The Mullins Family in Europe
In France, the name is variously known as (a) its original form: de Moulins-la-Marche; in Normandy, it became shortened to de Moulins (b) in the Poitou-Charente region a few hundred years later it became des Moulins, often writtien Desmoulins; (c) in Central France and in the Paris regions: du Moulin, sometimes written Dumoulin; (d) in the Lower Pyrenees and the Midi: Molines; (e) in the Huguenot era in the Auvergne: Desmoulins and in the Ardeche was often spelled Desmoullins - doubling the "el." Then in places of refuge such as the Low Countries and England, the prefix was dropped and the Molin, Molines, Mullins pronunciation and written forms became dominant.
So you see by the time we became known as the Mullins families of Virginia, we had already been through a lot of history. This site is an attempt at a surname study and not a truly genetic or genealogical study, which would require as much emphasis on one parent as on the other, no matter the surname. The way in which our Mullins ancestors acquired a surname is interesting in itself. At first, the name had very little to do with inheriting the name from a biological parent. The name originated from a place in Normandy, a place whose title was granted to a Norman (Norseman) knight in the 1000s a. d.
This is how it happened: the Norsemen invaded the northwestern part of France via its coastal rivers. Their leader, Rollo, sailed his longboats up the Loire and settled "strong men," another way of saying "war lords" -- Norse invaders with their own private militia -- in key positions in that part of Northwest France which the Norse took from the French monarch, the part of France which became Normandy. The beginning of Normandy as a separate region of France, ruled by the Norsemen, could be pinpointed at about 911 when Rollo, their tribal chieftain entered France by way of the Loire River and a fierce battle took place outside the walls of Chartres, the great medieval church near Caen, France.
The lands of the Lower Seine, West and Northwest of Paris, were given by the French King to the Norsemen. Though the original grant of land was not so large, by about 1000 a. d., the Normans controlled most of what today is known as Normandy, including the seat of the Archbishop at Rouen, and six dependent bishoprics. Rollo was baptized as a Christian by the Archbishop at Rouen in 912.
Though the Norse people of France spoke French and adopted French culture and the Christian religion, the native Franks had moved to other regions of France during the violence of the early 900s. The lords or seignieurs of the region were all of Norse families. They took as their feudal or tribal name the name of the region to which they held feudal title from Rollo, the chieftain, or from his descendants.
Among these lords of a district in Normandy called Perche was one named Guismund (Guitmund), Seignieur de Moulins (Moulins-la-Marche). Guismund gained the feudal title through his fealty to Rollo's dynasty and his personal relationship as son-in-law to Walter of Falaise, who held title to Moulins-la-Marche (Mills-on-the-border).
Descendants of this Guismund became known as the Famille de Moulins. In 1066, a son-in-law of Guismund II, a Guillame (William) de Moulins-la-Marche, accompanied William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, in the Battle of Hastings (depicted here on the Bayeux Tapestry) which added to his title of Duke of Normandy, also the title of King of England and gave rise to the Plantagenet dynasty. William de Moulins became a Comte (Count) of Perche, and inerited title to his father-in-law's lands at Moulins-la-Marche and Bonmoulins. (see www.watterson.freeuk.com)
Even before William de Moulins fought the battle for England with William the Conqueror, there is another member of the family who is recorded in Normandy history. The record of Ursin de Moulins reveals the growing affinity between the former Norsemen and the Catholic Christianity of the Franks. Ursin de Moulins was probably a contemporary or a close descendant of Guitmund I, because Ursin de Moulins sold a large parcel of land near Caen in what is now Lower Normandy to Robert de Montgomery, a Norman noble who founded Troarn Abbey on the land which he bought from Ursin de Moulins about the year 1000 a.d., according to the records of the Comtes de Pontieu (Poitou??), 1026-1279. (For this information, I am indebted to a researcher whose genealogical work is located at www.comeaugen.com/research.htm)
The family de Moulins' tie to the dioceses connected to the archepiscopate of Rouen grew with the years and in the 12th century, the family had a member, Roger Desmoulins, as it came to be spelled in certain regions, serving in the Crusades as the Grand Master of the Order of St. John the Baptist Knights Hospitallers of Jerusalem. Roger had the misfortune to be serving in this capacity when Saladin the Seljuk Turk invaded the city and martyred him and many of the monk-knights who were serving the hospital there. (See www.saintjohn.org/-themes/stjohn) Their hospital in Jerusalem was where an herb now called "St. John's wort" was first used for the patients in pain. See the illustration of the uniform/habit of the monk-knights of the Order of St. John the Baptist Hospitallers of Jerusalem, now under the protection of the Russian Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow. In 1184, during his tenure as Grand Master of the order, Roger des Moulins visited England in company with the Patriarch of Jerusalem. England still has religious establishments for this order. The Queen Mother -- Elizabeth II's mother -- was an honorary officer in the order.
On July 4, 1187, our distant cousin of yore, Roger de Moulins (Desmoulins), was martyred, executed on the slopes of the Horns of Hattin, where more than eleven centuries before his death, Christ delivered the Sermon on the Mount.
Only one hundred years after Roger Desmoulins left France on crusade to Jerusalem, we find another Desmoulins in the Northwest of France also serving the church. From 1294 to 1297, Guiart Desmoulins (1241-13--) translated the Holy Scriptures into French. Guiart was a canonist at the Abbey of St. Pierre's Chapter of Aire in Artois, an important church in Picardy. This being the first translation of parts of the Holy Scriptures into French, the work became the basis for further scholarship and later translations. Guiart's translation, known as the Bible Historiale, is preserved in two volumes in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. The two volumes housed there were a gift from the noble family of d'Albret of the House of Navarre, with whom the des Moulins families share a rich and troubled history.
In the 1500's, Francois I, a descendant of Henri d'Albret, King of Navarre, had as his childhood tutor a certain court noble named Francois des Moulins. In 1525, when this same King Francois I was captured and imprisoned by the Spanish court, he abdicated the French throne in favor of his son Francois, but the royal edict was set aside by the Court Judge, Charles du Moulin ( another variant on the orginal family name), who established the precedent that Kings of France had to be native-born.
The royal branch of the House of Navarre stemming from Henri d'Albret and Marguerite d'Aloungeme became involved in Protestantism about this same time. Marguerite and her daughter, Jeanne d'Albret, held "salons" where French nobles gathered to hear the Protestant theologians discuss their dissent from the established church.
Under Francois I, during the early 1500s, the separate duchies which he and his allies had controlled had been united under the crown: Angouleme, Bourbon, d'Auvergne, de Clermont, de Forez, de Beaujolais, de la Marche, Alencon, also the counties of Perche, d'Armagnac, du Rouergue and the Dauphine d'Auvergne.
By the late 1500s, the family of des Moulins (du Moulin) had spread from Perche and Alencon in Normandy and were settled heavily also in the Angouleme and Bourbon regions, but especially in the Auvergne; these being regions where the Calvinist/Protestant/Huguenot influence was particularly strong. We find the name of the des Moulins (du Moulin) also in the Duchy of Berry in the 1500s and 1600, possibly owing to the fact that Marguerite d'Angouleme had received that Duchy from Francois I when she married him. This duchy included the powerful University of Bourges, and Marguerite, being a very highly educated woman, possibly put the university's resources to good use in her writings which promoted religious reform. After the death of Francois I, she married Henri d'Albret, King of Navarre, and established her court at Nerac, which became a refuge for religious reformers and dissenters.
From her court in Nerac, she and her train, including leaders of the Reformation, would travel from Nerac in the Aquitaine region through Montpellier to give and hear lectures on Reform topics and then up the Rhone Valley to Lyon, where Protestantism was in full flower.
Marguerite's daughter by Henri d'Albret, Jeanne d'Albret, was formed from the same mold as her mother. She established the Huguenot stronghold at La Rochelle. These des Moulins (or "dit" des Moulins, as they are called in the Angouleme - La Rochelle region) seem not to have been influenced as much by the Reformation or they were re-converted after their flight to Canada. I believe we can probably discount this branch of the family as our Protestant Episcopal ancestors in the New World.
I believe it is the Berry Province or the Auvergne region which provided the Huguenot des Moulins of Virginia. And I have to admit the strong possiblity that the Virginia Mullins family from which our direct-line ancestor came may have been from the Mullins family that had come with William the Conqueror and had stayed in England from the 11th century to the late 1600s, when our ancestor sailed to Virginia. But if I had to wager, I would bet on these two statements as fairly accurate: (1) Abraham des Moulins, his wife, child and father-in-law, all of whom came on the Mary and Ann boat to Virginia in 1699, came from Berry Province with Rev. Philippe de Richebourg, and moved to South Carolina with him within a few years, leaving no progeny in Virginia. (2) Our direct ancestor arrived in Virginia from the Auvergne region in France, escaped to Switzerland or Germany, traveled down the Rhine to Amsterdam and sailed to England then on to Virginia.
Nevertheless, the possibility exists that the family that produced the father of Matthew of Pamunkey Neck in Virginia came from Berry, from the Angouleme area, from the environs of Nerac or elsewhere in Gascony, from the Langue d'oc area on the Mediterranean. But I think we owe consideration to the Auvergne area in the Rhone-Alps as the origin of our branch of the family. The presence of Protestants in those areas was attested to by the first synod of the French Reformed Church in 1559 which formed the United Provinces of Midi, Dauphine, Langue d'oc, Guyenne, Gascony, Perigord and Saintonge. (Dauphine was another way of indicating the Auvergne region.)
In 1536, even before this ecclesiastic organization, Jean Calvin, the founder of the French Reformed (Huguenot) Church, and many of his followers had already gone into exile, Calvin to Geneva which was his headquarters for a long time thereafter. Many other followers of the Reform movement fled to England where they established the French and Walloon (Low-country Protestant) Church on Threadneedle Street in London in 1552. The flight from France by the Protestants lasted for another 150 years, with communities of Huguenots arising in Germany, England, Ireland and the New World.
After studying the route of individual Colonial Virginia Huguenot families from their diaries and family and church records, I have to admit the possiblity that several of our des Moulins relatives left France by the late 1500s or very early 1600s, making their way across the border into Germany (probably Mannheim, which was a city of refuge for Huguenots, and whose church had a reader named duMoulin in that time frame), down the Rhine to Amsterdam and across the channel to England. There, possibly in the Threadneedle Street Huguenot Church, the Mullins family came in contact with Cornelius d'Aubigne (Dabney) and were brought to Virginia by him and by other transporter-planters of Virginia. At least two Mullins men are mentioned in connection with d'Aubigne, this early planter of recognized French Huguenot origin: (1) John Mullins, who was transported by d'Aubigne (Dabney) in 1666, and (2) Matthew Mullins, who was settled on "Indian lands" in Pamunkey Neck, Virginia in 1699 -- lands under the control of Cornelius d'Aubigne, who was charged with handling Indian affairs for the Crown of England. I do not know whether there is a connection between John and Matthew, but this family history postulates that Matthew is our first recognizable and documentable (albeit with circumstantial evidence) direct-line ancestor in Virginia. I admit here that it is possible that Matthew of Pamunkey Neck "settled on Indian lands" came on the third Huguenot ship, whose passenger list is lost, but of whom it is said that many of them settled somewhere outside the Manakin township which had been reserved for the French refugees. (See Nell Marion Nugent's Cavaliers and Pioneers, all three volumes, as the source of the information on John and Matthew Mullins and Cornelius Dabney; the Parish and Probate Records of the Shires of England -- available through membership in ancestry.com -- as sources for Mullins and Dabney families in England.)
The cause of these long and hazardous journeys through areas ravaged by civil war and plague only to embark on a transatlantic sailing ship to go to the Colonies in the wilderness was the search for religious freedom. Let us take a look at the region of France from which our des Moulins direct-line ancestors possibly came.
In 1569, a while after Calvin had fled to Geneva and a few years before the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre of the Protestants in Paris, Protestants occupied half the area of Viverais in Ardeche. It is perhaps significant that this area is located on the route of Marguerite of Navarre -- the Protectress of Protestants -- when she traveled from her court in Nerac, through the great learning center at Montpellier, and on northward to Lyon. After 1572 brought the massacre in Paris, the whole region was enveloped in war, plague and famine. With only brief episodes of cease-fire, not really peace, the violent protests of the dissenters from the established church and the resulting harsh suppression by the establishment continued until at least 1709, when a Mathieu de Moulin was executed as a Camisard (a violent Protestant movement) in Villeneuve, Viverais in the Ardeche.
We find a heavy settlement of desMoulins throughout the Ardeche, Isere, and Ain departments of France. These areas are located in the Rhone Valley just southwest of Grenoble. The earliest record of anyone with our surname is the birth of Pierre de Moulin in 1480 in Haute-Loire, and living in the Ardeche department in the 1500s. By the end of the 1500s, the family name is recorded in many church and civil papers. It is obvious that by the turn of that century, many of the previously Huguenot des Moulins families in the Ardeche had re-converted to Catholicism, which was required if they remained in France.
A certain Saffrey Desmoulins Creux was born in Nantes-en-Rattier in Isere in 1580, apparently related to the above-mentioned Pierre de Moulin. Also Francois Desmoulins, b. ca. 1610 at Corancy, Nievre married Perette Charette and had three children: Claude(ine), Nicolas, and Francois Desmoulins. The des Moulins families here in Isere came to spell their name as Desmoullins -- the double "l" version of the name which our own family uses, without the French prefix, of course. In Isere, especially in Nantes-en-Rattier and Oris-en-Rattier, this spelling is recorded with many given names, among them Francois, Anne, Catherine, Jean, Jeanne, Marguerite, Pierre, Suzanne, Claude, Clemence, Eynard, Mathieu, Louis, Antoine, Francoise, Jacques, Madeleine, Marianne, Marie, Paul and Alexandre.
In the period 1590-1709, there are at least three Mathieu de Moulin (Moulin, Desmoullins) recorded in the sparse reconds which remain in this area. One is Mathieu Moulin who died in Lavilledieu, Isere in 1629. Another is Mathieu Desmoullins who died in Isere in 1693. And the third Mathieu de Moulin was executed as a religious terrorist (Camisard) in 1709. Obviously the given name Mathieu (Matthew) was used fairly regularly in the generations of this family, as well as the most frequent spelling of the surname in which the "l" is doubled. I believe a certain Matthew Mullins of Pamunkey Neck headed our immigrant family in Colonial Virginia, but in fact, it is possible that our Matthew was even born in Virginia.
A glance at the map of France shows how close Isere Department is to Geneva, the capital city of Calvinism in that period. From there, Protestants fleeing France could make their way to the Rhine with perhaps a short stay in Mannheim, Germany, another city open to various Protestant sects, and on to Amsterdam and a short boat ride to London, a city of refuge for the Huguenots and Walloons, even providing them a church on Threadneedle Street in the Middlesex area of London. By 1598, our family name shows up on the marriage records of that church. The French prefix has been dropped and it is spelled both as Moulin and Moline(s).
In addition to that church's records, there are some other Middlesex Parish and Probate records where our name is found:
1. England; Middlesex; St. Margaret Westminster; Burials: 13 November, 1667, William Mullins; 08 September, 1668, Richard Mullins; 07 March, 1671, William Mullins; 19 July, 1673, George Mullins. Baptisms: 30 December, 1677: Elizabeth Mullins, daughter to William by Elizabeth; 18 December 1642, Wynifred, daughter of Willm Mullins.
2. England; Middlesex; St. Katherine by the Tower; Baptisms: 01 January, 1639, Thomas, son of Thomas and Judith Mullins; 13 November, 1642, Phillip, son of Thomas Mullins; 29 December, 1644, Marie, daughter of Thomas Mullins; 19 June, 1650, Martha, daughter of Michael and Martha Mullins.
3. England; St. Giles outside Crepulgate in London; Christening 21 September, 1678, Matthew Mullins, son of Jno and Jane Mullins.
Possibly as interesting is the entry in the Parish registry of the French Huguenot Church on Threadneedle Street in London (this information provided by Marilyn Winton Misch on worldconnect.genealogy.rootsweb.com):
"Jacob Godon or Goudon, [birthdate unknown, probably in Belgium, in London by 1598. -- Misch] Married, circa 1600, [probably London -- Misch] to Marie du Moulin..." Mme. Misch points out that there are "two related du Moulin (Moline) families also in the church's registers." She explains that "some Flemish or French names appear to have been somewhat changed in spelling and indicate a Dutch influence (as Goudon to Godon, du Moulin to Molin, Moline)." Jacob and Marie apparently had eight children baptized in the Threadneedle Huguenot Church.
We have reason to believe therefore that a goodly number of French Huguenot Mullins had arrived in London by the early 1600s. Many of them shared given names as well as surnames with those Mullins males who arrived in Virginia within a few years.
To summarize the European Mullins story: Our Mullins progenitor came to France with the Viking raiders led by Rollo around 900 a.d. In the 1000s, , Guillaume (William) de Moulins-la-Marche earned his last name and his title to property as a Comte de Perche (Count of Perche) by being the protector and defender of William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy and Conqueror-King of England in 1066.
From Normandy, the family probably traveled with the relatives of the Plantagenets (the royal descendants of William the Conqueror), possibly with the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the wife of Henry II of England, to the area of France south of the western reaches of the Loire River -- now known as the Pays de Loire. There the de Moulins-la-Marche name changed to "du Moulin" or to "des Moulins;" in the Angouleme region, it even became 'dit Desmoulins."
In an area still farther south, the Dordogne-Perigord region, the petty nobility such as the Desmoulins were given civil appointments such as judgeships and town administrators in the late Middle Ages in Southwestern France.
Such clerical du Moulin types were still in evidence in royal courts, universities and in church politics, especially in the Central Region of France in the 1500s. Charles du Moulin was a prominent judge under Francois I, and Pierre du Moulin is connected to the Protestant academy of learning in Saumur and Charenton. Other Virginia Huguenot families such as Claude Philipe de Richebourg and Daniel Maupin (in Jargeau) and d'Aubigne (in Aubigne-sur-Nere?) are probably from the Central Region as well.
In the 1500s, when Marguerite of Navarre, Protectress of the Huguenots, was touring with her court the route from Nerac through the Midi and then north to Lyon, itself a hotbed of Protestantism, we find des Moulins, du Moulin and Molines scattered all along the route, especially in the department of Ardeche and environs. From there, during the Religious Wars in France, various members of the des Moullins family who wanted to remain Huguenot could have escaped to Switzerland, then via the Low Countries out to England before sailing to Virginia 1650-1700.
The question remains: Who is our direct-line immigrant ancestor in Virginia?
I have laid out such of the circumstances as seemed pertinent to the problem of identifying our direct-line immigrant ancestor. We can, it seems to me, narrow the possibilities to about four, arranged from least probable to most probable, in my opinion:
1. Our direct-line ancestor was Anglo-Norman and had lived in England since the Norman Conquest, or at least since the time that England was ruled by the Plantagenets, descendants of William the conqueror, King of England and Duke of Normandy. Since men of the d'Aubigne family also accompanied William the Conqueror to England, and both de Molines and d'Aubigne are recorded in England as early as the 1300s, this connection?? might make the John Mullins who was transported by Cornelius Dabney (d'Aubigne) a candidate as our ancestor (Domesday Book Archives).
2. Another possibility regarding the relationship of these two men -- Cornelius Dabney and John Mullins -- is that two of the prominent preachers/teachers of the Reformation being Theodore Agrippa d'Aubigne and Pierre du Moulin, both having connections to the centers of Protestant learning and to many of the Protestant churches, the two men took refuge in England in the late 1500s or early 1600s. Each of the families could have produced men of a later generation who came to Virginia.
3. Or, ignoring all circumstantial evidence to the contrary, we could consider only the "hard-copy" records in the Virginia Colonial land transports/grants/headrights and postulate that our direct-line ancestor was Matthew Mullins who came from France and after only a brief stay in England, arrived on either the third or fourth vessel that carried the Huguenots to Virginia in 1699-1700, settling in Pamunkey Neck.
4. Of course, it is still possible that we are way off the mark and we do not know who our direct-line immigrant ancestor is, nor whence he came. We do know that Henry Mullins, our documented ancestor was born in Virginia to a first- or second- generation Virginian.
Many thanks to Ann Garner for her many hours of research
To learn much much more about the Mullins Clan click here.