Saturday, July 30, 2016

Dorothée Brassard, "la bonne femme"

'Good woman' Dorothée, my 9x maternal great-grandmother, and I share the same birthday: July 30. Born in 1656 in Quebec, she was baptized there two days later in Notre-Dame church. [1]

Baptism record of Dorothée Brassard
Dorothée Brassard baptism record (Généalogie Québec)

Dorothée’s father Antoine Brassard was a master mason. He was possibly from Normandy, France, while her mother Françoise Méry was possibly from the Perche region of France. They married on 14 January 1637 in Quebec, making them one of the first families in New France. [2]

The tenth and youngest child, Dorothée had six brothers, Alexandre, Antoine, Guillaume, Antoine, Jean-Baptiste, and Louis, and three sisters, Marie-Madeleine, Jeanne, and Marguerite. [3]

The Brassard family lived in Quebec when it was enumerated on the 1666 census, and then in nearby Sillery on the 1667 census. [4] Antoine did well for himself, for on this last census he had twenty-seven arpents of improved land and three farm animals. [5]

Sillery Church and Cove from the Plains of Abraham
“Sillery Church and Cove from the Plains of Abraham”

Dorothée lost her parents when she was a young teenager. Her father Antoine died in 1668 or 1669, while mother Françoise died suddenly at her home in Quebec in July 1671. [6]

Between the deaths of her parents, Dorothée entered into a marriage contract in December 1670 that was later annulled. Her intended, Pierre Ménage, was a carpenter, who was about 8 to 14 years older than she was. Originally from Poitiers, France, Pierre eventually married fille du Roi Anne Leblanc, had children, and died in 1715 in Quebec. [7]

Within a few months of this marriage disappointment, Dorothée entered into another marriage contract, this time with Pierre Richer dit Laflèche, on 5 September 1671 in Quebec. [8] Pierre, originally from the province of Anjou in France, was a Carignan-Salières soldier, who chose to remain in Canada when his regiment returned to France in 1668. [9]

Dorothée was the mother of twelve Richer children born between 1673 and 1700. Two daughters, Etiennette and Christine, died young, but the other children, Catherine, Marie-Thérèse, Pierre, Michel, Jean-Baptiste, Marguerite, Marie-Josèphe, Marie-Thérèse, Antoine, and Marie-Anne, survived and most married. [10] I descend from the eldest surviving child, Catherine (1674-1746).

Pierre died in May 1722 in in Ste-Anne-de-la-Pérade, a seigneurie on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River south of Quebec City, where he and his family had been established since about 1700. [11]

Dorothée survived her husband by sixteen years. She died at her home in Ste-Anne-de-la-Pérade, presumably in early November, although her burial record doesn’t state the day.

Burial record of Dorothée Brassard
Dorothée Brassard burial record (Généalogie Québec) 

Dorothée was buried there in the parish cemetery on 7 November 1738. Described as “la bonne femme Dorothée Brossard [sic]”, the priest noted that she had received with piety all the Sacraments prior to her death. [12]


Image credit: “Sillery Church and Cove from the Plains of Abraham”, Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. R9266-13 Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana.

1. Notre-Dame (Quebec, Quebec), parish register, 1621-1671, p. 35 verso, no entry no. (1656), Dorothée Brassard baptism, 1 August 1656; Notre-Dame parish; digital image, “Le LAFRANCE”, Généalogie Québec ( : accessed 23 January 2015).

2. Denise Gravel, “Les premières familles de Québec”, Mémoires de la Société généalogique canadienne-française 58 (automne 2007): 231-256, specifically p. 232; DVD edition (Montreal, QC: SGCF, 2013).

3. René Jetté, Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Québec des origines à 1730 (Montréal: Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 1983), 164 and “Dictionnaire”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) ( : accessed 23 January 2015), Antoine Brassard – Françoise Merry [sic], Famille no. 267.

4. Jetté, Dictionnaire, 164.

5. Roland-J. Auger, “Etat général des habitants du Canada en 1667”, Mémoires de la Société généalogique canadienne-française 18 (janvier-avril 1967): 1-116, specifically p. 28; DVD edition (Montreal, QC: SGCF, 2013).

6. Gravel, “Les premières familles de Québec”, 240.

7. Jetté, Dictionnaire, 793.

8. Jetté, Dictionnaire, 984.

9. Michael H. Ryan, “De Richer à Rishea: Une famille québécoise à Peterborough”, Mémoires de la Société généalogique canadienne-française 61 (hiver 2010): 311-318, specifically 311.

10. Jetté, Dictionnaire, 984.

11. Jetté, Dictionnaire, 984.

12. Ste-Anne (Ste-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Quebec), parish register, 1738-1739, p. 8 recto, no entry no. (1738), Dorothée Brossard [sic] burial, 7 November 1738; parish; digital image, “Le LAFRANCE”, Généalogie Québec ( : accessed 23 January 2015). According to her burial record, Dorothée was about 86 years old, but she was actually four years younger.

Copyright © 2016, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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