Cristerie, home of Guillaume Pelletier in Bresolette
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Hired hand or Habitant?
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 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.
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.
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.
“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).
The "Canadian" Ancestor
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
Pelletier and Religious Devotion
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.
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.
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
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.
©Association des Familles Pelletier Inc.