Making Good Part 2

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.

Jean Beauchamp F.O..JPG

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”.

Making Good

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 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.

A New Life

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.


Fort Ville Marie 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.

Image result for geographie historique des cotes de L'ile de Montreal

The Island of Montreal in 1702 (L.Beauregard)


People of Purpose

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.

Jacques 1666 Census cap.JPG

Jacques 1667 census cap.JPG

Jacques 1681 Census.JPG

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:

Jacques in the Militia 1663.JPG

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.

Research Notes-June 10/2016

Yesterday, I listened to a podcast at Maple Stars and Stripes who was hosting Anne Mordell of The French Genealogy Blog. She pointed out that there has been so much research done on the original families of Quebec that it may possible that you will find all you need about your family without going over to France, though I would never let that little thing get in the way! They mainly covered the archives of France and how to approach them, most of the information which is contained in her book, French Genealogy from Afar.  The host, Sandra Goodwin, has a very American attitude though I believe her mother is French Canadian. Very forthright. I found the contrast between the two women’s personalities quite archetypal. Anne had mentioned how to approach the mayoral office of the small French communities by being prepared before you go and perhaps presenting them with a small presentation on your family. I thought I was going to hear a “what!” there for a moment. That being said I cannot help but siding with the Americans on one thing, if I am giving you my money YOU are the one who needs to be considerate of my wishes, barring rudeness of course. But we Canadians are known for our politeness anyway. It does make sense to be prepared otherwise you would be wasting your own money. My experience with genealogy is that it is still to some degree filled with that old moray of “my Dad’s better than your Dad”. I have been to so many meetings where the people, especially the older generation won’t even talk to you. I find the Americans to be much more open and willing than anywhere else.

That being said, Anne does have clinics on her website for your “brick walls” and said that if she gets enough of them she will return for a podcast. Which got me to thinking of the numerous brick walls I have. The French one being whether the family were indeed Protestant, which is hard to tell in Canada because you had to be Catholic to get into Montreal and there were workers hired who were Protestant. Most of the skilled tradesmen were Huguenot in France.

I thought I would just do another search for the last of the Beauchamp line, one Marc Beauchamp. Nothing on ancestry, nothing on Family Search. But after playing around with names I came upon a page that might have made the connection between the two names Deschamps and Beauchamp which seem to confusingly be passed back and forth the further back we go. This time it was a baptismal registration in Sedan, Ardennes, containing the names of Libauchamp and Deschamps. As below. Fairly far back as records show and another indication of Protestantism in that family.

Libauchamp-Deschamps Link.JPG

This below is a Protestant registration of Lea Deschamps daughter of Francois. Again, showing that name as Protestant.

Deschamps on the Protestant registry

So the question really is, did the Beauchamp family use St. Marguerite church in La Rochelle in place of their own church as was commonly done at the time? Time will tell. In the meantime, I am simply enthralled with the story of my ancestors. I can’t believe that they were present during much of what I am writing about. You get a sense of how bad it can be when people want to emigrate to a country where they are roasted on spits by the natives! Oh no, Canada was not the benign land it is today.



The Struggles in France

The Reformation in France did not take the same shape as in Switzerland.There, the nobility were staunch Catholics and eager to maintain their power over any possibility of Protestant nobility gaining strength. John Calvin had sent out hundreds of missionaries to France resulting in a Protestant population of near 2 million by 1550 although it has been said that not all were followers of Calvin. Francis I had tolerated the Huguenots for much of his reign (1515-1547) until he realized that there was little they could do for him personally or politically. When he died, Henry II commenced persecution of the Huguenots, among whom were brilliant military leaders such as Gaspar de Coligny and Anthony, King of Navarre, their arch enemies, the Guise family. The young king, Francis II came heavily under the influence of this family.

When Francis II died in 1560, Catherine Medici became regent for her son, Charles IX. She being a foreigner, initially encouraged the rise of the Huguenots to balance her position against the Guises, who had ambitions for the crown themselves. Eventually, civil war broke out between the Guises and the Huguenots. Catherine, fearing Coligny’s influence on her son, sided with Henry, Duke de Guise.

In 1562, Henry de Guise was passing through the area of Vassy on the way to his estates and decided to stop for mass. He encountered a group of Huguenots gathered for service in a barn. Some of his men tried to enter but were repulsed. When a stone hit him in the head, he decided to burn the church, killing and injuring near 163 people. This attack was seen as a breach of the Edict of St. Germain which Catherine had proposed earlier to maintain peace between the two sides. The Huguenots set about creating forts along the Loire River preparing for what would become “The French Wars of Religion”.

One of the most notorious atrocities during these wars was the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1572. It was actually only one of many “mob attacks” on the Protestants which spread across France in the days that followed. Catherine Medici and Henry de Guise are thought to have instigated it. The Protestant prince, Henry of Navarre was to marry Margarite de Valois in an attempt at reconciling the opposing sides.  On August 18, many Protestant nobles, including Gaspar de Coligny arrived in Paris to celebrate the wedding. This seemed fortuitous to Catherine and de Guise. On August 24, Coligny was captured at his lodgings and thrown to the street where the ritualistic killing began with castration and disfigurement. He was dragged through the street before being burned by the crowd.  An estimated 10,000 people died in the coming days.

The riots provoked further military action with sieges being laid on Sommierres, Sancerres and La Rochelle. In this seige of La Rochelle in 1572, the leader, Henry of Anjou was called away, to defend Poland against further Protestant attacks. The resulting Treaty of Boulogne resulted in La Rochelle , Montaubin and Nimes being allowed restricted freedom of worship.  Anjou failed to do what Richelieu did and that was to create a successful barrier into the harbor.

In 1588, Henry III, fearing the power of the Guise family, had  de Guise assassinated. He joined forces with Henry of Navarre who was Protestant. When he was killed, Navarre became king, France’s first Protestant king.  Under Henry, the Huguenots would gain some security under the Edict of Nantes. Freedom of worship was granted to 100 communities across France, particularity in the south. They were also given political independence but they could only worship in private. That political independence was lost when Louis XIII came to the throne in 1610. Their religious freedom was completely lost in 1685 when Louis XIV, France’s absolute monarch, reigned.

Jean Beauchamp, my 7th great grandfather, was born in Nanthieul, Perigord, France in 1579 and died in La Rochelle in 1630 as did his wife, Louise de Lanterna. They would have lived through the Great Siege of La Rochelle, dying just a few years after it was over. They are buried in unmarked graves, no cause of death known at present. They may have even caught a glimpse of “the Red Eminence” as he paraded into the city when it was all over.

Jean and Louise’s only recorded child, Michel, married that same year, a curiosity to me. It is noted at Fichier Origine that his wife Marie Roullet’s parents were married in the Great Temple in La Rochelle. One assumes that Michel would have been Protestant as well.  Marie and Michel had 6 children before they emigrated, 4 of whom came to Montreal, Quebec as pioneers. Before she came in 1559, Marie Dardeyne Beauchamp, had lost an infant, Marie (1658) and a son William, at 6 years (1652). She would have 8 more children in Canada.





A Teachable Frame of Mind

The period of history known as “the Renaissance” opened the door to inquiry, expression and not a little controversy. It had it’s roots in Florence, Italy between 1350 and 1400 AD. among the wealthy who had access to Roman and Greek writing. The idea of “humanism” began to develop. That is, the power of  critical thinking and evidence over acceptance of dogma or superstition. During the Middle Ages, most people felt that hardship and war were their lot in life but gradually the teachings of the great Latin and Greek books gained ground. Simply put, it created a ground for the Protestant reformation.

The Catholic Church had tried but failed to implement it’s own reforms. It continued using the Inquisition as a control against heresy. This was an official court within the church which handed out penalties of torture and death to anyone even suspected of dissent. In many cases it was used to dispose of people who were political enemies.  The most common punishment was burning at the stake. Out of this environment, a few unlikely men rose, Luther being one of them. Another was John Calvin.

Luther was about 25 years old at the time Calvin was born in Noyon, France in 1509, his birth name, Jehan Cauvin. His father, Gerard,  a notary for the church,  intended that he and his 2 brothers should become priests. By age 12, he was already employed as a clerk to the bishop. Under the patronage of a wealthy family,  he studied Latin and then Philosophy until his father decided that studying Law would be more profitable.

At this point he came into contact with a professor who sparked his interest in humanist ideas. He learned Greek in order to read the New Testament and  in 1533, he experienced a “conversion”.  In his description of it he describes God as bringing his mind into a “teachable frame”.  Calvin felt that he was being called to be part of the reform of the church and effectively broke away from it. In the autumn of 1533, one of Calvin’s friends,  a reformer,  gave an address on church reform which was pronounced heretical. Calvin was implicated and had to go into hiding . Eventually he had to leave France after Reformists came under heavy fire for posting placards denouncing the Catholic Mass (the Day of the Placards).

The manner in which ideas spread during these times was largely by publishing pamphlets which were spread around. If you were a theologian, you would write your ideas and publish them. In 1536, Calvin wrote an apologia or an explanation for his beliefs. This became  known as ” The Institutes of the Christian Religion”, which he regularly added to. Later he would set up the organization of the church which would become Presbyterian.

He traveled to Ferrara, Italy where he worked for Princess Renee of France and then returned home to Paris to sort his father’s affairs. He decided he could not live there anymore when it was declared that all people had to decide within six months to remain Catholic (the Treaty of Courcy).  He headed for Strasbourg,  a haven for reformers but had to detour to Geneva because the French army was present.

In Geneva, something significant happened in that Calvin was forced to make a decision by another French reformer, William Farel. Like so many called before him, Calvin just wanted to live quietly and in peace. Farel was having none of it. He demanded that Calvin stay and help the movement in Geneva. Let us say that Farel was able to persuade him. The two worked together until disagreements with the city council arose over bringing uniformity to church services. Calvin and Ferel were asked to leave after protesting the serving of unleavened bread for Eucharist.

On to Strasbourg (1538-41) where Calvin married Idolette de Bure, a widow and continued to revise the Institutes and preach. In Geneva, church attendance began to dwindle because of disagreements with Bern, their supporting city.  When they were asked to return to the Catholic faith, Geneva started to reconsider its expulsion of Calvin and asked him to return. Though this is not what he wanted, he felt the call of duty and agreed to a six month stay. When he returned,  he worked on setting up the actual church, working along side city council, each deciding what powers and duties it would have.  This is something that would never happen in France where royalty was staunchly Catholic. The reformed church also did not enforce celibacy, feeling that it distracted from giving full attention to church duties. Sadly, Idolette had a son prematurely and he died. She died a few years later leaving a vacuum in Calvin’s life.

One of the well known stories about John Calvin is his confrontation with a group of “libertines”. The Libertines, being ultra-humanist, used the idea of being granted “grace” to exempt themselves from church and civil law. One of them was brought to court for disobeying the law against dancing . The council overturned Calvin’s decision against them. When a group of them turned up at a service and approached the table for sacrament, he shouted “These hands you may crush, these arms you may lop off, my life you may take, my blood is yours, you may shed it; but you shall never force me to give holy things to the profaned, and dishonor the table of my God.”  They quickly left. The libertines had among them some very powerful people and this was a great test for Calvin.

Calvin faced another challenge in the person of Michael Servitus, a Spanish physician and theologian. Servitus was on the run from church authorities after he denied the existence of the Trinity. There were letters exchanged between him and Calvin. In fact Servitus had had the nerve to write in the margins of a copy of the Instructions annotating his differences with Calvin’s doctrines. This infuriated Calvin and when Servitus was finally caught and charged he only made a minor effort to have the sentence of burning commuted to beheading.  Some say that there was no scriptural backing for the final decision, a source of controversy to this day.

In 1553, two things happened to further secure the reform in Geneva. A decision was made that the church could continue to decide on excommunication and an uprising of libertines was put down, the leaders were forced to flee the city while the remainder were executed by Calvin. The issue of the libertines was resolved.

In Calvin’s final years, he did much to support the spread of Protestantism. He sheltered refugees from the reign of Mary Tudor in England and helped them build their own church from where they left to spread reform in England and Scotland. He had disagreed with Luther on how the Eucharist was to be viewed. He had set up a grammar school and advanced school which is today known as the College Calvin and Geneva University. To France he sent 100 missionaries funded by the church and tried to help build churches there. What the Puritan was in England, the Covenanter was in Scotland and the Huguenot was in France.  Today, you might call them Calvinists or Presbyterians.

In 1564, Calvin died at age 54.  He was buried in an unmarked grave although a commemorative one was erected in the Cimitierre des Rois , Geneva.  Below, a map showing Geneva in relation to Paris.

Map of Geneva