The Fondans of St Peter

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The Fondans of St Peter



This article by the Rev J A Messervy was first published in French in the 1905 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise, and has been translated by Mike Bisson


The Fondan family, now extinct in Jersey, which can also be written Fonden, Fondent, Fondenc, Fondain etc, certainly has a place among the notable families of the island from the 16th century.

The name perhaps comes from the Latin ‘’fons, fontis, fondanus’’ or ‘’fontanus’’ and is also a baptismal name.

Early references

Starting back in 1292, Philippe Fondan was a Jurat, a position he seems still to have occupieed in 1309. Thomas Fondan was jurat in 1331 and two centuries later (1534) Jean Fondan was also elevated to the Magistracy.

Jurat Thomas Fondan also figures in the Extente of 1331: “for the fief which was Philippe de Vinchelez’s, which the same Thomas holds at present on behalf of his wife”. Elsewhere, according to a contract of 1362, Regnaut Fondent, as much for himself as for his brothers Philippot and Jordan, sold to Roger de Vinchelez land, rentes etc belonging to him in Jersey in succession from Julienne de Vinchelez, for 5 quarters of wheat rente.

Another notable member of this family, Sire Guillaume Fondan, priest, was Rector of St Brelade around 1497-99.

Although there were representatives in other parishes, it is in St Peter that this family had most influence. The principal branch had a considerable heritage there and also the Fief ès-Hormans, of which Jean Fondan was Seigneur from 1489. The fief passed by the marriage of Marie Fondan in 1659 to the family of Jacques Arthur. In 1763 Philippe Lempriere (Seigneur of Chesnel) was its seigneur, probably through purchase.

Apart from the fief ès-Hormans the Fondans must have owned in very early days a fief situated partly in St Peter, partly in St Ouen, and still called Fief Fondan in the 17th century, or Franc Fief Fondan. This fief is we believe a dependance of that of St Ouen, of which it is an enclave.

The name Fondan is still attached to a number of localities or pieces of land in Jersey. Mont Fondan, at St Peter, rises not far from the site of the house of the principal branch, near or close to Fief ès-Hormans; Croix Fondan was also on the Fief ès-Hormans and a neighbouring field was named Piece de la Croix Fondan.

Courtils de Fondan are in St Ouen, on the Fief de Léoville, along Rue de Lecq. There is also Clos de Fondan, which belonged in 1760 to Jean de Carteret, son of Jean; Jardin de Fondan, which is mentioned in 1671 as being part of the land of theheirs of Michel Lempriere at Maufant, St Saviour, on the Fief du Roi; and Fondan Valley, which one sees in the ’’enquete’’ held at St Peter in 1598: ‘Grande Vingtaine: Valley Fondan, behind the house of Nicolas Fondan’.

There was also a property in the 17th century called La Fondanerie, as evidenced by the following extract of 1669: Jean Huelin, son of Jacques, son of Pierre, having the right from Pierre Gibaut son of Louis to a house called La Fondanerie’; this property is a neighb our of another called ‘’Ville au Francois’’, belonging at the same time to Philippe Maret, principal heir of Marthe Lempriere, by rights from Philippe Anley son of Pierre.

Representatives of 16th and 17th centuries

Now we present some details, provided by the Court Rolls, on the main representatives of the Fondan family in St Peter in the 16th and 17th centuries.

  • An extract relating to Pierre Fondan (probably son of Jurat Jean Fondan) and his refusal to sell his crop at a time when his fellow citizens suffered the results of a dearth of wheat.
  • An action by his son Nicolas in 1583 against the Master of the Hunt concerning his rights to hunt on Royal land.

This Nicolas Fondan owned, as well as his property on Fief ès-Hormans, land near Val de la Mare, also in St Peter but on the Fief of St Ouen.

Matthieu Fondan, younger son of Nicolas, acquired on 17 May 1615 from Josue de Carteret, on behalf of his wife Jeanne Herault, the house Handois and 100 vergees of land with hunting rights for 61 quarters of wheat rente; these properties were situated at St Lawrence at Coin ès Hastains.

The only daughter and heiress of Matthieu Fondan married Jean Faultrart, Jurat of Guernsey, and their two daughters married into two of the best families of Guernsey, Le Marchant and Beauvoir.

There is also a 1677 Acte relating to Elizabeth, a grand-niece of Matthieu Fondan, the widow of Pierre de Carteret of St Brelade, concerning a dispute with Richard de Carteret, the guardian of her children after her husband’s death.

Marie Fondan, the elder sister of this Elizabeth, and Dame of Fief ès-Hormans, was a widow from her first marriage before attaining her majority, and married for the scond time to Jacques Arthur, whose mother was also a Fondan, but of another branch of the family.

Among other land belonging in 1693 to Jacques Arthur, husband or son of Marie Fondan, are found Les Vaux and Les Vallettes, at St Peter, to the south of Mont Fondan, on the Fief ès-Hormans.

Another branch about which it is convenient to say a few words was also established at St Peter in Vingtaine des Augerez, not far from La Caroline. In this family the baptismal names Philippe and Helier alternated from generation to generation. Part of their property was situated on the Fief des Vingt Livres. Philippe Fondan, son of Helier, was one of the tenants of this fief, a dependance of St Ouen, who in 1625 came to an agreement with Sir Philippe de Carteret to leave the farm on the fief.

Marguerite Fondan, the heiress of this branch, married Edouard de Carteret of Vinchelez de Bas in 1699. Their grandson Jurat Jean de Carteret married Anne de Carteret, Dame of Vinchelez de Bas.

Other parishes

As already indicated, the Fondans were also established in parishes other than St Peter. There was a branch in St Brelade represented in 1748 by Francois Le Cornu on behalf of his wife the daughter of Philippe Fondan and principal heiress of her brother Philippe, and by Josue Le Geyt and Helier Martel, other daughters of this Philippe. This Philippe was without doubt the one who in 1728 was commander of the ‘’Don et Dieu’’ trading at Newfoundland. He owned a house on the quay at St Aubin.

Suzanne Fondan, daughter of Philippe, who sold her house and land at St Brelade to Philippe Le Bas, son of Elie, on 26 June 1789, also belonged to this branch.

Suzanne Fondan, of Valvoirin, St Brelade, died on 10 May 1798 without direct heirs.

Another branch of this family lived for a long time in St Ouen, where it became extinct at the start of the 18th century, we believe. Among other members was Raulin Fondan, who, in 1580, married Marguerite,daughter of Richard de Carteret (Vinchelez de Haut, it seems) and who died without heirs in 1584. Marguerite de Carteret, his widow, married for the second time to a Le Cheminant.

Finally it must be said that several members of the family emigrated to America. In 1686 a Pierre Fondan was established in New England, where he was known as Fontaine. Another Pierre Fondan lived in 1762 in Marblehead, also in New England.
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