In addition to providing as many details as possible about my ancestor, the posts will also include anecdotes about experiences encountered in my search for Jeanne’s story. As Jeanne’s 8th great granddaughter, writing almost 300 years after her death, I am in the process of weaving together many historical bits and pieces of her life with archival research, live interviews and conversations in France, Quebec and the United States. And of course, I’m having to use some creative hypothesizing and my intuition to fill in any gaps in information. Jeanne’s is a story full of both facts and mysteries. It’s a story of endings and new beginnings. And it’s a story of much courage, stamina, will, and many choices. Please read Suggested Table of Contents for some tips on how to read the posts.
The first time I heard the name of Jeanne Marguerite Chevalier was over twenty years ago. A book about her life started to take shape in my head roughly eight years later, in 2002. Preliminary research followed. The drive to learn more about Jeanne and write her story, however, only became an obsession one cold February day in 2011 when I stood in St. Nicolas church in Coutances where she was baptized on June 8, 1643. And now, finally, I am happy to announce the publication of this first version of the history of her life, just one day before the 300th anniversary of her death.
After months of silence, I am back writing for my blog and along the way, have run into some problems. I would like to apologize for any strange announcements that you might have received from my blog. I hope that we have resolved them and there won’t be any new “glitches.”
Silence has not meant absence of progress, rest assured. Continuing research in France and Quebec has solved a few mysteries and discovered more roadblocks. However, I am close to finishing the book on the history of Jeanne Chevalier. I promised Jeanne it would be published by the 300th anniversary of her death, November 24 2016, and so it will be! Please stay tuned for the announcement!
In the meantime, I have been busy with some other projects involving spreading the word about Jeanne as well as continuing to try to untangle some puzzles about her life in France and about her first and third husbands. In the effort to promote knowledge about Jeanne, I gave two talks in France about her story – one in Hautot-Saint-Sulpice, Robert Levesque’s birthplace, and one at the Château-Musée in Dieppe, France, the port she left in 1671 to travel to Quebec with a hundred other Filles du Roi.
Another project has been around trying to ensure appropriate recognition of Jeanne’s third husband, Jean-Baptiste-François Deschamps de la Bouteillerie. After a delightful meeting with the Mayor of Cliponville, the village where Deschamps was born, we agreed something needs to be done to honor his life and his entrepreneurial work in founding Rivière-Ouelle, Quebec. With that intent in mind, I have published a short history of his life. You can read it in the article posted on this blog on October 24, 2016. There are plans to establish some sort of memorial to Deschamps in Cliponville as well.
One other project I have been working on is an attempt to address the hypothesis proposed by Eric Mardoc, an historian in Rouen. Mardoc believes there is a possibility that Jeanne came from a noble family or at least from a family of the “petite noblesse.” My research and preliminary response on this topic will be published shortly on this blog.
As soon as the book on Jeanne’s life is sent to the publisher, my next project begins – that of translating the book into French. With the help of translators, I hope to complete that effort by the end of March, 2017. Until then, I hope to stay more timely with blog posts regarding the ever-intriguing story of the life of Jeanne Marguerite Chevalier and her three husbands.
One of the first Quebecois entrepreneurs
Jean-Baptiste-François Deschamps de la Bouteillerie was born around 1646 in Cliponville, a small Norman village not far from Rouen. Jean-Baptiste was one of at least 11 children born into the noble family of Jean Deschamps de Boishébert and Elizabeth or Isabeau de Bin. His family, by some reports, could trace its line back at least to the third crusade. Jean-Baptiste’s father was Seigneur de Costecoste, de Montaubert, and des Landes and had been honored by Louis XIII in 1629 for the service that he and his family had rendered to the kings of France. In keeping with the practice and laws of the times, [⇒]
Hello to those of you who have signed up for new posts and have hopefully not had to manage through too many confusing notices about the changes to my website.
At last, I am thrilled to announce that the web site and its blog posts are now all available in French! All you have to do is click on the French flag in the top right corner of any page to access the French version. I owe ever so much to my cousin Father Peter Dumont in New Hampshire and his cousin Michel Moisan in Quebec City for all their incredible and invaluable help in making the translation possible!
Once again, thank you for your interest in Jeanne Chevalier, my 8th great grandmother! I hope to have some new posts available soon (in English and French!)
Most warmly, Lynne
P.S. Apologies if this is a repeat of a prior message. We found a few glitches and they are now fixed!
In June, 1671, 28-year-old Jeanne Marguerite Chevalier boarded a ship in Dieppe harbor. She was leaving France forever and was headed for Quebec. Although single and orphaned, she was not alone on the ship since there were one hundred other women also bound for Quebec that year. In fact, over the course of ten years beginning in 1663, 770 women would have left France, most of them, like Jeanne, never to return. [⇒]
My interest in my ancestor Jeanne Chevalier and her story began over a decade ago, but it didn’t grow into an obsession and start taking over my life until relatively recently. At first, I had a mild curiosity around sorting out some conflicting information that I had found in one book and on the Internet about where she had been born. In early 2011, while visiting my niece who was working in Paris, I travelled to Coutances at the lower end of the Cotentin Peninsula in western Normandy, one of the possible sites for her birth. The archivist, with whom I had been in contact via email, had found a baptismal record for “Jeanne Chevalier” and had been able to decipher the almost illegible handwritten one-line entry. It was waiting for me when I arrived at the Coutances Visitors’ Center. The record indicated she had been baptized in St. Nicolas Church on June 8, 1643. When I asked if I could visit the church, the receptionist handed me the key and took my driver’s license in exchange. The key was bulky in my hand. I wondered if it could be the original. [⇒]
The question came up again over beers at the Tête des Allumettes brasserie and brewery, on the St. Lawrence River, just north of Kamouraska in eastern Quebec. I got into a conversation with my neighbors at the table next to me on the patio overlooking the river, and they asked, “Why are you doing this?” [⇒]
Three weeks after four-year-old Louis XIV was crowned King of France and 35 years after the founding of Quebec, Jeanne Marguerite Chevalier was baptized on June 8, 1643 in the small cathedral town of Coutances, 330 kilometers west of Paris and the new king and 75 kilometers northeast of Mont St. Michel. Other than a one-line entry registering her baptism and listing Guillemette LeBreton as her godmother, I know little else about Jeanne’s life in France. The actual facts about Jeanne’s life are not resumed until her name is found as a Fille du Roi on ships’ rosters that left Dieppe in June, 1671. And since the rosters are still being researched, there is nothing really official about Jeanne until her name appeared on a marriage contract in Quebec City on October 11, 1671. [⇒]
To fully understand Jeanne’s life and its challenges, it’s important to get a feel for the times in which she was born and spent the first 28 years of her life. So I have pulled out the world history books I saved from graduate school in the late 1960’s to provide a backdrop to Jeanne’s story. [⇒]
Seventeenth century New France needed women. The colony was not growing. Although Montreal had been established a year before Jeanne was born, the French in what would become Quebec still numbered less than 3000 inhabitants in 1663. Those men who ventured to New France were not electing to settle down there. While the climate was certainly a factor, the major reason, at least according to Louis XIV and his chief minister Colbert, was the lack of women. Louis and his ministers decided that it was time to do something about the situation, to turn exploration of New France into settlement. [⇒]