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Stouppe, Jean-Baptiste [Giovanni Battista Stoppa]locked

(fl. 1651–1673)
  • Timothy Venning

Stouppe, Jean-Baptiste [Giovanni Battista Stoppa] (fl. 1651–1673), Reformed minister and spy, originated from the Grisons, Switzerland. A proposant or divinity graduate of the Academy of Geneva, he was tutor to the children of a Huguenot magnate, the marquis de Montbrun, in Dauphiné when in November 1651 he was recommended by the continental Huguenot churches to their fellows in London as successor to Jean de la Marche. He was elected pastor of the Threadneedle Street congregation on 26 February 1652, and was still sufficiently youthful to request the consistory to obtain his mother's approval before he accepted the post. There he and his fellow ministers failed to heal schisms, and in January 1658 the council of state had to intervene.

England was seeking to distract the French government from aiding Charles II, and Huguenot risings would be invaluable. Accordingly, Lord Lisle requested Stouppe to visit France to contact rebels in April 1653. The proposal was revived by Barrière, London agent of the French rebel Condé, in December. Stouppe set out following an interview with Cromwell in February 1654, and travelled via Paris and the Rhône to Geneva, returning via Frankfurt early in June. Detained by Spanish officials in Dunkirk, he reported to Cromwell on 12 July that revolt was unlikely. The prospect of intervention receded, but in 1655 the massacre of the ‘Vaudois’ (Waldenses) in Piedmont by the duke of Savoy, a client of the French court, again dented France's reputation in England. Stouppe, receiving appeals for relief, met Cromwell and Thurloe to assess the chance of stimulating a Huguenot revolt and was considered as a potential agent for relaying relief funds. Spanish ambassador Cardenas and Barrière unsuccessfully asked him to take money to Dauphiné to finance a revolt. He compiled a lurid account of the atrocities, which he published as A Collection of the Several Papers Sent to his Highness the Lord Protector (1655), with a laudatory dedication to Cromwell as a 'new Zerubbabel' who would complete the rebuilding of the temple in a New Jerusalem. Having petitioned the council for remuneration for the mission he had undertaken in September 1655, Stouppe was awarded £200 in April 1657. During the Spanish war he was consulted by Cromwell about an international protestant ‘college’ to organize evangelization, and he unsuccessfully advised Thurloe to arrest the conspirator Miles Sindercombe.

At the Restoration, Stouppe's partisanship made him an embarrassment. On 23 August 1661 Charles II successfully requested his dismissal from the Threadneedle Street pastorate as 'a notorious meddler in matters not of his calling' (CSP dom., 1661–2, 70). He may also have been using unlicensed visits to export protestant propaganda to France. By 1665 he seems to have been settled on the continent. Louis Du Moulin reported to Richard Baxter on 12 June that year that, encouraged by Parisian minister Raymond Gaches, Stouppe had translated Baxter's A Call to the Unconverted (1658). It was published in Geneva in 1666 as La voix de Dieu, qui appelle les pécheurs à la repentance. According to Du Moulin, Stouppe sought advice on which of Baxter's books should be translated next, since both he and Gaches felt that if Baxter's books were available 'in latine or french … you might make a very great harvest' of 'a million of Christians' (Keeble and Nuttall, 2.43). By 1670 Stouppe had found a new occupation as colonel of a Swiss regiment in French service, but he continued to write, publishing in Paris and Cologne in 1673, apparently as Giovanni Battista Stoppa, La religion des Houandois, a work published in London in 1680 as The Religion of the Dutch. The date of his death is unknown.

Sources

  • French ambassador's corresp., 1653–5, TNA: PRO, SP 31/3/93–98
  • Barrière–Condé corresp., BL, Add. MS 35252
  • R. Vaughan, The protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, 2 vols. (1839)
  • R. D. Gwynn, ed., A calendar of the letter books of the French church of London … 1643–1659, Huguenot Society of London, 54 (1979)
  • CSP dom., 1656–8; 1661–2
  • J. S. Burn, History of the French … and other foreign protestant refugees in England (1841)
  • TNA: PRO, SP 25/76, 373
  • Calendar of the correspondence of Richard Baxter, ed. N. H. Keeble and G. F. Nuttall, 2 (1991)
  • C. Clay, ed., Register of the Reformed church at Le Mans, 1650–1685, Huguenot Society of London, 47 (1961)
  • Burnet’s History of my own time, ed. O. Airy, new edn, 2 vols. (1897–1900)
National Archives of the United Kingdom, Public Record Office, London
[in 360 vols. with suppls., also CD-ROM and online]
J. Thurloe, ed. T. Birch, 7 vols. (1742)