Almost Forgotten: The Marriageable Girls

Often, life in France offered little hope for women. Arranged marriages prevailed, and most women did not have a say in the matter of matrimony, for parental consent was required for women under the age of twenty-five. For poor families that could not offer a dowry, marriage opportunities for the women were bleak.

All for the King

This great grandmother, Marie Jeanne Toussaint, blazed a new trail in the New World, and her name survived throughout the generations as one of the founding mothers of North America.

The last known member of her family line, this King’s Daughter, came to New France alone. Her origins, her parents, and even her exact age vanished from history. Still, this great grandmother, Marie Jeanne Toussaint, blazed a new trail in the New World, and her name survived throughout the generations as one of the founding mothers of North America.

While little information on this 9th great grandmother existed, her impact on North America could not be forgotten. My grandmother, along with around 800 “sisters,” traveled to the French colonies to help balance gender inequality. To enhance the population in New France, King Louis XIV sent the King’s Daughters, the Filles du Roi, to the wilderness frontier between 1663 and 1773.

Once they arrived, most married the French immigrants and helped settle the king’s lands. The king also gave the women a dowry and a trousseau to help them establish their homes. Once they landed, they were provided with housing until they married. During their stay at their temporary quarters, the nuns taught them the necessary skills required to face the challenges of this strange new world. Most were not prepared or suited for the demanding lifestyle that awaited them. Yet, they stayed, and boldly met the challenges set before them.

Many of the women married within a few months after a suitable marriage was arranged. Fulfilling the king’s hopes, a decade later, the French colonies doubled in size. These women helped populate North America, for their descendants spread across this continent, and currently, most French Canadians have descended from at least one of the King’s Daughters.

Historically, these voyages often took as long as two to three months, and the young women faced hardships while traveling across the Atlantic Ocean. Some perished on their journey, and others suffered from malnutrition and disease. Although some records were lost, Jeanne arrived in Quebec in 1670, and historians believed she was about eighteen years old. That year eighty-seven women immigrated to the continent.

Unlike many of her contemporaries, Jeanne did not marry right away. Instead, she contracted for one year of service with a native of Quebec, Madeleine de Chavigny, at Cap-de-la-Madeleine.

Jeanne’s future husband, Noel Carpentier, arrived in 1665 and worked as a servant for a time. On 22 Jun 1669, Noel accepted about 35 acres of land from Nicholas Crevier dit Belleviue, and a few years later, he decided to settle down and start a family.

About 1672, Noel Carpentier and Jeanne Toussaint married in Cap-de-la-Madeleine. While her paper trail grew cold, Jeanne helped her family thrive in the new land. While living in this town, the couple had two children, Marie Madeleine (1673), and Marie Jeanne (25 Nov 1676). Around 1678, the family moved to Quebec. Their son, Etienne was born in 1678.

Sometime after the birth of their son, the family moved again to Champlain. The family settled in this town and remained in this settlement. The couple had seven more children, Medard (2 Aug 1681), Marie Marguerite (4 Mar 1684), Marie Antoinette (11 Jan 1686), Marie Therese (3 Jul 1689), Marie Celeste Anne (18 Jun 1691), Jacques (14 Apr 1694), and Noel (5 Nov 1703).

According to the 1681 Census, the family was listed twice, in Cap-de-la-Madeleine and Champlain. Most genealogists and historians believed the couple owned land in both places. The information stated the couple held nine head of cattle and about 30 acres of land.

Tragedy did strike the family, for the census did not list Jacques, and many believed he died as a child. Years later, on the 5 Nov 1703, Noel and Jeanne lost their oldest daughter, Marie Madeleine, in Champlain. 

Five years later, on 11 Dec 1708, Jeanne’s last will and testament were notarized by Normandin. Five days later, she died, and on the 17 Dec 1708, she was buried in Champlain. She was about fifty-two years old.

Noel lived until he was eighty-five years old. He died 26 Jan 1728, and he was buried next to Jeanne. Four of their children settled at Ile-Dupas; two children moved to Becancour, one daughter, Marie Jeanne, became a nun at Notre Dame in Montreal. She took the name Sister Sainte-Genevieve. The rest of their children stayed in their original parish.  

Life as a King’s Daughter required strength and courage to survive the rugged wilderness of the French Colonies. These women not only coped with frontier life but also raised children amidst all their duties. They conquered their surroundings and left a legacy for their children and grandchildren. What a revelation and an honor to know that the women in my family were resilient, valiant, and capable, even when faced with enormous obstacles and reservations.

Painting by The Arrival of the French Girls at Quebec, 1667. Watercolour by Charles William Jefferys.

The King’s Daughters

Sources

  • Gagné Peter J. King’s Daughters and Founding Mothers: the Filles Du Roi, 1663-1673. Quintin.
  • Gale Research. U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7486.
  • Genealogical Research Library, Ontario, Canada. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7920.
  • Laforest, Thomas John., and Jeffrey M. LaRochelle. Our French-Canadian Ancestors. LISI Press, 1989.
  • PRDH, Drouin Institute, http://www.prdh-igd.com.
  • “Quebec, Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families (Tanguay Collection), 1608-1890.” 1920 Census | 1920 US Federal Census Records | Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2177.
  • Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968. Online Publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.Original Data – Gabriel Drouin, Comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin.Original Data: Gabriel Drouin, Comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1091.

Antoine Marie Leduc and Jeanne Faucheaux

In the 17th century, my great grandparents sailed to New France after leaving loved ones behind in their homeland in France. Although the two did not sail together, they eventually met, married, began raising a family, and settled in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Perade.

Claude Damise: A Fille du Roi in Montreal

This grandmother also took a lover, and on the 23 Mar 1676, she had a son, Andre-Jean.

Façade of the Catholic Church Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet, built in the 16th-17th centuries. Rue des Bernardins, Paris.
By: Jawstrow

In the year 1643, Claude Damise was born to Etienne Damise and Genevieve Pioche. The family was located in the parish of Saint-Nicholas-du-Chardonnet in the faubourg Saint-Victor section of Paris, France.

After the death of her father, Claude decided to take her king’s offer and sail to the fledgling colonies in New France. If the colonies were to grow, they needed women for the soldiers and settlers that resided in these new lands. Between 1663-1673, King Louis XIV started a program that sent around 800 women to North America. He gave the woman a dowry and supplies to help them start their homes. In time, these women were called the King’s Daughters.

In 1668, at the age of 25 years, the young woman sailed to Canada to find a husband and a new home. When she arrived, she lodged at the Maison Saint-Gabriel in Montreal. On 10 Dec, she married Pierre Perthuis dit Lalime in Montreal. Claude could not sign the marriage contract, but her husband signed the paper. Her cousin, Francoise Guillin that was also a King’s Daughter, attended the wedding and was a witness to the ceremony.

Maison Saint-Gabriel
18 August 2012
By abdallahh

Her husband was born in 1644 in the Saint-Denis district of Amboise, Touraine, in France. Pierre’s parents were Sylvain Perthuis and Matherine Rassicot, and his father was a wood merchant. In 1665, he sailed to Canada, and he became a soldier for the Salieres Company of the Carignan Regiment. In time, he also became a merchant in Montreal, and in 1695, he enlisted as a fur trader.

Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967

The couple had twelve children, Catherine (23 Jan 1670), Jean (7 Feb 1672), Jeanne (13 Dec 1673), Elisabeth (7 Feb 1677), Marie (8 Sep 1678), Genevieve (18 Oct 1680), Marguerite-Francoise (24 Jul 1682), Angelique (1 Jan 1684), Anne-Francoise (26 Jan 1685; buried five days later), Pierre (16 Apr 1686), Francois (10 Jan 1688), and Pierre 2 (22 May 1691). In 1681, their son, Jean, died at the age of nine.

This grandmother also took a lover, and on the 23 Mar 1676, she had a son, Andre-Jean. His father was Jean Paradis, and he was the son of Pierre Paradis and Barbe Guyon. Since Andre’s birth was well documented, I do not know if her husband was aware of her infidelity. However, records indicate that Andre was adopted by another couple, Rene Siret dit Lafleur and Anne Fayet, another King’s Daughter. This couple was childless. They did not marry until 8 Sept 1670, so Andre was adopted when he was older.

In 1682, Claude and her husband, Pierre, were involved in a scandal. A cabaret owner, Anne Lamarque dit Folleville, was taken before the courts for her immoral lifestyle. She was accused of having several lovers. In April 1682, Anne was a lodger in the home of Claude and Pierre, and they were called in as witnesses.

The cabaret, owned by Anne and her husband, Charles Testard in Montreal, was quite a popular stop among the men from all ranks of society. Since the men often traveled for their jobs, Montreal was in a central location for these men passing through the area. It also became the hub for merchants and traders, so the cabaret was an infamous hot spot for controversial behavior.

This scandalous business attained notoriety and gained the attention of the church and the civil authorities that wanted to stop the immorality in their town. As complaints began to mount against the couple, a parish priest, Jean Fremont, became involved. He wanted the cabaret closed, for the establishment was troubling; it often included violent fights as prostitutes worked their charms, and husbands cheated on their wives.

On June 17, 1862, Jean Fremont appealed to the local authorities and requested that Anne Lamarque should be stopped, and her business closed. The long trial included many of the neighbors of Anne and her husband. Interesting and sordid details even added witchcraft, for witnesses stated that Anne had a book of spells, written in Greek, Latin, and French. Some claimed she contrived spells that lured men to her place of business. Others acknowledged that the madame of this establishment created love potions that enticed the men and ensured their loyalty to frequent her place of business. Even her husband, Charles, testified that his wife was a magician. Her customers attested to her illicit behaviors and suggested that some of her children were born from these adulterous misdeeds. The couple was accused of debauchery, which also included slights against the religious members of Montreal.

Still, Anne defied the accusations, and with her influential connections in Montreal, she was acquitted, and the cabaret remained in business. Her success was short-lived; however, four years later, in 1686, the businesswoman died at the age of thirty-seven.

After this incident, no more information about Claude was mentioned, except for the fact that she continued to have children with her husband, Pierre.

In 1705, Claude died, and on the 6 Oct, services were held at the Notre Dame Basilica; she was buried in the churchyard.

Her husband, Pierre, remarried. His new wife, Francoise Moisan, was another King’s Daughter, and she was also my 10x great grandmother.

The King’s Daughters

The Damise Family Tree


Cornelius Krieghoff
The Habitant Farm
1856,
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.
 

Sources:

“Canada, Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current.” Search, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60527.

Edmund West, comp. Family Data Collection – Births, Ancestry.com Operations Ina, 2001, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=5769.

Edmund West, comp. Family Data Collection – Marriages, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2001, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=5774.

Gagné Peter J. King’s Daughters and Founding Mothers: the Filles Du Roi, 1663-1673. Quintin Publications, 2003.

Gale Research. U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7486.

Genealogical Research Library, Ontario, Canada. “Canadian Genealogy Index, 1600s-1900s.” Canadian Genealogy Index, 1600s-1900s, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2005, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7920.

Krieghoff, Cornelius. The Habitant Farm. 1856, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

Pare, Olivier. “Anne Lamarque, Dite La Folleville.” Mémoires Des Montréalais, Centre D’Histoire De Montreal, 31 July 2018, ville.montreal.qc.ca/memoiresdesmontrealais/anne-lamarque-dite-la-folleville.

PRDH, Drouin Institute, http://www.prdh-igd.com/en/home.

Quebec, Canada, Notarial Records, 1626-1935, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016, anglo-celtic-connections.blogspot.com/2016/10/ancestry-adds-quebec-canada-notarial.html.

Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968.” Birth, Marriage and Death Records – Ancestry.ca, Online Publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008., search.ancestry.ca/search/db.aspx?dbid=1091.

“Quebec, Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families (Tanguay Collection), 1608-1890.” 1920 Census | 1920 US Federal Census Records | Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2177.

Rheault, Marcel J. Medicine in New France: Montreal Surgeons, 1642-1760, Quebec, September, 2004

Yates Publishing. “U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900.” U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7836.

Web: Netherlands, GenealogieOnline Trees Index, 1000-2015, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2014, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=9289.