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~ FAMILY HISTORY ~

Like many others, the Soblet family immigrated to the New World to escape religious persecution and to find a new home with greater economic resources. The events leading up to the family's settlement in America as Huguenot refugees began in Sixteenth-Century Europe. ...

France

French theologian Jean Caulvin (John Calvin) was an early leader of the Protestant Reformation in the Sixteenth Century. In 1536 he joined the Reformed Church of Geneva, Switzerland, where he taught his theology to others, who in turn returned to France to spread his Protestant teachings.
Copyright © Phillip L. Sublett, http://Sublett.org
The Reformists rejected the bureaucracy and centralized Papal power of the Catholic church, and wanted to return religion to the common people, through such means as translating the Bible into the common language of the people instead of Latin.
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Over the subsequent decades, Calvinist followers, known as Huguenots, would have many conflicts with the French monarchy, which was controlled by Roman Catholics. These conflicts escalated to the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre on August 24, 1572, in which King Charles IX, at the urging of his mother Catherine de Medici and his Catholic advisors, initiated the killing of 3,000 Huguenots, who had gathered in Paris for the wedding of Protestant prince Henry of Navarre.
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In 1589, Henry of Navarre became King Henry IV of France. Although he was Protestant, he was under the political influence of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1598 he issued the Edict of Nantes, which granted some limited religious freedom to the Huguenots, but restricted Protestant churches and public worship to only certain towns around the country. After Henry IV's death in 1610, the Edict of Nantes remained technically in effect, but persecution against Huguenots continued to increase.
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One Huguenot stronghold for many decades was Sedan, a city in northeast France on the Meuse River, near the borders of Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany.
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Philbert Soblet and Jean Soblet, both from Beaumont, moved to Sedan in the mid Seventeenth Century, where they both raised large families. Descendants of Philbert Soblet would eventually move to Germany and the Netherlands. Among the children of Jean Soblet and his wife Judith Lombard were Jean Soblet, born in 1644, and Abraham Soblet, who was born December 4, 1648, in Sedan. On March 31, 1675, Abraham Soblet married Susanne Briant in Sedan. There they had several children, including Anne Soblet, who was baptized October 22, 1675. By 1681, Abraham Soblet moved his family to Mannheim, Germany, to escape the increasing persecution against Huguenots in France.
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In 1661, Louis XIV, an ardent Catholic, had assumed the throne of France. He increased the violent oppression of the Huguenots, finally revoking the Edict of Nantes on October 22, 1685. He exiled all Protestant clergy from France and the military attacked and destroyed most remaining Protestant churches. While Huguenot followers were forbidden from leaving France, many did manage to escape to neighboring countries more sympathetic to the Reformist movement, including Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Those who remained in France were either imprisoned or killed, or forced to convert to Catholicism.

Germany

The Protestant Reformation had its origins in Germany in the early Sixteenth Century, when Catholic monk Martin Luther first questioned certain practices of the Catholic Church. A century later, Germany became a refuge for Protestant Huguenots fleeing the tyranny of the Catholic monarchy of France.
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Abraham Soblet and his brother Jean Soblet both moved their families from Sedan, France, to Mannheim, Germany, before Louis XIV's revocation of the Edict of Nantes. A decade later, Abraham Soblet moved his family again to Wesel, Germany, where his son Pierre Soblet was born on August 15, 1695.
Copyright © Phillip L. Sublett, http://Sublett.org
In addition to oppressing Huguenots in France, the Catholic armies of Louis XIV also invaded neighboring Protestant countries, and by 1689 French soldiers had destroyed Mannheim and captured many of the Huguenot refugees there. This was among the factors that sparked the War of the League of Augsburg, in which England, the United Provinces of the Netherlands, and Austrian Habsburgs fought together against France, which was also trying to take over the Spanish throne.

England

In 1685, James II succeeded his brother Charles II (both sons of Charles I) to the throne of Great Britain. Unlike his predecessor, James II was a staunch Roman Catholic. While England had been predominantly Protestant for the past century, James II attempted to appoint Catholics to high office and form stronger ties with Louis XIV of France.
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The first wife of James II was Anne Hyde, with whom he had two Protestant daughters, Mary and Anne. After his first wife's death, James II married Mary of Modena, a Catholic, who would bear a Catholic heir to the throne, James Francis Edward, in 1688.
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Even after James II came to power, England remained a popular destination for thousands of Huguenot refugees from France. The people of England gave donations to help the refugees, and for the most part the Huguenots could carry on their religious practices without interference.
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James II's anti-Protestant views quickly led to conflict with Protestant members of Parliament, who wanted James II's Protestant daughter, Mary II, to succeed him to the throne, rather than his newborn Catholic son.
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In 1688, the Protestant Parliament convinced Mary and her husband, William III of Orange, stadholder of United Provinces of the Netherlands, to seize the throne from Mary's father.
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James II fled London and put up a brief resistance with Catholic forces in Ireland, supported by Louis XIV's French troops, but they were defeated by William III's English, Dutch and Huguenot troops at the Battle of Boyne in 1690. James II lived out his life in exile in France.
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William III was the son of Mary Stuart (daughter of Charles I); since both he and his wife Mary II were grandchildren of Charles I, they shared the British throne as equals. Mary spent more time in England, however, while William was more occupied in his battles against Louis XIV in Europe, and King William's War in America, in which the English colonists and the Iroquois fought against the French and their Indian allies from Canada. Most hostilities on both continents were resolved in 1697 with the Treaty of Ryswick, in which France recognized William III as king of England.
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By this time, Abraham Soblet and his family were living in London, England, where his son Robert Soblet was baptized on May 1, 1698.
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Many of the Huguenot refugees immigrating to England were skilled craftsmen and merchants, and there was increasing concern among the English workers about the foreigners taking their jobs. There were also differences in the Anglican Protestant church and the French Reformed religion of the Huguenots.
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Many French refugees wanted to find a permanent home for the Huguenots in the American colonies, including the Marquis Olivier de la Muce, who, with his partner Charles de Sailly, had spent nearly a decade trying to get King William's support for a Huguenot colony in America.
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Several influential landowners from America submitted proposals to have the Huguenots settle on their land. Dr. Daniel Coxe offered de la Muce and de Sailly land on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida, but King William rejected that location as being indefensible. Coxe then offered land in Norfolk County, Virginia, near North Carolina. William Byrd, whose land was on the James River, at the Western frontier of Virginia, offered his land for settlement, and had the support of Virginia's Lieutenant Governor Francis Nicholson. Ultimately, though, the English government selected Coxe's Norfolk land, and King William approved funding for food, supplies, and ships to transport the Huguenots to their new home.

Virginia

On April 19, 1700, the first of four ships, the Mary and Ann, left England with over 200 French and Swiss passengers, and would arrive that summer in Virginia. Among the passengers listed were Abraham Soblet and two children; also aboard that ship was Pierre Chastain, his wife and five children.
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When the ship reached the mouth of the James River, it was met by Lieutenant Governor Francis Nicholson, who redirected the Huguenot settlers to William Byrd's land up the James river, rather than their intended destination on Dr. Coxe's Norfolk land.
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Byrd's land included an old Indian village recently abandoned by the Monacan tribe. The land was fertile, but was in the remote Virginia wilderness, far from any established towns. This made transporting food, water, and supplies extremely difficult. Since many Huguenots were urban artisans and merchants, not farmers, life in this frontier land would be challenging.
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The second ship, the Peter and Anthony, arrived in Jamestown in October 1700; included on that ship were Abraham's wife, Susanne Soblet, and their three remaining children.
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By the time the third ship arrived later in the fall, word had spread about the hardship in the new settlement called Manakintown, and many Huguenots on the ship settled elsewhere.
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That first year, despite illness and supply shortages, the Manakintown settlers managed to construct a church and establish King William Parish. That winter, with severe illness and food shortages, expedition organizer Olivier de la Muce appealed to Governor Nicholson for assistance. The governor, along with William Byrd and others, donated food, livestock, supplies and money to the Huguenot settlers to help them through the winter. In the spring of 1701, Byrd advised them to plant crops in order to sustain themselves.
Copyright © Phillip L. Sublett, http://Sublett.org
When the fourth ship from England, the Nasseau, arrived in March 1701, most of the passengers settled near the York River, with only a few continuing to the Manakintown settlement. Over the first few years, many settlers would abandon Manakintown, seeking an easier life elsewhere, but those who remained eventually were able to establish a self-sustaining colony.
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After the death of his first wife, Pierre Chastain married Anne Soblet, the daughter of Abraham Soblet and Susanne Briant. Together they would have eight children and dozens of grandchildren.
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Abraham Soblet's son, Pierre Louis Soblet, married Marte Martain, and they would have several children as well. Pierre Louis Soblet's brother, Jacques Soblet, had a son, James, who would have many descendants. Abraham Soblet's youngest son, Robert Soblet, born in London, would die in childhood, and his son Abraham Soblet, Jr., also would have no descendants.

The United States

Over subsequent generations, the descendants of Pierre Louis and Jacques Soblet would spread out to surrounding counties of Virginia, and their surname would become Anglicized as Sublet, Sublett, or Sublette over the next century. Their descendants would move westward into new states including Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, and others.
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Among the grandchildren of Pierre Louis Soblet was Philip Allen Sublette, whose sons William Lewis Sublette, Milton Green Sublette, Pinckney W. Sublette, Andrew Whitley Sublette, and Solomon Perry Sublette would become famous mountain men in the West, helping to forge the Oregon Trail and expand the American frontier to the Pacific. William Lewis Sublette became very wealthy as an Indian trader, and later as a real estate speculator; his investments included a tract of land near the Missouri River that would become Kansas City.
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One of Philip Allen Sublette's nephews, also named Philip Allen Sublett, moved to Texas and became a close friend of Texas President Samuel Houston.
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Another nephew of Philip Allen Sublette was William Scott Sublett, whose great-grandson, John Dixon Sublett, would become a famous rodeo clown known as Red Sublette. After World War I, Red continued his career as an international rodeo performer, while his brother Joseph Herman Sublett remained in France and started a family there. Today, Joseph Herman Sublett's descendants own a château and wine vineyard in the Bordeaux area.
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Philip Allen Sublette's sister, Ursula Sublett, had a grandson named William Henry Herndon, who would become Abraham Lincoln's law partner.
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In World War II, John L. Sublett was a flying ace in the 357th Fighter Group, along with Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager.
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Over three centuries, the descendants of Abraham Soblet have spread throughout North America and to other continents. Members of the family have participated in most major wars, from the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, both sides of the Civil War, both World Wars, and up through the Vietnam War.


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