La Grande Recrue de 1653

La Grande Recrue de 1653
Plaque commemorating
La Grande Recrue de 1653

In the autumn of 1651, after Mathurin LeMeunier had finished assisting Chomedey sieur de Maisonneuve in building the societies mission on the the Isle of Montreal, Sieur de Maisonneuve left for France to engage at least 100 new men to protect the colony and mission of Ville-Marie. This year in particular had seen an increase in attacks by the Iroquois on settlers who needed to venture outside the walls of the small hamlet. The Société Notre-Dame de Montréal would need to provide the funds necessary for this task, or give up Ville-Marie.

It would take Sieur de Maisonneuve two years to sign up a sufficient number of men. Faillon describes the men Maisonneuve sought as “young, robust and courageous men, every one well trained in the use of arms, each one proficient in some profession or trade necessary or useful to the new establishment, and all sincere Catholics. Moreover, he insisted that they should have good breeding and irreproachable morals for fear of corruption among the group.” Upon signing an obligation in front of Notary de Lafousse, the recruits became a part of La Campagnie de Montréal. Like the contracts signed by the engagés of 1644, these required the men to travel to Ville-Marie where they would be employed for a period of 5 years. The contract also required the La Campagnie de Montréal to provide transportation to Ville-Marie and maintain food and lodging for the men for the period of their contract. Any tools or items needed to complete a task assigned were also provided by the Company. Interestingly, Faillon notes in his treatise, that the total amount of wages per year would not amount to over £7,000 a year, but the total advance provided for 103 men, before embarking, to provide suitable “togs and objects” which could more easily be obtained in France, was £11,000.

Sieur de Maisonneuve was extremely successful in his task. 118 men were signed up from la Fleche, another 36 came from the districts of Picardy, Champagne, Normandy, Isle de France, Touraine, Bourgogne, but principally from Maine and Anjou. Not all men set sail though. On 20 June 1653 on a ship named Saint-Nicolas-de-Nantes under the command of Captain de Besson, 122 passengers, mostly men comprising La Campagnie de Montréal, set sail from France and headed towards Ville-Marie. It was a journey immediately fraught with problems as the boat was rotted and taking on water. Even with all those men taking turns at the pumps 24 hours a day it became clear within 350 leagues at sea of the need to turn back. Sister Bourgeoys reports the incident:

“As we approached land, we would have perished, but, for the grace of God, the local people rescued us. I was very distressed during this time of peril; we were 120 passengers without a priest and our people were ill-prepared for death. Upon landing, M. de Maisonneuve restricted the soldiers to an island which was escape-proof, otherwise all would have vanished. In desperation some even tried to swim to main-land, they believed they were doomed and had become discouraged. It took a long time to find and outfit another boat as well as gather new provisions but finally we set sail again after attending Holy Mass, on July 20th, the feast day of Sainte-Marguerite”.

This new sailing was also riddled with problems. Sickness prevailed on the passage, and 8 men would lose their life. Failon instructs us:

“It was an occasion for Sister Bourgeoys to display great charity by providing all services she could manage and by helping them toward a saintly death. Day and night she remained at their side, she consoled them in their troubles and shared among them everything she received in generosity from M. de Maisonneuve and the Captain. She refused to eat at the Captain’s table, but accepted portions of food which could be conveniently distributed among the ailing, keeping a very modest ration for herself. The entire trip, for her, became a mission of mercy. She diligently instructed the sick and the soldiers, taught them catechism, recited the morning and evening prayers and often conducted spiritual readings and other religious services in spite of suffering the usual discomforts of a novice sea voyager.”

On St-Maurice day, 1653 [1]September 22nd, the ship was in sight of Quebec, when it struck an object that pierced the vessel so deeply that it could not be dislodged. The passengers and crew, though, arrived that day at Quebec and were greeted by the townspeople joyfully, as they too had been under recent harassments from the Iroquois. The ship would eventually be burned where it lay, completely loss for further usage. La Campagnie de Montréal still needed to travel from Quebec to Montreal. Unfortunately, the loss of their ship required the company to purchase smaller boats to finish their journey. The governor of Quebec, Monsieur Jean de Lauson had other ideas, however, and wished for the company to remain in Quebec. However, Sieur de Maisonneuve carried the King’s Orders which gave him complete control over Ville-Marie. Faillon explains the situation thusly:

“By the decree of 1648, the King had declared that a governor general would have a mandate of three years and could be re-appointed only once. Regardless M. de Maisonneuve had been governing the Isle of Montreal for almost twelve years. Consequently colleagues and associates fearing M. de Lauson would further embarrass M. de Maisonneuve by disputing the title of governor therefore obtained an order with the king’s seal, addressed directly to Y. de Maisonneuve before his departure from France. By this order, Louis XIV approved once again the decision of the Lords of Montreal to select their governor and gave him full charge of the colonization of Villemarie. The rivalry between the two leaders was truly manifested when M. de Maisonneuve required small boats to continue the journey, none were made available, and the enlisted men were obliged to spend considerable time at Quebec while de Maisonneuve looked for other transportation.”

Unable to secure smaller boats for his journey, Sieur de Maisonneuve marched his men from Quebec to Montreal, he always remaining in the rear to insure no man was left behind. The men were joyfully welcomed to Ville-Marie. But their joy was made even greater when Sieur de Maisonneuve enticed many of the men to stay in Montreal by offering to write off the amount of money which had been advanced to the men while still in France and since their arrival, also to donate to each a good piece of land for cultivation, as well as another acre at the proposed city site where homes were built. Moreover, he offered additional financial help with the understanding that this money be returned if the candidate chose to leave the Isle of Montreal and established his home elsewhere unless of course circumstances obliged the French to abandon the Isle completely.

It was in this manner that several of my ancestors found themselves in Montreal. Immediately following their agreement, they each acquired thirty acres of land, which was to be cultivated, situated mostly on the hill side of St Louis or in the region of St Joseph, and in addition an acre or half acre on the site chosen for the town, where, as I mentioned before, each farmer would build himself a residence.

New Settlers of Montreal in 1653

The list below comprises those 102 recruits known to have arrived as part of the Company. These were researched by Michel Langlois of the Société généalogique canadienne-française. Langlois’ research was based on and updated earlier research by R. J. Auger. Those names in bold or linked are related to me.

Men who arrived in 1653:

Family names, pseudonyms, and first names / Place of origin: village or city (current French department) / Trade

  1. AUDRU, Jacques – Paris (Seine) – Land-clearer
  2. AUGER dit LE BARON, Jean – Chemiré-en-Charnie (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  3. AVERTY dit LÉGER, Maurice – La Flèche (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  4. BAREAU dit LAGOGUE, Pierre – La Flèche (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  5. BASTARD, Yves -? – Land-clearer
  6. BAUDREAU dit GRAVELINE, Urbain – Clermont-Créans (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  7. BAUDRY dit L’ÉPINETTE, Antoine – Chemiré-en-Charnie (Sarthe) – Land-clearer and nail-maker
  8. BEAUDOUIN, Olivier -? – Land-clearer
  9. BÉLIOT, Charles-Jean – St-Jean-de-Lamothe (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  10. BENOIT dit LIVERNOIS, Paul – Châtillon-en-Bazois (Nièvre) – Carpenter
  11. BESNARD (or BÉNARD) dit BOURJOLI, René – Villiers-au-Bouin (Indre-et-Loire) Land-clearer
  12. BITEAU dit ST-LAURENT, Louis – Clermont-Créans (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  13. BOIVIN dit PANSE, Jacques – Jarzé (Maine-et-Loire) – Land-clearer
  14. BONDY, René – Dijon (Côte-d=Or) – Carpenter
  15. BOUCHARD, Étienne – Paris (Seine) – Surgeon
  16. BOUVIER, Michel – La Flèche (Sarthe) – Land-clearer and mason
  17. BOUZÉ, Pierre – Sablé-sur-Sarthe (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  18. BRASSIER, Jacques -? -?
  19. BROSSARD, Urbain – La Flèche (Sarthe) – Mason and land-clearer
  20. CADET, René – St-Germain-d=Arcé (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  21. CADIEUX, Jean – Pringé-sur-Loir (Sarthe) – Land-clearer and locksmith
  22. CHARTIER dit ROBERT, Guillaume – La Flèche (Sarthe) – Land-clearer and tailor
  23. CHARTIER, Louis -? – Surgeon
  24. CHAUDRONNIER, Jean – Bailleul (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  25. CHAUVIN dit le Grand-Pierre, Pierre – Vion (Sarthe) – Land-clearer and miller
  26. CHEVALIER, Louis – Caen (Calvados) – Land-clearer and cobbler
  27. CHEVASSET, Antoine -? – Land-clearer
  28. CRUSSON dit PILOTE, François -? – Land-clearer
  29. DANIS dit TOURANGEAU, Honoré – Montlouis (Indre-et-Loire) – Carpenter
  30. DAUBIGEON, Julien – Clisson (Loire-Atlantique) – Land-clearer and labourer
  31. DAVOUST, Jean – Clermont-Créans (Sarthe) – Land-clearer and hatmaker
  32. DENIAU, Jean – Nantes (Loire-Atlantique) – Land-clearer and top sawer
  33. DENIAU dit DESTAILLIS, Marin – Luché-Pringé (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  34. DESAUTELS dit LAPOINTE, Pierre – Malicorne-sur-Sarthe (Sarthe) – Land- clearer
  35. DESORSON, Zacharie -? – Carpenter and top sawer
  36. DESPRÉS dit BERRI, Simon – Blois (Loire-et-Cher) – Land-clearer
  37. DOGUET, Louis – Luché-Pringé (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  38. DOUSSIN, René -? – Top sawer
  39. DUCHARME dit LAFONTAINE, Fiacre – Paris (Seine) – Carpenter
  40. DUVAL, Nicolas – Forges-en-Brie (Seine-et-Marne) – Land-clearer
  41. FONTAINE dit Le Petit Louis, Louis -? – Top sawer
  42. FRESNOT, Jean – Ruillé-en-Champagne (Sarthe) – Land-clearer and roofer
  43. FRUITIER, Jean -? – Land-clearer
  44. GAILLARD dit LEPRIEUR, Christophe – Verron (Sarthe) – Land-clearer and gardener
  45. GALBRUN, Simon – Verron (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  46. GASTEAU, Jean – Clermont-Créans (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  47. GAUDIN dit CHASTILLON, Pierre – Chatillon-sur-Seine (Côte d=Or) – Carpenter
  48. GENDRON dit LA ROLANDIÈRE, Guillaume – Blain (Loire-Atlantique) – Butcher and roofer
  49. GERVAIS (or GERVAISE), Jean – Souvigné (Indre-et-Loire) – Land-clearer and baker
  50. GRÉGOIRE, Louis -? – Land-clearer
  51. GUERTIN dit LE SABOTIER, Louis – Daumeray (Maine-et-Loire) – Land-clearer and clog-maker
  52. GUYET (or GUYOT), Jean – Villiers-au-Bouin (Indre-et-Loire) – Land-clearer
  53. HARDY, Pierre – Bailleul (Sarthe) – Labourer and land-clearer
  54. HOURAY dit GRANDMONT, René – Azay-le-Rideau (Indre-et-Loire) – Land- clearer
  55. HUDIN, François – La Flèche (Sarthe) – Land-clearer and baker
  56. HUNAULT dit DESCHAMPS, Toussaint – St-Pierre-ès-Champs (Oise) – Land- clearer
  57. HURTEBISE (or HURTIBISE), André – Rouessé-Vassé (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  58. HURTEBISE (or HURTIBISE), Marin – Rouessé-Vassé (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  59. JANNEAU (ou JANNOT) dit LACHAPELLE, Marin – La Chapelle-Monthodon (Aisne) – Carpenter
  60. JETTÉ, Urbain – Saint-Germain-le-Val (Sarthe) – Top sawer, mason and land- clearer
  61. JOUANNEAU, Mathurin – Aubigné-Racan (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  62. JOUSSELIN (ou JOSSELIN), Nicolas – Solesmes (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  63. JOUSSET dit LALOIRE, Mathurin – Saint-Germain-d=Arcé (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  64. LAIRT (ou LERT), Étienne – Villaines-sous-Malicorne (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  65. LANGEVIN dit LACROIX, Mathurin – Le Lude (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  66. LA SOUDRAYE, Louis -? – Land-clearer
  67. LAUZON, Gilles – Caen (Calvados) – Land-clearer and kettle-maker
  68. LECOMTE, Jean – Chemiré-en-Charnie (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  69. LECOMTE, Michel – Chemiré-en-Charnie (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  70. LEFEBVRE dit LAPIERRE, Pierre – Paris (Seine) – Land-clearer
  71. LEMERCHER dit LAROCHE, Jean – Paris (Sarthe) – Carpenter
  72. LEPALLIER, Joachim – Clermont-Créans (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  73. LEROY (ou ROY), Simon – Ligron (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  74. LOUVARD dit DESJARDINS, Michel – Parcé (Sarthe) or Hambers (Mayenne) – Miller and land-clearer
  75. MARTIN dit LAMONTAGNE, Olivier – Auray (Morbihan) – Land-clearer and mason
  76. MARTIN dit LARIVIÈRE, Pierre – Sainte-Colombe (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  77. MILLET dit LE BEAUCERON, Nicolas – Neuville-aux-Bois (Loiret) – Carpenter and top sawer
  78. MILLOT (or MILHAUT) dit LAVAL, Jacques – Crouzille (Mayenne) – Land-clearer
  79. MOTAIN (or MOTAIS), Guy – Meslay-du-Maine (Mayenne) – Land-clearer
  80. MOULIÈRES, Pierre – Mareuil (Sarthe) – Land-clearer and toolmaker
  81. MOUSSEAU dit LAVIOLETTE, Jacques – Azay-le-Rideau (Indre-et-Loire) – Land-clearer
  82. NAIL, Jacques – Solesmes (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  83. NOCHER, François – Chemiré-en-Charnie (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  84. OLIVIER dit LE PETIT BRETON, Jean – Chemiré-en-Charnie (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  85. PAPIN, Pierre – Sablé-sur-Sarthe (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  86. PICARD dit LAFORTUNE, Hugues – Pont-James (Loire-Atlantique) – Land-clearer and top sawer
  87. PICHARD, Jean – Rouez (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  88. PIRON dit LAVALLÉE, François – La Suze (Sarthe) – Locksmith and land-clearer
  89. PIRON, Pierre – Malicorne-sur-Sarthe (Sarthe) – Digger and surgeon
  90. PRESTROT dit LAVIOLETTE, Jean – Parcé-sur-Sarthe (Sarthe) – Land-clearer and miller
  91. RAGUIDEAU dit ST-GERMAIN, Pierre – La Flèche (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  92. RENNES dit PACHANE, Bertrand de -? – Land-clearer
  93. ROBIN dit DESFORGES, Étienne -? – Land-clearer
  94. ROBUTEL DE ST-ANDRÉ, Claude – Frencq (Pas-de-Calais) -?
  95. RODAILLER, René-? – Land-clearer
  96. ROGER, Christophe – Clermont-Créans (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  97. ROINAY, François – Sablé-sur-Sarthe (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  98. TAVERNIER dit LAFORÊT, Jean – Roëzé-sur-Sarthe (Sarthe) – Land-clearer and weapon maker
  99. THÉODORE dit GILLES, Michel – Tours (Indre-et-Loire) – Land-clearer and digger
  100. VACHER dit ST-JULIEN, Sylvestre – St-Julien-sur-Cher (Loire-et-Cher) – Carpenter
  101. VALLETS (or VALLAYS), Jean – Teillé (Sarthe) – Land-clearer
  102. VALIQUET dit LAVERDURE, Jean – Le Lude (Sarthe) – Land-clearer and locksmith

Women who arrived in 1653:

A few women also boarded the Saint-Nicolas-de-Nantes and sailed to New France. As you may recall, the massive arrival of the King’s Wards only started in 1663. In 1653, the major concern was to bring men over to defend New France. R. J. Auger recorded the names of fifteen female passengers. Recent research conducted by the Société de généalogie canadienne-française indicates that there were actually fourteen women. Here are the names and the cities or villages they came from:

  1. ARTUS, Michelle – Noyen-sur-Sarthe (Sarthe / Pays de la Loire)
  2. BOURGEOYS, Marguerite – Troyes (Aube / Champagne-Ardenne)
  3. DUMESNIL, Marie – La Flèche (Sarthe / Pays de la Loire)
  4. HURAULT, Catherine – La Flèche (Sarthe / Pays de la Loire)
  5. LORGUEIL, Marie – Cognac (Charente / Région Poitou-Charentes)
  6. LORION, Catherine – Saint-Soulle (Charente-Maritime / Poitou-Charentes)
  7. MERRIN (ou MAIRÉ), Jeanne – Poitiers (Vienne / Poitou-Charentes)
  8. MEUNIER (ou MOUNIER), Perrine – Nantes (Loire-Atlantique / Pays de la Loire)
  9. PINSON, Marie-Marthe – La Flèche (Sarthe – Pays de la Loire)
  10. RENAUD, Marie – Orléans (Loiret – Région Centre)
  11. RENAUDIN, Marie – Nantes (Loire-Atlantique / Pays de la Loire)
  12. ROUSSELIER, Jeanne – Moëze (Charente-Maritime / Poitou-Charentes)
  13. SOLDÉ, Jeanne – La Flèche (Sarthe / Pays de la Loire)
  14. VOIDY (ou VEDY ou VEDIÉ), Jeanne – Saint-Germain-du-Val (Sarthe / Pays de la Loire)


1 September 22nd

5 thoughts on “La Grande Recrue de 1653”

  1. Thank you for publishing it. I’m a decedent of Jeanne Merrin. Love learning about our history!

  2. I too am a descendant of CHAUVIN dit le Grand-Pierre, Pierre as my 9th Great Grandfather! Hello Cousin!! Thank you for all of this wonderful information!

  3. I am the direct descendant of Louis Hebert.
    Our history is fascinating and tough. Most who came here were having problems from whence they came. Many signed contracts that were later redacted en route. A few speculators became very rich. Most made little or nothing on the venture. Most were abandoned, especially after the seventeen hundred treaty. On the up side, I have more than ten times as much land and much more than poor Louis ever had. Nonetheless, somehow he survived here for about twenty years. I’m glad I live here and not France. I feel more American Indian than French.

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