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The Mallet Family.

By Florence E. Carr.
there are many people in the United States to-day who bear the name of Mallet, and they are undoubtedly the descendants of those Mallets who were Huguenot refugees, and who came to this country at the time of the Revocation in France, or even earlier. They were of a rich and powerful family of Normandy in the early history of France, and were early interested in the Reformation. The title is still borne by the head of the family in France, viz., the Marquis Malet de Graville, and the name of Mallet is one still distinguished in France and America in art and science. Baird, the historian, says: ‘Charles, Duke of Orleans, third and favorite son of Francis I., of France, may have had sincere predilections for Protestantism. At least, it is barely possible that the very remarkable instructions given to his secretary, Antoine de Mallet, when, on the eighth of September, 1543, Charles sent him to the Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse, Protestants, were something besides mere diplomatic intrigues to secure for his father's projects the support of these princes. Lefevre, a great Protestant, was Charles' tutor, and a friend of Mallet.’

This Mallet must have been a skilled diplomat and an orator to have pleaded his cause before foreign rulers. Then there was Paul Henri Mallet, born in Geneva of refugee parents. He became famous for his writings on the history of Denmark and Sweden, at whose courts he lived for a time. History mentions [11] many more of these Mallets of whom we have not the space to tell.

That the Mallets were early subjected to severe persecution because of their devotion to the cause is amply proved by various records, and while there is no actual proof that those who fled to this country were of the same family, there is every reason to believe that they were. The custom in those days of re-naming children for the elders of the family makes it difficult to trace a direct line, but it also goes to prove in this instance a kinship, since all of the Mallet emigrants to this country bear the same Christian names. There were several Mallets who fled to America about the same time and settled in different localities. We are told that David Mallet, who, with his five sons, held a position of prominence in the army of Louis XIV., fled to England, and died there in 1691. One son was broken on the wheel, another established himself as a physician in Yorkshire, Eng. A third went to Germany, and we hear of a David Mallet, of Rouen, and later hat manufacturer in Berlin in 1685, who was probably one of these five sons. The fourth son, John, came to America, bringing with him a brother and a nephew named Peter. This John was a ship carpenter, so tradition says, and probably escaped from Lyons, France. He was a man of considerable wealth, and succeeded in bringing some of it with him. He first came to North Carolina, and made several return voyages (probably secretly) to France. During one of his return trips his wife and child were lost at sea. He then married his servant, Johannah Larion, a woman said to be very beautiful; to them were born several children. This couple finally settled in Fairfield, Conn., and died at a ripe old age, leaving many descendants and much property. The sons and daughters of families in those days were more numerous than at the present time, and there is no doubt that some of this John's descendants remained in North Carolina, and finally settled in Virginia, since the name of Mallet is among those of the early settlers of Manakin, Va.

Charles Weiss, who was assisted in his work of compiling a history of Huguenots in France and America by a Charles Mallet, tells of the contraband trade established by the refugees, which [12] constituted a loss for France. They caused to be sent, by correspondents whom they had at Lyons and in the principal towns of Dauphiny, articles of daily consumption. In the space of two years the three brothers, Jean, Jacques, and Louis Mallet, thus succeeded in drawing from the kingdom manufactured articles to the value of more than a million livres.

Among the Huguenots who settled in Oxford, Mass., was Jean Mallet, in whom we of Somerville are more particularly interested. Bolbec, France, in the province of Normandy, was believed to be the home of this man. He sailed from England together with thirty families in 1685 or ‘86. Gabriel Bernon, a man of considerable wealth and a Huguenot of some notability, was the original owner of some 25,000 acres in what is now a part of the town of Oxford, having received a grant of the same by purchase from Governor Dudley. This little company first landed at Fort Hill, Boston, and were cared for by friends, and probably Jean and his children were received by relatives, as there were then Mallets living in Boston. And just here I would like to say that I believe this Jean to have been a brother of the David before mentioned, who fled to England. This little company of Huguenots, among whom we find the names of Faneuil, Bowdoin, Sigourney, etc., which have since become so familiar in the history of old Boston, proceeded to Oxford and established a settlement which bid fair to become a flourishing, prosperous town. After a few years, however, the Indians, who had been represented as peaceful, became troublesome, and at length a massacre took place. There was also some trouble over the title deeds, which never became straightened, and the families, becoming disheartened, finally returned, some to Boston and others to New Rochelle, N. Y. Traces of these French homes are still to be seen in the town of Oxford, but, unfortunately, the church records of that time are lost. The descendants of Gabriel Bernon, however, still have many papers relating to that time, and in the list appended to one of those papers we find the name of Jean Mallet, Ancien or Elder of the church. Jean Mallet returned to Boston in 1696, and probably practiced his trade of shipwright. He had at this time six children, all of whom were grown and had [13] escaped with him from France. There is no record of the mother of these children, and doubtless she died either in France or soon after reaching America. In 1702 we find that Jean purchased ten acres of land in Somerville of Jonathan Fosket, and proceeded to erect the old mill now known as the Powder House.

It is commonly believed that at this time occurred the marriage of Jean Mallet and Jane Lyrion, and that she died, and in 1712 he married Ann Mico. This I believe to be a mistake. Old Jean was then about sixty years old, and had evidently seen many hardships in life. Everything points to the fact that he built the mill to establish his two sons, Andrew and Louis, in business, they having been brought up as millers. His son John, evidently the eldest, and whom he mentions in his will as having started in life, I believe to have been that John who was a shopkeeper in Boston, and whose will was probated in Boston in 1741, and that he is the John who married Jane Lyrion, Ann Mico, and later Elizabeth Makerwhit, who survived him.

I have mentioned a John Mallet who married Johannah Larion in Fairfield, Conn. This Johannah Larion had a brother Louis, who was a refugee and settled in Milford, Conn. He became very wealthy, and, dying at a good old age, left a generous bequest to the French church in Boston, and also to the one at New Rochelle, N. Y. I believe Jane Lyrion, who married John Mallet, of Boston, to have been a younger sister of Louis and Johannah, and that her husband was a cousin of the Fairfield Mallet.

A homestead was built near the old mill, and old Jean probably removed here with his son Andrew and daughters Mary and Elizabeth. His son Matthew (who is also mentioned as being of Stratford, Conn., thus further proving kinship with the Connecticut branch) married at Cambridge in 1703 Abigail Linn. For some time they lived at the old mill, the family still retaining their interest in the French church in Boston, of which Jean still served as elder. This church was held in the Latin schoolhouse situated on School street, on the site now covered by a portion of King's Chapel, and down to the statue of Franklin in front of the city hall. Here the French Protestants worshipped for about thirty [14] years, when they were allowed to build a church of their own on the site now occupied by the School-street savings bank.

In 1709 occurred a break in the family at the old mill, and daughter Mary married Daniel Blodget, of Woburn. About this time son Louis removed to Somerville and married Margaret Fosdick. Louis seems to have alternated between Somerville and Boston, sometimes living in one town, and then in the other. In 1715 son Andrew married Martha Morris, of Cambridge, and brought his bride home to the old mill, and finally Elizabeth, the last of the flock, was married in the old French church, in 1719, to Daniel Vieaux.

In 1720 old Jean made his will, leaving legacies to his daughters and to his sons John and Matthew, and to his sons Andrew and Louis the homestead and the now famous mill. Two years after he died, at the age of seventy-eight years, and is buried in the old cemetery at Charlestown. Louis soon sold his share of the homestead and mill to Andrew, who continued to live on the estate until his death in 1743. It is this son of old Jean who numbers the most numerous descendants of the Charlestown Mallets. His children, numbering eight, all grew up and married, as follows: Andrew married twice, and died before his father. John married Martha Wilson, and removed to Topsham, Me., where his descendants still live, some of whom bore a noble part in the Revolutionary War. Martha married Shadrach Ireland. Elizabeth married Ephraim Mallet, probably her cousin. Michael married Martha Robinson. To him was left the bulk of his father's property, subject to a life interest held by his mother. In 1747 he sold the old mill to William Foye, treasurer of the Bay State Colony, and here was stored the powder belonging to the colony. Michael was guardian for his young brother Isaac and his sisters Mary and Phoebe, minor children at the time of their father's death. Isaac in after years became very wealthy, and owned considerable land in Charlestown. He was a blacksmith and schoolmaster at the Neck, selectman, etc. A great deal of his property was destroyed at the burning of Charlestown during the battle of Bunker Hill, and he claimed damages to the amount of $3,200, which, of course, he never received. The sons [15] of Ephraim and Elizabeth Mallet served faithfully in the Revolution, and we find Ephraim Mallet, aged eighteen years, among the little garrison on Prospect Hill. Afterward he re-enlisted at Fishkill, N. Y., and there are various records of his service in the archives of the State House in Boston.

The name of Mallet, once so common in this locality, is now extinct, and all that remains to mark the record of their lives are a few old gravestones in the ancient cemetery at Charlestown, and various wills and deeds in the Registry offices of Middlesex county. Much of story and romance is hidden between the lines of these old records, and in imagination one can call up vivid pictures of life in the old colonial days while poring over these old papers.

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