Charles Read (1819-1898)

The founder of the Société d'Histoire du Protestantisme Français

  • Charles Read (1819-1898) © S.H.P.F.

Of Scottish descent on his father’s side, he first became magistrate in Montélimar. He was appointed sous-préfet in Bayle, then in Villeneuve-sur-Lot.

In 1849 he succeeded Frédéric Cuvier as assistant-director of the Department of non-Roman Catholic religions at the Ministry for the Interior. In 1852 he plays a major role in the drafting of the decrees that reorganize the Protestant Churches (see : Le Temps des divisions). A friend of the Coquerel family – of a theologically liberal trend – he was confronted to problems related to Protestant evangelization. In 1857, he was obliged to resign following a conflict with Rouland, the Minister for Public Education who reproached him for siding too often with his fellow Protestants, and failing to sufficiently defend the State’s position. He was appointed head of the legal department, then head of the department of historical research at the Seine préfecture. He withdrew from public life in 1871.

He was inquisitive, open-minded, and very active person. A man of initiative, he was to be the main instigator of the foundation of the Société de l’Histoire du Protestantisme Français. He was likewise at the origin of the Musée Carnavalet (1867). He published L’intermédiaire des chercheurs et curieux under the pseudonym Carle de Rash.

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