Jean Cavalier, a leader of the Camisards or insurgent Protestants in the Cevennes, born at Ribaute, in Languedoc, about 1679, died at Chelsea, near London, in May, 1740. The son of a poor peasant, he was first a shepherd, then a baker. Religious persecution forced him to leave his country, but after living a few months at Geneva he secretly went back, and was foremost among the promoters of the insurrection of 1702. He was at once a preacher and a soldier, and his talents gave him an authority almost equal to that of the Camisard commander-in-chief. When Marshal Villars took the command of the royal troops, Cavalier had an interview with him at Nimes, and agreed on terms of peace: the young chief was to be received into the king's service, with the rank of colonel and a handsome pension; a regiment was to be raised among the Camisards, who were now to enjoy the free exercise of their religion. This treaty did not suit the other chiefs or the people. Cavalier was immediately discarded by them, and departed for Paris attended by very few companions.
There he was treated with contempt by the king; and having received secret advice that he was to be put in prison, he made his escape to Switzerland, whence he went to Holland. Having entered the service of England, he organized a regiment of French refugees, whom he took to Spain to support the cause of Charles. At the battle of Almanza this regiment engaged a battalion of French troops, which fought with such fury that the greatest part of both corps were left dead on the battle field. Cavalier afterward joined the army of Prince Eugene, who entered Provence and besieged Toulon. After the peace of Utrecht he repaired to England, where he was received with great favor, obtaining the rank of general, and being appointed governor of the island of Jersey.