The Edict of Nantes of 1598 had allowed freedom of religion to the Huguenots, a French Protestant minority in a predominately Roman Catholic France. When Louis XIV renounced the Edict in 1685 and declared Protestantism illegal in France, many Huguenots fled to England. Among these refugees was a Huguenot minister, André Majendie, whose son and grandson would become Canons of Windsor.
André’s son, John James Majendie, came to Windsor as English language instructor to Queen Charlotte, shortly after she had emigrated from Germany in 1761 to marry George III. She remained his patron and friend, appointing him her domestic chaplain and tutor to her two eldest sons, George, Prince of Wales, the future George IV, and Frederick, Duke of York. Ordained in the Anglican Church after a brief spell as Huguenot pastor to the French Church of the Savoy, Majendie became Prebend of Netherarvon in Salisbury (1752-1783), Prebend in the Diocese of Worcester (1769-1774) and Canon of Windsor (1774-1783). Here he resided in 3 Canons’ Cloister, occupying the fifth stall in St George’s Chapel until his death in 1783.
John James’ son, Henry William Majendie, followed his father’s career in two respects: from 1776 he served as tutor to one of the King’s sons – the future William IV- and in 1785 was appointed Canon of Windsor. Henry had the unusual experience of travelling much of the world with his royal charge, accompanying the Prince William on HMS Prince George, during the American War of Independence, visiting New York in November 1782. According to the DNB -“it was as a direct reward for this service that Majendie was appointed a canon of Windsor in 1785 and he deferred marriage until he received that appointment”. Occupying the third stall in the Chapel, he was allocated 2 Canons’ Cloister in 1785, but moved to 10 Canons’ Cloister in 1792, probably to accommodate his growing family. He and his wife had thirteen children in all, nine of whom were baptised in the Chapel between 1786 and 1797. The following year, he resigned his Windsor canonry on his appointment as Prebend of St Paul’s Cathedral and as Vicar of New Windsor, thus maintaining his local connection. He became Bishop of Chester in 1800, and served as Bishop of Bangor from 1809 until his death in 1830.
Clare (Archivist and Chapter Librarian)