We owe to
Louis-Armand Calliat an essay on the origin of the Niépces in Burgondy from which we can take the main points :

The first member of the family refered to Armand-Calliat is Huguenin Niépce who on August 24th 1455, rented in Jambles a house belonging to Jehan Barbier , “located at the place known as Bourc-Chanin , facing the highway going from Jambles to Saint-Deserre“. Jambles effectively seems to be the cradle of the Niépce family established since king Louis XI reign in the Givry canton where it remained for a very long period.

Map of the different locations of the Niépces

In the following century,appeared Jean Niépce, “winegrower and alderman in Givry “ . In march 1571, he lived near a hamlet named Cortiambles and was tending vineyards that he rented from the council. He was the father of at least one child, Edme, who was born in 1575.
He was still living in
1591. At the same period there were Niépces in Givry then in Moroges in the middle of the XVII° century.

It is in Saint-Desert, Louis XIII reigning,that a direct ancestor of Nicephore, Claude and Abel, is found under the name of Jean Niépce. In 1649, he lived in the village of Saint-Desert, in the rue des Halles (Market street). Armand-Caillat tells us that he lived “ In the house belonging toTappin de Perrigny “counsellor to the bailiwick of Chalon ; he “tended the vineyard “of this gentleman and owned a cow that helped him to feed his five urchins. {…} His schooling and certainly his moral qualities attracted enough the attention of his fellow villagers that he was elected alderman of Saint-Desert for a year in 1652.{….}. Ten odd years later, Jean Niépce had enough money to farm ,as soon as 1663, the land of Saint-Desert the squire of which is Michel de La Boutiere, baron of Chagny.{….} .In 1678 he was elected to the priory of the Holy Ghost Brotherhood,the purpose of which was decorating the church and helping the poors,filing the role of a mutual help society.
Jean Niépce died
July 31st 1685. He had had at least five children, and notably Antoine Niépce.

>The Niépces in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes

ANTOINE NIEPCE : great-grand-father of Nicephore
Antoine Niépce, at first “merchant“ in Saint-Desert (1681-1683), left this place around 1685,and established himself in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes, where he rented in 1706 the domain at a cost of 6900 pounds. He had the privilege of the castle, farmyards, properties, meadows, fields, vineyards, bushes. He had the duty to collect the receipt of cens(tax on rents), rents, lods (tax when a piece of land is sold), pensions contracts, bets, statute labor, tithes, fines, wine privilege (Banvin), epaves (lost objects or animals ), hunting and fishing rights and generally all the seignorial rights ; at last he was supposed to dispense justice.

He died in 1720 in the castle of Saint-Loup, where he resided as a trustee of the estate belonging to local ladies : Anne de Souvre, widow of Louvois, afterward her daughter Marie-Charlotte wife of Francois de La Rochefoucauld. Until the Revolution,Saint-Loup belonged to members of the highest aristocraty who never lived there, in a way the Niepces were the real masters,and especially Antoine.

Middle-age castle in St Loup.
The Niepces managed its lands until the Revolution
© Raphaël Gaillarde/Gamma

Out of eleven children born from his marriage to Christine Perrot,only four sons survived ; Charles, Pierre, Claude, and Bernard, who shared, the 31st of december 1720, in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes castle the inheritage from their father and mother.The deed that has been preserved, shows with precision the customs of old. {….} We prepared, said the heirs, “ four notes ,on which we wrote : 1) Saint-Desert share ; 2) Saint-Cyr and Chazeaux share ; 3) Marnay share ; 4) Saint-Ambreuil share. The four notes were equally folded and put in a hat, then the lots were drawn by Claude Niepce, aged seven, son of our brother Charles.

BERNARD NIEPCE : grand-father of Nicephore
Bernard got the share of Saint-Cyr and Chazeaux, he was born and died in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes (1691-1760). In 1740 he bought a house situated rue de l’Oratoire (Oratory street) in Chalon, Nicephore’s natal house, that he sold in 1830.

Bernard was a comptroller of the wars. In 1758, the duke of Rohan had appointed him “capitaine des chasses, pêches et bois “ (Head of the hunting,fishing and forest department) of his Burgundy estates. In 1734, he was sharing the farm of the seignory of Saint-Loup-de-Varennes. “Merchant,Farmer in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes“ he is present in Chalon Archives as “ Bidder for repairs and buildings to be made in the said town and its suburbs“ and as co-bidder for the city tolls. It emerges that Niépce had managed important works in Chalon ) : paving public streets, erection of the fish-market, works on Saint-Vincent cathedral ) . He was married to Claudine Nodot (1698-1769).

Niepces' estates in 1775
(click on to enlarge)

CLAUDE NIEPCE : father of Nicephore
Bernard Niépce had four children among them Claude Niépce, advocate of the Court, King counsellor, officer of the Consignations at the bailiwick of Chalon and also steward of the duke of Rohan-Chabot. Claude Niépce, father of Nicephore died in Dijon january 14th 1785. He married in 1761, Claudine Josephe Barault, daughter of a counsellor of this name, a famous lawyer from Chalon and a very rich man.From this union four children were born : a girl and three boys, one of them Nicephore.