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Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
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Extracts of Matters of Historical Interest from "The Huissier, News For and About the Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff" By The Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff
(July 7, 2004)
The lot of an Acadian wife
By Anne Marie Lane Jonah, historian
The stories of the Acadians of Louisbourg are not only stories of administrators, officers, and artisans who moved to Louisbourg, but also those of their wives and children. A question we may ask ourselves is how much influence an Acadian wife would have on a European-born husband or an Acadian parent on a child growing up in the town of Louisbourg, surrounded by representations of French colonial authority and far from the farms of Acadia. As well my may ask what influence Louisbourg would have on an Acadian.
Jeanne Thibodeau, was the daughter of the Acadian pioneer Pierre Thibodeau and Jeanne Thériot. In about 1689 she married Mathieu de Goutin, conseiller, écrivain du roy and lieutenant general civil et criminel at Port Royal. The marriage, made shortly after de Goutin's arrival at Port Royal, drew the comment from his governor that he was foolishly marrying a peasant's daughter (sottement, à la fille d'un paysan). He was criticized later for being too influenced by his wife's family to do his job properly. Nevertheless, after the Treaty of Utrecht, de Goutin was sent to Louisbourg to continue his service the French colonial administration. His Acadian wife and their thirteen children, the last two of whom had been born in France, came to Île Royale in 1713 and remained in the colony even after the death of de Goutin in 1714.
Jeanne Thibodeau had many connections in Louisbourg from Port Royal, Captains de Gannes and Duvivier were godparents of her children, as was Jeanne de Saint Étienne de la Tour, wife of Captain Rousseau de Souvigny. Also Jeanne's sister Cecile was married to Emmanuel le Borgne de Belisle, the brother of Anne, the widow Rodrigue. Although Jeanne did not come from the seigneurial class in Acadia, she had come to associate primarily with this class. Her wardrobe as described in her 1741 inventory reflects her status at Louisbourg, but still has vestiges of her Acadian origins. She owned fine robes de chambre, and linens but also had beaver gloves, gants de castor.
In 1735 Jeanne donated land near her lot on rue d'Orléans to three of her daughters and their husbands. Madeleine (born 1708, married 1732) and her husband Pierre-Jérôme Boucher, the assistant to the king's engineer, received a 48 by 80 pieds lot on the corner of Rue de France and the Rue d'Estrees. Louise-Françoise (born 1711, married 1731) and her husband François de Paul Sabatier, an administrator at Louisbourg and the brother of Antoine Sabatier, principal scrivener, controller and attorney general of the Conseil Superieur of Île Royale, received a lot beside Madeleines', on the corner of the Rue de France and the Rue de l'Hôpital. Jeanne (born 1707, married 1730) and her husband Georges-François du Boisberthelot also received a lot, however they chose to sell it to Pierre Boisseau. Her eldest daughter, Marie-Anne (born 1694), who was the widow of Michel Dupont de Renon, lived beside her mother on rue d'Orléans. Jeanne Thibodeau endeavoured to keep her daughters around her, but she also visited, more than once, her daughter Marguerite in France. On one occasion she and Marguerite brought lace from France and sold it in Louisbourg.
Jeanne's efforts to influence her daughters' lives were obvious in terms of her gifts of land. Her eldest son followed his father into colonial administration, however the influence of parents on her other sons is not as clear. Her youngest son, Joseph, godchild of Captain de Gannes, had close connections all of his life with the military, but was not an officer himself. He most likely traded and was able to provision the military based on his family connections. After 1745 Joseph moved on in the French colonies, establishing himself in New Orleans. There, years later, he would encounter his cousin through his mother's family, the Acadian resistance fighter Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil. Beausoleil chose to settle in Louisiana in a district where his cousin de Goutin had recently received a land grant. The importance of family was undoubtedly a factor in Beausoleil's decision of where to settle, a decision which was pivotal in the establishment of the Cajun community in Louisiana.
Clearly Jeanne adapted to her status as the wife and widow of a prominent French administrator and worked to establish her children in Louisbourg society. Nonetheless, her Acadian family connections and know-how still had value to this Louisbourg family and influenced them