Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Louis Hebert and Marie Rollet - Canada's First Settlers

This post will appeal to both genealogists and history buffs. There's been some excitement from the French Canadian genealogy community the past few days about Louis Hebert and Marie Rollet. The theory for many years was that they had married in Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois church in Paris in 1602. There was a fire at the church and the records were destroyed. Thanks to Gilles Brassard, a man from Quebec, this has been proven wrong. While researching his ancestry in Paris, he came across an entry from the registers of Saint-Sulpice church in Paris. The handwriting is very old and hard to decipher, but thanks to Gail Dever's blog post, you can see a transcription of it in both French and English. The English translation provided by Gail says that Luis Hebert and Marie Rollet married 18 February 1601. It also states that Marie was the widow of the merchant Francois Dufeu. This is exciting for those descending from Louis and Marie, of which I am one. Not only do we have a confirmed marriage date and place, but we now know that Marie was a widow when she married. We even have the name of her previous husband, and now a new line of research.You can see the image of the marriage entry itself on geneanet.org. This discovery is timely, as this year marks the 400th anniversary of Louis and Marie coming to New France.

Louis and Marie are my 11x great grandparents. Here's the descendency:


  • Louis Hebert and Marie Rollet
  • Guillaume Hebert and Helene Des Portes
  • Guillaume Fournier and Francoise Hebert
  • Joseph Fournier and Barbe Girard
  • Jean Fournier and Louise Joncas
  • Pierre Fournier and Marie Morin
  • Guillaume Fournier and Rosealie LeBlanc
  • Pierre Fournier and Marie Saulnier
  • Guillaume Fournier and Marie Anne Brideau
  • Jean McLaughlin and Marie Louise Fournier
  • Patrice Mallais and Marie Ann McLaughlin
  • Henri Govereau and Marie Ann Mallais
  • David McDonald and Mary Jane Govereau
  • Candice McDonald


So if you're not descended from them, you might be thinking so what? They're not my ancestors, so why should I be excited? Louis and Marie are important to Canadian history because they are considered the first settlers of New France. They were the first to come for reasons other than military service or trade.

First let's take a look at Louis Hebert. His birth is estimated to be about 1575 in Paris. He was the son of Nicholas Hebert and Jacqueline Pajot. Nicholas was an apothecary, and at one time was the apothecary to the court of Catherine de Midici. Louis followed in his father's footsteps and became an apothecary as well. In the early 1600's he accompanied Pierre Du Gua De Monts in his early voyages to what became Acadia and also Gloucester, Massachusetts. It was on these voyages that he met Samuel de Champlain.

In the early spring of 1617 he and his wife Marie sailed for the new settlement at Quebec. At this point the settlement was only 9 years old. With them were their children Anne, Guillemette, and Guillaume. His skills as an apothecary came in handy the first few years, tending to the other colonists. He also became a trusted friend of the nearby Native tribes. Unlike the general feelings of Europeans at the time, he looked upon them as normal human beings, and not savages.

By 1618 Anne Hebert, the oldest daughter of Louis and Marie, had married Etienne Jonquest. This was the first recorded marriage in our country's history. Anne died shortly after, presumably from complications in childbirth.

In 1620, Champlain made Louis the first "King's Attorney". He was responsible for administering justice in the colony. Louis and his family continued to clear land and farm. What was remarkable about this is that there were no plows in the colony at the time. Everything was done with only hand tools.

In 1626 Louis slipped on some ice and died in January of 1627. There is a monument in Quebec City, erected in 1918 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of his coming to New France.



Marie Rollet, Louis' wife, was no less important than her husband. Unfortunately, as happens more than it should, she gets overlooked. Marie and her daughters were the first European women to colonize Canada.

It is thought that Marie was born about 1580 in Paris. It is not known who her parents were, or her early life. As with many wives of the day, she helped run her husband's business in France.

Once in the new world, Marie became Canada's first school teacher. She taught the children of the new colony how to read and write. She also taught the Native children, and also gave instruction in the Christian faith.

After Louis died, Marie remained in New France. She married Guillaume Hubou 1929, a man at least 20 years younger than her, and what we now know was her third husband. The same year, the English took Quebec. While many colonists returned to France once the colony came under British control, Marie and Guillaume chose to remain. The colony reverted back to the French in 1632.

Marie continued teaching children. Her house became a home for children being cared for by the Jesuits. Her relationship with the local Native peoples stayed close. There are church records where she is the godmother to many Native children.

In 1637, Marie was a witness to the marriage of her grand daughter Margueritte Couillard to Jean Nicollet de Belleborne.

Marie died at the age of 69 in 1649. She outlived two husbands, and 2 of her children. I find it amazing how much is made of her husband, who only lived long enough to spend less than ten years in the colony. Meanwhile, Marie spent over 30 years in New France, and was responsible for the education of many. Yet, outside of certain circles, she is hardly mentioned.

Fortunately, Marie also has a monument in Quebec erected in her own honor. It shows her with children, to honor her work teaching:





Louis, Marie and their children are on a plaque honoring the first settlers of Quebec. The plaque is located on the Hebert monument:



You can find more detail about Louis Hebert and Marie Rollet at these sites:

Louis Hebert's page in the Canadian Dictionary of Biography is here.

Marie Rollet's page is here.

The blog Quebec Roots has separate entries for Louis and Marie.

oocities.org

manyroads.com has separate links for Louis and Marie.











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