Marie Rollet (1580-1649) Wednesday, Aug 27 2008 

Life in France

Marie Rollet was born in 1580 in Paris. Little is known about her parents, including their names, or about her life before marriage. We do know that she had at least one elder brother, Claude Rollet (1578-1643) who would accompany her to the New World. She was educated, at least to the extent that she could read and write and later help run her husband’s business.

She married Louis Hébert in July 1602 at St. Martin’s Parish in Paris. Though Louis’ father had been a wealthy man once and a familiar presence at the court of Catherine de Medici, he had succumed to debts and left Louis and his new family with little. Louis purchased a decrepid house at Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Rue de la Petite-Seine where they stayed.

They had three children: Anne (1602-1619), Marie-Guillemette (1608-1684) and Guillaume (1614-1639). The six years between each of the births was no doubt due to her husband’s passion for the New World. Louis travelled to New France three times between 1606 and 1617. During the first two trips, Marie remained in Paris, cared for their children and ran her husband’s apothecary shop. Louis was to send for his family when he was ready but both trips ended in failure.

In 1617, however, Louis signed a contract with the Canada Company to become the apothecary of Québec. This time, rather than leaving alone, Louis sold their house in Paris and brought Marie, their children and her brother Claude with him to the New World. They sailed from France on April 11th, 1617 on the St. Étienne under the command of Captain Normand Morin. The trip was unpleasant and unusually long but they finally arrived in Québec on July 15th of the same year.

Life in New France

They were given 10 acres of land near the modern day cathedral in Québec city. There they built a stone house (the second in the colony) filled with furniture from Paris and blessed by Père (Le) Caron. They began to work the land with what crude tools they had (there would be no plow in New France until after Louis’ death) while her husband plied his trade.

Not long after their arrival, on November 23rd 1617, their eldest daughter Anne married Normand Étienne Jonquest (1590-1619). Hers was the first French marriage, performed by a priest (Père Joseph Caron again) in New France. She was also only 15 years old and died less than two years later in childbirth. Her husband succumbed to an illness shortly thereafter.

Much is made of Louis being the first farmer in New France but Marie was also a pioneer. She was not only the first European woman to live in New France but was also the first school teacher in Canada. She helped her husband farm their land and treat the sick as one might expect. But she also taught her own children and the young Native Americans how to read and write and instructed them in the Christian faith. Her home became a meeting place for colonists and natives alike (Samuel de Champlain was also a frequent visitor to the household).

Like Louis, Marie aided and befriended the natives, doing much to solidify relations between the French and the local tribes.

Her second daughter was married on the 26th of August 1621 to Guillaume Couillard and would give Marie ten grandchildren. Of these, her eldest grandson Louis Couillard (1629-1678) would eventually follow his father as Seigneur de l’Espinay.

Life after Louis

Louis died of a fatal slip on the ice in 1627. Now a widow, Marie continued to live in the colony as she had for now ten years. Two years after Louis’ death, on the 16th of May 1629, she remarried to Guillaume Hubou, a man 20 to 30 years her junior (accounts of his birth year vary wildly). He was Norman by descent and by all accounts a good man. After their marriage they lived together in Québec, presumably remaining in Marie’s house. As Marie was nearing 50 and well past her childbearing years, they had no children.

The same year she remarried, the British under the command of the Kirke brothers, forced Québec’s surrender. Although she was given the choice to return to France as were all the other colonists, Marie chose to remain in her new home. Hers was one of a handful of families to make this choice. As promised, the British allowed them to continue to work their land and in 1632, French rule was restored in New France.

After the British left, Marie housed orphans and young Amerindian girls being taught by the Jesuits. She became the godmother of many converted natives, which perhaps suggests both her role in their education and her continuing friendship with the Native Americans.

Her only son, Guillaume Hébert, was married to Hélène Desportes on October 1st 1634. They would have three children, including one son, but the Hébert name would die with Marie’s great-grandson, Joseph. Guillaume died five years later, the 23rd of september 1639. Marie would thus outlive a husband and two children.

In the 2nd of December 1635, her second husband Guillaume was granted lands by Sieur François Derré de Gand in Sainte-Geneviève, Québec. And two years later, on October 22nd 1637, she and her husband witnessed the marriage of Marguerite Couillard and Sieur Jean Nicolet de Belleborne. Marguerite was her granddaughter by her second daughter, Marie-Guillemette.

Marie died on the 27th of May 1649 at the age of 69 having spent more than 30 years in New France. Her second husband, Guillaume survived her by 4 years (he was burried the 18th of May 1653).

Requests: My research has turned up very little about Guillaume Hubou, Marie’s second husband. I could not even find agreement about his date of birth. Any information about him and his relationship with Marie would be apreciated.

My link to Marie Rollet:

1. Louis Hébert (1575-1627) m. Marie Rollet (1580-1649)

2. Marie-Guillemette Hébert (1606-1684) m. Guillaume Couillard (1591-1663)

3. Louis Couillard (1629-1678 ) m. Geneviève Després (1634-1706)

4. Jacques Couillard (1665-1737) m. Elizabeth Lemieux (1739- )

5. Marthe Couillard (1698- ) m. Pierre Bélanger (1692- )

6. Pierre Bélanger (1717-1750) m. Elisabeth Deneau

7. Louise Bélanger (1763-1828) m. François Picard (1768-1831)

8. Jean-Baptiste Picard m. Emerence Morin

9. François Picard (1835-?) m. Cédulie Ruel (1841-?)

10. Samuel Picard (1869-?) m. Josephine Kelly (1873-?)

11. Joseph Picard (1895-1969) m. Marie-Anne Ruel (1906-1936)

(note: the most recent three generations have been omitted for the sake of privacy.)

Louis Hébert (1575-1627) Sunday, Jul 6 2008 

Early Life

Louis Hébert was born around 1575 at 129 Saint-Honoré Street in Paris to Nicolas Hébert and Jacqueline Pajot. He was the third of four siblings: Charlotte (1564- ), Jacques (1568- ) and Marie (1577- ).

Nicolas was an apothecary at the court of Catherine de Medici, which was a rather well respected profession as I understand it; he also worked as a grocer. His wife Jacqueline was the daughter of Simon Pajot (1513-1563) and Jeanne Guerineau (1520-1572) and was twice widowed before they were married in 1564. She had at least one child from her previous marriages.

Louis grew up in one of the three properties owned by his father, the Mortier d’or at 129 Saint-Honoré Street (although Nicolas would later sell much of his property due to his financial difficulties and those of his new wife’s family). His mother died in 1580 when he was only four years old; his elder sister, Charlotte and later his step-mother, Marie Auvry raised him thereafter. After his father was sent to prison for failure to pay his debts, Louis and his sister Marie stayed with the Maheuts, on the Quai de la Megisserie. He was a studious child and eventually obtained his apothecary’s diploma as his father had. He began working in his chosen profession as early as 1600, at the age of 25.

Louis married Marie Rollet in 1602 in Paris. They had three children: Anne (1602-1619), Marie-Guillemette (1608-1684) and Guillaume (1614-1639). He purchased a rather decrepid house at Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Rue de la Petite-Seine where they stayed.

Though Louis was by all accounts a good apothecary, he wasn’t fond of city life. He also had a great interest in herbs. He dreamed of a garden, perhaps even a farm far from Paris. He heard of New France from his uncle and was instantly enchanted. He left for the New World almost immediately.

Louis in the New World

Louis made three trips to New France between 1606 and 1617.

He sailed to Port-Royal on the 13th of May 1606 aboard the Jonas with is uncle, the baron of Poutrincourt and his cousin, Charles de Biencourt de Saint-Juste, leaving his wife and children behind in Paris. One account claims that he left them in the care of his father, but as Nicolas died six years earlier, this is unlikely. He returned home eighteen months later because funds were withdrawn for the expedition.

He stayed in Paris for three years after this first, failed trip. He left from Dieppe in Normandy on the 26th of January 1611; the trip took 4 months. He returned to Port-Royal that summer where he hoped to settle. During his time there, he was in charge of food and medication for the struggling colony. He treated sick colonists and natives alike. In the summer of 1613, he and his companions were taken prisoner by the British. In November of the same year Samuel Argall burned the settlement at Port Royal to the ground, and Louis was forced once more to return to Paris.

In 1617, the Canada Company offered Louis a post as the apothecary of Québec. He sold his house and prepared to leave France with his family and brother-in-law Claude. But the company that employed him wasn’t true to its word. By the time he signed the contract, his salary had been reduced by half and he was expected to treat patients for free. Moreover, while the Canada Company permitted him to work the land granted to him he was not allowed to draw any profit from it for two years. During this time the land would remain the property of the company. Even after these two years were up, he would only be allowed to sell his produce to the company. Nor was he permitted to trade with the natives.

I could imagine that Louis was not pleased with this new agreement. But he had already sold all his property and had no choice but to accept. The contract was signed on March 6th 1617 and sailed April 11th on the St Étienne under the command of Captain Normand Morin. They arrived in Québec on July 15th.

Louis Contract with the company

Engagement de Louis Hébert et sa famille à la Compagnie de Canada.

“J’ay, Louis Hébert de Paris recognois et confesse m’estre loué par acte à la Compagnie de Canada pour habiter avec ma famille deux filles et un fils, avec un homme que je mène avec moy nommé Claude Rolet audit pays de Canada et pendan les deux première années travailler à tout ce que me commanderont ceux qui auront charge de ladite Compagnie à Québec, pour le service d’icelle et, lors qu’il ne s’offrira affaire meritant s’y occuper, lesdits commis de Quebec me donneront licence de deffricher, labourer et ameliorer les terres dudit pays, et le provenu de mesdits labeurs et de mes gens, les mettre ès mains de la dite compagnie pendant les deux années, laquelle en pourront disposer comme de chose à elle propre, moyennant qu’elle s’est promise me payer pour tous mes gens et moy, par chacune desdites, la somme de trois cens livres tournois.

Et lesdites deux années passès, ne sera ladite compagnie tenue nourrir ny defraier d’aucune chose moy ny à mes gens et ny donner aucuns loyers, moyennant aussi qu’elle me permet faire tels labeurs qu’aviseray bien estre, soit estre, soit petum, blé d’Inde, jardinage et autre agriculture, dont les provenus seront à ma disposition pour les vendre à la dite compagnie par delà, au mesme prix que telle marchandise pourroit valoir deçà en France, et accorde que je pourray, à peine de confiscation et perte de mes loyers susdits, de traicter ny faire traiter par moy ny par mes gens aucune chose avec les Sauvages ny autres.

Et pour subnenir a mes necessitez, la dite compagnie m’a baillé et advancé la somme de six-vingts escus vallant trois livres tournois dont ladite compagnie court le risque sur le navire de Saint Estienne allant et venant, scavoir trois cents livres que luy avons fourny d’advance, et soixante livres tournois pour le riaque, dont je les quite. En outre Promets assister de tout mon pouvoir des malades qui seront de par delà, gratis, sans salaire.

Faict à Honfleur, le 6 mars 1617.

Signé: Thomas Porée, Louys Hébert, Vermule, Boyer

Life in Québec

Not long after their arrival, on November 23rd 1617, Louis’ eldest daughter, Anne married Normand Étienne Jonquest. Hers was the first French marriage in New France. Unfortunately she died shortly thereafter in childbirth.

After his contract with the Canada Company ended in 1620, Louis was given administrative and judicial powers in the colony and Champlain named him King’s Attorney. On February 4th 1623 he was given possession of the lands he had been working until that day (the fief of Sault au Matelot, the first seigneurie in Canada). On February 28th 1626 he was granted land along the St. Charles River and the title of seigneur of L’Espernay.

In 1626, Louis had a serious fall on a patch of ice and was bedridden for a year. He died on the 23rd of January 1627. (I have come across at least one account of Louis being crushed to death by a tree but while less funny, the ice story seems to be more authoritative). The funeral was conducted by the Recollets of Québec and he was buried in the cemetery of the Saint Charles monastery.

Today Louis Hébert is known as the first farmer of New France. He was also the first Canadian apothecary treating colonists and natives alike. You can find a statue of him and his family in Québec city.

The Héberts currently in Québec are not descendant from Louis. Louis’ son, Guillaume had one son, Joseph. Joseph in turn had only one son who died at a young age, shortly after he was captured, tortured and killed by Iroquois.

My link to Louis Hébert:

1. Louis Hébert (1575-1627) m. Marie Rollet (1580-1649)

2. Marie-Guillemette Hébert (1606-1684) m. Guillaume Couillard (1591-1663)

3. Louis Couillard (1629-1678 ) m. Geneviève Després (1634-1706)

4. Jacques Couillard (1665-1737) m. Elizabeth Lemieux (1739- )

5. Marthe Couillard (1698- ) m. Pierre Bélanger (1692- )

6. Pierre Bélanger (1717-1750) m. Elisabeth Deneau

7. Louise Bélanger (1763-1828) m. François Picard (1768-1831)

8. Jean-Baptiste Picard m. Emerence Morin

9. François Picard (1835-?) m. Cédulie Ruel (1841-?)

10. Samuel Picard (1869-?) m. Josephine Kelly (1873-?)

11. Joseph Picard (1895-1969) m. Marie-Anne Ruel (1906-1936)

(note: the most recent three generations have been omitted for the sake of privacy.)