vivaret (?) that the said M. Maturin had gone to France to preach "under the cross" and to be an instrument in the hands of God to be a relief and a consolation to our brothers who were groaning under the weight of bitter persecution, praised this pious aim and asked God to pour out his benediction in abundance and, because of this the church found itself deprived of the minister called M. Maturin whom they needed, the congregation resolved to send Messrs Vernejou, Coct and Fulleken immediately to the magistrates to ask them to remedy the situation and take what measures they judge necessary for the good of this church etc." The result of these discussions with the magistracy was that it was decided, on 13 October "that the post would remain unfilled in the hope that the said M. Maturin would be able to come back and that the running of our church could be back on the same footing as it was before Maturin's mission. The congregation agreeing to this proposal resolved that each Sunday there would only be a sermon and prayer".
True to his convictions, on 25 August 1689 Gabriel had joined a very dangerous mission back in to France with, ultimately, five other Protestant ministers to give comfort to those left deserted by the Royal decree. They were aware of the dangers. Louis had made it very plain that if any person was discovered preaching the reformed religion they would be imprisoned or sent to the galleys for life. Searching for and informing on such men was a very rewarding occupation for the network of spies which grew out of the persecution. Four of the six courageous men took noms de guerre to attempt to deflect repercussions on their contacts and families remaining in France. Gabriel took the name Lestang; it is not known if this was a family name, a pun on the still waters of a pond (étang) or connected to the village of Lestang north of Clairac. Paul Cardel from Rouen became Noyer. Pierre Bruneton, son of a converted Carmelite friar who settled in Vergèze, Montpelier, became Valsec. Matthieu de Malzac from La Bastide de Goudargues between Alés and Orange became Bastide, Molan or de Lisle. Elisee Giraud from Bergerac and Gardien Givry, born at Vervins (now on the Belgian border) completed this particular mission.
It is unclear exactly where Gabriel preached "sous le croix". The records of the States of the province of Guelder claim that he was "seized in the middle of his former flock" in Guyenne but it is known for certain that he was arrested just seven months later at the house of M. Malet, a parliamentary barrister (avocat au Parlement) in Paris on 16 April 1690. Detained first at the chateau de Vincennes he was transferred to the Bastille on 18 April under the name of Lestang, a deception which he seemed to maintain for a considerable period. (6) On 8 August 1690 M. Malet was also detained at the Bastille,(by order of M. Segnelay) for giving refuge to the minister Lestang and transferred to Chateau d' Angers on 7 January 1691 (authorised by Ponchartrain). Summary justice was dispensed and on 3 May 1690 Gabriel was placed in the custody of an agent of the Prefect of the King's Royal Police, M. Auzillon, to be taken the 800 kms (500 miles) from Paris to Cannes and then to the Royal prison on the île Sainte-Marguerite.
This was one of the four Royal prisons (with Brescou, la tour de Constance at Aigues-Mortes and Chateau d'If) where enemies of the state and dangerous religious prisoners were kept in conditions perhaps not unduly exaggerated by Dumas in "The Count of Monte Christo". The six ministers were held in perpetual solitary confinement in cells about 16 square metres (say about 14' by 14') with a window, a chimney and some sort of privy. They could only keep in contact by singing psalms and all contact with the outside world was forbidden. One of the ministers tried to scratch a message on a pewter plate and have it taken to the mainland but this was discovered and harshly punished. (Voltaire used the incident, mistakenly attributing it to "the Man in the Iron Mask" who was held on the island from 1687 to 1698). None of the ministers were allowed out of their cells - though after the death of Louis XIV in 1715 a concession was made to the last remaining prisoner, the 58 year-old Matthieu de Malzac, who was given permission by the President of the Council of War Marshall de Villars for two hours promenade each day - until Malzac died there in 1733. Gabriel was crippled by the lack of exercise and poor food but he did retain his reason. Pierre Bruneton died insane very shortly after arriving on the île, at the age of 30. Paul Cardier was just 40 when he died on 23 May 1694. Though it is not known when Giraud and Givry died this must have been before 1715 as it appears certain that Malzac was then the only minister left alive.
Rachel made strenuous efforts to release her husband. In October 1708 she addressed the State Deputies of the Quarter of Velewe in Guelder to ask them for help to relieve her husband's situation and was duly awarded the sum of 500 florins "to enable her to go to her husband, prisoner in France, for his relief on the condition that she take care that this sum should be repaid". The Walloon churches, led by ministers such as David Martin of Utrecht (the president of the Synod) made representations on 23 October 1708 to the Commissioners of the Generalité "to work as hard as possible to procure the liberty of ... G de Maturin". Again on the 5 April 1710 the States of Guelder authorised a further sum of "cent ducatons d'argent" (about 315 florins) to Rachel for the relief of her husband.
The War of the Spanish Succession had almost run its course and in January 1712 John Robinson, the Bishop of Bristol, and Thomas Wentworth, the earl of Strafford were the English plenipotentiaries who arrived in Utrecht to negotiate a peace treaty. The Walloon Synod appointed a commission comprising Elie Benoit, minister at Delft; D Martin, minister at Utrecht; Jacques Basnage, minister at Rotterdam and afterwards at the Hague: and D de Superville, minister at Rotterdam to work for the release of Gabriel Maturin and all protestant prisoners on the galleys. (5) Louis was adamant and refused every appeal and blocked every clause in every negotiation which would have led to the release of the prisoners. Queen Anne made personal representations to him to no avail. Though there is no concrete evidence that Gabriel received particular attention it is remarkable that he was one of the very few protestants, and the only one of the six ministers on the île Sainte-Marguerite, to have been released during Louis' lifetime. Peter Maturin, the eldest son, had been appointed a chaplain to the Regiment of the Marquis de Puissar in 1697; John Churchill (then the Earl of Marlborough) took command of that regiment in February 1702. Peter was chaplain to the Duke of Marlborough at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. Marlborough had direct communication with Queen Anne. John Robinson was an Anglican bishop in Utrecht receiving the representations of commissions such as that from the Walloon Synod. Peter was based in Utrecht and his redoubtable mother cannot have been far away. When John Robinson returned to England in 1713 he was appointed to be Bishop of London, and therefore responsible for all military chaplains and Anglican clergy outside Great Britain and Ireland. With the end of the War at the Treaty of Utrecht it appears that Peter fell on hard times, perhaps on the half-pay of redundant officers and, in October 1714, felt able to write directly to Bishop Robinson from an address in Wandsworth, London, referring to the "arrival of my father" without further explanation as though this would be a familiar matter to his reader.
Suffice to say that Gabriel was released and eventually reached London in late 1714 or early 1715. Peter's commission as chaplain was confirmed by George I on 1 June 1715. His regiment had been posted to Ireland in 1713 and it appears that the whole family then moved to Dublin in 1715 though it is unclear as yet when Peter resigned his commission and moved to his first appointment with the Church in Ireland before his preferment to Rossenbeg in 1722.
Gabriel died in Dublin in 1718. Rachel survived him. Her Will, written in French, is dated Dec 25 1724 and was proved Dec 14 1732. (7) She is described in the register as Rachel Maturin of Carrigan, Co Dublin. In brief, her son and sole executor, “Pierre” Maturin, should receive her whole inheritance in France plus an annuity of 12 livres sterling and the “first 500 florins which was my husband's portion from his father’s will”; her nephew David Gervais, niece Marguerite Gervais and niece Anne Deguilhem should each receive five livres sterling with the remainder to be shared between Pierre Maturin and grandson, Theodore de la Faye, the youngest son of her daughter Marie; the document was witnessed in Dublin by Noe Desclaux, Estienne Saurin and Abel Dartigues.
It is remarkable that the true, more credible, account of Gabriel's origins above should have been totally forgotten, or suppressed, by succeeding generations. Perhaps the politics of the day, which led to the impeachment of the English negotiators at the Treaty of Utrecht for giving away too many concessions, made it expedient for his ambitious descendants to play down the circumstances of Gabriel’s release.
Charles Robert Maturin’s fictional imaginings became the accepted history, published and repeated in the English-based Huguenot researches of the 1800s, despite the fact that the Societé de l'histoire du Protestantisme was discussing the proven historical events from 1877 onwards. Charles Robert declared that "a French lady of rank was driving in her carriage when the coachman noticed a child lying on the street. The lady brought him home and, having failed to trace his parents, adopted him as her own son. A devout Roman Catholic, she chose for his surname the title of a well known religious community, “Les Mathurins”. When he came of age, this foundling, Gabriel Maturin, left the Roman Catholic Church and was given the pastorate of a Huguenot congregation in Paris. Here he settled and married, becoming the father of two sons. About the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes he was shut up in the Bastille, where he was left for twenty-six years, I suppose to give him time to reflect on the controverted points and make up his mind at leisure. With all these advantages he continued quite untractable, so that the Catholics, finding his case desperate, gave him his liberty. There was no danger, however, of his abusing this indulgence, for, owing to the keeper forgetting accidentally to bring him fuel during the winters of his confinement, and a few other agréments of his situation, the poor man had lost the use of his limbs, and was a cripple for life. He accompanied some of his former flock to Ireland, and there unexpectedly found his wife and two sons."
The story is all the more remarkable in view of Charles Robert's vehement anti-catholicism and use of any history in his gothic horror writing which would denigrate that church. The truth about his his great-great grandfather might have been much more to his purpose.
1) PAC 14 1930 Biggar A Collection of Documents relating to Jacques Cartier and the Sieur de Robeval Doulcet, A 1535 14/04 (La Rochelle)
2) Agen Archives - Fonds Lagrange Ferrègne
3) Revue Agenais 1913 p 424
4) The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes
5) Bulletin Societé de l'histoire du Protestantisme1877 année 26 page 511
6) There was considerable correspondence in Bulletins Societé de l'histoire du Protestantisme about the identities of Gabriel Maturin and Lestang.
7) Will of Rachel Maturin - family archive
11) Very Rev: Peter Maturin, son of Rev: Gabriel Maturin, LL.B and LL.D TCD (Todd’s “Catalogue of Graduates” p. 378, where the name Peter Maturin also appears as BD and DD Æst. 1737, but this is probably a mistake for Gabriel James Maturin (sic but see 112 Peter who did attain BD and DD in 1737). (Alumni Dublinenses 1935 notes that a “Peter” obtained a LLB (Bachelor in Laws) and LLD (Doctor in Laws) in Spring 1722 but no further particulars are given.) Prebendary of Rossenbeg, dio. of Killala, Jan 20, 1722. Vicar-General of Killala and Achonry. Dean of Killala May 4, 1724. (Cotton’s “Task (?), Vol IV. P. 8993, Vol V, p. 283). Died intestate, Sept 1741; administration granted to his widow, Sarah Maturin, Nov 13, 1741. She died in 1749. Her Will is dated June 9, 1749; proved Dec 9 1749. The name of “Peter Maturin of the City of Dublin” is found in the Register of Deeds, Dec 16 1721, in which he grants “a lease of land in Ballybough Lane, alias Great Britain Street, for 75 years”. The Dean’s name occurs in the same Register, July 14 1731, conjointly with that of “Rev Gabriel Maturin, his son” as granting “certain lands, Co Down” to the Bishop of Dromore, and again Sept 19 1735 as granting “to the Rev Gabriel James Maturin, of Garvaghy, conveyance of premises in Great Britain St. In consideration of the sum of £490. It appears from the “Chapter book of Killala” that in July 1723 “it was agreed and ordered that the Stalls in the Cathedral shall be contracted according to the scheme given in by Dr. Maturin”. The arms and crest of the Maturin family were assigned to the Dean of Killala and his posterity Feb 6 1728.
Rawlinson manuscript B. 376 Vol. 57/58, Bodleian Library, Oxford. Letter from P[ierre?] Maturin to Bishop John Robinson, dated 7 October 1714
While my Father’s deliverance has been depending, I could never be persuaded to sollicit any thing else, & now it is effected, I must needs confess, that it is with much reluctancy, that I yield to the advice & importunity of my Friends & Family, who force me to intrude upon Your Lordship, for to make my case known unto You, & to begg, that, now Your Chaplains are provided for, You be pleased to admitt me among those, that depend upon Your Lordship for preferment.
Tho’ I have served these fifteen Years Chaplain in the Army without reproach, perhaps with some approbation, I dare averr to Your Lordship, that You are the first Person, I have made any addresses to for myself, & that of my Familly has any thing to accuse me of, it is that I have not sufficiently seconded the motions made by my Friends for my preferment.
Knowing myself perfectly well, I always depended more upon the goodness then upon the justice of those, that honoured me with their Protection, & therefore gave a full scope to their Generosity, by not importuning them by my demands: That Method I intended to have followed also with Your Lordship, & now I have been persuaded to act otherwise, I find in me a greater inclination to make an Apology for asking, then insist by giving my reasons for doing it.
However, My Lord, since I began I’ll take the liberty to represent to Your Lordship, that, as all Chaplains of the Army have by their station a Tittle to Your Protection being under Your immediate care & Government, so I have a particular reason to claim it, having on all occasions been countenanced by Your Lordship above my hopes & above my desert, which encourages me to think that You will not leave Your work unfinished, & that You’ll be pleased to conferr some real marks of Your Favour upon me. They’ll come then more opportunely, & shall be received with the greater gratitude now, that my charge is encreasing by the Arrival of my Father, when I shall have eleven in Family, besides Servants: for, tho’ I don’t love to complain, & never have told my Condition to any body but to Your Lordship, it is very certain that two other Years, lyke this, if God doth not send me some relieve, will reduce me to my primitive nothing, & make an end of the little I had saved in the Army.
I know, Mylord, that, notwithstanding all Your Charity, this alone ought to move You in Church-preferments, which are designed for other ends to supply People’s wants, & therefore, being convinced what choice of work Men You have about You to supply vacant Livings, I should almost desist from my demand, if I did not entirely resolve to make up by my zeal & ca... what is otherways wanting in my abilityes. God in his wisdom makes use of divers Instruments, & I hope, that (:tho’ one of the least:) He’ll give me grace to fulfill my calling, & if not ten, if not five, att least to improve that one Talent he has given me of a sincere heart to promote truth & Piety to the utmost of my power.
As it is no small grieve to me to find myself of late useless in my Generation, & confined within the care of my Family, so it is my stedfast resolution, when Opportunity is given me, to exert myself with new Vigour, & to make amends for the time lost by a greater diligence in the work of the Lord, and thereby to putt it out of the power of man to blame Your Lordship for imploying me in it.
I must end, Mylord, as I begun, by asking Your Lordship’s pardon for addressing you thus by Letter, which has however this conveniency, that, if Your Lordship doth not think fitt to encourage me in my demands, one word hinted that way to me by Your Secretary will save You the trouble of a formal denyall, (:which to a Beneficient Person is no small one:) & will silence me for ever & without any further hope, confine my Pretensions to the liberty (:which I begg You may ever debar me of:) of waiting some times upon Your Lordship, to ask Your blessing, & to assure You of the utmost respect and veneration, wherewith I am and shall ever be,
most obedient and most
humble servant P: Maturin Wandsworth, Octobr 7th, 1714
(John Robinson was one of the two principal negotiators (with the Earl of Strafford) at the Treaty of Utrecht but there is no evidence at The Bodleian or Lambeth Palace Library of his intercession for Gabriel’s release from Sainte-Marguerite).
(In WFT CD 4 file 2428, CD file 0950 and CD 6 file 1163) Peter Maturin married Sarah Saurin.
Rev. Combe states: After acting as Huguenot minister at Utrecht he (Peter) came to Ireland where he performed a marriage in St.Mary’s, Dublin, on the 16th July, 1719. In 1722 the degrees of LL.B. and LL.D. were conferred upon him at Trinity College. The same year he was appointed Prebendary of Rosserkbeg in the Diocese of Killala. At a Chapter Meeting held in St.Patrick’s, Killala, on the 7th June, 1722, he was directed to preach at the Cathedral on the first Sunday in July and the first Sunday in February, and was also chosen to act as treasurer for that year. At a Chapter Meeting held on the 4th July, 1723, it was “agreed and ordered that the stalls in the Cathedral shall be contracted according to the scheme given in by Dr.Maturin”. At this meeting he was reappointed to act as treasurer. On the 24th May, 1724, he was presented to the Deanery of Killala.
Unlike his two immediate successors, Peter Maturin seems to have been resident at Killala, presiding regularly at the Chapter Meetings. On the 21st July, 1727, he informed the Chapter that he had made two new seats, one on either side of the Communion Table, to accommodate Sir Arthur Gore and the Bishop’s family. At a meeting held on the 9th July, 1729, the Chapter agreed “to what the Dean had proposed concerning the way of mending the ceiling of the church”. Peter Maturin also acted as Vicar General to the Diocese of Killala and Achonry. He died in September 1741 and was described in his obituary as “a gentleman of great charity and universal good character”.
12) Marie Maturin daughter of Gabriel Maturin, married ?? de la Faye; she is recorded as witnessing, with Abraham de la Faye, the baptism of Marie Elizabeth Ageron at Utrecht on 29 December 1694 had family:-
121) Theodore de la Faye (Rev Theodore was Rector of All Saints and St Mary’s Chapel, Canterbury (Gents Magazine Jan 1746, p 45). See Rachel Maturin will above.
(The names of Louis de la Faye, Mary his wife and Charles his son appear in the List of Naturalisations Jan 21 1685 (Agnew’s Protestant Exiles Index Volume p 33 (? 39).)
111) Very Rev: Gabriel James Maturin, elder son of the Dean of Killala. Born at Utrecht in Holland in 1700. Entered TCD April 8, 1718 aged 17 years, as a pensioner i.e. he or another paid a fixed annual fee for his education, schooled by Dr Lloyd, Dublin who also prepared his brother Peter (Alumni Dublinenses 1935). Scholar, TCD 1720. BA Vern. 1722. MA Vern. 1725. (Probably took the degrees of BD and DD Æst: 1737). Said to have been “an excellent mathematician” (CR Maturin [Rev]). Vicar of Garvaghy and Rector of Dromore, diocese of Dromore. Chancellor of Kildare Aug 10, 1732. Precentor of Kildare March 30 1733. Prebendary of St Michael's, Christ Church, Dublin Nov 6, 1734. Prebendary of St John's, Christ Church, March 19, 1735. Archdeacon of Kildare, June 14, 1736. Dean of Kildare, Feb 15, 1737. Archdeacon of Tuam, Aug 20, 1743. Prebendary of Mullabiddart, St Patrick’s, Dublin, Sept 5, 1743. Dean of St Patrick’s Dublin (immediately after Swift) Nov 20, 1745. (Cotton’s Task(?) Vol II, pp 68, 79, 105, 154, 229, 241 etc. Vol IV, p 29. Vol V pp 107, 274). His last appointment is thus announced:- “Ecclesiastical Preferment. Dean Maturin - Dean of St Patrick’s, Dublin in room of Dean Swift dec:” (Gentleman’s Magazine, Nov 1745 p 614). However the right of election by the Chapter was disputed by the Crown. “The Right Hon and Rev Philip, Ld: Visc: Strangford appointed Dean of St Patrick’s, Dublin: but the Chapter refuse to acknowledge him and adhere to their election of Dr Maturin” (Gent: Mag: March 1746 p. 165).
He died intestate, “Nov 9, 1746, at midnight, and was interred the 11th in the French Church, under the Communion Table”. (Register of St. Patrick’s). Administration granted to his widow, Nov 19, 1746. This lady’s maiden name was Emma Maria Knipe, cousin to Primate Stone, and her name appears afterwards in the “List of Pensioners in the Irish Establishment” for an annuity of £200 granted April 19, 1763 (Gent: Mag: Nov 1763 p. 541: Dec 1771 p. 531).
Emma Maria's father, William Knype (Knypes or Nypes) married Emma Holbrooke at the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, London in 1706/7 (the marriage license was issued on 11 January that year; French and Dutch and German Huguenots had been granted rights to use the Chapel Royal). Emma's sister, Anne Holbrooke had married Andrew Stone on 24 March 1697 at St Mary Abchurch, London; banker Andrew's connections with King George II helped their son George, born in 1708, to rise rapidly through the Church and achieve the appointment as Archbishop of Armagh in 1747. In a deed of lease and release of "Rectorial Tythes" for the townland of Faintown "together with the Quarter of Lands of Carrowbegerhan and Coney Island . . in the county of Down" on 14th and 15th February 1731 between Peter Maturin (Dean of Killala), Charles (Bishop of Kildare) and Gabriel James on one part negotiated the revenues with William and Emma Knypes of Lurgan, Armagh plus the the said Bishop of Kildare on other parts. William and Emma were therefore settled in Lurgan by 1731; the arrival in that same year of their nephew George as chaplain to the Duke of Dorset on appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland may be coincidence. It is not known when they moved south but William was buried at St John's, Dublin on 16 December 1744 and Emma in the same parish on 2 January 1757.
(With thanks to Caroline Glass for this research).
The Dean’s name occurs in the Register of Deeds on several occasions as granting leases of certain lands or premises in the City or County of Dublin, and in one of these (1744) he is described as “the Rev: Gabriel James Maturin, DD, Dean of Kildare” It is stated that “there appears in the Dublin Courant March 1747, an advertisement of sale, for the payment of debts, of his interest in certain houses on the north side of Great Britain Street, producing a yearly rent of £50.10s. (Mason’s History of St Patrick’s, p. 446). And lastly, the Register of Deeds, May 23 1748, contains the following entry:- “Emma Maturin, City of Dublin, Widow and Administratrix of the Rev: Gabriel James Maturin DD, Dean of St Patrick’s, to N. Kane, assignment premises north side of Great Britain Street, residue of 83 years consideration £490.”
Rev. Combe states: Gabriel James, (was) born at Utrecht in 1700. (He) moved to Dublin at an early age and was educated first by Dr.Lloyd and then at Trinity College where he gained a scholarship in 1720 and graduated two years later. He was afterwards awarded the degree of D.D. though this is not recorded in the list of Trinity graduates.
According to the Visitation Returns for Dromore Diocese in 1730 he was then Vicar of the parishes of Dromare, Garvaghy and Magherally. Only one of these three parishes, Garvaghy, had a church and it was here that Maturin resided and is reported to have carried out repairs to the glebe-house. On the 10th August, 1732, he was appointed Chancellor of Kildare and the following year, on the 30th March, became Precentor. On the 6th November, 1734 he was presented to the Prebend of St.Michael’s at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, and in March 1736 to the Prebend of St.John’s. He was fairly regular in his attendance at the Vestry Meetings at St.John’s and on several occasions during his tenure of office repairs were effected in the church.
Meanwhile he was promoted to two further dignities in Kildare Diocese, first on the 17th June, 1736, to the Archdeaconry, and then in February 1737 to the Deanery. On the 20th August, 1743, he was appointed to the Archdeaconry of Tuam, to which was attached the Union of Headford. The following month he was collated to the Prebend of Mullhuddert in St.Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, which meant he now held office in four cathedrals, St.Patrick’s, Christ Church, St.Brigid’s, Kildare, and St.Mary’s, Tuam. He also acted as chaplain to the Archbishop of Dublin. Finally, on the 20th November, 1745, he was elected to succeed Swift as Dean of St.Patrick’s.
Gabriel James Maturin lived in Dublin where he kept a house, first at Glasnevin, and then at Grafton Street. He seems to have gained a considerable reputation as a preacher. On Sunday, 3rd December, 1738, “an excellent charity sermon” was preached by him at St.John’s for the poor children of the parish, after which a sum of over £39 was realized, “the largest collection ever made in that parish”. After another “excellent charity sermon” at St.John’s on Sunday, 30th November, 1740, a sum of £30 was raised. On Wednesday, 29th October, 1742, he delivered “a most excellent sermon” at Christ Church Cathedral before the Aldermen, Sheriffs and Commons of the City of Dublin.
Another sermon preached by him at Christ Church on Sunday, 3rd November, 1745, later appeared in print. In this discourse, which was based on the text: “I have formed this people for myself, they shall show forth my praise”, (Isaiah chapter 43, verse 21), he attempted to show that, like the Jewish nation, the British and Irish had been singled out by God for special favours. One of the reasons for this, he argued, was that the peoples of these islands were upholders of religious and civil liberty. But while rejoicing in this realisation, caution must be exercised lest liberty should be allowed to degenerate into licentiousness.
“The manly spirit of true liberty disdains licentiousness as much as it does slavery; is obedient to virtue, religion and the laws; and impatient only of irrational restraints.”
In closing he pointed out that the wellbeing of Protestantism was bound up with the wellbeing of the British Sovereign, and urged his listeners to “defend his person and his government as the dearest pledges of their security and happiness”.
“I am afraid, in the notions of some writers upon Providence, the essential difference between mechanism and government is not sufficiently attended to …….. It is essential to the perfection of machines to act always in one way, regularly and without assistance, and that artist is most deservedly esteemed whose attendance is no longer wanted when his work is once completed! But was a moral Governor to act on the same grounds, to proceed by invariable laws to the management of variable events, and withdraw himself and his inspection, the result would readily convince us that he had palpably misunderstood his province. Machines may be regulated in this way but free agents cannot be so governed. The constant inspection and, upon some occasions, the immediate interposition of Providence, are ideas inseparably connected with the moral government of mankind.”
This lengthy discourse, expressed in a wordy, ponderous style, must have made heavy demands on the listeners’ powers of concentration.
The Dublin Society
The interest taken by Huguenot clergy in the Dublin Society has been noted. To none perhaps did the Society owe more than to Gabriel James Maturin. On the 28th November, 1734, his name was proposed for membership by the Bishop of Kildare, and on the 12th December he was declared elected. The following year, on the 13th November, he was chosen to serve on the Standing Committee and a year later, on the 11th November, was appointed Joint Secretary along with the celebrated Thomas Prior, the founder of the Society. Maturin attended the meetings regularly and frequently signed the minutes. Prior was particularly anxious to encourage the linen industry in Ireland and his enthusiasm was shared by Maturin. At a meeting held on the 15th March, 1739, it was
“ordered that Dean Maturin be desired to write a Paper showing the bad state of the linen manufacture and inviting gentlemen to follow the instructions of the Society in order to retrieve it”.
As Rector and Prebendary of St.John’s, Maturin held responsibility for the Marshalseas, the debtors’ prison, part of his duty being to provide the inmates with a daily allowance of bread. In 1741 it seems that this distribution would have to be discontinued owing to lack of funds. An urgent appeal was issued in the Dublin Gazette stating that Maturin would be available to receive donations in Christ Church Chapter House on Tuesday and Thursday mornings between ten and eleven and again in St.John’s Vestry-room before service on Sunday mornings. This appeal must have met with some response and during the next three years the prisoners were each provided with “one penny-worth of bread a day”. When the funds were again exhausted he gave the seventy five prisoners their daily ration at his own expense.
Gabriel James Maturin was a member of the Incorporated Society for Promoting English Protestant Schools in Ireland. He was also one of the governors of Mercer’s Hospital which had been founded in 1734. In 1736 he acted as Secretary to the Board which position he held until the 7th July, 1739. After the lapse of a year, on the 15th November, he was reappointed.
There was in Dublin at this time an association known as the Charitable Musical Society of which Maturin was a member. Its purpose was to sponsor musical performances, the proceeds of which were given to Mercer’s Hospital, the Marshalseas and the Infirmary. At a meeting of the Mercer’s Hospital Governors held on the 4th March, 1742, at which Maturin was present as Secretary,
“Mr.Putland reported from a Committee appointed to consider of a performance designed for the benefit of this Hospital, the Infirmary and the prisoners of the Marshalseas. That it was the desire of the gentlemen of that Committee that a deputation from the Trustees of these several Charities should attend the Dean and Chapters of Christ Church and St.Patrick’s to desire their leave that the choir of both Cathedrals may assist at the said performance.”
Later that month the following notice appeared in Faulkner’s Dublin Journal:
“For relief of the prisoners in the several gaols, and for the support of Mercer’s Hospital in Stephen’s Street, and of the Charitable Infirmary on the Inn’s Quay, on Monday the 12th April, will be performed in the Musick Hall in Fishemble Street, Mr.Handel’s new Grand Oratorio, called the Messiah, in which the Gentlemen of the Choirs of both Cathedrals will assist with some Concertos on the Organ by Mr.Handel.”
That Handel’s masterpiece was first heard by a Dublin audience has always been a matter of pride and satisfaction to Irishmen. One of those responsible for arranging this performance was Gabriel James Maturin.
On 27th March 1742 the Dublin Journal announced:
For the relief of Prisoners in the several Gaols, and for the Support of Mercer's Hospital in Stephen's Street, and of the Charitable Infirmary on the Inns Quay, on Monday the 12th of April, will be performed at the Musick Hall on Fishamble Street, Mr Handel's new Grand Oratorio call'd the MESSIAH, in which the Gentlemen of the Choirs of both Cathedrals will assist, with some Concertos on the Organ by Mr Handel.
A minute of the Governors of Mercer's Hospital exists which shows that the assistance of the choirs of St Patrick's and Christ Church on the occasion was mainly due to a suggestion made by Dean Swift and his chapter. However at some point Swift seems to have changed his mind, putting the performance in jeopardy.
I do hereby require and request the Very Reverend Sub-Dean, not to permit any of the Vicar Chorals, choristers or organists, to attend or assist at any public musical performance, without my consent, or his consent, with the consent of the chapter first obtained. And whereas it hath been reported that I gave a licence to certain vicars to assist at a club of fiddlers in Fishamble Street, I do hereby annul and vacate the said licence, intreating my said Sub-Dean and chapter to punish such vicars as shall ever appear there, as songsters, fiddlers, pipers, trumpeters, drummers, drum-majors, or in any sonal quality, according to the flagitious aggravations of their respective disobedience, rebellion, perfidy and ingratitude.
The performance did go ahead on 13 April 1742 with twenty-six boys and five male soloists from the Cathedral choirs participating. The Dublin Journal reported:
On Tuesday last Mr Handel's Sacred Grand Oratorio, the MESSIAH, was performed at the New Musick Hall in Fishamble Street; the best Judges allowed it to be the most finished piece of Musick. Words are wanting to express the exquisite Delight it afforded to the admiring crowded audience. The Sublime, the Grand, and the Tender, adopted to the most elevated, majestick and moving Words, conspired to transport and charm the ravished heart and ear. It is but Justice to Mr Handel, that the World should hear he generously gave the money arising from this Grand Performance, to be equally shared by the Society for relieving Prisoners, the Charitable Infirmary, and Mercer's Hospital, for which they will ever gratefully remember his Name; and that the Gentlemen of the two Choirs, Mr Dubourg, Mrs Avolis and Mrs Cibber, who all performed their parts to Admiration, acted also on the same disinterested Principle, satisfied with the deserved Applause of the Publick, and the conscious Pleasure of promoting such useful, and extensive Charity. There were about 700 People in the room and the Sum collected for that Noble and Pious Charity amounted to about 400l out of which 127l goes to each of the three great and pious Charities.
Dean of St Patrick's
Maturin had the unique distinction of possessing the only two elective deaneries in the United Kingdom, those of St.Brigid’s, Kildare, and St.Patrick’s, Dublin. In the case of the latter, however, the Chapter’s right to elect was occasionally challenged by the Crown. Maturin was unanimously elected by the Chapter of St.Patrick’s on the 20th November, 1745, and was installed five days later, the Archbishop of Dublin having meanwhile given his assent. The following month it was announced that Philip, Viscount Strangford, had been presented to the Deanery by the Lord Lieutenant, and three months later, in March 1746, it was stated that Letters Patent for his appointment had passed the Great Seal. When Strangford presented his credentials to the Chapter of St.Patrick’s they refused to install him or to recognize the Crown’s claim. Learning that the Government intended to contest their right of election, they appointed agents to conduct the suit. Eventually, in 1749, the Chapter obtained a decision in their favour from the King’s Bench.
But Maturin had other causes for anxiety. He had recently suffered financial loss, so much so that in March 1747 his interest in certain houses on the north side of Great Britain Street was offered for sale in order to pay off his debts. These combined facts may have helped to undermine his health. At any rate he died within twelve months of promotion to the Deanery, on the 9th November, 1746. He was buried beneath the chancel of St.Mary’s Chapel in St.Patrick’s Cathedral.
Gabriel James Maturin was one of the most influential churchmen of his day. There was scarcely a charitable institution in which he was not deeply involved. So far as one can judge he was the last pure-blooded Huguenot of that name to minister in the Established Church. He was also the last member of his family to hold any ecclesiastical dignity in Ireland. The Maturin clergy of succeeding generations belonged to two distinct branches, a senior branch which was mainly concentrated in the Armagh Province and a junior branch which was confined to Dublin.
Horn Head, from Portnablagh Donegal