A Better Life

Canada was and continues to be a land of immigrants. Most Canadians share a sense of pride in their ancestors which is perhaps a little more real to them in view of the fact that this is such a young country. 148 years (Canada’s age) would cover approximately only 11 generations. There is a general consciousness of sacrifices made and things accomplished that lead to a strong sense of our identity. There is also an awareness of the things that drove people out of their countries, things that seem so far away. When I research my ancestors, I am always looking for a backstory and it has never failed to provide me with hours of entertainment

I am fairly certain the Beauchamp family would have lived through the seige of La Rochelle in 1627-28 and have found some evidence which leads me to believe the family was Huguenot (Protestant).

1) Jacques first son’s godfather was a Swiss Army Guard, they were known Protestants.

Jacques Jr. Baptism

2) Among isolated recorded names are the following:

Noms Isole

It is possible that the Jacques named above is the godfather in our Jacques birth record.

3) Jacques (our ancestor) had maternal grandparents, Elie and Marie who were married in the “Great Temple” in La Rochelle, the Huguenot Church.

Unless the family was split down the middle, I would be fairly certain they were Huguenot. They would not be granted entry to New France without converting to Catholicism so that creates another problem. They certainly were Catholic during their time here and in the foreseeable future. Another interesting thing is the spelling of the Jean’s name in his baptismal record, “Jehan” which is the spelling from the old French, showing that they were an old family indeed.

What brought them to Canada? Very likely poverty and just a little religious fervor. The family was from the country but most of them died in La Rochelle, showing that they would have gone there for work and if they were Huguenot, for shelter during the religious storm of persecution. But the Societe de Montreal was having serious problems getting people to stay. Once the 3 year contract was up, people were rushing back across the sea.

From Peter Moogk’s book, La Nouvelle France,

“……Immediate land grants and family ties were seen to be effective in keeping former indentured servants in the colony. The Montreal Associates applied the lesson in 1659 (the year of Jacques arrival) when they enrolled 109 people in France, 40 were women (12 wives accompanied by single women and a few nuns).Eight families had their passage paid for in turn for accepting a redemption bond that required payment in 2 years. Thanks to the presence of relatives and marriageable women, most of the people brought out in 1659 became settlers.”

We know that Pierre Beauchamp, the oldest brother of Jacques and Jean had come out but for some odd reason there is very little that would show an involvement with them. Perhaps he was a “canotier” like his namesake.

I doubt that Jacques and his wife , would have had any idea of what they were walking into ………

2 thoughts on “A Better Life

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