Robert (Andre) Pickens1

b. circa 1644, d. 1699

6th great-grandfather of William Lemuel Horn Jr.
8th great-grandfather of Laura Jane Munson.
Family Background:
Horn and Allied Families
Appears on charts:
Pedigree for William Lemuel Horn II
     Robert (Andre) Pickens was born circa 1644.1 He married Esther Jane Benoit circa 1665 in La Rochelle, France.1 He died in 1699 in Northern Ireland.1
     Caution! Relationships are traditional unless otherwise noted. Please visit Terry McLean's Web site for a much more comprehensive treatment of the Pickens family

     The Edict of Nantes was issued on 13 April 1598 by Henry IV of France to grant French Protestants (also known as Huguenots) substantial rights in a Catholic nation. In October 1685, Henry's grandson Louis XIV, renounced the edict and declared Protestantism illegal with the Edict of Fontainebleau, better known as the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. What followed has been compared to the Spanish Inquisition and the Nazi Holocaust. About 200,000 Huguenots fled France, seeking asylum in Great Britain, the United Provinces (Netherlands), and what is now Germany. Among them were many of France's most skilled craftsmen.

     General Andrew Pickens of Revolutionary War fame wrote on 28 August 1811 in a letter to General Harry "Light Horse" Lee (father of Robert E. Lee), "My father and mother came from Ireland. My father's progenitors emigrated from France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes."2,1

     Referencing the above quote, Alice Noble Waring wrote in her book, Pickens Genealogy, Southern Branch, "The first progenitor of whom he [General Andrew Pickens] wrote was Robert (Andre), born ca 1644, who held an obscure diplomatic post at the court of Henry IV of France. A Protestant of the Presbyterian faith, he presumably went to France from Scotland in 1661 during the time Charles II of England attempted to restore Catholicism in that country. Therefore, when the Edict of Nantes was revoked on October 22, 1685, and the persecution of Protestants became intense, he and his French wife, Esther Jane (Benoit) Bonneau, fled to Scotland by way of La Rochelle, France. It is not known how long he stayed in Scotland, but at the end of the seventeenth century, he was living in Limerick, Ireland, where he is believed to be buried. It is presumed that his sons were born in France. They were Andrew, John, Robert, and William."3

     Miss Eliza Pickens, great granddaughter of General Andrew Pickens in a paper prepared for D.A.R. said: "General Andrew Pickens first home was in Buck's Co. Penn. The Pickens were French Huguenots and left France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV in 1685. General Picken's great grandfather, Robert Pickens held a good position in France and with every inducement to remain. He refused to live under Roman Catholic rule. He married an accomplished young widow, Madam Bonneau."2

     In Cousin Monroe's History of the Pickens Family (19-20), Mrs. Day included "A Pretty Little Family Tradition" that was furnished by Robert Welborn Pickens that says in part, ". . .According to this tradition, Robert (or Andrew) Pickens was living in France, when the Edict of Nantes was revoked October 22, 1685, and held a very responsible position in the French courts. He had married a widow, Madame Esther Jane Bonneau, who was a Huguenot with deep convictions. She was said to have had a strong personality and to have possessed unusual beauty." Following the Revocation, they escaped France by way of La Rochelle on the west coast. They went to Scotland briefly, and then to Northern Ireland where their sons who came to America were born. The names of these sons were Andrew, John and Robert Pickens.

     Idus Davis, aged 96 in 1943, wrote in a letter that can be read in its entirety here, that ". . . The Pickens family can be traced back to the massacre of the Huguenots August 1572 . . . Robert escaped to Scotland and his son Andrew raised a family there. His grandson Robert migrated to La Rochelle, France about 1660. After the revocation of the Edict at Nantes, 1685 he returned to Scotland for a short time. England and Scotland were still in a row about their church doctrines and he then moved to Limerick on the Shannon river in Ireland where his sons, John, Robert and Andrew were born who moved to America."1

     As traditions go, these accounts are fairly consistent. All who mention a wife agree that she was a widow whose married name was Bonneau. They also agree that there were three sons named Andrew, John and Robert, but only Waring names William as a son. The accounts of fleeing France following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes are consistent, and if the tradition is true, Day is probably wrong about the sons being born in Ireland. Davis expands on the Huguenot tradition, asserting that Robert's ancestors were French Huguenots who fled from France to Scotland, returned to France, and were forced to flee again following the Revocation, going first to Scotland, and then to Northern Ireland from whence their sons emigrated to America.4

Children of Robert (Andre) Pickens and Esther Jane Benoit


  1. [S674] Terry Pickens McLean, online <…>, Terry Pickens McLean (e-mail address), downloaded 2004.
  2. [S675] E.M. Sharp, Pickens Families of the South (Memphis, Tennessee: E.M. Sharp, 1963), 1.
  3. [S674] Terry Pickens McLean, 2004, as quoted from Alice Noble Waring, Pickens Genealogy, Southern Branch (Charleston, SC: R.L. Bryan Company, 1966), 57-58.
  4. [S671] Monroe Pickens, comp., Cousin Monroe's History of the Pickens Family (Easley, South Carolina: Kate Pickens Day, 1951), 20.