I’m a Great Great GGGG Grand daughter of Louis XIV

The above picture depicts the arrival of Les Filles du Roi, “Daughters of the King” to the colony of New France in 1663.

I always thought our lineage in Canada only went back to 1750 when the Delauriers arrived. I had thought that the whole family emigrated together from France.

Turns out only the Delaurier men came over from France in the 18th Century. They didn’t get married until they arrived in Quebec. The women they married were grand daughters of women who arrived in the first fifty years of the new colony. I have discovered, to my surprise, that one of my great great great X 5 grandmothers was on the first boat of “Les Filles du Roi” or “Daughters of the King”.

The Daughters were not real daughters of the Louis XIV, of course. That’s what they were called, to make them feel important in a marketing effort to get women to volunteer for King and Country by going to New France to be babymakers in the new colony. They were recruited by the Crown to go to New France because the colony was made up mostly of men and the colony wasn’t going to grow very quickly if that imbalance wasn’t redressed.

Between 1663 and 1673, over Seven hundred Filles arrived in New France. Two of my ancestral grandmeres came over on the ships of women. The earliest, Marie Valade, was on the first boat of only 36 women, in 1663. The second, Jacqueline Labbe arrived in 1668.

It’s quite an amazing story. The women were recruited by merchants and ship owners and had to be of good character and of childbearing years. The King provided a modest dowry to help her set up her home with her new husband in the new world. She was also provided a trousseau for the journey consisting of a bonnet, gloves, ribbons, a taffeta handkerchief and sewing supplies.

The women had their choice of men when they landed, with most men trying to put their best side forward so that one of the women would choose them. The ones who were chosen first were the men who owned their own homes and demonstrated ability to make money. The ratio of women to men in those early days was about 6 men for every woman.

Marie Valade, the first of my maternal ancestors to arrive in New France, was only 14 when she boarded the ship. She was the youngest daughter of ships’ merchant Andre Valade and his wife Sarah Cousseau. She married Jean Cadieux, who was twenty years older than she. We are descended from her eldest daughter Jeanne.

(Interesting side note — Jeanne’s youngest brother Jean has a poem written about him. Legend has it that he was a mighty courier du bois who outwitted Iroquois warriors and braved fierce rapids on the mighty Ottawa River. The story is that when he was found dead in the woods, there was a written record of his exploits pinned to the birch tree next to him which told of his last journey. You can read the poem here)

My other Fille du Roi ancestor was Jacqueline Labbe who arrived six years after Marie Valade. The connection is that Marie’s daughter Jeanne married Andre Colin, who was the son of Jacqueline Labbe.

This gets very confusing, but the sources check out. I found this information by tracking the Delauriers through Ancestry.ca. I always take these connections with a grain of salt when I first see them — it’s easy to get lost on a wrong name and start climbing somebody else’s family tree. But in this case, it holds up — what is remarkable is that the names that appeared on Ancestry match the names in Grandma’s family trees.

I think she would have like to have known this part of the story. What this information means is that our family has very deep Quebec roots and has thousands of distant cousins there. I had no idea.


Posted on January 9, 2012, in Wallace Family and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. You have a remarkably rich family history! I recently read “Bride of New France” by Suzanne Desrochers – a fictional account of one such fille du Roi. I believe the author has done doctoral work on the filles du Roi and used some of her knowledge to write the book. You might find it interesting.

  2. Thanks for that, Laurie. I think we ALL have rich family histories. I’ve been spending my life looking from stories from other places, and it’s really thrilling now to finding wonderful stories that are my own. So much there that I didn’t know about. If my work inspires other people to want to find their own family stories, our communities will be so much richer for it.

  3. Yes, Victoria, you have thousands of distant cousins, including this one now living outside of Washington, D.C. (Mathurin Colin dit Laliberte and Jacqueline Labbé are my 7th great grandparents). I was indulging in my genealogy addiction on an icy Friday evening when the name of your blog caught my eye (one reason may be obvious, regardless of spelling differences). Another reason is that my mother’s family comes from Essex County (many generations of Cabana, LeDuc, Pelletier, Reáume, Boucher, Meloche, but, sadly, no Delauriers in my direct line).

    Looking forward to your next post!

    • Hi l’autre Madelyn — thanks for your post all the way from Washington. Yes, those large French families sent ripple effects that reduce the 6 degrees of separation to 2 or 3. I recognize so many of the names in your list. We lived on the Middle Road, which was the dividing line between French and English Essex County so there were a lot of neighbours with those names (when I was a small child, I was always puzzled why some of the neighbour houses had kids playing in the yard, but I didn’t know who they were.– in so many ways it was the Two Solitudes which has always divided Canada as a nation). Thanks for reading – we’re probably related somehow!

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