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The Sigourneys are of French Huguenot descent,
and at the close of the seveteenth century ships were sailing almost every month from London to Boston, transporting
families that were destined to occupy important positions in the Commonwealth. Among the earliest surnames can
be found Sigournay, who arrived in Boston before the year 1688; just after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes
in 1685. The representative of the first family was André Sigournay (now spelled Sigourney), who was a distiller
in La Rochelle or Rochfort when the Edict was revoked. When a squad of dragoons were quartered in his house he
and his wife, Charlotte Paisan, were determined to escape from France with their four children. They proceeded
secretly to remove part of their property on board a boat then in the harbour. It happened to be a holiday and
they prepared a tempting dinner for the soldiers billeted upon them. While their compulsory guests were celebrating,
the whole Sigournay family without partaking of the meal, stole away, boarded the vessel, and sailed to England.
It is said that each child wore two suits of clothes. Their youngest boy, Barthelemy, was born in London and baptized
in 1682 at the First French Church in Threadneedle Street.
The Sigournay family bore the name of a locality in Poitou and here the family undoubtedly originated. There is
a hamlet called Sigournais in the Department of Vendee, near Chantonnay, and near here is Sigournais chateau, illustrated
on an earlier page. Joseph Dudley took an interest in these fugitives while in England and assisted the family
of seven in coming to Boston, (André and his wife, with children Susanna, Peter, Charlotte, Andrew and Barthelemy)
when they arrived in the autumn of 1686. André's eldest son, Andrew, married Mary Germaine, and his eldest
daughter Suzanne married John Johnson, who was killed by the indians at Oxford in 1696. She later married for a
second husband her cousin Daniel Johonot of Boston. The Sigourney family occupied an important position in the
Oxford Colony until it disbanded, whereupon they returned to Boston. Sigourney and some friends, with Jacques Laborie
of Guyenne, France, as their pastor endeavored to re-settle Oxford in 1699, but this attempt also ended in failure.
André died in Boston in 1727 and is buried in the Granary Burial Ground. His son Andrew became a distiller
in Boston, was one of the proprietors of the French Church and executed the deed, with others, conveying the property
in 1748. Captain Andrew Sigourney, who was born in 1752 in Boston, was married to Elizabeth Wolcott. His customary
method of travelling, even for long distances, was a one-horse chaise. A later Andrew settled in Oxford as late
as 1784, and his son became an important business man in Boston, acting at one time as Treasurer of the Ancient
and Honorable Artillery Company. Several of the family now live in Worcester. Another important member of this
family, Charles by name, became an important citizen of Hartford. The last Andrew was born in 1851. The Sigourneys
are a distinguished family in Massachusetts today and are related to the families of Brimmer, Butler, Dexter, Gordon,
Kidder, Sohier, Oliver, Wadsworth, and Bond.
Lydia Huntley Sigourney,
had a life of interesting contrasts and startling contradictions. She was one of America's most popular authors
in the 19th century. She married to ensure financial security for herself and her parents. After her marriage,
it was the income from her writing that provided the bulk of the farnily's support. She wrote annual gift books
and collections of inspirational prose and poetry at the rate of one every eight months for almost 50 years. Today
her work is almost unknown, however in the mid-19th century she was more prestigious than Edgar Allen Poe.
Lydia Sigourney was born in 1791 in Norwich, Connecticut, the only child of Zerviah and Ezekial Huntley. She grew
up in privileged surroundings. At 28 she married Charles Sigourney, a wealthy widower with three children. Publishers
at this time were "hungery" for novels and shorter pieces that were commercially marketable to the vast
numbers of women at home. Poetry was popular, particularly when it would appeal to women. Lydia Sigourney was so
successful that she became a household name. She died on June 10, 1865, twenty one years after being selected by
an Iowa doctor as the name of a small community located in the centre of Keokuk County, Iowa, USA.