After leaving college, James visited London where he became engaged to a Miss Thompson. Upon returning to France, he was appointed pastor of the
united churches of Vaux and Royan at the age of 24. He returned to London, married Miss Thompson, and took her back to France.
Dropped "de la" from name for reasons of humility.
Saunders, James Edmonds. Early Settlers of Alabama. L. Grahm & Son. New Orleans. 1899:
The Fontaines and Maurys.
Who has not heard of the gallantry of the French Protestants (or Huguenots) who in the sixteenth century were so persecuted by the Roman Catholies,
that, although only a tenth of the French population, they took up arms and for nearly 100 years, performed feats of valor which were renowned in
history and fiction? They succeeded in placing upon the throne, Henry the Fourth, who by the "Edict of Nantes" granted them religious
toleration. This was revoked in 1685 by his successor, and a cruel persecution, for many years, followed, in which it is computed, that 300,000
Protestants were lost to France by emigration. How many fell martyrs to the cause has never been known, for "their blood flowed like water."
Some idea may be formed, by the fact that in the one massacre of St. Bartholomew, 50,000 perished. These horrid assassinations, under the name of
Christianity, caused men to regard religion as a sham; made France a nation of infidels, and fostered that recklessness of temper which brought on the
"Reign of Terror."
The Huguenot refugees who came to America were uniformly patriots, and the war of the Revolution made famous some of the noblest names; such as Chief
Justice Jay, Boudinot, the Bayards, Legare, the Lawrences, Marion, Rutledge, and others. Many of these refugees became ministers of the Episcopal
church in Virginia, at a time, "when it was so greatly depressed that there was danger of its total ruin." It is a melancholy fact, that
many of the clergy were addicted to the race-field, the card-table, the ballroom, and the theatre--nay more, to the drunken revel. One of them about
this period was, and had been for years, the president of a Jockey-club." (Bishop Meade, in his "Old Churches and Families of
Virginia.") And when this evangelic Bishop was reforming this branch of our Christian church, he was ably sustained by the Huguenot element in
it. This was pure gold which had been refined by the fires of persecution. And, as we proceed with our sketch, it will be seen that the decendants of
the Huguenots, have not degenerated, either in the field, the forum, or the pulpit.
John de la Fontaine, the common ancestor of these two families, was born nearly 400 years ago, and, though his descendants, James, the first of the
name, James Fontaine the second; James Fontaine the third; Mary Ann Fontaine, who married Matthew Maury, and their son Abraham Maury, six generations
were comprised, inclusive of the ancestor--and this may be regarded as the trunk of the Fontaine and Maury families; from which, at different times,
proceed branches of their various descendants in the United States. Although so long a time has elapsed, the lineage of the persons above mentioned
can be verified, for various things have conspired to render the task an easy one. The early history of these families was connected with public
times, which sheds a flood of light upon the matter. They were highly educated, and left papers and numerous letters. James, (the Third) in 1722,
wrote a history of the Fontaine family, and John kept a diary for many years of his experience in the army, and his travels in Virginia--the vestry
books of the old churches in Virginia were collected by Bishop Meade and published--and from all these, Miss Ann Maury, (daughter of the Maury who
was, for twenty-five years, Consul to Liverpool) assisted by Dr. Hawks compiled a book called "The Memoirs of a Huguenot Family," which is a
veritable history, and a great aid to the devotions of a true Protestant. Moreover Miss Maury (assisted by Gen. Dabney H. Maury) has constructed a
chart of the Fontaine and Maury families, for nine generations. It is in circular form--has the names of 25 families, and hundreds of their
descendants--a work which required great labor, and was performed with great ingenuity.
1. John de la Fontaine (the common ancestor) was born in the province of Maine, France, and as soon as he was old enough to bear arms his father
procured him a commission in the household of Francis First. It was in the tenth year of that monarch's reign that he entered his service, and he
conducted himself with such uniform honor and uprightness that he retained his command, not only to the end of the reign of Francis First, but during
the reigus of Henry Second, Francis Second and until the second year of Charles the Ninth, when he voluntarily resigned. He and his father had become
converts to Protestantism about the year 1535. He had married, and had four sons born to him, during his residence at the court. He wished to retire
to private life at an earlier period; but being in the King's service was a sort of safe-guard from persecution, and gave him the means of shielding
his Protestant brethren from oppression. He was much beloved by his brother officers and by the men under his command, which made the Roman Catholic
party afraid to disturb him. In January, 1561, there was an edict of pacification, he resigned his commission and retired to his paternal estate in
Maine, where he hoped to end his days peacefully in the bosom of his family, worshiping God according to the dictates of his conscience. In the year
1563 a number of ruffians were dispatched from the city of Le Mans to attack his house at night. He was taken by surprise, dragged out of doors and
his throat cut. His poor wife, who was in a few weeks of her confinement, rushed after him in the hope of softening the hearts of these midnight
assassins; but, so far from it, they murdered her also, and a faithful servant shared the same fate. His eldest son was never heard of afterward, but
was supposed to have been massacred
also. God spared the lives of the three younger ones, and guided them to a place of safety. Of the three, James was the eldest, Abraham twelve, and
the youngest about nine, years old.
2. James Fontaine, the first of that name, and the one mentioned above, found his way to Rochelle, a fortified city and the stronghold of
Protestanism. These poor boys were at one blow deprived of parents and property. A shoemaker, in easy circumstances, received him in his house, taught
him his own trade, but without binding him to it as an apprentice. This was no time for pride of birth, or titles of nobility to be thought of. It was
not long before he was in receipt of sufficient wages to support his young brothers, but they all lived poorly enough, until James reached manhood. He
then engaged in commerce, and his after career was comparatively prosperous.
He married, and had two daughters and one son. Like the Fontaines, generally, he was a very handsome man, as we shall see by the following
incident. Having married a second wife, who was a very wicked woman, she tried to poison him, though she did not succeed, for medical aid was promptly
obtained; she was taken to prison, tried, and condemned to death. It so happened that Henry IV was then at Rochelle, and application was made to him
for pardon. He replied that, before making an answer, he would like to see the man she was so anxious to get rid of, to judge for himself whether
there was any excuse for her. When James Fontaine appeared before him, he called out, "Let her be hanged! Ventre Saint Gris! He is the handsomest
man in my kingdom."
3. James Fontaine (the second of that name), and the one son mentioned above, became a minister. He married first a Miss Thompson, and had five
children, and the second time Miss Marie Clallon, and by her he had same number. His daughter married Rev. Mr. Santreau. His church was condemned. He
left the Kingdom, sailed for America with his wife and five children, and the vessel was shipwrecked in sight of Boston, and all the family perished.
I have no space to notice the members of the family in detail.
4. James Fontaine (the third of that name), and the youngest son of the foregoing family, was born in 1603, and died in 1666. He had a life full of
adventure. He, too, was a Protestant minister, was imprisoned for a long time, and at length escaped from France. In England he married a French lady,
Anne Elizabeth Boursiquot, also a refugee. Although he was lame from a fall in childhood, yet he was active and energetic, and used many ingenious
devices to support himself and family. He received Holy orders from the Protestant Synod, assembled at Tannton. Here his first child, Mary Ann
Fontaine, was born 12th April, 1690. He moved to Cork, Ireland, in 1694, and supported his family by having baize manufactured on hand looms, for
power looms had not yet come into use in England. He preached to a congregation, but they were so poor he declined to receive any compensation. On the
day of a baptism of a son, he made a great supper, as though he intended to feast the wealthiest of the French refugees in Cork; but instead of that,
he invited the poor of his flock, and after they had eaten and drank abundantly of the best, he gave each a shilling to take home.
Mr. Fontaine then concluded, as his family was becoming large, to find a country home, and he rented a farm on Bear Haven Bay. His plan was to eke
out his income by a fishery. But here he encountered trouble entirely unexpected. One morning in June a French privateer hove in sight. She floated
gently toward his house in a perfect calm. She had a force of eighty men on board, besides four of his Irish neighbors who acted as guides. She
mounted ten guns. He made a feint which deceived the enemy as to his numbers. The privateer entered the mouth of the creek and anchored a long musket
shot from the house, presently the lieutenant landed with twenty men and marched directly toward the house, Mr. Fontaine had seven men with him in
addition to his wife and childrep He placed them at different windows and he posted himself in one of the towers over the door, and as the lieutenant
was advancing with every appearance of confidence he fired at him with a bluderbus loaded with large shot, some of which
entered his neck and the rest his side. His men took him up, crossed the ditch and carried him to the vessel.
The captain was furious at this unexpected resistance from a minister; and sent another officer on shore with twenty more men and two small cannon,
which were discharged against the house; but the position of the battery was oblique, and the balls glanced from the heavy stone walls. The conflict
became a hot one. During the time there were several hundred Irshmen collected on a neighboring height, rejoicing in the anticipation of the defeat of
the Fontaines. The Frenchman who was pointing the cannon was killed, and an incessant fire was kept up, and as soon as a musket was emptied it was
handed down to one of the children to reload, and he was given another. Mrs. Fontaine was here and there and everywhere, carrying ammunition and
giving encouragement to all, as well by what she said as by her own calm deportment. She was praying incessantly, but she took care "to keep the
powder dry," and in good supply. Claude Bonnet, a French soldier, received a ball in the fleshy part of the arm, and she applied the first
dressing to it with her own hands. The engagement lasted from 8 o'clock in the morning until 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and during the whole time
there had been no cessation of firing. The enemy then retired with three men killed and seven wounded.
The name of James Fontaine, and his wife, too, became known throughout Europe by means of the newspapers giving the history of this defence. The
government furnished him with ammunition in abundance, and he bought several six pounders which had been fished up from a wreck, and he raised a
fortification and planted his guns upon it so as to command the mouth of the inlet. Mr. Fontaine then went to Dublin to wait on the Council and
concert measures for the better defence of the coast. During his absence a privateer approached the house. Mrs. Fontaine was on the alert, had all the
cannons loaded, and one of them fired off to show that all was in readiness for defence, and when they saw this they veered about and sailed away.
Then and there the coat-of-arms of the Fontaine family ought to have been changed, and instead of the mysterious emblems known only to a herald's
office, should have been substituted the picture of a lady bravely applying the fuse to a cannon, the smoke rolling in volumes from its mouth, and the
ball flying through the air in the direction of a vessel in the offing. No blood ever mingled with the Fontaines and Maurys, more noble than that of
Anna Elizabeth Boursiquot.
But a French privateer attacked his house for a third time, in the night, and sent eighty men in three boats on shore. Although taken by surprise,
Mr. Fontaine prepared for defence. The enemy set all the outhouses on fire, and in a half hour the defender was enveloped in smoke, so that he was
unable to see his enemies. He had to fire haphazard; and overloading his piece it burst and he was thrown down with such violence that three of his
ribs and his collar-bone were broken, and the flesh of his right hand much torn. After he was prostrated, Mrs. Fontaine assumed the command; she had
an eye to everything; she went round to furnish ammunition as it was required; and she gave courage as well by lier exhortations as her example. But
such heroic efforts were of no avail and they were conquered, and Mr. Fontaine and two of his sons were carried away prisoners; the Captain announcing
that he would release them on the payment of œ100. Did the lady sit down and weep? Nothing of the kind! She flew around to borrow the money. She
succeeded only partly, and seeing the vessel under sail, she determined to follow by land, and keep the vessel in sight as long as she could. She ran
to a promontory, and made a signal to the pirate with her apron tied to a stick. A boat was dispatched to hear what she had to say. After a great deal
of bargaining the Captain agreed to release her husband upon a cash payment of œ30, and retained her son Peter as hostage for the payment of the
balance of the money. Peter was subsequently released. Mr. Fontaine left this inhospitable coast, and removed to Dublin.
James Fontaine (third) and his wife had a large family of children. Of them the Rev. Peter Fontaine removed to America. He was rector of Westover
parish, in Virginia, and his daughter, Mary Ann, married Isaac Winston, who had "a good fortune and a
spotless reputation." He is the ancestor of a large family of wealthy and respectable citizens of Alabama, which gave a governor to that State in
the person of John Anthony Winston.(*) A daughter of James Fontaine, Mary Ann Fontaine, married Matthew Maury, in Ireland, on the 20th of October,
1716. She had been born in England, in 1690. He was of Castle Mauron, in Gascony, France. He had lived in Dublin about two years, having come hither
as a refugee, on account of his religion. He was not a minister, as some have supposed; was "a very honest man, a good economist, but without
property." There is no doubt of his having been well educated, as we shall show when we come to speak of his sons. His wife (who lived until she
was sixty-five) had a checkered existence. She was a girl of fourteen when she had to assist her father in defending his home against the French
privateers; and, after the family came to Virginia, although the public wars with the Indians had ceased, yet the frontiers were frequently visited by
their incursions, and fire, and sword, and perpetual alarms, surrounded them all the latter days of her life. The effect was to form one of the most
perfect characters in the whole list of men and women belonging to her descendants (who have never been wanting in nerve or intellect). Matthew Maury
and his wife came to Virginia in 1719, and settled in King William county, on the Pamunkey. They had three children--James, Mary and Abraham.