France, french-canadian, New France, Quebec

Books and Articles about the Merchants, Ship Owners and Fur Traders of New France

Many books and articles have been written about the history of New France and the merchants who were involved in the fur trade there. If you discover one of your ancestors worked for a trading company, was a coureur de bois or owned ships that transported furs and goods across the Atlantic, these publications could be of interest to you.

To see the research guide to these publications, click here: The Authors

This is one of a series of posts on Genealogy Ensemble about the merchants, fur traders and ship owners of New France, the trading companies they were associated with and their ports of departure in France.

France, french-canadian, New France, Quebec

French Seaports and New France

During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the French competed with the British and Dutch for control of the fur trade in North America.

British merchants traded in Massachusetts and coastal New England from the 17th century until the American Revolution. The British also carried on trade in the Hudson River valley, and they controlled much of the trade out of Hudson’s Bay in the north.

Early on, Dutch merchants were in business in what is now the New York City area. Between about 1830 and 1842, the American Fur Company of New York City, owned by John Jacob Astor, monopolized the fur trade in the United States.

From the late 16th century until New France fell to the British in 1759, merchants from France, New France and Acadia (in today’s Maritime provinces) dominated the fur trade throughout a vast area. They were the leading fur trading merchants in the St. Lawrence River Valley, the Great Lakes region (Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin), the Missouri River Delta, the Mississippi River Delta and the Great West regions in present-day Canada and the American States bordering Canada. French merchants were also present in the Hudson Bay and James Bay regions of northern Quebec in the 17th century and early 18th century.

The French also exploited other resources, such as fish, in North American waters, and they supplied household goods to the farmers who settled in New France as well as goods to trade with the First Nations people.

The merchants who carried on this busy trade had operations at the ports of Quebec City, Montreal, Trois-Rivières, and Louisbourg in North America, and they were associated with fellow merchants at various port cities of France.

La Rochelle was one of the most important French ports for trade with New France, along with Bordeaux, Rouen and Caen. Saint-Malo was the home port of explorer Jacques Cartier, while Samuel de Champlain, recognized as the father of New France, was based at the port of Honfleur in Northern France. Other French port cities with connections to the new world included Brest, Calais, Cherbourg, Dieppe, Dunkerque, Fécamp, Le Havre, Lorient, Rochefort, Royan and Vannes, while a few ships sailed from Marseille in southern France.

The research guide attached below provides more information about these French ports. Some of the articles are in French, so if you have trouble following them, use an online translation tool such as Google Translate.

To access this research guide, click here: Ports of Departure

This is the fourth in a series of weekly posts about the merchants, fur traders and ship owners who did business with New France, from the time Jacques Cartier planted a French flag on the shores of the Gaspé in 1534 until the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763 and New France became a British colony.

The series includes a pair of research guides focused on the individual fur traders, ship owners and private bankers involved in trade between France and New France. See https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/05/05/the-merchants-ship-owners-and-fur-traders-of-new-france-part-1-a-g/ and https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/05/10/the-merchants-and-fur-traders-of-new-france-part-2-h-to-z/

A research guide to the trading companies these merchants were associated with can be found at https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/05/26/the-trading-companies-of-new-france/

Next week I will post a list of authors and researchers who have written about this period, including links to some of their publications.

Aboriginals, France, french-canadian, New France, Quebec, voyageur

The Trading Companies of New France

The fur trade between the First Nations people of North America and the Europeans was central to the history of Canada and the United States. The commerce in furs made fortunes, it changed the lives of the First Nations people forever, it encouraged the French to explore deep into the interior of the continent, and it gave work to hundreds of people.

Cardinal Richelieu

The names of some of the companies that controlled the trade in beaver pelts are still remembered today. The early trading companies that operated as monopolies in the days of New France included the Compagnie des Cent-Associés (Company of One Hundred Associates), 1627-1645, and the Compagnie francaise des Indes occidentales (French West India Company), 1664-1674. Later, the North West Company, 1789-1821, and the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1670-1870s, competed for dominance.

The Company of One Hundred Associates was created in Paris in 1627 by Armand Jean Duplessis, better known as Cardinal Richelieu. Among the leading members of this trading company were explorers, fur traders, merchants, ship owners, bankers, governors of New France and Acadia. They included Samuel de Champlain, Martin Anceaume, Thomas Bonneau, Jacques Bulteau, Henry Cavelier, Antoine Cheffault, Sébastien Cramoisy. Charles Daniel, Jean David, Jacques Duhamel, Arnault Dumas, Thibault Dumas, Jean Guenet, Charles Huault, Pierre de La Haye, Gabriel Lattaignant, Claude de Launay-Razilly, Jean de Lauzon, Simon Lemaistre, Raoul L’Huillier, François de Magny, Adam Mannessier, Georges Morin, François Mouet, Antoine Nozereau, Jean Papavoine, Claude Potel, Guillaume Prévost, Isaac de Razilly, Claude de Roquemont, Jean Rozé, Charles de Saint-Étienne de La Tour, Jean Taffet and André Terru.

Perhaps your ancestor owned or helped to run one of these trading companies. Perhaps he was a coureur de bois who traveled by canoe into the interior of the continent to trade with the indigenous people, and perhaps he married an indigenous woman. Whatever your interest, the attached compilation can help you better understand the roles these companies may have played in your ancestor‘s life.

Click here: Trading Companies

Next week’s post will cover the ports of departure in France associated with the merchants who traded with New France. Following that, I will look at authors who have written about this period and archives where you can find more information.

See also:

“The Merchants, Fur Traders and Ship Owners of New France, part 1, A-G” https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/05/05/the-merchants-ship-owners-and-fur-traders-of-new-france-part-1-a-g/

“The Merchants, Fur Traders and Ship Owners of New France, part 2, H-Z” https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/05/10/the-merchants-and-fur-traders-of-new-france-part-2-h-to-z/

photo copyright Janice Hamilton

France, french-canadian, New France, Quebec

The Merchants and Fur Traders of New France, part 2, H to Z

In the days of New France and Acadia, a merchant, fur trader, private banker or ship owner was sometimes called a négociant, or dealer. Some négociants were based in Canada, but most had their headquarters in France, especially in La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Rouen and Caen. Other French port cities with connections to the new world included Brest, Calais, Cherbourg, Dieppe, Dunkerque, Fécamp, Le Havre, Lorient, Rochefort, Royan, Saint-Malo and Vannes, while a few ships sailed from Marseille in southern France.

Rich merchants from La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Caen and Rouen often sent young family members to the French colonies of New France, Acadia and Louisiana to manage their North American investments.

Most such dealers, especially those who settled in New France and Acadia, were Catholics. Some were Protestants (Huguenots or Calvinists) and a few from the city of Bordeaux were Jewish. Following the 1759 British conquest of New France, the number of Huguenot merchants increased slightly, at least in Montreal and Quebec City.

These négociants were the people who opened communications between Europe and ports located in the American colonies. Many of the French traders also dealt with associates in South America, Africa, the Middle East and the Far East.

Hundreds of dealers were in business over the approximately 250 years that New France existed. In the compilation attached below, I have only selected a fraction of them, addressing primarily the French traders who dealt directly with family members or associates in New France, Acadia or Louisiana. In regard to the fur traders, I have tried to identify those who had a place of business in Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Quebec City or Louisbourg. I have also included a few well-known explorers who were associated with merchants in these four towns.

Many of the French traders who were associated with Quebec, Louisiana or the Great Lakes regions are profiled in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. If your ancestor was a fur trader, banker or ship owner, you may find a great deal about his life in this publication, available online or in many libraries. See http://www.biographi.ca/en/index.php or http://www.biographi.ca/fr/index.php for the French-language edition.

This post is the second in a series of compilations focused on these négociants during the period of colonial New France in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The series will include brief biographies of these merchants, background on the French port cities where they were based, information about the trading companies they were associated with, the names of historians and other researchers who have written about this people, and a list of archives where you can obtain further information.

To see last week’s post introducing the merchants, fur traders, private bankers and ship owners of New France with last names beginning A to G, go to https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/05/05/the-merchants-ship-owners-and-fur-traders-of-new-france-part-1-a-g/

To read this week’s compilation on the merchants, fur traders, private bankers and ship owners of New France and Acadia with last names beginning H to Z, click on this link: Merchants, Fur Traders and Ship Owners of New France, H-Z Merchants, Fur Traders and Ship Owners of New France, H-Z

France, Genealogy, New France, Quebec

The Merchants, Ship Owners and Fur Traders of New France, Part 1, A – G

There are a couple of versions of this story: in 1539, someone told the King of France that explorer Jacques Cartier had found gold and silver along the shores of the Saguenay River. Another source says that Cartier had only suggested there might be gold and silver in the Saguenay region. (It turned out to be fool’s gold.)

According to both sources, however, Cartier suggested that trading beaver pelts and other wild animal furs could become a great source of income for the king. Needless to say, the fur trade turned out to be a lucrative business that lasted for almost 250 years.

Eventually, many types of traders established operations at the ports of Quebec City, Montreal, Trois-Rivières, and Louisbourg. All these merchants were associated with fellow merchants at various port cities of France, including La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Rouen and Caen. And in the days of Louis de Buade, Count of Frontenac and Governor of New France between 1672-1682 and 1689-1698, merchants in New France and its territories held a special place among the elite of the French colony.

Some of these traders married in North America, or brought their wives and children with them. They became the ancestors of many French Canadian or Acadian families, but, as of today, few family history researchers have searched for these early merchants, traders, private bankers, ship owners or tannery operators.

If you think you might have merchant ancestors, and you enjoy research online in France and Canada, try searching for the following term: Name of Ancestor (family name only, négociant du 17ème et 18ème siècles en France et Nouvelle-France. You can also try replacing Nouvelle-France with Acadie. This may bring you surprising search results.

First, however, you must determine on the spelling of the family name in France in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. For example, my Gagné brothers who settled Château-Richer near Quebec City in the 17th century were Gasnier in France – same pronunciation, different spelling.

This is the first in a series of weekly posts about these merchants, fur traders and ship owners during the period of Colonial New France (until around 1760.) It will include:

two compilations including very brief biographies of these merchants and usually including their wives’ names;

links to information about the port cities in France with which they traded;

links to information about the trading companies they were associated with;

a list of authors, historians and academic researchers who have studied this period, with links to some of their publications;

a list of the archives and other repositories where you can learn more about this subject.

Click on the link to read Merchants, Ship Owners and Fur Traders A-G

 

France, Genealogy, Research tips

The National Archives of France

The National Archives of France is not the most advanced institution in terms of its digitized holdings, however, if you are researching French culture and history, you should be aware of it, and it may be helpful if your French ancestors were among the upper classes.

The Archives nationales (France) is making efforts to facilitate its online research process. You can find an introduction to the catalogue online in French, English and Spanish, and access it from there. For English, see http://www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/en/web/guest/salle-des-inventaires-virtuelle. Also go to http://www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/en_GB/web/guest/faire-une-recherche

Examples of the archives’ holdings include maps, photographs, documentation from the two world wars, and the records of Paris notaries. In addition, the archives has research centres focusing on topics such as place names and heraldry.

For many years, people with French Canadian or Acadian family lineages who wanted to know more about the research process in France have asked me whether the Archives nationales (France) in Paris was the place to conduct a family search. I have always replied that, if your ancestors in France were considered as nobility (familles nobles), yes, the Archives nationales de France is an online address you should consider. To check out the archives’ holdings on the ”bourgeois families” of France prior to the French Revolution, see https://www.siv.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/siv/rechercheconsultation/consultation/pog/consultationPog.action?pogId=FRAN_POG_05&existpog=true&preview=false

However, if your ancestor was from the working class, you should conduct your online searches in the 95 Archives départementales de France. See my article https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/09/23/finding-ancestors-in-french-municipal-archives/

At the bottom of the following Archives nationales page, you will find links to a number of sites related to genealogy in France: http://www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/web/guest/signets-sciences

For many years the navigation process on the Archives nationales site was burdensome, and results posted from an online search would only indicate the dossier numbers (“fonds”) and a brief description of the fonds, followed by the ”série” (category of fonds) and the ”cote” (shelf  number). If you one wanted additional information on the content of a dossier, you had to send an email to Paris.

As of September, 2018, even if you find your family name, in order to access the biographical material of that family, you must visit the Archives nationales (France) in Paris. To further complicate matters, the Archives nationales has more than one repository in Paris, and you must first determine in which repository the records you want to see are kept. You also need to determine the spelling of the family name in France at the time. For example, my name, Gagné, was spelled Gasnier.

France, Genealogy

BnF Gallica

As one of Europe’s most important countries, it is not surprising that France has a wonderful national library, and that this institution has a growing online presence. The website of the Bibliothèque nationale de France found at www.bnf.fr (or www.bnf.fr/en for the English version) leads you to the catalogue and tells you how to access the library’s many collections, including antiquities and works published in Paris in the 16th century.

Gallica https://gallica.bnf.fr is the BNF’s vast digital library, free to all through the Internet. Intended for use by all readers, including the casually curious, students and academics, this site includes medieval manuscripts, illustrations from the natural sciences, maps and photographs.

It might not seem obvious how Gallica could assist with your family history research, but you just need to stretch your imagination. The Patrimoine équestre collection, for example, focuses on horses, which were part of our ancestors’ everyday lives. (See https://gallica.bnf.fr/html/und/sciences/patrimoine-equestre)  And as France was once a colonial power with a presence from the Caribbean to Polynesia and Africa, the maps on this site could prove helpful if your ancestors were sailors or merchants. (See https://gallica.bnf.fr/html/und/cartes/les-ameriques-en-cartes)

Another aspect of Gallica is a bilingual site called la France en Amerique, or France in America, created in collaboration with the Library of Congress. (See https://gallica.bnf.fr/dossiers/html/dossiers/FranceAmerique/fr/default.htm) In addition, if you are looking for a biography of a French ancestor dating back to the 12th century, BNF Gallica is the place to go. I discovered this by chance.

I was searching online for Jean Allaire, a Quebec City merchant who arrived in New France in 1658. He was associated with François Perron (Péron), a leading merchant in La Rochelle and Québec City. Google took me to the Dictionnaire Allard, also known as the Dictionnaire de Dauphiné, on BnF Gallica. (See https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k39393d/f12.item.zoom)

A dictionnaire in France can be a source of biographies, at least in the more expensive versions. For most of the 44 ancient provinces of France prior to 1789-1799, Bnf Gallica has posted dictionaries of important residents.

This particular dictionary addresses the ancient province of the Dauphiné. At the time of the French Revolution, Dauphiné was divided into three modern-day Départements: Drôme, Hautes-Alpes and Isère. According to Fichier Origine (/www.fichierorigine.com), 26 pioneers from Drôme, 27 settlers from the Hautes-Alpes  and 70 pioneers from the Isère settled in Nouvelle-France.

Similar regional dictionaries covering other parts of France can be found on Gallica, and in them you may find information about your very distant French ancestors in France. For example, I discovered that my family name, which was Gagné in New France, was Gasnier in France in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it appears to have been Garnier in the 14th and 15th centuries. This is information I obtained through BnF Gallica and other free online research tools.

France, Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal, United States

Research Help for French Louisiana Sources

There were strong ties between Quebec and Louisiana in the 18th century. Louisiana was then part of New France, having been established by the French to block the British from expanding their influence westward in North America.

Many settlers who went to the southern part of the United States originated from the same regions in France as the French Canadians and the Acadians. But few Quebec historians or genealogists have focused on the links between the families of New France and those who settled in Louisiana.

An example of someone with personal links to both places was Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, Marquis de Vaudreuil (1698-1778). His father was of noble descent, from the Languedoc region of France, and Pierre was born at Quebec, where his father served as governor-general of New France. Pierre served as governor of Louisiana from 1742 to 1753, and he was the last governor-general of New France, between 1755 and 1760.

Historian Mélanie Lamotte wrote an article about primary sources in North America and France for the early modern history of Louisiana when she was studying at the Cambridge University in the U.K. She currently teaches at Stanford University, and her  Stanford website describes this article, “A Guide to Early Modern French Louisiana Sources” as providing “much-needed guidance on identifying and using French Louisiana sources. It lists the sources available and investigates their nature, details of access, state of preservation, as well as their state of digitization. It also suggests potential uses and interpretations that might be gleaned from such source material.”

You can download Lamotte’s 26-page guide from either of these two sites:

http://stanford.academia.edu/M%C3%A9lanieLamotte

https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/1810/260104/Lamotte-2016-Collections_A_Journal_for_Museum_and_Archives_Professionals-VoR.pdf?sequence=1

France, Genealogy, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Finding Ancestors in French Municipal Archives

The attached 43-page PDF addresses the Archives communales de France, also known as the Archives municipales de France. This is the second most important group of archives in France for tracing the families of New France and Acadia. The 95 Archives départementales de France are the number one source of information addressing French Canadians, Acadians, Franco Americans, Franco Ontarians and others. (See also, Researching Your French Ancestors Online, posted May 13, 2018, https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/05/13/researching-your-french-ancestors-online/)

There are some 400 municipal archives. I have selected the 124 largest, including archives that offer online access to some files, or at least an online description of the contents.

In 1792, the Assemblée législative de France (The Legislative Assembly of France) took away the responsibility for issuing birth, marriage and death registers from the curés (priests) and gave these duties to local mairies (city halls). At about the same time, a new civil register of France was created addressing acts of birth, marriage, divorce and death. This register was named the Registre de l’état-civil, and the documents were issued by the city halls.

Subsequently, when many cities and towns created their own archives communales (municipal archives), these local municipal archives were assigned responsibility to safeguard the civil registers.

After the creation of the 95 Archives départementales de France, a great number of the local archives communales (municipal archives) turned over their actes de l’état-civil, or copies of these records, to the regional archives départementales. Other municipal archives did not do so. As a result, some of the files found in municipal archives of France can also be found in the regional archives départementales, while other dossiers cannot be found anywhere else.

The majority of genealogy societies in France work closely with their local archives communales. Many of these genealogy societies share the same building or adjacent building to the archives communales of their region.

Here is the link to the PDF: Archives communales de France – 2018-09-04 Rev

France, Genealogy, Huguenot, Quebec, Research tips

Huguenot Family Lineage Searches

This week’s compilation, “France Huguenot Family Lineage Searches,” is designed to help you find your Protestant ancestors in 16th to 18th century France. It includes links to books and societies that can help you find your ancestral name in France prior to the French Revolution, and it focuses on Protestant aristocratic families. Click on the link to read the pdf document:

France Huguenots Family Lineage Searches

This guide complements the compilation published May 20, 2018 on Genealogy Ensemble on finding Huguenot families in France, “How to Search for Huguenot Ancestors in France”  https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/05/20/how-to-search-for-huguenot-ancestors-in-france/

In the past, a great deal of research was done on the Huguenots who came to Canada, however, many of the researchers who contributed to this field are now retired or have died. For example, Huguenot Trails (a periodical published by the Huguenot Society of Canada) addressed the Huguenot families who settled in Canada. This periodical stopped publishing in 2002, and the society closed its doors in 2006. The lead authors were Ken Annett and René Péron.  See my post, “Huguenots – Index of Names,” March 6, 2015  https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/03/06/848/  This article consists of a list of family names that appeared in “Huguenot Trails.”

Another fine piece of research is Fichiers Huguenots en Nouvelle France, by Michel Barbeau (http://pages.infinit.net/barbeaum/fichier/index.htm). This database includes only the Huguenot families who settled in New France prior to 1759.  See also, Huguenot Family Names in Nouvelle France, Québec under British rule, Lower Canada, Québec under Confederation – Various Authors. This and other reference works can be found at the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal or at the Collection nationale (same building, different collections.)

Here are some other compilations I have prepared in the past on the Huguenots:

“British, Irish, Scottish, Loyalist, American, German, Scandinavian, Dutch, Huguenot Families in Lower Canada and Quebec 1760,” April 8, 2015

https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/04/08/british-irish-scottish-loyalist-american-german-scandinavian-dutch-huguenot-families-in-lower-canada-and-quebec-1760/

This compilation is a list of villages, towns and townships in Quebec where various groups of people settled. Many of these places have changed names or disappeared over the years.

 

French Protestant Churches in Quebec,” Nov. 22, 2015

https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/11/22/french-protestant-churches-in-quebec/

This compilation includes an article by Huguenot researcher René Péron, the names of Protestant ministers who served these French-speaking congregations and a bibliography for further reading. It includes brief histories of 187 churches, including Anglican, Baptist and other denominations, in which Protestant Quebecers have worshipped between 1600 and today. Finally, this extensive compilation tells you where to find the parish records of these churches.

 

The Trail of the Huguenots in Europe, the USA and Canada,” April 4, 2014

https://genealogyensemble.com/2014/04/04/the-trail-of-the-huguenots-in-europe-the-u-s-a-and-canada/

This short post is a quote from a book in the library of the Quebec Family History Society in Montreal, The Trail of the Huguenots in Europe, the USA and Canada, by G. Elmore Reaman, that points to the important role the Huguenots played in New France. According to worldcat.org, this book is available in more than 1000 libraries around the world. It is also available online, https://archive.org/details/trailofhuguenots00ream

 

Huguenot Refugees,” April 2, 2014

https://genealogyensemble.com/2014/04/02/huguenot-refugees/

This post links to several databases and websites.

 

Register of Abjurations,” Feb 3, 2014

https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/02/03/register-of-abjurations/

This post covers records of renouncements of faith by Huguenots in New France.