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From "Genealogy of the Reno Family in America,
1600 -1900  Second Edition 1999"
by Steven G. Fancy

The origin of the Reynaud/Reno/Reneau family in America can be traced to religious events in their home country of France which culminated in the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. The Reynauds went to England where they took out letters of Denization which permitted them to remain and to hold land in England or its colonies.

Numerous spelling variations of the Reno name have appeared in records during the past 300 years in America, such as Reno, Reneau, Reynaud, Rheno, Rennoe, Renoe, Rhyno, and others. Many of the records, such as census records, were spelled phonetically and the records themselves cannot be relied upon. However, various documents signed by Renos appear with various spellings over the years, and the variations Reno and Reneau are common to this day. The Huguenot immigrants, having fled France for a British Colony, adopted the anglicized version of Reynaud, and especially during the French and Indian War when the French were the enemies of the British in the colonies it was desirable to dissociate themselves from the French. Lewis Reno wrote his name Reno when he signed a deed in 1711, and deeds from the Northern Neck Grant books and early Prince William County records have original signatures by Lewis Reno, Jr., Thomas Reno, Zeley Reno, and others with the spelling Reno. However, during the Revolutionary War the French became the allies of the colonists, and some family members returned to the French spelling. 

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General Louis de Reynaud - Born about 1600 in Angoumois, Bordeaux, France

Most of the Reno/Reneau family in America can be traced to Louis de Reynaud, a Huguenot and native of Angoumois in the Bordeaux region of France. He entered the military service of the Duc de Crequy whose domains included the area around Bordeaux as well as other extensive fiefs in the north of France around the Pax de Calais. After many campaigns during the Spanish Wars, Reynaud rose to the rank of general, and around 1630, he married Frances d'Hamel de Douvrin. At least three sons were born to this union between 1630 and 1640 at the Reynaud residence in the Chaillot section of Paris.

Two of Louis de Reynaud's sons, Louis and Benjamin, arrived in Stafford County, Virginia by early October 1688. According to the book "Landmarks of Old Prince William" by Fairfax Harrison (1924) and an article by Dollye M. Elliott in the Colonial Genealogist 9(2):58-62, many of the Huguenots who came to the Northern Neck of Virginia did so under a business venture by Nicholas Hayward, who made speculative investments in the English colonies from Virginia to Hudson Bay. Nicholas' brother Samuel Hayward was the Clerk of Stafford County, Virginia, and Hayward, George Brent, Robert Bristow and Richard Foot, four English businessmen, had secured a 30,000 acre proprietorship between Cedar Run and Broad Run in the northern Neck of Virginia from Lord Culpeper that was originally intended as a colony for Huguenot and catholic refugees from England. French expatriates in London were sought out by businessmen with land holdings in the colonies of Virginia and Carolina who offered promises and provisions to entice the Huguenots to settle there (including Letters of Denization, and bounty payments to the settlers). Thus, Nicholas Hayward essentially recruited Louis and Benjamin Reynaud and their families to settle on these proprietary lands in the northern neck of Virginia.

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LOUIS REYNAUD - Born about 1630 and died in England:

A bounty award from the English crown dated September 8, 1687 reads "To severall ye intended for ye West Indies" ... "To Lewis Reynaud of Angoumois, his wife and eight children for tools and others necessaries things to go to Virginia" granted 8 pounds; and "To Nichlos Hayward notary for ye passage to Virginia of Lewis Reynaud, Anne his wife, Francis, Lewis, Mary and Sara Reynaud their children, and Benjamin Reynaud, Mary his wife, Marianne and Mary their children, and John de la Chaumette" granted 33 pounds. And "To Lewis Reynaud and his family for supply" granted 2 pounds.

On March 25, 1688, effective March 31, 1688, denization was granted to Lewis Reynaud, Ann his wife, and Lewis and Sara their children, and also to Benjamin Reynaud and Mary his wife. The omission from this Letter of Denization of six children of Lewis Reynaud and two children of Benjamin Reynaud who were mentioned in the Bounty Papers might be explained by the possibility that these children were over 21 years of age when the denization was granted (The Reno Family, by William L. Reno, Jr.; Huguenot Society of London Publ., Quarto Series, Vol. XVIII - Letters of Denization and Acts of Naturalization for Aliens in England and Ireland, 1603-1700, pp. 204-209).

The following confirmation of Louis' letter of Denization by Nicholas Hayward is found in Stafford County records for October 2-3, 1688 (Stafford County Court Records 1686-1693/4, p.95, Virginia State Library, microfilm 7a). A similar letter was found for his brother Benjamin: "I Nicholas Hayward Notary and Tabellion Publick dwelling in London Admitted and Sworne doe hereby Certifie and attest unto all whom it may concern that I have seen and perused certain Letters Patent of Denization Granted by our Soveraigne Lord King James ye second under ye broad seal of England Dated ye 31 day of March in ye fourth year of his said Majestys Reign wherein amongst others is inserted ye name of Lewis Reynaud, Anne his wife, Lewis and Sarah their children who though born beyond seas are made his Majestys Leige Subjects and to be held reputed and taken as born in this Kingdom of England and may as such purchase buy sell and dispose of lands tenements and hereditaments in this Kingdom or any other of his Majestys dominions as freely peaceably and Entirely as any Subject born in this Kingdom and if ye said Lewis Reynaud Anne his wife and Lewis and Sarah their children by virtue of ye said Letters Patent are to pay Customs and Duties for their goods only as natives doe or ought to doe and to Enjoy all Liberties Privileges and Franchises of Subjects born in this Kingdom without any disturbance Impediment or molestation as by said Patent relacon being thereunto had may more at large appear of all which act being required of me ye said Notary I have Granted these presents to serve and avail ye said Lewis Reynaud Anne his wife Lewis and Sarah their children in tyme and place convenient. London ye 5th of April 1688. In testimonium Veritatis Signo meo Manual Solito signavi et tabellionatus mei Sigillum apposui Rogatus. [signed]

Nicholas Hayward, Notary Public." Recorded in ye County Court Records of Stafford this 2nd day of October 1688 per me, James Hearse Dept. Cl. Curr Staffd.

On the same page of Stafford County records Lewis and Benjamin record the brands that they will use for their livestock.

The greatest influx of Huguenots to Virginia occurred later, in 1700, when four ships brought French Huguenots to Manakin Town in Virginia. Among the names arriving at that colony was Lewis and Benjamin's other brother, Pierre: "Pierre Reynaud, landed at the James River on September 20, 1700, from the ship 'Peter & Anthony', Danial Pearrey, Capt.". This was the second of three ships carrying Huguenots to Manakin Town in 1700. The Peter & Anthony carried 170 passengers and took 13 weeks to cross the Atlantic. It is known that Pierre Reynaud returned to Europe where he eventually died, and he probably made more than one trip to Virginia.

Louis and and his wife, Anne de la Croix, are known to have attended the baptism of Anne Flauhaut at Canterbury on September 22, 1695 (The Reno Family, William L. Reno; Hug. Society Publ. Vol. 5). They may have remained in England after this time, as no further record of them in the colonies can be found. However, their son Lewis remained in Virginia and is the direct ancestor of thousands of Renos and Reneaus.


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LEWIS (REYNAUD) RENO - Born about 1676 in Valence, Dauphin, France and died January 1755 in Manassas, Prince William County, Virginia:

Lewis Reynaud, whose name appears as the anglicized version Renoe, Rennoe, or Reno in early Stafford County, Virginia records, had to have been under 21 years of age on October 10, 1688 when he was included in the Letter of Denization granted his parents, but he must have been at least 21 in February 1700 when he acquired land in Virginia, thus fixing his birth before 1678. He was still in London with his family in early April 1688, but was in Stafford County, Virginia by October 2, 1688, based on the documents described above for his father. The voyage to Virginia from London took about 13 weeks, so he probably arrived in the Northern Neck of Virginia between July and October, 1688 with his family and his uncle Benjamin and his family.

Lewis Reno acquired his first 100 acres of land from John Allen on February 25, 1700 for 2100 pounds of tobacco "to me in hand paid or promised to be paid" (Stafford County Deed Book Z, p. 73-74). This land had been purchased by John Allen and his brother William Allen from Augustine Kneaton, and was "situate and lying between the Rocky Run and Austins Run in Acquia". John and William Allen signed a Deed of Division for the parcel (witnessed by Lewis Reno) just prior to John Allen selling his portion to Lewis Reno. On March 9, 1705, John Allen confirmed the deed to Lewis Reno, "the 2100 pounds of tobacco having been fully paid" (Stafford Co. Book Z, p.309). A later land record by John Allen's brother, William Allen, mentions "a tract of land sold by my brother John Allen to Lewis Renoe a Frenchman of Westmoreland County". Stafford County was formed out of part of Westmoreland County, and Prince William County was later formed from part of Stafford County.

On June 7, 1707, Ursula Allen, "wife of John Allen of the County of Stafford", granted power of attorney to Nathaniel Pope to "acknowledge in Stafford County Court a certain tract of land granted by sale by my said husband Lewis Renoe in the same County the 9th day of March 1705 giving and granting unto my said attorney my whole power of authority in and about the premis to acknowledge in Court my right of Dower of the said land...". (Book Z p.372).

James C. Reneau, in his 1989 article in the Virginia Genealogist, interpreted this document as saying that Ursula Allen was the widow of Lewis Renoe, who must have died between 1705 and 1707, but I believe that Ursula left out the word "to" and was actually referring to the tract of land granted by my said husband TO Lewis Renoe in March 1705.

On August 24, 1711 Lewis Renoe and Clement Chevalle were granted 968 acres in Overwharton Parish of Stafford County on the upper side of Broad Run just east of Bristow (Northern Neck Grant Bk. 4, p. 28), and four days later, on August 28, 1711, Lewis Reno and Lewis Tacquett acquired a grant of 486 acres on Cedar Run, presently located east of Brentsville and south of Manassas in the northern neck of Virginia. Lewis Reno was living on this land in 1715 (Northern Neck Grant Bk. 5, p. 67). The title to this Reno-Tackett grant was the subject of a lengthy suit between Thomas Stamps and Thomas Reno in 1752 wherein the Court held that Lewis Reno in 1711 had been "duly naturalized and capable of taking and holding lands as by a Copy of Record in the office of Prince William County dated the second day of October 1688". The Court held that Lewis Tackett was not then naturalized and that this grant was invalid as to him. In 1712, Lewis Reno and Lewis Tackett divided the original grant equally between themselves, and this division was confirmed by the Court on June 16, 1779 (Prince Wm. Co. Bk. U, p.49). On June 30, 1712, Lewis Reno and Philomen Waters acquired a proprietary grant of 466 acres on the east side of Cedar Run, adjoining the Reno-Tackett Grant (Bk. M, p. 176). Thus, Lewis Reno acquired numerous lands, most of which were planted in tobacco.

Lewis Reno's will was probated on November 27, 1754, with his sons Lewis Reno and Thomas Reno named as executors. They presented his will in Court on January 27, 1755 and signed a bond, both spelling their name Reno (PW Co. Court Order Book 1754-1755, p. 181). On August 26, 1755 they reported an inventory and appraisal of his estate, but the detailed records have been lost or destroyed as has his will and any record of his marriage.

[Side Note: William L. Reno's 1975 manuscript and his published articles incorrectly showed this Lewis Reno as the son of Pierre Reynaud. Dr. Reno was unaware of the Stafford County records for Lewis and Benjamin Reynaud at the time, but court documents from the Thomas Stamps lawsuit in 1752 indicated that Lewis Reno was a naturalized citizen based on documents dated October 2, 1688, and Dr. Reno assumed that this Lewis Reno was Pierre Reynaud's son based on the following argument: "This date closely coincides with the Date (October 10, 1688) on which the Letter of Denization issued to his father, Peter Reynaud, was inscribed on the Patent Roll which was, of course, its effective date. The slight difference in dates was probably due to a clerical error in the many transcriptions which this court record has undergone; it probably said October 20, 1688, instead of October 2, 1688. If this be true, then October 20, 1688 would, under the New Style Calendar adopted in 1751, have been the equivalent of October 10, 1688 under the Old Style Calendar and would have precisely coincided with the date of the Letter of Denization."]

According to the 1723 Virginia Tobacco Lists, brothers Henry and Gabriel Moffett were living in the household of Lewis Reno in 1723 in Dettingen Parish. Frank Moffett wrote the following based on his research of these tobacco lists: "This was a census which was taken to allocate the number of tobacco plants which each male would be allowed to plant, as there was a tobacco glut, and the price was suffering. Sort of a colonial version of FDR's "Land Bank" program, wherein farmers were paid not to grow crops, etc. The brothers Henry (sometimes recorded as Heinrich) Moffett and Gabriel were listed in the household of Lewis Reno, a Huguenot, along with Reno sons, in Dettingen Parish, the location of which is now in Prince William County (then Stafford County).



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