The idea that the Filles du Roi were prostitutes has been around since
the inception of the program in the 17th century. Or that they were
orphans or other “undesirables”, sent the penal colony of Canada.
Nothing is further from the truth.
In 1665 there were less than 75 houses in Quebec. The British colonies had started to grow, and there was concern about the population in Quebec might affect the ability of France to maintain their claim on Canada. As an incentive to grow the population, Jean Talon, Intendant of New France, proposed that the King sponsor the passage of at least 500 women to Canada. There are no accurate counts of the number that did immigrate, but the total is likely between 800 and 850, in a program that lasted from 1663 to 1673. Each woman had her passage paid (100 livres), a dowry (less than 400 livres), a small gift that was typically 50 livres, a trousseau and clothing. In return, they would spend 6 weeks on a small ship and move from a civilized lifestyle in a moderate environment, to a country where land had to be cleared before crops could be planted, that had harsh winters, mosquitos and black flies. Many companies today would love to hire the marketing executives responsible for the program!
All the women that came to Canada under the Filles du Roi program had to be of very high moral character. Most needed a letter from their Parish Priest recommending them for the program. Of the approximately 850 women who immigrated under the program, only one was ever charged, convicted or sentenced on any crime related to morals, and this occurred in Canada. This equates to 0.12% of the total women. And, of course, this is one that we are directly related to! Anne-Marie Phanseque was charged with prostitution and arrested for selling liquor to the Indians, after her first husband, Hubert Leroux, died and her second husband abandoned her.
While everyone that has roots in Quebec is likely related to a Filles du Roi, we have (at least) 15 in our family, 13 that we have direct lineage to.:
|Last Name||First Name||DOB||Immigration||Marriage||Married to||Age at Marriage||Date of Death||Age at Death||Direct Ancestor||Link|
|Barbant||Marie||abt 1639||likely 30 Jun. 1669||14 Nov. 1669||Jean de Lalonde||30||aft 1 Jan 1689||50||Y||Link|
|D'Amours||Helene||abt 1646||3 Jul. 1668||6 Aug. 1668||Louis Foucher||22||24 Jul. 1699||53||Y||Link|
|Goubilleau||Francoise||abt 1631||31 Jul. 1670||15 Apr. 1671||Paul Daze||40||10 Nov. 1721||90||Y||Link|
|Grandin||Marie||abt 1648||3 Jul. 1668||1672||Claude Robillard||24||31 Oct. 1708||60||Y||Link|
|Guillaume||Anne||abt 1650||15 Aug. 1671||19 Oct. 1671||Francois Dubois||21||29 Jan 1716||66||Y||Link|
|LaHogue||Marie-Claire||abt 1651||30 Jun. 1669||27 Nov. 1669||Jean Sédillot||18||25 Aug. 1687||36||N||Link|
|Lequay||Madeleine||7 Dec. 1636||3 Jul. 1668||6 Nov. 1668||Jean Garnier||31||21 Dec. 1708||72||Y||Link|
|Marie||Marie Denise||abt 1654||3 Sept. 1673||12 Feb. 1674||Jean Quenneville||20||31 aug. 1720||66||Y||Link|
|Masson||Anne||abt 1638||31 Jul. 1670||8 Sept. 1670||Robert Gallien||18||13 Sept. 1710||31||Y||Link|
|Pescher||Marie||abt 1645||30 Jul. 1671||1672||Jean Harel||27||19 Nov. 1728||83||Y||Link|
|Petit||Jeanne||abt 1643||3 Aug. 1672||31 Oct. 1672||François Séguin-Ladéroute||29||29 Mar 1733||90||N||Link|
|Phanseque||Anne-Marie||1657||3 Sept. 1673||20 Nov. 1673||Hubert Leroux||16||12 Apr. 1722||65||Y||Link|
|Roussel||Marie-Charlotte||abt 1646||3 Jul. 1668||12 Nov. 1668||Pierre Gauthier||22||bef 20 Jan 1698||52||Y||Link|
|Roy||Jeanne||abt 1645||30 Jun. 1669||26 Jan 1670||Jean Peladeau||25||5 Dec. 1721||76||Y||Link|
|Vie Lamothe||Madeleine-Sainte||abt 1648||30 Jun. 1664||27 Aug. 1664||Jean Poitras||16||28 Jul. 1691||43||Y||Link|
Most of the women who came to Canada as Filles du Roi were young, and our family is no exception. The table below compares the average of all Filles du Roi against the ones in our family.
|Age Group||% of Filles||% of (Leroux) Filles|
|40 and up||1.8%||5.9%|
Some statistics based on the Leroux Filles du Roi
|Average age at marriage||25.81|
|Minimum age at marriage||16|
|Maximum age at marriage||40|
|Average age at death||66.11|
|Minimum age at death||36|
|Maximum age at death||90|
|Average children per woman*||5.21|
|Maximum children per woman||17|
* I have only entered the children that are in the direct Leroux bloodline. Several of these women had children from other marriages, which I have not (yet) entered lowers the average children count.
For the harsh life they lived, living to the ripe age of 66 was pretty good!
The Filles du Roi were mostly from the cities, mostly from the Paris area. The distribution of the Leroux ancestors follows a similar line, with a few exceptions. Anne-Marie Phanseque was from Hamburg, so one of the first Germans in Canada, and almost certainly the first German woman in Canada was an ancestor of ours.
I am working on a map of these
There are several good sites with information on the Filles du Roi. Since there is quite a bit of ambiguity on who was actually a "Fille" and there are few supporting records, there is no comprehensive list of names. The one I chose to use is from the Université de Montréal and part of their Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) . The PRDH links directly back to the Drouin copies of Parish registries for births/baptisms, marriages and deaths/burials. Anything that has a PRDH number associated with it is what I would consider to be a trusted entry.
Another site with some good information is La Société des Filles du roi et soldats du Carignan, Inc. They have some great general information here.
Pedigree/Lineage charts for each of the Filles du Roi that I am related to can be found here.