Guillaume Pelletier


La Cristerie, ancestral home of Guillaume Pelletier at Bresolette
Photo : © Private collection of Pascal Pelletier.


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Guillaume Pelletier (1598 - 1657)

Guillaume Pelletier was born in the former French province of Perche, which borders the provinces of Normandie, Maine, and Beauce. 

 Birth in Bresolette

It was in Bresolette that Guillaume Pelletier was born in 1598, son of Éloy Pelletier and Françoise Matte. Documents in France from that era, scanned by Mrs. Pierre Montagne (ref.), reveal that several Pelletiers lived in Bresolette at the same time, among whom were Mathieu, Jean, and Laurent. 
To our knowledge, Éloy had only one other son, Antoine, whom we learn about from documents in Canada, and who crossed the Atlantic to New France with Guillaume. Antoine was younger than his brother, marrying in Canada in 1647, whereas Guillaume arrived in the colony accompanied by his wife. 
Wedding in Tourouvre

It was at the Church of Saint-Aubin, in Tourouvre, that “the marriage of Guillaume Pelletier, of the parish of Bresolette, and Michelle Mabille, daughter of Guillaume of this parish, was celebrated on the twelfth day of the aforementioned month and year” – which is to say, February 1619. 

Commemorative plaque at the gate of the ancestral home of Guillaume Pelletier in Bresolette. It should be noted that his departure to New France was in 1641, and not in 1650
Photo : © Pascal Pelletier private collection

Coal Merchant

Like his father Éloy, Guillaume was a charcoal merchant. An act dated 1630 testifies to this fact: “Macé Guyot… yields to Jehan Maunoury and to Guillaume Pelletier, coal merchants, living in said Tourouvre, 106 cords of wood for the purpose of making coal. In exchange, Maunoury and Pelletier will deliver 175 coal pipes and will pay 4 gold coins.” It may be, however, that Guillaume had more than one job. From the Jesuit Journal of 1646, we know that he is “a logger, sawyer, carpenter, coalman, etc.” As we can see, Guillaume had so many wood related occupations that the Journal writer did not even complete the list! 

His Children

According to the research of P.-A. Godbout, Mrs. Pierre Montagne found no more than three children in the Tourouvre archives born to Guillaume Pelletier and Michelle Mabille: Claude, born February 11, 1622, who was named in honor of his godfather, Claude Mabille, his mother’s brother; Guillaume, born February 26, 1624; and Jean, born June 12, 1627, whose godparents were Jehan Loyseau and Michelle Bahère, wife of Claude Mabille. In addition to these three children, Monsignor Tanguay mentions a daughter, Marie, who apparently married Julien Perreault in 1647. The two eldest children, Claude and Guillaume, apparently died at an early age; we find no further mention of them in the archives. Furthermore, at the time of their emigration from France, Guillaume and his wife only had one child with them, their youngest son, Jean. 

The Gobloteur

Guillaume Pelletier had a nickname, “Gobloteur,” but whether he had this name in France or earned it in Canada, we do not know; the Jesuit Journal of 1646 mentions “the Gobloteur, named Guillaume Pelletier.” Use of this byname has not perpetuated to the 21st century, so we must consult the 1762 edition of Trévoux’s Dictionary, in which we find the word “gobelotor.” Coming from the word “gobelot” or “goblet,” meaning drinking mug, “gobelotor” means one who drinks often and, by extension, one who likes to laugh and sing. The English version of the Jesuit Journal translates “Gobloteur” as “Tippler,” or drunkard, but, even if this translation draws us to the same conclusions about Guillaume, it lacks the French nuances! Instead, we prefer the Trévoux definition, found also in Bélisle’s General Dictionary of the French Language in Canada, which recognizes the Gobloteur as a happy man who likes to drink, laugh, and sing! 
Guillaume Pelletier passed his byname along to his son, Jean, who in turn transmitted it to some of his descendants. Léon Roy, in his “Terre de l’Île d’Orléans,” mentions Jean Pelletier Gobleteux, who owned parcel number fifty-three in the parish of Saint-Pierre. This land, later conveyed to his son, René, was located between René Goubleu and Jacques Nolin. Roy comments, “We believe that this René Goubleu was none other than René Pelletier himself, son of Jean Pelletier, nicknamed “Gobloteux.” To our knowledge, “Gobloteur” is nowhere to be found among the names of Quebec today. 

Emigration in Canada

Despite the fact that no written documents attest explicitly to how and why these pioneers left Perche, it seems obvious that Guillaume Pelletier, like many of his compatriots, came to Canada to answer to the call of Lord Robert Giffard, the first professional in the colony to come from that region. Guillaume was most likely hired by one of the Juchereau brothers, either directly or by one of their representatives; at the time, Noël and Jean Juchereau, associates of Giffard and members of the Company of New France, were making an increasing number of trips between Canada and Perche to recruit more and more colonists. In their absence, their half-brother, Pierre Juchereau, recruited settlers and signed contracts on their behalf. 

On March 8, 1641, Guillaume Pelletier and Michelle Mabille, residents of La Gazerie, sold a portion of their land to Robert Loyseau, and entered into a five-year lease agreement with Jean Rousseau, their brother-in-law, which included “any houses and all inheritance rights belonging to Michelle Mabille as well as those rights from the late Guillaume Mabille and Étiennette Monhée, her father and mother, to be in the possession of the said Rousseau during the said time, in consideration of fifteen pounds, which they have already received from the said Rousseau and of which payment they discharge him.” The context of the act is clear, and it is obvious why the Pelletiers called upon a notary to draw up these provisions: having liquidated all their assets – house, inheritances rights, and titles – they meant to depart. Familial obligations seem to have kept them from settling these matters sooner, but Michelle’s parents having died, the couple was free to leave. We can thus conclude that Guillaume Pelletier, Michelle Mabille, and their fourteen-year-old son, Jean, left for Canada in the spring of 1641. If, however, this is a miscalculation, it is not considerable, given that a notarial act dated October 5, 1642, establishes that the Pelletier family had indeed settled in New France some time before that date. Guillaume’s brother, Antoine, likely accompanied his brother to Canada; we know that Antoine drowned when his canoe capsized at Montmorency Falls in 1647. 

Hired hand or Habitant?

Even if Guillaume did not come to New France under contract, evidence indicates that he was at the very least a hired hand, or engagé, commissioned for thirty-six months of service; having arrived in the colony in 1641, it was not until late 1644 that he purchased a parcel of land. Earlier, on April 17 of that year, Lord Robert Giffard had granted a concession measuring six arpents wide to Martin Grouvel, who, that autumn, sold the property to Guillaume Pelletier, who in turn gave it to his brother, Antoine; when Antoine died in October 1647, ownership of the land transferred back to Guillaume. It is easy to interpret Guillaume’s actions as those of an engagé who had decided to invest his earnings in some property. It seems, however, that even after this transaction, Guillaume continued an as engagé, as he immediately gave the land to his brother, instead of settling there himself. It is only after his brother’s death in 1647 that Guillaume seems to finally decide to establish himself on his property and, undoubtedly, exploit it himself. 

A Jack of All Trades 

It is easy to believe that, in the beginning, Guillaume worked in the colony as an artisan, as this would have merely been an extension of his occupation in France; his native Bresolettes, let us not forget, was situated in the very heart of an area populated by “coalmen, ironworkers, and loggers.” In short, even if it were only by an oral agreement or under a private contract, Guillaume was undoubtedly an engagé, and it is safe to assume that it was in large part because of his expert woodworking skills that he had been recruited. At that time, everything in the colony was still under construction. Speaking only about the Jesuits, we see in their Journal that they were in the process of building a residence and parish church at that time; the Jesuits are a prime example of a group hiring Guillaume Pelletier for his expertise as an artisan. In any case, the priests seem to have known him particularly well, as their Journal identifies him as a “logger, sawyer, carpenter, coalman, etc.”

In Beauport

In 1647, Guillaume Pelletier reclaimed possession of his land in the area of Montmorency Falls, which he had given to his brother, Antoine, in 1644. The Falls had not favored this younger Pelletier, and one might ask if he had dared tempt fate by getting his little canoe as close to the Falls as possible: on October 3, 1647, “Antoine Peltier, brother of Guillaume Peltier the Gobloteur, drowned when his canoe capsized close to his house in Saut de Montmorency.” The loss of his brother was undoubtedly difficult for Guillaume to accept, and even more so for Françoise Morin, whom Antoine had married only two months before, on August 17; the couple had had no children. Jesuit Barthélemy Vincent buried Antoine in Quebec on day of his death. 

Guillaume’s property in Beauport, by the Montmorency Falls, consisted of six arpents along the Saint Lawrence River; the Montmorency River limited his concession to thirty-four arpents in depth. In fact, because of the particular way in which Lord Giffard had chosen to distribute his concessions, each was limited in the south by the Saint Lawrence and in the north by the Montorency River. And, as the two rivers approached to meet at the end of the seigneury, the first concession, closest to the Falls, was only twenty arpents deep; the land of Guillaume Pelletier was second, and only extended inland thirty-four arpents; the concessions continued this way down the line until reaching the property of Jean Langlois, which was 116 arpents deep. Now, Guil-laume did not keep all of his land, and by 1655, Jean Mignaux had in his possession two arpents, part of which had been taken from Guillaume’s land. 

About Guillaume’s time at Beauport, we know little. In 1646, his nineteen-year-old son, Jean, volunteered for service with the Jesuits; he probably returned to his father that next year. In 1649, Jean married the young Anne Langlois, after which he settled on his father’s property in Beauport. In 1654, Anne presented Guillaume his first grandson, Noël Pelletier, the first Canadian-born descendant of this line of Pelletiers from Tourouvre; two years later, Guillaume saw the birth of his first granddaughter, Anne. 

A Respected Citizen

Again turning to the Jesuit Journal, we see that on August 9, 1653, Guillaume is named assistant trustee in the Communauté des Habitants of Beauport; the priests spoke of it, mentioning that the group falls under their jurisdiction. This nomination is at once a great honor for Guillaume and an expression of the trust his fellow citizens of Beauport have in him. Thus, Guillaume Pelletier not only served the colony with his masterful woodworking skills, he was also productive, more or less anonymously, by his contributions to the Communauté des Habitants, where he gave freely of himself to further the economic life and policies of the young colony. Moreover, Guillaume was an educated member of his society, and, as Mrs. Montagne notes, he had a “good signature,” which she has found on a document among the archives in Tourouvre. Finally, Guillaume’s knowledge and experience as a former charcoal merchant undoubtedly entitled him to supervise the interests of the Communauté, whose foremost economic activity was to manage the fur trade in New France. 

His Death

Four years after his appointment to the Communauté des Habitants, Guillaume Pelletier died at his home in Beauport at the age of 59, and on November 28, 1657, he was buried in Quebec. His widow, Michelle Mabille, died in Beauport and was buried in Quebec eight years later, on January 21, 1665, at the age of 73. At the time of his death, Guillaume did not leave a very large Canadian progeny; his son, Jean, had only given him two grandchildren. However, Jean and his young wife, Anne Langlois, eventually added seven children to their family, not counting two who died at birth; all but one of these children were born in the house in Beauport that Jean received from his father. The story of Jean Pelletier is that which follows. 

Taken from “Histoire et généalogie de Guillaume Pelletier 1598-1657 et son fils Jean,” by Maurice Pelletier, s.j. (Montreal: Société généalogique Canadienne-Française, 1976; 24 pp). 
English translation by B.J. Shoja. 2003

L'Aventure de Guillaume par les textes Pelleterie Classique, Vol4 #3, été 1990 (section in French)

Auteur : Georgette Pelletier-Labelle
Publié en page 7 de La Pelleterie, volume 4, no 3 - été 1990. 
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Nous savons maintenant que Guillaume Pelletier est arrivé en terre québécoise en 1641. Il fait donc partie de ce groupe de pionniers des premières décennies, qui ont prouvé par leur ténacité et leur courage, que ce pays était habitable. Mentionné « menuisier, charpentier, scieur de long », on peut le compter parmi les bâtisseurs qui ont établi les bases de ce nouveau pays.

De la fondation de Québec en 1608, jusqu'à la mort de Champlain, survenue en 1635, on ne comptait que quelques familles qui vivotaient autour de "L'Habitation" (1 ). Le premier contingent important fut celui qui rentra à Québec, le 4 juin 1634, sous la tutelle de Robert Giffard. Depuis 1632, la France avait recouvré sa colonie que les frères Kirke lui avait prise en 1629. Champlain y revint aussitôt ainsi que Robert Giffard qui amena avec lui plusieurs familles pour peupler sa seigneurie de Beauport qui venait de lui être concédée par les Cent-Associés (compagnie chargée de peupler le Canada et de convertir les indigènes). Suivant les termes employés par Suite, Robert Giffard et Noël Juchereau furent "le Moïse et le Josué qui firent venir tout un peuple en cette Terre Promise" (2).

Comme ces deux précurseurs vivaient au Perche, région qu'habitait notre ancêtre, force nous est de conclure que Guillaume répondit à leur invitation, ainsi que plusieurs autres de son entourage. Parmi eux, il y avait Mathurin Provost, Julien Mercier, Mathurin Gagnon, Marin Boucher, Zacharie Cloutier, Jean Guyon, Nicolas Rivard, Jean Poussin, Aubin Lambert, Robert Giguère, Pierre Tremblay, et les autres.

Faisons maintenant plus ample connaissance avec la famille Pelletier de Brésolettes. Guillaume était fils d'Éloi et de Françoise Mare (3). Il avait épousé Michelle Mabille, le 12 février 1619, en la paroisse Saint-Aubin, à Tourouvre. Dans les registres de cette paroisse, on trouve trois actes de baptême dans les années subséquentes, Claude, Guillaume et Jean. Les deux premiers de ces enfants sont-ils morts en bas âge? Aucun acte n'a été retrouvé pour le confirmer. Quand il s'amena au pays, Guillaume était accompagné de son épouse, Michelle, de son fils Jean, âgé de 14 ans et, possiblement, de son frère Antoine (4). Ce dernier se marie avec Françoise Morin, en août 1647, mais en octobre de la même année, il se noie, en tombant d'un canot renversé à l'eau, près de sa maison, au Sault-de-Montmorency (5).

Suivons maintenant les traces que Guillaume nous a laissées, par les actes qu'il a passés.

En octobre 1642, année de la fondation de Montréal, il remet à Mathurin Gagnon qui part pour la France, un montant d'argent de 45 livres afin qu'il le remette à son beau-frère, Jean Rousseau. Un acte passé devant le notaire Choiseau, lundi, le 9 mars 1643, confirme que Gagnon a bien remis ladite somme et que Rousseau s'en déclare satisfait (6).
En septembre 1644, en présence du greffier Tronquet, Guillaume Pelletier achetait une terre de six arpents de front sur le fleuve Saint-Laurent, sise dans la Seigneurie de Beauport. Ses deux voisins étaient Antoine, son frère, du côté est, et Martin Prévost, du côté ouest. Aujourd'hui, si on suit le boulevard des Chutes jusqu'au Parc Montmorency, on est certain de traverser ces terres (7).

En 1646, c'est le Père Jérôme Lalemant qui nous parle de la famille Pelletier. Il écrit dans ses lettres "le 28 août de cette année, je partis en canot pour aller aux Trois-Rivières. J'emmenai avec moi, dans une chaloupe, 2 hommes et un enfant. L'un des hommes était le fils du Gobloteur, Guillaume Pelletier, déserteur (8), scieur de long, charpentier, charbonnier". Les notes qui suivent révèlent que Jean, maintenant âgé de 19 ans, s'était donné aux jésuites et qu'11 partait à leur mission de Fort Sainte-Marie située près de la Baie Géorgienne actuelle. Cependant, Jean ne persista pas dans cette vocation. Il revint l'année suivante et il se fiança avec Anne Langlois. Le projet de mariage fut retardé de deux ans parce que la future épouse n'avait que dix ans. Deux autres contrats nous confirment que, pendant ces deux années 1646 et 1647, Guillaume a participé à la construction de la résidence du Gouverneur et de l'église paroissiale (9). Encore en 1647, nous retrouvons un acte dans lequel Guillaume s'engage envers son voisin, Martin Prévost, pour une somme de 346 livres. Selon Léon Roy, auteur, il est permis de supposer qu'il empruntait ce montant pour acquitter la part d'héritage qui appartenait à la veuve d'Antoine (10).

Un autre acte de juillet 1648 dit que Guillaume transportait à Jean Bourdon, ingénieur, la somme de 21 livres que lui devait François de Chavigny, pour les deux boeufs qu'il lui avait vendus.

Un mois plus tard, soit le 23 août 1648, Guillaume est nommé parmi les notables qui élisent Charles Sevestre, au poste de syndic, à la Communauté des Habitants (11). En 1653, il sera lui-même élu pour représenter la région de Beauport au sein de ladite Communauté.

Le 9 novembre 1649, jour béni entre tous, Messire Jean Le Sueur, Supérieur des lieux, a solennellement marié Jean Pelletier et Anne Langlois en la Maison de Monsieur Giffard, à Beauport (12). Les parents Pelletier peuvent maintenant espérer qu'ils auront une descendance en Nouvelle-France. Il leur faudra, cependant, attendre cinq ans avant qu'Anne Langlois donne naissance à son premier enfant. Le bébé, baptisé le 16 mai 1654 sous le nom de Noël, avait été ondoyé le jour de sa naissance, par Guillaume Pelletier, son grand-père (13). 

Le 30 septembre 1656, naissait Anne, future épouse de Guillaume Lizotte, ancêtre de tous les Lizotte (14).

Guillaume ne connut que ses deux premiers petits-enfants. Il mourut le 27 novembre 1657 et il fut enterré le jour suivant dans le cimetière proche de l'église; il avait 59 ans. Son épouse lui survécut huit ans. Voici le résumé de son acte de sépulture: L'an 1665, le 21e jour de janvier, est décédée, en la Communion de Notre Mère, la Sainte Eglise, après avoir reçu le Viatique et L'Extrême-onction, Michelle Mabille. Et elle a été enterrée au cimetière de Québec par moi Henri de Bernières (15).

Pendant leur existence, la colonie naissante avait traversé des périodes difficiles surtout à cause des guerres iroquoises. La première de ces guerres faillit entraîner la perte du Canada. De 1646 à 1650, la Nouvelle-France assiste, impuissante à la destruction de la nation huronne. En 1650, battus et terrorisés, un dernier groupe de trois à quatre cents de ces Hurons vont chercher refuge dans la zone colonisée du Saint-Laurent et à l'ouest de l'Ile d'Orléans. Le massacre des pères Brébeuf et Lalemant en 1649 a sûrement ébranlé le moral de nos ancêtres. Les premiers colons de Montréal vivaient aussi dans la terreur; ils étaient la cible préférée de l'ennemi qui arrivait des régions de l'ouest. Trois-Rivières fut aussi attaquée, c'est Pierre Boucher qui en fut le défenseur, un autre venu du Perche. En 1645, les Cent-Associés avaient cédé leurs droits de traite à la Compagnie des Habitants, association des principaux colons du pays, où nous avons vu militer Guillaume. Charles Huault de Montmagny (1636-1648) Louis d'Aillesboust (1648-1651 ) et Jean de Lauzon (1651 -1656) furent les gouverneurs qui se succédèrent pendant cette période.

L'année 1660 fut atroce, l'année 1661 fut plus épouvantable encore, écrivait le Père Paul Lejeune dans les Relations de 1661. Le fils du gouverneur Jean de Lauzon fut massacré avec six de ses compagnons, le 22 juin de cette année-là. On lit dans sa biographie écrite par Mosnet « le lendemain, on retrouva le corps du grand sénéchal couvert de blessures et décapité; sa tête avait été apportée en Iroquoisie comme trophée. » Avec ses six compagnons, il fut inhumé, le jour de la Saint-Jean.

Comme nous pouvons le constater, les années qui ont suivi le départ de Guillaume ont dû être très éprouvantes pour Michelle et la jeune famille de Jean. Ils habitent Beauport jusqu'en 1665, année du décès de leur mère puis ils déménageront à l'Ile d'Orléans sur une terre que Jean avait acquise sur le territoire actuel de la paroisse Saint-Pierre.

Ils ont semé dans l'adversité, ils ont trouvé le réconfort dans le force de leur foi et leur abandon total à la Volonté Divine. Ils n'ort pas accumulé de biens terrestres comme l'explique si bien If Père Maurice Pelletier, dans son livre sur Guillaume et Jean mais la Providence qui remet au centuple, a fait jaillir de leur passage discret sur la terre une moisson riche et abondante de Pelletier.

Georgette Pelletier-Labelle 

(1)    Forteresse érigée par Champlain pour servir d'habitation, de magasin et de défense en cas d'attaque.
(2)    Citation de Madame Montagne dans « Tourouvre et les Juchereau».
(3)    Léon Roy, dans Guillaume et Jean Pelletier, corrige le nom de Françoise Motte.
(4)    Guillaume et Antoine n'ayant signé aucun contrat d'engagement, on ne peut affirmer avec certitude s'ils ont fait la traversée sur le même bateau.
(5)    Relations des Jésuites, année 1647.
(6)    Madame Pierre Montagne, Tourouvre et les Juchereau.
(7)    Maurice Pelletier, s.j., Histoire et généalogie, p. 14.
(8)    Déserteur est ici employé dans le sens de défricheur.
(9)    Léon Roy, Guillaume et Jean Pelletier, p. 4.
(10)   Ibid.p.5.
(11)   Mémoires de la Société généalogique canadienne-française, vol. 28, m 2.
(12)   Actes d'état civil.
(13) (14) (15) Etat civil du Québec.


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The "Canadian" Ancestor

Guillaume Pelletier (1598-1657) and his wife, Michelle Mabille (1597-1665), who were already 43 and 44 years old when they arrived in New France in 1641, did not leave an heir of Canadian birth. It was their son, Jean, who traveled across the Atlantic with his parents from France, who would eventually perpetuate the Pelletier name in Canada. Although French by birth, Jean Pelletier deserves to be regarded as the first “Canadian” ancestor of this branch of the Pelletier family; his progeny has settled in great abundance throughout Canada, especially in the area of Quebec City, and more still in the “Bas Saint-Laurent” region of the Province. Having arrived in the colony in 1641 at the age of fourteen, a youth uprooted from his home and transplanted in a foreign land, it was in this rich Canadian soil that he truly took permanent root. Young Jean undoubtedly savored the sense of adventure while traveling west across the Atlantic, but a greater adventure awaited him: to settle in this new country and grow along with it. 

Jean Pelletier and Religious Devotion
It did not take long for Jean to seek adventure in New France: in 1646, he volunteered with the Jesuits as a “donné”, a sort of missionary in training. At that time, Jean was nineteen years old, and he worked with his father at different construction sites in the area, mostly in Quebec City, where the Jesuits had established their missionary center; Guillaume and Jean were in constant contact with members of the order. Father Jérome Lalemant wrote in the Jesuit Journal on August 28, 1646, “I left alone in a canoe to go to Trois-Rivières. I brought with me in a rowboat two men and a child. One of the men was the son of the gobloteur, named Guillaume Pelletier, logger, sawyer, carpenter, coalman, etc. Although he volunteered with us suddenly, we promised his par-ents one hundred francs for his first year.” Somehow young Jean had learned of Lalemant’s departure for Trois-Rivières, perhaps from the good Father himself, and in an unexpected manner, he offered to accompany him, and volunteered with the Jesuits. 

Fort Sainte-Marie-des-Hurons
To establish that Jean Pelletier was a Jesuit volunteer is one thing, but to conclude that, as such, he went as far as the Huron country at the edge of Georgian Bay, is another; no archives or rosters from the period in question provide us with a list of those laymen assigned to work at Fort Sainte-Marie-des-Hurons there. At most, a letter from Father Paul Raguemeau, dated May 1, 1647, tells us that the preceding fall, the Fort housed fifteen “donnés,” five hired hands, and four children. It is only by combining and consulting different texts that historians have been able to reconstruct, with any degree of exactitude, the lists of names corresponding to each on the these categories. With regard to Jean Pelletier, therefore, we have only the information that the Jesuit Journal provides, an extract of which is quoted above, telling us that Jean accompanied Lalemant on his voyage to Trois-Rivières. As Trois-Rivières was the site of a mission of great significance in New France, it is not surprising that this is where Jean went to serve the Jesuits as a “donné.” However, after a more attentive reading of the account, even if the name of Jean Pelletier is nowhere else mentioned explicitly, we can conclude that in 1646, he did not stop at Trois-Rivières, but instead accompanied a Huron convoy to Fort Sainte-Marie-des-Hurons. 

 A Difficult Wedding

If Jean did really go to Huron country, there is no way to tell how long he stayed there. Historian Jean Côté has concluded that Jean would have had to return from Fort Sainte-Marie in 1649, given that he wed Anne Langlois in Quebec City on December 9 of that year. Jean Pelletier had had to wait to marry the young Anne, but not because he was serving the Jesuits at Fort Sainte-Marie; he had been forbidden to marry her earlier. Speaking of Jean’s volunteering with the Jesuits in 1646, Léon Roy indicates, “He was not meant for a life of vocation. The next year, he pledged himself in marriage to Anne Langlois.” In fact, Jean wanted to marry her that very year, 1647, but he had to wait two more years. The laws of the Church prevented their marriage be-cause, at that time, Anne was only 10 years old! The three marriage banns had been published on three different feast days in June and July, but when the wedding day arrived, someone had discovered the canonical law preventing the union. Born September 2, 1637, Anne was not even technically ten years old! To be in order with the law of the Church, Anne and Jean had to wait until after her twelfth birthday to marry. 

Admittedly, Jesuit volunteers of this time, like Jean, were not bound by a vow of perpetual celibacy, but within this particular order, his having attempted to marry Anne ended Jean’s contract as a “donné”. One might wonder also if Jean had not outlasted the probationary period to which all such volunteers were subject; Father Lalemant, to convince his reluctant superior general to maintain the institution, had introduced a one-year probationary period for all candidates before considering them for a more permanent engagement. We do not know exactly how long this period lasted, but we do find an indication in the Jesuit Journal, which mentions that Jean Pelletier’s parents would receive one hundred Francs for their son’s “first year” of service; this “first year” was probably the probationary period. On December 20, 1648, Jean Pelletier was godfather to the son of his soon-to-be brother-in-law; this child was christened Jean Langlois. 
His children

On December 9, 1649, Jean Pelletier and Anne Langlois married in Quebec City. The young couple settled with Guillaume Pelletier, Jean’s father, in Beauport. Anne, daughter of Noël Langlois and Françoise Grenier, was herself from Beauport; her father’s land was the sixth tract to the west from that of Guillaume. Anne’s being only twelve years old at the time of her marriage, her first child was born five years later; seven of the couple’s nine children survived to adulthood:

1.      Noël (1654-1712), married Marie-Madeleine Mignot in 1674

2.      Anne (1656-1696), married Guillaume Lizot in 1670

3.      René (1659-1713), married MARIE-Madeleine Leclerc in 1691 and WED M.-Jeanne Godbout in 1703

4.      Jean (1663-1739), married Marie-Anne Huot St-Laurent in 1689

5.      Marie (1667-1727), married Jacques Gerbert and Mathieu Guillet in 1686.

6.      Charles (1671-1748), married fMarie-Thérèse Ouellet  and Marie-Barbe Saint-Pierre in 1711

7.      Marie-Charlotte (1674-1699), married André Mignier in 1693.

With the exception of Marie (1667-1727), born in Sainte-Famille, all of Jean and Anne’s children were born in Beauport; two children died at birth, Antoine in 1661, and Marie-Delphine, in 1666.

Living in Beauport

After Guillaume Pelletier’s death in 1657, Jean Pelletier inherited his father’s land in Beauport. His rambling youth, marked by crossing the Atlantic at 14 and by his evangelic calling to the missionaries at 19, had poorly prepared him for his future life as a sedentary colonist. His future travels, which would lead him to change homes at least four times, seem to confirm this hypothesis. However, the census of 1667 reveals that his land included twenty-five arpents of arable land, implying that he had been active throughout the years. This is a good average of land cleared, but we should also point out that by this time, Jean was the land’s third occupant, after his uncle and father. We are left to wonder, therefore, how many of these arpents belonged to Jean. 

 A Brief Stay on the Isle of Orleans

In 1665, Jean Pelletier and his family temporarily left their home in Beauport. On January 21 of that year, Jean lost his mother, Michelle Mabille, who died at the age of 73. Later that same year, Anne’s mother, Françoise Grenier, was killed in an accident on October 31. It is almost as if Jean, previously tied to Beauport through familial obligations, could now realize an old dream: to move to the Isle of Orleans, where he had acquired property some two years before. This parcel of land was situated in the so-called “arrière-fief de la Chevalerie,” conceded to Jean by the Juchereau brothers, sons of Lord Jean Juchereau de Maure. Jean Pelletier’s brothers-in-law had preceded him to the Isle: Jean Langlois dit Boisverdun and Noël Langlois dit Traversy owned and cultivated the two parcels closest to Jean. In 1666, the census does not mention the number of arpents Jean had cleared; we learn only that his daughter, already eight days old, had not yet been baptized, and that he had a servant, Guillaume Lemieux, whom he paid monthly. A year later, a second census reported that Jean cultivated five arpents of land.

That same year, on December 8, 1667, Jean sold his rights to the land on the Isle of Orleans to his sister’s brother, Jean Langlois dit Boisverdun, and the next spring, he and his family returned to Beauport, to his father’s land. The reason for this sudden departure is unknown, but we might assume that the impetus was related to the fact that most of his land in Beauport had been yielded to him in consideration of his farming it, which is to say, for a limited time, and if he did not farm it, he would forfeit his rights to it. It was undoubtedly in the Pelletier home in Beauport that, two years later, Guillaume Lizot proposed to Anne Pelletier, Jean’s daughter; indeed, only two years later, notary Paul Vachon drafted their marriage contract. Like her mother, Anne Pelletier married young, at the age of 13. In 1674, another wedding was celebrated, when the eldest son, Noël, married Madeleine Mignot. That same year, another joyous event greeted Jean, as his wife, Anne Langlois, although already a grandmother, became a mother for one last time, giving birth to a girl, Marie-Charlotte. 


Now the father of seven, including a baby girl, at this point Jean Pelletier seemed resolved to fin-ish his days in Beauport, on the land he had inherited from his father. Nevertheless, in 1675, he decided to leave Beauport again, this time moving to Île-aux-Oies; his wife and children joined him the following year. In 1678, we find the family on a parcel of land measuring six arpents across and limited in depth by the Île itself, totalling approximately twenty-six arpents at the east-end of the isle, across from L’Islet. His eldest children, Noël, husband of Madeleine Mignot, and Anne, wife of Guillaume Lizot, had remained in Beauport; in 1676, these two families established themselves at the Grande-Anse (Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière), an area that Jean had already investigated on behalf of the Juschereau brothers. At this point, Jean was faced with a decision: either stay on the Île-aux-Oies, or join his children and their families at Grande-Anse.
Jean did not stay longer than four years on the Île-aux-Oies. Selling his property there to Guillaume Lemieux, his former servant on the Isle of Orleans who had since become his brother-in-law, Jean departed for new land where to again clear a home for his family. Léon Roy, remarking that Jean Pelletier had thus occupied four different territories before finally settling permanently, asks, “Should we praise him as a valiant pioneer clearing land, or, on the contrary, should we wonder if these inconsistencies were not somehow detrimental to him?” Although it is true that if Jean Pelletier had resolved to die poor, he could not have taken better means to achieve his goal, that his movements were “inconsistent” is hardly the case. Speaking only of his moving from one place to another, we can say that Jean was not unlike many of his peers. At its beginning, Grande-Anse was populated by colonists once well-established in Beauport; it was a time of great expansion in the colony, and at the instigation of Intendant Jean Talon, new fiefs were established all over New France, and their seigniors were encouraged to grant as many concessions as possible. The Juchereau brothers, who controlled Grande-Anse and its surrounding area, wanted to populate their domain, so they solicited compatriots who, like themselves, originated from Perche. Be-sides, it was in the blood of these first Canadians to make their way in life by breaking new ground. At 52, Jean Pelletier, if he did indeed lack consistency, he certainly did not lack courage. Instead of settling near his children and family at Grande-Anse, he chose to start this new chapter of his life in a nearby concession, Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies, an isolated dominion in the middle of the forest, where he had but one neighbour, Pierre Saint-Pierre. 
The Grande-Anse Era

From 1675 to 1680, seven colonists from Beauport established themselves and their families in the seigneury of Marie-Anne Juchereau, in La Pocatière. They were:

1.      Noël Pelletier, son of Jean Pelletier, husband of Marie-Madeleine Mignot

2.      Guillaume Lizot, husband of Anne Pelletier, Jean's daugther

3.      Nicolas Lebel, husband of Thérèse Mignot, daughter of Jean

4.      Jean Mignot, husband of Louise Cloutier and father of Marie-Madeleine and Xaintes

5.      René Ouellet, who later wed Thérèse Mignot, widow of Nicolas Lebel

6.      6. Nicolas Huot-Saint-Laurent, husband of Marie Fayet

7.      7. Jean Grondin, husband of Xaintes Mignot

We need not look far to find the familial relationships linking the members of this group! On March 16, 1676, Guillaume Lizot, son-in-law of Jean Pelletier, sold his land in Beauport to move to Grande-Anse-de-la-Pocatière (Sainte-Anne) with three of his brothers-in-law, Noël Pelletier, Nicolas Lebel, and Jean Grondin; Lizot and Anne Pelletier went on to have nine children. While he and Anne settled at the western end of the seigneury, close to Saint-Roch, Noël Pelletier chose to settle at the opposite end, close to Rivière-Ouelle; Noël eventually had eight children of his own. 

Pionneer of Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies

In 1679, instead of settling in La Pocatière, near his children who had established themselves there three years before, Jean Pelletier chose to settle in the seigneury of Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies, where Nicolas Juchereau had conceded him five arpents of forest. At the same time, another colonist, Pierre Saint-Pierre, received a concession of land next to him; as Léon Roy comments, Jean Pelletier and Pierre Saint-Pierre were the first two colonists of Saint-Roch-des-Aulaies. Indeed, two years later, the census ordered by Monsignor Laval reported that Saint-Roch included “only two family: eleven souls”; Roy believes that for the next fifteen years, Jean and Pierre were the only two colonists of Saint-Roch, the two families living approximately fifteen arpents from each other. It was only in 1694 that their first neighbor, Joseph Oullet, son of René Ouellet, joined them. 
At 52, Jean Pelletier was thus starting a new life from scratch, but, admittedly, he was not alone. He could count on the assistance of his two young sons, René, 23, and Jean, 16, the youngest, Charles, being still but eight years old. After two years, again citing the census of 1681, Jean and his sons had cleared five arpents of arable land; he had nine cows and owned one musket. He would, however, soon lose the assistance of both his sons. In 1682, René left Saint-Roch and purchased his father’s old land on the Isle of Orleans; he was the only one of Jean’s children to not settle in the “Bas Saint-Laurent” region of Quebec. In 1686, twenty-three-year-old Jean decided that his time had come to leave his father’s house, and he settled in Grande-Anse-de-la-Pocatière, close to his brother, Noël; about 1688, he married Marie-Anne Huot-Saint-Laurent, with whom he had eight children. That same year, 1686, Jean Pelletier also saw his daughter, Marie, marry Jacques Gerbert, of Cap-Saint-Ignace, leaving with him only his son Charles, age 15, and daughter Marie-Charlotte, age 12. By now Jean was almost sixty years old. We might imagine him alone on his small land in the middle of the dense forest, with only one neighbour, Pierre Saint-Pierre, and with only one route connecting his him and his family in Grande-Anse, the Saint Lawrence River.
His death at Saint-Anne-de-la-Pocatière

From 1690 to 1698, the year of his death, Jean Pelletier is not cited in the annals of New France. We have, however, been able to establish that Jean did not die at Saint-Roch, but at Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière (Grande-Anse), in late February 1698, at the age of 71 years. We believe that Jean, old and sick, did not want to be a burden to his young son, Charles, who, now married to Marie-Thérèse Ouellet, daughter of René Ouellet, could manage on his own at Saint-Roch; Charles and Marie-Thérèse had five children, and with his second wife, Marie-Barbe Saint-Pierre, he would eventually have ten more. Undoubtedly, Jean felt it more suitable to go and live the rest of his days with one of his other children in Sainte-Anne. Given that his widow, Anne Langlois, died some years later at the home of her son, Noël Pelletier, it is almost certain that Jean died there as well. As Noël was the couple’s first child, a pioneer of Sainte-Anne, and undoubtedly well-established, it is possible that he supported his father and mother in their old age. 

Having died at Sainte-Anne, Jean Pelletier was buried in Rivière-Ouelle, the only cemetery and church in the area of Grande-Anse. As for his widow, Anne Langlois – referred to as “the good woman Pelletier” by Father Bernard de Roqueleyn –, on January 12, 1704, she went “to the farm of Monsieur d’Auteuil with her son, Charles Pelletier, to declare having sold to him, her son, a portion of land, given her according to her right as widow to choose, that she has declared having taken in the northeast [of the property], consisting of two and a half arpents of frontage…” (Cf. notary Janneau, 1710). Anne thus sold to Charles his share of the family land, which was due to him after his father’s death; the same notaries registry reports that she also sold to him her furniture. Anne Langlois died at the age of 65 on March 16, 1704, and was buried in Rivière-Ouelle. At the time of his death, Jean Pelletier had been able to see all his children marry and settle: Noël, Anne, Jean, and Charlotte in La Pocatière, René on the Isle of Orleans, and Marie in Cap-Saint-Ignace. Charles, the youngest son, had succeeded his father on his land in Saint-Roch. On the day of his death, in addition to his wife and children, Jean also left twenty-six grandchildren, and he had even had the pleasure of knowing some of his great-grandchildren, as Noël Pelletier, Jr., had a daughter, and Nicolas-Claude Mignot, eldest son of Anne Pelletier, had two children as well. 

Having been uprooted from its native Tourouvre in 1641, Jean Pelletier and his family quickly prospered greatly in North America. 

Taken from “Histoire et généalogie de Guillaume Pelletier 1598-1657 et son fils Jean,” by Maurice Pelletier, s.j. (Montreal: Société généalogique Canadienne-Française, 1976; 24 pp). 
English translation by B.J. Shoja. 2003


© Association des Familles Pelletier Inc.  2015