Tuesday 12 April 2011

Fille à Marier and Fille du Roi

The Filles à Marier were 262 women who, between 1634 and 1663, came to Canada looking to find a husband. These women were the fore-runners of the Fille du Roi. The Filles à Marier, unlike the Fille du Roi, were not solicited by the King, nor given any dowry by the state in order to come to New France. Merchants, seigneurs and private religious groups recruited the young girls and women.

Recently a cousin of mine, Susan Cole, let me know about a new book entitled Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers. This book is a fictional account based on fact about two girls who came over to New France as Fille du Roi.

Spoiler - if you plan on reading the book Bride of New France then skip the next two paragraphs and head right for the last paragraph.

One dies shortly after arriving; the other goes on to experience the harsh realties of what awaited the women who came over during this time. The Fille du Roi came over from 1663 to 1673. The crossing these girls made is set in 1669. The author states that she was inspired to use one person in particular to tell the story of the girl who came over to New France but died shortly there-after. Her name was Madeleine Fabrècque. Madeleine wasn't actually a Fille du Roi in real life but rather a Fille à Marier and made the crossing not in 1669 but 10 years before arriving in Montéal late in 1659.

Why do I mention this? When I saw the name Madeleine Fabrècque I recognized the name. When writing my first book I wrote about this particular girl, Madeleine Fabrècque, and how she had died shortly after making the crossing. I was particularly interested in her not because we as Catudals were related to her but rather because an inventory of her belongings had been made. It is very rare to find an inventory of one of the Fille du Marier. As we have a number of Fille du Marier, all without any information on what they brought over with them, I had used Madeleine as an example of what types of things our fore-mothers may have brought over as well.  The second reason I mention it here is that there were 4 girls who traveled together on that particular ship and they were Madeleine Fabrècque, Isabel Camus, Maruerite Rebours and Marguerite Maclin. If you are related to either Bethelemy Catudal (1864-1937), Pierre Philibert Catudal (1867-1929) or Magloire Arthur Catudal (1879-1934) then you are related to Marguerite Maclin.

The book Bride of New France is a very good book to read if you are interested in learning what life in France was like in the 1660's, what the crossing from France to New France was like and what life was like in New France during the same time-frame. I have studied the history of New France for many years as part of my ongoing research into Catudal family history and can say that this book is very accurate in detail. It takes the hard facts and weaves them into a fictional narrative that makes you feel like you are right there. Thank you Susan for having let me know about this book!


  1. way to go,Judy!!!I am part way through the book--but not to the part where Madeleine dies!!!!!I figured she would though.
    It is a great read.I had no idea about the hardships these young women went through en route to their new lives.

  2. Whoops Susan, I gave away Madeleine's death.In making the connection to our family history I didn't even realize I was giving away an important detail. Oh well, it is rather obvious that she isn't very well suited to make the journey. I'm going to edit this post to show that reading further contains a 'spoiler'.

  3. Excellent Read !! I have been researching my French Canadian Ancestors and this Story puts you right there , Thank for sharing