Somerset, Wisconsin: 125 pioneer families and Canadian connection: 125th year
The king's daughters, pp. 93-98 PDF (2.9 MB)
France usually paid for his transportation with a contract calling for three years labor. It usually included his sus- tenance, clothing and a small sum of money. Many women must have agreed to the same terms. They would have been needed as servants by the various orders of nuns. Some came to the New World planning to become nuns but changed their minds and married. In piecing together the lists of filles du roi, the best proof is a dowry contract which notes the king's portion, 50 pounds if the woman married a soldier or common settler, 100 pounds if she married an officer. Some notaries,- however, never made a note of these sums. His- torians have had to use some ingenious weighing of evidence and the result is a widely varying list. One guide has been marriage contracts and documents that show groups of girls as witnesses indicating they had been traveling together in the same group and were now attending each other's weddings. The very fact that these women appearlin New France at the same time, quickly marry, and no earlier records of them or their families can be found in New France is among the evi- dence historians have been forced to use at this late date. It is the biggest reason the total differs with every histor- ian who examines the evidence and makes a count. But judge the importance of these women in the life of the New World and its population. The Abbe Stanislas-Alfred Lortle of the Quebec Seminary reported in a 1912 study that the grand total of immigrants arriving in New France, includ- ing the king's daughters, or king's girls as they were called, for the period between 1608 and 1700, was 4,894. The estimated totals of the king's daughters included in this overall number by the various historians include: S.Dumhs 774 or 15.82%, Pere A. Godbout 792 or 16.18%, Abbe I. Caron 732 or 14.95%, B. Sulte'713 or 14.57%, G. Lanctot 961 or 19.64%, and G. Malchelosse 857 or 17.51%. The total number of filles du roi arriving thus i8 estimated from a low of just under 15% of the immigrants to a high just under 20%. The average of the six French-Canadian historians is 805 or 16.45% of the total. While adventure may have impelled a few of the women of qual- ity to a new life in Quebec's wilderness, an examination of the few records available indicate the principal reason was the same as that which sent most of the women on their way. Most of the girls had one or both parents deceased and not much in the way of a dowry. What is more, once in the new land, there would-be no social pressure to marry among one's own class. Thus the two women listed as daughters of nobleman, Marie-Anne Phanseque and Marie-Madeleine Grandjon, wed commoners in New France.
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