Filles du Roi


Beginning in the 1630s, Frenchmen began settling in what is now Québec and New England. They traded furs, massacres and syphilis with the Haudenosaunee and barely survived the eight-month, -40⁤°C winters. After 30 years, Louis XIV’s Government decided to help the colony grow.

We have two Filles du Roi in our family tree, which I found through the fantastic Quebecker online genealogy tool You plug in the details of a family member and the web app finds any Canadian or New England records about them and creates their profile.

Detail from a painting "Arrivée des Filles du Roy à Ville-Marie" (Artist Unknown)
Detail from a painting “Arrivée des Filles du Roy à Ville-Marie” (Artist Unknown)

From 1663 to 1673, France incentivised emigration for unmarried young women to “New France”. Sent by the King to breed for the Empire, they were called the Filles du Roi. The youngest were 15 years old, the oldest 25. All were either unmarried or widowed. Some brought their children.

My ancestor Isobelle Hubert (also known as Elisabeth 🤷🏻‍♀️) was one of them. She left France when she was 16 after her parents died. Her father Claude had been the Prosecutor at the Parliament of Paris so her dowry was £400, about 10 times more than the less connected Filles. A bit over a year after she arrived, she married Louis Boulduc in Quebec on 20 August 1668 when she was 17.

Wild 1600s cursive that I can't read. It's really curly and pretty.
Isobelle and Louis’s marriage record from a parish register

At a respectable 10-month interval, she gave birth to their first child, Louis Jr. They have eight kids total on record.

Isobelle’s husband was the King’s Attorney of New France (similar to an Attorney General). He got into some kind of corruption scandal and kicked out of government in 1686 so Isobelle went back to France. There’s a great quote from the Governor of Denonville about granting her permission to leave where he says he was happy to “deliver the country from a rather bad piece of furniture”. She took only her youngest child, 9-year-old Louise, with her.

Their fourth child, Jacques, was almost 16 at the time. In 1701 when he was 29, he married Marie Anne Racine at a church on the St Laurence River, Sainte-Anne-De-Beaupre. That’s the line that I’m descended from.

Jacques and Marie Anne had three daughters, one of whom, Marie Elisabeth, married Joseph Gagné in the Spring of 1730; their son Louis and his wife Scholastique (!) had Louis Jr. Louis Jr and his wife Madeleine got married in 1784 and their son Augustin got married to Chorlotte (not my typo) in 1811 and had eight recorded children.

Auginstin and Chorlotte’s son Olivier and wife Marie had a son Georges, and Georges and his wife Marie had my great-grandfather Joseph-Adalbert-Edmond Gagné, who married Florence who gave birth to my Grandma Marie Madeleine Gagné in 1929 on her mother’s kitchen table in Thetford Mines.

Photos I took in 2003 of Québec City streets that still look a bit like early colonial times
Photos I took in 2003 of Québec City streets that still look a bit like early colonial times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *