My father is my 8th cousin.


My father is my 8th cousin.

 

So, I’m not at all certain that it’s true that my father is also my 8th cousin, but it is entirely possible given my family history and the interrelationships between the Alberts, Michauds, Leguerriers and Gauchers over several generations. [1] There is clear evidence that the Michaud and Albert clans came over from the Poitou area of France together in the mid 17th century. On my mother’s side of the family, the Leguerrier side, it seems that Guillaume was the first to arrive in Canada. He arrived sometime just before 1748. My paternal grandparents Thomas Albert and Edna Michaud are 6th cousins so it seems the families that appear most predominantly in our family histories intermarried frequently enough.

 

Maybe as I get older I think more about my own death just because I’m getting closer to that time and time seems to be moving ever so fast. But I do glance away from my own belly button from time to time. I’m also fascinated with my family’s history, mostly as I try to imagine what my ancestors experienced as they lived out their lives. What would have possessed my ancestor Guillaume Leguerrier to leave his home in St. Léger, Normandy in the middle of the 18th Century?

 

I’m in the process of translating parts of Les Leguerrier au Canada by Victor Leguerrier in 1974. This is a massive study of the Leguerrier family in the New World. It needs to be updated, but it’s complete to the mid 1970s. What follows is a translation of pages 15 and 16 of that text:

Among the possible hypotheses on the origins of the Leguerriers, there is one that proposes that the Leguerrier were originally from Switzerland and that they ended up in the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey fleeing from religious persecution. Some of the refugees ended up back on the continent, in Brittany. One Leguerrier, it is said, left the Channel Islands to settle in Wales, about one hundred and fifty kilometers to the southwest of London.

Certain contemporary [1974] Leguerriers in France report that oral tradition has it that the Leguerriers had lived in Brittany but that in the 15th Century some had come to live in Normandy. At that point they abandoned the Breton language to adopt French as their language. As to their name, they simply translated the Breton word for their family name into French, which ended up as “Leguerrier”.

The French origins of the Leguerriers in Canada are in St. Léger, Normandy, a tiny village situated at an altitude of 100 meters above sea level, at about 10 kilometers from Grandville and at about 18 kilometers to the north-east of Avranches in the Manche District. St. Léger is in the Coutances Diocese. The population is about 75 inhabitants [in 1974].

The ocean, about 7 kilometers away, is visible from St. Léger. Next to the church which is in the Norman architectural style there are a few stone houses, all occupied. Close by, in the south, at the base of a small hill flows the little Thar river that flows west towards the ocean where one can also find the partially restored ancient Lucerne Abbey.

The first and only Leguerrier to come to New France was Guillaume Leguerrier.

“Son of François Leguerrier and Anne Lebreton”, he was baptized on the 11th of January 1715 in the St. Léger Church by the Parish priest, Father M. Ainue. The godfather is listed as “Guillaume le Poupé and the godmother was Marguerite Lebreton, Ivan Lebreton’s daughter.” [I have no idea what the quotation marks mean here.]

Guillaume had brothers and sisters:

 

Louyie,           baptized on January 11th, 1702

Yvan,             baptized on May 7th, 1705

Andrée,          baptized on July 15th, 1708

Madeleine,    baptized on February 14th, 1720.

 

At that time there were other Leguerrier in St. Léger, as recorded in the parish registry:

  •  Nouelle Leguerrier was godmother at a baptism in 1704.
  • Catherine le Guerrier, wife of Claude Youffre, had her son Jean marry Jacqueline Pestour on September 30th, 1711.
  • Pierre Leguerrier, priest, attended the burial of a 7 or 8 year old child. A Claude Leguerrier assisted in this task. Pierre, the priest, signed the register   “leguerrier” and Claude, who has a nice handwriting, signed “le Guerrier.
  • Jacques le guerrier, sieur of the ‘her Pierre berbière’ (?) is present at a wedding on February 17th, 1718.
  • Julienne le toxa, wife of Jacques le guerrier, sieur of la her Pierre [whatever that means], is listed as godmother at the baptism as Julienne petoux, daughter of Jean petoux and Jeanne le terrier.
  • Françoise le guerrier, widow of Robert le petour, who had died the day before, was interred on November 22nd, 1719. She was about 70 years old.

There are currently Leguerrier in France who claim to be descendants of François, thus of Louyie or Ivan, Guillaume’s brothers. These Leguerrier claim that they are from St-Ursin, a tiny village close to St. Léger.

As Guillaume was making his way to North America, one of his brothers established himself in the neighbouring village. The descendants of this brother include Victor Leguerrier, grandfather to several Leguerrier currently living in France.

We note that there is another Victor Leguerrier living in Rennes, France. Finally there is a woman living in Switzerland who claims that her ancestors are from St. Léger.

[1] My sister, Claudette, has done a lot of snooping around the family tree and has published a number of calendars and booklets of family memories. distant cousins on my mother’s side, Victor Leguerrier, published a history of the Leguerrier family in Canada (1974), a very serious study of over 600 pages, and Marcel Lirette published Descendants of Antoine Micheau and Marie Train (date unknown- I remember getting my copy around 2005).

 

11 thoughts on “My father is my 8th cousin.

  1. Fascinating stuff Roger. My descendants are also from Normandy and my direct ancestor was Nicholas Le Roy who along with wife Jeanne le Lièvre left Dieppe on February 24, 1662 aboard sailing ship “le Jardin de Hollande”. The voyage took about four months and over 60 of the over 300 passengers (two ships) perished at sea. One can only imagine the horror of sailing under these conditions rife with scurvy, starvation, vermin, storms, madness, challenging the crew and passengers to the depths of their being.
    Historian Joseph-Edmond Roy wrote in his 1897 book “Nicholas Le Roy et ses decendants” that the two ships had to stop in Terre Neuve to leave the critically ill behind until help could be dispatched at a later time.
    The people of Normandy are known to be good sailors, fishers and boat builders but nothing could have prepared these people for such a treacherous trans-Atlantic trip. I guess that Nicholas and wife Jeanne were two of the luckier passengers because records indicate that they had survived the voyage and would eventually settle in Ange Guardien in Beaupré.
    Why did they leave France one can only guess but exactly 353 years ago to this day a young couple left their home in Saint Remi de Dieppe to travel to the new world and I for one am eternally grateful for their courage.

    1. Hi Dan. It looks like you only get to see the comment published when I approve it. So, just post away and I’ll approve them and all will be fine. I’ve had some spam in the comments and the approval process makes it so that spam doesn’t show up on my site. In any case, can you trace your ancestry directly back to Nicholas Le Roy? Do you have all the generations in place? How about your mother’s side of the family. I haven’t written much yet about the Alberts, but I will.
      I ask the same question as you about what would push and pull people to come to North America from France. The 16th and 17th centuries were very tumultuous and hundreds of thousands of people were killed during the religious wars between the Catholics and Huguenots. This was when the bourgeoisie was gaining power too and the peasantry was under attack everywhere. I’ll editorialize about this soon.

  2. You may be receiving this a second time Roger so bear with me and feel free to delete the comment if I have. If the information that I have is correct then yes I can trace back to Nicholas Le Roy. I haven’t had as much luck with my mothers side (Caouette) and it would seem that there has been less documentation to find. That being said, genealogical research can be extremely tedious but the fruits can be amazingly rewarding. I’m sure that a distinctive trait in my ancestors was curiosity because I seem to have it in spades.

  3. Oops I meant to say in my first comment that King Louis XIV took charge of the colony of Canada on Feb. 24, 1662 authorizing governors and colonists to come to the new land. The following spring Nicholas Le Roy, wife Jeanne le Lièvre and two sons boarded the “Jardin de Hollande” for what would be a harrowing four month journey.

    Should have learnt from one of your previous blogs about rushing to print…Mia culpa.

    By the way, I got your pdf. Very interesting.

    1. Looking at the history of France at the time, I can see many reasons why people would want to get out of there. The trip over, as you note, could not have been a picnic, that for sure.
      I’ll post more material from Victor Leguerrier later this evening.

      1. Wow it’s been a long time since I spent a whole day doing historical research pertaining to my heritage and I must admit that it was a lot of fun. The thing I found really interesting is how some of my ancestors fit into certain historical events that helped define our nation.

      2. Yes, Dan. The historical events that our ancestors had to deal with and their reaction to these events are what interest me. Of course that kind of information is not easy to get. Of course our ancestors were no different than others who experienced the rule of kings and aristocrats in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Albert and Leguerrier families coming to BC from Alberta is more accessible, but still, I haven’t heard my father or mother ever talk about why they came to BC.
        Isn’t retirement great, though? We can spend time doing this kind of thing at our leisure.

  4. Funny how our families resemble one another because my grandparents (Caouette) also moved here from the Morinville-Rivière Qui Barre area of Alberta. Apparently my grandfather (Aimé Caouette) was a farmer in this area that was known for its French community. The early 1800’s attracted french speaking people from France, Belgium and Quebec. My grand mother (Marie Soetard) was of Belgian background. The family would eventually move to Maillardville where my grandfather worked at Fraser Mills until he retired. Now I like to think that they moved here because farming after the war was not an entirely profitable enterprise. My grandfather (originally from St Liboire, QC) much like your dad was a quiet gentle man that was good with woodworking and managed to secure a good paying job at the mill. My grandparents raised four children and where pioneers of the Our Lady of Fatima parish.

    1. When I went to College St.Jean there was at least one Roy from the Morinville area there at the same time. Can’t remember his first name although I can picture his face in my mind. I’m sure farming was not very profitable during the depression when my father moved here with his family, but I’m not sure if he knew what to expect once he got here, in New Westminster. There must have been people from the Bonnyville area already here who could tell him what the opportunities were, but I don’t know. It’s all very interesting.

  5. How wonderful that you have such an extensive history of your family, Roger. Have you visited France? Would you consider going there to see some of these places?

    I happened upon a wonderful find of my father’s family history. In 1903, someone did very extensive research and traced the Anthony family back to 1495. It turns out that my dad’s family came to New York first but during the civil war our branch came to Nova Scotia and that it the branch my father’s family came from. I have no idea at all about this. I also didn’t realize that the Anthonys were from Cologne, Germany. It makes for fascinating reading and I have a long way to go to cover the 700+ pages. I printed out about 400 pages, but my ink ran out. The entire book is published in EPub format (and several other digital formats) and is available for download online.

    1. I’ve been to France a couple of times but I want to go back again to visit the west coast, especially the Poitou-Charente region and Normandy. I’ve got to get back to my studies of my family, especially the Albert side, but I have to get home first!

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