The First White Marriage in Montreal

On 3 November 1647, less than one month after Françoise Fafard arrived in Ville-Marie (Montreal) from France, she was married to Mathurin Meunier at the Basilique Notre Dame. To us, this probably sounds like a hurried marriage, and it was, but not for the reason you may think. In 1647, men outnumbered women 6 to 1 in New France (Quebec), and very few of those women were single. Seeing the need for marriageable ladies the leaders of Ville-Marie contracted women in France to travel to Ville-Marie for the purpose of becoming the wife of an eligible man. They are known as Filles à marier or “marriageable girl”. Françoise was part of the first small group who arrived in Oct 1647.

I have not located the notary record for Françoise engagement by the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal. Usually these records stipulated the amount of dowry the lady would receive upon her marriage to either a specific individual or any eligible man in Montreal, as well as the amount of clothes, if any, she would receive before her departure. The contract would also stipulate that the Société would pay for her travel to Ville-Marie and house and feed her while she was there, until her marriage. I’m not certain, then, that Françoise knew whom she would marry soon after her arrival. It is possible that Mathurin was aboard the same ship that arrived with Françoise; but he had signed his own contract three years earlier, and likely was already in Montreal working for the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal by assisting in building Ville-Marie. I do know from history, that the eligible lady had a choice when she arrived in New France. She could choose any man who showed interest, but choose she must.

Françoise wasn’t a young girl, she was at this time, 25 years of age. She came from the town and parish of D’Argence near Caen in France and was the daughter of Jean Fafard and Elisabeth Tibou. Do you wonder what she was thinking as she signed the contract in France? As she boarded the ship? As she exited the ship on a new continent, in a new town that was at that time merely a few buildings surrounded by a tall wall? Ville-Marie was hardly impressive. And yet, one could imagine that a person could see a future there, a new beginning. Perhaps a future that was not so bleak as what was left behind? Françoise mother had died when Françoise was a young girl, and her father soon remarried Antoinette Leverdier and had two children by her. Françoise and her siblings would be on the short stick of any inheritance left by her father.

The original document that is left behind recording this momentous occasion is torn and worn. Thankfully, at some point in the past, seeing the deteriorating condition of the original register of Notre-Dame-de-Montreal a Jesuit priest rewrote the original in much clearer and neater writing… both the original and the copy are in Latin. This record of marriage provides us with the names of their parents, the towns they came from in France, as well as some of those who were present and witnessed the marriage. A rough English translation goes something like this:

“In the Year of our Lord 1647. On 3 November 3 bans having been published on three successive denunciations and no legitimate impediment disclosed, Georges d’Endemare of the Company Jesus Sacudor, married Mathurin le Monnier, son of Rene le Monnier and Marie le Roux, his parents residing in the parish and town of Clermont near Lafleche [France] to Françoise Faffart Daughter of Jean Faffart and Elizabeth Tibou residing in the district and parish of Argences near Caen, in France. In New France, at the Royal house in Ville-Marie we received their mutual consent and gave them the nuptial blessing in the presence of Maisonneufue [Chomedey sieur de Maisonneuve], Gilbert Barbier Nevers, Jean de St Pere Gastinons, + many others.”


Marriage record for Mathurin Lemonnier and Francoise Faffart
Original marriage record of Mathurin Lemonnier and Francoise Faffart

Institut généalogique Drouin, Le LAFRANCE, acte 47182, citing image d1p_11000103.jpg; last accessed 23 Nov 2020. Marriage, 1647-11-03, Montréal (Notre-Dame-de-Montréal), Mathurin Lemonnier, parish and town of Clermont near Lafleche, single, and Francoise Faffart, town and parish of D’Argence near Caen, single; father of groom, Rene Lemonnier; mother of groom, Marie Leroux; father of bride, Jean Faffart; mother of bride, Elisabeth Tibou; witnesses: Demaisonneufve, Gilbert Barbier Lenivernais, and Jean Destpere Legastinois; priest, Georges Dendemare.; database with images, Généalogie Québec (

Rewritten marriage record of Mathurin Lemonnier and Francoise Faffart
Rewritten marriage record of Mathurin Lemonnier and Francoise Faffart, Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2008),, M > Montréal > Basilique Notre-Dame (copie textuelle) > 1643-1680; 4 of 277 images, [stamped] 205-206; 1647 Mathruin Meusnier et Francois Fafart.

1 thought on “The First White Marriage in Montreal”

  1. Hi Dennis,
    Thank you for writing about your 10th grandmother Francois Fafard. I believe she was sister to my 10 grandfather Francois Fafard and also my aunt.
    Len Surdyka

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