Monday, August 27, 2007

Three Acadian Generations

The First Bergeron d’Amboises in The Americas


Richard J. Bergeron

Thursday, August 23, 2007

PART I - The French Connection

Chapter 1: Amboise - The Early Years

Amboise is located on the Loire in the old province of Touraine, just upriver from the city of Tours. It is not a very large town, but it is very old. In 505 or 506 the newly converted Clovis, King of the Franks, met with Alaric, king of the Goths. They met on a small island, near modern Amboise. They had lunch and departed as declared friends. This meeting is remarkable because Clovis was burning with the fires of a convert to Roman Christianity and Alaric just as firmly adhered to Arianism, a belief declared heretical by the Church; Arians did not believe in the equal godhead of the three Persons of the Trinity. The peace between Franks and Goths would not last long.[1]

The Burgundians were another Germanic nation that favored Arianism. They lived along the eastern border of the Frankish lands, in the areas now called Belgium, Luxembourg, the Saar, and Burgundy, and parts of Alsace and Lorraine. Their country was called Burgundy then, and Clovis had already fought many battles with these heretics. The family name of Bergeron seems to have originated in this country, and the ancient family seat was supposedly located there.[2] However, the word “bergeron” means little shepherd, and it is doubtful that a work name like “Shepherd” would start in just one place. Furthermore, it seems that our specific family began in Touraine, around Amboise. If the family originates in a famous medieval family called “d’Amboise,” of which there are indications but which is actually mere conjecture at this time, they took on the name of “Bergeron” later.

Around the late 900s, during the days of the powerful Counts of Anjou, a nobleman named Gelduin, Lord of Saumur, was forced from his chateau on the Loire in a surprise night attack by Foulque Nerra. Gelduin left Saumur, between Angers and Tours and went to a new chateau at Chaumont-sur-Loire, just upriver from Amboise. His son was the first to be named d’Amboise, supposedly after he incorporated the town of Amboise into his estates.[3] The story is only legendary here, because these lands were too close to the powerful Angevin Counts to be held by a relative of Gelduin. The first seigneur of Amboise that we know of was an Angevin loyalist, Lisois I, living about the same time as Gelduin. Lisois’ son married Denise de Chaumont, [4] possibly the daughter or granddaughter of Gelduin, resulting in a long line of the d’Amboise family centered on both Amboise and Chaumont. They were nominally loyal to the Counts of Anjou, one of whom inherited the English throne, became Henry II, and founded the Plantagenet dynasty of that country. It was at Chaumont that Henry II met for the last time with Archbishop Thomas à Becket, who was murdered shortly afterwards in his cathedral at Canterbury. The chateau at Chaumont was razed to the ground not long after that.

But the d’Amboise family persevered. They grew in strength and stature through the ages. They married well, inherited a number of other seigneuries and their chateau. They also rebuilt their original home. At least one of these Lords of Amboise (Seigneurs d’Amboise) died in the battles of the Hundred Years War.[5] The family split in two, one line centered at Amboise, the other at Chaumont. In 1460, seven years after the end of that war, Pierre d’Amboise had a son at this Chateau, whom he named George. In fact, Pierre would have a total of 17 children, more than one of them becoming famous in French history.


[1] Sergeant, Lewis, p.140.

[2] Bergeron Family Paper

[3] See Cook. Also, see Bachrach: Lisois (Lisoius) and Gelduin, on opposite sides of the wars between the Counts of Anjou and Blois, are minor lords but important characters in this story of the Middle Ages.

[4] Balteau et al., DBF, column 525.

[5] Hugues III was killed at Agincourt in 1415. Balteau et al., DBF, column 509. Some internet sources say his father, Jean d’Amdoise died at Crécy in 1346. The dates seem a bit far apart for a father and a son, unless Jean died leaving a pregnant wife behind and Hugues died in battle at the age 69 or 70.


Chapter 2: Medieval Powerhouse: Soldiers, Rebels, and Advisors to Kings

King Louis XI (1461-83) inherited a war-torn country. But he had some remarkable skills (he was called the universal spider because of his web of intrigues) and some good counselors. He trusted in using his wits to change the medieval realm he inherited into the national monarchy that lasted until the French Revolution of 1789. In the process he helped to develop a new merchant class, sheltered the growing bourgeoisie, held his lords in check, and protected the Renaissance in Italy. He was a major shaper of the modern western world.[1]

Needless to say, the nobles did not care for the centralization of power that Louis XI was forging. In 1465 a number of them rebelled “for the good of the people.” Pierre d’Amboise, who had fought for his country with Jeanne d’Arc at Orleans,[2] participated in this rebellion. He should have known better because he knew Louis quite well, having helped him in his intrigues while he was still dauphin (the official heir to the throne of France). After Louis regained control, he took the chateau at Chaumont away from d’Amboise, razed it to the ground, then returned the land to the noble family. This was Louis’s style: summary justice and weakened nobles in one blow.[3]

But the d’Amboise family was powerful enough not to simply accept this. Pierre began rebuilding his chateau the next year, and the work was continued by a son, Charles, and a grandson, Charles II.

Of Pierre d’Amboise’s 17 children, two sons (including Georges) became cardinals in the Catholic Church. Another was an architect and builder. A number of others were counselors to various kings. For being “petite noblesse” or minor aristocracy, this was a very influential family.

By this time, the king owned the lands around the neighboring town of Amboise. He began the planning and building of a great chateau there on a rocky spur of land jutting into the Loire River. It was designed to guard the bridgehead and the little town.

The future King, Charles VIII (1483-98), was born at Amboise in 1470. It was he who built the Chapel of St. Hubert, originally as part of the chateau.

Louis XII (1498-1515) continued building the structure at Amboise, and was responsible for building the Louis XII wing, six large double casements connected by a balcony of ironwork. He invited Leonardo Da Vinci from Italy.

By now Georges d’Amboise, son of Pierre, was Georges, Cardinal d’Amboise. He became one of the most reliable advisors to Louis XII and the king turned over many functions to him. In fact, when people asked the king to do something, he would reply: “Laissez faire à Georges (Let George do it)!”

In 1511, Charles II d’Amboise, finished rebuilding the family chateau at Chaumont-sur-Loire.

Francis I (1515-1547) was another lover of Italian art and culture. He continued work on the great chateau at Amboise. During his reign, Leonardo da Vinci finally did come to live in France; he died at Amboise (at the Clos Lucé manor) as a guest of the king in 1519. He is supposedly buried in the Chapel of St-Hubert.

Later in its existence, the great d’Amboise family had “four main branches” (indicating other, minor, branches?) which were: the family at Amboise itself, those at Chaumont-sur-Loire (Pierre’s and Georges’ family), the famous branch at Bussy and another at Aubijoux. We will shortly revisit the topic of the d’Amboise branches again.

Some time in the early 1500s, after the chateau of Chaumont was completed, the d’Amboise family lost their home for the final time. We do not yet know why, but at the same time all of society was changing and the aristocracy was suffering a number of reversals.

The next century and a half were filled with wars, religious civil wars, and rebellions. While fascinating, the details are too complex to recite here. During the French Wars of Religion, Catholics and Calvinists (the Huguenots or French Protestants) fought each other through eight civil wars from 1561 to 1598.[4] During these terrible times a mass execution was held at the chateau of Amboise (in 1560, after which the royal family rarely used this place again), a horrible massacre occurred on St. Bartholomew’s Night (1572), and the Valois dynasty ended, giving the throne of France to the Bourbon family (1594).[5]

Aside from massive political and religious movements, this period also experienced economic influences the world had never seen before. The influx of gold and silver from the Americas changed everything. Gold helped the rich, of course, but they had always counted their value in the coins of that metal. However, silver was worth a lot less and (literally) mountains of it had reached Europe. For the first time in history, smaller, less valuable silver coins gave common folks the chance to earn (and save!) hard money. Common people with spendable cash caused unbelievable social change: the middle class (called the bourgeoisie in France) was born.[6]

All of this had a grave effect on the aristocracy. Tax structures were changing and peasants were leaving the land for cities, jobs, and a chance to live a better life. The aristocracy was suddenly unable to raise the monies they had once collected. The cost of horses, carriages, good cloth (not the woolens worn by the peasants), the great variety of foods, good wine, and all the necessary servants was tremendous. But between the new economic phenomenon called inflation and their reduced income, it became extremely difficult for the nobles to run the organization of a chateau or a mansion in the manner that was expected. Many of the nobility financed their lifestyle by selling off lands to the new middle class. And the bourgeoisie often loaned money to the aristocracy to help them live in their accustomed ways. That could make things even worse; many noble families went bankrupt.

The rising middle class not only became richer, they grew more powerful. Many merchants and bankers became more influential than many nobles.[12] More than a few of the bourgeoisie were eventually named to the nobility. Two classes of aristocracy came into existence: the old landed nobility and the mercantile nouveau riche. At the same time, more than a few voices began to ask why the nobles were still so privileged when they did nothing but live off the working classes. Molière even made public the contempt, disdain and derision on the stage for everyone to see and enjoy.[8] The status of much of the nobility declined at the same time that of the bourgeoisie increased.[9]

In society at large, wages did not keep up with prices, and there was a great need for relief for the poor. Villages and towns could not afford to care for them, and the Church developed new orders of priests and nuns to administer to the new underclass. Much of the work of George Cardinal d’Amboise, in his position as Archbishop of Rouen, was involved with the relief of the poor. Regrettably, such charitable work made only a small difference.

In 1598 King Henry IV issued the Edict of Nantes, providing for freedom of religious worship within certain limits. It was accepted by both Catholics and Protestants, both sides being worn out. This is important to Acadian history because the earliest settlement and development of that colony was a joint Protestant-Catholic effort.

Samuel Champlain and others developed a colony in Acadia in 1604. This colony had many problems, and Champlain went on four years later to found another “more successful” colony at Quebec, which was called “Canada,” and also “New France.”

The Catholics began the siege of the last major Protestant stronghold, the city of La Rochelle, in 1627. This is the period in which Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers takes place. La Rochelle fell to royal forces the following year. This was the primary seaport from which settlers and military personnel departed for New France and Acadia.

The Fronde, an early French Revolution, took place between 1648 and 1652.[10]


[1] For a complete and captivating biography, see Kendall.

[2] Balteau et al., DBF, column 523.

[3] Balteau et al., DBF, column 524.

[4] See Holt.

[5] This period was part of the life of the Queen/Queen Mother Catherine de Medici. See Knecht.

[6] See Chapter 1 of Weatherford for a complete discussion of the impact of American silver on Europe.

[7] Read Thomas B. Costain’s The Moneyman, a historical novel about Jacques Coeur during the reign of Louis XI.

[8] Read or see Molière’s plays, Tartuffe for example.

[9] See Bitton.

[10] Ranum, Orest. The Fronde: A French Revolution. W. W. Norton & Company (New York) 1993.


Chapter 3: Ancestral Families

This is the world which gave birth to the first Acadian with the name of Bergeron, our ancestor Barthélemy Bergeron d’Amboise.

One of the major genealogists of the Bergeron d’Amboise family was Father Adrien Bergeron, an Acadian from the Nicolet county area on the south bank of the St. Lawrence, across from Trois Rivières, Québec.[1] He published articles and genealogies from the 1960s (perhaps earlier) to the 1980s. It was from his work that the author discovered the basic framework of the early family. The part of that framework that is pertinent to the present discussion is this: Barthélemy Bergeron d’Amboise married Geneviève Serreau de St-Aubin, the daughter of Jean Serreau de St-Aubin and Marguerite Boileau (Boyleau) de la Goupillère. All of these families seem to have been very effected by the history just recounted, i.e., the rise of the bourgeoisie. We will return to Fr. Bergeron and the Bergeron families (there are two of them) in a while, but will first discuss the Serreau and Boyleau families.

Paul Delaney, a Bergeron descendant and an English professor at the Université de Moncton in Moncton, NB, has done extensive research that shows that Geneviève Serreau’s mother, Marguerite Boisleau (Boyleau) was from a family that probably started out as part of the rising bourgeoisie. He has also provided some valuable information and insights concerning the rest of the families.

Jean Serreau de St-Aubin

Jean Serreau, Sieur de Saint-Aubin, originally came from Poitou, France. This is part of the territory once ruled by the great medieval duchess and queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Serreau evidently had extensive lands in France, and was later given a large fief in Acadia. Beyond this, all that the author knows of this ancestor was provided by Paul Delaney. Serreau’s records have not yet been found in the archives, but it seems that is merely a matter of time. Part of the problem was that there were several places in Poitou called St-Aubin.[2] He was a legitimate noble, though of the petite noblesse (the lesser nobility). He evidently carried the rank of “ecuyer” or squire. This was the lowest noble rank.[3] As Paul Delaney reports: “... when hopefully we find him in Poitou, he might well have some interesting ancestry.... We don’t know how ancient his nobility was. He might have been a first generation..., or he might hook up to some ancient families.”[4]

Marguerite Boyleau

Paul Delaney has provided us with a very large set of genealogical data concerning the family and ancestry of Marguerite Boyleau, wife of Jean Serreau and mother of Barthélemy Bergeron’s wife, Geneviève. Counting Marguerite and her sister Marie, Delaney gives us five generations of the Boyleau family (the Roman Numerals are mine):

René Boyleau I (?-c1540), leather merchant, Sieur de la Baste, married Marie Soussac about 1520.[5]

René Boyleau II (born 1 Apr 1545 in Tours), Sieur de la Baste, married Marie Proust (widow of Pierre Fleuriau) on 9 Nov 1572 in Tours. She was the daughter of Louis Proust, Sieur de la Goupillère and Perrine Gascoing.[6]

René Boyleau III (born 1 jan 1574, Tours), Sieur de la Goupillère from Ballan, married Marthe Quantin about 1600 in Tours. She was the daughter of André Quantin, Seigneur de la Ménardière, de Richebourg et du Moulinet and Marguerite Bougreault. (See below for interesting information about Marthe Quantin’s genealogy.)

René Boyleau IV (born 18 Feb 1611 in Tours), Sieur de la Goupillère, married Joachine Ferrant[22] in 1640 in Ballan. She was the daughter of Léonard Ferrand, Sieur de Belesbat, and Jeanne de Portebise.[7]

By the late 17th century the family was in such a state that two daughters of the last-named couple, the sisters Marguerite and Marie, went to New France as Filles du Roi (“Girls/Daughters of the King”), special ladies sent over to the new world by the king for the express purpose of becoming wives to the soldiers already there, settling down and populating the colony. Very few aristocratic women went to New France this way.[8] Marguerite (born c1642), married Jean Serreau de Saint-Aubin; and Marie (born c1645), married Pierre Chauvin, Simon Chamberland, and Jean Jolin.

Paul Delaney’s previously unpublished family tree (as published by Jean-Marie Germe) showed Marguerite and Marie’s grandmother, Marthe Quantin being the daughter of André Quantin and Marguerite Bougrault. Marguerite Bougrault’s mother was Françoise d’Argouges, a member of a family carrying the same name as a very famous family which was originally from around Caen, Normandy. Delaney’s family tree traces back a number of generations beyond Françoise d’Argouges,[9] far enough back to find the d’Argouges family in histories of Normandy.[10] The Norman family can be traced all the way back to Rollo, the Viking chieftain who arranged with the French king at Paris to settle down on lands at the mouth of the Seine. Members of this d’Argouges family later accompanied William the Conqueror to England and helped with the conquest. This looks like a connection to a highly placed noble family, but Delaney cautions us not to connect Marguerite Boyleau’s ancestral d’Argouges and the famous Normans; he was unable to find any connection even though he searched rigorously. He even mentioned a court case in France (discovered by a professional genealogist of Tours that he had hired to do some research) where the d’Argouges in Tours tried to make a claim connecting their family to the Normans, but the French courts denied the claim on the basis that, historically, inheritances in the family had never been of the noble form, so, therefore, the family could not have been nobility or related to nobility. (If the family were noble, the oldest son would inherit the “partage,” two-thirds of everything. The other children divided the remaining third.[11])

Bergeron Family #1

We know for certain of two Bergeron families in the town of Amboise. One of these families provides definite indications of some sort of relationship to the Medieval family. Father Bergeron writes that a Cajun Cousin, one Jacques Bergeron from Louisiana served in France during World War II. While there, he hired “a certain Dame Lubineau of Nantes, an experienced genealogist, ... to retrace among the old registers of Amboise the origins of our family.”[12] He published a listing from Barthélemy’s father back five generations. The table on the next page is compiled from those data[13]:

Name & Birth


Marriage Date

Marriage Place

Known Children & Birth Years





Jean I (1540)

Jean I (1540)

Gabrielle Bardougne



Jean II (1570)

Jean II (1570)

Jeanne Belouche


Notre-Dame de Grève, Amboise

Jean III (1598)

Noël (1601)

Gabrielle (1603)

Marguerite (1607)

Zacharie (1611)


All baptized at Notre Dame de Grève, Amboise

Jean III (1598)

Catherine Douaray



Jean IV (1633)

Louise (1637)

Jacques (1642) [twins?]

Marie (1642) [twins?]

Antoine (1643)

Catherine (1644)

Thomas (1648)

Pierre (1650)

Antoine (1643)

Claudette Scaron


Chapelle-St-Florentin, Amboise

Barthelemy (c1665)

In 1530 we have the first mention of a Bergeron in the town of Amboise. A Joseph Bergeron married a woman named Marie (whose family name we do not know) in that year. Their only child (that we know of) was born about ten years later. He was married in 1570 in Chaumont. This is one of the curious things about this family’s history. The marriage records show each succeeding generation being married in the other town: Jean II in Amboise, Jean III in Chaumont, and Antoine in Amboise. This family definitely seems to have some connections or other reason for going back and forth between the two main centers of the medieval d’Amboise family.

Jean III was born the same year as the Edict of Nantes (1598) to Jean II Bergeron and Jeanne Belouche at Amboise. Their other children were: Noël (b.1601), Gabrielle (b.1603, the year before Samuel de Champlain established his colony in Acadia), Marguerite (b.1607), Zacharie (b.1611), and Sylvie (1617). Father Bergeron mentions that all these children were born and baptized at Notre-Dame de Grève in Amboise.[14]

In 1623 Jean III Bergeron married Catherine Douaray at Chaumont-sur-Loire. They had the following children: Jean IV (b.1633), Louise (b.1637), Jacques (b.1642), Marie (b.1642), Antoine (b.1643) (possibly our ancestor), Catherine (b.1644), Thomas (b.1648), Pierre (b.1650).

Antoine Bergeron was a boy, going from 5 to 9 years old during this troubled time. Twelve years later (1664), he married Claudette Searron (or Scarron) at Chapelle St-Florentin, Amboise.[15] According to unconfirmed sources, they had a son named Barthélemy, who was supposedly born on May 23 of the following year.

Upon analyzing the family of Jean III Bergeron and Catherine Douaray, we see that Antoine, supposedly the father of Barthélemy, was the third son of the family. As was mentioned earlier, in the old system of things, if the family were noble, the first son (in this case, Jean IV) inherited the “partage” (two-thirds of the estate) and the other children divided the remainder. The oldest child may or may not have supported his/her siblings to a greater or lesser degree, or they may have been left to make a living as best they could. These younger children form the pool of educated people which gave the church its priests and nuns. And this is where the vast majority of professional soldiers came from.

The available data do not indicate whether Antoine and Claudette Bergeron’s Barthélemy was the oldest son or not. He was certainly the son of a younger son. Even if Jean IV did support his brothers, by the time Barthélemy was born, there probably were far too few family resources available to support him. And so he joined the Troupes de la Marine,[16] which assigned his unit to New France.

Now, all this is if this is truly our Barthélemy Bergeron. Paul Delaney indicates that this family may not even have had a son named Barthelemy; he mentions the possibility that Dame Lubineau of Nantes or Joseph Bergeron of Louisiana saw this Bergeron family and, simply assuming that it had to be the right one, assigned our ancestor to it. He wrote: “This Bergeron is well-known, and I found some material on it, and there was no mention of a son Barthélemy. Nor does Father Bergeron provide any birth or baptismal record, or other documentation to show that his family did indeed have a son Barthélemy. So that I think that the one whose baptismal record M Germe found was very probably the one and only person of this name, and our ancestor."[17]

Bergeron Family #2

Even though Father Bergeron published the data provided by Dame Lubineau of Nantes, he admitted that it was uncertain whether that Barthélemy was our ancestor. The problem was the fact that “she has not yet succeeded in discovering the baptismal certificate of Barthélemy: which forces us for the moment to consider ‘this French part’ of our genealogy as only ‘hypothetical,’ though endowed with strong probability."[18]

That strong probability had been reduced to zero. A genealogical researcher in France by the name of Jean-Marie Germe has actually found a baptismal certificate for Barthélemy Bergeron d’Amboise,[19] who was baptized at Saint Denis church in Amboise on May 23, 1663. He was the son of René Bergeron and Anne Dagault and his godparents were Barthélemy Bertail and Gabrielle Saicher.[20] Regrettably, that is almost all we know of this family.

So now, except if Dame Lubineau’s family never had a son named Barthélemy as Delaney suspects, we have a problem: two Bergeron families from the same town with sons named Barthélemy born within a couple years of each other. And here is an interesting coincidence that may well support Delaney’s supposition: The date provisionally provided for Barthélemy’s birth into Dame Lubineau’s Bergerons is 23 May 1665 while the baptismal date discovered by Germe is 23 May 1663. What is the probability of two babies named Barthélemy being born into Bergeron families in the same town and having meaningful “dates of origin” of 23 May?

We do not know how, or even if, the two families were related to each other. And we do not know which, if either, were related to the medieval d’Amboise family. As cousin Joe Damboise of New Hampshire wrote to the author: “How do we know that the Barthélemy, son of René and Anne Dagault, is one and the same as the Barthélemy who married Genevieve Serreau? How did past genealogists come up with Antoine Bergeron and Claudette Scarron as Barthélemy’s parents? Maybe Antoine and René were brothers or cousins who each had sons named Barthélemy. I wonder.”

We know Antoine’s siblings (see above), so unless the data are incomplete, Antoine and René were not brothers. However, Antoine had two uncles that we know of, Noël and Zacharie. As Joe suggested, one of them may have had a son René, making him Antoine’s cousin. Needless to say we need considerably more work here. I tried to find more information about René Bergeron and Anne Dagault by asking (over the internet) a volunteer researcher in France to try to find a marriage certificate. She could find nothing in Amboise and was quite surprised by that result.

There may be another place to search. In the early 1700s when a different Michel Bergeron showed up in Port Royal, Acadia, Barthélemy’s son Michel took the name of “de Nantes” because he had a grandmother from that city. We know, from the work of Paul Delaney, that Michel’s other grandmother, Marguerite Boyleau, was from Tours and her family had been there for about four generations. The only grandmother who could have come from Nantes would have to be Anne Dagault. Her wedding to René Bergeron could very well have occurred in the home town of the bride. The author hopes to find somebody to follow that trail in the near future.

Again, keep in mind that, as Paul Delaney points out, the family listed in Father Bergeron’s works are quite upper class and carried the designation of “Sieur de la Goupillère” (NOT the same Goupillère as the Boyleau family).[22] They probably were not aristocracy, but they were certainly upper class bourgeoisie.[23] And there is no indication whatsoever that the family found by Germe has the same status; it does not have the documentation in the archives to support any claim to the same social position.


[1] This is the area where the author’s grandfather came from: Jules Bergeron was born in St-Grégoire and grew up in Ste-Eulalie.

[2] Paul Delaney, personal e-mail correspondence with the author, 11 Mar 2005.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Paul Delaney, personal e-mail correspondence with the author, 13 Mar 2005.

[5] This list is compiled from Germe, AGCF01, pp.20-21.

[6] Delaney, AGCF98b, p.12. The families of all the wives in this list was taken from this source.

[7] Delaney, AGCF98a, p.11. This article shows that her last name was Ferrand, not Serrant as claimed by Father Archange Godbout and René Jetté. Jean-Marie Germe of the AGCF helped with the research.

[8] Paul Delaney writes: “ line that is definitely of ancient nobility, though of the ‘petite noblesse’ of the provinces, rather than of one of the great and powerful families of Paris and Versailles, was the de Portebise. There was only one family of this name in France, and so our ancestor Jeanne de Portebise must belong to it. This family had been noble for many generations and married into families of the same ilk. I have found 2 or 3 girls of that name who might be the right one, but I cannot get any further as I cannot find her marriage to Léonard Ferrand or any records that identify her. Her signature, found on several documents, is beautiful; but the documents say nothing of her origins. I have done a lot of research trying to find her in cities in France like Paris, Tours and Angers, but no luck so fat.” [Paul Delaney, personal correspondence by e-mail with the author, 13 Mar 2005.]

[9] Therriault.

[10] Germe, AGCF01, pp. 20-21.

[11] There is a famous seven-volume series of historical novels written by Pierre Naudin concerning this family called the Cycle of Ogier d’Argouges. Regrettably, it has not yet been published in English. The titles are: Les lions diffamés, Le Granit et le feu, Les Fleurs d’acier, La Fête écarlate, Les Noces de fer, Le Jour des Reines, and L’Epervier de feu.

[12] This case and these rules of inheritance were provided to me by Paul Delaney, via private e-mail correspondence, 14 Mar 2005. If the noble family had no sons, the oldest daughter inherited the partage. Non-noble families generally divided the estate equally among all the children.

[13] Bergeron, LGA, p. I-254.

[14] Bergeron, LGA, p. I-263-64.

[15] Bergeron, LGA, p.I-263.

[16] Bergeron, LGA, p. 263.

[17] Originally troops stationed on French ships, thus “Troupes de la Marine” or “Troops of the Navy.” Later they became the troops sent out to protect the colonies.

[18] Paul Delaney, private e-mail correspondence, 10 Mar 2005.

[19] Bergeron, LGA, p.254.

[20] Germe, AGCF98c, p. 13 (which has a photocopy of the baptismal certificate), and AGCF99, p. 3.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Paul Delaney, private e-mail correspondence, 10 Mar 2005.

[23] Paul Delaney, private e-mail correspondence, 11 Mar 2005.


Chapter 4: The Question of Aristocracy

Some mystery still remains about the double surname of Barthélemy Bergeron d’Amboise. The enigma is not about the names themselves - the second name (d’Amboise) can be easily explained as locational. But if it IS a locational name, and Barthélemy was a commoner, there is the puzzling events of Barthélemy having the friends that he had and receiving the deferential treatment that he did in New France and Acadia.

There could be four reasons for his name: (a) Barthélemy was truly a descendant of the medieval d’Amboise family, (b) he used “d’Amboise” as a locational amplification (but see below), (c) he actually did use a “dit"[1] name (again, see below), or (d) he deliberately tried to amplify his social status in New France by using the medieval family’s name to good advantage. Of course, we can not know all his motivations with any certainty, but from many indications of his personality (which we will see later in this paper) Barthélemy seems to have been much too honorable a person for the fourth possibility to be true. But this is the author’s conjecture (bias?).

Furthermore, we can not know whether points two and three were true or not without completely proving point one. The following are some arguments in favor of the first point, which, in some respects, seem to be overwhelming.

There are a number of facts which logically indicate that Barthélemy’s family was descended from the medieval d’Amboises, or at least from some aristocratic family. Consider the following points (most of which we will meet again later in this biography):

· For most of his life, Barthélemy was known as d’Amboise, not Bergeron, and there is no instance in any document of those times that the common “dit” was used between his surnames.[2] Especially during his early years in America, very rarely was he even called by the name of Bergeron. The educated people of that time would have known their history, known of the d’Amboise family, and probably not have used this form of address if he were not truly from that family. Furthermore, “if you had such very exalted ancestry, even of the wrong side of the blanket, you let people know, as it gave you status, exempted you from certain taxes, and offered the possibility of many government appointments that were not offered to lesser mortals."[3] It seems to the author that this is very close to what happened with Barthélemy Bergeron d’Amboise, as illustrated in the remainder of this list.
(By the way, a considerable part of the “Bergeron family” from Acadia
today carries the name of d’Amboise, with various spellings and anglicizations, instead of Bergeron.)

· Furthermore, Barthélemy was certainly treated with all the deference of aristocracy. (And it is very interesting that just when history seems to lose the d’Amboise family, genealogy has found the Bergeron family, especially if we come from the Antoine Bergeron line.)

· As mentioned earlier, the great d’Amboise family had four main branches: the family at Amboise itself, those at Chaumont-sur-Loire, the famous branch at Bussy and another at Aubijoux. Now, consider this: “by a curious tradition the members of these branches were referred to, not as d’Amboise de Bussy, etc., but as Bussy d’Amboise."[4] The idea that the “Bergeron d’Amboise” family might have been a minor offshoot of the great medieval family, carrying the same “curious” nominal construction, does not seem terribly far-fetched (though we still have no firm basis for such an assumption).
Another possibility was brought to mind by Paul Delaney’s comment concerning people “being on the wrong side of the blanket.” Barthélemy’s family (that of René Bergeron) may have been on the wrong side of the blanket as related to the other, higher class Bergeron family (the one found by Dame Lubineau). Paul wrote: “Of course, there may be a link between the two Bergeron families and a common origin in the past, but we have not found anything on this yet. I have concentrated my research on the Boyleau line."[5]

· In Canada, most of Barthélemy’s best friends were young noblemen, including a cousin of D’Iberville, one of the ten sons of Pierre Le Moyne (seven of whom died for their country). In fact, Barthélemy was one of about twenty young men that D’Iberville would keep close to him as special troops or companions.

· Barthélemy seems to have flaunted the king’s law that all young men newly arrived in the colonies had to marry within a year. He did not get married for ten years.

· When he did get married, he married Geneviève Serreau de Saint-Aubin, the daughter of a legitimately landed noble. We have already examined the status of the Sieur de St. Aubin and his wife, Marguerite Boyleau, had a lineage that can be traced back for centuries.[6]

· When he was captured by the English in 1692, Barthélemy was ransomed by Villebon, the governor of Acadia.

All these are strong indications that this founder of the Acadian Bergeron family was himself at least a nobleman of some degree. As a matter of fact, when I once talked about this to the renowned professor Bernard Bachrach, with whom I had studied Medieval History at the University of Minnesota, I mentioned that I thought Barthélemy Bergeron d’Amboise might have been petty nobility. Professor Bachrach warned me that the d’Amboise name may have been merely a locational name and not an indicator of anything else. When I enumerated just three of the items in the above list, he replied: “All right, then, you may be making a valid assumption.” No proof, but a valid assumption.

Father Adrien Bergeron, our own family’s genealogist and historian, wrote: “we can conclude that he [Barthélemy] was of the number of those ‘sons of completely bankrupted and titled families, who position themselves to work on this side of the ocean, in the hope of making a career...’"[7] In fact he specifically asked if Barthélemy might have belonged to the d’Amboise family.[8] Even so, there is no proven connection between us and the famous, powerful French family of cardinals, architects and royal advisors, and the possibility of such a connection needs considerably more research.

So, it is possible (but only possible!) that both sides of the Bergeron d’Amboise-Serreau de Saint-Aubin family in Acadia were from famous families who had fallen on hard times, and whose children went looking for a better life in a completely different world. It is likely that both sides were not from famous families, but were local minor aristocrats or bourgeoisie families raised to the minor aristocracy. Remember that this was a period when many noble and notable families were being ruined by the high cost of maintaining their lifestyle, inflation, and the competing new merchant class (the bourgeoisie). Many of their sons and daughters were forced to look for a new life in the Americas. These included the following famous families of Acadia as well: Serreau de Saint-Aubin, Deschamps de Boishébert, the sons and brothers of the Denys de La Ronde family (including de Bonaventure, de la Trinité, de Saint-Pierre and du Tartre), and Abbadie, the barons de St.-Castin.

[1] “dit” comes from the French word for “he said,” “he called” or “called.” In this case it is best translated as “called.” Barthélemy’s son Michel used this form when there was confusion with another Michel Bergeron, and he became known as Michel dit de Nantes, or Michel, called “from Nantes.” “Dit” is pronounced “dee,” not “ditt” as I have often heard anglophones say.

[2] Bergeron, SGCF69c, p. 169f. The “dit” seems to be used only recently by people convinced that Barthélemy’s name followed a widespread usage in New France. It did not.

[3] Paul Delaney, personal e-mail correspondence, 11 Mar 2005.

[4] Brodrick, p. 13.

[5] Paul Delaney, personal e-mail correspondence, 10 Mar 2005.

[6] Germe, AGCF01, p.20-21.

[7] Bergeron, SGCF69c, p. 168.

[8] Bergeron, SGCF69c, p. 169: «Barthélemy Bergeron D’Amboise appartiendrait-il a la FAMILLE D”AMBOISE, déchue de sa grandeur sociale depuis les approches de la Grande Révolution, mais encore nombreuse et fort diversifiée

PART II - The Years in New France (Quebec)

New France beckoned. The famous Carignan-Salières Regiment may have marched close to Amboise when it traveled across France from Lorraine to the Atlantic seaport from which it set sail. The soldiers of this regiment were to go down in history as some of the toughest fighters in the colonial wars against the English and the Iroquois. (By the way, some of us who come from Bergeron families of the Nicolet/Saint Grégoire/Saint Eulalie area have another ancestor, Charles Martel, who served in this regiment.)

But now, the soldiers of the Carignan-Salières were getting older, had married and were raising families. The king needed new soldiers in Canada.

Chapter 5: Barthélémy in the Troupes de la Marine

In 1622, while advisor to Marie de Medici, the queen mother, and before he ever became a cardinal or the famous advisor to Louis XIII,[1] Richelieu created the first of the Compagnies franches de la Marine to serve on board warships.[2] They were also used to guard French seaports. For this reason, they were later placed under the new “Navy department” of the day, the Département de la Marine, when it was created. The soldiers were known as “troupes de la Marine.” The same department was given responsibility for the French overseas territories, and in 1674 it started to create companies of troops for colonial service. These were also called Compagnies franches de la Marine[3] (Independent Companies of the Marine). Being under the Marine Department, they are not listed in the archives of the French Army. They were “free companies” in that they were not by battalions or regiments.[4] This permitted the ability for rapid movement of small military units and the assignment of such small units to duties not requiring large numbers of troops.

In the late 1600s and early 1700s, these soldiers were effectively the only permanent infantry troops in Canada. They were like the regular army of the colony, acting as garrisons for cities, forts and distant fur depots. They began arriving in New France in 1683. The Department of the Marine sent three Compagnies franches to protect the fur trade and the colonial inhabitants. The only other troops in the colony were colonial militia made up of men between the ages of 16 and 60. These two forces, the militia and the Compagnies franches, were practically the only military units in the colony until 1755,[5] when the regular army under Montcalm showed up.

We do not know at what age Barthelemy Bergeron d’Amboise joined the Compagnies franches de la Marine, but he arrived in New France with them when he was 21 years old. Recruits had to be 16 years or more of age and a minimum height of five feet, five inches. Most members of the Compagnies franches came from the northern and coastal areas of France,[6] though recruiters did get inland to places like Gascony and, obviously, Touraine.[7] Recruits signed on for a period of six years, after which they could return to France or settle down in New France.[8] They were guaranteed some amount of pay and daily rations (one and a half pounds of bread, a quarter pound of “lard” - salt pork - and dried peas). On religious days of abstinence, they got fish and vegetables instead of lard. The troops were provided a pound of tobacco per month.[9] Once in a while fresh beef was available, and at established forts the produce of vegetable gardens was also available. Wild game and fish were often the major items to relieve the monotony of standard rations.[10] If recruiters then were anything like today’s (could they be much different?) the youths were promised travel (which was otherwise difficult to afford), adventure, and the benefits of wearing the uniform (i.e., glory and the attention of young women). The problem in New France, however, was that there were so few young women that the king himself had to ship some females to the colony just to provide wives.

The pay of the common soldier was not much, but more than we might have guessed: a little under 10 livres per month - after taking out deductions for for various rations and (replacement?) clothing. Soldiers who were stationed at military posts and who performed extra work such as building fortifications or trenches, were paid extra for their labor.[11]

Each soldier received a new uniform every other year.[12] This uniform “consisted of a justaucorps of gray-white woolen cloth, lined with blue revesche (a type of wool?) and furnished with pewter buttons, blue trousers of serge of Aumale lined with linen, stockings of the same serge, white garters, buckled shoes, a jacket, a tie, a black hat bordered with a braid of silver, a belt for a sword...”.[13] The justeaucorps was a long skirted coat with large cuffs. The corners of its tails were folded back and buttoned together.[14] This undoubtedly kept the tails out of the way when trying to maneuver, but permitted more protection in cold weather when unbuttoned and allowed to wrap around the legs a bit more. To protect them from the cold winters, the soldiers wore a grey-white cloth coat, moccasins, and Amerindian clothing, which was better adapted to Canada's harsh winters.[15] Hamilton mentions that they were either issued watch coats or makeshift blanket-coats were accepted.[16]

Barthélémy Bergeron d’Amboise came to New France as a member of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine. In five companies of 60 men each, these soldiers embarked on the ship Emérillon on August 13, 1684,[17] departing from La Rochelle, France.[18] They arrived in Quebec City, at the end of September[19] or, according to another source, more specifically on November 12.[20] “The ‘Soldiers of the Marine’, were under the command of Montortier, Denos and du Rivau. These captains were of the ‘Regular Army’ and returned to France as soon as possible to fight the enemies of France in Europe.[21] Father Bergeron also mentions the first two of these officers,[22] so it is certain that both sources were describing the same contingent of troops.

It had been a rough voyage. Dr. J. C. Poissant, in his book, The Genealogy of the Poissant Family, wrote: “It was a late date considering the season and the size of the ship, also the storms of the Equinox made for a dangerous trip for sailboats. These small boats, comparable to sea shells, were like toys for the wind and the ocean. Often it would take two or three months to make the trip, whereas, today you can cross the Atlantic in a matter of a few days.[23]

Barthelemy and his comrades arrived too late in the year to do any fighting. Very few military maneuvers ever took place during the winter. Thus, from October until May, the troops were put up in the homes of local people (the “habitants”) and at seigneuries. There were a number of arrangements that could be made. Sometimes inhabitants provided the necessary tools and utensils to his soldier, and was permitted to have him cut wood, uproot stumps, clear land, or beat wheat in the barns. This was hard labor! In return, the soldier received ten sous per day, in addition to his food.[24]

If a soldier already had a good trade, he was permitted to go out into the population and practice it. In this manner, the colony gained the benefit of his trade as well as his protection as a soldier. By providing the necessary furlough for the soldier to perform such work, his captain got to keep the income from that soldier’s pay as a tradesman.[25]

Some of troops were permitted to go out into the public to find a little better residence for himself, in which case “the Captain of the company (required) his soldiers to give up half of their pay....”[26]

Barthélémy was twenty-one years old when he arrived in New France. By title he was simply a volunteer-of-the-Marine,[27] a common soldier, but his social station or something else would provide a much better life for him than the vast majority of soldiers had at the time. He did not live with any of the habitant farmers nor did he lose any of his pay to the Captain.[28] He lodged at the home of Pierre Lezeau, who was to become a very good friend during this period of his life.

It seems that Pierre Lezeau was a “boat-master,” whose name has appeared in the records “in all imaginable variations from Layzeau to Loiseau” (and Father Bergeron himself used “Loyseau” in his “Barthélémy Bergeron: heros meconnu”), was Barthelemy’s best friend during his long winters in Quebec City.[29] We have no idea how they met.

Pierre Lezeau seems to have had a considerable maritime trade. This trade network was based out of his “family establishment” in the Lower-City of Quebec City. Father Bergeron also mentions that numerous censuses and documents of the Sovereign Council of New-France provide proofs of Lezeau’s business location.[30] We shall meet up with Pierre Lezeau again, in Barthelemy’s 1690 last will and testament.

So we know that Barthelemy lived in a private home of a friend in Quebec’s Lower-City shortly afer he arrived in New France. But he did not simply sit around enjoying himself that winter, though we will see later that he certainly had the means to do so. A document found in the Canadian archives, dated November 5, 1684, shows that he entered into a contract to be a baker! Barthelemy and another friend, Guillaume Dupont, both bearing the title of “bakers", became proprietor-associates, with a real master pastrycook by the name of Julien Boissy dit Lagrillade,[31] who had arrived in Canada some years earlier. It seems certain their pastry trade was situated on the ‘rue Lamontagne’, in the direction of the Lower-City.”[32] The deal was to last for only five months, until the beginning of the next soldiering season. Barthélémy entered into this contract, which all three men signed, with the proviso that if he was required to leave in order to serve the King or for any other such valid reason, he would still be considered as much a partner as if he had not left at all.[33]

What a shrewd businessman; he couldn’t lose!


[1] De Castries, p.186.

[2] NavRes.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Hamilton, p.1.

[5] NavRes.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Lépine.

[9] NavRes.

[10] Hamilton
, p.13.

[11] Ibid, p.14. Murdoch also mentions this in a number of places.

[12] NavRes.

[13] Canadian Historical Association, 1926: pp. 49 and 50, quoted in Bergeron, SGCF69d, p.205.

[14] Hamilton
, p.5.

[15] NavRes.

[16] Hamilton
, p.5.

[17] Bergeron, SGCF69d p. 205.

[18] Metevia. Poissant mentions that the Émerillon departed from La Rochelle “at the end of August”.

[19] Bergeron, SGCF69d p. 205.

[20] Metevia.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p. 205.

[23] Poissant.

[24] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p. 207.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Bergeron, SGCF01, p. 158.

[28] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p. 207.

[29] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p. 213. Lezeau (the son of Pierre and Jeanne Rivaland) was born in Grezac, Xaintes diocese, France. He married Geneviève Le Maître (daughter of Paschal and Louise Duval) in Quebec on 24 Oct. 1678.

[30] Ibid. pp. 213-214. Bergeron refers us to “numerous ‘notarial engagements’” as proof of the extent of Lezeau’s business.

[31] As the actual contract reads: “julien Boissy dit Lagrillade of this country And a pastrycook by trade, guillaume dupont a baker And Barthélémy bergeron also a baker.” Bergeron SGCF69d, p. 202.

[32] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p. 207.

[33] In translation: “if it happened (that he) was obliged to leave from this city for some time or occasion that this would be, either for the Service of the King or otherwise, He will be just as much of The said company as if he is not absent at all...”


Chapter 6: The Hudson Bay Expedition

Governor de La Barre returned to Quebec in the autumn of 1684 after a disastrous campaign against the Iroquois. Reinforcements, the Troops of the Marine had arrived, but too late to participate in that year’s military action. Yet they must have had some effect: it was almost a full year before Canada heard anything of the Iroquois again.[1]

The commanding officers of these Troops of the Marine brought to Canada with them a letter from the king. According to this letter, these captains and their troops had been ordered to operate independently of De La Barre, and not be part of his forces.

The letter also shows that the King of France was much more anxious about his wars in Europe than the immediate needs of the colonies. In response to the entreaties of the Governor, the King replied: “I have seen what you wrote to me on the subject of the communication by ground between Canada and Acadia. Nothing would be better and more useful for the growth of the two colonies than to make the path from one to the other easy, so that the residents of Canada might help Acadia with their commodities and that those of Acadia carrying their fish to Canada, they could mutually help each other. But I can not consent to make this expense of 25 to 30.000 livres ... as you proposed. Therefore, it is necessary that you seek other expedients (think of that!) and it is to that you have to think...”[2]

This from the king who, at the same time, spent millions to wage war in Europe and elsewhere![3]

Almost in the same breath, the king added: “I recommend you prevent as much as it will be possible that the English are not established in the Hudson Bay which was taken possession in my name several years ago....”[4]

There was a French fur-trading company in Canada at that time called the Company of the North. Their profits pretty much depended on being the sole fur traders of the area, and an English organization (later called the Hudson Bay Company) was moving in. The men who ran the Company of the North now saw no chance to get either money or men from their king. They would have to do the best they could on their own. They asked Denonville, governor general of Canada, for some soldiers and an officer to command them. Denonville gave them 24 men, and assigned the chevalier de Troyes as commander. Furthermore, three sons of the Le Moynes (the greatest family in Canada) volunteered to go along: de Ste-Héléne, d’Iberville, and de Maricourt.[5] The fact that their father was a director of the Compagnie du Nord certainly helped them be accepted.[6] It is certain that John de Méra, Pierre Viaux and Barthélémy Bergeron also took part in this expedition; we have the documented proof in the court records of 1685 where these three were awarded money from “three notes signed by d’Hiberville.[7]

Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, is one of the most important figures of Canadian history, and certainly of French Canadian history. He was born near Montréal in 1661. He became the most famous of the fourteen children of Charles Le Moyne, baron of Longueuil and Châteauguay, and lieutenant-general of Canada (a very high position, second only to the commander of the national armed forces).

D’Iberville is of special interest to us. He started as the second lieutenant of the Hudson Bay expedition under the chevalier de Troyes, later became a frigate captain, a knight of Saint-Louis, the discoverer of the mouths of the Mississippi, the founder of Louisiana, and the commander of a naval squadron. He served in an incomparable and sustained manner through ten military campaigns and two voyages of discovery and foundation.[8] For at least ten years Barthélémy would be attached to D’Iberville as one of his special troops, and participate in the adventures of the most illustrious of Canada's leaders.[9] Throughout this period Barthélémy remained unmarried, and never settled down to establish a residence in Canada.

An important court judgment of the Sovereign Council of 1689, showed Barthélémy Bergeron connected very closely to Jean de Méra and especially to Pierre Viaux.[10] Viaux was a cousin of de Maricourt and D’Iberville,[11] so it only follows that he and his best friends would serve directly under one of them. Fr. Bergeron writes: “It is entirely plausible, not to say more, that it is through this Pierre Viaux that Bergeron and de Méra came to be put under the direct command of d’Iberville.”[12] D’Iberville chose his close associates, and kept 18 or 20 special soldiers and our ancestor was one of them. This connection between Barthélémy and D’Iberville not only took him into some major military actions, it was directly responsible for him eventually winding up in Acadia.

The chevalier de Troyes kept a journal of the Hudson Bay expedition of 1686.[13] From Montréal one could get to James Bay (on Hudson Bay) by canoe, by following the courses of lakes and rivers. It was a rough trip for individual men in good physical condition, let alone a troop of a hundred men. The expedition lasted four months, through the snow and the mud, through numerous Masses celebrated for them all by Father Sylvie.

On the “day of Easter, we made our devotions in a high mass that was chanted with all the solemnity that the times and place were able to permit,” wrote the Chevalier de Troyes. After vespers there was a “big north wind! I made a review of all my detachment, of which I made three brigades composed each of three squads... and left one third under the orders of the Sieur D’Iberville...”[14]

On the “day of Easter, we made our devotions in a high mass that was chanted with all the solemnity that the times and place were able to permit,” wrote the Chevalier de Troyes. After vespers there was a “big north wind! I made a review of all my detachment, of which I made three brigades composed each of three squads... and left one third under the orders of the Sieur D’Iberville...”[15]

The men were well equipped. After 85 days of exhaustion and extreme ardship, they arrived at Moose Fort (today Moose Factory)[16] and completely surprised the English. They took all three major trading posts and several small houses for the fur trade on James Bay. This left the English with only Fort Nelson, considerably farther north on Hudson Bay.[17]

The Deliberations of the Sovereign Council of New-France indicate that Barthélémy stayed in the North with d’Iberville from 1686 to 1689, part of the crew left behind to guard the posts when D’Iberville made some brief trips to Quebec or even to France.[18]

When de Troyes left the north in August of 1686, he left d’Iberville in charge of the captured posts. In September , 1688, a couple of English ships blockaded one of the posts and got frozen in the ice through the winter. Both sides were ruthless n their treatment of the other, but d’Iberville made a name for himself notorious by refusing to let the English go out hunting for food without harassment, evidently knowing that the resulting scurvy would decimate the English crews. Then, when the disease was epidemic, d’Iberville invited the English surgeon to go hunting; then when the man had left the protection of his ship, the French commander took him prisoner. The English lost 28 men over the winter, 25 of them to scurvy, and had to surrender. D’Iberville (and evidently his favorite companions) returned to Quebec on October 28, 1689, loaded down with English prisoners, booty and prize furs.[19] The Canadian leader got the credit for the great success of keeping the English out of James Bay. Furthermore, in less than three years, he provided all the evidences anyone would need afterwards of his of organizational and leadership abilities.[20]

Upon returning from the north, Barthélémy settled down to wait for the next assignment. He again lived with his friend, Pierre Lezeau.[21] Lezeau (Loyseau) was a “boat-master” and well- known merchant.[22] He seems to have had a considerable maritime trade and used his family establishment (located in the Low-City of the old capital) as a base of operations.[23] This may have been where Barthélémy got his first taste of being a sailor-merchant, a trade he would use for most of his life. The ruthlessness of the Hudson Bay campaign may have put the idea in his head to leave soldiering and go on to something else. We really do not know what was in his mind at this time. But the next campaign would be even more ruthless than Hudson Bay, and the opportunity to do something else still had to present itself.


[1] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p. 205-206.

[2] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p. 206.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] DCB, Vol. 2, p. 390.

[7] Ibid., p.215. “Viaux” is the spelling provided by Fr. Bergeron. However, in Caron’s version of de Troyes’ journal, Appendix K, p.120, his name is spelled “Vaux.” It mentions there that he was a cousin of d’Iberville and de Maricourt.

[8] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p. 210.

[9] Fr. Bergeron mentions that there is documented evidence that Barthélémy went on de Troyes’ Hudson Bay expedition of 1685 ( 3rd vol. of the Judgements... of the Sovereign Council of New France, p. 375), that he went on the expedition against Corlaer (Schenectady) in 1690 (his last will and testament sworn to before Gilles Rageot, royal notary), and finally that “our Barthélémy came to end up in the fifth campaign of D’Iberville in Acadia, the year 1696. This was the campaign of Pemaquid....” (Bergeron SGCF69c, p. 169). This covers a span of more than ten years. This paper will later show proof of Barthélémy being with Baptiste in the Bay of Fundy in June, 1695.

[10] Bergeron, SGCF69c, p.167.

[11] Caron, p. 120.

[12] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p. 208.

13] See Kenyon & Turnbull for an English translation of de Troyes’ journal; Caron for the original French. Kenyon & Turnbull have numerous other accounts of these events, even a few from the English side. Caron is complete with appendices.

[14] Bergeron, SGCF69c, p.167.

[15] Bergeron, SGCF69c, p.167.

[15] DCB, p.391.

[17] Bergeron, SGCF69c, p.159.

[18] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p.215. He seems to be quoting Père Louis Le Jeune, o.m.i., Le chevalier Le Moyne, sieur d’Iberville, Editions de l'Université d'Ottawa (1937), p.141 for this information.

[19] DCB, p.392.

[20] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p.215.

[21] We know this from the text of his last will and testament of 1690, which will be presented later in its entirety.

[22] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p. 207.

[23] Ibid. pp.213-14.


Chapter 7: Horror at Schenectady

A new war had been declared, and the English colonies received the news before New France. At dawn of August 5, 1689, the Iroquois, sent by the British, fell upon the small settlement of Lachine, near Montréal. The settlers were awaken by war cries. Many were hacked down in their homes. Others were killed as they tried to escape. Others were captured. Of the 77 houses in the town, 56 were burned down. The Iroquois warriors departed early enough to get away, but late enough so their campfires that night could be seen across the lake. It seems that they slowly burned a few captives to death that night to celebrate their victory. Men, women, and children (including babies) had all been killed.

This was the beginning of an eleven-year-long war. The governor general quickly devised plans for revenge. There would be a three-pronged attack on the English colonies, two into Massachusetts and Maine, and a third into New York. They planned the attacks to show the English what the results of such Iroquois raids would be.

D’Iberville was doing nothing at the time, so he volunteered to go along on the New York expedition. There can be no doubt that his selected men accompanied him. We know that Barthélémy began to prepare for another military operation because we have the “last will and testament” that he registered before leaving for battle. It provides some great insight as to his social status. Fr. Bergeron provides two different documents sworn to at this time. In Le Grand Arrangement des Acadiens au Québec (1981) we find the following will:

"BEFORE GILLES RAGEOT “gardenottes” notary of the King... In the pre­vosté [a region under the notary’s jurisdiction] of quebecq In new France was present in person Barthélémy Bergeron VOLUNTEER residing in this city Being on his departure for the journey to the English, present in good health of body of the (flawless)? memory and understanding having good and firm inten­tion as (well) he appeared to the said notary for the inspection of his person words acts And bearing And other following outward actions accompanied by reason and good judgment which said that he being ready to make a very risky journey to go to the English and not being certain of being able to return con­sidering that nothing is more certain than death and nothing more uncertain than the hour of it not wanting that to be reached before having provided for the salvation of his soul and for his temporal affairs not wanting to live intestate but while his senses and reason are in him and he is in good health by the grace of god, his good pleasure and will has dictated and named to the said notary in the presence of the witnesses hereinafter named his testament and order of last will that follows at present as a good Christian and Catholic has to have regis­tered and recommended his soul to god the Creator father son and holy spirit, to the glorious virgin Mary to St. Michael angel and archangel to his good guard­ian angel to st Bartholemew his patron and to all the saints of paradise;

Item given to Pierre Lezeau boat-master living in the said city the sum of three hundred livres for the good friendship that he has for him —

Item given in alms to the poor of the general hospital of this city another sum of three hundred livres to accept and to receive from the said pierre Lezeau from the sum of eleven hundred fifty livres that he has in his hands belonging to the aforesaid testator following The will that he admitted this Day before the said notary, And The surplus up to the said sum of eleven hundred fifty livres which is five hundred fifty livres the said testator gives and leaves behind to pray to God for The Repose of his soul after his death.

And to execute and account for the present testament The said charges dona­tions And alms The said testator has Appointed And Chosen The said Pierre Lezeau whom He gives to be able to do this, The present testament to increase and not to reduce so much in Use of prayers that otherwise in this way that he will judge at the right time, of this he will enable to happen to the said testator of his said journey desiring that the present testament might be executed And it might have its full and entire effect in being his last will this was in this way dictated... to him read And re-read and that he has said to have Understood and Heard in the office of the said notary... ”[1]

According to Fr. Bergeron’s article in the Mémoires de la Société Généalogique Canadien- Française (Jul-Aug-Sept 1969) the following was also sworn to:

"BEFORE GILLES RAGEOT Royal Notary was present in person Pierre Lezeau boat-master residing in this city (of Quebec) Who voluntarily has acknowledged And confessed to have Had And received of Barthélémy Berg­eron volunteer residing in this said city the sum of eleven hundred fifty livres {“pounds,” French money} in silver Money that the aforementioned Loiseau has admitted to have In his hands And who to him has been [re?]leased by the aforesaid Bergeron before these Presents And Nine Hundred pounds for a note signed by Catignon on the date of 26th November last to receive of said Cati­gnon in all the month of April next to whom said Loyseau the said Bergeron grants to be able to receive It For him And in his absence and and to give com­plete receipts and in valid evidence And even (? in case of refusal?) to reject all procedings and diligently essentials which said note has been (competently?) put by the said Bergeron is hands of the said Lezeau[2] for the said Lezeau to render Account to the said Bergeron on his return, or at his order, And to return to him The whole Between The hands they pledge sc obliging sc Renouncing sc done And admitted to the said Quebec office of the said notary afternoon the seventh Day of January one thousand six hundred ninety...

1690: "BEFORE GILLES RAGEOT “gardenottes” notary of the King... In the prevosté [a region under the notary’s jurisdiction] of quebecq In new france was present in person Barthélémy Bergeron volunteer residing in this city Being on his departure for the journey to the English, present in good health of body sound of (flawless?) memory and understanding having good and firm intention as he appeared to the said notary for the inspection of his person words acts And bearing And following other external actions accompanied by reason and good judgment which said that he being ready to make a very risky journey to go to the English and not being certain of being able to return con­sidering that to him nothing is more certain than death and nothing more uncer­tain than the hour of it not wanting to be xxxxx (reached/sent? called?) before having provided for the salvation of his soul and disposed of his temporal affairs not wanting to live intestate but while senses and reason are in him and he is in good health by the grace of god, his good pleasure and will has dictated and named to the said notary in the presence of the witnesses hereinafter named his testament and order of last will that follows at present as a good Christian and Catholic must have registered and recommended his soul to god the Creator father son and holy spirit, to the glorious virgin Mary to St. Michael angel and archangel to his good guardian angel to st Bartholemew his patron and to all the saints of paradise;

Item given to Pierre Lezeau boat-master living in the said city the sum of three hundred livres for the good friendship that he has for him —

Item given in alms to the poor of the general hospital of this city another sum of three hundred livres to accept and to receive of the said pierre Lezeau on/over/ for/upon the sum of eleven hundred fifty livres that he has in his hands belong­ing to the aforesaid testator following The will that he entered into this Day before the said notary, And The surplus up to the said sum of eleven hundred fifty livres which is five hundred fifty livres the said testator gives and leaves behind to pray to God for The Repose of his soul after his death.

And to execute and account for the present testament The said charges dona­tions And alms The said testator has Named And Chosen The said Pierre Lezeau whom He gives to be able to do this, The present testament to increase and not to reduce so much in Use of prayers that otherwise in this way that he will judge at the right time, of this that it will be able to happen to the said tes­tator of his journey desiring that the present testament might be executed And that it might have its full and entire effect in being his last will this was in this way dictated... to him read And re-read and that he has said to have Understood and Heard in the office of the said notary... ”[3]

One thing we see here is that Barthélémy was by no means a pauper. The sum of 1150 livres is a huge amount of money to just have on hand.[4] Also, our ancestor is still single. Otherwise he would never have left so much of this money to Pierre Lezeau, boatmaster and well known merchant, simply “for the good friendship that he has for him”. He had been in Canada for five years and not gotten married even though the king had given specific orders that, as soon as the campaigns were done, the government and military leaders were to exert all their influence help the soldiers find a wife and start a farm at the earliest possible time.[5] Barthélémy remained, as Fr. Bergeron says, “‘in the service of the King’, but also by no means attached to the country, independent of fortune and, through successive winters, resident and businessman in Quebec, The Capital of New-France!”[6] Again that special status seems to be at work.

D’Iberville and Barthélémy became part of a party of 210 men (including 96 Christian Iroquois who had been persuaded to live in Canada) assigned to attack New York. They left Montréal in the middle of winter on snowshoes. Protected by theier blanket-coats and mittens, each armed with a musket, a knife, a hatchet and a pouch of bullets. Each had also been issued a pouch of tobacco for his pipe. Frontenac, the governor of Canada, had left the choice of target to the leaders of the expedition; on the way, they decided to take Albany or die trying.[7] Instead, they wound up on the path for Corlaer (Schenectady).

By this time the temperatures were warm enough that the men waded through knee-deep half- melted snow. Some areas were mud with embedded with chunks of ice. It was slow. It was absolutely painful. Then it turned cold again, the wind picked up and the snow returned. After a long and arduous journey, the French forces reached Corlaer at 4 p.m. on February 8, pelted by a cold, windy snowstorm. They began to move into place, resolved to attack as soon as they reached the town. The men were so cold and hungry that some of them later mentioned that if any of the English had appeared and asked them to do so, they would have surrendered immediately.[8] But nobody challenged them.

The town had two gates, one facing east, used to get to Orange (Albany) to the southeast. The other gate faced west toward Mohawk country. This is where the French and Indian force came upon the town. Everyone was asleep and the Mohawk gate stood wide open.

D’Iberville was to take a detachment (certainly Barthélémy would be with him), go around the town, and stop fugitives from escaping through the other gate. They missed that gate in the dark and hurried back to the main body of men. The attack began when they rejoined their countrymen.

The French and Indians split into two groups. They entered the town and made their way around the inside of the stockade wall. When the leaders met, they gave the signal and the attack began. They vented all their anger on the citizens of the town, and as the Iroquois had done at Lachine, they (especially, they say, the Indian allies) did not discriminate in who they killed. They killed sixty people: 38 men or boys, 10 women, and 12 children. They captured another 80 or 90 persons. The killing and pillage continued for two hours.[9] And then they had not gotten revenge on their enemy, for Corlaer was a Dutch town, not an English one. This is the way the colonial wars went in America. It would happen many times in reverse, later, in Acadia.

There was a man there, by the name of John Sander Glen, who lived just outside the town walls. He had always treated French captives with which he had come into contact compassionately. He had saved the lives of several Frenchmen who had been captured by the nearby Mohawks. D’Iberville had special orders concerning this man, and presented Glen with the news that he and all that was his were to be spared. Furthermore, Glen was permitted to go among the prisoners and name anyone who was a relative. He named so many people that the accompanying French Indians commented that he must have been related to everyone in town.[10]

The French burned down the town and departed. They took 27 men and boys with them, leaving behind 60 old men, women, and children. Only two in the French party had been lost,[11] but fifteen more were killed almost within sight of Montréal by a band of English Mohawks chasing after them.[12]

We have no way of knowing to what degree Barthélémy participated in this grisly business. I would like to think that our ancestor was sickened by the slaughter. It is very interesting to note that, so far as we know, he never fought on land again.

Even so, life went on. Stephen White reports that on February 15, 1691, Barthélémy was godfather for Anne, the daughter of François Garneau at her baptism at L’Ange Gardien church.[13] Garneau must have been an old friend. He was married at L’Ange Gardien church February 7, 1689 to Louise Carreau.[14]

[1] Bergeron, LGA, p. 256.

[2] This passage was very difficult for me to translate. Here is the original: “... et en donner toutte quitance Et en charge vallab(le) Et encore (? en cas de refus?) refuser toute poursuitte Et diligemment nécessaires Lequel dit billet a esté pntment (pertinemment?) mis par led(it) Bergeron Es mains dud(it) Lezeau”.

[3] Bergeron, SGCF69c, pp. 159-161.

[4] According to some sample incomes I found, this was equal to 46 years worth of a craftsman’s pay or eight months worth of a count or duke’s income.

[5] Bergeron, SGCF69c, p.167.

[6] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p.208.

[7] Parkman, pp. 154-155.

[8] Ibid., p.156.

[9] Ibid., pp. 157-158.

[10] Ibid., p. 159.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid., p. 160.

[13] White, Vol. I, p.124.

[14] Tanguay, Vol. I, p.252.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]