Guillaume Pelletier (1598 - 1657)

Guillaume Pelletier was born in 1598 in Bresolettes, Perche, France, the son of Eloi Pelletier and Françoise Matte (?Mare).

There are documents in the genealogy archives of the Paris National Library that indicate that the Pelletiers from Perche are probably descendants of Barthelémy Le Pelletier of Brittany. Barthelémy was given the Perche forest by the French King, Charles V, as a reward for his bravery in the battle of Thouars, in Poitou, August 7, 1372. (Louise Pelletier in La Pelleterie, Bulletin #25, Volume 11, No. 1, Winter 1997.)

Perche, an old French province (circled below), founded in 1115, is west of Paris and east of the coastal province of Normandy. Perche no longer exists as a province today - it is part of Lower Normandy. For more interesting history of Perche and the emigration to New France , click Here. The ancient province of Perche was dismantled into four uneven parts in 1790, when the French Assembly divided France into "départements". Today, the province of Perche would correspond roughly to the eastern portion of the "département" of Orne, and the western portion of the "département" of Eure-et-Loire. Perche is still referred to as a region of France. Approximately 4% of the early Canadian settlers were from the Perche region. In 1998, the author and his wife went to Tourouvre and Bresolettes. To view this visit, click here.

The region of Perche's topography is one of quiet rolling hills, "Les Collines du Perche", where wheat fields and pastures abound. However, in the 17th century, Perche was an important iron works center, especially in that part of Perche called the "Val de l'Avre", the Avre River Valley.

Perche is known for its draft horse, the Percheron. Curiously enough the term Percheron is also given to a Perche native. Gastronomically, Perche is best known for its "boudin noir", blood sausage or black pudding. A "boudin" festival is held every Spring in Mortagne-au-Perche. Hidden away deep in the Perche Forest is "La Grande Trappe", the original Trappist monastery, founded in 1140.

Percheron
Boudin
Trappe
Percheron
Boudin
La Trappe

Map
Coat-of-arms
Map of the Tourouvre area
Perche coat-of-arms

The Pelletier ancestral home, in Bresolettes (see map above), whose walls are made of flintstone (silex), still stands today.It is rented by one of Guillaume's descendants, Jacqueline Pelletier-Gaudet, born in Quebec Province, Canada. She visited the ancestral home in 1986. During her stay in France at that time, she met and married her husband, Andre Gaudet. Below is a photograph of the house as it looks today - the original portion of the house is the large section in the center of the photograph. The other photograph of Jacqueline Pelletier Gaudet and her husband, André, was taken in January 1995 in front of the original hearth, now part of the bedroom.

Cristerie
The Gaudets
La Cristerie
Jacqueline Pelletier Gaudet and her husband, André
(Photo courtesy of Victor Pelletier)

Guillaume's trade was that of "marchand de charbon", a coal (charcoal) merchant. On February 12, 1619, Guillaume left his native village to marry Michelle Mabille, six years his elder, daughter of François Mabille and Etiennette Monhée (Monhay). The wedding took place in St-Aubin Church (photo below), in the neighboring town of Tourouvre.

St-Aubin-de-Tourouvre Church

During the 1974-1977 restoration of the church, a cornerstone dated 1034 was found. Above the altar there is a 15th century painting of the Nativity. Two of the church's stained glass windows commemorate the departure of the 80 families from the area to New France in the 17th century.

One of the two commemorative stained glass windows in St-Aubin-de-Tourouvre

There are also commemorative plaques in the church in honor of those Tourouvians baptized at St-Aubin church who left for New France as well as plaques honoring specific families who took part in the great emigration to the new world.

Below is a scanned copy of the original marriage act between Guillaume and Michelle, from the parish archives.

Marriage act between Guillaume Pelletier and Michelle Mabille - 1619

Guillaume and his bride took up residence in a section of Tourouvre called "Gazerie". The couple also lived in an adjacent area of Tourouvre, called "Babonnière", with Michelle's parents. According to Torouvre archives, 3 children were born to Guillaume and Michelle: the eldest, Claude, was baptized on February 11, 1622; the second, Guillaume, was baptized on February 26, 1624, and the youngest, Jean, was baptized on June 12, 1627. Other than the baptismal records, no addtional information, neither in Tourouvre archives nor in any Canadian archive, can be found for the two older children, Claude and Guillaume. The prevailing opinion among Pelletier historians is that they both probably died in early infancy.

In 1627, Cardinal Richelieu, chief of the King's council, organized "La Compagnie des Cent-Associés", the Company of the Hundred Associates, also known as "La Compagnie de la Nouvelle-France", the New France Company.

This company was made up of one hundred partners, mostly trade leaders. As organized, the Company was to own and exploit the vast regions of New France. It had perpetual monopoly of the fur trade and monopoly of all the other trades for 15 years. In return for these benefits, each partner was required to furnish a certain of number of colonists over the period of the contract. The Company was to support each new colonist for 3 years in return for his labor. The Company owned all the land and had the right to grant estates to "Seigneurs", under the French feudal laws.

Such a grant is made to Robert Giffard, originally from the Perche region. In 1634, Giffard was named "Seigneur" of the Beauport area, just northeast of Québec City. Giffard heavily recruits colonists from his native Perche Province. Among his principal recruiters are the Juchereau brothers from the town of Tourouvre.

Apparently the Juchereau brothers recruited Guillaume Pelletier and his bachelor brother, Antoine, before 1640. Guillaume, however, did not feel free to leave at that time because of his in-laws' extremely poor health. He stayed on in Tourouvre with his wife, Michelle, to care for the elderly couple. Both in-laws died within a short time of each other in 1640, and the Pelletiers were free to leave for Beauport.

Guillaume, age 43, his wife Michelle, age 48, their youngest son Jean, age 14, and Guillaume's brother, Antoine, left Tourouvre in the spring of 1641 for New France. For a view of the relative locations of La Cristerie, Guillaume's birthplace, and Beauport, Guillaume's ultimate destination in New France, click here. No information about the family is available for the following 3 years. As mentioned previously, New France Comapny obligated itself to support the hired settlers for 3 years in exchange for their labor. It is assumed that Guillaume and his brother are hired as carpenters and wood workers. They worked either at Québec City for the Company, or at nearby Beauport for the “Seigneur” Giffard.

On September 12, 1644, Guillaume became the owner of a piece of land in the “seigneurie” of Beauport, purchased from Martin Grouvel. The purchased property had a six-acre frontage on the St-Lawrence River and extended northwest to the Montmorency River near the Montmorency Falls. His brother, Antoine, bought a piece of land next to his, but closer to the Falls.

Below is a drawing of that section of Beauport, called Courville, showing the original land grants of Guillaume and his brother, Antoine. The drawing is a modified version of that presented by Alphonse Pelletier at his conference on Guillaume Pelletier, given at the 16th Annual Pelletier Family Association meeting in Sherbrooke, QC, Canada, 3 Aug 2002.
I thank him for allowing me to post here.




In September 1991, the "Association des Familles Pelletier" unveiled a memorial in Beauport to commemorate The the 350th anniversary of Guillaume's arrival to Canada. The inscription on the plaque (below) reads (in translation):

Guillaume Pelletier
1598 - 1657
Born in Bresolettes in Perche, he came to New France in 1641
and established himself on this land with
his wife Michelle Mabille and his son Jean
---------------------

The association des Familles Pelletier
unveiled this plaque on September 8, 1991,
to commemorate the 350th anniversary
of his arrival to this country
_________________________________________________________________________


Below are photographs taken in 2000, graciously submitted by Rena Pelletier, of her son, Chris, and the monument at Beauport:




In July 2009, Dan Breton visited Beauport and sent along these photos of himself and the monument, which is located “right across from St-Louis-de-Courville Church in the yard of a historic building called Maison Girardin”.


Guillaume's brother, Antoine, married Françoise Morin on August 19, 1647, at Québec City. Less than 2 months later, on Wednesday, October 3, 1647, Antoine drowned as his canoe overturned near the Montmorency Falls. Since Antoine and his wife had not entered into a formal marriage contract, half of Antoine's property passed to his nearest living relative, his brother Guillaume. Guillaume, in turn, bought Antoine's widow's half of the property. Later, in 1655, Guillaume sold his brother's former property to Jean Migneault (Mignaux).

According to the Ursuline Sisters' archives in Québec, Guillaume was instrumental in the construction of the Château St-Louis, the Governor's home, in 1647, and of the parish church in 1648, which still serves the community today. In addition to being a master carpenter and beam maker, Guillaume distinguished himself as a community leader. He participated in the "Communauté des Habitants", the landowners' syndicate, and was elected to represent Beauport to the syndicate in 1653.

Guillaume died at the age of 59 on Tuesday, November 27, 1657. He was buried the next day in the “Côte de la Montagne” cemetery at Québec City. His wife, Michelle Mabille, lived on at Beauport where she died eight years later at the age of 73. She was buried beside her husband on January 21, 1665.




If your are interested in reading Guillaume's biography as well as that of his son Jean, written in English by l'Association des familles Pelletier, click HERE...