Seth Kaller, Inc.

Inspired by History

Other Great Gifts Offerings


1686 Huguenot Protestant religious prisoner’s pin prick note, with notes of wife and child, and 1842 letter of Dr. Johnson Eliot, a founder of Georgetown Medical College
Click to enlarge:
Select an image:

[FRENCH HUGUENOT]. Pin-pricked Manuscript Note, with his wife’s Autograph Note, in French, ca. 1686. 1 p. Also with his son or daughter’s additional note in English. JOHNSON ELIOT, Autograph Letter Signed, June 19, 1842, gifting the above letter. 1 p. In all 3 pp.

Inventory #24146.01       Price: $5,000

Johnson Eliot (1815-1888) graduated from Columbian College (now George Washington University) medical school in 1842. Having been excluded from practice at the Washington Infirmary, he was one of four founders of the Georgetown Medical School, which opened in 1851. (One of the other four, Doctor Charles Henry Liebermann, was born in Russia, imprisoned in Siberia for several years for fighting under the Polish revolutionary flag, before becoming a doctor in Germany, and emigrating to America). Eliot served as professor of anatomy and later as professor of surgery. After the second battle of Bull Run in 1862, while attending the wounded, he was taken prisoner, but soon released. He was physician in charge of the Washington Smallpox Hospital from 1862 to 1864.

Complete Transcript and Translation

ae trouveres vous poin le moiea denuoier de puoy pouvoir escrire

[Translated: You will find the point that you need to be able to write]

[Endorsement by prisoner’s wife:] ce papier a te sait par mon mari dans le cachot de la grite ou il a ette garde & remaine par no homme et de la conduit a la prisonore il a ette 8 mois 1/2 len 1686 du temps de la persecusion de nosbre religión

[This paper as you can see by my husband in the dungeon of the grite, where he was guarded by no man, and brought to the prison, [where] he was [for] eight months and a half in 1686, at the time of the persecution of our religion.]

[Separate Endorsement by prisoner’s daughter or son, in English:] These papers were pricked with a pinn when my Dear father was in a dark Dungeon for want of penn and Ink in his confinement for Religion in the persecution in france

[Accompanying Statement:] The accompanying paper is presented to the Institute both on account of its antiquity and the interesting circumstances connected with it.

            It was pricked with a pin by a Protestant confined in a dungeon and afterwards executed for his religious belief during the persecution in France in the year 1686.

            It is unquestionably genuine having been carefully preserved by the descendants of the sufferer.

                                                Johnson Eliot / Washington City / 19th June 1842

Historical Background

King Henry IV of France issued The Edict of Nantes in 1598, granting Calvinist Protestants (Huguenots) freedom of conscience and restoration of their civil rights. However, in 1685, his grandson, King Louis XIV issued the Edict of Fontainebleau, ordering the destruction of Huguenot churches and the closing of Protestant schools. Thousands were imprisoned, like the unnamed author of this brief note, and hundreds were executed. In the following two decades, hundreds of thousands of Huguenots fled France, many to the United States.

Add to Cart Ask About This Item Add to Favorites