I’ve been spending a lot of time lately putting together Tom’s family tree. It was last done in 1988 and, because they are such a prolific family, the tree was missing a few people—only about 110, give or take.
I’m not going to go into detail about his huge French Canadian family, but there was one item in his w-a-a-ay-back family tree that I found very interesting. It turns out that my children’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmothers on both Tom's mother's side of the family and his father's side, Marguerite Éloy and Jeanne LeGendre, were Fille du Roi from France. Translated, that means they were both a “daughter of the king.”
Don’t get excited—my kids are not related to Louis XIV of France.
However, Louis XIV had a lot to do with their being here today.
My childrens’ great-great (times 13) grandfathers, Jean Cosset [sic] and Claude Sauvageot [sic], came to Quebec, Canada (New France) around 1667. At that time, most of the settlers in New France fell into one of several categories: traders, storekeepers, workmen, indentured servants, dockhands, soldiers, seamen and clerics. It is not known what Claude first did for a living (most likely farmed). But Jean Cosset was an indentured servant who had agreed to work for three years for a man named M. Bertrand Chesnay to pay for his ship passage and living costs in Quebec. After three years, he would be free to claim land of his own in the colony.
In Quebec, Canada, in 1667, the men outnumbered women 6 to 1. Back in France, King Louis XIV was desperate to populate his new colony in Quebec. So he hatched a plan to send several hundred single young French women to New France to provide wives for the colonists. Of the 700-800 women who made the trip to Quebec between 1663 and 1673, 110 young women from Normandy, France, made the trip including a girl named Marguerite Éloy. Another girl, Jeanne LeGendre, came from another unnamed area in France.
The women were housed in lodges or convents under the supervision of directors (often nuns) where suitors could come and be interviewed by the girls. Usually girls (most were between the ages of 18 and 32) were married within five months of arrival. Incentives such as livestock and household goods were given to couples at the time of their marriage, and additional incentives were given for large families of over 12 children.
So in my children’s past lies two brave great (X 13) grandmothers who left France at the request of Louis XIV in 1667, booked passage on a ship across the Atlantic Ocean, and landed in a wild, unsettled Canadian colony where they married men they haad only known for only a short time. Together Jean and Marguerite Cosset had seven children and Claude and Jeanne had three.
I always knew my kids had an adventurous streak; now I know at least some of those genes come from Marguerite Éloy and Jeanne LeGendre, two of Le Fille du Roi, the King’s Daughters.
Sources: http://www.ziplink.net/~24601/roots/sources/KINGGIRL.htm#Section%20One, http://www.delmars.com/family/filleroi.htm, & King's Daughters and Founding Mothers: The Filles du Roi, 1663-1673 by: Peter J. Gagné.