He had the privilege of studying with distinguished scholars
Denis Papin was born near Blois in 1647, the son of a protestant doctor. He studied medicine in Angers then came to Paris in 1673, where he became assistant to the famous Dutch physicist and astronomer Christian Huygens, who was also a protestant and who had settled in France.
Huygens sent him to England where he worked with Robert Boyle, a physicist and a chemist, one of thegreatest scholars of his time. They worked on a machine using air pressure and in 1679 added the finishing touches to the well-known “cooking pot”, the original model for all modern pressure-cookers – it is he who invented the famous “safety valve”.
In 1679, he became the assistant of Robert Hooke, a mathematician and an astronomer belonging to the Royal Society of Physics in London – Papin himself became a member of this illustrious institution in 1680.
Banished from France by the Revocation
In 1685, due to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Denis Papin had to give up any idea of returning to France as he was determined to remain loyal to his protestant faith.
In 1687, the Elector of Hesse-Cassel appointed him professor of mathematics at the University of Marburg. Here he built various remarkable machines ; a centrifugal ventilator to provide air for the mines, a machine for making plate glass for windows, another for pumping water out of salt mines etc. But he concentrated all his efforts on building a steam engine and in 1705 he achieved his aim, (the engine was described in a book written in Latin in 1707). In 1707, he also built his first steamship ; sadly, this was destroyed by boatmen who were jealous of this new invention and thought that it might cause them to lose their jobs. So he went back to England, where he tried to do more experiments but without success. He died in London, around 1712, in poverty and forgotten by all.
Jean Jarousseau (1729-1819)
A pastor in the “Church of the Desert”, Jean Jarousseau exercised his ministry in Saintonge at the end of the Heroic Period and during the time called the Period of Tolerance. We know about him thanks to the biography written by his grandson, Eugène Pelletan.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was an Enlightenment philosopher who cared deeply about justice. He was passionately involved in defending his ideas and often felt misunderstood. In his work he claimed that, to live together in the harmony inspired by Nature’s beauty, with a total respect of one’s neighbour even if he seemed to have different values and ideas to oneself, great willpower was necessary and one had to constantly take into account the contradictions inherent in present day civil society.
The Delessert Family
The Delesserts were a well-known Parisian protestant family who made valuable contributions to the silk trade and banking ; they also set up the first French cotton mill and founded the Caisse d’Epargne. They gave plots of land which they owned in the 16th arrondissement to the Church, later to be used for the construction of the temple of Passy-Annonciation and adjacent Church buildings.
Jean-Paul Rabaut Saint-Étienne (1743-1793)
A champion of freedom of worship, Jean-Paul Rabaut, known as Saint-Étienne, fought against the discrimination which had excluded Protestants from French society since the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.
Jacques Saurin (1677-1730)
Jacques Saurin was a pastor serving in the countries of Refuge, first in London, then in the Hague – as a pastor he was admired for his eloquence and a person for his spirit of tolerance.