The Brohier connection

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The Brohier connection

This article by Marguerite Syvret was first published in the 1984 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

Huguenot family

An enquiry concerning three men from Jersey, taken into partnership by Jacob Schweppe, has led to an interesting exploration of a refugee Huguenot family.

Schweppes was founded in Geneva in the early 1780s, and Jacob brought the business to England in 1792. In 1798, when preparing to retire and return to Switzerland, he sold a three-quarter share in his business to H W Lauzun, F C Lauzun and R C G Brohier, who played an important part in the early development of the firm.

R C G's great-grandfather was Mathieu Brohier who, with his family, left the Vaucluse region of Provence after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. His death on 29 June 1689 is recorded in the register of the Walloon Calvinist Church in Southampton and family links with this city were maintained throughout the 18th century.

Two sons of Mathieu settled in Jersey. Cyrus married first Marie Tapin, whose father Daniel was also a refugie de religion, and secondly Elizabeth de Carteret, daughter of a Seigneur of Trinity. Cyrus took an active part in island life, but left no male heir.

His brother Jean, by his second wife Sara, daughter of Philippe Journeaux, Constable of St Clement, had two sons, Jean and Philippe-Mathieu, both of whom were at some time merchants in Southampton. Here in August 1744, according to the register of Holyrood Church, Philippe-Mathieu married Susanna Boyle at God's House Chapel where the Calvinists worshipped.

In about 1750 he fled the city leaving debts. This may explain why at least two of his children were baptised in Jersey. This generation had colourful careers and grander names than was customary then in the island.

Dutch East India Company

Jean joined the Dutch East India Company. In 1780 he was in Colombo, an ensign in the Chasseurs with the title Wei Edele Manhaften Heer. When the British acquired Ceylon, he was for a time their prisoner.

Louis-Nathaniel-John lost a leg in an accident and died in St La in France. Cyrus-Boyle married Suzanne Filleul, heiress to the family of Jutize de Carteret of Grouville. He and two younger brothers, John-Henry and Robert-Charles-George, advertised regularly in La Gazette de Jersey, enabling us to follow their activities more closely.

In 1790 Cyrus-Boyle was selling manure and oats and a five-year-old cart horse, while his brother John-Henry advertised soap 'as good as that manufactured in Marseilles'. He was also buying wood-ash, gorse and brambles, and selling lessive, a lye or detergent used in the making of soap, and said to be good for fertilizing the soil.

Indeed the making of soap was the chief concern of the younger brothers. Through the Journeaux they had an interest in land in St Helier, and in the 1790s a soap factory was built on 'un certain petit jardin' between Ann Street and St Saviour's Road.

The site was watered by a stream which now runs under the Continental Hotel and behind Hemery Row, built on land sold to Jacques Hemery by Jean Brohier. A number of their successors manufactured soap and candles on this site, the last being members of the Le Rossignol family.


By 1791 Jean-Henry had diversified his wares and included in his advertisement barrel hoops, red wine, gloves, artificial flowers, Livaro cheeses and butter in barrels. He was prepared to accept at the current rate of exchange the French promissory notes or assignats issued by the revolutionary government.

In 1794 Robert-Charles-George advertised soap and candles, bought manure and wood-ash and asked for men willing to pick oakum. In June 1794 articles from his soap factory were on sale in St Helier and at his brother's house in Grouville.

We hear no more of Robert-Charles-George in Jersey, but in 1803 Jean¬Henry Brohier informed us in French and English that he sold 'wholesale and retail by the hamper in his warehouse in Southampton, the artificial mineral waters of seltzer, soda, Pyrmont, Spa and Rochelle etc., which have been found far superior to those waters in their genuine state and which have been found by gentlemen travelling to the East or West Indies to be the most cool and grateful beverage possible.'

He then quoted names of surgeons and pharmacists in Jersey, Guernsey, Weymouth, Winchester and Portsmouth who had written recommending these wares.

Powers of attorney were granted at this period to Robert-Charles-George of Cavendish Square, London, and to his sister Julie-Susanne. This brings us to the two Lauzuns, for she had married F C Lauzun of Margaret Street, Cavendish Square.

The Lauzuns were only de passage in Jersey. The relationship between them has not been established. Henry William was a Captain in the Royal Staff Corps. His name appears with others in the bottom left-hand comer of the Richmond map as one of the surveying draftsmen.

Military roads

In December 1809 he is commended by the States as Captain Lauzun of the Royal Staff Corps who, 'charged by His Excellency General Don with the superintendence of this essential work (the creation of military roads in the Island) has acquitted himself in a manner which reflects honour on his zeal and abilities'.

There are property deals. Francois-Charles offers to let a house next door to that of the chief engineer and in 1799 has one for sale in Rue du Froid Vent (Regent Road). In 1811 Captain Henry-William Lauzun offers his house and its contents for sale and asks people to settle their debts.

In 1920 a W H Bell of Alderney sent to Schweppes a deed dated 3 June 1813, which recorded that by an indenture of 13 November 1809, when Francis Charles Lauzun was the owner of a fourth share in the capital and profits of J Schweppe and Company, he arranged to settle one fourth of that share upon his son Henry Seymour Lauzun of Guernsey who was then about to marry Harriet Dobree Bell.

The marriage took place, but Henry Seymour died 'in or about the month of September 1812, intestate': where or how we do not know. Harriet obtained letters of administration and sold the fourth of one fourth share, which she had inherited, to Robert-Charles-George Brohier for £600. There the Lauzun trail ends.

Next generation

The next generation of Brohiers entered the professions. Two sons of Cyrus-Boyle had commissions in the regular army. His daughter, Marguerite-Marie-Julie married an army surgeon and spent some time with him abroad.

One of Jean-Henry's twin sons obtained his MRCS in Paris and in 1821 wrote a thesis on mineral waters. He married Marie, a sister of Bailiff Hammond, and practised at 26 New Street, whose Georgian facade has changed little. This was a Thoreau house, as the mother of his partner, Dr George Symes Hooper, was of the same family as the American author of ‘’Walden’’.

When he died Dr Brohier was universally praised for the concern he had shown for the poor, particularly exiled Poles; for his support of the work of the Constable of St Helier, Pierre Le Sueur, in introducing main drainage; for his cultural activities in stimulating an interest in literature, the arts and science. He was surgeon to the militia regiment of the parish of St Lawrence. He was, in the words of ‘’La Chronique’’ of 1 September 1858: ‘’un parfait gentleman, un patriote sincere, un lettre, un vrai chretien’’.

The last to bear the Brohier surname in Jersey died in the 1870s. But, next time you sip a gin and tonic or decline the invitation of a television advertisement to 'go Schwepping', spare a thought for the three men from Jersey who helped to set the firm of Schweppes on the road to success.

Schweppes book

Schweppes: The first 200 years, by Douglas Simmons. Published April 1983.

After the above article had gone to press the Société received, as a gift to the Library, a numbered copy of a limited edition of Mr Simmons' book, written to commemorate the bicentenary of Schweppes in 1983.

The first three chapters trace the story of Jacob Schweppe, whose first profession was that of a jeweller and who was recognised by his contemporaries as a man of great genius and originality in whatever sphere he chose to work.

Chapter IV, which covers the period 1799-1834, has for its heading 'Schweppes under the three Jerseymen' and adds further information on the Brohiers and Lauzuns. H W Lauzun's residence in England was Walfield near Whetstone in Middlesex which he held on copyhold from the Manor of Friern Barnet. Margaret Street was the address of the business. The partnership of 1798 was dissolved by a deed dated 3 May 1824 and the Lauzuns, with three other shareholders, including Schweppe's daughter Colette and her husband, assigned their interests to Robert Brohier, R J Brohier and R A Sparkes. Robert Brohier's contribution is thus summed up:

Robert Brohier was one of the original partners from 1798. Since 1801 he had had the largest share in the business. He had taken up residence at the Margaret Street premises and assumed responsibility for the commercial management of the business. For twenty-five years therefore, following Jacob's retirement, he had borne the heaviest burden. Surely he must be numbered among the stalwarts of Schweppe's. His signature, laboriously appended to the deed of Dissolution of Partnership and Assignment, indicated his failing strength. His knowledge of the 'art, mistery and process' had been imparted to him directly by Jacob Schweppe himself and he was the last member of the firm to have known the founder personally.

The author then traces the history of the firm to the present day when private and corporate enterprise over the years have produced the great company now known as Cadbury-Schweppes. The book has splendid illustrations, including many of the advertisements which have made felicitous play on the founder's name. It is a fine production in which we are glad to have played a very small part.

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