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Isaac Francois MIVILLE
(Abt 1602-1669)


Family Links

Charlotte MAUGIS


  • Born: Abt 1602, Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Marriage: Charlotte MAUGIS in 1629 in Brouage, Saintonge, France
  • Died: 14 Oct 1669, Lauzon, Levis, Quebec about age 67

bullet  General Notes:

He may have had more than one dit name, or one of them got wrongly attached to him.

He was a master cabinet maker.

Source cited, Tanguay. vol 1, p 435. Miville dit le Suisse, Pierre. Maitre-menuisier, capitaine de la cote Lauzon, de la Rochelle. Master carpenter. Captain of the Lauzon Coast, of New Rochelle? People with skills were often recruited into teh military for New France.

General Notes:

OCCUPATION: Master carpenter; capitaine de la côte de Lauzon, de La Rochelle

PIERRE MIVILLE DIT LE SUISSE from "Our French-Canadian Ancestors" by Thomas J. Laforest

Historian Marcel Trudel tells us that the first Miville to trod upon the soil of New France had the given name of Vincent. He was noted in a lawsuit dated August 20, 1638. He signed his name then and we have heard no more about him. We assume that, he left as discretely as he arrived. In his remarkable work on Pierre Miville and his family, Raymond Ouimet mentioned a certain Isaac Miville, probably a relative of Pierre's. Isaac was hired, at La Rochelle, on April 6, 1643, to serve Sieur Charles de La Tour, at the fort of Riviere Saint-Jean, in Acadia. Four men from Switzerland embarked in the ship SAINT-CLEMENT which left La Rochelle, on April 15 and arrived at Riviere Saint-Jean on May 20. None of them seems to have recorded his name anywhere on this side of the Atlantic.

Some six years later, Pierre Miville arrived among us with his wife and children. The Mivilles came to stay, founded a dynasty just as distinguished and numerous. Their descendants, after three and a half centuries, have become permanent on American soil.

Pierre's Swiss origin is not in doubt. Several documents provide proof of it. He came from the region of Fribourg where he was born at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Situated in the western part of Switzerland, Fribourg is the head town of the canton which is washed by the Sarine, a river which has its source north of Sion (Sitten) in the Alps. The Cordeliers, the disciples of Saint Francis of Assisi, built a church at Fribourg, in the thirteenth century. In 1516, a perpetual peace was signed between France and the representatives of the thirteen Swiss cantons. The French dominated the upper part of the town, the Germans the lower part.

If Switzerland has cultivated a peaceful tradition for several centuries, it did not cease to provide numerous soldiers to neighboring countries. Its body guards, in impeccable attire, enjoyed an international reputation. From 1496 to 1792, the kings of France called on the services of a company called the Hundred-Swiss to assure their personal protection. In the fifteenth century, the popes also hired the Swiss, whose attire has not varied since then. Cardinal de Richelieu also had his own guards. Pierre Miville was one of them. On June 25, 1635, he was a witness to the marriage of a certain Artement Artement to Marie-Salomee Bloune. Both originally from Switzerland, were married in the church of Saint-Hilaire d'Hiers. Pierre was called "sourice de Monseigneur the cardinal living in Brouage". By 1635, Miville had probably been in the service of the famous prelate for several years. He had perhaps been called to fight at the seige of La Rochelle, whose population decimated by illness and famine, went from 28,000 people to only 5,000 towards the end of the summer of 1628.

On September 30, the troops entered the area and provided the survivors with provisions, guaranteeing them "life and property" and freedom to practice their religion. While La Rochelle was reduced almost to nothing, Richelieu, at that time governor of Brouage, transformed this town into a fortified enclosure. The work was spread out over ten years, from 1630 to 1640. In addition to assuring the personal protection of his master, the future Canadian pioneer could also practice his trade of woodworker.

However, shortly after the seige of La Rochelle, Richelieu delegated his duty as governor to his uncle Amador de la Porte, who also had at his disposal a few Swiss, who were, until then, part of the cardinal's guards. In December 1632, the name of Pierre Miville was recorded for the first time in the registries of Brouage. He had already been married to Charlotte Maugis for three years. A first son was born and a daughter was soon to be born, if not so already. Charlotte was originally from Saint-Germain. Was it there or at Brouage that, his marriage took place?

After 1640, it became more and more difficult to earn a living at Brouage. According to the historian Francois Julien Labruyere, the harbor of Brouage, "the most beautiful in France", was narrowing after the residents of La Rochelle, in 1586, had poured twenty barges full of stones into it. They wanted to make it the principal support of the development of the salt mines but, twenty-nine years after its creation, this was the main cause of the failure of the salt mines in the gulf of Saintonge. In the middle of the seventeenth century, the canal was no longer being maintained. "The marsh that they had taken so much trouble to build and to maintain became spoiled...Fevers developed and the population deserted this ancient gulf where many languages were spoken".

Probably finding himself without work, Pierre Miville decided to move to La Rochelle. On November 5, 1646, the master blacksmith Pierre Maloiseau leased him a piece of land on the terraces, located near the walls of Saint-Nicolas and the gate of la Verite, for sixteen livres tournois in annual and perpetual land rent payable on Saint-Louis' Day. Miville then ordered the master mason Jacques Riorteau to build him a house. The foundation of which would be two feet thick until it emerged from the soil, then eighteen inches to the roof. This house, with a double fireplace, would be covered with tile. The price requested was seven livres per square foot. On December 7, 1647, the contract was annulled, with permission for the builder to use all of the materials delivered to the site. Was Pierre unable to pay? Had he already decided to come to New France?

La Rochelle was only a brief stop for the Mivilles. Less than two years after this contract was canceled, probably due to a lack of financial resources, it is logical to believe that the recruiters from New France lured them by the advantages of the new country and that undeveloped, rich lands awaited them upon their arrival. On May 29, 1649, in the name of the Compagnie des Habitants, Jean-Paul Godefroy and Jean Juchereau mobilized four ships leaving La Rochelle for Canada, including the GRAND CARDINAL, of 300 tons and the NOTRE DAME, of 200 tons. Two Protestant bankers made them a loan "for the big adventure", at 25 per cent. Henry Bardet risked 20,000 livres, Samuel Pagez 10,000 and other merchants from La Rochelle together provided 15,000 more livres, under the same terms.

The GRAND CARDINAL docked at Quebec, on August 24 and the NOTRE-DAME on September 27. On October 5, at Quebec, Marie Miville became the godmother of Marie Chalifour, the eldest daughter of Paul and Jacquette Archambault. This was the first mention of the presence of the Miville family in New France. At that era, Quebec was still only a village of a few tens of houses located on the edge of the river around the institution. The arrival of the Mivilles surely did not pass unnoticed.

On October 29, Governor Louis d'Alleboust de Coulonge did the Miville's an exceptional favor by awarding them three pieces of land. Two of them were perched on a cliff, in the Seigneurie of Lauzon, facing the Plains of Abraham, near what is called today la Coulee or the Patton Coast, at Saint-David de Lauberiviere. One of them, three arpents wide and forty deep, was awarded to the head of the family and the other, located upriver, had a frontage of four arpents, also by forty deep. The fifteen year old Francois became the grantee of this concession. The eldest son of Our Ancestor one day would be called upon to play an important role in his family.

On this same October 29, Pierre Miville received a second piece of land on the road to Saint-Louis, (today the Grande-Allee), in the vicinity of Quebec. An area of 26 arpents of this land would pass to his daughter, Marie, on November 28, 1650, through the marriage contract signed by Audouart, reached between her and Mathieu Amiot dit Villeneuve. This land would be re-attached to the Chatellenie de Coulonge in 1668. The Miville family undoubtedly received shelter at Quebec during their first winter in New France because it was too late for them to build a house.

During the winter of 1655-1656, Pierre Miville made a brief stay in France. This voyage mentioned in an act written on December 2, 1655, concerning the awarding of a pew, in the church of Quebec to Francois Miville, son of Pierre. Gathered for the occasion were the pastor Jerome Lalemant and the church wardens, Guillaume Couillard, Henri Pinguet, Jean Juchereau de Maure and Jacques Maheu. The place designated was the "5th row or timbers which serve as seats beginning from the confessional which is below the pew of Sieur Noel Morin the place measures in all three feet from top to bottom projecting ten feet from the wall of the north side running towards the nave to be used by the said Francois Miville he and his heirs into perpetuity". Charlotte Maugis, the mother of the recipient, was present and promised to have the documents ratified by her husband "upon his return from France to this country".

The reason for this voyage is revealed to us by Raymond Ouimet, the biographer of Our Ancestor. He went to look for a servant. Pierre Miville embarked in mid-October 1655. On March 13, 1656, he was at the home of the Notary Pierre Moreau, at La Rochelle, with Andre Bouget, master mason and stone cutter, living in this city and thirty years old, to hire him for three years at a salary of 90 livres per year, for everything that the employer "orders him in the said country of Canada". It seems that this committment was never finalized. Pierre returned to his loved ones on May 20, 1656. If he had been able to deliver messages from a few compatriots, he had not attained for himself the desired objective.

Pierre Miville owned at least two lots in the city of Quebec. One was on Rue Saint-Louis and the other was on Rue Saint-Pierre. The first measured 24 feet, on one end and 12 feet, on the other, had already belonged to Antoine Martin dit Montpellier. On August 9, 1654, he sold it to Charles Phelippeaux, a master gun and locksmith, for 500 livres. This act reveals that, the Ancestor was living usually on the coast of Lauzon. The lot, which had been ceded to the seller by Jean de Lauzon, included a house located between that of Christophe Crevier dit la Meslee and the enclosure of Messire Guillaume Vignal, priest and chaplain of the Ursuline sisters of Quebec. Pierre Miville, Charles Phelippeaux, Jehan/Jean Bonard dit Lafortune, Pierre Saucois and the notary signed the act. In a rider, dated September 28, 1655, P.MIVILE (sic) acquitted Phelippeaux of his debt.

The "Papier terrier de la Compagnie des Indes occidentales", dated November 2, 1667, mentions the appearance of Francois Miville, in the name of his father. The latter admitted holding from the seigneurs of this country a place in the Lower-Town of Quebec, consisting of twenty feet in one direction and twenty-two in the other, bordered on one side by Noel-Jeremie Lamontagne and on the other, the street which goes from the public place to the shore. This lot was charged with six deniers for the cens "portent lots and ventes", payable each year to the collector of the Domaine of Quebec on the feast day of Saint-Remy. On this lot, Miville built a house consisting of one heated room, a small lean-to, a cellar and an attic. Everything belonged to Pierre Miville by a deed that he had obtained from the late Jean de Lauzon, then governor, on the date of May 20, 1656.

The year 1657 was particularly difficult for the French colonists scattered along the banks of the Saint Lawrence between Trois-Rivieres and the Ile d'Orleans. They had to be constantly on the alert because, the Iroquois were on the prowel and made numerous victims among the Hurons and spread destruction around the homesteads. A report by the Jesuits said that the French had been pillaged at Cap a l'Arbre (today Cap a-la-Roche) by the Iroquois.
"These barbarians, out of umbrage (feeling offended) that they have for our Folks in their country, committed many insolences, pillaging the houses, killing the animals of the French metairies".

Pierre Miville was counted among the victims of those raids. The journal of the Jesuits reported that, on May 6, 1657, "at noon, the Onondagas killed a cow belonging to Pierre Bivil (sic) le Suisse, on the bank across from his home. He fired over their heads without effect. They killed a pregnant sow belonging to the same man again".

It was also in 1657 that, it was reported that the Mivilles arranged to participate a little in the commercial life of the colonists of that era. On July 30, the merchant Jean Fouquet acknowledged that, Pierre gave him 40 livres, on account, for the cost of two barrels of wine which Jean Rivault (Riviereau) owed him for delivery. Had Miville bought this wine for himself or for trading?

On November 22, Pierre Soumande, Francois Miville, Pierre Naulin de la Fougere and Antoine Poulet/Paulet, brother-in-law of Francois Miville's and ship's carpenter, formed an association for working the "main part of a boat thirty feet from the keel" which Poulet/Paulet was obliged to build as soon as possible, with the help from the partners in searching for the necessary wood and for the payment of 114 livres required from each. A discount of 60 livres would be granted to those who made one thousand feet of oak planking.

Since their establishment, on the coast of Lauzon, the Mivilles became more and more involved in the community life of their social circle. They had been preceded to the coast of Lauzon only by Francois Bissot, Guillaume Couture and the Jesuits. To organize the defense of their territory against the Iroquois, Couture was appointed captain of the militia and Miville second in command.

An unfortunate incident occured on the first of July, 1664, at Quebec. Pierre Miville was imprisoned at the Chateau Saint-Louis and the next day the King's administrator had him appear and accused him of having "committed sedition and intentionally, through open force, accompanied individuals to kidnap passengers sent by the King, to the prejudice of the distribution which had been ordered by the Council".

After hearing nine witnesses and the statement of Sieur Giffard, the Sovereign Council ordered Miville to ask for the King's pardon (represented by the governor) and the Sovereign Council assembled at the Chamber and to be "banished in perpetuity from Quebec and relegated to his house located on the Coast and Seigneurie of Lauzon". It was also "ordered that he keep his banishment and not leave the area of the said Seigneurie of Lauzon on penalty of the gallows. And for this purpose will be taken as far as the said seigneurie by two bailiffs of this Council". The accused was also ordered to pay a fine of 300 livres "payable without delay, payable namely one-third to the King, for use in the cost of the war and the remaining two-thirds to the poor of the Hotel-Dieu of this city". To this was added, finally, the legal expenses.

As was noted, justice of that era was of extreme severity. It did not grant undue favors. To break the royal orders could lead all offenders to hanging on the gallows. Pierre Miville undoubtedly had the most serious lesson of his life.

The execution of this sentence forced Pierre Miville to lie low in his domain in the Seigneurie of Lauzon. In 1661, he sold some merchandise to Antoine Pepin dit Lachance. On July 31, the latter acknowleged owing him 56 livres and 8 sols, which he would pay in effects and products of the country at the end of harvest time.

In August 1664, Charlotte Maugis took over the administration of her husband's affairs. She represented him in matters which necessitated his presence at Quebec. On August 27, the Notary Michel Filion summoned her to his office to accuse her of receiving, from councillor Louis Rouer de Villeray, 55 livres for a release from the estate of the late Ignace Sevestre des Rochers. Sieurs Jean Bourdon de Dombourg and Jacques Breschon de Bellefond signed the complaint with the notary. On June 22, 1661, when he was on the Ile d'Orleans, Ignace Sevestre had been massacred by the Iroquois at the same time as Jean de Lauzon junior, Nicolas Couillard de Bellroche and four other Frenchmen.

On July 16, 1665, shortly after the arrival in New France of the first companies of the Carignan Regiment which had the mission to restrain the depredations of the Iroquois nations, the new governor, the Marquis Prouville de Tracy, agreed to concede a domain called Canton des Suisses fribourgeois, to some compatriots, who had perhaps arrived with the famous regiment, whom Pierre Miville and his sons desired to see settled here. This domain would be located on the Grande-Anse (Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatiere). A width of twenty-one arpents, on the river and 40 arpents deep, this concession was divided equally between the seven designated concessionaires, Pierre Miville, his sons, Francois and Jacques, Francois Tisseau, Jean Gueuchuard, Francois Rime and Jean Cahusin. This planned canton was located fifteen leagues downstream from Quebec. On the other side towards Tadoussac, stretched the lands not ceded.

This concession was made by way of cens and seigneurial rents payable to the Domain of the King on each Saint-Remy's Day, the first of October. The tenants would have the right to hunt, fish and to use the fields both in front of and on their concessions and they would be obliged to fence their pastures to prevent the animals from injuring themselves. The cens cost 20 sols and the rent would be one sol and two live capons. Did Rime, Tisseau, Gueuchuard and Cahusin take possession of these lands? Nothing has been found to prove it. The census of 1666 and 1667 do not mention them. The censustaker also forgot Captain Guillaume Couture and his Lieutenant Pierre Miville, in 1666. On the other hand, he found them both at Lauzon Coast in 1667. Pierre said that, he was 65 years old, his wife, Charlotte, 60 and their son Jacques, 25. They had in their employ a 40 year old servant named le Lorain. There was also mention of eight head of cattle and 30 arpents of land under cultivation. Francois Miville, Marie Langlois and their first three children were also recorded. Francois had cleared a dozen arpents but does not seem to have owned any animals yet.

The Swiss immigration, so desired by Minister Colbert and Intendant Talon, did not work out. On April 5, 1667, the Minister asked the Intendant to prepare himself to receive two hundred to three hundred Swiss, whom the King could recruit in the Catholic cantons and send to Canada the following year. On October 27, Talon answered him. The news of this decision pleased him so much that, he was ready to welcome even more of them. "The plan that you make to recruit three hundred or four hundred Swiss from the Catholic Cantons to send them here, especially delights the residents of Canada, who having received this year very weak men, who are inclined to do to very little useful work. As for me, I am persuaded that one man from his nation is worth at least two from ours for what is done in this country. A single one from the same nation who finds himself here has put the fruit of his work in a condition to build some ships and I have already accepted one of them from him for which I have paid him two thousand livres".

The builder of this ship that Talon referred to, without naming him, was Pierre Miville dit le Suisse, who served as a model for him to state "that one man from this nation is worth two from ours". In an act signed by Rageot and dated October 6, 1667, Charlotte Maugis "wife authorized by Pierre Miville dit le Suisse to whom she had promised to represent, agreed to the documents", acknowledged having received from Messire Jean Talon, councillor, squire and intendant, the amount of 2,000 livres tournois in gold or in silver, from the hands of Sieur Charles Pingard, secretary of the intendant, both this day and previously. She said that, she was content, satisfied, well paid and gave a receipt to the buyer.

The act specifies that, this amount, indeed, be used for the purchase of another ship, the construction of which had been undertaken about eighteen months earlier and which did not include any rigging. The parties had, for the occasion, been summoned to the town house of the intendant. Pierre Miville must not have undertaken such a task alone. His sons, Francois and Jacques, perhaps even his son-in-law, Antoine Poulet/Paulet, also a ship's carpenter and his employee le Lorain, not otherwise identified, must have helped to build it.

Pierre Miville and his crew built more than one ship. In the same letter, Talon verifies that his contractor had a boat in the shipyard similar to the one that he had built "to be used for fishing in the lower Saint-Lawrence River. I am in negotiations with this resident and two others, almost of his skill, to make them undertake for their account and that of M. de Courcelle, a ship with a capacity of three hundred to four hundred tons, offering to pay the expenses which this enterprise demands, as well as that of the trade to be established with the Antilles where this ship could transport what this country produces and what the other lacks".

If one Swiss like Pierre Miville was worth two Frenchmen as stated by Talon, it was because he had twice the ardor and capacity for the work. It was a waste of time to clear and to work his lot. He wore himself out wanting to produce the best ships in New France. Two years later, he succumbed and returned to Quebec feet first towards his grave.

He died, on October 14, 1669, in his house on the Lauzon Coast at ten o'clock in the evening after having received the sacraments of confession and extreme unction". His funeral took place the next day, in the church at Quebec and his body was buried in the parish cemetery.

This biography was taken from "Our French-Canadian Ancestors" by Thomas J. Laforest: Volume 27- Chapter 6- Page 105 [2-24-99, James Gagne]

Pierre married Charlotte Maugis in 1629 in Fribourg, Switzerland.1 (Charlotte Maugis was born about 1607 in St-Germain, ev. Santes, Saintonge, France 2 and was buried on 11 Oct 1676 in Québec City, Québec, Québec, Canada 3.)

Marriage Notes:

Pierre and Charlotte had 1,331 descendants as of 31 Dec 1729.



1 Institut Drouin, Dictionnaire National des Canadiens Français 1608-1760 (AFGS 1968), page 960.

2 PRDH (University of Montréal - Online).

3 Tanguay, Cyprien, Dictionnaire Généalogique des Familles Canadiennes, Vol 6 (Global Heritage Press, 2001 with permission of la Société généalogique Canadienne-Française
), page 49.


Pierre married Charlotte MAUGIS in 1629 in Brouage, Saintonge, France. (Charlotte MAUGIS was born about 1605 in St. Germain de Lusignan, France and died on 11 Oct 1676 in Lauzon, Levis, Quebec.)

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