History of the Dutoit family — There were already multiple Dutoit families in the vicinity of Moudon by the early 1500's. At that time, the name was most often spelled DuToict or DuThey. Unfortunately, the records that have come down to us are incomplete and contradictory. We are still trying to establish the connections between the many branches of this family that appear in records from all over Canton Vaud, as well as other countries.
It is likely that our database contains a number of people under duplicate entries, once as an infant (a baptismal record), and again as an adult (a marriage record, or as a parent). If it can be proven that two entries involve the same person, please send an E-mail to the compiler!
Incomplete as these records are, one question can be answered: when your ancestral Dutoit, who in some document claims to be "of Moudon", is not found in the church records or notarial records there, the most likely explanation is that he belongs to a family that resided somewhere else, but whose ancestry is in Moudon. "Bourgeois" status is hereditary, and many a Dutoit from Bercher, Thierrens, Curtilles, Vevey, Lausanne, etc. is referred to in official records as "Dutoit de Moudon".
Sources: microfilmed church records of Moudon, Thierrens, Curtilles, Granges, Bercher, Vevey, St.-Cierges, Oron-la-Ville, L'Isle, Morges, Lausanne, Avenches, Payerne, Concise, Prilly, Vullierens, Vufflens-la-Ville, Corsier-sur-Vevey, Cronay, St.-Saphorin-sur-Morges, Mézières, Donneloye, Chêne-Pâquier, and other parishes in Canton Vaud; microfilmed notarial records for the districts of Moudon, Vevey, Oron, Lausanne, Rolle, and Payerne. Many additional sources still need to be investigated.
Before Moudon was a city in Canton Vaud, and even before the Protestant Reformation, it was part of the parish of Morlens, under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of Lausanne, and a part of the holdings of the house of Savoie. At the time of the Reformation, Bern and Fribourg had already made incursions into neighboring regions under Savoie. Bern and Fribourg reached an agreement about the church reforms, such that when a majority of the citizens of a village voted in favor of the protestant church, the protestants would throw out the Catholic clergy, throw out the statues etc., and take over the village church. This was known in French as the Plus. Several localities within the old parish of Morlens voted (perhaps with a bit of persuasion or even fraud) to join the reformed church: Moudon, Chavannes-sur-Moudon, Chesalles, and Brenles. These became subjects of Bern in 1536, and then part of Canton Vaud after the revolution of 1798. All of these locations have Dutoit residents as far back as the first protestant church registers that have survived. The remaining localities remained Catholic, and so have ended up under the control of Fribourg. The importance of this history is that it suggests that the few mentions of Dutoit from the parish of Morlens and thereabouts that are found in the records of Moudon undoubtedly involve branches of the very same family, once residents of the old parish of Morlens, but split between two religions and two governments in 1536. And in the even more distant past, as has been suggested by others, it may be that the name Dutoit originated from the hamlet of Nierlet-le-Toit in the parish of Matran, between Romont and Fribourg.
However, we find glimpses of the Catholic Dutoit relatives from the parish of Morlens from time to time in the church and notarial records around Moudon. There is generally not enough information to work out exact relationships, but it is clear that the families on both sides of the divide kept in touch with each other at least into the 1700's. Something of the continued existence of the family on the Fribourg side may be inferred from a contract recorded by Daniel Antoine Jossevel, notary at Moudon, 22 jan 1725, in which Denis Varidel of Prahins, maître tonnelier (master cooper) and habitant of Moudon, takes Charles Joseph Dutoit of Rue as apprentice, "ayant promis reciproquement de ne pas s'inquietent dans le religion" (having promised reciprocally not to argue about religion).
From what we have been able to learn about the records of Fribourg, it does not appear there are early church records that would be helpful, but we think there should be notarial records aplenty. We would very much like to hear from anyone who can shed further light on the early history of the Dutoit family from records in the archives of Fribourg.
Toward the end of 2003, the Cantonal Archives of Vaud completed a major project, an inventory of all the municipal and village archives within the Canton. The results are posted on the Archives web site. Many of the records inventoried were single documents, many very old, and in such cases the inventory gives a thorough summary of the contents. Among the documents noted in the archives of Moudon and Chavannes-sur-Moudon are many that pertain to the Dutoit genealogy. While there is not quite enough information to assign every individual to the known genealogy, the oldest record mentioning the Dutoit family of Moudon is quite revealing. It is a sale dated August 31, 1356, by Estienne Dutoit son of Pierre Dutoit dit D'Ogo of Chavannes-sur-Moudon. At that date, Estienne seems to have been a merchant living in Estavayer. (This ancient city has since that time suffered numerous misfortunes and ended up finally in the jurisdiction of Fribourg.) The implication is that the Dutoit have been associated with Chavannes probably since the adoption of surnames. We would enjoy correspondence from anyone who may be able to examine these documents.
A group of Dutoit families in the area around Echallens and Villars-le-Terroir also remained Catholic at the time of the Reformation. This small enclave somehow avoided the Plus. It is not clear where these Dutoit families originated, but there is one cryptic mention in the 16th Century of a Dutoit from Moudon residing at "Villars-Terraux," evidently an old name for Villars-le-Terroir. This mention is repeated in the few surviving notarial records from the district of Echallens from that period. It is possible that the Catholic families are directly derived from the family at Moudon, and that further research will eventually reveal their history.
The spelling of names has changed greatly during the 5 centuries covered by these records! In order to speed our analysis, it was necessary to adopt as many "standardized" spellings as possible. Thus, all DuToict, DuThey, DuTey, DuTect, etc. are rendered as Dutoit. For some surnames, it is not clear what the modern spelling should be, because different branches seem to have adopted different modern spellings. This problem can become very complicated, and we ask the reader's indulgence and assistance!
In the records of at least one early notary, Rodolphe Demont, the family name is spelled "Detecto" in Latin documents, and "Dutoict" or similar in French ones. Another variation is revealed in the history of one of the early Claude Dutoit's who left Moudon ("Milden") perhaps around 1570 to become a protestant minister in some of the more remote parishes of Canton Berne, under the name Claude von Dach, a direct translation of DuToit!
Given names have changed, too. Until about 1800, and sometimes later, the modern spelling "Jacques" was consistently spelled "Jaques" in most of French-speaking Switzerland. Apart from "Jaques", spellings are extremely variable!
The notarial records of the district of Moudon from the period before 1536, to the extent that they have survived, provide a window into the affairs of the family before the reformation. Relationships between the various branches of the family are being rediscovered, but there are many confusing situations still to be puzzled out. In the early 16th Century, most families in this area seem to have used one or more aliases. At least one confusing situation should be mentioned here, a series of documents from about 1560 concerning the sons of the late "Nicod" Dutoit, but at least two of the sons appear in the church records as sons of "Pierre" Dutoit instead! Later generations provide many examples of individuals who used something other than their baptismal name later in life.
Among the aliases used by the Dutoit family, we should note: Maillard, Billet, au Clerc, ès André, ès Jaques, and Telley. In all but the "au Clerc" and "Billet" branches, we think we have a good idea of the origin of the alias. The "au Clerc" branch is exceptional in that we have failed to find a connection between this branch and the couple that should have been its origin, Rod Dutoit and his second wife Monette Clerc, who apparently had only one child, with no known descendants. We are also far from understanding how some of these branches connect to the rest of the family.
Branches of the Dutoit family from Moudon have established citizenship or long-term residence in several other communes. Among the most important before 1821 we may cite:
One theory for which we see no evidence at all is that the South African du Toit family is also descended from the family of Moudon. The family in South Africa can be traced to a family from the vicinity of Lille that took refuge at Leyden. The prevailing theory on the internet is that the family in Lille in turn descends from a noble family Dutoit that came to France to serve in the army of Charles-le-Téméraire and participated in the Burgundian wars in the 1460's-1470's. That noble family, in turn, came from Spain, where a noble family Del Techo or Del Tecto is cited at least as early as the 11th Century. The arms of this family are completely different from those of the Dutoit of Moudon. It is apparent that the family in Spain must have existed well before surnames were generally used at Moudon, making a connection between the families of Moudon and of Spain untenable. Further, the Dutoit family of Lille is attested at least as early as the 1430's, well before the exploits of Charles-le-Téméraire, and there seems to be no indication at Lille that the family was noble. To the contrary, the first citation we found in the inventories of the archives of Lille is a rental agreement, suggesting that Dutoit was simply an ordinary bourgeois family, in all probability indigenous to the area. The idea of connecting all of these families seems to have come from a French genealogist in the 1920's, a time when the practice of providing wealthy clients with impressive genealogies was extremely fashionable. The whole problem deserves to be re-investigated, now that historical records are more widely accessible.
The only previous published genealogy on this family is by Auguste Vuilleumier (1917, Recueil des généalogies vaudoises, Tome 1, Fasicule 3, pp. 377-385), based on "family papers" and church and civil registration records. Unfortunately, the first six generations need to be treated with caution. While the line from Jean Philippe Dutoit-Membrini back to François Dutoit (generation 1) appears to be correct, some of the baptismal dates are not. At various points, some of the siblings listed are incorrect. Vuilleumier did not attempt to account for all Dutoit, but he was sometimes misled by the existence of multiple persons of the same name in the parish of Moudon. Our database points out the discrepancies and uncertainties in the published account in the notes concerning each individual.
In 2004, we began transcribing some of the more interesting and significant notarial records into our database. While this certainly makes the data more accessible, the quantity of information and the often very difficult script make this aspect of the project very challenging. Readings that are difficult or questionable are identified with a question mark. There are a number of terms relating to land use and household objects that need more study. In the process of transcribing these documents, a number of additional clues have turned up. While this does not happen very often, it has helped us determine the relationships of a number of difficult individuals and families.
One thing the notarial records demonstrate is that almost everyone in those days owed someone money. The economy seems to have functioned largely on credit, and it frequently happened that creditors undertook legal procedings to recover their loans. In a few cases, such as Isaac Margueron and his wife Esther Dutoit, enough documents have survived that we can see the process in action, from the large loans to the inevitable forfeitures or public auctions.
Also very evident are the wanderings of the family. They turn up in Geneva, in Italy, in England, in the English colonies of North America, in Holland, and even in Surinam. Unlikely as it must seem today, family members managed to stay in touch with each other, in most cases, and so wandering relatives show up at many baptisms and other family events. We learn, too, about their trades, professions, and occasionally even their hobbies. The remarkable collection of notarial records that have survived is still being studied. One recent discovery is the records of Jaques David Burnand, whose wife was a Dutoit. Burnand spent many decades on the court that dealt with probate matters for the district of Moudon, and his records include a long series of registers covering about half of the 18th Century, with copies or at least notes about each case that came before the court. He also left a register containing copies of the decrees received from Their Excellencies in Bern, thus preserving a good cross-section of the workings of the bureaucracy imposed on the Pays de Vaud.
Our database currently includes just about all the information we have been able to assemble relating to the Dutoit's of Moudon, but it also contains all the rest of our Swiss ancestral families, to the extent we have been able to work them out. Due to the unfortunate incident of the "Bourla Papey", records for our ancestral families in the districts of Aubonne and Morges are somewhat sparse, so it is possible that revisions will be necessary in the Mayor family, for example. The information on the families of Huguenot origin is reasonably well documented, but there are many questions still to be answered.
A great deal of additional information has been accumulating that deserves to be cited here. As time permits, we will be adding documents, images, and links. Among other topics, the new material will deal with the history of Payerne, Moudon, Vevey, Bern, and Fribourg; information about some of the related families; links to public-domain books of interest now available on the Google Books site and elsewhere; as well as other matters arising.
Le progrès de cette étude est le fruit de la bonté et de la générosité de nombreuses
personnes, toutes douées d'une forte appréciation de notre patrimoine. Nous tenons à exprimer
nos plus vifs remerciements à toutes ces personnes :