Ancestors of John Pillow (Pilon) and his wife Elizabeth of Canterbury


Peter Gibson

As we have already heard, the Pilon family are of Huguenot origin. John Pillow (1714-1783, originally Pilon), the founder of the Pillow family of Canterbury is no exception. Furthermore he was also married to a woman of Huguenot (& Walloon) stock, Elizabeth Lansell (1723-1775).

John Pillow (Pilon)

By examining the records of the Strangers, or Huguenot/Walloon, Church at Canterbury (originally based at St Alphege Church, Palace Street and later in the crypt of the Cathedral) we can take the Pilon back another generation, to Louis Pilon and his wife Judith Bultel. These two, the parents of John Pillow and his brothers and sisters were, I suspect, born in France in the 1670s. Both died in 1731 and are buried at St Dunstan, Canterbury. Louis was a Silk Weaver by trade, and the couple were probably married about 1696. Their nine children, baptised at Canterbury, were as follows:

  • Jacob Pilon (b.c. 1697)
  • Elizabeth Pilon (b.c.1697)
  • Ann Pillow (b.c.1700)
  • Lewis Pilon (b.c.1700)
  • Daniel Pilon (c. 1705 – 1726)
  • Judith Pilon (c.1708 – 1710)
  • Jean Pilon (c. 1712 – 1740)
  • John Pilon (Pillow) (c.1714 – 1783)
  • Susan Pilon (d. 1715)

Daniel, Judith, Jean & Susan were buried at St Dunstan's Church. So far my investigations have revealed very little other information about John's siblings. I am unable to trace his parents, Louis and Judith,'s lines back any further without taking the research to France.

Elizabeth Lansell

We can however take the Lansell line back a little further to Severin Lansell, who would probably born around the 1620s, whether in England, France the Netherlands or elsewhere, I am uncertain. His son Jean (c.1650 – 1694) could have been born overseas too, although this quote from his marriage record suggests otherwise: "Le 5th Septembre, 1674. II y a promesse de mariage entre Jean Lansell filz de Severin Lansell, natif de Canterbury, et Esther le Keux fille d' Edwoard le Keux, natifue aussy de Canterb : lis ont este marie en cette Eglise, le 8th Octobre, 1674". It is almost certain though that Jean had brothers and sisters born in Canterbury and buried at St Alphege although this has still to be confirmed. This may be possible through examining Jean's will which remains extant. Jean anglicised his name to “John” at some stage after his marriage.

Jean, or John's, wife Esther (nee Le Keux) was the daughter of Edouart Le Keux and Esther Manneke, both of whom appear to have been born in Canterbury in 1622 and 1608 respectively. Edouart's parents were probably Anthoine Le Keux and Jaquemyne De La Haie. Esther seems to have been the daughter of Jean Manneke (1546 – 1646) and Marie Desplacy (1565 – 1643, 2nd marriage, formerly Patcie) who were married in Canterbury about 1597. Marie was the daughter of Pierre Patcie (born in Noeufegle) and his wife Julienne both of whom died in Canterbury in July 1595.

Jean Lansell and Ester Le Keux had six children born in Canterbury as follows:

  • Ester Lansell (b & d 1675)
  • Jane Lansell (d.1679)
  • Lea Lansell (1682 – 1685)
  • Jean Lansell (1683 – 1733)
  • Robert Lansell (b & d. 1685)
  • Rachel Lansell (b & d. 1687)

As can be seen, with the exception of Jean, none of the couple's children made it into adulthood.

Jean did however, and married Elizabeth Despaigne (1686 – 1748), the daughter of Henry Despaigne and Jeanne Bonte. Elizabeth was also born in Canterbury and baptised at the Strangers Church. Jean & Elizabeth were married on 27th May 1718 at St Martin's. Their child, Elizabeth, the future wife of John Pillow was born at Canterbury on 8th August 1723. She was buried at St Alphege's, Palace Street on Boxing Day 1775.

N.B.The above details of baptisms, births, marriages and deaths are taken from either the Mormon's “Family Search” website or directly from transcriptions of surviving records of the Stranger's or Walloon Church at Canterbury. Be aware though that there could well be other explanations for some of the relationships stated. Nothing is written in stone and I would be very interested to see anyone else's version of events. For example it has apparently been said that “John Pillow was thought by some people to be the son of Martin (not Louis) Pilon”, though I am unable to find any evidence for this.

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