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Suffern/Sufferin History

Various extensive research carried by many groups has come to small differences in the origins and time line of the departure from France and arrival in England and Ireland of the French de Suffren.

It is commonly thought that Trophime de Suffren was the ancestor who originally started the various families but the year that he was born 1576 or 1620 is still under some debate.
Below is another version seen from the Suffern family research perspective.

Original passage taken from the The National Huguenot Society web site.

This name may be traced originally to an Italian family of Seffredinghi, who went from Lucca in north west Italy to live in Provence. There the name changed to Suffredi and in time to Suffren.
When Antoine de Suffren married in Aix the family had become French and Antoine sufficiently established to be a member of the local Parliament. He had five children, three of whom were sons. The third son, Trophine de Suffren, born about 1620 became a Protestant, as his father's sympathies had been with Henry of Navarre and against the League, (Union of the French Court, the Pope and the De Guise family). Trophine left France and came to England, being now thought to be the founder of the Suffern families of England, Ireland, America and Australia.
Trophine had three sons, one of them, James, born in 1670 near St Cannat in Provence, came to the North of Ireland. His brother William founded the American family.

James Suffren's son, also called James, was born in 1704 but little is known of him except that he had a son Benjamin and was buried in Cumlin. Benjamin built a house that can still be seen near Bellaghy, with a stone above the door marked `Benjamin Suffrin, June 4, 1789'.
His son George Suffren, born in 1780 was a weaver farmer and his descendants still live in the Maghera area.

Benjamin's brother, James Suffren settled in Antrim and later moved to Belfast, becoming a prosperous merchant. He was one of the people who gave money to build Rosemary Street Presbyterian Church. His descendants now live in Belfast, Australia and America.

Canning Suffern wrote the following letter in 1920 to a relative in the USA. The letter was kindly sent to me for publishing on this web site by Carolyn Suffern Johnson of the USA:

Dear Mr. Suffern, I have just prepared a family tree linking together the De Suffrens & Sufferns. In doing so I have made some preliminary charts, which I now enclose, as I think they will interest you, especially as I gather that you do not know much about the French family, in which I have specialized. You will see that the Irish branch could only come from three possible sources: (j) Raymond, (y) Julian (iy)Hugo’s descendant Trophime (marked with an asterick in red on middle page). Raymond’s, Julian’s & Hugo’s name was Suffredi (which I suspect to be derived from Suffredinghi, because (j) the Suffredis came from Italy in the 14th century; & (y) in the 12th century or 13th century there was at Garfagnana in N. Italy a family named Suffredinghi. Hugo’s grandson, Jehan was known as Suffredi or alternatively, De Suffren. There are two other Provincial families, Suffred & Suffret. To me Suffredi, Suffred & Suffret are obviously derived from Suffredinghi. To account for Suffred & Suffret, I point to Raymond & Julian as the originators of these branches. You will note that both Suffred & Suffret are nearer in form to Suffredi than is De Suffren. I have given all this in order to show that evidence points to the Sufferns being derived from Hugo’s family. You will see from the chart that there comes a stage at which there are three brothers, Palamide, Jean-Baptiste & Trophime. I have traced Palamide’s family down to two surviving males in 1837, & Jean-Baptiste’s family to extinction. Trophimus I have found out “went abroad.” I have carefully calculated his birth to be about 1580, a time of Huguenot troubles in Provence. There was a Huguenot emigration to Ireland from the continent about that time. There is a tradition in my father’s family that we are descended from Huguenots. Trophimus was the only De Suffren who ever settled abroad: what is more likely, then, that he became a Huguenot in a very religious Roman Catholic family & fell out of sympathy with the rest of his family & so threw in his lot with Huguenots leaving other parts of France ? I say “other parts” of France, because the massacres & persecutions of the Huguenots so rife in other parts of France hardly existed in Provence. Throphime, therefore, was not likely to flee from massacre, but rather found himself cut off from his bigoted relations. The De Suffren family, except for this “black sheep” was devoutedly Roman Catholic, supplying Jean (Jehan’s son) Confessor to Queen-Mother Marie de Medicis & Louis XIII. Balthazar, canon of Salon; Louis-Jerome, Bishop of Sisteron & Nevers; & four Knights of the Roman Catholic Order of St. John of Jerusalem at Malta, (j) Francois, (y) Pierre-Andre’, (iy) Paul & (iv) Louis-Victor. Jehan Suffredi, or De Suffren, was created a peer in 1548. This peerage does to seem to have descended to his sons. But his grandsons Jean-Baptiste & Trophimus (after the death of their elder brother, Palamede, & before the emigration of Trophimus) were created joint “Lords” [? “of the manor”] of Aubes (near Salon, the home of the De Suffrens). Consequently the present heir of Trophimus must be Lord of Aubes!!! I wonder if it is D. Russell Suffern, or whether it is someone in Ulster. The other (senior) Lordship of Aubes passed from Jean-Baptiste to his younger son Louis (the elder son Paul being a Jesuit), his grandson Joseph-Jean-Baptiste, great-grandson Paul. After the death of the latter it passed for a while to his brother Pierre-Andre’ (the Admiral) [Louis-Jerome the 2nd brother being a Bishop] until his own son Pierre-Marie came to age. With the last-named the title became extinct as regards that branch. N.B. A third heir to the title was Palamede’s son Pierre, who died without issue. Jehan’s oldest son Antoine married a daughter of the Lord of Moleges. This title was somehow inherited by his grandson Antoine, whose son Jacques died without issue. Joseph-Jean-Baptiste, son of Louis – (I cannot tell if this is a hyphen or an “&” sign) Polixene, was, besides Lord of Aubes, also Lord of St. Tropez, which title was handed on in the way already described for the lordship of Aubes. The same J-J-B, was created Lord of Richebois in 1723. This title was similarly handed on. His son Paul was Lord of La Molle & Lord of St. Cannat in addition to the above-mentioned titles. I have not the time now to give you any information as the their lives, but I hope to do so soon, if you care to hear. Nearly every member of the French family was a remarkable man, either in Provencal Parliament, municipal government, the church, the navy or the army. One was a famous botanist. There was hardly a dud among them. I am afraid the Suffern family does not occupy such a prominent position as it used to; although I am told there were several Sufferns Mayors of Belfast. This is quite unconfirmed by me as yet. I am only beginning to dip into the Irish history. My father has some vague idea of an article or a book or pamphlet written some time ago on the “Suffern’s book-plates” & suggests that the family crest was a wheat sheaf with the motto either “Pax cum otio (olio?)” or “Peace with Plenty.” Of this I know nothing.. Perhaps you can enlighten me. I know the French family’s arms, four leopard masks grouped around a saltire (?) or St. Andrew’s cross. I cannot at the moment remember the metals or the colours thereof. Believe me Yours truly, C. Suffern.