Friday, October 03, 2014

52 Ancestors: #40 Marthe Quitel, a Calvinist fille du roi

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small has issued herself and her readers a challenge for 2014. It’s called “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks”, and as Amy explains, the challenge is to “have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor”.

For the 40th week of this challenge, I chose Marthe Quitel (ca 1637-1722).

Marthe is my maternal 7x great-grandmother and is number 1831 in my ancestor list.

Daughter of Denis Quitel and his wife Louise Bénard, Marthe was born about 1637, 1638 or 1651, depending on her age on New France censuses. [1] She was from the parish of St-Maclou in Rouen, Normandy, France. [2]

As one of the 59 or so filles du roi (King’s daughters) destined for Quebec City, Marthe arrived in New France in the summer of 1665. [3] It is not known what prompted her to leave her home, but it was perhaps because one or both of her parents had passed away, as was sometimes the case with filles du roi. Also unknown is what kind of dowry and gifts she might have received. Author Silvio Dumas explains that filles du roi usually received at least “un modest trousseau” and that in some of their marriage contracts, there is mention of these items. [4] Marthe’s marriage contract, however, is silent on this point.

Marthe was not only a fille du roi, she was also a Calvinist. Almost immediately after her arrival at Quebec (other filles du roi went to Montreal and Trois-Rivières), Marthe renounced her Calvinist faith and converted to Roman Catholicism on 17 July 1665 at Notre-Dame church in Quebec. [5]

One month later, Marthe and a fellow immigrant, Barthélemi Verreau dit Le Bourguignon, entered into a marriage contract on 31 August 1665. [6] They both knew how to write, because they signed their names on the contrat in the presence of notary Pierre Duquet. [7] The couple married three weeks later on 22 September 1665 in Château-Richer. [8] Located east of present-day Quebec City, Château-Richer was at that time part of the seigneurie of Beaupré, but is now in Montmorency County, Quebec.

View at Chateau Richer (1804)*

* Image: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. R9266-270. Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana.

Barthélemi was about six years older than Marthe. Originally from Dijon, Burgundy, France, he arrived in Montreal in 1662. [9] Barthélemi worked as a blacksmith and later as an edge-tool maker. [10] Just before he married, he purchased some land in Château-Richer in June 1665, where he relocated. [11] I wonder if his being a skilled worker and having some land is what prompted Marthe to consider Barthélemi as a suitable spouse.

Over the next seventeen years, Marthe gave birth to nine children: five sons and four daughters, including my ancestress Marguerite (Verreau) Boutillet (1674-1749). [12] Barthélemi and Marthe were able to provide well for their children, because their eldest surviving son Barthélemi, a blacksmith like his father, became a clerk of the Beaupré seigneurial court and a notary. [13]

In December 1700, Barthélemi père died. He was buried in Château-Richer, where he and Marthe had lived all their married life. [14] A few years later, Marthe’s surviving children gave up their rights to the paternal home. [15] In a contract known as “donation entre vifs” drawn up on 5 November 1706 by Quebec notary Etienne Jacob, Marthe gave up her house and its land to her youngest son François in exchange for his lodging and caring for her until her death. [16]

Marthe survived her husband by twenty-two years. She died suddenly, according to her burial record, which added that she had “donnée durant sa vie des marques de Catholicité” (demonstrated her Catholicism during her life). [17] This detail tells me that Marthe took seriously her conversion to Catholicism. She was buried on 26 December 1722 in Château-Richer. [18]

Although I haven’t seen it, a book about the Verreau family has been recently published: Barthélemy Verreau, premier Verreau en Nouvelle-France, by Jean-Marie Verreault (Québec, Québec: Jean-Marie Verreault, 2013). I came across it yesterday in a June 2014 post at the Library and Archives Canada blog.


1. Marthe was 28 years old on the 1666 census, 30 on the 1667 census, and 30 on the 1681 census. René Jetté, Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Québec (Montréal: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1983), 1121. All the sources I used for this article name Marthe’s father Denis. However, he is named Daniel Quitel (Guittel) in Cyprien Tanguay, Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes, 7 vols (1871–1890, reprint, Montréal: Editions Elysée, 1991), I: 585.

2. Jetté, Dictionnaire, 1121.

3. Peter J. Gagné, King’s Daughters and Founding Mothers: The Filles du Roi, 1663-1673, 2 vols. (Pawtucket, Rhode Island: Quintin Publications, 2001), 2: 476. Also, Silvio Dumas, Les filles du Roi en Nouvelle-France: étude historique avec répertoire biographique (Québec, Québec: Société historique de Québec, 1972, 43); digital images; Our Roots / Nos Racines ( : accessed 2 October 2014).

4. Dumas, Les filles du Roi, 319.

5. Jetté, Dictionnaire, 1121, Gagné, King’s Daughters, 2: 476, and Roland-J. Auger, “Registre des abjurations (1662-1757)”, Mémoires de la Société généalogique canadienne-française [Vol. V – No. 4] (juin 1953): 243-246, particularly p. 246; DVD edition (Montreal, QC: SGCF, 2013).

6. Jetté, Dictionnaire, 1121 and Gagné, King’s Daughters, 2: 476.

7. Gagné, King’s Daughters, 2: 476.

8. Jetté, Dictionnaire, 1121 and Gagné, King’s Daughters, 2: 476.

9. Jetté, Dictionnaire, 1121 and Gagné, King’s Daughters, 2: 476. Another source gives a different place of origin for Barthélemi: the parish of St-Agnan in Ahuy, Bourgogne, France. (Fichier Origine, database ( : accessed 2 October 2014), entry for Barthélemy Verreau / Bourguignon, no. 380065.) Ahuy is located 6 km north of Dijon. (Wikipedia contributors, "Ahuy", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ( : accessed October 3, 2014).)

10. Jetté, Dictionnaire, 1121 and Gagné, King’s Daughters, 2: 476.

11. Gagné, King’s Daughters, 2: 476.

12. Jetté, Dictionnaire, 1121.

13. Dictionary of Canadian Biography/Dictionnaire biographique du Canada ( : accessed 2 October 2014), “Barthélemi Verreau”.

14. Jetté, Dictionnaire, 1121 and Gagné, King’s Daughters, 2: 476.

15. Gagné, King’s Daughters, 2: 476.

16. Gagné, King’s Daughters, 2: 476.

17. “Le LAFRANCE”, digital images, GénéalogieQuébec ( : accessed 2 October 2014); entry for Marthe Quintel [sic] burial, 26 December 1722. Unfortunately, Marthe’s burial record does not state the date or place of her death, nor her age.

18. Jetté, Dictionnaire, 1121 and Gagné, King’s Daughters, 2: 476.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.


  1. Marthe Quitel is my paternal 8X great grandmother. Thanks for sharing so much information. I am constantly amazed by the fortitude of our ancestors.

    1. You're welcome, 'cousin' :-) Marthe was an interesting ancestor to research. Like you, I'm also amazed that our ancestors were able to live (in many cases) long lives despite the relatively harsh conditions in which some found themselves.

  2. I am also related to you! My grandfather was Leopold Verreault son of Joseph Verreault, who is a descendant of Marthe Quitel and Barthelemy Verreault. I was please to know that on both side of my ancestors, I have a Fille du Roy.