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Soblet, Abraham

 

Cameron Allen in his Soblet/Sublett research uncovered the place of origin of the Soblets which was Sedan France. London church records stated "Abraham Soblet de en France." Sedan, now in the Department of Ardennes, France has had an interest though complicated history and has been inhabited since before the Roman Conquest of Julius Caesar and, since 997 AD, has been more-or-less an independent principality. Sedan maintained its feudal existence and independence with a series of Seigneurs until as late as 1642 with final incorporation in the Kingdom of France in 1685. Sedan underwent its own intrigues between Protestantism and Catholicism. Reformation was welcomed by all classes. The 16th Seigneur of Sedan, Henri-Robert de la Marck (1558-1574), became a Protestant; however, the 19th Seigneur of Sedan, Frederic-Maurice de la Tour d'Auvergne (1623-1642), reconverted to Catholicism and ceded Sedan to the French crown in order to save his own life. Genealogical research covering Sedan during those periods of its history has been difficult. Sedan in Ardennes bordered what is now Belgium and Luxembourg. With the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, refugees fled persecution through the mountains near Sedan. The residents were migrants not only from the width of France but from foreign countries as well. Flourishing Protestant centers attracted communicants from places where Catholicism was dominant. Names could easily have been changed to avoid prosecution.

 

Donald Sublette and his wife found records of the Sedan Reformed Church terminated abruptly. The last entry of Soblet and Brian families was in 1681. The earliest Soblet entry was in 1637 and the earliest Brian was 1601. The Soblet 1637 entry indicated they were new to the area. Sedan had enjoyed religious freedom longer than any other part of France but the days of the Reformed Church were numbered. Adherents to the Reformed Church were primarily tradesmen merchants and professionals and the Soblets and their kindred were among those professions.

 

One of the ancient traditions of the Soblet family was that Abraham Soblet and his family went to England via Germany and the Netherlands. They may have departed before 1685 for one of the German principalities, then to the Netherlands, to England (probably London) and finally to Virginia in 1700. There were references in German records to Soblets and Brians. Two entries in German Protestant Church records noted on 31 December 1698 of Emmerich-Jacques Soblet of Sedan, reader and lacemaker, with wife and four children. In 1698 Konigsburg (Wesel) mentioned Jacque Briant (with eight persons) who was a professor of French.

 

Cameron Allen stated in his articles entitled "The (Soblet, Subley) Sublett Family of Manakintown, King William Parish, Virginia," published in The Detroit Society for Genealogical Research Magazine, dated Fall 1963, that Abraham Soblet "fled France by 1681 for Mannheim, Germany and resided in Wesel by 1693."

 

In the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, England was refuge for prosecuted Protestants not only from France but Geman Palatinate and all of Western Europe as well. The British Isles (including Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England itself) had for centuries been unhappy with the Church of Rome. Henry the Eighth's break with Rome in 1535 climaxed the situation. Refugees were not only welcome in England because of religious reasons but because Great Britain was beginning to be a manufacturing/mercantile country and skills of Huguenots entering England during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were needed and welcomed.

 

Publication of the Register of the Church of La Patente de Soho, in London, England, 1689-1782, London, made possible the location of the European origin of the Soblet family and the name of Abraham Soblet's wife, Susanne Brian. The Church of La Patente de Soho was one of several churches established in London to minister to the needs of Huguenots who fled France in 1685 following the Revocation of the Edict of Toleration (Nantes). The Church of La Patente de Soho was a nonconformist chapel. Its name was derived from the fact that its foundation rested on Letters Patent issued by Romanist king, James II, in 1688. A single Soblet item published in the Register of the Church of La Patente de Soho stated that Abraham Soblet came from Sedan, France and gave identity to his wife as Susanne Brian. There were other Huguenot Brians from Sedan in London prior to time Abraham Soblet resided there. The Register entry read:

 

(entry #) 225. Soblet. 1698, 1 Mai. Robert, f. d'Abraham, de Sedan, en France, et de Susanne Brian; bap. par Mr. Malide, l'un des Pasts, de cette eg. P. Robert de Camp. M. Dlle. Judith de Longne. Tous dem. dans cette ville de Londres ou cet enfant est ne 20 Av. Tem. Judith Delogne.

 

Not long after the birth of his son Robert in London in 1698, Abraham Soblet left England and went ahead of his wife to Virginia with two of their older sons. They embarked 19 April 1700 in the Mary and Ann and the passage extended 13 weeks. Abraham was joined in Virginia in the Fall of 1700 by Susanne Soblet and three infants. She traveled on board the Peter and Anthony and was listed in the "Liste des personnes du second convoy qui serent toute l'annee a Maiucantow" on "Xbre 1700." Quoting Donald Sublette in his James Sublett & Sally Ford Genealogy & Family History:

 

The most appalling aspect of the Manakin Settlement was calloused and/or naive attempt to make farmers out of the bourgeoisie. The first of the 4 ships, after about 13 weeks at sea, arrived in Virginia at the end of July 1700. To expect the immigrants to be immediately self-supporting when it would be more than a year before crops could be harvested was patently ridiculous, but neither the British fund raisers nor the Huguenots themselves seemed aware of the problem. A fast switch by real estate speculators (i.e., Col. Wm. Byrd, Dr. Daniel Coxe, et al) placed them on abandoned Indian farmland, far from markets. Huguenots had expected to be domiciled in settled and more populous areas where they could carry on old-world occupations, weaving, cabinet making, etc., and be immediately self-supporting. Virginians donated liberally to subsistence of Huguenots when it became apparent that they would starve to death unless immediate subsistence was given them. It would be 2-3 generations before self-sustaining western farmers and Mountain-Men would evolve, and it's a wonder that attrition rate of Huguenot Settlers was not greater than it actually was."

 

Early the next year, Abraham Soblet, his wife and five children appeared in "A list of the refugees who to receive of ye miller of Falling Creek Mill one bushel a head of Indian meale monthly as settled at or about King Williams Town to begin in Feb. 1700 (1701)." By 10 November 1701, Abraham Sublet was listed with his wife and four children, a loss of one child. Abraham Soblet assumed prominent positions among the Manakin Town settlers. When the pastor, Benjamin Dejoux died, Abraham Soblet joined the other pastor, Claude Philippe de Richebourg in appraising Dejoux's estate. He also became a member of the vestry. He later became Church Warden of King William Parish on 20 December 1707. He was selected again for a position on the vestry on 3 October 1710 but declined. Abraham Soblet appeared as tithable in King William Parish in each year through 1715. On 30 December 1715, the list of tithables included both "Abra. Soblet, l'aine" and "Abra. Soblet, Jeune" (father and son). By July 1717, one of the Abraham Soblets had apparently died since only one was listed on the "List of Tithables Returned in July 1717. It was not determined which was the survivor and the survivor appeared for the last time on a "List of Tithables of King William Parish for the present year, 1719 ..."

 

From the "Liste Generale de Tous les Franrois Protestants Refugies, Establys Dans la Paroisse du Roy Gyuillaume, Comte d'Henrico en Virginia, y Compris les Femmes, Enfans, Veuses, et Orphelins," estimated to date 1714, Abraham Soblet (the father) was listed by himself. Susanne (Brian) Soblet evidently died by 1714.