December 9, 2010

Antoine Roy dit Desjardins - A story of a Soldier & a Filles du roi

The story that follows is that of a soldier, Antoine Roy dit Desjardins (our 9th Great Grandfather) whose many wrongdoings and violent death transformed the adventure of one of les Filles du roi into a tragedy.

Antoine Roy was the son of master cooper, Olivier Roy and Catherine Baudard. His godparents were Antoine Baudard and Marie Collard. Around 1657, at the age of 22, the young Antoine married Catherine Byot. He was already working as a cooper like his father. Two children were born of this marriage and both were baptized at Saint Jean in Joigny, France:

1. Jacques Roy was presented at the baptismal font on 5 November 1658 by Jacques Perdigon and Marie Chacheré

2. Edme Roy was held over the same baptismal font on 13 March 1660 by Edme Nau and Marie Bourotte

At the time of the first baptism, Antoine's parents were both still living. However, his mother died a year later and was buried at Joigny on 10 December 1659. His father died a year and a half after the second baptism and was also buried at Joigny on 6 December 1661. The funerals of both parents were at Saint Jean, the church attended by both parents while they lived.

A few years after the death of his parents, Antoine left for New France. His wife and two children perhaps were also dead or perhaps he walked out on them*.   During this period of time, the French were experiencing difficulties on the North American continent. Not only were they submitted to murderous raids from the Iroquois since 1658 but they were also the only Europeans left who challenged the English for the East Coast of North America. In 1655, the Dutch had seized New Sweden, founded in Delaware in 1635, but in 1664 they had ceded New Holland, established in 1623 in the current state of New York, to the English. To defeat the Iroquois and contain the English, King Louis XIV decided to send an infantry regiment to New France. This regiment was composed of 1200 men under the command of Colonel Carignan-Salières. It is within this army troop that Antoine found his way to Canada, as a simple soldier in the company commanded by Captain Froment.

This young soldier with the military surname of Desjardins left the port of La Rochelle on 19 April 1665 on board the sail ship Le Vieux Siméon. Two months later on 19 June 1665, he landed on the quays of the City of Quebec. He was part of the advance party for the regiment expedited by the king that included the four companies under captains Chambly, Froment, La Tour, and Petit. While waiting the arrival of the remaining companies of the regiment, which numbered twenty in all, the freshly disembarked troops left Quebec on 23 July 1665 for the foot of the rapids on the Richelieu River near Montreal. There with the other soldiers that made up the advance party, Antoine Roy helped construct a wooden fort named Fort Saint Louis. Two other forts were also raised in the region, facing the English and their allies the Iroquois -- Fort Richelieu and Fort Sainte Thérèse. After the arrival of the rest of the troops, the 24 companies of the regiment were posted to several locations in Canada. Eight companies were garrisoned in Quebec, one at Sainte Famille on l'Ile d'Orleans, three at Trois Rivières, five at Montreal, two at Fort Saint Louis, two at Fort Richelieu, and three at Fort Sainte Thérèse. The company to which Antoine Roy belonged was posted to Trois Rivières, where it remained for two years from the fall of 1665 to the summer of 1667.

As soon as peace between the French and Iroquois was settled on 8 July 1667 at Quebec City, the Carignan-Salières Regiment was recalled to France. Its presence in North America was no longer required since the Iroquois had been pacified and the Algonquins were allies. Both Indian nations formed a protective barrier between the French colony in Canada and the various English establishments further south. On 28 August 1667, the expeditionary force left the port of Quebec on board the Saint Sébastien bound for France. Of the 1200 soldiers who had come in 1665 to fight the Iroquois, only 550 returned to their native country. 250 had died during the French Indian wars, and 400 others decided to remain in Canada. Antoine was among those that remained along the Saint Lawrence River.

At the end of the month of August, 1668, the cooper Antoine Roy dit Desjardins leaves Batiscan to go to Québec where several dozen Filles du roi awaited. This ex-soldier of the Carignan regiment chose Marie Major. About thirty years old and orphaned of her mother and father, the young woman is originally from Saint-Thomas-de-Touques in Normandy. Her dowry is made up of goods valued at 300 livres.

Their marriage is celebrated on September 11 1669, in Québec, in the presence of several witnesses. The couple then takes the road for Batiscan where Antoine Roy had already obtained a first piece of land in 1667. Pierre, their only child, was born in the summer of 1669.

Even though two other pieces of land were later granted to him, this settler was not a model ground clearer. The census of 1681 specifies that only five arpents of the land that he possessed had been brought to use and that the total of his livestock was made up of a couple of horned beasts.

The Roys dit Desjardins are poor. Their meagre possessions are soon mortgaged. Not knowing how to manage his affairs correctly, he began acquiring debt in 1674 that finally pushed his creditors to take him to court at Trois Rivières in 1682. Pressed by his lenders, totally unable to honor his debts, Antoine fled his household in June 1683 to live alone at Julien Talua's household in Lachine on the Isle of Montreal. There he pursued his career as a master cooper. Found by Michel Lecourt, his principal lender, he was again dragged before the court, this time in Montreal in May 1684 where he was thrown in jail until June 15th. Two weeks later, on June 30th, he again spent the day in jail. On 1 July 1684 he accepted the terms offered by Michel Lecourt to settle his outstanding debts of several years.

This was a short-lived respite. On 10 July, around six in the morning, Julien Talua surprised Antoine in flagrant adultery, lying in bed with his wife, Anne Godeby. The duped husband revolted by the sight did not hesitate to kill his lodger right then and there. Thus ended the pitiful life of Antoine, a cooper originally from Joigny who had come to Canada to rebuild his life. The foolhardy lover of Anne Godeby was 49 years old when he was expedited violently to the kingdom of the dead.

Marie Major will, in her turn, be prosecuted by the creditors who will obtain the seizure of all the property acquired during her marriage. She died in the Hôtel Dieu de Québec on December 8, 1689, leaving behind a son whose descendants live today.

*Neither in the religious marriage entry nor in the contract signed a week earlier on 6 September 1668, was any mention made that Antoine was previously married to a deceased woman named Catherine Byot.  One can only wonder with good reason at this serious omission. The parish registers of the three churches of Joigny do not show a death entry for Catherine Byot. Did she die elsewhere? Was she abandoned by her husband in Joigny or elsewhere? Whatever the reason, Antoine did not judge it relevant to mention to either the notary or the pastor of Quebec that he had been previously married. Either his first wife was still living or he was incapable of rapidly producing a death certificate. In light of his pitiful demise, one cannot reject the theory that Antoine might have simply abandoned his first wife as a way out of difficulties in France.
Us -> Joseph John Thibault -> Joseph John Thibault -> Magloire Thibault -> Emilie Gendron -> Adelaide Morin -> Madeline-Perpetue Ouelette -> Joseph Ouelette -> Marie Josephe Tardiff -> Geneviève Roy-Desjardins -> Pierre Roy-Desjardins -> Antoine Roy dit Desjardins and Marie Majors

Julien Talua was charged with murder and was supposed to be hanged but for some reason he was released and ordered to stay within a mile of Lachine but soon disappeared.  He is believed to have fled back to France.  Julien's wife was banished from Montreal not to return under penalty of flogging.  She lived the remainder of her life in Quebec.

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