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Congénies is located in France
Coordinates: 43°46′45″N 4°09′39″E / 43.7792°N 4.1608°E / 43.7792; 4.1608Coordinates: 43°46′45″N 4°09′39″E / 43.7792°N 4.1608°E / 43.7792; 4.1608
Country France
Region Languedoc-Roussillon
Department Gard
Arrondissement Nîmes
Canton Sommières
Intercommunality Pays de Sommières
 • Mayor (2008–2014) Michel Febrer
 • Land1 8.64 km2 (3.34 sq mi)
Population (2008)
 • Population2 1,542
 • Population2 density 180/km2 (460/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 30091 / 30111
Elevation 45–145 m (148–476 ft)
(avg. 75 m or 246 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Congénies is a commune in the Gard department in southern France.

It is situated between Nîmes, Montpellier, the Cévennes and the Camargue and has a strong Quaker history. Congénies possesses the only and oldest purpose-built Quaker Meeting House in France.

The Quaker Meeting House in Congénies
The Quaker Cemetery in Congénies
A quiet moment before or after the bull running
Bull running, a bandido in July 2007


Wars of Religion[edit]

Le Desert. In 1681, the Catholic King Louis XIV, used his troops to re-convert Protestants. On 30 June 1685, being Protestant became illegal in Nîmes. The religion moved underground and the paid pastor was replaced by the lay prophet.

La Guerre des Camisards (1702–1711)

The Catholic Church today.To the right are temporary bull gates.

Congénies was obliged to provision the troops. On 17 December 1703, Jean Cavalier, a Camisard leader torched the Catholic Church. He was a prophet and took his instructions from God. Thus we see the foundation of a local religious tradition that was principled, rebellious and relied on an ínner spirit, the Inspiré. In 1715, Jean Bénezet of Calvisson was exiled to Holland, and then to London. His son, Antoine, made it to Philadelphia. Both joined the Society of Friends.

Quaker connection[edit]

Paul Codognan, born in Congénies, walked to London in 1768 and returned on foot to Congénies with Quaker literature. In 1785, the Inspiré made formal contact with the Society of Friends in London.

The Meeting house and cemetery was built on land purchased from Georges Majolier in 1822. It remained in the ownership of the Societes des Amis, until 1907, when the group was too small to maintain it. This was caused by young men emigrating as they could not accept military service, and the young women marrying out of the Society. The Meeting House served as a hospital in the First World War, and was owned in recent years by two English Quaker families and was sold back to the French Friends in 2003. The building has been gutted and is being rebuilt with the interior in the modern style. The exterior is being maintained, and the future of the cemetery is safe.

The name Congénies appears in many Quaker biographies (e.g., that of John Yeardley,) giving evidence of frequent visits.[1] Congénies possessed also a méthodist chapelle between 1869 and 1968.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1793 719 —    
1800 773 +7.5%
1811 783 +1.3%
1820 939 +19.9%
1826 980 +4.4%
1836 1,004 +2.4%
1851 1,014 +1.0%
1861 930 −8.3%
1871 915 −1.6%
1876 774 −15.4%
1881 665 −14.1%
1891 687 +3.3%
1901 701 +2.0%
1911 625 −10.8%
1921 578 −7.5%
1931 552 −4.5%
1946 512 −7.2%
1954 525 +2.5%
1962 505 −3.8%
1968 473 −6.3%
1975 496 +4.9%
1982 596 +20.2%
1990 903 +51.5%
1995 1,000 +10.7%
1999 1,072 +7.2%
2008 1,542 +43.8%

Pronunciation and spelling[edit]

Congénies is today written with an accent, on the first 'e', but the elderly have never said it this way. When the station which is still extant, was built it was written as Congeniès reflecting the way the elderly still pronounce it. Postcards from between the wars show it spelled as Congéniès. This shows how the original Languedoc French has been replaced by a more standardised Northern French.[2]


The gothic catholic church ( XIIème-XVIIème ) with the " Nogaret bell" The Protestant temple was built between 1817–1818, the menhir of Peyra Plantada ( 2500 BC ) is considerably older and there are many capitelles in the garrigues.


  • Christine Majolier- b. 1805 Congénies, Joined Society of Friends in 1828, died 19 June 1879. Tireless Quaker activist, she often acted as interpreter to other well known Quakers visiting France. As a friend of Mme Rollande, governess to Queen Victoria's children, Christine was often visited by them and invited to meet the Queen. Naturally they spoke French, and in the Quaker manner, Christine wore simple dress addressed her using the tu form, to which the queen took no offence.[1]
  • Robert Charleton, visited in the 1821/2 when a child.[3]
  • Elizabeth Fry, the prison reformer, visited in 1839 while on a campaigning visit to Nîmes. She celebrated her 60th birthday in the village.
  • Henry Newman, a fine watercolourist and from a Quaker family in Leominster, visited Congénies in 1864, and produced an album of watercolours which remain in private hands.


Congénies celebrates its Languedoc heritage with the traditional bull running. Over three days each year there are Abrivados and Bandidos, and bandido de nuit, this occurs over the weekend of the 14th July.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Chronique de la vie Quaker française 1750-1938, van Etten, pub SOCIÉTÉ RELIGIEUSE DES AMIS (QUAKERS)12, rue Guy de la Brosse, PARIS (Ve) 1938
  2. ^ "La Vaunage Hier et Aujourd'hui" édité par l'association Vaunage Vivante. Alain Pierrugues et Édouard Ravon 2007
  3. ^ Memoir of Robert Charleton , Compiled Chiefly from his Letters. Edited by his sister in law Anna F. Fox. published Samuel Harris and Co London 1876. Facsimile reprint Kessinger Publishing 2007, ISBN 1-4326-8924-X

External links[edit]