Belrieu, Jacques de (c.1630–1719), Seigneur de St Laurans, Baron de Virazel , huguenot colonist, was born at Bordeaux, France, and married (1651) Marie de Gaumont, with whom he had at least three children: Daniel, Charles, and Marie Ann. Virazel became a lawyer and ultimately counsellor to the parlement of Bordeaux. After Louis XIV's revocation (17 October 1685) of the edict of Nantes, Virazel, like other members of the huguenot community, had to choose between abjuring protestantism and suffering the consequences. Refusing to abjure, Virazel was disassociated from the parlement and imprisoned in the Bastille (14 March 1686–12 May 1687). He was released at the instance of the Ruvigny family; the marquis de Ruvigny and his son Henri had served as the last députés-général of the French reformed churches and had been allowed to settle in exile, in considerable comfort, at Greenwich, England. With the exception of Charles, who chose to remain in France, the Virazels were permitted to join the Ruvignys at Greenwich, where the baron became part of the inner circle of the exilic leadership of the huguenot community. In 1692 Henri de Ruvigny (qv) – who had succeeded his father as marquis in 1689, and had been further ennobled as Viscount (later earl of) Galway – called Virazel to Ireland to act as his principal agent for settling exiled huguenots there. Virazel's primary project was to establish a large huguenot military settlement at Portarlington on the forfeited Trant estate, which had been granted to Galway by William III (qv). Despite the fact that he saw no military service, the baron was granted an exceptionally high pension on the Irish military establishment (£100 a year). His property-holdings were extensive both in Portarlington and in Dublin, the sites of Ireland's two largest huguenot colonies. After Galway, Virazel was the most important architect of the Portarlington settlement: acting as intermediary for the paying-out of military pensions, and as personal banker for the settlers; conveying huguenot families from the Swiss cantons to Ireland via Frankfort-on-Main; buying up pre-1692 Portarlington leases; and, as one of the chief landholders, participating actively in borough affairs. During the 1702 controversy between the nonconformist pastor Benjamin de Daillon and the high-church bishop of Kildare, William Moreton (qv), Virazel sided with Daillon's dissenting stance, and consequently (and in conjunction with Galway's loss of his forfeiture as a result of the act of resumption of 1700) his influence in Portarlington dwindled. Thereafter the baron spent most of his time at Dublin, where the family worshipped at the French Non-Conformed chapel at Lucy Lane. Virazel resided on Jervis St. and owned property on Stephen St., Great Strand St., and George's Lane, engaging occasionally in building projects and property speculation. He died in Dublin in 1719, his son Daniel inheriting the titles and property.
Dublin Registry of Deeds, MSS 31-50-18147; 68-26-46859; 81-202-56879; NLI, MS 12123, p. 35; Hibernate Notitia (1723); T. P. Le Fanu (ed.), Portarlington church registers (Huguenot Society of London: Quarto Series, xix, p. xiii); William Manchee and T. P. LeFanu (ed.), Dublin and Portarlington veterans (Huguenot Society of London: Quarto Series, xli), 72; Raymond Pierre Hylton, ‘Huguenot settlement at Portarlington, 1692–1771’ (MA thesis, NUI (UCD), 1982), 15, 23; id., ‘The huguenot communities in Dublin, 1662–1745’ (Ph.D. thesis, NUI (UCD), 1986), 81, 205, 227; id., Ireland’s Huguenots and their refuge 1662–1745 (2005)