1659: November 8th
Sale by Guillaume Thibault and Marie-Magdelaine LeFrançois to Jean Houymet
By Francine Ouimet-Goetz, Germain Ouimet and Denis Ouimet
Translated by Marc Ouimet
Following, is a notarized document concerning the first land purchase by Jean Ouimet. It is the first written reference of Jean Ouimet in New France (his farmer’s lease signed on the previous day is nowhere to be found). This contract reveals the important clauses in the transaction between Guillaume Thibault accompanied by his spouse Marie-Magdeleine LeFrançois and our ancestor Jean Ouimet.
First, we will present you with a picture of the actual notarized contract, secondly, a paleographical transcription of this same contract, thirdly, the general content and pertinent information contained in this notarized contract, fourthly, we will discuss the content of this contract in order to bring the reader back to that era, and finally, fifthly, we’ll give you a full interpretation, in order to try explaining a portion of our ancestor’s life.
Picture of notarized contract
General content and pertinent information
Picture of notarized contract
Source : BAnQ-Q, archives of notary Claude Aubert, #60, November 8, 1659.
Copy obtained from Reverend Germain Ouimet who in turn had received it from Ronald-J Auger of the Québec Ministry of Cultural Affairs (now called BAnQ).
In the presence of Claude Auber Notary and clerk of the court of the Coast and Seigniory of Beaupré and undersigned witnesses on Saturday, November 8th, sixteen hundred and fifty-nine were present, in person, Mr. Guillaume Thibault and Marie-Magdeleine LeFrançois, his wife duly authorized by him for the purpose of these presents, residing and living in the said Coast and Seigniory, whom of their own free will, true willingness and freedom, have recognized and presently recognize having surrendered and relinquished, surrender and relinquish as of right now, and forever guarantee enjoyment without any obstacles whatsoever, to Jean Houymet residing on the aforementioned Coast and Seigniory here present and accepting for himself and his heirs and beneficiaries, namely a property of two arpents (similar to an acre but slightly smaller) wide with frontage on the great river and the back end against non-granted land and one side along Jean Cloutier and the other side along the said grantors Thibault and his wife, the said land being separated from their concession and dwelling, in accordance with the said Beaupré, near the stream called La Rivière du Sault-à-la-Puce and conceded to them by Messrs the Lords of the said Beaupré. The said land is being subjected to a rent of one sol per arpent of frontage on the great river and twenty sols of ground-rent also for each arpent of frontage and two live capons for the said concession or twenty sols for each capon whichever is chosen by the said Lords. And will be paid on the day and feast of St Martin, which is the customary day of rents in the said Seigniory following the said surrender by the said Thibault and his said wife or beneficiaries on the eve of the said feast of St Martin, the sum of forty-two sols, the rent of the aforesaid land, which is the price of part of the concession rental of the said Thibault and his said wife and moreover one live capon on the aforementioned day and term and without any additional charges. Have also been surrendered by the said Thibault and his said wife on the aforesaid two arpents of land which they surrender to the aforementioned Houymet everything and every right they possibly could have on that land like hunting and fishing. And as for work done by them on that same land it will be paid the price estimated by experts to the aforesaid grantors or compensated by work done by the said Houymet on the remainder of the concession of the said Thibault and his said wife, of which he is presently a farmer by lease signed before Us on the eve of this day. And the parties have agreed that there will be hearth and home on the said property in four years from this day as much by the said Houymet or his brood, and moreover, the aforementioned Houymet will not be allowed to sell surrender or trade the said land without the consent of the said grantors or, upon their refusal, give reasons judged by experts to be sufficient to overrule it and permit the said Houymet to sell his property to whoever he likes and enjoy and dispose of it as his very own and true inheritance, and thus, discharging, transferring, disinheriting, wanting, promising, compelling, withdrawing. It has been done and passed on the year and day stated above in the house and home of the aforesaid Thibault and his said wife in the presence of Nicollas Lebel and Pierre Petit witnesses and the said Thibault and myself Notary named above whom have undersigned the present act and the said Houymet, Lebel, Petit and the aforesaid wife having declared being unable to write or sign, being summoned to order, have put and set their marks.
X mark of said Houymet
X mark of said Petit witness
X mark of said Lebel witness
General contents and pertinent information
This contract brings to light the important points in the transaction between Guillaume Thibault accompanied by his spouse Marie-Madeleine Lefrançois and our ancestor Jean Ouimet.
- date November 8, 1659 (Saturday)
- notary and registrar: Claude Aubert (from Ste-Croix-de-Troarn, subdivision of Caen, Normandy (Calvados))
- coast and seigniory of Beaupré
- present : Guillaume Thibault and Marie-Madeleine Lefrançois, the notary and Jean Ouimet
- frontage on the great St Lawrence river of two arpents (acre) of land (north channel)
- non-granted lands in the north
- neighbour Jean Cloutier
- neighbour Thibault/Lefrançois (since Jean’s land will be parcelled out from the latter)
- near the brook named Rivière du Sault-à-la-Puce
- the land had previously been granted by the lords of Beaupré
- rent= 1 sol/frontage of 1 arpent
- the ground-rent is 20 sols/frontage of 1 arpent
- two live capons or 20 sols tournois for each capon
- feast of St Martin (November 11)
- rent of 42 sols tournois payable to Thibault, yearly
- right to hunt and fish
- farmer’s lease signed the previous day
- hearth and home in four years from this day (November 1663)
- cannot sell or trade the land without consent
- contract signed in Thibault’s home
- present as witnesses: Nicolas Lebel and Pierre Petit
- our ancestor Jean Ouimet, Nicolas Lebel, Pierre Petit and Marie-Madeleine Lefrançois are unable to sign
To start with, this contract indicates that it was signed in front of Notary Claude Aubert on November 8, 1659. Claude Auber or Aubert, notary and registrar, itinerant if need be, pursued his profession between 1652 and 1693 in and around the coast and seignory of Beaupré, nowadays, the judiciary district of Québec City (2). We consider him itinerant since the contract was signed in the home of Guillaume Thibault and Marie-Magdeleine Lefrançois.
According to Reverend Germain Ouimet, the home in question must have been located on lot 82, six arpents east of the stream called «La rivière du Sault-à-la-Puce» (3) and should have been between François Fortin’s land and the remainder of Guillaume Thibault’s land (4). The Thibault house, located at 8480, Royale Avenue corner of Couillard Street, in Château Richer, is of Norman design, and was rebuilt in 1760 as indicated by a wooden plaque on the front wall. Many buildings of that era were apparently damaged or destroyed in 1759, when the English invaded New France.
Guillaume Thibault’s land was part and parcel of lands granted to the Company of Beaupré (5) and the territory was known as the «Côte et Seigneurie de Beaupré». The church, the presbytery and the seigniorial manor were built on those lands. The latter held the court of justice and was destroyed in 1759. The sales contract of Jean Ouimet’s land purchase was signed in the home of Guillaume Thibault and Marie-Magdeleine Lefrançois. Guillaume Thibault had acquired his land on December 9, 1650 from Olivier Letardif who was an administrator for the Company of Beaupré. At that time, his neighbours were Jean Cloutier on the south-west side and Pierre Lemieux on the north-east side.
A sight of Château Richer; aquarelle from Thomas Davies;
Nos Racines (Our Roots) vol. 31 p. 612
(notice the eel traps anchored in the water)
Take note that at that time, the land north of these properties had not yet been granted.
Guillaume Thibault was a tailor and baker. His father Nicolas, a commoner, and his mother Isabeau Anthiome, were both from Rouen in Normandy. According to Jetté, the census of the time showed that Guillaume Thibault had been born in 1617 or 1618 or even in 1622. He arrived in New France in 1639, possibly on board the Petit-St-Jean or the Marie-Marthe, and was supposedly 14 years of age. We don’t know when he went back to France but we know that he came back in 1643 and that he had to honor a three year contract as a baker.
Source: Ancient Families of Quebec, Labatt p. 67
The Château Richer flour mill appears on a Marcel Trudel map dating back to 1663, but it seems that it had been in existence since 1657. It was located near the river on Jean Cloutier’s plot, neighbouring Jean Ouimet to the south west. It is most probably where Guillaume Thibault purchased the flour to bake his bread.
Adapted picture: Old Families of Quebec, Labatt Breweries Ltd, p. 17
Another interesting fact is that Château Richer is the first officially incorporated village in New France, besides Québec City. There were 350 inhabitants in 1640. Even if the parish was officially founded in 1684 like the neighbouring parishes of Beauport, L’Ange-Gardien and Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, the Christians of the area had to practice their religion in a small chapel or elsewhere and probably had the services of an itinerant priest since the churches of Qu,bec City were too far away. This must have been so, since the marriage certificate of Guillaume Thibault and Marie-Magdeleine Lefrançois is recorded in the church registers of Québec City. Furthermore, other religious acts, like baptism certificates, were registered in Québec City.
When the land was sold, Guillaume Thibault’s next door neighbours were François Fortin, to the north-east, originally from St-Jacques-de-Dieppe in Normandy and Jean Cloutier, to the south-west, from St-Jean-de-Mortgane in Perche.
The dimensions of that parcelled lot were two arpents (6) wide on the great St Lawrence River by one hundred and twenty-six deep, or in other words 252 square arpents. At the time, one linear arpent was equivalent to 180 French feet or 191.835 English feet (if we go on the basis of the English measurement, the land must have been in metric terms approximately 116.98 meters wide by 3.684 kilometers in depth). That plot had been separated from lot # 55/56 and didn’t seem to have any buildings on it.
The topography of the said plot could be described as follows starting at the river:
- perpendicular to the river it stretches to the north-west,
- it has a relatively level surface for about 200 meters up to King’s road (today Avenue Royale),
- from there, an abrupt embankment (40 vertical meters over a distance of 250 meters) marks the edge of the river bank,
-there is less than a 10 meter gradient between the river and the embankment,
- from the embankment towards the north-west, the topography is more and more undulating since it is the edge of the Laurentian mountain range,
- it is estimated that the remainder of the property is 3.4 kilometers of rolling hills and probably served as a summer pasture and for hunting , fishing or cutting firewood,
- the river du Sault-à-la-Puce flows across the plot further inland.
Source : Nos Racines (Our Roots), vol. 32, p. 612
One interesting detail on the topographical map: the district or small borough next to Château Richer is known as Lefrançois. Could it be in honor of Guillaume Thibault’s wife?
At that time, the annual rent was one sol per arpent of water-front: therefore two sols since the land was two arpents wide (7). One live capon was added and was part of the deal.
The annual ground-rent, a kind of a tax, had been decided at 20 sols tournois per arpent of water-front, therefore, 40 sols tournois per annum. It had to be accompanied by two live capons or replaced by the value of twenty sols per capon.
The rent and the ground-rent were payable on November 11, the day of the feast of St-Martin. That day was designated as the normal day for rents. In those days, it must have been a day similar to our Thanksgiving.
Jean Ouimet had also pledged to carry out some work for Guillaume Thibault. This work could compensate, in whole or in part, the rent due to Guillaume Thibault, but it had to be evaluated by "experts and connoisseurs" in order to avoid disputes. Those persons were most probably neighbours. This condition must have given Guillaume Thibault an advantage who had to ply his trades: tailor and baker. He probably didn’t have the time or the health to carry out manual labour on his own land.
Furthermore, Jean Ouimet had to pay Guillaume Thibault an annual rent of 42 sols for the next four years from the day the contract was signed.
It is also stipulated in the contract that the purchaser was allowed hunting and fishing on his land. An ancient French word: "faische" is added to the word fishing; we cannot find the meaning of this word at this particular time. On the other hand, we believe that it could be related to eel fishing and could indicate the type of nets/cages used ("fascines").
It is indicated that the farmer’s lease was signed on the 7th of November, the previous day, or in other words on Friday. Once again, this document cannot be found…was it lost, stolen, misplaced?
"Hearth and home" simply meant that the farmer had to build his house and occupy it, thus making sure he would tend to his land and meet his obligations. Jean Ouimet had to meet this requirement before the end of his contract because it is stipulated that he had to have "hearth and home in four years from this day".
It is also stipulated that Jean Ouimet could not sell, give away or trade his property without Guillaume Thibault’s consent.
The contract was signed in Guillaume Thibault’s home. It is logical to think that this was the custom for the times for that type of contract since the boundaries of the land had to be established. Also, all the persons involved in the transaction had to be reunited, as well as the witnesses.
It is specified that Jean Ouimet puts his mark along with the witnesses Nicolas Lebel and Pierre Petit because they have declared being unable to sign. On the other hand, Notary Aubert and Guillaume Thibault have signed.
(1) It should be observed that the notary wrote Houymet or Houimet and not Ouimet, on the contract.
(2) Source: Lafortune, Robert, Normand and Goudreau, Serge.
(3) the arpent measured approximately 180 French feet or 191.835 English feet.
(4) Map from Marcel Trudel, «The coast of Beaupré : June 1663».
(5) The members of the Company of Beaupré were the following individuals : Antoine Cheffault, Jacques Duhamel, Jean Rozée, Georges Berruyer’s widow, Charles Aubert de la Chesnaye and Julien Fortin dit Bellefontaine (source : http://www.seigneuriedebeaupre.ca).
(6) Lachance, André (2000). One arpent = 5/6 acre (.833), or 1/3 hectare (.333), or 192 feet (64 meters).
(7) Source: Gariépy, Raymond
__________(1983) Regional Municipality of the county of the Isle of Orléans, (topographical map 1 :20,000). Mapping Service, Ministry of Energy and Resources Québec.
Audet, Bernard (1990). To have Hearth and Home in the Isle of Orléans in the XVIIth century. Université de Laval press. Québec, 271 pages (ISBN 2-7637-7227-7)
Gariépy, Raymond (1974). The seigniories of Beaupré and the Isle of Orléans from the outset. The Québec historical society, History book No. 27, 266 pages (ISBN 2-920069-00-4)
Gariépy, Raymond (1993). the land in Château Richer: 1640-1990, Québec Genealogical Society, Contribution # 72, 726 pages (ISBN 2-89120-067-5).
Jetté, René (1983). Genealogical Dictionnary of Québec Families from the Beginning to 1730. Historical Demography Program (PRDH), University of Montréal, University of Montréal Press, 1176 pages (ISBN 2-7606-0645-5).
Lachance, André (2000). To Live, Love and Die in New France. Publishing house : Libre Expression Ltée, 225 pages (ISBN 2-89111-888-X).
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Normand, Germaine (1999). Founding a Home in New France : The Normans of Perche, MultiMondes Publishing House, Sainte-Foy, 296 pages (ISBN 2-921146-90-8).
Trudel, Marcel (1968). Initiation to New France, HRW, Montréal, 523 pages (ISBN 0-03-925711.8).
Trudel, Marcel (1983), List of Immigrants 1632-1662, HMH, Montréal, 569 pages (ISBN 2-89045-579-3).