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Thomas Le Heup

Exploring collections in Bury can often reveal fascinating and beautiful documents which tell interesting stories. One such document which would lead to a journey of discovery is a map located in our Hessett collection. Beautifully illustrated in striking colours, it depicts the land owned by a gentleman named Thomas Le Heup. Look carefully, and it will reveal tiny, illustrated details of trees, houses, and the Parish Church. Click here to see a video of the map.

Copinger reports that Hessett Hall passed from the Bacons, to the Walpoles, Aubrey Porter and then to his nephew John, who with others sold the manor and advowson to Thomas le Heup in 1724.

But who was Thomas Le Heup? He was born in St. Lo, Normandy, in about 1668 to John Le Heup and Suzanna. At the revocation of the edict of Nantes by Louis XIV, he became a Huguenot émigré and settled in St. Anne’s Westminster in London, being made a Denzien on 22nd June 1694. It is likely that he also travelled to the Netherlands around this time as there is a record of a marriage on 20th March 1696 in Amsterdam to Jenne Hamon.

Thomas Le Heup must have become quite an influential figure in London. Not only was he a merchant and financier but was also one of the first subscribers to the Bank of England and the South Sea Company. Elected in 1718, Thomas was one of the 39 original directors at the establishment of the French Protestant Hospital (La Providence) which was built to care for persecuted Huguenots and their descendants and according to his Last Will and Testament, he bequeathed “one hundred pounds to the French Hospital at London.”

With his wife Jeanne (daughter of Pierre Harmon of Caen) he had three children; Isaac, Michael, and Peter. All his children were successful in their own right and purchased real estate in Suffolk and Norfolk.  Isaac of Gunthorpe became an MP, being made first envoy to the Diet of Ratisbon, then to Sweden before being made Commander of Customs. Through his wife Elizabeth, he was connected to Horace Walpole who described him as, “a man of great wit and greater brutality.” Isaac’s links to Suffolk continued through his son Thomas who was admitted to Bury St. Edmunds King Edward VI Grammar in 1730.

It is Michael on whom Thomas settled the Hessett estate on his marriage to Elizabeth Gery in 1729 and his descendants remained at the manor of Hessett until it was destroyed by fire sometime before 1766. Thereafter, the Le Heup family can be found residing in Bury St. Edmunds.

Thomas Le Heup’s story ends in 1736 in the Parish Church of St. Ethelbert in Hessett where, in his will, he requested that his body “be buryed……in the Parish Church of Hessett in the same vault as wherein the body of my dear wife lays…”

Le Heup family memorial, St. Ethelbert Church in Hessett

Le Heup family memorial, St. Ethelbert Church in Hessett

Admission Register 1730-1827 (E5/9/606.3)
The Manors of Suffolk, Vol. 6 by W. A Copinger (BRO Local History Library)
Denizations & Naturalizations of Aliens in England & Ireland Pub Huguenot Society XVIII (Cullum Collection)
Proc. Of the Huguenot society of London Vol VII 1901-1904 (Cullum Collection)
Materials for the history of Hessett, by William Cooke 1877 (BRO Local History Library)