Jean Francois Gignilliat (1657-1699)
Susanne LeSerrurier ( – )

1657 May 17. Jean Francois Gignilliat was born in Vevey, Switzerland, to Abraham Gignilliat and Marie deVille.

In Switzerland he married his first wife, Louisa Pineau.

1685 When Gignilliat was twenty-eight, the couple sailed to Charles Town in the English colony of South Carolina on board the Margaret, departing in March and arriving in April. [See Van Ruymbeke, pp. 61 and 64 for route maps.]

According to Smith’s “The Baronies of South Carolina, XVI, Quenby and the Eastern Branch of the Cooper River,” Francois Gignilliat was the first Swiss to settle in the Province of Charles Towne. [Smith, Henry A.M. “The Baronies of South Carolina, XVI, Quenby and the Eastern Branch of the Cooper River.” The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, vol. 18, Charleston, SC: The South Carolina Historical Society, 1911.]*

1685 July 30. As an inducement to leave Switzerland, migrate to Carolina and to encourage others of his countrymen to do likewise, the Lord Proprietors granted Jean Francois (de)Gignilliat 3000 acres of land in Carolina some time before he arrived at Charleston but only after he had furnished the Lord Proprietors in England with satisfactory ‘Testimoneys of his honorable extraction, & ct.’

There were nine other grants totaling 4500 acres which J. Colleton ordered Stephen Bull, Deputy to the Surveyor General, to issue Jean Francois deGignilliat, for which presumably he paid. The additional land he purchased after arriving in Carolina and Dawshee Plantation, said to have been a Gignilliat homestead, is further evidence that Jean Francois Gignilliat was a man of wealth. Dawshee was one of the more beautiful and elaborate plantation homes of the St. John’s district. Walnut Grove Plantation may also have once been owned by Jean Francois Gignilliat as it was the property of Gabriel Gignilliat, a grandson, at the time of Gabriel’s death in 1803.

The order for Jean Francois Gignilliat’s 3000 acre land grant was dated 7-30-1685 which was before he took the Oath of Allegiance Jan. 20, 1688. The order for the 3000 acre land grant provided it should be a ‘Manor, if he shall desire it so to be. [Kenan, pp. 3, 5]

1686-1687 Louis Pineau Gignilliat died.  Gignilliat then married his second wife, Susanne LeSerrurier, daughter of Count Jacques LeSerrurier, a wealthy merchant of London and Carolina, and his wife Elizabeth Leger of Picardy, France.

1688 January 20. Gignilliat took the Oath of Allegiance.

1688 June 13. Woodstock plantation was granted to Gignilliat for 800 acres at the head of Yeamans Creek, near Dorchester.

1690 August 4. He deeded the 800 acres of Woodstock to John Moore.

1690-1700 All of the couple’s eight children were born in South Carolina: Mary Elizabeth (1690- ), Henry (1692- ), Pierre (1694- ), Abraham (1696- ), Susanne (1697- ), Francois (1698- ), plus twins born posthumously, James (1700- ) and John (1700-1750).

1699 September 3. Jean Francois Gignilliat died in Charleston at age 42.


The Le Serrurier Family and The Gignilliat Family - The Lyons Family

Map 1895

Historic map of Woodstock Plantation location

Current map of Woodstock Plantation location

Current map of Dawshee Plantation location


 Bates, Susan Baldwin and Harriott Cheves Leland. French Santee: A Huguenot Settlement in Colonial South Carolina. Baltimore, MD: Otter Bay Books, 2015. (background) [This new book has a chapter on Jean Francois Gignilliat, pp. 143-150, plus numerous references in the Index. I have not integrated the information into this biographical sketch.].

Butler, Jon. The Huguenots in America: A Refugee People in New World Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983. (background) [see index for multiple references].

Kenan, Robert Gignilliat. History of the Gignilliat Family of Switzerland and South Carolina. Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1977: pp. 3-8.

Lavelle, Brittany [*]. Historic Preservation Research. May 2014.

Van Ruymbeke, Bertrand. From New Babylon to Eden: The Huguenots and Their Migration to Colonial South Carolina. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2006. [see index for multiple references].

1 Comment

  1. Kaylee Dorman


    I want to express how appreciative I am for you putting the time and effort into collecting and compiling this data. I’ve been putting together my family history and have determined that Jean Francois Gignilliat is my 9th great-grandfather. His son, Henry, married Esther Marion who had Mary Ann. Mary Ann then married Col. William S. Cray Sr. Mary and William’s daughter Mary then married Capt. Joseph French Jr. and the French name then carried all the way to my mother.

    Thank you for this great information!


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