Notes on the Ancient Dissidence and Brethren in Switzerland and France

by William Joseph Lowe

circa 1870

(Texte revu et conforme à l'édition imprimée.)

Vallée du lac de Joux

Commencement of Ancient Dissidence at Le Brassus — 1816 or 17 — father of Eugène Piguet (of Colombier), who left the valley for Nyon about 1853 & then joined the «brethren». His son Eugène left two or three years before & finally settled at Colombier (near Neuchâtel).

Yverdon — 1843

Essertines. (1 1/2 hr. dist.) spring of 1844 or 5 commenced with 3 brothers. Calame of Yverdon went up two or three Sundays. After 2 or more joined. Less than a month after that 4 others. (nearly all the Christians in the village.)

Then began conversions & the number rose to 60. Agricultural

Auguste Perret-Jordan at beginning of the meeting at Essertines — born September 1819 — converted at 12 years old. Made his first & only long tour April-July, 1848. Fleurier, Noiraigue, Les Ponts de Martel, & c. — Tramelan & country about Montbéliard. Married in November of that year.

Revival in villages about Essertines began in 1824 or thereabouts. Lardon preached in 1826 & following years & died in 1834.

In village of Gressy there was a Christian pastor M. Mellot, greatly blessed about 1824. He had two brothers also pastors in the neighbourhood & also devoted men.

Sainte Croix (1840)

1839. Brother Barbey visited Samuel Bornand who had already separated from the «Nationale» for some years & formed the «Ancienne dissidence».

In autumn of 1840 two or three began to break bread & were soon after visited by J.N. Darby.

Barbey went to Pau where he died.

Samuel Bornand born 1804 converted at age of 12.

Alf. B. 1843 (This line is written in pencil)

Oldest brother at L'Auberson, David Jaques died 13 September 1869 aged 70.

Le Locle 1845

Commenced by Pfisters who removed to that place from La Chaux de Fonds at that time.

La Chaux de Fonds

Ancient Dissidence in 1838 & 1839 commenced 1836.

Brother Ronget visited them about that time. A. Frederick Pfister with them, also — he came to live at La Chaux de Fonds (from France) in 1839.

They first began to break bread regularly every Sunday in the house of Jules Jacot (1796) in 1844 or thereabouts when Ronget came to live at La Chaux de Fonds.

The meeting was held for some time in Ronget’s house & then in the present local at Guyot's.

In 1836, they often went to «Les Bises» about 3/4 hour from the town where an «ancien» of the national church received them, by night when the persecution prevented their going by day.

Considerable persecution in 1838, 39. Jules Jacot’s son Jules (1826) suffered as a boy.

Saint Imier 1834 (?)

Mme Perret & Mme Tschantz (mother of Tschantz of Sonvillier) exercised about truth in Dombresson, & used to meet afterwards in Saint Imier with a few others, & broke bread occasionally. Gradually feeling their way out of system. Rammel, Tracol & others worked here.

In 1842 Tracol commenced a meeting for evangelisation at Mme Vuillieumier's house which was blessed to the conversion of many, as well as her own family.

Meeting very fluctuating as to numbers.

Les Ponts de Martel. 1846-7.

Adolphe Huguenin came from La Chaux de Fonds & established himself at Les Ponts autumn 1846. Meeting began soon after. Félix Ducommun converted at that time took his place afterwards at the table. Auguste Aellen converted year after, also Henri Stauffer, Ducommun (afterwards of Gorgier) & the Perrin.


1845-6, chiefly through a Mr Conod & another, both of whom afterwards went back. Mme Huntziker came out at that time.

In 1870 about 30 in fellowship.

Rheinach (Argovie) commenced in 1859 or thereabouts by a brother from Zofingen. More than 100 meeting there in 1869.


Severe persecution in autumn 1848 & spring 1849. N° in communion then about 15. Several were added at the time so that the number soon rose to 70, which was afterwards reduced by death, secession & other causes.

About 30 in communion up to 1867. 14 added in 1868, 30 more in 1869 and eight others in 1870.

Louis Étienne died 1870.


Madame Séchehay (the Lydia of Geneva) buried 2nd November 1869.

July 1870

Besançon. 1849

Ulysse Junod came to Besançon March 1849 & broke bread with his wife for 3 months. (He came from Courtelary, Val de Saint Imier.) Then he was joined by a brother Arthaud, also from Switzerland, deserter from the army because he would not fight against the Fribourgers. This brother died in Besançon.

The Sunday after Junod’s arrival, when he was very low in spirit, feeling his desolation & in prayer, David Rodt knocked at his door, — an entire stranger to him, but who had heard something of him through an affair what had happened at the Custom, (where Junod rated his goods higher than was usual for conscience sake), — he soon made himself known as a child of God, only very zealous for the established church from which he did not get delivered till 2 or 3 years after. He afterwards married an English sister, & went to Nelson, New Zealand.

Marcelin Jornod came to Besançon 27 months after Junod & through David Rodt, they became acquainted with the family Magnin, who gradually got freed from system & came out about 1854.

M. Jornod remained there 6 1/2 years, till November 1857, when he went with his family to Noiraigue in the Val de Travers.

23 July 1870


This meeting is more or less connected with the history of Louis Gabriel Vierne.

Born in 1799, converted at Geneva in 1818, connected with M. Guers in the «revival» which took place about 1824, employed as colporteur, (expenses paid by Robert Haldane), — went to Montbéliard in 1827.

Several were converted through his & others means at Montbéliard, Désandans & c.

About 1831, — Vivian, a disciple of César Malan came from Geneva & wanted to «organise» the church of Montbéliard & establish himself as their pastor: but he was quickly resisted by Vierne, & he went to Paris not long after: — (among other things he wanted to impose Malan’s hymn book).

At this time the Christians met simply, through not knowing much ecclesiastical truth & not breaking bread every Lord’s Day.

In 1837, Vierne left for Belgium (near Waterloo) & did not return to Montbéliard till 1843.

Thomas Carey (1807-1869) came about 1840 (while Vierne was away in Belgium) — stayed first in Colombier-Châtelot for a time; afterwards for several months in Désandans, & greatly helped the brethren there to understand the scriptures: from there he went to Montbéliard.

[Note. Thomas Carey carried on the French work in Guernsey till his death 3 May 1869 soon after which his widow went to stay with her niece Mrs. Compain at Puligny. Pierre Compain & his family left Puligny: February 1870, after years solitude in that Roman catholic village, breaking bread with his wife & mother only, his father being unconverted & worldly. He went to Guernsey to carry on Mr Carey’s work.]

Bethoncourt. 1850

Abraham Oulevay came & established himself at Bethoncourt, in the property of the sister he married there, about 1844 — and on the occasion of his marriage François Antoine Schüttel came for the first time.

The meeting was then held in the house of Pierre Perrot, a labouring brother, who soon after went to Marseille, where he now is. The meeting was then held in a sister’s house; but when some difficulty arose, it was transported in 1850 to the house of Pierre Tissot at Bethoncourt.

Here it remained till 1870 & still is though Oulevay has built a new room but not used yet on account of affair spring 1869.

In 1866, F. A. Schüttel came to reside at Montbéliard, & as there were several brethren in the town, they decided to begin a meeting again in Montbéliard leaving that at Bethoncourt to stand as it was.

The meeting was thenceforward held in the house of F. A. S. until the war with the Prussians Autumn of 1870. F. A. S. left at the end of 1870 & went to Sonvilier (Switzerland) others left also & the meeting broke up, those that remained going to Bethoncourt.

Désandans. — Beutal.

George & Pierre Rigoulot received the truth about 1830 from L. G. Vierne at Montbéliard, to whom they applied for tracts & c., being already zealous for the Lord but not freed.

They returned home to Désandans & soon by the publication of a full, free gospel to those that applied to them, many souls became exercised & a few years after (about 1837?) they began to break bead together, once a month, feeling their way, & being in advance of Vierne who was opposed to it & to the doctrine of the Lord’s coming.

There were two dissenting parties at that time — one with Vierne at Montbéliard — the other in a Mr. Jacques at Glay near Terre-Blanche.

Mr Carey remained here some months about 1841 & taught the brethren truth from the Scriptures.

Meeting held at Fréd. Haye-Rigoulot's house (sister of Mme Jacques Jeannin of Terre-Blanche)


Jacques Chavet converted about 1835 by means of his sister who was converted at Blussangeaux.

The Rigoulots showed him there was no need of a pastor for breaking of bread & the meeting began then about the same time as at Colombier.

Pierre Marchand-Chavet & some others converted 1860 & meeting held in his house.

Colombier-Châtelot. 1840

Barbey was the first to set onfoot the breaking of bread about 1840, though there had been meetings at Blussengeaux some few years before that, & also in Colombier; but more or less connected with the «Ancienne dissidence» or old dissenting movement.

Pierre Droz, of Blussengeaux converted about 1832 at Montbéliard when in pension there, for his health, where he used to attend the meetings but he remained a dissenter more or less to the end of his days. He was used to several, but matters in Blussengeaux went ill: the affairs of this life ruined everything.

In Colombier, matters were better, one of the Lochard’s & George Bossardet-Lochard who went to Terre-Blanche were among the first.

Thomas Carey made 3 visits about 1840-5 & Oulevay, Tracol & Pierre Perrot, came often the succeeding years.

(1843) Pierre Lochard (tailor) received the truth from Carey during a severe illness in which Carey & his wife nursed him, & was set free 2 or 3 years after.

Pierre Droz has been always nominally with the brethren — father of Émilie & Marie — & so has Pierre Gein since the beginning 1840.

Terre-Blanche 1848 — {1870 July}

Meeting for breaking of bread commenced about 1848 after conversion of Pierre Jeannin and his brother Jacques a few months after in 1847 or thereabouts & was soon reinforced by several from Colombier-Châtelot who came to work in the cutlery fabric at Terre-Blanche.

The Bossardets came from Colombier about 10 years after, — four brothers George, Pierre, Etienne (died 1869) & Frédéric (died young as well as his wife) leaving many children of whom eldest Louis is in fellowship & ditto Auguste Normand of Besançon. The other brothers also have children many of them grown up & converted.

Meeting held at Jacques Jeannin’s the eldest of four brothers all in fellowship, (Pierre, Frédéric, Charles) the youngest of whom, Charles, took the name of his mother: Mégnin; he married Esther Delacoux half-sister of Abel Delacoux who got «reformed» from military service on account of a swelling in the neck which turned out to be temporary.

Jacques Jeannin born 1825 lost his father 1831 when he was six & was left with his two brothers to the care of their mother who still lives — & was converted after he was. (Charles J. born afterwards).

He married Clémence Rigoulot (of Désandans) born 1831 converted 1847 about same time as he & afterwards went to America for a time before her marriage. Pierre (1830-1887) married first Sophie Ménétrey, then afterwards Catherine Gentil of Valentigney.

Saint Julien. 1848.

Meeting commenced about same time or soon after that of Terre-Blanche & soon after the conversion of Frédéric Bainier, at whose house it has always been held.

At the time there were four or five sisters, converted, who, though attending church, used to meet together to read the word & read tracts & c. Through their means Mme F. Bainier got peace, before her husband.

Frédéric Bainier’s conversion made some stir in the village, which was made a blessing to the soul of another Bainier who had been exercised many years, but given to drinking & he was converted shortly after, & died in 1865. His son was converted on his own deathbed some years before, & was then the means of leading his wife and his mother (Bainier’s wife) to Christ. The son left his widow with one daughter Maryanne. This widow was afterwards married to Junod of Besançon.

There was considerable opposition from the villagers at the time the meetings were first held in Frédéric Bainier’s house & sometimes they were interrupted & disturbed. Fréd. B. born in 1815, converted 1848.

One of the first of the sisters converted was Catherine Bainier-Colin cousin of Mme Oulevay of Bethoncourt — who married an ungodly, wretched man, who gives her but little liberty.

There are two other Bainiers in fellowship brothers, George & Pierre, — cousins of Fréd.

Lougres. 1862.

A Christian pastor, Mr Donzé was blessed to giving many a knowledge of the truth, but it was not till Autumn of 1861, that there was much manifestation. At that time several were set free, the brethren in the neighbourhood especially Beutal helping greatly.

The nominal religion is Lutheran. Most of those converted are more or less nearly related, the family name being Jacquin.

Jacquin the ex-mayor is the most intelligent. He was much exercised during the 8 years he was mayor.

The Lords table was spread in 1862, in the spring.

Two years after this, spring of 1864, there was a little burst of persecution. The occasion was the burial of the child of a brother Martz at Longevelle, the first in these parts, performed by the brethren. The villagers made considerable opposition prompted by the clergy & L. G. Vierne was very roughly handled. [Fred. Lochard (Colombier-Châtelot) bears the marks of the stones flung at him to this day.] But the father succeeded in burying his child. P. & F. Lochard assisted.

Encouraged by this the villagers of Lougres (2 miles from Longevelle) made a «charivari», 2nd or 3rd Sunday after the affair at Longevelle. They assembled together the moment they came out of church at the time of the afternoon meeting, but the brethren aware of the conspiracy did not meet as they expected, & so not finding them some women assaulted the sister Susanne Bourquin aged 17 at the time; & the mayor, the deputy-mayor, & the rural policeman all managed to be absent. This came to the ears of the authorities who severely reprimanded the mayor, who was forced to resign, sent one or two of the worst to prison & sent some gendarmes to guard the meeting room the next Sunday.

August-September 1870

Pays d’En-Haut. 1846

4 Meetings

Rossinières - At David Roch's house

Chabloz - At Vincent Mottier's house

L’Étivaz - At Sophie Favrod's house (since 1870)

Rougemont - Marie Huser-Känel

The ancienne dissidence began.

The venerable Samuel Pilet at Rossinières was one of the first. His son Samuel, adjutant of gendarmerie, also christian but remained a «neutral» at the time of the division in Canton de Vaud (he is now at Lavigny).

Vialet laboured much here about 1846-7. Mr. Darby came up also at the same time & the meetings of brethren began almost simultaneously at all four places.

Melet of Rossinières was much used to help the brethren.

David Roch brought out of Eglise libre.

The Église libre which sprung up soon after the brethren took their stand, & which swallowed up the ancienne dissidence, has a strong hold in these valleys.

In Chateau d’Oex, 1870 it fraternizes very much with Église Nationale.