The Huguenots were French Calvinist Protestants who had been tolerated to some extent for a century or so by the Catholic monarchy under the terms of the Edict of Nantes, until on October 18, 1685, Louis XIV revoked the Edict. The Huguenots were then subjected to brutal religious persecution and at least 200,000 of them left France for the Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia, Switzerland and Britain.
Among the refugees were Louis Crommelin and his brother (or perhaps first cousin) Alexander Crommelin. The Crommelins fled from Armandcourt in Picardy to Holland, where Louis became so well established in the linen trade that William of Orange, on becoming King of England, invited him in 1697 to set up shop in Ireland. This he did in 1698, moving to Lisnegarvey (Lisburn), bringing with him looms and about seventy people, and investing thousands of pounds in a linen manufacturing industry.
While still in Holland, Louis’s brother (or cousin) Alexander had married Madeleine De La Valade, the daughter of the Comte De La Valade, a French noble who held lands in Languedoc. Her brother Charles De La Valade and another brother (unnamed), were Protestant pastors and had to flee their country at the Revocation. They escaped to Holland with their younger sister Madeleine, and after her marriage to Alexander Crommelin they all moved to Britain. Alexander and Madeleine were the parents of Magdalene, who married Archdeacon Hutchinson. In 1704 Charles De La Valade became pastor of the French church in Lisburn, a post he held for more than forty years. He died in 1756 and was succeeded by his brother, followed by a great nephew, upon whose death in 1812 there was no further need of a French-speaking chaplain, the Huguenot refugees having been completely assimilated into the local community.
In 1701 Louis Crommelin established the first mass bleaching establishment in Ireland at Hilden, on the outskirts of Lisburn. In 1707 a fire burned most of the town down to the ground, but Crommelin’s business survived the disaster. The Irish parliament was so impressed with Crommelin’s work that they passed unanimously a resolution of public thanks to him in recognition of the debt owed to him by the Irish people. Louis died in 1727 and his wife Anne in 1755 (at the age of 96).
The details above are taken from “The Huguenots of Lisburn” by E. Joyce Best and an article in Irish Family History by Mona Germaine-Dillon).
Location of Plaque: The old Town Hall in Castle Street, Lisburn
Date of Unveiling: 16 November 1998