SWITZERLAND - Attractive Document Signed 1788
Document recognising Isaac Jeanneret “dit le gris du Locle”, who had given satisfactory proof of his ancestry, a Bourgeois of Valengin, with its attendant rights and privileges, signed “T.T. Challandes” as “Boursier [treasurer] de la Bourgeoisie”.
1 page large folio on vellum in French, c. 12 x 15½ ins with red wax seal encased in wood, with four red and blue pendant ribbons, which have been threaded through the lower part of the document, Valengin, 4 November 1788.
Isaac Jeanneret, “dit le gris du Locle” had given proof of being a bourgeois of Valengin, showing his descendance from four generations of Bourgeois of Valengin, and therefore requested official ‘letters’ declaring his right of being named as such.
The ‘bourgeois’ of Valangin (as it is now commonly spelled), near Neuchatel, date back to the fourteenth century, and in the early sixteenth century a few families from le Locle were named bourgeois of Valangin. The concept of the bourgeois carried with it important privileges, not the least of which was an exemption from certain taxes.
When Frederick I of Prussia became sovereign of Neuchatel in 1707, he vowed to respect the customs of Neuchatel, including those of Valangin and le Locle. Nearly a century later, the king of Prussia granted the right of free trade to the bourgeois of Valangin.
The privileges of a bourgeois of Valangin were transmitted from the father to the eldest son, but descendants of the younger sons could eventually be admitted as bourgeois on condition of providing sufficient proof that their ancestor had enjoyed the status of bourgeois himself. This was evidently the case for Isaac Jeanneret.
Le Locle, near Valangin, is an important centre for Swiss watchmaking, and, together with La-Chaux-de-Fonds, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The document has some damp-staining, with a central darkened mark. It is neverthless clearly legible, and the ribbons and seal make this an attractive and unusual item.
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