Sunday, May 22, 2016

Church Record Sunday: Françoise Paquet’s 1731 Burial Record

Two hundred and eighty-five years ago, my 7x maternal great-grandmother Françoise Paquet dite Lavallée died on or about 22 February 1731. [1] A pious and Christian woman, according to her parish priest, she died in peculiar circumstances.

Francoise Paquet 1731 burial record
Françoise Paquet burial record (Ancestry)

First, some background. One of fourteen children of Isaac (Etienne) Paquet dit Lavallée, a French-born soldier, by his wife Elisabeth (Isabelle) Meunier, Françoise was born on 23 November 1682 in St-Laurent on Ile d’Orléans. [2]

Shortly before her twenty-first birthday, Françoise married Charles Lacasse on 12 September 1703 in Beaumont, a village on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River across from Quebec City. [3] The couple had ten children, including Jean Baptiste (1713-1792), my ancestor.

In early December 1730, Charles and Françoise’s 19-year-old son Charles died. [4] His burial record does not state the cause of death, but his passing must have been a great loss to his parents.

On 22 February 1731, Françoise flees from her home in an impaired mental state. The nearby woods are searched, but Françoise is not located. Could her son’s death have precipitated an emotional crisis and led her to lose her reason?

A few weeks later, a young girl looking for domestic animals that had wandered into the forest happened across Françoise’s body. She appeared to have succumbed to the cold weather or from lack of food. Her funeral took place on 23 May 1731 in St-Etienne parish church in Beaumont.

Françoise’s burial record (above) reads in French:

Le ving et trois de may de l’an mil sept cent trente / et un a eté inhumé le corps de françoise paquet dit / Lavallée agée d’environ cinquante cinq ans morte le / vingt et deux du mois de février a ce que nous présumons / qui est le jour que [la dite] femme de Charles Lacasse de / cette paroisse s’est enfuie de chez elle étant privée / de l’usage de ses sens, et qu’on a lieu de croire quelle est / morte ce jour la du froid ou de la faim; elle a été / trouvée par une fille cherchant des bestiaux La vie / quelle a menée nous fait esperaie que Le Seigneur Luy / a fait misericorde ayant vécû en bon exemple et / piété; [La dite] inhumation a eté faite en presence de Jacques / Fournier et de Joachim moleur qui ont declaré ne / savoir signer de ce enquis Suivant l’ordonnance
[signed J. Chasle ptre]

My English translation:

The twenty and three of may of the year one thousand seven hundred thirty / and one was interred the body of françoise paquet dit / Lavallée aged about fifty five years died the / twenty and two of the month of February to which we presume / was the day when the said spouse of Charles Lacasse of / this parish had run away from home being deprived / of the use of her senses, and we are led to believe that she / died that day of frost or of starvation; she was found by a girl looking for farm animals The life / that she led leads us to hope that The Lord has / show mercy [for she] had lived in good example and / piety; The said interrement was done in the presence of Jacques / Fournier and of Joachim moleur who declared they / could not sign [their names] [burial record read aloud for approval] according to regulations
[signed J. Chasle priest]

Parish priests do not ordinarily give so much information about a parishioner’s demise in a burial record. Father Chasle obviously felt compelled to document as fully as possible the circumstances of Françoise’s death. I am grateful for his attention to detail.


1. St-Etienne (Beaumont, Quebec), parish register, 1731, p. 4 recto, no entry no., Françoise Paquet burial, 23 May 1731; St-Etienne parish; digital images, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 19 April 2016).

2. “Dictionnaire”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) ( : accessed 20 April 2016), Isaac Etienne Paquet Lavallee – Elisabeth Isabelle Meunier, Famille no. 3173.

3. Cyprien Tanguay, Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes, 7 vols (1871–1890, reprint, Montréal: Editions Elysée, 1991), II: 575.

4. “Dictionnaire”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) ( : accessed 19 April 2016), Charles Lacasse – Marie Francoise Paquet Lavallee, Famille no. 85852.

Copyright © 2016, Yvonne Demoskoff.

No comments:

Post a Comment