Thursday, May 8, 2008

Morin Coat of Arms

Heraldic Description

Azure background for the gold cross confined, to the one and four, four lily flowers applied with silver two and two; to the two and three, of two corn cobs of eight grains each, their stems joined surrounded by leaves, the whole made of gold, and as for their motto: Decide and accomplish".

The coats of arms of the Association des Morin d'Amérique have been the first to be granted to a family association in the Province of Quebec by the Canadian Heraldic Authority at Rideau Hall, Ottawa. May, the 18th, 1994; as entered in Volume II, page 325, in the public register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada.
  • GOLD denotes Generosity, Courage and Perseverance.

  • BLUE-GRAY symbolizes political science and therefore, the outstanding contribution of Morin to the municipal, provincial and federal politics.

  • KERNELS OF WHEAT symbolizes agriculture and remembers that most of our ancestors were land clearers and farmers. It symbolizes also the founding couples: 16 Morin settled in New France before the Treaty of Paris.

  • The CROSS reminds us of the first Canadian priest and the first Ville-Marie nun, born in New France, came from Morin families.

  • The 8 LILIES symbolize two things: First, that our Ancestors came mostly from France; and second that 8 of these families still have progenity in America.

Decide et accomplis [Decide and Achieve] is an invitation to Reflexion, Perfection and Achievement.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Le Beau Nom De Morin

as translated by Emile Morin

"The family name of Morin can have a number of different origins ... one of which can be an allusion to the outward appearance of the first ancestor."

This is the theory of Loredan Larcher who, in the ancient tongue of Gaul, gives the meaning of Morin as "A tawny or swarthy appearance." It is a variant of the name MAURIN, which means "tan." Other variants are MORICE, MORICEAU, MORIS, MORIZOT, MORILLON, MORAND, MOREAU, MOREL, MORET, etc. Morin is also a synonym for LENOIR, NOIROT, MAUBLANC, BRUNOT, etc. As we can see, there is no lack of names to describe "tan of skin, like the Maures."

A person with the name of Morin would be proud to find that he is from a branch of the Morini of whom Virgil, in his eighth volume of the Eneiid (around the year 727) says, "extremique hominum Morini" (or "they are a people from the end of the world").

The Morins (in Latin "Morini") were a tribe of the Belgian Gaul, situated on the coast of the North Sea facing England. Portus Itius, the port from which Caesar embarked to invade Britain, was located in the territory of the Morini ... approximately where Calais is situated today. This tribe had entered into the confederation of Belgians to resist Caesar and promised 25,000 armed men. The following year, the Morini participated in the revolt of the maritime tribes. The Venetees, having already been conquered, and all the tribes along the British Sea sent delegates to sue for peace. By the end of the summer, only the Morins and the Menapiens remained under arms. Caesar decided to subdue them, but found these people fought a different way from the other Gauls: Disappearing into the woods, they waited for the proper time and descended upon the Roman camp. Caesar, in order to avenge the loss of many of his soldiers, ordered the trees cut down. The Morins retreated further into the forest and Caesar, surprised by autumn storms, settled for destroying their farms and burning their villages.

The following year, Caesar returned to continue his invasion of Britain and some of the Morins submitted to him. Caesar was happy to accept their pledge, but sent Savinus and Cotta (two of his generals) to conquer the recalcitrants who formed a plan to surprise Caesar upon his return. A group of 300 Romans, attacked while disembarking their ships, formed a circle and defended themselves bravely. The clamor caught the attention of Caesar. The rebellious Morins, put to flight with numerous losses, were pursued by Labienun and soon fell completely under his power. Caesar left one legion among the Morins, under the command of Caius Fabius. The taking of Alesia marked the end of their independence.

The opinion is held that the inhabitants of St. Omer are likely descendants of the Morini for over 2,000 years. It is very possible also that inhabitants of La Morinie have been called Morin since the days they emigrated to other parts of France between the years 1250 and 1350. La Morinie of the Middle Ages consisted of the land north of Artois and of Flanders. The name "Morini" comes from the Celtic word meaning "the sea." The latin "Morini" translates into "the Maritimes." Typical of the influence of the name in the local area is "Moringhem," south of Ardres, the capital of Ardresis. "Moringhem" translates into "the village of the Morins." La Morinie existed as such well into the Middle Ages. It was here that the French cavalry became bogged down in their disastrous battles of Axincourt, Crecy and Equinegatte. Here also was born a breed of horses known as "boulonnaise," a descendant of the arabian. The area known as La Morinie still exists, however, today we speak of Boulonnaise, Calais, Ardresis, Langle and Bredenarde.

All who carry the name Morin do not come from La Morinie, however. In Brie there are two rivers, tributaries of the Marne, called "Le Petit Morin" and "Le Grand Morin." Where did they get their name? Probably from the marshy areas along their banks. It is along the banks of the Grand Morin, not far from Jouy-sur-Morin, that the famous paper known as "du Maurais" was made. By the time Le Grand Morin flows into the Marne, it has travelled 112 kilometers. In 1906, Le Grand Morin supported 38 flour mills, 11 paper mills, one oil mill and one tannery. The vally of the Grand Morin is a special attraction to artists and is a particularly exquisite and charming corner of France.

Here is found some of the most ancient forms of the name Morin: MOGRA in 1813, MUCRA in 1230 and MORRAIN of 1551. Others are MORAIN, MOREIN, MARAINS, MOREINS AND MAUREIN.

Le Petit Morin, in Aisne and Seine-et-Marne, begins in Champagne Pouilleuse; her source springing from Morains-le-Petit. It flows almost immediately through the vast marshes of Saint-Gond. Leaving the marshes, it flows toward the Northwest, through a narrow dale ... its water clear and deep, often picturesque. It receives many streams and little rivers and flows finally into the Marne at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre, after a course of 90 kilometers.

In 1168 Le Petit Morin was called "Morien"; in 1209 "Aque de Moreins"; in 1227 "Ripparia de Morains"; in 1252 "Morain"; in 1272 "Mourein"; and since 1278 "Morin." We have seen that Le Petit Morin took its source close to Morains-le-Petit, a village in the canton of Vertus, which was called "Moreins" in 1171; "Morains" in 1172, "Morain" in 1220, "Maurain" in 1252 and "Maurains" in 1700. In the 18th century Cassini called it "Petit-Morains" and in 1834 Morains-le-Petit appeared on major maps of the times.

Pierre-Morains (in Latin Petra-Mucranne) translates into "La Pierre de la Mucra." Mucra, or Mogra, was the name of the river from the time of the Celts. The suffic "ra" is frequent in Latin names of rivers in France. The Celtic name Mucra derives from the words magos- a plain, magra, the river of the plain; Mog (large), the great river; mugr (humid); from the Latin muceop, moist, the marshy river.

We can also examine here the English variations of the family name Morin: MORRAN, MORREN, MORIN, MORYN and MORING as well as MacMORRAN (son of Morran). The name derived from the ancient Gaul "mugh-ron," mug meaning slave and ron meaning seal; mugh-ron, hunter of seals and, so to speak, its slave. It seems that the English name MORYN is closely allied to the name mucra which would be translated to "river of seals."

The name Morin could come from the game called (in French) "mourre" (in Italian "mora"). In this game, fingers are extended from behind the back, the number of which is to be guessed by the opposing player. This Roman game was passed on throughout the Mediterranean under the name "Mora," and in French "Mourre." It is often used to settle arguments, or things on which two people cannot agree. The name Morin may have been given to one who always wanted to settle things in this way.

We can also derive the name of Morin from MORINA, meaning sick or sickness.

The names of the saints are also a source of family names at times: the 12 saints "Maur" and six saints "Maurin" or "Morin" prove the popularity of these names as Christian names. Let us name also Saint Maurin, Abbot and martyr, honored at cologne the 10th of June; Saint Morin D'Agenoir (Oct. 26); Saint Morin D'Auxerre (Aug. 4); Saint Morin Du Nivernois (Nov. 9); Saint Maurin, desciple of Saint Benedict, Abbot of Glandfeuille in Anjou; and the Saint Morin whose feast day is celebrated on November 25.

There are also numerous places in France named after a Morin, be they saint or not: three Morin, two Morins, 9 Les Morins, 29 La Moriniere; three La Morinerie and one La Grande Morinie. In composite form we find Morainville (in Beauce), Morainville-pre-Lieury, Morainville-sur-Damville (Eure), Morinval (Oise), etc. La Morine is a tile works in the Department of La Marne which, in 1835, was called "Briquetterie de Morgine." Add as well Boulay-Morin, Bois-Morin, Mont-Morin, Mesnil-Morin, Port-Morin, Val-Morin, Mare-Morin and others. All of these places are named after a river situated nearby, or a landowner named Maurin or Maur. Some are named after a saint to which the people were particularly devoted. Maurin and Morin were baptismal names which became family names when second (or family) names began to be added.

The name Morin belongs as well to a great number of noble families: the Morins-Arfeuille, d'Anvers, de Boismarin, de Boscautru, de Kernabat, de Loudon, de la Masserie, de la Masse, de Mondeville, de Pontmartins, du Tertre, du Tronchet, de la Riviere, des Grivets, les Maurins de Brignac, les Maurins de Pardailhan, les Maurins dit Morin, etc. Add also les Morins-Besnier du Maine, Morin de Bretagne, du Forez, de Bourgogne, du Lyonnais, du Dauphine; les Morini de Bologne ... the list is endless!

The Morins de Terte motto "Mori ne timeas" means "Fear not death." Another Morin motto was "Mori mihi lucrum" or "Death is but my gain." A great truth for "dying is to live," because, once dead, I fly on the lips of those who recount my feats of valor and extol my virtues: "Volito vivus per ora virum" (Ennius). The Morin de Bertonville reaffirm their courage and fidelity: "Fortis Fidelisque simul."

The latin "morus" means dark: of dark color. The derivative "morinus" means a bit dark: of a slightly dark color. This word comes from the Greek word "mauros," a shortened form of "amauros": without brilliance, that which does not shine, somber, tanned. From this, the name of the inhabitants of the Mauritanie, Mauri, and that of the mulbury, the fruit of the mulberry and the blackberry bushes.

The name Maurin then, is one of description. Whether from Brie, Brittany or Normandie, the Morins were of Basque origin. Their love of the sea had carried some centuries before as emigrants from Spain, perhap, or Italy, and whose skin color contrasted with that of the blond Normans and other Frenchmen.

Be that as it may, I favor the notion of "skin slightly tanned, as that of the Maures," as the explanation more frequent and the one most probable for the name Morin: short, pleasant sounding, full of meaning and one which brings us back into antiquity ... to the legends of the Eneiid and the pagan gods!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Noel Morin & Helen Desportes

During the French Regime, at least 16 immigrants bearing the Morin surname appeared in Canadian registries: the first of them was a priest, then a baker, a colonist, three soldiers and a resident of Saint-Malo who died at the Hotel-Dieu of Quebec on 4 September 1727.

In the region of Montmagny, Eloi-Gerard Talbot (a Marist and tireless researcher), discovered descendants from five different Morin families:
  • Pierre Morin dit Boucher, the Acadian;
  • Robert Morin, sacristan of Sainte-Anne-de-la Pocatiere, of unknown origin, husband of Francoise Mignier dit Lagace;
  • Andre Morin, the Poitevin, husband of Marguerite Moreau;
  • Jacques Morin, from Saint-Etienne-de-Brelay, husband of Hilaire Guery; and
  • Noel Morin, a cartwright.
Other founders were the families of Angevin Jacques Morin, Poitevin Charles, the Breton Pierre and Moise Morin dit Chesevert.


Noel Morin was born about 1616 in Brie, Ille-et-Vilaine, Bretagne, France, a region of the Paris Basin. Today, the town is the arrondissement of Melun and department of Seine-et-Marne. Noel was baptized at Saint-Etienne which was built in part in the 13th century. During Noel's time, la Brie had a bishop whose episcopal seat was at Meaux.

We know almost nothing about the life in France of the son of Claude Morin and Jeanne Moreau. The boy learned to write his name, to count and to make wheels and carriages. Did he practice his trade with his father? There is no way to find out. Noel's mother died before he came to New France.


Noel immigrated from La Brie to Canada about 1637. He made his first official appearance in its national history on Tuesday, 27 December 1639 at the home of notary Martial Piraude (secretary of the governor Hault de Montmagny and clerk with the clerk's office and tabellionnage of Quebec) where he signed a marriage contract with Helene Desportes, daughter of Pierre Desportes and Francois Langlois, niece of Abraham Martin.

All the important people of the capital gathered to celebrate the signing of Noel's marriage contract: from Jean Bourdon to Jean Jolliet, including Robert Giffard, Guillaume and Louis Couillard, Father Jean Lesueur and, of course, their great ladies!

Why such a formal ceremony? According to Rene Jette, the bride was none other than the first white child born alive in the Saint Lawrence region, baptized at Notre Dame des Roucources, Quebec on 16 July 1620. Her godmother was Helene Boulle, the wife of Samuel de Champlain who named Helene as a beneficiary in his will of 1635.

Helene followed her parents back to France in 1629 and returned to Canada in 1634. At 14 years of age, she had married Guillaume Hebert, son of the first colonist Louis and his wife Marie Rollet. Widowed in September 1639, her uncle Guillaume Couillard undertook the guardianship of her three children, two who survived: son Joseph and daughter Francois. Three months later she chose to become the wife of Noel Morin.

On Monday, 9 January 1640, the Jesuit Nicolas Adam blessed this union in the presence of witnesses Nicolas Pivert and Robert Giffard, surgeon and seigneur in New France. Noel Morin gave his bride for "good friendship" a dowry of 200 livres guaranteed by:

"a house at Brie-Comte-Robert where hangs a sign with the blue horse in the parish of St-Etienne on rue des fontaines near the gate of the town which the said groom received from the succession of his mother."

Therefore, Noel was not a vagabond. On her part, Helene brought to the newly-formed marriage the ownership of a house located near the church of Notre Dame, with "2 arpents of land near Mont-Carmel and a garden measuring 40 perches belonging to the said house."

The 40 perches in area, which were found north of the storehouse of the One Hundred Associates, in the Upper Town, were officially ceded to the Morin couple on 4 September 1640.

Helene continued to be the wife and mother in her house which measured 24 by 18 feet. Noel also lived there until 1645 while practicing his trade of cartwright.

On 26 April 1645, Governor Montmagny gave Noel Morin 50 arpents of land on the Sainte Genevieve coast for 90 livres. He moved his household there and, in a period of 20 years, he built "three frame dwellings, two of which had a heated room each, cellar and attic, the third serving as a shop and attic above, with a barn and two-and-a-half arpents enclosed with stakes and serving as a yard."

It seems very likely that the move to the Sainte Genevieve coast was carried out before 9 September 1648, the day on which Jean Guyon and Michel Leneuf were to examine the first Morin house and its lot located on the tip of Cap-aux-Diamants. Later, the Fabrique de Quebec would purchase it all for 800 livres.

At the same time, Morin requested the recruiter Noel Belanger to find him a hired man in France. On 4 Jun 1649, at La Rochelle, Pierre Paillereau, a laborer from Villedoux, canton of Marans, was hired to work for Noel Morin. On 6 February 1650, Antoine Rouillard and Thomas Touchet promised to build on Noel Morin's land the framework of a house "which will be thirty feet long and twenty feet wide ... six feet under beams." Noel paid 250 livres for this work, in addition to 20 minots of peas to be given to the two carpenters.

Thus, we see that Helene, Noel and their children established their residence on the Sainte Genevieve coast for a long time to come.


The head of the Morin family was a man of responsibility and judgment. For example, in 1652 Marie d'Abancourt, widow of Jean Jolliet, called on his services to appraise the cartwright tools left at the home of Jean Bourdon.

On 15 November 1653, Jean de Lauzon, Governor of New France, ceded to Noel Morin a quarter-league of frontal property by a league deep, beginning an arpent below the La Caille River and going up the Saint Lawrence towards the south side. The Ile-aux-Oies were included in this concession. Thus, Seigneur Morin became the owner of a portion of the seigneury of la Riviere-du-Sud, today part of the town of Montmagny.

This acquisition as a fief entailed rights and duties. The new recipient must render faith and homage to the West Indies Company. Noel named his domain Saint Luc, and thereafter bore the title of Sieur de Saint Luc. Why this evangelist rather than another one? Nobody knows. Did the seigneur and seigneuresse intend to leave Quebec, the town where their growing children could be educated? It seems unlikely. This property which fell from the sky would later be divided among their sons, relatives and son-in-law Guillaume Fornier.


The years covering the period from 1653 to 1668 were marked by progress and expansion for both the children and the parents of this family.

On 17 May 1655, Noel and Helene were granted a pew by the Fabrique of Quebec. It was located on the north side, in the nave, near that of Charles Sevestre. In return, the Fabrique received 2 arpents of land which the Morins owned, today the land on which stands the citadel of Quebec. On the following 4th of July, the terms of the transaction were drawn up. The two arpents were appraised at 180 livres. Of this amount, 100 livres were used to pay the tuition of son Germain, a student at the Seminary.

On 5 June 1658, Louis Selillot and Noel Morin agreed to each build their half of a boundary fence between their property at Saint Genevieve. However, Sedillot delayed carrying out his promise for more than four years.

Guillaume Fornier married Francois Hebert, stepdaughter of Noel Morin, on 20 November 1651. On 12 September 1663, Guillaume was given a receipt for the 1,000 livres tournois that he had provided to the Morins over a 10-year period, and without prejudicing the rights of succession owned by his wife.

During the same era, through the intervention of his father, Nicolas Morin obtained a concession from the Jesuits at Sillery. Nicholas died a few years later at age 23. Then, on 3 August 1664, the Seigneur de Saint-Luc took part in the election of the mayor Claude Charron.

On 23 May 1666, Noel Morin ceded 30 arpents of land to Jean Pannier for the price of 60 livres. The buyer probably returned to France. On 2 August of the same summer, Jean Poitras bought the other half. In the census of 1666, Marie Charlotte Poitiers (widow of Helene's son Joseph Hebert who was killed by the Iroquois in 1661) lived under the roof of her mother-in-law.

Jean Ballie earned his bread as Noel's hired hand. The following year, Jean was still working for Morin. In addition, Zacharie Jolliet, 17 years old, learned the trade of cartwright from his master, Noel Morin. At that time, the farm had 40 arpents under cultivation and 12 head of cattle. On 20 June 1667, an official report concerning the road which went to Sainte Genevieve was drawn up. It was time to improve it.


In 1668, the die was cast. The homestead on the Saint Michel route, obtained from the Jesuit Fathers on 24 February 1663 in the seigneury of Sillery, 2 arpents of frontage by 25, first assigned to his son Nicholas, passed to his brother Jean-Baptiste Sieur de Rochebelle. The farm was worth 450 livres. Nicholas had died leaving a debt of 75 livres. Jean-Baptiste accepted this land for 475 livres, the value of the inheritance. On the same day, 25 February 1668, Noel Morin named Jean-Baptiste his administrator.

In 1664, Noel Morin had been chosen guardian of Charles Amador Martin, son of Abraham. On 16 April 1669, he gave a signed receipt to the Ursulines of Quebec for 240 livres, a portion of the inheritance in favor of his protege, who would be ordained a priest on 14 March 1671.

On 4 May 1670, the part of the land sold to Pannier was resold for 90 livres by Charles Aubert, Sieur de LaChesnaye.

On 4 January 1671, Helene and Noel indicated their intentions: On the day of their death all their furniture and real estate would be divided between their sons Charles and Alphonse on the condition that they support their parents. Furthermore, the sons would give their young sister, Marie Madeleine, 300 livres when she married. Then on the following 12 November, the Sieur de Saint Luc rendered faith and homage to Louis Couillard, Sier de L'Espinay.

The master cartwright, 64 years old, did not easily resign himself to idleness. On 15 June 1673, he agreed to "make and perfect" 24 canon mountings and to furnish the necessary wood. "I am familiar," he said, "with these cannons in the Upper and Lower Town." Charles Legardeur, first counsellor to the king and commandant of Chateau Saint Louis, promised to pay for this special work by giving Morin 40 livres per mounting ... in other words 960 livres.
On 30 October 1674, Noel Morin and Louis Bosse agreed to settle a suit amicably. Bosse had obtained a homestead at Montmagny. Without knowing the exact cause of the litigation, Bosse gave his land to his Seigneur Morin and even required compensation of 60 livres. We know that between 1672 and 1676, the Fief of Saint-Luc was divided to the benefit of Guillaume Fournier, Jean Proulx, Alphonse Morin, Pierre Jolliet, Jean Baillie, Michel Isabel, David Corbin, Charles Bazire and Jean Rollandeau.

This is the way things were when Helene Desportes died on the Sainte Genevieve coast on Saint Jean's Day, 24 June 1675. Her burial act was not recorded in the registry, but her name appears there more than 20 times as godmother!

Children of Noel Morin & Helene Desportes

Noel Morin, Signeur de Saint Luc, was the oldest and most known of the Morins who settled in New France. He was also the father of the largest of all lines existing in America.

All 12 children of Noel and Helene were born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada where they were baptized at Notre Dame Cathedral between 1641 and 1656. They were Agnes, Germain, Louis, Nicholas, Jean Baptiste, Marguerite, Helene, Marie, Alphonse, Noel, Charles and Marie Madeleine. Marguerite died in the cradle; Helene, Noel and Charles died during adolescence; and Nicholas was 23 years old when he died.

Two sons added to Morin the "dit" names of Valcourt (Alphonse) and Rochebelle (Jean-Baptiste). The Valcourt name is commemorated by a rock located in the vicinity of Montmagny.

We are descended from Alphonse through Wilfred J. Morin and Agnes through Wildred's mother Julie L. Lareau.

AGNES MORIN was born 21 January 1641 and died 31 August 1687. She married our ancestor, Nicholas Gaudrey (known as Bourbonnier) in 1653. After his death on 22 Jun 1669, Agnes remarried in 1671 to Ignace Bonhomme (known as Beaupre).

GERMAIN MORIN was born 14 January 1642 and died 20 August 1702. He attended the Petit Seminary of Quebec and was the first native of the country to become a priest on 29 September 1665. At first secretary to Msgr de laval, he served as missionary at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre. He died at the Hotel-Dieu of Quebec on 20 August 1702.

LOUISE MORIN was born 27 April 1643 and died 29 April 1713. She married Charles Cloutier in 1659.

NICHOLAS MORIN was born 26 April 1644 and died in 1667.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MORIN-ROCHEBELLE was born 25 May 1645 and died 11 December 1689. He first married Marie-Anne Firman, the daughter of a lawyer of the Great Council at the Parliament of Paris. In 1667, he married Catherine de Belleau, daughter of Francois, sior of Contigny and Anne de Breda. He was part of the Sovereign council of New France.

MARGUERITE MORIN was born 29 September 1646 and died 17 October 1646.

HELENE MORIN was born 19 March 1649 and died 9 May 1661.

MARIE MORIN, goddaughter of Louis d'Ailleboust, Sieur de Coulonges, was born 19 May 1649 and died 8 April 1730. At the age of 13 and at the request of the bishop of Quebec, she joined the Nursing Sisters from La Fleche at Ville-Marie. She was the first Canadian woman to take the veil at Montreal in 1663. In honor of the Nursing Sisters of Saint-Joseph de France, she wrote the Annals of the Hotel-Dieu of Montreal, a priceless treasure in the understanding of history. She died on 9 April 1730.

Our ancestor ALPHONSE MORIN-VALCOURT was born 12 December 1650 and died 29 August 1711. He married first to Marie-Madeleine Normand in 1670 and later to ANGELIQUE DESTROIMASONS. Alphonse was the only one, with his 15 children, to pass on the family name of Morin and Valcourt, a faction of the great Canadian Morin clan.

NOEL MORIN was born 29 August 1654 and died during adolescence.

CHARLES MORIN was born 29 Augues 1654 and died 4 October 1671.

MARIE MADELEINE MORIN was born 29 December 1656. She married Charles Cloutier in 1673.

Helene Desportes died at Sainte Genevieve Slope on 24 Jun 1675. After her death, on 30 October 1675, Jean-Baptiste agreed to supporting his elderly father on condition that the latter pay him 1,500 livres and half the income from the fief of Saint Luc. On the following day, all members of the family agreed to sell Charles Bazire all the property at Sainte-Genevieve for 3,000 livres.

Noel Morin, probably on a visit to the home of his son Alphonse, died at Riviere du sud, Montmagny on 10 January 1680. His funeral took place on 15 February 1680 in Quebec. He was buried in a small crypt at Saint Thomas and his funeral was held 5 days later. Alphonse, Jean-Baptiste and Gilles Rageot signed the registry of Notre Dame.

Descendants of Alphonse Morin-Valcourt & Angelique Destroismaisson-Picard

Alphonse was the only child of Noel Morin and Helen Desportes to pass on the family name. In all, they had 15 children. We are descended from their son, Louis Morin-Valcourt.

The two small lakes now known as Lac Lavoie in the Temiscouata region of Quebec, near the Quebec-New Bruswick-Maine border, were at one time both called Lac Valcourt because they were on land owned by families named "Valcourt." This is also the case for the mountain called Montagne Valcourt farther down the Gaspe' Peninsula east of the Humqui River, and the neighboring Petit lac des Valcourt which was apparently originlly named for the family of one Alphee [Alphonse] Valcourt. No one has yet been able to determine with certainty the origin of the "dit" name "Valcourt," but since the locality is situated in a short valley, a "val court," the name may be descriptive.

"Dit" names were used extensively in Quebec as a way of distinguishing one family from another [see The Dit Name]. Morin dit Valcourt translates to "The Morins of the short valley" which would have distinguished Alphonse from his brothers. Information in Rene Jette's book states that Noel Morin parceled out his land to the benefit of his sons. Thus, it is likely that Alphonse was given property in the region which now bears his "dit" name.

Alphonse Morin-Valcourt, son of Noel Morin-Valcourt and Helene Desportes, was born 12 December 1650 in Quebec and died 29 August 1711 in Montmagny [St. Thomas of Montmagny pictured here]. He first married to Marie Madeleine Normand who died, possibly due to complications of childbirth, the same day their last son Charles was born. Charles died two months later [in May], followed by his brother Louis [in June] and then his sister Marie Madeleine [in September]. The cause of all these deaths, within five months of each other, is not yet known.

Alphonse then married our ancestress, Angelique Destroismaison-Picard, 24 November 1692 in Cap-St-Ignace, Maurice. Angelique was born 26 October 1670 in Chateau-Richer, Montmorency to Philippe Destroismaisons-Picard and Marie Crosnier. She died in Montmagny 27 February 1744.

We are descended from them in the following order:

(1) LOUIS MORIN-VALCOURT was born 20 May 1698 in Montmagny and died there about 1760. Present at his birth was a nun named Catherine Maufait Desthyacinthe, possibly Angelique's sister. It is probably safe to assume Louis was named after her as she was his godmother. He married MARIE ELISABETH BILODEAU 14 October 1721 in St. Francois, Montmagny. Marie Elisabeth was born 5 December 1694 in St. Francois, Montmagny to Jean Amable Bilodeau and Marie Jahan-Laviolette. She died in Montmagny 11 August 1757.

(2) LOUIS MARIE MORIN-VALCOURT was born 21 October 1732 in Montmagny. He married MARIE GENEVIEVE COUILLARD-DESPRES 31 January 1752 at St. Thomas in Montmagny. Marie Genevieve was born 30 October 1735 in Montmagny to Jacques Couillard-Despre and Veronique Belanger. She died there 11 December 1763.

(3) MICHEL MORIN-VALCOURT was born 6 January 1759 in Montmagny and died 22 November 1791 in L'Acadie, St. Jean. He married CATHERINE DUQUET-DUROCHERS there 27 February 1786. Catherine was born about 1765 to Joseph Marie Duquet-Durochers and Marie Genevieve Suprenant-Lafontaine.

(4) PAUL MORIN-VALCOURT was born between 1786-1790 in L'Acadie, St. Jean d'Iberville. He married MARGUERITE GENDREAU there 21 January 1811. Marguerite was born 2 February 1790 in Notre Dame to Louis Gendreau and Marie Louise Pepin-Lachance.

(5) JEAN-BAPTISTE MORIN-VALCOURT was born in L'Acadie, St. Jean d'Iberville 13 July 1816. He married JULIE GOYETTE 4 November 1862 in St. Athanese, d'Iberville. Julie was born 23 May 1815 in St. Mathias to Louis Goyette and Genevieve Vigeant-Taupier. She died about 1895.

(6) Our ancestor JEAN-BAPTISTE MORIN was born in L'Acadie, St. Jean on 18 May 1841 and died in Springfield, Hampden, MA 13 December 1925. When he married JULIE L. LAREAU in Canada on 4 November 1862, he was at the age of majority (gorcon majeur) and not in need of his parents permission. Julie was born 20 August 1844 in Chambly to Flavien Lareau and Julie Gauthier. She died in Lee, Berkshire, MA 22 March 1897.

(7) Their children: Lena Morin, Almanda (Emma) Morin, Amelia (Millie) Morin, John B. Morin, Jr., Ella Morin, Joseph Edward Morin, Wilfred J. Morin, Archibald (Archie) Joseph Morin, Adolphus Francis Morin, Lillian M. Morin, William Patrick Morin and Mary Amanda Morin.

(7) Our ancestor WILFRED J. MORIN was born in Lee, Berkshire, MA 6 September 1875 and died in Berlin, Hartford, CT 9 June 1941. He married JENNIE A. HOLMES 10 December 1895 in Lee. Jennie was born 15 August 1876 in Otis, Berkshire, MA to Charles Robert Holmes and Alice E. Lemley. She died in Berlin, Hartford, CT 15 November 1940.

(8) Their children: Wilfred A. Morin, Leo E. Morin, Paul Roswell Morin, Beatrice Belle Morin, Charles J. Morin, Claude Raymond Morin, Oliver C. Morin, Viola E. Morin and William S. Morin.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Children of Jean-Baptiste Morin and Julie L. Lareau

When it was first founded, the parish of Sainte-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie, one of the oldest parishes of the Haut-Richelieu, served the population of today’s L’Acadie sector. Throughout the years, this sector would bear many names ... among them Petite Cadie, Blairfindie and finally L’Acadie.

As early as the second half of the 18th century, settlers came to the banks of the “Petite-rivière-de-Montréal”, the L’Acadie River. The clearing of the valley’s fertile lands was well underway in 1763 when successive waves of exiled Acadians arrived in the area, seeking refuge after years of wandering.Their coming spurred the sector’s settlement, demographics, and development. The Acadian settlers made their mark in the community which would eventually be named after them. But the geographical situation of L’Acadie, away from the main roads, and especially from the new railroad linking La Prairie to Saint-Jean, would lead its population to migrate to the more urbanized Saint-Jean which, even in those days, was already the region’s capital.

Jean-Baptiste, son of Jean-Baptiste Morin-Valcourt and Julie Goyette, was born 18 May 1841 in L'Acadie, St. Jean d'Iberville. He married Julie L. Lareau, daughter of Flavien Lareau and Julie Gauthier, in the Sainte-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie Church on 4 November 1862. Julie was born 20 August 1844 in Chambly, Quebec. She is shown on the 1851 census for Canada as living at St. Joseph de Chambly.

In December 1871, the couple immigrated from Canada to Lee, Berkshire, MA where Jean-Baptiste found work as a wheelwright in one of its paper mills.

Lee is the location the country’s tallest wooden church steeple and Joe’s Diner, recognized by many to be the locale of Norman Rockwell’s famous painting, “The Runaway". It lies in the valley of the Housatonic River between the Taconic Range and the southernmost extent of the Green Mountains. It was first settled in 1760, relying on agriculture and lumbering, and grew quickly enough to be incorporated by 1777. The town took its name from General Charles Lee, second in command to George Washington.

The following is excerpted from a 1939 Berkshire guide book produced by the Federal Writer's Project: “Lee, compared to Berkshire’s orchid towns next door, Stockbridge and Lenox, is quiet and unostentatious. There isn’t anything stylish about the town; the streets are narrow, the trim houses modest, and the people occupied with the everyday job of making a living in the paper mills and the marble quarry.”

Julie died in Lee on 2 March 1897. On 21 Sep 1899, Jean-Baptiste [by this time known as John] was naturalized in Pittsfield, MA [as witnessed by Andrew J. Morin of Lee, MA]. He was at the home of his daughter Amelia when he died in Springfield, Hampden, MA on 13 December 1925.

Their children:

LENA MORIN was born in Canada about 1865. On US Census records she states she immigrated to the US in 1877, but it is more likely she arrived in 1871. She married Eugene J. Brissette about 1891 and died in the U.S. after June 1941

Their children: Rhea Brissette, Laura M. Brissette and Vinate Brissette.

ALMANDA (EMMA) MORIN was born in Canada about 1865. While not confirmed, it is likely that she immigrated to the US in 1871. She married (Unknown) Scarbo and died in the US after 1930.

AMELIA (MILLIE) MORIN was born about 1868 in Canada and died aft. 1944. US Census records indicate Amelia immigrated to the US in 1871. She married Ovilla J. Saulnier 11 September 1893 in Lee, Berkshire, MA and died after 1925.

Their children: Alfred Saulnier, Eugene Albert Saulnier, Bertha L. Saulnier, Dereba (sp?) Saulnier and William R. Saulnier.

JOHN BAPTISTE MORIN, JR. was born in Canada 1870 and died 1945 in New London, CT. US Census records indicate John immigrated to the US in 1871. He married Mary Elizabeth Bliven (pictured left) 22 September 1892 in Lee, Berkshire, MA. She was born 1870 and died 1931 in Quaker Hill, CT.

Their children: John Bliven Morin, Mary L. Morin and Howard F. Morin.

ELLA MORIN was born in Canada 17 January 1871 and died aft. 1944. US Census records indicate Ella immigrated to the US in 1871. She married William C. Chase around 1893 in Huntington, MA and died in Middletown, CT 14 August 1959.

Their children: Wilfred Chase, George Chase, Madeline Chase and Clifford (or John) Chase.

JOSEPH EDWARD MORIN was born 6 October 1874 in Lee, Berkshire, MA and died after 1925 in Springfield, Hampden, MA. He married Mary E. Doyle about 1904.

Their children: Joseph Morin, Edward Morin, Gertrude D. Morin and Florence M. Morin.

WILFRED J. MORIN (our ancestor) was born 6 October 1874 in Lee, Berkshire, MA and died 9 June 1941 in Berlin, Hartford, CT. He married JENNIE A. HOLMES, the daughter of Charles Robert Holmes and Alice E. Lemley, 10 December 1895 in Lee. Jennie was born 15 August 1876 in Otis, Berkshire, MA. She died 15 November 1940 in Berlin, Hartford, CT.

Their children: Wilfred A. Morin, Leo E. Morin, Paul Roswell Morin, Beatrice Belle Morin, Charles J. Morin, Claude Raymond Morin, Oliver C. Morin, Viola E. Morin and William S. Morin.

ARCHIBALD (ARCHIE) JOSEPH MORIN was born 31 March 1876 in Lee, Berkshire, MA and died after 1944. He married Mary E. Finnegan 27 June 1898 in Lee.

Their children: John F. Morin, Gladys C. Morin, Archie F. Morin and Francis Morin.

ADOLPHUS FRANCIS MORIN was born 15 September 1882 in Lee, Berkshire, MA and died in Middletown, Middlesex, CT 21 Nov 1957. He married Helen/Nellie (Unknown) about 1905. Sometime after the 1930 census and before his military registration of 27 Apr 1942 he married Edna (Unknown). At the time of his death, he and Edna lived in Bristol, CT

Children with Helen/Nellie: Donald F. Morin and Earl Roger Morin.

LILLIAN M. MORIN was born 27 July 1883 in Lee Berkshire, MA an died there 16 August 1888.

WILLIAM PATRICK MORIN was born 17 March 1885 in Lee, Berkshire, MA and died around 1942 in New Britain, Hartford, CT. He married Mary M. Shea between 1909-1910.

Their children: Lillian (Lillie) J. Morin, Franklin L. Morin, William M. Morin and Albert J. Morin.
MARY AMANDA MORIN was born about 1890 in Lee, Berkshire, MA and died there 2 November 1896.

Children of Wilfred J. Morin and Jennie A. Holmes

Wilfred J. Morin, son of Jean-Baptiste Morn and Julie L. Lareau, was born 6 October 1874 in Lee, Berkshire, MA. He married Jennie A. Holmes, daughter of Charles Robert Holmes and Alice E. Lemley, 10 December 1895 in Lee. Jennie was born 15 August 1876 in Otis, Berkshire, MA. [See also]

Jennie died 15 November 1940 in Berlin, Hartford, CT at the home of their son Paul. Wilfred died 9 June 1941. At the time of his death, he was living at Holmes Brickyard, Berlin, Hartford, CT. Their children:

WILFRED A. MORIN was born 28 March 1896 in Lee, Berkshire, MA and died there 1 September 1896.

LEO EDWARD MORIN [shown here with his mother and an unknown young woman] was born 8 May 1897 in Lee, Berkshire, MA and died 5 March 1963 in New Britain, Hartford, CT. Leo served in the Army during World War I and was honorably discharged as a Private on 15 Nov 1917. He married Blanche M. Appleby 20 January 1923 in New Britain, CT.

Their child: Leona Blanche Morin [shown here with Wilfred and her mother Blanche]

PAUL ROSWELL MORIN was born 10 February 1900 in Lee, Berkshire, MA and died 8 November 1954 in Berlin, Hartford, CT. He married Catherine (Unknown) after 1930.

BEATRICE BELLE MORIN was born 25 February 1902 in Lee, Berkshire, MA and died 18 January 1974 in New Britain, Hartford, CT. She married John (Jack) Tattersall 15 November 1920 in New Britain, CT.

Their children: Jeannette E. Tattersall, John Holmes Tattersall and James W. Tattersall.

CHARLES J. MORIN [shown here with Jennie] was born 15 October 1904 in Lee Berkshire, MA and died 24 November 1929 in Hartford, CT. He married Florence Thomas 20 July 1926 in Hartford, CT.

Their child: Wilfred Morin.

CLAUDE RAYMOND MORIN [shown below with Viola, Jennie, William, Bertha and Claudia] was born 1 January 1907 in Pittsfield, Berkshire, MA and died 21 June 1954 in New Britain, Hartford, CT. He married Bertha Catherine Marcinczyk 1 August 1927 in New Britain, Hartford, CT. [See also]

Their children: Claudia Florence Morin and Roswell Robert Morin.

OLIVER C. MORIN was born 22 May 1909 in Pittsfield, Berkshire, MA and died 14 July 1966 in New Britain, Hartford, CT. He married Josephine Sosnicki 14 July 1935 in Holyoke, MA.

Their children: Joanne V. Morin and Oliver (Buddy) C. Morin Jr.

VIOLA M. MORIN [shown here with William] was born 29 October 1911 in Pittsfield, Berkshire, MA and died after June 1941 in Orlando, FL. She married Harold F. Keller after 1930.

Their child: Sharyn Lynn Keller.

WILLIAM S. MORIN was born 4 September 1917 in New Britain, Hartford, CT. He married Angelina D'Angelo 24 October 1939 in New Britain, CT.

Their children: William (Billy) R. Morin and Sharon Lee Morin.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Lareau Family Name

Through the years, there have been many versions of the family name. This is primarily due to illiteracy ... the government official or priest has had to interpret the oral pronunciation of the family member.

The family name, as early as we can determine, seems to have been DeLaRaue or DeLarraue in France. The earliest records in Quebec show it as Laraue, but since the third generation in Canada, the most common spelling has been Lareau. Other variant spellings have been LaReau, Lareault, Lareaux, LaRow, Larreau and LaRoe.

It is also important to mention those spellings that (usually) refer to families other than the Lareau family. Some of these are LaRue, Leroux, L'Heureux, Lereau (all established families in their own right), LaRow (a separate family in the United States), Larrow (usually a variant of the Quebec Laurent family) and Larrowe.


There seem to be four common pronunciations of the name, and they seem to be independent of the spelling used: Lah-row' (rhymes with below), Lair'-oh (rhymes with narrow), Lahr'-oh (rhymes with borrow) and Lah-roo' (rhymes with Peru).

The first seems to be the most common in Canada; the second is the most common among midwestern and western families in the United States; the third is most common in the eastern United States; and the fourth is an Americanization, actually a mispronunciation in English or French, that appears fairly randomly.


Three separate histories of the Lareau family in France have emerged, and they may or may not all have some validity. Research seems to indicate, however, that they may all refer to a different family living, at least for a time in the same area of France:

The first purported history of the family is the oldest and most prominant. This version has the name going back to 1014 A.D., connecting to the research of F. Brousseau in his book French Family Origins, and placing the family almost totally in Normandy and Brittany. Many references to persons with similar surnames (DeLaReau, DeLaRue, Dellreaue, Dellareau) appear in public records from Rouen, Louviers, Laigle, Hennebont, Paris and the Isle of Guernsey. The latter is an especially interesting case, including within its records two relatively famous individals ... Guillaume DeLaRue, an astronomer for whom a crater is named on the moon, and Thomas DeLaRuye, founder of Thomas DeLaRue, Ltd., a firm that printed much of the world's money and financial instruments. This history is most likely of the DeLaRue family, and not the family of Jacques DeLaRaue. There is some evidence, however, that this line is the ancestral line of the LaRue family of Quebec and the LaRue and LaRowe families of Westchester County, New York.

The second version of the French family history goes back to 14th century Rouen and seems to have involved a great deal of devotion to the Catholic church. Members of the family participated heavily in the Crusades, especially during the 14th and 15th centuries. By the 16th century, the family was renowned for its involvement in the politics and administration of the church and one member, Fr. Pierre-Maurice Lareau or Larin, received the "White Lily" medallion in 1788 for "great works of religion." This line, like the first, is not likely to be that of our family, and is probably the ancestral line of the Larin family of Quebec and England.

A third version of the family histoy, in the author's opinion, stands a better chance of representing the true background of our family, although it does not center in northern France at all. The name, spelled DeLaRaue or DeLarraue, means "of the plow" in an ancient dialect used in the Basses-Pyranees region of the far south of France. Located about 85 miles southeast of Pau, the provincial capital, is a small village named Larrau. This village sits nestled in a valley in the foothills of the Pyranees, approximately 12 miles (by winding road) northeast of the Port de Larrau, a well-traveled pass connecting France and Spain. Thus, the name could also be locational in nature, meaning "of Larrau." While unconfirmed, it is likely that the ancestors of Jacques emigrated from Larrau very early and settled in the more prosperous north.


Jacques DeLaRaue was born 3 November 1623 in Rouen, Normandie, France. He married Anne Fosse about 1650 in Dieppe, Seine-Inferieure and died in Ancienne, Lorette, Canada on 2 January 1699. Anne was born in France around 1621 and died in Quebec 21 November 1682. Jacques, Anne and their son Francois (from whom we are descended through his son Noel) immigrated to Quebec from Dieppe, and it is here that research has focused.

When they arrived in Quebec, Jacques settled as a sharecropper on a plot of land situated north of the Riviers St. Charles in what is now urban Quebec City. He also practiced his trade of carpenter, wood turner and wood carver. Their neighbor to the west was the Fontaine family ... nearby lived the Edouins and the Huberts, all three of which would be allied to the family by marriage. After Ann's death, a few years later, Jacques married Jeanne Caille, the widow of the owner of the land that Jacques farmed. Because of this, Jacques obtained ownership of his own farm. For three generations, nearly all of the family lived in the Quebec City area, and indeed, many descendants still live in that area, although few carry the Lareau surname.

In the fourth generation, about 1745, two Lareau brothers, Joseph and Noel Lareau, moved south to the Richelieu River where land was plentiful and settlers were needed to defend Montreal from Iroquois attacks coming up from the south. From these two brothers proceed a large majority of the present-day descendants named Lareau, and it was at this point that the focus of the Lareau name shifted from Quebec City to Chambly.

Today, while descendants of the family live in nearly all areas of Quebec, the vast majority of Canadian families with the Lareau surname live in the Quebec counties of Chambly, St. Jean, Iberville, Missisquoi and the city of Montreal and its southern suburbs. For the most part, it is from these counties that most Lareau families in the United States have migrated.

While it is hard to generalize, most of the lines of the family to enter the United States did so originally between 1850-1870. Most were in search of work. The textile industry of New England, lumber camps in the north central and north western states, industrial plants of all kinds in the major cities and the availability of free or nearly free land in all parts of the country acted as a magnet to the poor but ambitious Quebecois.

Descendants of Francois Laraue & Anne DeQuain

FRANCOIS LARAUE, the son of Jacques DeLaRaue and Anne Fosse, was born 1652 in Dieppe, Normandie, France. He died 30 June 1726 in Quebec. He married ANNE DEQUAIN, the daughter of Florimand DeQuaine and Henriette Fermilis, 28 October 1669 in Quebec. Anne was born 1647 in Portiers, Vendee, France. She died in Quebec on 7 February 1734.

Anne was a "fille du roi," an immigrant from France who agreed to travel to New France to marry a settler there in exchange for a dowry from the king (see The King's Daughters).

Francois and Anne are our ancestors through the following descendants:

(1) NOEL LAREAU was born 7 February 1682 in Quebec and died there 8 December 1718. He married AGNES PILOTE, daughter of Jean Pilote and Marie Francois Gaudry, 1 February 1712 in Quebec. Jean was born 14 January 1680 in Ancienne, Lorette, France and died in Quebec.

About 1745, two Lareau brothers, Joseph and Noel, moved south to the Richelieu River where land was plentiful and settlers were needed to defend Montreal from Iroquois attacks coming up from the south. From these two brothers proceed a large majority of the present-day descendants named Lareau.

(2) NOEL LAREAU was born 29 Dec 1712 in Quebec and died 16 January 1779 in Chambly. He married MARIE ANNE MENARD, the daughter of Antoine Menard and Marie Huet, 22 January 1753 in Chambly. Marie Anne was born about 1729 in Chambly and probably died there.

(3) FRANCOIS LAREAU was born 22 January 1760 in Chambly and probably died there. He married MARIE GENEVIEVE VICTOIRE HACHETTE (parents unknown) 5 June 1780 in Chambly.

(4) FRANCOIS NOEL LAREAU was born 12 Jun 1786 in Chambly and probably died there. He married SOPHIE TETREAU, the daughter of Jean-Baptiste Tetreau and Genevieve Barsalou, 31 Jul 1815 in St. Mathias, Rouville. Sophie was born 15 May 1800 in St. Mathias-Sur-Richelieu, Rouville. She probably died in Chambly.

(5) FLAVIEN LAREAU was born about 1817 in Chambly and probably died there in 1908. He married JULIE GAUTHIER, the daughter of Antoine Gauthier and Elisabeth Aubertin.

(6) JULIE L. LAREAU was born 20 August 1844 in Chambly and died in Lee, Berkshire, MA 22 Mar 1897. She married JEAN-BAPTISTE MORIN, son of Jean-Baptiste Morin-Valcourt in L'Acadie, St. Jean 4 November 1862. Jean-Baptiste died in Springfield, Hampden, MA 13 December 1925.

(7) Their children: Lena Mary Morin, Almanda (Emma) Morin, Ella R. Morin, John B. Morin, Joseph Edward Morin, Wilfred J. Morin, Archibald (Archie) Joseph Morin, Lillian M. Morin, Adolphus Francis Morin, William P. Morin, Amelia (Millie) Morin and Mary A. Morin.

(7) WILFRED J. MORIN was born in Canada 6 September 1875 and died in Berlin, Hartford, CT 9 June 1941. He married JENNIE A. HOLMES 10 December 1895 in Lee, Berkshire, MA. Jennie was born 15 August 1876 in Otis, Berkshire, MA to Charles Robert Holmes and Alice E. Lemley. She died in Berlin, Hartford, CT 15 November 1940.

(8) Their children: Wilfred A. Morin, Leo E. Morin, Paul Roswell Morin, Beatrice Belle Morin, Charles J. Morin, Claude Raymond Morin, Oliver C. Morin, Viola E. Morin and William S. Morin.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The King's Daughters

It is almost impossible to be of French-Canadian descent and not have at least one "fille du roi" amongst one's ancestresses. This was the title given to the female immigrants from France who agreed to travel to New France to marry a settler there in exchange for a dowry from the king.

A dowry in the period in which New France was being settled was of crucial importance to a girl or woman in France. Women needed a dowry, no matter how small, to marry or to enter a convent as a nun. In a period when positions in life were bought and sold, the size of a girl's dowry generally determined her future position in life. Without a dowry, a widow or orphaned girl of this age could look forward to only the dreariest of lives. There can be little doubt that the offer of a dowry from the king awakened a fervent hope and even more fervent dreams in the hearts and minds of many of our ancestresses in mid-seventeenth century France. This is the story of that dream ... a dream that was often shattered on arrival in the wilderness by the blow of a tomahawk.

French-Canadian historians often limited filles du roi to those who arrived in New France during the years 1663 through 1673. Women who arrived before the year 1663 paid for their own transport or made their own arrangements. They were encouraged to travel to New France, but it was a private effort and the numbers of women arriving in the New World were small by comparison.

The average penniless Frenchman traveling to New France usually paid for his transportation with a contract calling for three years of labor. It usually included his sustenance, clothing and a small sum of money. Many women must have agreed to the same terms. They would have been needed by servants by the various orders of nuns. Some came to the New World planning to become nuns but changed their minds and married.

The importance of these women in the life of the New World and its population is recognized by all historians. It has been reported by the Quebec Seminary that the grand total of immigrants arriving in New France, including the king's daughters (or king's girls as they were also called), was 4,894 for a period between 1608 and 1700.

While adventure may have compelled a few of the women of quality to undertake a new life in Quebec's wilderness, an examination of the few records available indicates the principal reason was the same as that which sent most of the women on their way. Most of the girls had one or both parents deceased and not much in the way of a dowry. What's more, once in the new land, there would be no social pressure to marry among one's own class. Thus, daughters of noblemen wed commoners in New France.

Most of the history books devoted only a few short paragraphs to the king's daughters, mentioning the need for wives and mothers in New France and the plan to otain them by having the king offer a dowry. One of the major truisms mentioned in all these accounts is the speed with which the women arriving from France found husbands among the colonists and were married.

Typical is the account by Eccles. "Each year," he writes, "the ships carried hundreds of filles du roi to Quebec, where they were cared for by the Ursulines and hospital sisters until they found husbands. This rarely took more than a fortnight." The bachelors in New France wanted wives and the women arriving had agreed to marry. Love, in those days, was always something our ancestors expected would come after marriage.

Still, they weren't about to leave everything to chance. It is amazing to note the large number who apparently sought and obtained wedding partners from their own native sections of France. What is more amazing is the large number of formal agreements to marry which were made before a notary and later annulled. There were even a number of civil marriages contracted, annulled, new partners obtained, another annulment, and the earlier partner taken back again ... this time for the all-important church ceremony. The civil agreements on the terms of the marriage were not arrived at lightly. The decision to seek an annulment had to be studied and couldn't have been made quickly.

Except for approximately 80 filles du roi, the origin of all known daughters of the king is known. Over 52% of these women came from just two provinces of France that no longer exist ... the Ile-de-France and Normandy. Since the French revolution, France has been divided into regions called "departments." However, an examination of a pre-revolutionary French map, plus a knowledge of the history of the period, will show why the largest number of filles du roi were from those two areas.

The romantic possibilities of the French-Canadian filles du roi among their ancestors has not escaped the historians of New France, but now and again it has led them a bit astray. One of the reasons was their eagerness to rebut the charges made by Louis-armand de Lom Darce that the filles du roi were the scourings from the streets and brothels of France's cities. While it's true that not all of the women who arrived in New France would have been welcomed in a convent, they were extremely poor. Only a few dozen of the women could be considered propertied and of an estate which would have made them good marriageable prospects in France.

But research shows that, except for a very few (and some of these were apparently led astray in the New World), the filles du roi were courageous, adventurous, daring spirits who saw New France as a means of escaping the depressing future that would be their lot in France because of their relative poverty. Romantically, some of the portrayals of the Kings Daughters picture them in regal splendor. But perhaps we can make some more realistic suppositions about the women: They must have made frantic efforts just before their arrival to appear their very best. The size of the ships, the scarcity of water and their humble dowries musthave made their efforts desperate.

One of these poor women, Madeleine Fabrecque, age 23, died in Quebec just after her arrival and before she was married. She was probably buried in her best outfit and the only stockings and shoes she had. The inventory of her remaining possessions tells us more about these women than many words: two outer dresses (one of Holland fabric in satin-weave style and made of wool, the other of silk and wool), a tattered green petticoat, a morning dress or wrapper made of rough linen handkerchiefs, six head dresses of linen, four black head coverings (two of taffeta and two of crepe), a muff made of dog's skin and two pairs of sheepskin gloves.

That is everything ... that is all this poor girl possessed to bring to her marriage ... that and the king's dowry, which would be handed over by the colonial ministry once she found a husband in the New World and the marriage ceremony was complete. The average dowry was under 200 pounds in money; perhaps 50 pounds if she had married a soldier and 100 pounds if she married an officer. She may have also received a supply of goods; a cow, a cask of port, some tools.

The final contingent of about 50 filles du roi arrived in New France in the summer of 1673. Accounting for over 15% of the French inhabitants of the territory, the filles du roi became the ancestors of nearly all of us who trace our roots through Canada. Among our ancestors, the following women were Daughters of the King:

  • Catherine Clerice, born in St. Sulpice Paris about 1653, was the daughter of Pierre Clerice and Marie Lefebvre. She married Jacques Lussier 12 October 1671 in Quebec. Her dowry of 250 pounds included 50 from the king.
  • Anne Dequain was born about 1647 in Usseau, diocese of Poitiers, Poitou of Chatellerault. Anne was the daughter of Florimond Dequain and Henriette Fermilis. She married Francois Lareau in Quebec on 28 October 1699.
  • Marie Langlois, baptized 23 October 1642 at St. Jacques, Dieppe, was the daughter of Thomas Langlois and Marie Neufville. She married the Carignan Regiment soldier, Jean Poirier-LaJeunesse on 18 March 1668 at Montreal. Marie had a dowry of 200 pounds.
  • Catherine Moitie, baptized 14 June 1649 in St. Barthelemi, LaRochelle, Aunis, was the daughter of Jacques Moiti, Royal Bailiff, and Francoise Langevin. She married the sailor Desire Viger on 19 September 1667 in Montreal. Widowed at the age of 78, she married the Carignan Regiment soldier Jean Poirier-LaJeunese on 22 November 1688 in Boucherville.

The Seigneurial System

Feudalism came to America with the seigneurial system of New France. The Industrial Revolution brought an end to feudalism in England by the 17th century, but on the lower, or seigneurial level, it was still alive in France and survived until the French Revolution.

It was only natural that the French should bring their mode of owning land with them to Canada. Since feudalism was a system concerned with governance and defense as well as land, it was particularly well-suited to meeting the problems of colonizing the North American wilderness.

Under feudalism, the lord owned duties of government and military leadership to his tenants. They, in turn, owed obedience and armed support to him. Hence, in New France, the seigneurs were the military leaders and the seigneurie was the unit of local government and defense. Additionally, the system was supposed to provide a means of settling the land. Large tracts were granted to seigneurs on condition that they would bring out settlers who would tenant their land, clearing and developing it in the process. Thus, block by block, in an orderly fashion, New France would be built up by the seigneurial system. Unfortunately, it did not work out as planned.

The king sold the rights to colonization to a private company known as the "One Hundred Associates." They were to have parceled out the seigneuries, but not many were taken up. Court favorites and land speculators acquired large tracts of land and either failed to bring out settlers or did not try. They preferred to hold the land for sale to others making a profit without taking a risk. Seigneuries granted to religious orders tended to be taken up, populated and developed. Yet in general, the system failed as a means of bringing about private colonization.

By 1663, the crown had had enough of free private enterprise. The king took an active interest in the colonization and brought out settlers directly. Thus, the seigneuries began to be populated by the tide of immigration flooding into New France. Unfortunately, this flow was short lived. By the turn of the century, because of wars in Europe, the crown lost interest and the immigrant stream slowed to a trickle. Until the conquest and thereafter, New France grew chiefly through its own high birth rate.

The seigneuries did serve, however, as units of local government and community life. Their role in defense was marked by the establishment of military seigneuries along the Richelieu as a barrier to the Iroquois, where the tenants, who were ex-soldiers, still owed military service. Therefore, much of the life of New France was that of the seigneury. It was the habitants little world.

It cannot be held that the conditions of seigneurialism were really burdensome to the tenant. The system was far less oppressive in Canada than in France. With the frontier at the edge of every farm promising freedom, possible fortune in the fur trade and the ever-present need for more farmers, it would not have been possible to place heavy obligations on the habitants. They owed their "corvees," the obligation to give work time to the seigneur on his farm or on communal property such as roads, but this came to only a few days a year. They had to pay rent in the form of "cens et rentes" ... the former a small annual payment per month, the later often paid in produce or domestic animals. The land was sold or passed on by other than direct inheritance ... sums called "lods et centes" were due. But none of these obligations were odious or severe. As for the "banalite," the requirements to use the mill or the seigneur to grind his grain, the expense of building the mill far outweighed the tolls that were charged.

Relations between habitant and seigneur were far closer and more friendly than in old France. After all, they were both in the same boat, working together against the wilderness. The house of the seigneur was usually larger and more comfortable than that of his farmers, but it was far from a castle or palace. The seigneur himself was not usually from an old noble family ... he might often have sprung from the bourgeois, the merchant or trading middle class. In sum, the habitant was much better off, while the seigneurs were not as well off as their counterparts in France. Moreover, the conditions of pioneer life in New France produced the same open, independent attitudes that were found on the frontiers in the American colonies to the south. The habitant was no downtrodden peasant but a self-sufficient, self-respecting farmer. In this respect, he was not a great distance from the seigneur in wealth.

Nevertheless, if relations were good and no heavy burden of dues came between habitant and seigneur, there was still a broad distance of dignity and privilege to separate them. The seigneur was shown much respect. His word carried weight throughout the countryside, and above all, a farming community. Hence, that system played so large a part in shaping the outlook of the French colonists. Historians and French-Canadian genealogical researchers on both sides of the North American border would do well to understand this former system of social organization.

The "Dit" Name

This peculiarity is probably one of the major stumbling blocks in French-Canadian genealogical research. Since last names (surnames) came into being for the purpose of identification, you could say that the "dit" name (pronounced "zeet") came into being for the purpose of further identification of a person or family.

Translated into English, "dit" (masculine) or "dite" (feminine) means "called" or "also known as." There is no negative connotation implied as is sometimes the case with the English "alias." The reasons or explanations for the name changes are infinite ... at least as infinite as there are actual individual changes. However, there are some general sources for these changes or identifications. Some of them are:

  • Physical or character description
  • Easily pronounced names
  • Occupation or guild
  • Seigneurial identification
  • Military
  • Place of origin
  • Maternal identification
  • Heroic deed or accomplishment
  • Description of some object
Dit names are especially common in Quebec. Often, the dit name will come to replace the original family name so that it is no longer recognized as a nickname. Later generations may not know that there was originally another family name.

The two surnames can be interchanged at any time ... "dit" is sometimes replaced by a hyphen. For example, Morin dit Valcourt may appear as Morin-Valcourt. And, since one or both forms of the name may appear at birth, baptism, marriage, in a census record or at death, each individual document must be checked to determine its use. A man might have been born as Jean-Baptiste Morin dit Valcourt, baptised as Jean-Baptiste Morin, married as Jean-Baptiste Valcourt dit Morin, found in a census as Jean-Baptiste Valcourt and died as Jean-Baptiste Morin Dit Valcourt!

The marriage repertoires that I've used used as primary guides for marriage data have therefore been read with care, for they usually gave me some clue as to a possible name change or double-identification.

History Lesson

France has been home to many ethnic groups, including Celts, Germans, Romans and Greeks.

Julius Caesar brought Roman culture and the Latin language to Gaul [which covered most of western Europe] when he conquered it in 59 BC. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, a Germanic tribe [the Franks] captured some of the region. It later became part of Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire. The country of France was a monarchy from then until the French Revolution in 1789, after which Napoleon became premier consul of the new French Republic. He crowned himself emporer of France in 1804 and reigned until 1815, when the monarchy was restored under Louis XVIII. Today, France has a bicameral legislature, a president and prime minister.

During the 17th and 19th centuries, France was a religious battleground torn apart by warring elements of the predominantly Catholic population and its much smaller Protestant flock. Although laws called for tolerance, Protestant emigration siphoned off talented craftsmen. Though such turbulent episodes spurred some immigration to America, the French didn't come en masse like other ethnic groups ... they arrived in trickles rather than floods.

In 1608, Samuel de Champlain formed North America's first permanent French colony in Quebec. La Nouvelle France [New France] was based in Canada with a string of settlements along the Mississippi River. Protestants fleeing persecution in France were banned from New France; many went to the British Colonies. By the American Revolution, New France had an estimated population of 80,000, compared to 1.5 million in Britain's 13 Colonies.

During the French Revolution from 1789-1799, thousands of political refugees left for the United States. Another immigration wave occured during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, when France lost its Alsace-Lorraine region. Many in this group settled in New York New Orleans and Chicago.

Following the American Civil War [1861-1865] the United States saw an increase in French Canadian immigration, most frequently into Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island. Our ancestors, Jean-Baptiste Morin and his wife Julie (Lareau) immigrated from Canada to Lee, Berkshire, MA in December 1871.

The 1930 census revealed that more than 135,000 US residents were French natives. The total French immigration from 1820 onward is about 750,000.

  • 59-51 BC -- Romans conquer Gaul
  • 486 -- Frankish king Clovis I captures Roman territory in Gaul
  • 800 -- Pope Leo III crowns Charlemagne emperor of the Romans
  • 845 -- Viking invaders ransack Paris
  • 1152 -- Henry IIs marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine gives England control of southwestern France
  • 1348 -- The bubonic plague arrives in France
  • 1429 -- Joan of Arc leads French forces to end English siege of Orleans
  • 1562 -- Religious wars start between Catholics and Protestants
  • 1598 -- Henry IV issues the Edict of Nantes
  • 1685 -- Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes
  • 1789 -- The French Revolution begins with the storming of the Bastille
  • 1804 -- Napoleon is crowned emporer of France
  • 1870 -- France loses Alsace-Lorraine to Germany in the Franco-Prussian War
  • 1914 -- Germany attacks France as WWI breaks out
  • 1944 -- Allied forces march down the Champs-Elysees after the liberation of Paris