Most New England French Canadians are descended from daughters of the king

By Lynda Rego
Posted 3/27/18

When I run into people with French Canadian ancestry, I always ask if they have discovered an ancestor who was one of les filles du roi. Most don’t know what that is. When I tell them it means …

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Most New England French Canadians are descended from daughters of the king

Posted

When I run into people with French Canadian ancestry, I always ask if they have discovered an ancestor who was one of les filles du roi. Most don’t know what that is. When I tell them it means “daughters of the king” or “the king’s daughters.” They say, “Oh no, I don’t think I’m descended from royalty.”
But, les filles du roi weren’t actually daughters of Louis XIV. They were part of a program to send marriageable women to the new world. There were plenty of soldiers, fishermen, trappers, etc., in New France, but not enough women.
At a genealogical conference years ago, one audience member asked why so many of her ancestors had a lot of children, as many a dozen. The speaker said families received money depending on how large their families became. The French wanted to populate New France and how better to do that than bring over young women to marry the men and get them to settle down and have families.
So, in 1663, the king shrewdly started to round up single or widowed women willing to immigrate and sent them across the ocean to find a husband. Many were orphans. Their transportation and settlement costs were paid and some received a dowry when they married (which would be mentioned in the marriage contract if you have one).
No official records were kept; but, Peter Gagne, a historian and author, wrote a book “King’s Daughters and Founding Mothers: The Filles du Roi, 1663-1673.” He tracked down passenger lists and other records, including marriage contracts. He has documented and written biographies of the 768 filles du roi who are known.
My first question when I discovered I had filles du roi in my ancestry was how did it work? Were they like mail order brides? Were they parceled out or did they have a say in their husband?
Yes, they did get to choose. I love that. Imagine, in those days, a woman with no dowry and maybe an orphan getting to spend the time to settle down, meet potential suitors and choose her own husband.
My original French ancestor, Jean Bloof was from Paris and came to Montreal in 1665. He married Marie-Madeleine Guilleboeuf in 1669. She was a fille du roi who arrived in Quebec with a group of 70 to 80 women in 1668.
Intermarried with the Bloof/Plouffes are the Fecteau/Filteau family, who also trace back to a fille du roi.
So, if you have early French-Canadian ancestors, get a fascinating look at the details of these “transactions” at https://bit.ly/2G20t2M. Scroll down to “About ‘The King’s daughters.” And, then visit www.fillesduroi.org which is La Société des Filles du roi et soldats du Cariganan,” and look at the lists of the daughters and see if any of your ancestry can be traced back to these adventurous women who took a chance on a new life in the new world.


Annual free conference
The New England Family History Conference in Franklin, Mass., is on Saturday, April 7, from 8:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. They have announced speakers and you can register online at www.nefamilyhistory.com.
Their main speaker is Brian Moncur, the founder of Billion Graves and there are talks on Irish, Portuguese and Italian genealogy and so much more. There’s a very good box lunch for $10 or you can bring your own. Take a look. This is always an excellent conference. And, it’s free!
For the first time, you don’t have to register in advance. But, you can reserve a lunch online.
You also can sign up for a free, 30-minute one-on-one session with a Family History consultant.
The conference is sponsored by the Blackstone Valley and Hingham Stakes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Lynda Rego has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lynda.rego where she shares tips on genealogy and other topics. Stop by, click on Like and share any interests you have for upcoming columns.

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