Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The King’s Daughters

I recently found out I have something genealogically in common with Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie, and Madonna. No, we’re not related; but we are all descendants of filles du roi, more commonly known as the King’s Daughters.1

My 8th great grandmother, Renee Chamfrin, was one of “approximately 800 young French women who immigrated to New France [Quebec in this instance] between 1663 and 1673 as part of a program sponsored by [King] Louis XIV. The program was designed to boost Canada's population both by encouraging male immigrants to settle there, and by promoting marriage, family formation and the birth of children.”1

The Arrival of the French Girls at Quebec, 16673

The king gave his “daughters” dowries, approximately 50 pounds, as even with the woman-shortage in New France, a dowry was important in finding a good match. Most of these women were orphans or from very poor families, and recommended to be King’s Daughters by local parish priests and nuns for their strength of character, as well as physical endurance.

Life was not easy for these women: a “long and arduous sea voyage under the most inhuman conditions,”2 living under very rustic conditions in areas that were occasionally under attack by Native Americans and a quality of life that required women to do the same physical labor as men.

Jean Talon, Bishop François de Laval and several settlers welcome the King's Daughters upon their arrival. Painting by Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale4

Renee Chamfrin was born in 1654 in St. Medard, Paris, Ile-de-France, France. When she was 15 years old, her father died, which more than likely left the family in poverty. That same year, Renee became one of 149 King’s Daughters to arrive in New France.1 On Oct. 7, 1669, she signed a marriage contact with 19-year-old Pierre Garand, whom she married on Oct. 27, 1669. They had nine children together; she died on March 7, 1684, a day after giving birth to twin girls.

The vast majority of people with French-Canadian ancestry are descendants of the King’s Daughters,2 and I am proud to say that I am one of them.

Do you have French-Canadian ancestry? If so, you too could be the descendant of a King’s Daughter.

L Let me help you find out what parts of history your family played a role in.

Discover your roots and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.

For more information on my Minnesota Family History Research services, visit and click on Family History Research in the left-hand column.

2Laforest, Thomas J.; “The Kings Daughters”; Heritage Quest, issue #22 May/June 1989.

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