The Jaques were Huguenots who probably left France some time during the 16th or 17th centuries. After Luther’s proclamation in 1517, the Protestant Reformation spread rapidly to France. Initially French Protestants were Lutherans, but after John Calvin established the French Reform Church in Geneva in 1555, Calvinism quickly spread to France and replaced Lutheranism. The new “Reformed Religion” in which salvation was a personal matter, and did not involve intercession by the Catholic hierarchy was perceived to be a threat to the Catholic Church and to the monarchy. Most Protestants, ‘Huguenots”, were artisans or part of the aristocracy. Therefore they wielded considerable economic and political power, and realistically could have demanded social and political reform. The Catholic monarchy responded to this perceived threat with a General Edict in 1536, urging the extermination of the Huguenots. In spite of persecution, Calvinism spread rapidly in France, and ignited the thirty-five year French Wars of Religion. The conflict lasted until 1598. Henry IV signed the Edict of Nantes, which gave the Huguenots limited religious and civil freedom, and allowed them to freely practice their religion in twenty specified towns in France. Unfortunately the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685, and Huguenots again were persecuted. Hundreds of thousands of Huguenots fled to other countries over the next century. In 1789 the Edict of Toleration was signed, and Huguenots were allowed to live in France with some degree of religious and civil freedom.*
Whether the Jaques resided in one of the twenty towns in France where some religious freedom was permitted, or had already resided in the area around Ste-Croix is not clear. Vaud was part of the Savoie area of France until 1537, but thereafter became a part of the Bernese Republic. Therefore Vaud was a safe haven for Huguenots. What is clear is that the surname, Jaques, is a Huguenot name. Huguenots with that surname are not only found in French Switzerland, but also emigrated from France to England, North America, and other countries during the 16th and 17th centuries.