Filles à Marier –“Marriageable Girls”

The information contained in this Posting was sourced from numerous websites (all noted below) and is presented here to facilitate our genealogical research.  All rights belong to the original authors. This is being used under the laws of ‘fair use’.

Source of the original materials that follows.

Between 1634 and 1663, 262 filles à marier or “marriageable girls” emigrated to New France representing one quarter of all the single girls arriving in New France through 1673. They were recruited and chaperoned by religious groups or individuals who had to assure and account for their good conduct. In general, they were poor, although there were some members of the petty nobility among their ranks.

As opposed to the Filles du Roi who emigrated between 1663 and 1673, the filles à marier came alone or in small groups. They were not recruited by the state and did not receive a dowry from the King. They were promised nothing but the possibility of a better life. If they survived the perils of the crossing, they lived with the daily threat of death at the hands of the Iroquois. If they survived the Iroquois, they had to deal with the hard life of subsistence farming, harsh winters spent in a log cabin that they may have helped build, epidemics of smallpox and “fever” and difficult and often dangerous childbirth.

Crossing the Atlantic was a dangerous undertaking in the 1600s, and it is estimated that 10% of all passengers en route to New France died during the crossing. Sickness and disease were the main factors contributing to deaths at sea. Passengers were forced to share the hull with livestock that was either being shipped to the colony or served as meals during the crossing. While the passengers may have been permitted on deck during good weather and calm seas, storms forced their confinement to the hull where they were shut in not only with the livestock, but also with the odor of latrine buckets, seasickness and the smoky lanterns used for lighting. The climate and close quarters fostered the rapid spread of diseases such as scurvy, fever and dysentery. Under such conditions, very little could be done for those who were suffering. The method for dealing with the dead was to sew them up in their blankets and throw them overboard during the night.

The filles à marier chose to emigrate under perilous conditions to a wilderness colony because the advantages offered by the colony were great enough to make them forget the dangers of the crossing and rude character of colonial life. In France, the girls would have had little or no choice in their marriages because arranged marriages were the norm for the artisan and working classes as well as for the elite. Parental consent was required for men under the age of 30 and women under the age of 25. Young girls were placed in convent schools or pensions only to await a marriage in which they had no choice or to become a nun. In New France, these women could choose whom they wanted to marry and had the freedom to change their minds before the marriage took place.

Most of the filles à marier belonged to the rural class and were the daughters of peasants and farmers. A small number were from urban families, the daughters of craftsmen, day laborers and servants, while an even smaller number were the daughters of businessmen, civil servants, military men and the petty nobility. Their average age was 22, and more than one-third had lost at least one parent. About 20% were related to someone who was already a colonist. Most were married within a year of their arrival in New France. While waiting to find a husband, many of the girls lodged with religious communities –either the Ursulines in Québec City or the Filles de la Congrégation Notre-Dame in Montréal– although about 100 filles à marier lodged with individuals.

Peter J. Gagné has defined the qualifications to be considered a fille à marier as follows:

  • Must have arrived before September 1663
  • Must have come over at marriageable age (12 thru 45)
  • Must have married or signed a marriage contract at least once in New France or have signed an enlistment contract
  • Must not have been accompanied by both parents
  • Must not have been accompanied by or joining a husband
[Source: Before the King’s Daughters: The Filles à Marier, 1634-1662 by Peter J. Gagné. Pawtucket, RI: Quinton Publications, 2002. pp 13-38]

Source of the following materials.

Most of us are familiar with the story of the King’s Daughters or Fille Du Roi; the state sponsored program that brought almost 800 single women to Quebec in the early days of the French settlement, but what is not so well known is the story of the Fille a Marier. Between 1634 and 1662; 262 young ladies braved the elements to begin an uncertain future in the backwoods of Canada.

When the Company of 100 Associates began their settlement scheme, their plan of recruiting only families proved to be too costly, so instead they signed on single men; tradesman and labourers; who would be indentured for three years. However, this meant that more than 80% of the colonists were men, so even if they decided to stay at the end of their term, there was little hope of them starting a family, unless they chose a Canadian girl. But, since her family would never allow her, or her children, to leave their village; the company directors needed to avoid this from happening.

So instead, they began recruiting “marriagable young girls”, who would first sign a contract in France and then be given passage and a small dowry to become the wife of a Quebec settler. You might wonder why these young girls (many under 16), would risk the dangers and hardships, which by now most of France were well aware of; but believe it or not; for many it was the best option.

At the time, marriages were arranged, so if the girl’s family did not have the means to provide a sutable dowry, her only option was to become a nun, if she was Catholic; or marry beneath her station. In the case of the young Filles a Marier, though a marriage contract must be signed before departure, she had every right to refuse the union, once she met her husband-to-be. As a matter of fact, many of them did just that, and were provided safe passage home.

Below is a list of all the women brought over under this plan. Some were sponsored by their church, a company associate or merchant. Others were of minor noble families; cousins or sisters of men already in the colony. Marguerite Bourgeoys and Jeanne Mance, also escorted several, training them in the necessary domestic skills, and ensuring that they would be well looked after. Later, critics of the plan tried to say that all the girls were prostitutes taken off the streets of Paris, but this was rarely, if ever, the case. Most settled down, raised families and formed the roots of many French-Canadian families.

  1. Achon, Ozanne-Jeanne (Anne)
  2. Alton, Étiennette or Antoinette
  3. Anet, Jeanne
  4. Armand, Marie
  5. Arnu, Marthe
  6. Artus, Michelle
  7. Aubert, Marguerite
  8. Arneau, Jeanne (Marie-Marthe)
  9. Banne, Gillette
  10. Banse, Marguerite
  11. Barbeau, Suzanne
  12. Barré, Gabrielle
  13. Beaucier, Jeanne
  14. Beaudoin, Madeleine
  15. Beaudry, Perrine
  16. Bénard, Catherine
  17. Bénard, Françoise
  18. Benet, Marie-Suzanne
  19. Bérard, Marie
  20. Betfer or Bedford, Suzanne
  21. Bidard, Marie
  22. Bigot, Françoise
  23. Bigot, Jeanne
  24. Bigot, Marguerite
  25. Bissonnet, Marie
  26. Bitouset, Jeanne
  27. Boileau, Marguerite
  28. Boissel, Marie
  29. Bonin, Marie
  30. Borde or Desbordes, Jacquette
  31. Boudet, Romaine
  32. Bourdon, Marie
  33. Bourgouin, Marie-Marthe
  34. Boyer, Anne
  35. Boyer, Marie
  36. Breton, Marguerite
  37. Brière, Jeanne-Angélique
  38. Bugeau, Suzanne
  39. Camus, Catherine
  40. Camus or Le Camus, Élisabeth
  41. Capel, Françoise
  42. Cartier, Hélène
  43. Cerisier, Jeanne
  44. Chapelier, Marie
  45. Charles, Catherine
  46. Charlot, Marguerite
  47. Châtaigné, Marie
  48. Chatel, Hélène
  49. Chaverlange, Jeanne
  50. Chefdeville, Marie
  51. Chevalier or Lechevalier, Anne
  52. Cholet or Chaulet, Marie
  53. Chotard, Jeanne
  54. Colin, Catherine
  55. Cousteau, Marie-Madeleine;
  56. Crampon, Catherine
  57. Crépeau or Crépel, Françoise
  58. Crevet, Marie
  59. D’Assonville, Gabrielle
  60. De Lamarque, Anne
  61. De Lambourg, Esther
  62. Delaunay, Anne
  63. Delaunay, Jeanne
  64. Delavaux, Catherine
  65. De Liercourt, Anne-Antoinette
  66. Deligny, Marie
  67. De Mousseau, Louise
  68. Denoyon, Suzanne
  69. De Poitiers, Marie-Charlotte
  70. De Richecourt dit Malteau, Jeanne Desbordes, Mathurine
  71. Després, Anne
  72. Després, Geneviève
  73. Després, Marguerite
  74. Desvarieux, Vincente
  75. Doucet, Marie-Madeleine
  76. Doucinet, Marguerite
  77. Drouillard, Marie-Madeleine
  78. Drugeon, Élisabeth
  79. Dubois, Madeleine
  80. Duchesne, Nicole
  81. Duguay or Dugué, Jeanne
  82. Dumesnil, Marie
  83. Dupont, Marie-Madeleine
  84. Durand, Anne-Antoinette
  85. Duteau, Madeleine
  86. Duteau dit Perrin, Marie-Michelle
  87. Duval, Louise
  88. Duval, Suzanne
  89. Duverger, Françoise
  90. Duverger, Suzanne
  91. Émard, Anne
  92. Fabrècque, Madeleine
  93. Fafard, Françoise
  94. Fayette, Marie
  95. Ferra, Marie
  96. Forestier (Fortier), Catherine
  97. Fougerat, Charlotte
  98. François, Marie-Madeleine
  99. Freslon, Jacqueline
  100. Frit, Marie
  101. Gachet, Marie
  102. Gamache, Geneviève
  103. Garnier, Jeanne
  104. Garnier or Grenier, Louise
  105. Gauchet de Belleville, Catherine
  106. Gaulin, Marguerite
  107. Gausse dit Le Borgne Françoise
  108. Gelé, Louise
  109. Girard, Marie
  110. Giraud, Isabelle dit Marie
  111. Gobinet, Élisabeth dit Isabelle
  112. Godard, Jeanne Godard, Marie
  113. Godeau, Marie
  114. Godin or Bodin, Jeanne
  115. Godin, Perrine
  116. Gouget, Catherine
  117. Grandin (Grandry), Marie
  118. Grandry, Marie
  119. Grenier, Antoinette
  120. Grenier, Françoise
  121. Grignault dit Gobineau, Marie
  122. Guillebourdeau, Marguerite
  123. Hagouin, Élisabeth
  124. Hardy, Marie-Anne
  125. Hautreux, Marthe
  126. Hayet, Marguerite
  127. Hérault, Jeanne
  128. Herlin, Anne
  129. Houart, Catherine
  130. Hubert, Marie-Marthe
  131. Hubou, Barbe Hubou, Françoise
  132. Hurault or Hurelle, Catherine
  133. Jaleau dit Ploumelle, Jeanne
  134. Jamare, Marie
  135. Jarel or Jaroux, Suzanne
  136. Jarousseau, Suzanne
  137. Jobin, Françoise
  138. Joly, Marie
  139. Jopie, Anne
  140. Lagrange, Jacqueline
  141. Lamoureux, Antoinette dit Louise Landeau, Marie-Noëlle
  142. Languille, Marie
  143. Latour dit Simonet, Catherine
  144. Leboeuf, Marguerite Marthe
  145. Lebreuil, Louise-Thérèse-Marie
  146. Leclerc, Adrienne Leclerc, Marguerite Leclerc, Marie
  147. Ledet or Léodet, Anne
  148. Le Flot, Michelle
  149. Le Laboureur, Anne
  150. Lelièvre, Françoise
  151. Lemaître, Denise
  152. Lemoine or Le Moyne, Anne Lemoine or Le Moyne, Jeanne
  153. Lerouge dit St-Denis, Jeanne
  154. Leroux, Mathurine
  155. Leson, Anne
  156. Letard, Marie
  157. Longchamp, Geneviève
  158. Loppé, Renée
  159. Lorgueil, Marie
  160. Lorion, Catherine
  161. Lotier (Lothier), Catherine
  162. Maclin, Marguerite
  163. Macré or Maqueray, Geneviève
  164. Manovely de Rainville, Geneviève
  165. Marchand, Catherine
  166. Marecot (Marcotte), Madeleine
  167. Marguerie, Marie
  168. Martin, Anne
  169. Mathieu, Catherine
  170. Mazouer or Mazoué, Marie
  171. Méchin, Jeanne
  172. Méliot, Catherine
  173. Mercier, Jeanne
  174. Merrin or Mairé, Jeanne
  175. Méry, Françoise
  176. Mésangé, Marie
  177. Métayer, Marie
  178. Meunier, Françoise
  179. Michelande, Madeleine
  180. Migaud, Suzanne
  181. Mignon, Jeanne
  182. Morin, Claire
  183. Morin, Françoise
  184. Morineau, Jeanne
  185. Morisseau, Marg-Madeleine
  186. Mullois de Laborde, Madeleine
  187. Nadreau, Françoise-Jacqueline
  188. Nau-Fossambault, M-Catherine Nau de Fossambault, Michelle
  189. Oudin, Marie
  190. Pacreau, Marie
  191. Panie, Isabeau
  192. Panie, Marie
  193. Paré (Paris), Claire-Françoise
  194. Parenteau or Parentelle, Marie
  195. Patou, Catherine
  196. Paulo, Marie
  197. Pavie, Marie
  198. Pelletier, Jeanne
  199. Pelletier or Peltier, Marie
  200. Péré, Marie or Marie-Suzanne Perrault, Marguerite-Cécile Picard, Marguerite
  201. Picoté de Belestre, Perrine
  202. Pinet de La Chesnaye, Marie Pinson, Marie-Marthe
  203. Poireau, Jeanne
  204. Poisson, Barbe
  205. Poisson, Mathurine
  206. Pomponnelle, Marie
  207. Pontonnier, Marie
  208. Potel Jacqueline
  209. Pournin or Pournain, Marie
  210. Radisson, Élisabeth
  211. Radisson, Françoise
  212. Rebours, Marguerite
  213. Renaud, Marie
  214. Renaudeau, Judith-Catherine Renaudin Blanchetière, Marie Reynier, Christine
  215. Richard, Marie
  216. Rigaud, Judith
  217. Riton, Marie
  218. Rocheron, Marie
  219. Rocheteau, Suzanne
  220. Rolland, Nicole
  221. Rousselier, Jeanne
  222. Roy, Jeanne
  223. Roy, Marie
  224. Saint-Père, Catherine
  225. Saint-Père, Jeanne
  226. Saulnier (Duverdier), Françoise Sauviot, Marguerite
  227. Simon, Marie
  228. Sinalon, Jeanne
  229. Soldé, Jeanne
  230. Soulinier, Marie
  231. Surget, Madeleine
  232. Targer, Élisabeth (or Isabelle) Taupier, Marie
  233. Testard, Jeanne
  234. Teste, Marie
  235. Thavenet, Marguerite-Josèphe Therrien or Terrier, Perrine
  236. Thomas, Marguerite
  237. Tourault, Jacquette
  238. Triot, Marie-Madeleine
  239. Trotin, Marie
  240. Valade, Marie-Barbe
  241. Vauvilliers, Jeanne
  242. Videau, Anne
  243. Vié dite Lamotte, Marie
  244. Viger, Françoise
  245. Vignault, Jeanne
  246. Vivran or Vivier, Jacquette
  247. Voidy, Jeanne