Fille du Roi
In the early 1600's there were very few inhabitants of the land that came to be known as New France. Those who did live in the Quebec City area were under constant attack by the Iroquois. These brave men and a few women refused to give up the land and moved along the St. Laurence River to establish Ville Marie, now known as Montreal. The English had been building their colonies to the south of the St. Laurence River along the eastern shore of the Atlantic Ocean. They were populating and settling towns and cities and moving their way north towards the French Colony.
Samuel de Champlain was the first to settle at Quebec on July 3, 1608 where he and 22 men built shelter for the winter. Of this group of men only 8 would survive the harsh winter of the New Land. The French began to settle the area under the direction of Champlain but in 1635 after his death the colony was run by a Company called " Compagnie des Cent Associes". During this peroid a program called "fille a marier" was in place to bring "marriagable women" to the colony to marry the men and begin to have families and populate the new colony. It is estimated that 200 women came to New France as "fille a marier". This plan did help to bring families and women to the new land.
Another program that was tried but failed was intermarrige with the Indian women. It was thought to serve not only to populate the colony but also to make allies with the Indians and promote Christianity among them. But there were less than 5 of these marriages take place and it was found that the Indian women did not have children as quickly as women of other cultures to help the colony grow at a fast enough rate. More women were needed to boost the population growth as the English to the south outnumbered the French by many times.
In 1663 King Louis XIV started the "fille du roi" program or "Kings daughters" although it would be many years before this was the name of the program. Starting in 1665 women (sometimes as young as teenagers) were sent to the colony in hopes that they would marry and have children. The threat of the English moving north was considered to be a real possibility. King Louis XIV wanted a strong hold on his land to protect it from both the English and the relentless attacks by the Iroquois. The "fille du roi" program proved to be a sucess under the watchful eye of Jean Talon who was sent to New France as Intendant in 1665. In his letters to the King he says that there were 700 baptisms in the year 1671.
There were incentives for these women who came to the barren land. They were given a trunk containing things they would need to set up house in their new county. Thread and needles, and utensils were among the things in the trunk. They were also given a clothing allowance and upon marriage were promised a dwory of money from the King. Further, once these women began to marry and have children, they were given money yearly according to the number of children they produced. In the late 1900's the "baby bonus" was the descending program from this system. Not only was money a motivating factor for having many children but also the fact that these people were living in a feudal system. They had to clear their land, build their homes and then produce crops. Large families would certainly be helpful to meet these ends.
After 10 years of the "fille du roi" program some 700 women had come to New France to begin a colony that today is Canada. The conditions under which they first came to New France and later lived in were beyond poor. For them it was a matter of struggle and survival from day to day, meal to meal and life to life.
The following is a list of Fille du Roi I have been able to trace my family tree back to. Some of these women married Carignan Soldiers;
Louise Desgranges married Louis DeLisle
Jeanne Denot married Andre Robidou dit L'Espagnol
Madeleine Leguay married Jacques Larcheveque
Marie Madeleine Hubert married Denis Brousseau
Catherine Ducharme married Pierre Roy
Marie Damois married Leonard Faucher
Marie Francois Baiselot married Pierre Marsan Lapierre
Marie Debure married Jean Bernard
Marie Lasnon married Pierre Ferre
Elisabeth Jossard married Jean Baptiste DePoitiers
Georgette Richer married Francois Dupuis
Jeanne Caille married Jacques Renourd
Marie Leroux married Jacques Henault dit Canada
Marie Le Maire married Pierre Ratelle
Madeleine Olivier married Thomas Rousseau
Marie Halay married Bertrand Courtois dit Le Breton
Louise Faure married Pierre Gagne
Marie Chancy married Michel Prezeau dit Chambly
Marie Lebrune married Pierre Barbary dit Grandmaison
Marie Faucon married Guillaume Chartier dit Robert
Marguerite Girard married Rene Abraham dit Demaris Courville
Jeanne Burell married Andre poutre dit Lavigne
Renee Biret married Pierre Balan dit Lacombe
Jeanne Petit married Francois Seguin dit Laderoute
For more information on these women; La Societe des Filles du roi et soldats du Carignan
Also recommended reading is the book King's Daughters and Founding Mothers by Peter J. Gagne Published by Quinton Publications
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