The “Filles du roi” (1663-1673)

Summer 2013 marks the 350th anniversary of the arrival in New France of the first contingent of the “Filles du roi” (“King’s daughters”), young women who became the ancestors of numerous French-Canadian families. A variety of celebrations are planned throughout Quebec, culminating in the New France Festival in Quebec City from August 7 to 11, 2013.

Between 1663 and 1673, King Louis XIV supported the emigration of these young women, many of them orphans. Their passage to the colony was paid and they received an average dowry of 50 livres, along with a small hope chest containing clothing and sewing materials. In exchange, the women agreed to marry on their arrival in New France, to start a family and to help their husbands work the land. These women were instrumental in helping to populate and develop the colony.

The first contingent of 36 “Filles du roi” landed in 1663. Over the next ten years, an estimated 800 young women settled in New France under the same program.

If you would like to know whether one of your ancestors was a “Fille du roi,” there are many genealogical publications and reviews you can consult. However, the most valuable reference work is Yves Landry’s Les Filles du roi au XVIIe siècle, orphelines en France, pionnières au Canada which was published in 1992 and which includes biographical notes. You can also visit the website of the Société d’histoire des Filles du roy.

Library and Archives Canada has several historical documents in its collection pertaining to this wave of immigration, including correspondence between the Governor General of New France, Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac; Intendant Jean Talon; and the Secretary of State for the Navy, Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Of particular note are a letter dated October 27, 1667 and a memorandum written on November 10, 1670.

Painting depicting the arrival in Quebec City of intended brides for French-Canadian farmers in 1667.

Arrival of the Brides. (c020126k)

Royal Tour: The Duchess of Cornwall’s Canadian Ancestors

Did you know that Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and wife of Prince Charles, has among her ancestors a Premier of the Province of Canada and two New France pioneers, Zacharie Cloutier and Jean Guyon?

How is this possible?

It’s simple. The Duchess of Cornwall’s great-great grandfather, William Coutts Keppel (1832-1894), visited Canada and married Sophia Mary MacNab (1832-1917), on November 15, 1855, in Hamilton, Ontario.  She was the daughter of Sir Allan Napier MacNab (1798-1862),  Premier of the Province of Canada from 1854 to 1856, and Mary Stuart.
As we continue to climb Mary Stuart’s family tree, we discover the names of Zacharie Cloutier and Jean Guyon.

You can find many archival and published materials regarding these historical figures in our collection; some are digitized and available online. Try finding them by “Searching all”!

Learn more about Allan Napier MacNab’s career by consulting the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.

Do you wish to know if you have someone famous as an ancestor? Learn more by discovering our Genealogy Services!

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

New France Census Records

Did you know that several nominal censuses dating from the early French colonial period have been digitized and are available on our website?  You will see that most of these census records list only the heads of the household. Here are a few examples (in French, only):

To find other censuses such as those mentioned above, simply enter the keywords “recensement nominatif”, “recensement habitants” or “recensement familles” in our “Collection Search” database  and select “Online: yes.”

Note that since the records are of French origin and have been written only in French you must use French keywords to search.

For more information on census records, we invite you to visit our Genealogy and Family History pages.

Happy hunting!