What 5 hours of Ancestry.com can teach you!
It's official - je suis Normande!
Since the age of 5, my French and Canadian ancestry have fascinated me! I have always wanted to know where my ancestors lived in France, and what brought them to Canada, and eventually the US. I have gotten some answers over the years, but after 5 quality hours on Ancestry.com one night (we all have more time to spend online these days!) I found an actual story.
I am French/ Canadian (and a bit English thanks to Jersey Island ancestors) on my dad's side. As April 16th is his birthday, and he has been gone for 6 months now, I guess it seemed fitting to find more pieces to this puzzle now. Phil Parent always liked a good story, so this one is for you, Dad!
Stay with my for this brief family tree:
My dad is Phil Parent (left) and his mother was Genevieve Beaumont (middle), who married Frank Parent (the couple on the right). Genevieve came from a long line of Beaumonts, who were among the first settlers in Quebec. (There is a lot written about Vincent Beaumont). While this is all interesting, I am smitten by the story of Leonard Faucher and Marie Damois.
The year is 1666 and young Leonard Faucher is an apprentice carpenter near Limoges, France. Leaving his parents, he takes an opportunity to move to New France (Quebec) and settles in Neuville, Quebec. He has a gun, three horned cattle and 20 acres of land.
King Louis XIV is on a mission to create his New France, but there is a bit of a problem - all of the settlers are men! There are ample fur trappers, priests and soldiers, but this will be a short-lived civilization! Some men marry natives, but as they are mostly non-Christian, this worries the Jesuit priests.
Jean Talon carried out the first census, recording that the population of about 3,000 included 719 unmarried men and only 45 unmarried women!
Jean Talon proposed that King Louis XIV sponsor passage of at least 500 women to New France. He agreed to pay for their transportation, as well as a dowry to be awarded upon her marriage to a young Frenchman. This dowry included:
1 - chest
1 - taffeta kerchief
1 - ribbon for shoes
100 - needles
1 - comb
1 - spool of white thread
1 - pair of stockings
1 - pair of gloves
1 - pair of sissors
2 - knives
1000 - pins
1 - bonnet
4 - laces
2 - silver livres (French coins)
Many also received chickens, pigs or other livestock
(From Dick Eastman and MyHeritage)
Les Filles du Roi
Who were these women? Well, they were not the rich and privileged! Humble families could often provide dowries for the oldest daughter, but after that ... so let's just say these younger daughters were prime candidates to be shipped off to the New World! These women, known as "The King's Daughters", needed verification from a priest that they were of "fine moral character". About 80% of these women were from Paris, Normandy and the western regions of France. Of course, these eligible young women had to be strong and capable enough to survive the long transport and the difficult living conditions. (A desire for lots of babies probably helped as well! )
Now back to our story ...
Marie Damois was born in Rouen, Normandie in 1650 to Pierre Damois and Marie Clerice. At the tender age of 19, she left her home and family and sailed to New France as one of the roughly 800 Filles du Roi sent to New France between 1663 and 1673.
Pause for appreciation!
A - I am so thrilled to Normande!
B - How brave was this 19-year-old to leave everything she knew to go to a country she knew little-to-nothing about, to marry and raise a family??!!! I am in awe of this woman!
Leonard Faucher and Marie Damois were married in October 1669 and settled in Neuville along the banks of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. Leonard and Marie, my 8th Great-Grandparents, went on to have more than 9 children. Marie lived to be 58, and was buried at Pointe-aux-Trembles cemetery in Quebec.
Was it love at first sight, or merely a practical arrangement? Did they ever see their families again? Was it the adventure of a lifetime, or way more work than they bargained for? There are so many questions and very few answers. I am absolutely in awe of my brave ancestors, and that gives me hope that I am from a hearty stock.
There is a Society of the Kings Daughters as well as the Soldiers of Carignan, and the names and dates are all carefully documented. You can find stories about these young pioneers; glimpses into their lives. I think it's pretty cool that the descendants of this illustrious group are so proud of their heritage.
If you have French Canadian ancestors, we are probably cousins! Take advantage of this quarantine to find out more about your roots. Strangely, it helps connect us all to the bigger picture.
Votre cousine, Traci