Huguenot at Lameshur: Captain Ingiald Mourier
(Syracuse University Professor Emeritus Daniel Smothergill is a SJHS member who traces his ancestors back to 19th century St. John.)
Denmark is well known for having allowed citizens of other countries to settle in its West Indies possessions. The English, in particular, took advantage of the policy and at one time owned a large number of the estates on St. John. This has special significance to me since it is part of the story of my 2nd great-grandfather William Smothergill, who owned Estate Enighed in Cruz Bay during the mid 19th century. He rather quickly went bankrupt, victim of a combination of Emancipation and a cholera epidemic. For the rest of his life he managed the estates of others on St. Croix.
Dan Smothergill at Lameshur Estate.
Although William Smothergill was of English ancestry, he came to St John from Ireland where his family had gone in the 17th century as part of the great historical movement known as the “Plantation of Ireland.” I was reminded of these things by two articles in February’s splendid SJHS Newsletter.
One reported a hike around the East End and remarked that French Huguenot families once had settled there. The Huguenots were a Protestant group that found themselves unwelcome in Roman Catholic France and its colonial possessions. Large numbers left for England, North America, and Germany. Of those that went to Germany, a small contingent later moved on to Denmark. Could some of St. John’s Huguenots have come from Denmark?
The same question was raised more pointedly in a second article on a trip planned to Estate Lameshur. For more than 40 years in the 19th century, Lameshur was owned by Captain Ingiald Mourier. Although the name has a distinctly French sound, Captain Mourier himself was Danish. Was his family among the refugee Huguenots that eventually wound up in Denmark?
The answer seems to be yes. Ingiald Katrik Jorgen Mourier was born in Copenhagen in 1807 to Frederic Guillaume Mourier and Louise Rothe. Tellingly, his grandparents, Frederic Moise Mourier and Marguerite Susanne le Sage de Fontenay, were married in the French Reformed Church in Copenhagen in 1757. Although the route by which the Mouriers got to Copenhagen is unknown, the main body of Huguenots in Denmark came at the invitation of King Fredrick IV in 1719.
On St. John, Ingiald Mourier owned the already combined estates Little and Great Lameshur in 1832. He appears to have transformed the plantation from cotton production to sugar. Later, in 1855, he rounded out his holdings by buying the neighboring Kabrithorn property from E. J. Weinmar.
Mourier married Catherine Ann DeWindt at Lameshur in 1833. Her half-sisters Lydia and Louisa moved in with them sometime later. The latter was to become my 2nd great-grandmother. The Mouriers themselves had 7 children, so life in the modest-sized estate house must have been somewhat cozy. How long Lydia and Louisa DeWindt lived at Lameshur is unclear. They were there in 1841. Lydia married John Smothergill in 1844, but Louisa still was at Lameshur in 1846. She married William Smothergill in 1853, probably at Lameshur. Ingiald Mouriere was a testor at the wedding.
A clue, perhaps, to the as yet unborn Ingiald Mourier’s military career appears in the 1801 census of Denmark. His parents and older siblings were residing then at the Artillerie Institute in Copenhagen. Mourier’s prominence on St. John is evidenced in the offices he held. In 1857 he was Town Captain and in 1870 Royal Cashier. He also is celebrated for having brought the news of Governor-General von Scholten’s emancipation decree to St. John on July 4, 1848.
The estate house at Lameshur continues to stand to this day, providing a home for a family much as it did more than 150 years ago. That’s tribute in my mind to the Huguenot Captain from Denmark who was such a part of life on St. John at that time.
See the related items:
[Great Lamesure][Little Lamesure]
|Article||Lameshure Bay Explore||Knight, David|
|Article||Huguenot at Lameshur: Captain Ingiald Mourier||Smothergill, Dan|
|Article||Lameshure Bay Estate of the 1950s||Schoonover, Bruce|
|In the cotton field at “Lamesure” St. Jan, Danish W. I.
Creator: J. Lightbourn
Owner: Private collection
Colorized Post Card
|Estate Great Lamesure||Qtr=Reef Bay. Owner=Braithwaite, Thomas. Crop=Cotton.|
|Estate Little Lamesure||Qtr=Reef Bay. Owner=Braithwaite, Thomas. Crop=Cotton.|