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.

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[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.

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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]

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[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.

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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

Wife

Marriage Date

Marriage Place

Known Children & Birth Years

Joseph

Marie

c1530

Amboise

Jean I (1540)

Jean I (1540)

Gabrielle Bardougne

c1554

Chaumont-sur-Loire

Jean II (1570)

Jean II (1570)

Jeanne Belouche

c1595

Notre-Dame de Grève, Amboise

Jean III (1598)

Noël (1601)

Gabrielle (1603)

Marguerite (1607)

Zacharie (1611)

Sylvie(1617)

All baptized at Notre Dame de Grève, Amboise

Jean III (1598)

Catherine Douaray

c1623

Chaumont-sur-Loire

Jean IV (1633)

Louise (1637)

Jacques (1642) [twins?]

Marie (1642) [twins?]

Antoine (1643)

Catherine (1644)

Thomas (1648)

Pierre (1650)

Antoine (1643)

Claudette Scaron

c1664

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.

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[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: “...one 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.

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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


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