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MARGUERIE
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Francois MARGUERIE
(-1648)

 

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Francois MARGUERIE

  • Died: 23 May 1648, Trois-Rivieres, Quebec
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Her brother Francois had already gone to Canada and his exploits were legendary. He was regarded by the First Nations as the European who had most thoroughly learned their language and customs - they called him the 'double man' - he could pass as European or Indigenous.
There is no record of Francois Marguerie in Quebec before 1636, but some believe he was present as early as 1626, and was one of the seven that took refuge among the Algonquin after the destruction of Champlain's first colony by the English privateers Kirke. In any case Francois emerges firmly into history on 28 March 1636 when he was encountered by Jesuit missionaries among the Hurons as part of a party of four Algonquins led by the legendary chief Tessouat. He was able to ease the tensions that had built up between the straight-backed Jesuits and the Hurons, and guided them in establishing further missions among the Indians.


In 1637 Francois settled at Jacques Hertel's trading post at Trois-Rivieres. He must have interested Hertel in marrying his sister Marie, for he arranged for her to sail - at the age of 18 - from Rouen to New France in the summer of 1639. The passage, made in the late spring, was difficult - one tenth of all passengers en route to New France died on the Atlantic.
Perhaps, like the other Filles a Marier, her marriage to Hertel was not prearranged. She had her choice of husbands. But in 1640 Trois-Rivieres was still a raw place, with only a handful of inhabitants, less than half of them European, including rude French trappers, many living with indigenous wives with mixed children, and a handful of government officials and military officers.
The place had been a winter camp for French fur traders since before 1615, when the first Christian mission was established there. After the French recovery of New France from the British, Champlain's strategic plan was to centralize the fur trade at Quebec, but establish a second fortified place 40 miles upriver at Trois-Rivieres to prevent traders from selling their furs to the British rather than Richelieu's company. Jacques Hertel in 1634, followed a year later by the Godefroy brothers, became the first permanent settlers and farmers at Trois-Rivieres. There was competition and animosity between the traders at Quebec and Trois-Rivieres - the traders of the latter wearing white scarves to differentiate themselves from the red-scarfed traders of Quebec. Over the next two years Jesuit missionaries, soldiers, and an official governor arrived to bring order.

At the top of the social hierarchy were the "lords", those who had received lands from Cardinal Richelieu's Company of the Hundred Associates. The oldest was Jacques Hertel, followed by the Godefroy brothers (Jean-Paul, Jean and Thomas), who established themselves not far from him. Then there were the ambitious Le Neuf brothers, Jacques and Michel, voracious and well provided Normands who had arrived ready to purchase a domain in the New World. They had landed in 1636 and had not yet received their government appointments and lands, but were working very hard on it. Francois de Chamflour was commandant of the most primitive of forts, representing the king. There was a Jesuit church, run by Father Jacques Buteux since 1634, and including a Father Ragueneau, supporting the missionaries in the interior.
Then came the interpreters and their families who were vital to the fur trade: Francois Marguerie and Jean Nicolet; and Christophe Crevier, the baker from Rouen who arrived from Rouen in 1639, perhaps on the same ship as Marie.
It would seem that shortly after her arrival, Marie's situation became complicated. In February 1641 her brother Francois Marguerie and Thomas Godefroy were captured by Iroquois while hunting near Trois-Rivieres. The Iroquois planned a great assault the following summer against the Algonquins and Hurons, enemies of the Iroquois and allies of the French. Francois and Thomas were to serve as pawns in negotiations with the French. The objective was to obtain additional guns from the French and make a separate peace with them so the Iroquois would be free to attack their enemies.

In May over five hundred warriors headed toward Trois-Rivieres. They split into sections in order to surround the Algonquins and Hurons that were concentrated around the trading post. On 5 June the section holding the two captives arrived across the Saint Lawrence River from Trois-Rivieres. Francois was sent across the river to parlay with the commandant of the fort. The inhabitants of the town were flabbergasted to see him; they had given him up for dead. Francois had to return to captivity until the Governor of New France could come down river from Quebec to negotiate the peace treaty desired by the Iroquois. After his arrival, preliminary negotiations resulted in Francois and Thomas being freed as a goodwill gesture.
After the governor arrived and talks began, it became clear that the French were unwilling to either remain neutral in a war between the Iroquois and the Huron or provide the Iroquois with guns. In response the Iroquois attacked the governor's boat with a well-aimed fusillade from their guns. An answering broadside from the heavy cannon on the governor's boat put the Iroquois to flight, and the immediate threat to Trois-Rivieres receded.

Francois Marguerie drowned when his canoe overturned in the Saint Lawrence River off Trois-Rivieres on 23 May 1648.



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