Motherhood in New France

A Short Life of Dedication

In the waning years of the 16th century, Pierre Esprit Radisson, my eighth great grandfather was born in France. He was a cloth merchant of modest means living in the parish of Saint Nicolas des Champ, Paris Frances.

In the year 1633, he married Madeleine Henault, the widow of Sebastien Hayet. She brought to the marriage her young toddler, Marguerite. Together they had three more children, Francoise (1636), Elisabeth (1638), and Pierre Esprit, the famous fur trader and explorer (1640).

Recently the following biographical sketches about members of the Radisson family were added to our blog.

https://genealogyensemble.com/2021/10/06/a-very-young-marriageable-girl/    Elisabeth Radisson

https://genealogyensemble.com/2021/11/03/claude-jutras-dit-lavallee/    Claude Jutras, Elisabeth’s husband

https://genealogyensemble.com/2020/03/11/allegiances/     Pierre Esprit Radisson, Elisabeth’s brother

Pierre Senior died in 1641 at the age of 51 leaving Madeleine to care for the four children. Within five years she also passed away. (1646) What was going to happen to the youngsters? Marguerite was now 15 years of age, while Francoise, Elisabeth, and Pierre were still very young.

The three sisters, despite their young age, became “marriageable young girls”. They arrived in New France during the summer of 1646 and were welcomed into the community of Three Rivers (Trois Rivieres) that had been settled in 1634 by Samuel de Champlain. The location was ideal, the midpoint between Quebec City and the burgeoning Ville Marie (Montreal1642).

Very little information is known about the early years of Francoise Radisson, other than in 1649 the record shows that she became her nephew Etienne’s godmother. He was the son of her half-sister, Marguerite.

In 1653 at the age of seventeen, Francoise married Claude Volant de Saint Claude, a soldier from France, also 17. No records of their marriage contract nor written records of their marriage have been found.

A typical document containing information about the Volant Family

The young couple set out to have a family and before long they were blessed with a set of twin boys, Pierre, and Claude, born November 8, 1654. Two and half years later, on July 28th, 1657, a daughter, Francoise saw the light of day, but at the age of five and a half, she died. There is no indication of what caused her death, but, typhoid and smallpox were common diseases causing the loss of life.

In November of 1659 another daughter, Marguerite and was welcomed after the pain of losing their first daughter. Four years later in July of 1663, another daughter also named Francoise was born. Her life came to an abrupt end, having lived only three months. In the fall of 1664, the family rejoiced when their healthy young son Etienne joined the family. Almost five years later Jean Francois was born, followed by Nicolas in 1671 and then young fellow Charles Ignace rounded out the family on November 7, 1673.

For nearly twenty years Francoise bore nine children having given birth to three daughters and six sons. No doubt there were moments of deep grief, along with times of jubilation for the family. The childbearing years took a heavy toll on Francoise.

In the last years of her life, she became ill and Claude soon realized the need for help and hired a housekeeper to care for her and the five young children still living at home. When the leaves of autumn are at their finest, most splendid colors, Francoise died October 3rd, 1677at the young age of forty-one.

During her lifetime, she lived to see her two eldest sons become priests, but not long enough to see them ordained, nor to witness their many accomplishments. She must have been quite ill when her daughter Marguerite was married in the summer of 1675 and perhaps unable to attend the celebrations. She may have rejoiced seeing her first granddaughter when Marguerite gave birth before her mother’s passing, but she died before seeing the second granddaughter and was spared knowing that Marguerite died shortly thereafter.

Francoise’s will above was prepared on the 12th of August 1677 prior to her death in October of the same year.

A soldier

https://www.prdh-igd.com/

Francoise’s steadfast husband, Claude Volant became a prominent member of the Three Rivers community. He was granted a Seigneury along the St. Lawrence river also named a churchwarden. Numerous interesting notarial records may be found in his name. Perhaps the most important one consisted of his being named tutor of his children still living at home.https://www.prdh-igd.com/

 Request from Claude Vollant (Volant), Sieur de Saint-Claude, for the election of a tutor to property and persons at the meeting of May 11, 1678 by Gilles Boyvinet (Boivinet), King’s adviser… (04T, TL3,S11,P1681)1)

https://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/archives/52327/3388226

Above is a small section of a four-page notarial document naming Claude Volant, the father of the five children as the tutor for his children living at home.

https://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/archives/52327/3388226

Below are several notarial land transactions by Claude Volant, Sieur de Saint Claude.

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