As a genealogist, I like to go beyond just names and dates. I want to know the story behind the name; who that person was in life, what they experienced during their lifetime. Good or bad, I want to know. And tonight, I found out quite a bit about my 10th-great-grandmother Françoise Moisan. Françoise is one of my French ancestors, having been born in France and immigrating to Nouvelle-France during the mid-17th century.
Below is an account of my 10th-great-grandmother, taken from "King's Daughters and Founding Mothers: The Filles du Roi, 1663-1673" by Peter J. Gagne. As you will see when you read the passage below, Françoise Moisan was not a simple housewife and mother as many expect their ancestors to have been in those days. Despite the dangers of punishment looming over her, Françoise daringly carried on with life as she pleased.
Francoise Moisan was born about 1645 in the parish of Saint-Barthelemi in La Rochelle, Aunis, the daughter of plowman and gardener Abel Moisan and Marie Simiot, who were married 23 January 1642 at Saint-Barthelemi de La Rochelle. Her father is the son of Mathurin Moisan and Jeanne Coustu and her mother is the daughter of miller Charles Simiot and Marie Cholet from La Jarrie. After losing both parents, Francoise left for Canada in 1663, at about age 18.
On 28 November 1663, Francoise married Antoine Brunet dit Belhumeur in Montreal. Neither spouse could sign the marriage contract drawn up 19 October by notary Gloria. Antoine was born about 1644 in the parish of Saint-Nicolas in La Rochelle, the son of Mathurin Brunet and Marie Brunet. He came to Canada in 1662. Antoine and Francoise settled at Montreal, where son Francois was baptized 17 March 1665, followed by Marie-Francoise (26 April 1667), Catherine (25 August 1669) and Antoine (06 July, buried 10 July 1672). Twins Elisabeth and Genevieve were baptized 23 July 1674, followed by Marguerite (16 April 1679) and Barbe-Angelique (19 June 1682).
In 1688, Francoise was accused of living a scandalous life, charged with inciting her son-in-law's second wife to prostitution. Jean Patenaude had married Marie Brunet in 1683, but Marie died in 1686, giving birth to their second child. That November, Jean married Marie Robidou. Francoise maintained contact with her former son-in-law, becoming friendly with Marie Robidou, who frequented her house. These relations began to worry the local cure, who voiced his concerns to Jean. When Jean went to speak with Francoise, however, both she and her son Francois mistreated him.
Unable to resolve the situation himself, Jean went to the authorities in an attempt to force his wife to return home. He alleged that "for quite some time, several people have engaged in a sinister commerce with the said Bellehumeur woman, who has always been the ruin and the cause of debaucher of the youth of the entire Cote Saint-Francois and who continues to live in such infamy". (16)
It was stated that soldiers constantly visited Francoise's home despite warning, threats and beatings by their officers and that some of the lovers got into fights with each other and one even mistreated Francoise when he found her sleeping with other men.
During the inquiry, it came out that Francoise had a lover named Andre Huneau for over two years. Huneau testified that not only did Francoise live a "dissolute and infamous life," but that the two of them lived together for two years as husband and wife. The most damaging testimony was that "she was even so brazen that to satisfy her brutality she had no concern if her daughters who were twelve or thirteen years old were prostitutes. (17)
Pierre Delorme dit Sans-Crainte, another lover, testified that he would sleep with Francoise when her husband was away (which was often) and that when Antoine returned, he would stay in the barn. It seems that the only outcome of all of this testimony was to publicly denounce Francoise's conduct and to ban her from contact with her former son-in-law's second wife.
Antoine Brunet died at Montreal between 15 November 1688 and 04 June 1695. On 13 February 1707, Francoise married Pierre Perhuis dit Lalime at Montreal. Notary Adhemar drew up the marriage contract that same day. Pierre was previoulsy married (1668) to Fille du Roi Claude Damise, with whom he had 12 children. Pierre and Francoise had no children together. Pierre Perthuis was buried at Montreal 16 April 1708. Francoise Moisan died 02 November 1718 and was buried the same day at Contrecoeur, probably a victim of a malignant fever epidemic."
(16) Sequin, Vie Libertine pp. 80-81, (Archives Judiciare de Montreal 19 September 1688)
(17) same p. 81
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Direct Relationship Between Myself & Françoise Moisan
............Marie Angelique Gervais
...............Marie Angelique Magny
........................George N. Benoit
...........................Edna Agnes Benoit
..............................Helen Patricia Meagher
.................................Cheryl Lynne Anderson
....................................David J. McRae
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Copyright © 2018 by David J. McRae