Francis Le Jau

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Francis Le Jau (1665 – September 10, 1717)[1][2][3] was a missionary to South Carolina with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG). Born into a French Huguenot family in the La Rochelle region of France he later fled to England during the persecution of Huguenots after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.[4] He subsequently converted to Anglicanism and eventually graduated from Trinity College, Dublin.[5] In 1700 he moved to St. Christopher's Island where he served for 18 months at the request of Bishop Henry Compton. From 1706 until his death in 1717 Le Jau served as a missionary to South Carolina based in Goose Creek.[5]

Time in South Carolina[edit]

Francis Le Jau wrote numerous letters to the Society for the SPG describing events that were taking place in the colony of South Carolina as well as his own activities.[5] He arrived in the colony in December 1706 and describes the colonists celebrating their victory over an attempted invasion launched by the French Captain LeFeboure[5]. He described the attack as having lasted from August 27–31 of 1706 and having involved 5 French vessels of which one was captured along with 230 Frenchmen and 40 more killed while only one South Carolinian was killed in the fighting[5].

Other major events in the history of the colony that he lived through and described were the Tuscarora War of 1711 and the Yamasee War of 1715. During the Yamasee War his home region of Goose Creek was attacked by a coalition led by the Catawba tribe. He described the group led by the Catawbas as including 300 warriors and notes that many of the men who went with Captain Barker in the first attempt to drive the Catawba from Goose Creek were his parishioners[5]. On May 17 Captain Barker and 26 of his men were killed and a small fort of 30 men, both white and black, was besieged. Le Jau then mentions that his son took part in the June 13th counterattack led by George Chicken which ultimately drove the Catawba and their allies out of the Goose Creek region[5]. Le Jau's son then went on to serve as an aide de camp under Lt. General Maurice Moore for the remainder of the Yamasee War.[5]

Descriptions of Native Americans[edit]

He repeatedly referenced the "Savannah tongue" (most likely the Shawnee language) as a trade language that could be understood from the Carolinas to Canada. He believed there was a potential use for missionary work, and sent a copy of the Lord's Prayer in the Savannah language to the SPG. He also referenced the Creek language as one that could be understood throughout the south[5].

Le Jau was a regular critic of the treatment that Native Americans experienced at the hands of the South Carolina colonists. He describes a Goose Creek plantation owner burning a Native American slave to death on unproven charges that she attempted to burn down the plantation owner's house. He also included some brief descriptions of Native American customs such as the Maramoskees' habit of circumcising their youth and an Etiwan dance telling a story he found to be similar to the story of Noah's Ark[5].


Henriette Johnson was a painter, the wife of fellow missionary Gideon Johnson, and shared a French Huguenot background with Le Jau. During the height of the Yamasee War Le Jau's family went to live with the Johnsons in Charleston. At some point in their relationship Henriette painted a portrait of Le Jau [6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Le Jau, Francis". The Episcopal Church. 2012-05-22. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  2. ^ Bolton, S.C. (March 1971). "South Carolina and the Reverend Doctor Francis Le Jau: Southern Society and the Conscience of an Anglican Missionary". Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church. 40 (1): 63–79. JSTOR 42974640.
  3. ^ Matteson, Robert S. (April 1977). "Francis Le Jau in Ireland". The South Carolina Historical Magazine. 78 (2): 83–91. JSTOR 27567430.
  4. ^ Edgar Legare Pennington (1935). "The Reverend Francis Le Jau's Work Among Indians and Negro Slaves". The Journal of Southern History Vol. 1, No. 4 (Nov., 1935), Pp. 442-458. 1 (4): 442–458. JSTOR 2191775.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jau, F. L. (1956). The Carolina chronicle of Dr. Francis Le Jau, 1706-1717. Berkeley, CA: University of California.
  6. ^ "List of Pastellists" (PDF). Retrieved 10 September 2017.