Background

As a young child I would transcribe my grandfathers handwritten notes on our family history. The fascination has never waned and I am the fortunate successor of generations of individuals from my family who have been intrigued by our family’s history.

 

Despite the rich mine of information handed down the origin of my family name of Jeanneret has remained a mystery. The anecdotal story was that our forebears were Huguenots who fled France or Switzerland. Somewhere a small detail was inserted that they travelled via the Channel Islands. To this day I have not found any evidence of that journey however I do know that my great, great, great, great grandfather Lewis Francis James Jeanneret lived in London. He was married and his children were baptised at a Huguenot church and he lived in an area that was populated by Huguenots.

 

From my many searches I was aware of some other people bearing the Jeanneret name but I made the mistake of excluding them from my research for the simple reason that Lewis was an ironmonger and these other people had loftier professions, they were solicitors.

 

Recently I had my DNA tested and a link turned up with individuals in America. Lo and behold that family had Lewis Francis James Jeanneret listed in their tree as the younger brother of the solicitors I had discounted.

 

The final piece in the jigsaw was the discovery of the Last Will and Testament of Elizabeth Jeanneret, mother of Lewis in which she detailed her sons and their occupations. From there it was easy to establish the family and their link back to Switzerland with various pieces of proof.

 

Along the way I undertook a 'One Name Study' where I am attempting to capture every Jeanneret that has existed. So far I have recorded over 6,500 individuals in that database which has enabled me to establish a very small number of families that were the originators of all of us with the name Jeanneret.

Genealogical search, or more exactly the search of the surname can hardly be made beyond the 15th century. At that time the shortage of personnel, the shortage of documentation and the lack of their text do not make it possible to establish with certainty affiliation. One must be often satisfied with probability and limited data.

 

During the 14th Century, amongst subjects of the Princes of Valangin we find in year 1350, the name of Yermin which becomes Small Jehan then Jehanneret then Jeanneret. In 1447, the population of valley-I-Ruz becoming more numerous, the lord of Valangin supports the colonists who from there in the High Jura will call themselves as clearer-ploughman. At the 14th Century they are established in Segue, with the Between-two-Mounts, Locle the Lime of Bottoms.

 

A family of the name of Jeanneret is installed with the hamlet of Crozot on Locle, an official letter going back to 1612, addressed to Jean-Jacques Jeanneret, Bourgois of Valangin. Franc-Habergeant, confirms the existence of this family to the farm of Cernaye. Certain nicknames or physical characteristics were not long in differentiating between families, thus a large strapping man took the particle "large-Jean", Jeanneret-Grosjean. One strongly grisonnant took the nickname of "the gris" from where Jeanneret-Gris comes from.

 

Switzerland is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe, with more than 70 percent of its area covered by the Alps with peaks of 4,634 m, in the central and southern sections, the Jura (Celtic for forests) in the Northwest. The Juras are much lower and smaller than the Alps, and are popular for cross country skiing. The renowned Swiss watchmaking industry began in the Jura mountains, introduced by the Huguenots escaping from France.

 

Switzerland is a confederation of 23 states, called cantons.  Originally the canton of Neuchatel was under Prussian control and it was not until 1815 that it became the 18th member of the Swiss Republic. Neuchatel canton is known for speaking the purest French in France & Switzerland, the other main languages of the Swiss Republic are German in the West and Italian in the south.

 

Neuchatel canton covers the towns of Le Locle, La Chaux de Fonds, Travers, Neuchatel and many more but those stated appear to be the main areas that the name Jeanneret is established.

 

Le Locle is near the French border and lies approximately 15 km North of Neuchatel and 10 km West of La Chaux de Fonds, Travers is approx. 15 kms South west of Le Locle.

 

The Huegenot Society of South Carolina confirms the name Jeanneret as a Huguenot family.