Filles du Roi

With the genealogy that I’ve completed so far on my family, I have found that I am French – so French! I have one great-grandparent from Roscommon, Ireland, but the rest of my family, as far back as I can research, is French. My maternal family originated in Meaux, France, while my paternal family came from Paris. Both sides emigrated to Quebec, Canada in the mid-1600s among the early settlers of New France.

As someone who has researched the history of the Mayflower passengers for her job, I am familiar with the excitement and honor of being related to an early settler. According to the American-French Genealogical Society website,  most people who can trace their ancestry to Canada are descended from one of the 800 women who settled there as part of a program that began in 1663. This program was called “les Filles du Roi,” or “the King’s Daughters.”

King Louis XIV, who sponsored the program, sent about 800 women, of lower status, to New France to help populate the area and encourage others to settle there. It was a program that encouraged marriage, family, and, of course, having children. In fact, after marriage, each family would receive an annual stipend depending on the number of children produced, with 10 being the goal!

The interesting part of this program was that the King’s Daughters were able to choose a husband.

This was not the only program that sent women and young girls to New France to marry, but it is the one most well-known in Canadian genealogy. The interesting part of this program was that the King’s Daughters were able to choose a husband. It is said that when the ship carrying the women docked in each port, there were interviews between these women and the men of the town. How amazing that a lower-class woman could choose her husband! I can only imagine the questions that might be asked: “Do you have any livestock?” “How large is your house?” “What is your occupation?” I think, above all, these women wanted someone to care for them, in this new land to which they were unaccustomed – what else would they ask?

So, where does my family come in? My ancestors were soldiers and part of the Carignan-Salières regiment, the members of which came to New France shortly after Samuel de Champlain. My paternal great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Maurice Dery (b. 1657), married Marie-Madeleine Philippeau[1] (b. 1664) on 16 January 1679 in Quebec. A maternal great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, François Seguin (b. 1644), married Jeanne Petit[2] (b. 1656) on 31 October 1672. Maurice and Madeleine were married for 45 years before Maurice died in 1724, while François and Jeanne were married for 32 years before he passed away in 1704.

Although I haven’t joined any Filles du Roi lineage societies yet, it is remarkable that those of us who are of French-Canadian descent can trace our ancestry back to these 800 brave women, who sailed to New France, docked at each port, interviewed a future spouse, and chose their future in seconds. Not common for a female in the mid-seventeenth century!

Since starting in Research Services at NEHGS, the questions on DNA testing have increased – with tests from 23andme, Ancestry.com, Family Tree DNA, and newly established National Geographic. I had my father, Leo, take a DNA test this past week, hoping to be able to find a link to family in Canada or France. There is talk that our great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, Anne Michelle Lauson (Lauzon), is a descendant of Geoffrey Chaucer.  Although the “King’s Daughters” are not of nobility or royal blood, perhaps the DNA test will reveal our connection to more remarkable people in our family tree. It’s great to have inspiration in your own family.

Do you have any remarkable individuals in your family tree?  Do you have any individuals that were part of a program like the “Filles du Roi”?

Notes

[1] Daughters of the King List of Names.

[2] Ibid.

Sarah Dery

About Sarah Dery

Sarah, who lives in Plymouth, is a graduate from Rhode Island College in Providence. She has a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and English. Sarah participated in a week-long archaeology dig at James Madison’s Montpelier in Virginia, along with visiting many Civil War battlefields on her childhood family vacations. She continues her love of history as the Research Services Coordinator at NEHGS. Sarah performs administrative work for the Research Services team; by supporting the researchers in ordering microfilm, managing correspondence with constituents, and organizing research materials. Sarah grew up in North Attleboro, MA and today, she enjoys reading, visiting the beautiful Rhode Island beaches, and spending time with her family.

69 thoughts on “Filles du Roi

  1. I am one of the few people who cannot trace a single French Canadian line to the “Mayflower immigrant” of French Canadians, Louis Hebert. However, I trace to Zacharie Cloutier, Louis Bolduc, and the infamous murderous couple, Jacques Bertault and Gillette Banne!

      1. I assume you mean Jacques Bertault and Gillette Banne…they were excecuted for the murder of their son-in-law Julien Latouche (first husband of Elisabeth/Isabelle).

  2. By the way, one of the few legitimate ways to prove one has native ancestry is to have French Canadian ancestry…I have two native lines through intermarriage between the French and indigenous tribes.

    1. How can I find that out? I was told my grandmother’s grandmother was “a full-blooded Indian”. Her maiden name was Philomene Savoie and Charles Tatro (Tetrault) was her partner. It doesn’t show that they were ever married but they began their American life in Vermont. My great grandmother, their daughter, was Martha Tatro, born in 1873. I have found that Philomene, called Ellen was born in Quebec, 1839 and her father was John Savoie and her mother was Agnes O’Keefe.

      1. The native heritage will be explicitly said in the marriage church records that the woman is a sauvage, panis (an Indian servant), or the name of the tribal affiliation. I am a direct descendent of the very first intermarriage between the European and an aboriginal American, in 1649, Martin Prevost and Marie Mantoube8ich. My other native line is Jean Baptiste Loka a panis.

        1. Aline, I would love to have more information about my great, great grandmother. I do have a picture of the whole family, but of course that does not tell me about my Native American Heritage.I cannot find any info on her from Canada except that she was born there in 1839.

  3. No French Canadian Ancestry here either but the younger sister of my Ancestor, Mercy Allen (Mrs. Peter Evans of Northfield MA), Sara Allen (Allyn) was one of the young Deerfield captives who elected to stay in Canada, was baptized (I think) as Marie Madeleine Helene (I’m guessing that the Helene was fairly close to the way they would have pronounce Allyn in French) and she married Guillaume LaLonde and is the ancestor of a great many LaLonde descendants.

    1. I am a descendent of one of the Deerfield captives as well, Elisabeth Price who married Jean Baptiste Fourneau dit Brindamour

    2. I am descended from a man who was captured by the Abenaki along with his three sisters and force marched to Canada. Only the two oldest children survived, my ancestor and his older sister. He was ransomed and returned to Massachusetts. His sister converted to Catholicism and became a nun. She spent her life trying to convert her brother to Catholicism.

      I am also descended from a woman whose brother and his entire family were killed in the Deerfield massacre. I believe this was the fate of most of the residents of Deerfield. I don’t know how many were force marched to Canada. I believe the minister’s daughter refused to be ransomed, which must have been very embarrassing to him.

      1. My ancestor kidnapped by the Indians was Daniel Sargent, son of Digory Sargent, from Worcester MA. in 1705 with all his siblings. A few ended up returning to New England after the war. Daniel was lucky to be raised by a government official. His name was changed to Louis Phillippe Langlais (Serien) He remained in Canada and married Marie Marguerite Lavoie in 1718 in Riviere Ouelle.

        1. Amy and Janine (& really every one), the ESSENTIAL modern background history is John Demos, The Unredeemed Captive : a family story from early America (New York : A. A. Knopf, 1994; TPB by Vintage Books). Copies of the TPB are readily available and NEHGS has a copy at 5th Floor Stacks E197 .D46 1994. Comes with a full bibliographical references (p. [253-310]) and ful index. While it focuses on the Rev. John Williams family, and daughter Eunice who did not “return”, choosing to marry into an Abenaki family, it covers many of the other families and both raids. Eunice herself returned with her native family several times and for several decades after her death, her family group would return to encamp nearby and then visit the graves of Eunice’s parents.

          The other Demos book of importance to genealogists is Entertaining Satan, his very detailed survey of all people and events involving witchcraft in New England. It was only when starting in on the research for this book that he paused to consider why his middle name was “Putnam”.

  4. I am 99% French Canadian. I am descended from 32 Filles du Roi , as well as 37 Filles a Marier ( the women who came to New France before the King’s dowry program.) I’m sure you have researched your women in these categories in Peter Gagne’s wonderful books: “Before the King’s Daughters – The Filles a Marier” and “King’s Daughters and Founding Mothers – The Filles du Roi”. There is also a good Facebook Group – “Filles du Roi Descendants”
    On a personal note, I was born in Pawtucket , Rhode Island and lived for many years in South Attleboro, MA. Most of my research over the last 30+ years has been at the American French Genealogical Society, at its original Pawtucket home and now in Woonsocket.

    1. There is great honor given to descendant of a carignan soldier who married a fille du roi. You can get a certificate stating such. I plan to

  5. My Father was adopted & the Grandparents I remember well. My adoptive Grandmother was descended through the marriage of one of the Kings Daughters into the Brouillet line and her maiden name when she married my Grandfather was Brouillette (pronounced Bruette) I remember her always looking for the night time stars, which in her story was the guiding light when the Women came over to marry in Canada. Some thought she was fabricating her story and seemed dreamy about the situation. She did live into her 90s and had mental problems in her old age now probably would have been called Alzheimer disease however I think she was more right minded than we realized and was a loving Grandmother to us. Someone recommended to me about the Filles du Roi several years ago and there was the story I had heard:)

  6. Sarah, your timing was perfect! This weekend, I am going to visit my neighbor, who is 75, and we are going to work on putting all of her French Canadian ancestry from Quebec on an Ancestry.com tree. My bet is that her roots go way back in Quebec after hearing her story thus far! I’m printing out your post for her to read! Keep up the great work of posting exactly what I need and when I need it! LOL!

  7. Traced my husband’s maternal line. He is descended from 22 filles du roi. These were amazingm brave women who undertook a dangerous journey to a dangerous land. All hoping for a better life.

  8. My ancestry didn’t have a Filles du Roi, but were however sent by the King of France to repopulate the fortress at Louisbourg in 1749. Repopulate because it had been attacked and defeated by the English in 1745 but was given back to France in 1748 during the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. Louisbourg was on what is now Cape Breton Island and at that time rivaled New York and Philadelphia, having a population around 10,000. It became a popular shipping and trading town, and a stopping point for both ships going and coming from Europe. It was located there to guard the St Lawrence which was then the gateway to the interior of Canada. A fortress was different that a fort in that it was a fortified town, which had both soldiers and a civilian population.The fortress was attacked and defeated again by the English in 1758, its population deported and the fortress completely destroyed by the English. Canada has reconstructed a portion of the fortress which can be visited today.

  9. I’m fortunate to have four ancestors who were Filles du Roi and arrived between 1663 and 1673.
    Arinart, Anne, m Real, Jean Oct 26 1671
    Boileau, Marie, m. 1: Chauvin, Pierre, before 1668, m. 2: Chamberland, Simon, Nov. 28, 1669, m. 3: Jolin, Jean, Apr. 4, 1690
    Fauvreau, Françoise, m. Jean, Pierre, 1671 or 1672
    Major, Marie, m. Roy dit Desjardins, Antoine, 11 Sept 1668

    Before the Filles du Roi program was instituted there were the Filles A Marier (Marriageable Women) 1634-1662.
    I have six ancestors among this earlier group of 262 brave souls. They came alone in small groups, they were not recruited by the government and they received no incentives from the King.

    1. I am a descendant of a Jean Chauvin, a carpenter who emmigrated to Montreal from Rouen in 1650. I have never heard of the filles du roi. I will have to see if he had a son Pierre who married Marie Boileau. Because of the Catholic records, searching for French Canadian ancestors is very easy.

  10. So far, I have found at least 24 Filles du Roi in my direct ancestry, and I am continuing to research my French Canadian background. I have Gagne’s 2-volume work on the Filles du Roi, but I have not found a copy of his other work on the Filles a Marier 1634-1662. Do you know where I can purchase a copy of that work?

        1. Sorry for the typo Jan. I corrected that mistake immediately with another post that indicated a cost of about $50. Thanks for the update on price of about $60.

  11. My cousin has traced his maternal great grandmother Rose Meilleur back to Filles du Roi. The Meilleur family wound up in New Orleans from Quebec.

  12. Wow. Loved this article AND all of these comments. Being a Roy, formerly le Roi, I too, am a descendent of several filled du Roi, I’ve forgotten how many. Definately so interesting and complicated! Lots of inter-marriages from both sides of both parents. Roy’s on my mother’s and father’s sides!

    1. Same here…my paternal grandmother’s mother was a Roy – Lucie – and both of her parents were Roy(s)…Louis and Adele…they both descended from Jean Baptiste – one from his first wife and one from his second wife…

  13. Also I recognized several of the names posted in others comments, Louis Hebert, Antoine Roy dit Desjardins, related to them too. Also descendent of “the first white child” born in New France. Also thanks for the references to marriages with native peoples. I’ve only found 1 or 2, but I think their must be more “metis” in my tree but don’t know how to find/verify this

    1. Parent’s marriage certificates sometimes suggested when one spouse was natif. Also google parents or great granparents’ names…

  14. My grandfather was French Canadian and his ancestors include several filles du roi. The family name for his paternal lineage, Ouellet-te, goes back to my 8th great grandparents who married in Québec City in 1666 – René Hoûallet and Anne Rivet, a widow and fille du roi from the Alençon region. New to family history research, I am amazed by the online databases for Québec parish records – I never imagined that I’d be able to go back so many generations.

    1. I am related to Anne Rivet and Rene Ouellet-te also. After Anne’s death, Rene remarried. He married Therese Mignault Lebel — widow of Nicholas Lebel. Therese was born in New France (ca 1652) and is related to the Cloutier line. Anyone know if Louise Cloutier was a fille a marier? I am related to Theresa because one of her daughters with Nicholas married Mauthrin Rene Houallet/Ouellet-te — a son of Anne Rivet and Rene Ouellet-te.

      1. Nice to have so many Ouellet-te cousins. I am also a descendant of Mathurin and Anqelique Lebel.
        To those who may not be familiar with it, the website of the Association de Ouellet-te de l’Amérique has a publication, le Hoûallet, accessible online, which has a genealogy section – much information about the lineage. Lately, the research has gone back several generations in France. Most articles are in French (written by Jeannine Ouellet, who also wrote a book about René and his immediate family in France), but some of the more recent ones are translated to English.

        1. I have a lifetime membership to the Ouellet-te paper print newsletter — Le Hoûallet. An aunt who researched the family history and self published her research in 1978 urged me to join. Because it was in French, it forced me to resume my study of French in order to understand minimally what it offered. Following the discoveries has been fascinating.

      2. there are no Cloutier(s) listed in Peter J. Gagne’s book Before the King’s Daughters: The Filles a Mariere, 1634-1662

      3. I descend from Mathurin-Rene and Angelique Lebel also. Therese’s mother, Marie Louise Cloutier, (bap. 1632) came to Québec as a child with her parents Zacherie Cloutier and Sainte (Xainte) Dupont in the mid-1630s. Zacherie was recruited among other tradesmen from the Perche region of France.

        1. Thank You, Ann. I wondered because Therese was in Québec so early. Is there any name applied to these early female colonists?

  15. Researching the Filles du Roi and Filles a Marier has been great fun, I have traced 37 Filles du Roi, 27 Filles A Marier, 20 Carignan Soldiers, 12 La Grande Recrue, 21 La Perche Migration ancestors, mostly through my maternal line, but a few on my paternal Great Grandmother’s line. I am also a direct descendant of Elizabeth Price, the Deerfield captive mentioned above. There were at least 2 metis marriages. My friends at our local Genealogy Society are jealous of the French Canadian documentation that is readily available.

  16. Not to be picky but the Carignan-Salières regiment did not arrive “shortly after Samuel de Champlain”. They came in 1665, 30 years after Champlain died. I agree that this period of history is fascinating as most of my ancestry is French-Canadian and French-Acadian also (with one set of Irish great-grandparents). So much history to dig into, and I don’t think we learned much or any of it back when we were in school…
    Typically if you find a Fille du Roi in your lineage, you will find a bunch more as you fill in your tree!

  17. One exception to the lower class distinction of the ‘filles du roi’, was Catherine Baillon. She was in direct descent of several kings of France. Her lineage can be traced back to Charlemagne on the American-Canadian Genealogical Society website.

  18. In 1663 at age 27, Marguerite Ardion Beaudet (1636-1678) a Filet du Roi, arrived with son Laurent Beaudet 2nd (1662-1687), (his father was Laurent David Beaudet 1st (1634-1662)). A first son, Pierre Beaudet (1660-1662) passed away at the same time as his father in 1662. Marguerite had two sisters and three brothers born in La Rochelle, France to parents Pierre Ardion(1594-1641) and Suzanne Soret (1600-1650). Marguerite m. Laurent David Beaudet 1st in 1659 at age 23 in La Rochelle, Manche, Basse-Normandie, France. On 28 October, 1663, at age 27, Marguerite married Jean Rabouin in New France (Canada). Born Marguerite Ardion, she became the 5th g-gmother of the wife of my 2nd great uncle Laurent Beaudet 2nd (1662-1687).

    1. Anthony Bourdain was a subject of the TV program Who Do You Think You Are, and he is a descendant of your Marguerite Ardion. The segment contained a lot of info of their time in La Rochelle. It also showed several original documents.

      1. So did Tom Bergeron’s episode. He’s descended from Filles du Roi and Huguenots and goes to La Rochelle during the program to learn about the terrible siege of that city.

  19. I have many DNA matches to people with French Canadian heritage but I am 100% Irish American! The only “wild card” in my lineage is my gg grandmother, Catherine Boucher, who was born in 1800 in Newport, Tipperary, Ireland. I see that Madeleine BOUCHER was a Filles du Roi. Does anyone have any information for me that might explain how my Irish Bouchers came to Ireland? Thanks!

    1. Some of the Huguenots sought refuge in Ireland – thus there are many people of French/Irish descent there. It was far back enough that the French dna traces may not show up in your testing depending on what you inherited. Google “French migration to Ireland” and you will get many results to begin (or continue) your journey. You may also want to plug into the royandboucher dot com family genealogy site to see if anyone has any specific insights.

  20. My husband descends from two Filles du Roi: Francoise Moisan married Antoine Brunet, and Marie Chevreau married Rene Reaume. In addition, he descends from some Filles a Marier – see the book Before the King’s Daughters: The Filles à Marier, 1634-1662 by Peter J. Gagne (2002). Jeanne Auneau married Pierre Lefebvre, Marie Lorgueil married Toussaint Hunault dit Deschamps, and Suzanne Migaud married Pierre Trottier.

  21. Although many Filles du Roi were orphaned, etc., I don’t believe that all of them came from the lower classes as reported above. The “King’s dowry” was doubled (to 100 livres) for women originating from relatively prominent families, and I have at least two ancestors who fell in that category.

    1. I agree. I have looked into names of the Flles du Roi and found the women came from several different backgrounds. Some lower classes, others from middle and upper classes.

      1. I have traced my french grandmother back to Chief Pontiac. We always knew my grandmother waspart indian, but didn’t know which tribe. Turns out, her fathers side, Lantcot, was from Labadie family and my 8th great-grandfather was Chief Pontiac. I was so shocked and amazed. Went to my local libray and found book on Bloody Run Batttle , in the book is mentioned my ancestor, who was a friend of Chief Pontiac and was given his daughter, Marie Sauvage, and from there my family connection came.

      2. Also, my 8th great-grandmother, Maire Lafaye Emond was one of the first women of the Kings Daughter and married Rene Emond, one of the founding families of Saint Familles Parish, lle’d Orleans, in Quebec. Names and history at parish and on Plaque in yard. Proud to be descendant of Rene& Marie.

  22. I beg to differ, with the idea that the filles du Roy < old spelling were "low born", as a matter of fact, these orphaned girls came from the best families, in many cases. They were ALL screened for their "good characters" and were likely higher educated than their peasant farmer husbands-to-be! In my own case, I can cite my 8th Great Gramma, wife of my ancestor, Jean Jollain; Marie Madelaine, Boyleau, de la Goupillere… the orphaned daughter of minor French noble, Rene Boyleau de la Goupilliere, who appears to have lost both parents in 1665, while the black death (AKA great plague) was ravishing all of Europe!

  23. Doing some research on family French canadian history. Imagine my surprise to find the author and I share the same GGGGGGGG grandparents. Hers on the Paternal side, mine on the maternal. That’s the fun of Genealogy Just wondering if you have any more info about Maurice Déry or Marie-Madeleine Philippaeu.

  24. As I began my ancestry research, I would come upon these ‘filles du roi’ but would dismiss their significance because of my limited French (their last names were not Bourbon and such could not be princesses). Only later did I learn of their historical importance, not to mention their contribution to my DNA since I’ve identified scores of them in my tree.
    As a passing observation, I agree with your contributor who claimed that the most desirable
    Daughters of the King were the first off the boat. I can attest that the women today of Sorel and Quebec City are much better looking than those of end-of-the-line Montreal.

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