Filles de Roi
This year of 2013 marks the 350th anniversary of the arrival of the first Filles de Roi in New France. These women – some number between 700 and 1,000 – came to New France between 1663 and 1673 at the behest of Louis the Sun King. The mission – if they decided to accept it – was to marry a French or, by then, Canadian man and populate New France.
Why would you do that?
Really? You’re going to get on a wooden ship, most likely out of Dieppe in Normandy or LaRochelle in Aunis, sail three months across the Atlantic ocean during all sorts of weather, and eat crappy food and drink questionable water. So you can marry a stranger in a strange land and make babies? What made you think this was a good idea?
I suppose I’m asking these questions of at least one of the “ladies in my head,” one who hasn’t quite yet made her presence known the way Parmelie Ledoux, Anne Pastourel, and Marie Vigneault have. I’m asking this as I make my way through the King’s Daughters list sent by Jan Burkhart at the American-French Geneaological Society http://www.afgs.org/Kings_Daughters_Anniversary.html in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
Jan heads up the Society’s project that invites descendants of these women to make a straight line chart back to a Fille de Roi (King’s Daughter). For a small fee, you can get a certificate and pin to commemorate this ancestor. And, on October 27, the Society is hosting an afternoon celebration for 150 people where Daughters’ descendants can meet and greet each other. By yesterday, I’d made it through “N” and linked to 15 women:
Catherine Baillon, left France in 1669 at age 24 after dad died (maternal)
Marie Brouart, left France in 1668 at age 27, after dad died (Parmelie’s ancestor, maternal)
Francoise Bourgeois, left Paris in 1669, age 23, after dad died (! looks like she’s Marie Vigenau’s great-grandmother, paternal)
Marie-Reine Charpentier, left Paris in 1671, age 13 (!), after dad (a master Queen’s tailor) died (maternal, and the direct female line ancestor)
Catherine Clerice, left France in 1671, age 18 (Parmelie’s ancestor, maternal)
Marguerite Colet, left Paris in 1670, age 17, after dad died (paternal)
Francoise Durand, left France in 1670, age 19, after both parents died (maternal)
Louise Fro or Frost, left Paris, 1670, age 16 (maternal)
Marguerite Girard, left France in 1673, age 24 (paternal, she married Pierre Forcier, my male namesake)
Marie-Anne Guedon, left France in 1665, age 24 (paternal)
Marguerite Itasse, left France in 1667, age 20 (paternal)
Marie Lamy, left France in 1671, age 18 (paternal)
Elisabeth-Ann Lefebvre, left France in1670, age 15, after father died (maternal)
Jacquette Michel (Michaud), left France in 1668, age 31, after father and husband died (maternal)
Marie-Madeleine Normand left France in 1669, age 18, after father died, sister Catherine ar. 1665 (maternal)
Which is all pretty cool, but still begs the question of what were they thinking?
Thankfully, Bill Pommenville, the Society’s webguy, links to King’s Daughters information, such as Michael LeClerc’s Genealogy News http://blog.mocavo.com/?s=filles+de+roi&search-go= and YouTube videos that will lead to other YouTube videos that will keep your mind in New France and Quebec for hours, maybe even days if you understand Quebecois.
There in Michael’s blog is a tantalizing tidbit about why these ladies may have come: their fathers died. Daddy was no longer around to find them a husband, and, so, if they wanted one, the King’s offer to pay their way and give them a small dowry in the process probably sounded like a good deal. In New France, it may have even seemed a better deal. One of those YouTube videos said New France had six French men for every French woman who arrived. (Which leads to another question for a future blog, which is Really? They were waiting around for French girls while they were living cheek by jowl with First Nations women? Anyway…)
Someone in here wants to be part of the ladies’ stories. Maybe it’s one of the ones on that partial list, maybe it’s someone who will come forward. My ears are open.