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.)