Franz Sermond, bell-founder from Bormio
On 15 May 1567, the City of Bern accepted the master-gunner Franz Sermond (sometimes also spelled Sermund) as citizen of Bern. Sermond came from Bormio in the Valtellina, and probably belonged to the Sermondi family that was prominent in this place. It could not yet be determined how exactly he was related to this family.
As a master-gunner, Sermond moulded several cannons in Lausanne in 1568; in Bern, he received a salary as a armourer from 1568 to 1588. Better known, however, are his activities as a bell-founder. Already in 1561, he is said to have founded a bell in Annecy, Savoy, for the church of St. Maurice. This bell bears the inscription: FRANCISCUS SERMUNDUS BURMENSIS . VALLIS . STELLINE . ME . FECIT. Another bell was founded in 1562 in Tomils in the Grisons. Since he had been employed by the council of Bern, he founded bells for several churches in the Bernese territory, but - with the council's permit - he also worked in various other Swiss cantons, like in Uri, Lucerne, and the Valais. In 1583, he founded the so-called mid-day bell for the cathedral of Bern. Of the 180 hundredweights necessary for this founding, he paid 50 hundredweights from his own property.
In 1579, he married Ursula Mattstetter in Bern. No children are known from this marriage. In 1586, Franz Sermond intended to visit his home country and for that reason had a last will written down. In this will, he states that he already has lived many years, "fast uff min höchstes altter khommen" (I almost reached the end of my life). If this statement has any real background, he already must have been relatively old when settling down in Bern. For what he did - and where he did it - before this, only the bells of Annecy and Tomils, and perhaps the cannons of Lausanne, can offer a hint.
Although not specified in the last will, Franz Sermond's property seems to have been considerable; in 1586, he lent a high sum of money to the City of Bern for interest.
The last will was declared to have come into force on 20 June 1588. Franz Sermond probably died shortly before this date. In the same month, the Council of Bern wrote to the Council of Chur that Franz' cousin Simon Sermond was only entitled to the part of the property located in the Grisons. As an allowance, the Council paid to this Simon and to Bartholomäus Venosta (or Venostaz), another relative, a sum of 60 florins and also gave them two golden signet-rings (of which the signs had been removed). In 1603, probably the same Bartholomäus Venosta with the help of the Grisons again addressed the Council of Bern and asked for transfer of a part of Franz Sermond's property. Bern did not accept his claims, but agreed to pay another sum of 50 florins.
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