Genealogy

The Kings’ Daughters: They came to populate New France*

As she boarded the great ship Phoénix de Flessingue in May 1663, Catherine Barré knew she would never return to her hometown of La Rochelle, France.

Did she worry about the ship sinking? Would pirates attack during the six-week journey overseas? What kind of life did she imagine might be waiting for her in New France? How could she agree to marry a man, Maurice Rivet, sight unseen? Did she wonder what their life raising a family together might be like?

I am among Catherine’s 12th generation descendants from my father’s side. Thinking about her courage and resiliency gives me strength, even as I notice myself sharing her impulsive faith-led need to act, sometimes with less information than is desirable.

Despite that flaw, Catherine’s life seems to have worked out, with a few major hiccups.

Escape to New France

Her first hiccup made her choose to be a pawn in King Louis X1V’s scheme to populate New France. In exchange for her agreement to marry and raise a family, she received 10 pounds for her own use, 30 pounds for clothing and grooming paraphernalia and free passage overseas at a cost of 60 pounds.[1]

Today, she’s known as a “King’s Daughter.” More than 800 women travelled to New France during the decade beginning in 1663.

Catherine was among the first women who chose to travel to New France under the sponsorship of her king, but 262 other women made similar choices in the previous three decades. The private “Company of 100 Associates” sponsored them.

Why did these women choose to leave everything they knew in France? We don’t know.

In Catherine’s case, however, it seems likely that she faced persecution due to her religion. Abjuration records place her among thirteen Protestants sent to New France from La Rochelle.[2]

Huguenot Persecution

During this period, the practice of Protestantism by people called the Huguenots was discouraged in France, although not yet illegal. The peace set up by King Henry IV’s Edict of Nantes became eroded over time until his grandson King Louis XIV revoked it in 1685, removing religious freedom entirely. Bishops in New France begged French Finance Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert to expel the Protestants from the colony as well, but he wouldn’t do it. Many Huguenots were literate craftsmen and business owners who were needed in New France. Also, sending Huguenots overseas eliminated their influence in France. There were no regulations against Huguenot worship in New France until 1676.

Whatever the reason for her departure from France, the daughter of Jean Barré and Marie Epy arrived in Quebec City on June 30, 1663, aboard the Phoénix.

How to Select a Suitor?

She may have had to take a boat ride down the St. Lawrence, stopping from town to town to meet eligible bachelors,[3] although since she was already betrothed, that may not have been necessary. It sounds like a bizarre 15th-century version of speed-dating.

In addition to eventually renouncing her religion, Catherine also renounced the initial man she chose to wed. Or perhaps he renounced her, although that is less likely. Whichever the case, Duquet annulled the contract between Catherine and Maurice Rivet on November 17, 1664.[4]

Vachon wrote a contract between Catherine and Mathurin Chaillé on December 30, 1664.[5]

Marriage Contracts Prior to the Wedding

During this period, all couples signed marriage contracts prior to their church weddings, as Suzanne Boivin Sommerville pointed out in her comment about this story here. She wrote:

“A marriage contract is a legal _promise_ to marry as soon as possible in the Holy, Roman, and Apostolic Catholic Church. It was not the sacrament and legal act of marriage. It could be, and often was, annulled before any religious rite took place. Some women annulled more than one contract before settling on a husband…prospective spouses were the ones to cancel the contract, even at the advice of witnesses or family, not the Church.”[6]

Catherin married Mathurin Chaillé on January 11, 1665 “as soon as could be allowed after the Seasons of Advent and Christmas” wrote Boivin Sommerville.

Boivin Sommerville has prepared a wonderful PowerPoint presentation and several blog posts about the culture and norms in early New France on the French Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan website. Her work is well-worth-reading.

Catherine and Mathurin had their first child, a son nine months after their wedding.

Jean Barré Chaillé

My direct relative was their fourth child, Jean Barré Chaillé. He came along nine years later in 1674. By then the family lived in Sillery after being evicted from their farm on the seigneurie of Beauport.[7]

The couple had six children in total. One son died at 10 years old, but the rest married and had families of their own.

Three of the families lived in Portneuf near their parents, but my ancestor Jean and his brother Henri moved to Montreal. I like to imagine Catherine and her husband Mathurin visiting them on occasion, but haven’t yet found evidence of that.

Summer Deaths

Both Catherine and her husband Mathurin died within a week of each other in the summer of 1707. She was 63 years old. There were record-breaking heatwaves in England and France in July[8], when the couple died, so I wonder if something similar happened in Quebec to cause their deaths?

NOTE:

*I have updated this story based on comments by Suzanne Boivin Sommerville, who has prepared a wonderful PowerPoint presentation and several blog posts about the culture and norms in early New France on the French Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan website. Boivin Sommerville made several points about my errors in her wonderfully-detailed comment about my story here. Yes, Suzanne, you’re right, the initial version of this story didn’t make the difference between a marriage contract and a legal marriage clear, even though I do understand that there was a difference and that women had the right to cancel contracts they made prior to meeting their intended betrothed. Also, there is no indication of why she chose not to marry Rivet. I apologize that it’s taken me so long to update the piece as you so rightly suggested.

Footnotes

[1] Gousse, S., & Wien, T. (n.d.). Filles du Roi. Retrieved from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/filles-du-roi/ on July 18, 2018.

[2] Dawson, Nelson-M. “The “Filles Du Roy” Sent to New France: Protestant, Prostitute or Both?” Historical Reflections / Réflexions Historiques 16, no. 1 (1989): 55-77. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41298906, p64.

[3] Most French Canadians are descended from these 800 women | CBC Canada 2017. (2017, March 30). Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/2017/canadathestoryofus/most-french-canadians-are-descended-from-these-800-women-1.4029699 on July 18, 2018.

[4] Inventaire des contrats de mariage du Régime français conservés aux Archives judiciaires de Québec, Volume 1, Roy, Pierre-Georges, 1870-1953 Québec, 1937-1938, p85.

[5]Dee, E. (n.d.). The Families of Beauport – The Chailles. Retrieved from http://www.oocities.org/weallcamefromsomewhere/Beauport/chaille_family.html on July 18, 2018.

[6] Boivin Sommerville, Suzanne, comments about this story here. Boivin Sommerville has prepared a wonderful PowerPoint presentation and several blog posts about the culture and norms in early New France on the French Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan website.

[7] Dee, ibid.

[8] Maruske, James. A Chronological Listing of Early Weather Events retrieved from https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/weather1.pdf, on 2018.

 

Genealogy

The Huguenot of England Part 1

The Huguenot Cross.

A window at Canterbury Cathedral England where Huguenot descendants still worship every Sunday, in French.

‘Huguenot’ What does that mean to you? For me, living in Quebec, Canada it is a part of Quebec and France’s history but did you know that England also has a vast amount of history about Huguenot? I was amazed to learn that!

After I recently read a short article about English Huguenot, it made me want to find out how and why they ended up in England.

The Edict of Nantes (french: édit de Nantes), signed in April 1598 by King Henry IV of France, granted the Calvinist Protestants of France (also known as Huguenots) substantial rights in the nation, which was still considered essentially Catholic at the time.

The Huguenot were Protestants in a largely Catholic populated country and after Louis XIV cancelled their civil rights granted to them by the ‘Edict of Nantes’ in 1685, about 50,000 fled France across the English Channel.¹

Once in England, they spread out not only to London but to 20 towns from Canterbury to Norwich, Plymouth to Rochester. As time went on, many of them drifted towards the Church of England and names became anglicized. Ferret became Ferry and Fouache became Fash most often due to mistakes made by English clerks!

In the 1600’s, Huguenot in England was called Journeymen journéee – ‘day’ in French – because they were, yes! paid daily. Journeyman is a word still in use in England today. Huguenot homes included a feature that marked a journeyman weaver home or a ‘sign’ such as the one below.

This Spindle is the Sign of A Silk Weaver On A Huguenot House in Spitalfields, London England

They set about settling in and transformed their homes to suit the valuable silk trade. They enlarged the windows in the attic to let in the maximum light for the weavers and designed a staircase positioned right by the front door to allow access to the upper floors without entering the workshop. This protected the expensive silks from dirt and soot from the streets. As the silk trade in the East End took off, they formed a community of working-class tradespeople that transformed Spitalfields into “Weaver Town”.

These talented artists brought to England many high-skilled trades. In addition to being famous for their silk weaving and beautiful fabrics, they brought to England paper-making, hat makers cabinet makers watchmakers gunsmiths goldsmiths jewellers and many more skilled trades.

By 1710, at least 5 percent of the population of London – then around 500,000 – were French Protestants. In the French enclaves of Spitalfields and Soho, that proportion was much higher.  London soon had 23 French Protestant churches. Within a few years, a society totally unacquainted with mass migration had given a home to the equivalent – in terms of today’s population – of 650, 000 new arrivals.

According to one estimate, one in every six Britons has some Huguenot ancestry. Some famous Huguenot names in England include Simon Le Bon, from the pop group Duran Duran actor Sir Laurence Olivier, author Daphne Du Maurier and Samuel Courtauld (1793 – 1881) an English industrialist who developed his family firm Courtaulds to become one of the leading names in the textile business in Britain.²

Today, in the lively East End area of London, there is an area known as Spitalfields. Home to artists, creative fashions and food, Spitalfields is well known for its history of silk weavers. Fournier Street – built in the 1720’s – with its grand old Georgian terraced houses of the master weavers attracts visitors each year.³

There is a thriving Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland formed in 1885.

In Fournier Street, at number 18 the elegant home belongs to the Artist Denis Severs. He bought a dilapidated 10 room property in 1979 and used it to re-create a Huguenot home for his own pleasure. Word got around and it has now been open to the public for 35 years.

https://www.dennissevershouse.co.uk/

Huguenot Silk Weavers Houses on Fournier Street

There is still so much to write about the English Huguenot so look out for part 2.

Sources:

¹https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Nantes

²http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/refugee-week-the-huguenots-count-among-the-most-successful-of-britains-immigrants-10330066.html

³https://oldspitalfieldsmarket.com/

https://www.huguenotsociety.org.uk/

NOTE:

This link is to the ‘Huguenots – Index of Names’ within Quebec.

Posted by Genealogy Ensemble author, Jacques Gagné.

https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/03/06/848/

 

 

Africa, Canadian Province, United States

The Trail of the Huguenots in Europe, the U.S.A and Canada

The Trail of the Huguenots in Europe, the United States, South Africa and Canada
Author: G. Elmore Reaman
QFHS #UEL-REF HG 010.01 R4 1972
Total pages: 318
From page 137 to page 205, this section of the book address the Protestant families in Nouvelle France (New France)
Being a book owned by the United Empire Loyalist’ Association of Canada, it cannot be taken out of the library.

The following is an excerpt from this superb book by G. Elmore Reaman.

It is a generally accepted point of view in Canada that Frenchmen have always been Roman Catholics and that Protestantism has had little or no reliationship with France. It has been further accepted that there was no connection between Protestant French and the exploration of Canada by the French. A careful study of both of these points of view will show that they are untenable. It may come as a surprise to learn that historians of this period state on good authority that, if it hadn’t been for the business enterprise of Huguenots in France and their desire to found a colony where they could remain loyal to the King of France and yet enjoy freedom of worship, it is doubtful if there would be many French in Canada today. Furthermore, it is quite possible that had the French allowed Huguenots to migrate to Canada in the seventeenth century, England would have stood a slim chance of conquering Canada.

Such information does exist in authentic sources, but few persons in Europe or America—and that includes Canada—have any knowledge of it. French Roman Catholics have naturally advanced their point of view and Protestants have never thought it worth while to investigate it. Huguenot Societies in France, England, and the United States are not aware that from 1534 until 1633 Canada was practically Huguenot controlled nor do they know that many of the earliest settlers in Upper Canada (Ontario) were descendants of émigrés from France, some of whom first went to the British Isles, then to the United States, and finally to Ontario.
G. Elmore Reaman

G. Elmore Reaman (1889-1969) was born in Concord, Ontario, he received his education at the University of Toronto, McMaster University, Queen’s University, Cornell University.

Dr. Reaman’s materials are found at the University of Waterloo Archives.

Posted by Jacques Gagné for Genealogy Ensemble