According to Robert Perreault, author of Les familles Perreault du Québec, the Perreault families in Québec consist of eleven different groups descending from apparently unrelated sets of immigrant ancestors:1
- Nicolas Perrot – Madeleine Raclos
- Jacques Perot dit Vildaigre – Michelle LeFlot
- Pierre Perrot – Geneviève Duclos
- Paul Perot dit Lagorce – Marie Chrétien
- François Perreau – Suzanne Page
- Jacques Perreau – Elisabeth Navers
- Pierre Perrot dit St-Pierre – Louise Heritier
- François Perrot – Agnès Renaud
- Laurent Perot – Louise Boileau & Charlotte Robert
- Albert Perrot – Louise Letourneau
- Jean Perrot dit Potevin – Jeanne Guerineau
- François Perreault – Adélaide Paradis
- Joseph Perreault – Marie Janin
Our Perrault family belongs to the group that descends from Nicolas Perrot. As such, we know that our family originated in France, probably in the province of Bourgogne (Burgundy). Our Perrault family name was originally spelled “Perrot,” and the earliest known Perrot ancestor was François, who was born about 1590. François Perrot’s grandson, Nicolas Perrot, was our immigrant ancestor, arriving in New France in 1660 at the age of 16 or 17.2 Nicolas was a fur-trader, explorer, and interpreter of Indian languages. In 1671, he married Madeleine Raclos3 who was born about 1654 in Paris and immigrated to Québec as a Fille du Roi.4 Nicolas and Marie had eleven children. Their ninth child was Claude Perrot Perreault (b. 1684), from whom our branch of the Perrault family is descended.5,6
As each generation of descendant sons married, their brides brought their own ancestral lines to the Perrault family –some of which included ancestors who were among the original settlers of New France. These pioneer ancestors include Louis Hebért, Noël Morin, Jean Coté, Zacharie Cloutier, Marin Boucher, Jean Guyon dit DuBoisson, Guillaume Couture and Robert Drouin –all of whom had immigrated by 1634. Among our known female ancestors, twenty-four were “filles à marier” or “marriageable girls” who immigrated to the New World between 1635 and 1662 to find a better life and a husband.7 Thirty-six of our female ancestors have been identified as Filles du Roi or “King’s Daughters” whose immigration was sponsored by King Louis XIV in an effort to promote marriage, family values, and the growth of the French colony.8
With few exceptions, the Perrault ancestors immigrated from France –from cities as well as from rural villages. Some were poor farmers, others were skilled craftsmen, some were merchants, some were soldiers. One fille du Roi ancestress was a young lady of the minor nobility who was a descendant of the Capetian kings of France, William the Conqueror and Charlemagne;9 one of her own descendants, a great-granddaughter, married the son of a convicted salt smuggler who had been deported to Canada in 1733 by order of King Louis XV.10
For seven generations spanning more than two hundred years, the Perrault family remained in Québec, mostly settling along the north bank of the St. Lawrence River between L’Assomption and Montréal.
During the 1880’s Nazaire Perrault, grandfather of Robert, was among the growing wave of men and women leaving the province to seek employment and better economic conditions in New England. In 1888 in Boston Massachusetts, he married Marie Philomène Demerise Simoneau of Lévis, Québec, also an economic expatriate. In 1892, Nazaire Perrault became a naturalized U.S. citizen, and the Americanization of our branch of the Perrault family was officially underway.
- New France: Historical Background in Brief
- Guide to French Canadian and Acadian Genealogy
- Canadian Genealogy and History Links: Québec
- Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet: Québec
- French “dit” Names
- AFGS Surnames French-Canadian: Variants, Dit, Anglicization, etc.
- French Canadian Emigration to the United States, 1840-1930: Readings in Québec History
- Canadian Census Records Online
Notes & Sources:
1Robert Perreault, Les familles PERREAULT du Québec, Vol 1; Le Groupe de Nicolas Perrot et de Madeleine Raclos, (Perreault, 2002), pp.2, 6.
2Perreault, Les familles PERREAULT du Québec, p.11.
3Dictionnaire National des Canadiens Français 1608-1760, (Montréal: Institut généalogique Drouin, 1965.) AFGS CD-Rom Library Collection (Woonsocket, RI: American-French Genealogical Society, 1998.), p. 1057.
4Peter J. Gagné, King’s Daughters and Founding Mothers: The Filles du Roi, 1663-1673, (Pawtucket, RI: Quinton Publications, 2001), pg 478-479.
5Perreault, Les familles PERREAULT du Québec, Deuxième Génération, pp.19-20.
6Hubert Charbonneau and Jacques Légaré, Répertoire des Acts de Baptême, Mariage, Sépulture et des Recensements du Québec Ancien (Programme de recherche en démographie historique) Université de Montréal: PRDH Online (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca).
74Peter J. Gagné, Before the King’s Daughters: The Filles à Marier, 1634-1662, (Pawtucket, RI: Quinton Publications, 2002).
8Gagné, King’s Daughters and Founding Mothers.
9Thousands of descendants of French-Canadian ancestors are able to claim royal blood by way of descent from Catherine Baillon, including the descendants of Marie Consigny, great-grandmother of Robert Alexander Perrault.
10Marie Consigny was a great-grandaughter of Véronique Miville who, in turn, was a great-grandaughter of Catherine Baillon. In 1770, Véronique married Joseph François Consigny dit Sansfaçon, the son of a convicted salt smuggler deported to Canada by King Louis XV.