m. 1670 MARGUERITE DESHAYES (b.c.1646, bur. 17 Nov. 1709 Repentigny)
d. between 28 Aug. 1693 and 21 Jan. 1695 Contrecoeur
The following wonderful research was originally done by Gérald Ménard and is available at: http://www.migrations.fr/mesnardpierreanglais.htm .
Pierre Mesnard dit Saintonge signed a contract 11 Apr. 1656 in La Rochelle by notary Cherbonnier joining the Carignan Regiment. He sailed for New France on 12 Apr. on the ship "Le Taureau", of 150 tons owned by Francois Peron.
After serving in the Regiment he was granted land by Capt. Pierre de Saint-Ours, Seigneur of Saint-Ours on 5 Nov. 1673 before notary Antoine Andhemar:
Granted to Pierre Mesnard dit Xaintonge, his heirs and successors, a concession of two arpents frontage and thirty arpents bounded on the north by the concession to Pierre Dextras dit Lavigne, and elsewhere by the lands of de Saint-Ours. Rent annually and in perpetuity, one sol tournois (French money) for each arpent of woodland and one live capon for each arpent. Mesnard required to maintain in good condition a section of the Royal road through the concession for public use. Also, Mesnard, to cause his grain to be ground at the mill furnished by the Seigneur, (when constructed). Leave a strip of a half arpent of land consisting of two perches and a half of frontage along the shore for pasturage for animals of other habitants as well as for those of Mesnard.Witnesses: Jean Bouvet and Jean Riout both of whom signed with the Seigneur de Saint-Ours(1)
A quote from Louise Dechêne's book Habitants et Marchands de Montréal au XVIIième siècle helps give us a feeling for what one of these early settlers could expect:
“The clearing of the land is a hard and long task for which few immigrants were prepared. Imagine, a settler, to begin with (thanks to the economies he was able to realize during his years of service, or with the soldier’s military pay), was able to devote his entire time to putting value in his standing forest, which came to give him personal stature.
In April of 1670 when the snow is deep the first task is to cut down what trees he can, to construct a cabin of about fifteen by twenty feet, built of stakes made of small trees, sharpened at one end and driven into the ground. It is rough construction without flooring or chimney, but made water proof enough to go through at least one winter.
Grass and the bark of trees are used to cover the roof and plug up the gaps. At the end of three weeks work personal belongings and provisions can be moved into that cabin. Now trees of greater size and quality and close to equal size, are cut down, which will suit the construction of the house.
The work will be shorter if the second logging operation is kept within a narrow area coinciding with the first clearing. All depends on the nature of the wood. Oak is the preferred choice, otherwise, pine, cut into eighteen or twenty foot lengths and set aside. With a pickaxe as the only tool, without a team to haul the trunks, it takes several weeks to complete this second step.
In June, he begins the clean up of the area, clearing the site, doing no more than one or one and half arpents at a time. Then the digging out of the stumps of trees one foot or less in diameter. The larger ones, which are too much for the axe, are stripped and grooved. (A circular groove around the bark and the heartwood at ground level). The only thing to do is to wait for the large stumps to rot, which takes about four or five years. The leftovers are cut up, corded and placed near to the cabin for firewood.
All that is left on the ground and the undergrowth is then burned. The arpent is “neat” and almost de-stumped. Work for autumn is: churn up the soil and cinders on the surface between the large trunks to prepare to receive the first seeding of grain later in the season, or in the spring.
Finishing the layout of the cabin for the winter is next, not waiting too long before preparing the felled trees that are set aside. The squaring by hacking protects them. The settler during the winter starts another wood yard, cutting them at three or four feet from the level of the snow cover. This type of clearing is not planted in wheat in the spring. There is, though, some seeding of maize, beans and gourds in the Indian manner, after the clearing in the autumn.
At the end of a year’s work the settler can declare one arpent in stump clearing and two arpents being cut. Each year he adds two arpents to his wheat planting, at the same time building his permanent house, piece by piece, floor of oak planking, planks for the roof, and mud walls for the chimney. He buys a steer, a sow, several chickens, and the cabin is made into a stable as soon as he moves into the new house.
About five years after the start of improving the site, he can, without too much trouble, with one or two oxen, pull the rotted stumps from the soil and gradually put the land to the plough. The work of clearing begins to ease off as the agricultural tasks increase. If he maintains the rhythm which we have sketched, he will need ten or eleven years before having a dozen arpents under the plow, the minimum to put in crops enough to sustain a family.
There were a few necessary economies to subsist eighteen months whilst awaiting the first harvest, paying the notary, the surveyor, buying tools, utensils, nails and seeds. (This represents a capital of 200 to 250 livres for the first eighteen months and at least as much in the following two years to buy animals, hay, etc…as the produce from the land remains insufficient.) And as these ancient contractor employees and soldiers normally took a wife before acquiring land, or soon afterwards, rations were doubled because the dowry, if sometime there was one, did not cover the support of the newlyweds for a very long period.”(2)
Arrival of the "Filles Du Roi"- 1667
Marguerite was a "Fille du Roi" and they were married c.1670 although a marriage record has not been found (this estimated date of their marriage is based on the birth of their first child).
“Louis XIV and Colbert conceived a plan which guaranteed success. For the first time, the royal treasury undertook to contribute to the cost of the voyage and a part of the cost of establishing in New France emigrants recruited in the mother country. These young women, called “Filles du Roi” (Daughters of King), would be young, healthy and capable of backing up their husbands in farm work and also fulfilling their role as mothers. The Canadian settlers of the XVIIth century would necessarily have to live on the income from the land, very modest at first, for feeding family members and making clothing, etc… It is in those ways that his wife could help him and in fact, she did so, thanks to the training received in the shelters where she lived or within her family.
The work of sewing added to the care of the house of the "habitant" and the care of the babies, kept the wife of the settler busy during a long day which ended late in the evening. This labour of love by the wives of the "habitants" was and still is esteemed in our countryside."(3)
The Filles du Roi have been vilified by some. Most were recruited in schools for orphans or came from poor families. Pierre Boucher said in 1664:It is not true that this sort of women came [of a bad reputation] and those who speak in that fashion, are greatly misguided and have mistaken the islands of Saint-Christopher and Martinique for New France: If they appear they are recognized for what they are before embarking, it is required that relatives or friends attest to their good behaviour. If by accident some of them slip by, who are discredited, or who, during the voyage are reported of bad behaviour, they are returned to France.(4)
Marguerite had come over with the group of Filles du Roi with her sister Marie in 1667 or 1668. Marie was only 13 years old when she was married to Adrien Bétourné dit Laviolette. La Société d'Histoire des Filles du Roy lists Marguerite and Marie as being Huguenots.(8)
Upon marriage, a Fille du Roi was given a trousseau worth 50 livres including a cash box, a cap or hood, a kerchief of taffeta, shoe laces, 100 needles, a comb, white thread, a pair of stockings, a pair of gloves, a pair of scissors, two knives, 1000 pins, a bonnet, some lace, and two livres in cash.(5) One has to wonder why they needed 1,000 pins! Intendant Talon also established the custom of giving to each one 50 livres in food appropriate for their household.
Pierre was listed as being a shoemaker in the 1681 census, living in the Seigneurie of St. Ours with Marguerite and their children Marie-Marguerite age 10, Pierre 9, Madeleine 7, Genevieve 4, and Catherine 2. They also owned a rifle, four cows and had six arpents of lands under cultivation.
Pierre was also a Notaire from Apr. 1673 until 1693 when his last contract was written on 28 Aug. Over the years he wrote 108 (that have survived) contracts/agreements which are preserved at the Archives Nationales du Quebec. The number of docutments he generated is not large, however, you must remember that the population of Saint-Ours in 1681 was 26 families.
“To be accepted as notary, the person must first have submitted information on is life and customs, that is to say testimony as to the dignity of his life and of his Roman Catholic religion. He then addresses his application to the “lieutenant of the prévôté”, requesting him to please receive him and his witnesses, and process his application. The day comes and before the “lieutenant prévôté appear several persons of good character, not related to the candidate and who testify to the uprightness of his life. The permission of the priest was also necessary. The information judged satisfactory, the applicant takes the “required and customary” oath. He can then exercise his duties as notary within the limits designated by his commission.”(6)
Document written by Pierre Mesnard concerning a contract of sale by Jean Cellurier to Francois Deguire dit Larose- 1 Jan. 1669
There is also one document showing him acting as a bailiff. On 30 Dec. 1675 he was named bailiff by Judge Claude Jaudoin of Contrecoeur concerning the seizure of grain and other objects belonging to Pierre le Siege dit Lafontaine of Contrecoeur.(7)
Pierre died some time after the date of his last notarial contract 28 Aug. 1693 and the marriage of his son Pierre 21 Jan. 1695 which lists Marguerite as a widow (see below). Marguerite lived until 1709 and died at Repentigny and was probably living with her daughter Marie Madeleine and her husband Pierre Chevalier who had settled there.Issue-
(1) Original in the Archives Nationel de Quebec
(2) Habitants et Marchands de Montréal au XVIIième siècle- Louise Dechêne, Montreal, 1974- pp. 271-4
(3) Les Filles du Roi en Nouvelle-France- Silvio Dumas- La Société historique de Québec- vol. XV (1972)
(4) Histoire véritable et naturelle des moeurs et productions du pays de la Nouvelle-France vulgairement dite Canada- Pierre Boucher, Société Historique de Boucherville, 1964- pp. 155-6
(5) Filles de joie ou filles du roi- Gustave Lanctôt, Montréal, Édition du Jour, 1966- p. 74
(6) Revue d'Histoire de l'Amérique Française- vol. IX, p. 424
(7) Arrêt & Ordonnance du Conseil Souverain- E. Z. Massicotte, Collection en feuilles, bibliothèque de Montréal
(8) La Société d'Histoire des Filles du Roy- Les Filles du Roy Protestantes at: http://lesfillesduroy-quebec.org/2010/02/25/les-filles-du-roy-protestantes/
Parish Registers for Contrecoeur, Repentigny, Notre Dame de Montreal, Hotel Dieu de Montreal, Longueil, St. Ours, St. Sulpice, Pointe aux Trembles
m. 22 Jan. 1695 Repentigny, SUZANNE LAPORTE (bpt. 28 Feb. 1676 Pointe aux Trembles, bur. 27 Oct. 1743 Contrecoeur), d. of Jacques Laporte and Nicole Duchesne
bur. 27 May 1746 Contrecoeur
The marriage contract done by Notaire Adhemar on 21 Jan. 1695 states:
En faveur dudit mariage, ledit Jacques Laporte et Nicole sa femme, donnent à ladite Suzanne leur fille, « Une geniSSe dune an et un autre Lannée enSuite au dit futur eSpoux desdite partie » et Marguerite Deshaies veuve de Pierre Ménard donne aux futurs époux « Deux taureaux et deux cochons, six poules et Soblige de Les nourrire pendant Un an antier a commencé du Semblable Gour (jour), a condition que ledit Pierre Menard fera labourer pour sa mère avec ses boeufs et pourra aussi faire les siens avec les même boeufs. (1)So, we can see why Pierre married Suzanne... she came with two bulls, two pigs and six chickens!
Pierre was a captain in the militia. He died on 26 May 1746 and was buried the following day at Petit Saint-Ours:
L'an Mil sept cent quarante six, le vingt sept de mai, par nous Soussigné prestre a été inhumé dans le Cimetière de St-Ours, le corps du Sieur Pierre Ménard décédé hier après avoir reçue les sacrements de pénitence viatique et extrème onction. Présents, Pierre Paturin et Emery qui ont déclaré ne savoir signé. Charles Beaudouin Ptre.Issue-
(1) Certificat de Mariage-Notaire Adhemar 21 Jan. 1695- No. 94911
Parish Registers for Contrecoeur, Repentigny, Notre Dame de Montreal, St. Ours, Petit Saint-Ours, St. Sulpice, Pointe aux Trembles, Boucherville
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