I had written previously about Jacques Beauchamp (born c. 1760), very likely a descendant of Jacques Beauchamp, pioneer of Montreal, being with Alexander MacKenzie when he finally made it to the Pacific in 1793. That I found on this website. Then I found this article about Jacques Beauchamp, voyageur, being killed by Eskimos. Genealogy Quebec has a Jacques Beauchamp listed as born in 1760 with no information for date or location of death. I feel there is good reason to give credit to the previous article.
Jacques Beauchamp, my 7th great uncle had passed away on the 8th of February, 1693. In her book, “Habitants and Merchants in Seventeenth Century Montreal”, Louise Dechêne describes the inventory of his clothing; “Beauchamps’ wardrobe consisted of the basics: a coat, a jerken, and because nothing was ever thrown out, a second wornout and worthless jerkin, a pair of hide hose, woollen breeches, a hat , a pair of shoes, stockings, four used shirts, and two nightcaps, worth altogether no more than 40 to 50 livres.” In the notarial record below we see an transaction between Marie Dardenne, Jacques’ widow, and her sons-in-law right after an inventory has been taken. (Line 2364).
The year before his death, we see Jacques involved with Robert Cavelier de La Salle, famed explorer, in some manner over a piece of land which belonged to La Salle’s brother. (#236)
Jacques died the same year as Lambert Closse famed Indian fighter who disappeared in the bush. Sadly he missed the land grants in Pointe Aux Trembles.
The oldest brother Pierre died the following year apparently on February 8, 1693. I sometimes wonder if he even existed, there is little to no information on him. Then on May 4, 1700, Jean, my 7th great grandfather died. He, like most of Montreal’s inhabitants, had lived largely in debt, borrowing money whenever he could to buy more land. In 1666, shortly after his arrival in Montreal, he had married Jeanne Loisel, whose parents were among the earlier settlers. First, a contract had to be signed.
The wedding took place November 23, 1666.
They had a family.
At the time of his death he had accumulated some land which was always a priority for future generations of the family. In Quebec, property was not inherited by the oldest son but was divided equally among all the children, a custom brought from France. Jean had been granted land on Rue St. Jean and Rue St. Francois in Pointe Aux Trembles. A year after he died, The Great Peace of Montreal was established with the Iroquois. Below, his death record.
Jacques “Le Grand” Beauchamp and Jean “Le Petit” Beauchamp are considered to be among the founding families of not just Montreal but Canada itself. They suffered privation and constant threat but helped to build this land with courage and enterprise. Their descendants number in the thousands. Both are buried in the Cimetiere St. Enfant Jesus in Point Aux Trembles, Quebec.
There is ample warning from professional genealogists to check and cite the source of your records correctly. Therefore, I try to find my own records as much as possible rather than using someone else’s tree for the same family. It is rather frustrating when you find that they are for the main part accurate but I still feel better about at least checking things. You run into problems most times because of naming patterns. The son being named after the father for instance. That can also be a help because names tend to run in families. There is also a problem created by indexed records which may contain errors through transcription and the interpretation of at times illegible handwriting.
Like most people with the Beauchamp name in Quebec, I knew the pioneers in the family were Pierre, Jacques and Jean. Comparing trees, I saw that I had the wrong line going fairly far back. At that point I had to start checking and double checking to see how many people had the same line going. That would be the line connecting to Damase my great-grandfather. So I would use them as a framework and check each person as I went. Then I hit the Joseph’s in the family. Not fun. There is the name they were called and the name they were baptized with. I was thrilled to see a whole family of voyageurs. I had found records of two brothers I know are in my family, Jacques and Pierre Beauchamp who were voyageurs. Many men had to supplement their income by transporting goods and furs along the rivers of New France. They were two generations back and one of them was called Damase.
There are, of course, many resources for Quebec genealogy which you can find at Cyndi’s list. Ancestry is so good at joining things up for you, the index and the original. That is a help because if you are able to actually read the original you will get extra information. So, by looking at the orginal baptismal records, I found out that the two Joseph’s were called by their second names of Theophile and Isaac . Then I started cross-checking with the records at PRDH from the University of Montreal. That is a paying site as well but with a little information you can save some money by looking for the union or family of two known ancestors. They have been kind enough to list the couple with their parents, date and place of marriage along with their children’s information. That costs 17¢ (providing you know who you are looking for). Pretty cool! Then you can go from there.There is also a tree at Nos Origines, another site that is fairly well done. So you can see I am right in the middle of it now. What fuels me? The history of the place and times my ancestors lived in and knowing I am part of that. And the memory of my grandparents.
The system of indentured labour used to populate the foundling colony of Montreal was not one that was totally unfamiliar to the early colonists. The French had come from a country torn by strife, religious and political, which left the land barren and impoverished. Families who had once been affluent could easily lose whatever wealth they had. We do know the occupation of Michel Beauchamp, the boys father, as being a gardener (jardinier) in Villeneuve, a part of La Rochelle that was built for the Protestants after the Great Siege of 1627. Jacques was listed as a gardener before he came and a hatmaker (chapelier) in the 1666 census. Jean, well, he was a migrant as he had just arrived that year. One thing that remained the same was family cohesion. In the recruit of 1659, there were thirteen families embarked on the St. Andre, Jacques and Marie Beauchamp came as a couple. Below, the data file on Jean, my 5th great grandfather from Fichier Origines.
Initially, trading companies or a wealthy colonist might enlist labour, covering the cost of passage, keep and wages. This might have amounted to a year’s wages for the young emigrant. Besides these expenses, there would be loss from death or desertion. There had to be sufficient profit to offset these expenses but with the fur trade being the only source of profit at the time, how was one to bring out more settlers to get the colony going? This, the Société de Notre Dame handed over to the Church, after failing to profit quite miserably. Interestingly, the cost of supplies for the engages to clear the land would run in their favour. There were private agreements made that those who settled in Montreal permanently would not be held accountable. Even so, many of the colonists still refused to agree to such an exchange.
Quebec City on the other hand, was doing quite well for itself. Merchants in La Rochelle, Rouen and the colony were actually recruiting more engagés than needed. The refitting of ships and the price of wheat as well as trade with the Caribbean had created profit. The St. Andre carried more merchants on it which helped Montreal. When New France came under control of the Ministry of Marine in 1663, the Sovereign Council decided that 200 men would be sent to the colonies per year as contracted labourers. This lasted for 3 years, mostly to the benefit of the merchants but once the family farm was established there was little outside help needed. The first steps towards self reliance were being made. A habitant might rely on his sons, local men or even soldiers for seasonal work. Outside commerce would have to fend for itself, hiring boys and natives. Skilled workers would now be hired at a premium as the colony started to expand from within.
So you can see that the small, beleaguered colony, through trade with their indigenous friends and a certain amount of help from the King began to come into it’s own. Something that few people had counted in however, was the linking of this independence to an a different identity. No one had counted on the effect of the environment on the language and customs of the people. The new language was “canadien”, the new people became “les Canadiens”.
I am in receipt of a translation of the book, “Habitants and Merchants in Seventeenth Century Montreal”, the original written in French in 1974 by Louise Dechêne a professor at McGill university. This version was translated by Liana Vardi in 1992. I won’t go into the trouble I went to to find a copy as well as avoid exhorbitant fees for it. All I can say is thank you Amazon.com. Note it was the American site that worked for my purposes. Fortunately, I don’t live too far from the border. The book is considered to be somewhat of a “holy grail” in researching New France. It has much quantative information in it to give a more certain idea of what it was actually like in Montreal at that time.
Imagine my surprise when I was doing an initial browse through the book and I came upon the name of my 5th great uncle, Jacques Beauchamp! This was not the first time I got a sense of the type of person he was. He just seems to be well-known in the community. With a dit name like Le Grande (as opposed to Jean’s dit name of le Petite), one imagines a rather boisterous personality. To quote Madame Dechêne, speaking of an inventory, of death assetts,
“Jacques Beauchamp of Pointe-aux-Trembles owned such a house. He died at the age of fifty-eight, leaving behind a widow, five married daughters, two boys aged fifteen and seventeen, and a net worth of 3000 livres. ” Then after describing living conditions, she states ” Beauchamps’ wardrobe consisted of the basics: a coat, a jerkin (a sleeveless leather jacket), and because nothing was ever thrown out, a second worn out and worthless jerkin, a pair of hide hose, woollen breeches, a hat, a pair of shoes, stockings, four used shirts and two nightcaps worth altogether no more than 40 or 50 livres.” At this point, the author is disputing the reputation the habitants had for strutting about in their finery, illustrating their ignorance of agricultural life. She wonders how people who lived with so little could possibly have the means to own such clothing. At any rate, 3000 livres was a fairly good sum for the times according the table of assets she presents.
In her opening chapter, Dechene says that until 1668, the settled population of aboriginals at the fort was nearly double that of the French. Some came for protection, some to attend the Jesuit or Supulcian missions. In the summer there would be a huge fur trade fair where hundreds of people from the different nations would visit and trade for fur. The governor would greet the native leaders with great ceremony. Care was supposedly taken to prevent the molestation of the native people by the French but did not preclude them dropping half the value of their trade goods on liquor even after the fair.
At Sunday Mass, the colonists would again be in contact with the aboriginal people. Their children attended the same school, each sex being trained in useful skills. This did not apply to the country children who were only taught catechism or the Christian doctrine. Native people near the fort were allowed to grow subsistence crops but could never own land. The movement to new land when the soil wore out was not possible for them once the surrounding land was granted to French colonists. This caused a migration away from the fort the land further away. So although initially, the King had granted the right to farm for subsistence, the lands returned to the Jesuits and Supulcians in this way and they could then collect dues from the French. Some were encouraged to build in the European way but problems arose there also. Cattle grazed in the cornfield once the wheat was up and the native men went away hunting in winter leaving the women with farm chores they could not do on their own. The French kept them in debt by supplying them with the things they needed which was repaid with furs. Many did military service for mere subsistence. The concensus was that to actually pay them would be a waste since they would only drink it away. When they did drink there was often violence but justice was stalled to keep relations going.
There were few known inter-racial marriages in Montreal, neither race accepted it. Some women were kept in the country, the “country wives” but generally immoral behaviour was not sanctioned by either the French or native. An illegitimate child might be born occasionally but there was no racial blending as there would be later in the West. In the end, the colony of New France served itself. The emigrants were at least given a vehicle to establish themselves in the colony but the native people found no way to win . Both started in poverty but it would only change for one group. The other would be displaced.
Interestingly, Jacques and Marie Dardenne Beauchamp were on the same ship, the St. Andre, which left La Rochelle, France, in 1659 as Etienne Truteau (Trudeau). Etienne Trudeau being of course, the ancestor of our current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. The information on the two men runs quite parallel. Both were carpenters and both were designated to serve under the Sulpician Fathers in Montreal. Both were assigned to the militia shortly after arrival. Some of the sons of both couples, (Etienne married Adrienne Barbier) became voyageurs and travelled into the U.S., some to settle. They were both born and baptized at St. Marguerite in La Rochelle.
So, as in my previous post, People of Purpose, Jacques and Marie set to work helping the beleaguered colony. Jacques was enlisted in the local militia under Maisonueve to patrol what was then Fort Ville-Marie. He was also working on the Supulcian seminary which would be completed in 1663. It is likely that Marie helped at the Hotel Dieu in the early days. In the meantime, they would both be working to clear and farm the land. Below an illustration of the fort in 1645.
The population of Ville Marie had fallen to less than 50 in 1651 . Maisoneuve returned to France to retrieve another 100 recruits for the tiny colony and brought them back in 1653. Jacques and Marie were part of the second great recruit in 1659. Iroquois attacks continued until 1663 when Louis XIV made New France a bonafide province of France. Under the great minister of the marine, Jean Baptiste Colbert, troops of the Carignan-Salières were dispatched to New France to bring the Iroquois under control. This was finally achieved one year after my 5th great-grandfather, Jean Beauchamp, brother to Pierre and Jacques arrived in 1666. He was contracted to marry Jeanne Loisel, daughter of Louis Loiselle and Marguerite Charlot.
Purportedly, there was a sister, Marie born in La Rochelle in 1638 who had died in Montreal in 1652. She may have died at the hands of the Iroqouis.That would mean that all of the siblings would have been in Canada by 1666. Sadly, there is very little about Pierre, the oldest brother and Marie. Jacques was 9 years older than Jean and probably paved the way for him in many things. His marriage to Jeanne Loiselle would also have helped him settle in.
Jacques and Jean were “engages” who were contracted to help clear land or build on it for three to five years after which time they would be given the opportuntiy to pay a fee and stay on. The land system in Quebec was slightly different than the old feudal system in France in that the seigneurs had obligations as well as the censitaires or “habitants”. The title to all land belonged to the King who granted estates as he saw fit. The soil belonged to the seigneur but the minerals and oak trees belonged to the King. Seigneurs who did not improve their land lost it to other more enterprising men.
Initially, the Compagne des Cents Associes were granted legal and seigneurial rights over all of New France. They in turn, set up 50 seigneuries along the waterfront stretching between Quebec and Montreal. In turn the seigneurs agreed to bring out settlers to farm the land and pay them rent and dues. The Intendant, a government representative, oversaw the seigneuial system. Jean Talon, the first Intendant made occupancy a requirement and kept the size of the seigneuries small to prevent the rise of a large landowning class. By 1715, there were 200 seigneuries lining the St. Lawrence River. Below you can see how the siegneuries were laid out, running perpindicular to the St. Lawrence river in long strips, except for in the interior of the island. The “côtes” or ranges still ran north and south.
My 6th great-uncle Jacques Beauchamp and his family came to Canada on the St. Andre to help Gabriel Souart, physician turned priest, set up the Sulpician seminary in Montreal and farm a land grant. On board were the great founding mothers, Jeanne Mance and Marguerite Bourgeoys. Jeanne Mance is known as a co- founder of Montreal and the Hopital Dieu and Marguerite Bourgeouys as founder of the Congregation de Notre Dame de Montreal. The company had set out in 1657 to find further support for the colony and it’s religious aims. Also involved was Paul de Chomeday de Maisonneuve a gentlemen/soldier who was hired to lead and protect the colonists. He became the first governor of Montreal. It is interesting to note that all of these people had actual letters from Louis XIII giving permission to do what they had to do.
In 1653, Maisonneuve set sail for France determined to bring back enough soldiers to combat the Iroquois. With a donation from Jeanne Mance which had formerly been intended for the Hopital Deu, he was able to return with what would become known as the “Grand Recru”. Later in 1655, Maisonneuve made another trip to France to seek out the first parish clergy for the colony. He returned in 1657 with Abbe Queylus and 3 Sulpician priests.
That same year, Jeanne Mance had fallen and fractured her wrist which was not healing well. After a year she set out with Marguerite Bourgeoys, Judith Moreau and Catherine Mace to bring back 3 nursing sisters known as the Hospitallers de Saint Joseph. While she was there, she hoped to obtain more funding from Angelique de Bullion, whose husband was Finance Minister under Cardinal Richelieu. The Sisters were able to recruit workers for the Seminary as well. Among them we find Jacques Beauchamp and his wife, Marie Dardeyne. Note at the bottom, the line stating these passengers were “pour Monsieur Souart”.
The following are some census returns for Jacques.
Here you get some notion of their early life in Canada. You can see that Marie was kept fairly busy! The change of occupation from “chapelier” (hat maker” to “charpentier” is interesting. I am not sure what use a hat maker would have been to Monsieur Souart. By the next year he is a farmer and carpenter. I would tend to think that there was an error there. It is a coincidence that my own grandfather, Alfred Beauchamp was a carpenter.
By 1659, the Iroquois had effectively blocked the economy of New France. Their war parties patrolled along the banks of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers, intercepting shipments of furs from Algonquins to the west. When they resumed their bloody ambushes at Ville-Marie in 1663, Maisonneuve created the militia of the Sainte-Famille in order to meet the danger. The 139 settlers, who remained mostly inside the fort walls, were divided into 20 squads. Each squad had a corporal elected by the majority. Jacques Beauchamp was drafted into the eighteenth squadron as found in the Memoirs and Documents of the Montreal Historical Society published in 1859:
The force provided additional guards for workers in the fields and relieved the Montreal militia for nightly guard duty on the walls of the town. In 1666, following the arrival of French regular troops, Maisonneuve disbanded the Soldats de la Sainte-Famille. In three years, the unit lost only eight men to Iroquois war parties. Ironically, 1666 is the year that my 5th great-grandfather, Jean Beauchamp and brother to Jacques arrived in Montreal.