Marc François Louis Secrétan (1804-1867)

Secrétan was Professor of Astronomy in Lausanne when he went into partnership with Noël-Jean Lerebours, founder of the Lerebours company in 1845 and the company was renamed to include both partners. When Lerebours’ successor, Nicolas Paymal Lerebours retired in 1855, the company continued as Secrétan.

Marc François Louis Secrétan was born in Lausanne on 17 May, 1804. He started his professional life as a lawyer and judge, as well as training at the Military School of Thun, when he met Prince Louis-Napoleon. His spare time had always been spent on mathematics and astronomy, and he eventually gave up the law to become Professor of Mathematics at the Academy of Lausanne. He moved to Paris when he joined Lerebours. He produced instruments for the Paris Observatory and collaborated with Léon Foucault to make silver mirrors accurate enough to use to measure the speed of light in 1862. Secrétan was also involved in the production of daguerreotypes, an early form of photography. The company produced a wide range of scientific instruments including telescopes for private and professional use. The signatures on some of their products describe him as `Opticien de S.A.M. l’Empereur`.

In 1829, he married Jeanne Louise Suzanne Mercier (1810-1851) and the couple had 8 children. Their eldest son died before his first birthday. Their second son, Auguste Charles Louis Secrétan took over the company after his father’s death, and it continued under different family members and the same name into the 20th century.