|Stephen Cassan was a Huguenot.
Huguenots were French Protestants and were members of the Reformed Church.
The word "Huguenot" means "Singer in the Streets." John Calvin influenced by Martin Luther inspired many songs
to be written in the context of Psalms."
The words and Melodies were meant to remind everyone that God is the same Yesterday -Today and Forever.......
On March 1, 1562, a faction of the Catholic House of Guise attacked a Huguenot service in Wassy (Northeastern France)
This massacre marked the beginning of the Wars of Religion, and sparked the Huguenots into building a large army and
cavalry. Tension between the Catholic and Protestant Faiths led to Eight Civil wars in France.
The "Edict of Nantes" signed on April 13 , 1598 brought an end to the Wars of Religion . At this time the Huguenots were
allowed to practise their Faith and so a decade of Peace followed. In the year 1610 the persecution resumed in all earnestness
civil and religious rights of the Huguenots were revoked; essentially the Huguenots became a persecuted People . In 1681,
a policy known in French as "dragonnades" was used to intimidate Huguenot families to reconvert to Roman Catholicism .
Louis XIV had the strong desire for national unity and was under the belief that there would have to be one religion
Une Foi, Un Loi , Un Roi - One Faith, One Law, One King. One faith was viewed as essential to civil order
In October 1685, Louis XIV signed the Edict of Fontainebleau decreeing the following: and many
Huguenots were burned at the stake - tortured or became galley slaves. This led many to travel to different lands to escape
Stephen Cassan was one of the many who left his Homeland because of his beliefs
On 30 June 1688 Stephen Etienne Cassan from Montpellier aged 26 years received a reconnaissance at the Huguenot Church
of the Savoy, London (a re-admission to the French Protestant church after having been forced to attend Catholic church
services in France (Reference: W & S Minet (eds.), 'Livre des conversions et des reconnoissances faites a l'eglise francoise
de La Savoye, 1684-1702' Huguenot Society of London Quarto Series Publications, Vol. 22 (1914), p. 12).
Beryl Pharoah "nee Cassan" of Brandon, Manitoba Canada while living in Europe (1984) had a friend who was a Priest of the
"Little Brothers" (Kleine Bruder) and in a conversation with her friend she mentioned her Family were possibly Huguenots.
He then asked of the origin of the name "Cassan" At this point he became quite somber and asked Beryl's forgiveness for the
historical atrocities committed in the name of God. Coming from a Priest in present day Europe this gives everyone a little
insight into the life of our Ancestors.
Stephen Cassan's family in France were Finish Carpenters, Shoemakers and Hat Designers.
The Family was from Montagnac, France, though some of the Family lived in Montpellier.
It has been determined that as a Youth, Stephen likely acquired an apprenticeship with a surgeon. Though it has been shown
that Montpellier housed the oldest Medical School in Europe. So it is possible Stephen studied at the University rather than
taking an apprenticeship.
Upon leaving France Stephen went to England where he joined Colonel William Stewart's Regiment of Foot and was given a
commission as a Captain and Surgeon/Doctor of Medicine. Stephen's Regiment was disbanded in Ireland after the
war between William III and James II. Stephen was granted lands in Ireland for his service with the British Military.
In 1692 he married Elizabeth Sheffield. Elizabeth brought her Hereditary Lineage to the Kings of England, Ireland,
Scotland and France to the marriage
A Family History moving forward
From France of the 1660's
So began the Cassans of Sheffield House in Ireland
A Naturalization Bill was passed by the House of Lords on 26 January 1704/5, naturalizing a number of French
Protestants - resident in England including: One of these people was Stephen Cassan, son of James Cassan by
Catherine Bayle his wife, born at Montpellier in Languedoc in France.
(reference: W.A. Shaw (ed.), 'Letters of Denization and Acts of Naturalization for aliens in England and Ireland,
1701-1800' Huguenot Society of London Quarto Series Publications, Vol. 27 (1923), p. 51).
A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland talks of the Cassan Family.
It is stated that the Cassans of Sheffield House (Cappoly) were properly de Cassagne, a Family having left France
at the Revocation of the"Edict of Nantes" and went to Flanders. Stephen Cassan was an Officer in the army of
"William of Orange," and as an Officer in the Foreign Brigade, he was engaged under the command of Schomberg
and came to Ireland . At the end of this war his Regiment was disbanded and he was granted lands and so
settled in Ireland. In 1692 while a resident of Cappoly, near Maryborough in the Queen's County in Ireland he
married Elizabeth Sheffield only daughter and Heir of General Joseph Sheffield.
(as appears in the records in Ulster's office)
Another Historical Source - The Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland as shared by Vivien Costello
who is a resident member of the Huguenot Society in Ireland - says that many books state that Stephen (Etienne)
Cassan served in Shomberg's Huguenot Regiment in Ireland but this was in fact not true. He did indeed serve in
William 111's army in Ireland in the war between William 111 and James 11 --> 1689 - 1691, of which the
Commander in Chief was Marshall Frederick Herman Von Shomberg, but he actually served as a Captain in
Colonel William Stewart's Regiment of Foot.Stephen was wounded in the stomach at the first siege of Limerick on
27 August 1690 and a footnote states he was wounded in the assault on Terra Nova, Namur and that he left the
Regiment on 20 April 1696
(reference: C. Dalton, "English Army Lists and Commission Registers, 1661 - 1714" (London, 1892 - 1904), Vol.
3, page 108)
(reference: G.H. Jones card index collection of Huguenot Military Officers in the Library of the Huguenot Society
of Great Britain and Ireland, London states He subsequently received a commission in Col. John Buchan's
Regiment of Foot for service in Flanders (Dalton, Vol. 4, p, 100)
The earliest and most comprehensive pedigree of the Cassan family which Vivien Costello could find was in the
National Library of Ireland on Microfilm P 8304, page 160. What follows are extracts only from the first portion,
as the subsequent sections are printed in Burke's Peerage and Gentry. This Pedigree states that Stephen Cassan
M.D. of Cappoly, Queen's County [County Laoix] sometime of St. Werburg's Parish in Dublin was born c. 1659 in
Montpellier and obtained a Marriage Licence (as her second husband) on 6 January 1692 to marry Elizabeth
Sheffield, only daughter and heiress of Joseph Sheffield. Elizabeth's first husband (with whom she had no issue) was
called Saunders. Joseph Sheffield was the second son of Sampson Sheffield of Navestock Essex, England. Sampson
was granted the lands of Cappoly in Ireland (reference 15th Report of the Deputy Keeper of Public Records in
Ireland, p. 102)
The town of Montpellier in France was one of the Protestant strongholds and fortunately many Protestant records
have survived including pre -1685 birth, marriage and death records in the archives of the region:
Archives departementales de l'Herault (Herault, Languedoc-Roussillon) 2 avenue de Castelnau CS 54495 34093
Montpellier Cedex 5 France
Tel: 0033 467148214 Fax: 0033 467021528 Email: email@example.com
Recently (2007 - 2008) a fellow in Montpellier offered to do research at the Archives in Montpeller for the
Descendants of Stephen Cassan. He found a great deal of information about this Cassan Family and it was
confirmed by Vivien Costello of Ireland. This fellow who did the research was Francis De Stordeur of Montpellier,
The information shared shows that Stephen's family were originally from Montagnac (30 miles from Montpellier).
Stephen's father was born in Montagnac and christened 13 January 1630. As well as adding a couple of generations
to our Family history - Francis de Stordeur confirmed that Stephen Cassan was born in 1662 and not 1659 as is
recorded by many Historical Records.
Originally it was shown there was no school for surgeons in Languedoc in the XVIIth century. The pupil, towards
the age of 14/15 years, was put in study with a master-surgeon, by a contract ("contrat d'apprentissage"), for one or
two years. Afterwards, he would be given a receipt to show him as a master-surgeon. It has been shown
Montpellier has a very ancient university with a particularly ancient medical school [Europe's first] which
encouraged an unlimited number of teachers. [Registers consequently difficult to research!]
When Stephen went to Flanders he was a Doctor (master - surgeon). It is as a surgeon/doctor of medicine that
Stephen became an officer and gentleman.
The Huguenot Regiments were created for the penniless French Officers and Aristocracy. Without his medical
background Stephen Cassan would have been in one of these Huguenot Regiments as he was not a member of the
minor nobility and could not afford the thousands of Pounds it would have taken to purchase a commission. As a
Doctor he was given a commission in a British Regiment and the rank of Captain.
Some sources state Stephen Cassan to be a Doctor of Medicine yet his army commission had apparently been as
a captain not as a medical officer BUT Vivien Costello did some further searching and found a list of Huguenot
(reference: 1660-1714, extracted from A. Peterkin, W. Johnston and R. Drew, Commissioned officers in the
Medical Services of the British Army, 1660-1960" (London, 1968) published in 'Huguenot Families' [the
genealogical periodical published by the Huguenot Society of G.B. and Ireland], No. 15 (September, 2006), p. 28
which states: 1706 Stephen Cassan. Surgeon to Lord Dungannon's Foot regiment 1706, disbanded 1713. Half-pay
1713. Surgeon to Marquis de Montandre's Foot 1716, disbanded 1717.)
By all appearances Stephen Cassan had a long career as a Medical Officer in the British Military.