I am enjoying Francis Parkman’s “Pioneers of France in the New World”. Though his writing may seem at times slightly archaic, there is no doubting his mastery of the metaphor. In the book, he describes New France as a head (king, noble and Jesuit), under which “the lank lean body would not survive“. Conversely, New England was “strengthening and widening in a slow and steadfast growth, full of blood and muscle, a body without a head“.
Of New France he says “Even commerce wore the sword, decked itself with badges of nobility, aspired to forest seigneuries and hordes of savage retainers.” That is a little strong but it does give the gist of things. Without support the feeble colony simply would not survive. The restrictions placed on immigration and commerce would not allow for the expansion New England was experiencing, where a man could go as far as he was able without interference. Albeit, he wasn’t going to get much help. One gets a sense that the people were simply pawns in the game of European expansion.
However, pleas for help did not fall entirely on deaf ears. In 1665, Louis XIV decided to once and for all stop the terrorist raidings of the Iroquois who from the beginning, had no idea of anyone actually settling on the land, or passing it on into perpetuity. Trade with them you may, but own the land no. He also decided to get serious about governance of the colony and cancelled the charter of the One Hundred Associates. Then he created the Sovereign Council out of the old Council of Quebec which would have jurisdiction over justice, police, roads, finance and trade.
In 1665, the St. Sebastien arrived in Quebec. On board were Prouville de Tracy, the commander-in-chief of the troops, Sieur de Courcelle, the governor, and Jean Talon, the Intendant of justice, police and finance. There were soldiers, settlers, laborers and supplies for the starving colony. The great Jean Baptiste Colbert, Louis’ minister of finance had sent a letter of instructions with Talon on how to deal with the Church and State, the West India Company who would be their trading partner and how to deal with the Iroqouis.
Tracy led the troops in a major attack on the Iroqouis and held them in defeat until peace was made. That in itself is a harrowing story. He returned to France in 1667, leaving Remy de Courcelle as governor and Talon as intendant. With peace estabished, Talon was able to go ahead with his plans to build New France. He conducted the first census of Canada, showing Montreal at the time as having 3,215 European residents. Quebec the largest had a population of 2100 people, Montreal 635 and Trois Riviers, 455. (from Stats Canada).
Land that had been initially granted to the Jesuits was forfeit to the building of houses for new settlers who would be granted land, food and tools as well as payment for clearing the first two acres in two years. In return, they must clear the next two acres in 3-4 years for new arrivals. With Jean Beauchamp, arriving in 1666, one would suppose that he took advantage of this offer.
The King had declared that all young men were to be married by age 20 and girls 14 or 15, with severe penalties for those who avoided the state, such as loss of hunting and trapping rights. Here, it is possible that Jean’s sister Marie who died at 14, may have died in childbirth. Within a year Jean was married to Jeanne Loiselle, the contract below. Note the name of Marguerite Bourgeois (Bourgeoys) on the contract. Jeanne was the first student at the first school established by the Sister in Montreal. The marriage record I have previously posted.
There was financial reward for having children, 300 livres a year for the first 10 and 400 livres for 12 or more. This was a successful action. In 1665, there were 3,215 settlers, and 533 families. After three years, the population had grown to 6,282 settlers and 1,139 families.
When Jean and Jeanne were married she would have been 17 years old and he 22. She did not have a child until 1699 but it did not live.
You can see at the bottom she was attended by a master surgeon, so a fortunate girl. Another child, Marie was born the next year. As I have no landing record for Jean I do not know what he may have been engaged to do when he came but most of the family seem to have been primarily habitants. There are several notarial acts for Jean, mostly in the form of land transactions and a few donations to his children. On May 4, 1700 he passed away in Pointe Aux Trembles after settling his debts having enough money to gift his priest, Father Chaigneau 200 pounds. Jeanne died on October 4, 1708. Interesting that Jeanne had 3 priests in attendance!