Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jean Elisé de Büren (1762-1814)

When I was a boy I was enamored with tales of family prestige and success. The more heartrending passages of the de Büren family saga did not seem to effect me. After becoming a father, that changed. My emotional interaction and reaction to my family history has become much more visceral, even uncomfortable at times. The story of Jean Elisé falls into that category.

Jean Elisé de Büren was the second son of Charles de Büren (1731-1787) and Cornélie Jacobée van Assendelft (1733-1799). He was born in Holland while he father was still serving in the Swiss Guards. Upon returning to Switzerland he would be raised with his other brothers and sister at Vaumarcus.

Jean unfortunately had a very weak constitution and it appears he had a skeletal condition that made him progressively more hunched and stiff over time. In the painting below the fingers on his right hand hint at his condition. In spite of his ailment he was known as someone who was happy and kind, and in 1795 he became a member of the grand council of Bern.

Jean Elisé de Büren (1762-1814) painted most likely around 1795.

Jean would marry in 1803 Catherine Louise Charlotte de Thellung (1782-1814) daughter of François de Thellung, of the grand council of Biel and Salomé Catherine Jaggi. They would have two girls, Catherine and Cornélie. In a span of 15 days in 1814, Jean, his wife and his mother-in-law would succomb to Typhoid fever and die, leaving the girls orphans. Jean was a bad money manager and on top of losing their parents the girls were virtually penniless.

The future of Catherine and Cornélie could have been quite dire. Thankfully though they would go and live with their godparents Frédéric and Julie de Büren (de Wattenwyl) in Bern who became wonderful surrogate parents and would raise them well.

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