ANTOINE TERROUX: TRAVELS OF A GASCON
FROM SAINT MICHAEL TO SAINT MICHAEL
By Henry Subsol, translated by Liz Owen
On this the first day of 1676, it was cold in Gascony. A small group of people huddled round the font in the church of St. Michael, Verdun. The boy-child, born on the last day of 1675, was to be christened Antoine. Present as witnesses were André Terroux his father, Antoine Martin his godfather, Antoinette Cabare his godmother, Jean Soulie consul, Guillaume Romiguieres royal notary and prosecutor, and Monsieur Villenove, the priest. Times were hard, chances of survival were poor, and no one present could possibly guess that the newly-baptised child would live a long, adventurous life – long enough to know some of his great-grandchildren – and launch a dynasty of Théroux which today extends throughout Canada and the USA and even beyond.
Verdun-sur-Garonne, situated in the Guyenne on the borders of Gascony and Languedoc, is a very old town. To date, partial archeological excavations confirm a permanent settlement here since the Bronze Age. The place name ‘Verdun’, meaning approximately ‘fortified town’, can be found all over France.
Written sources date from as early as 1000 AD, where one document speaks of the seignory of Verdun. As part of the fief of the Terride-Lomagne family, Verdun was added successively to the Comté of Toulouse and to the Crown of France. From the XIIIth century, the town was the seat of an important bailiwick comprising 44 rural communities on both sides of the river. Afterwards Verdun became the principal town of an area with the right to elect its representatives – le Pays de Verdun - a Jursdiction which ran from the Agenais to the south of Toulouse but only on the left bank of the Garonne. Its importance diminished over the centuries until, after the French Revolution, it became the calm, almost sleepy, chief town of the district that we know today.
Verdun still has some traces of its old ramparts, including a fortified gate, but absolutely nothing which recalls the important river port it was before the construction of the canals joining the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.
The first traces of the Terroux are to be found at the start of the XVIIth century. It seems that this patronymic, of Germanic origin like so many others all over France, does not belong to this region. However there is a hamlet called ‘Terroux’ in the rural district of Galembrun, near Grenade-sur-Garonne, only 20 kilometers from Verdun. There is another ‘Terroux’ near Figeac, in the Lot. It was usual for place name and patronymic to correspond, though we do not know which derived from which; for example did the Terroux bear the name of the village or hamlet where they lived, or was Terroux so-called because the Terroux lived there?
Whatever the case may be, the Terroux probably came from one of these places, perhaps even from both, as there was frequent migration from the limestone plateaux of the Lot to the richer regions of the Garonne valley.
André, Antoine’s father, was born on 6th June 1638. He was the third son of Pierre Terroux and Jeanne Delmas. Another brother was born in 1646. André’s three brothers were all called Guillaume, which does not make identification of them easy when trawling through the archives. Happily this does not apply to André as his name was not in widespread use at the time. He was baptised the day he was born; his godfather was a lawyer André Querguy and his godmother was ‘Demoiselle’ Marguerite Dispan. The Terroux being of humble origin, the high level of this baptismal sponsorship is worth considering; poor they may have been but definitely honest. This reputation went beyond Pierre and Jeanne and continued with André and his family.
Pierre died on 10th January 1648, when André was only 10. It was his older brother, one of the Guillaumes, born on 3rd December 1626, who, with André’s mother, assumed parental authority and gave his consent when in 1662, André decided to marry Jeanne Clamens.
Jeanne was born on 19th October 1641 in the parish of Bouillac, a small village perched on a hill not far from Verdun. Daughter of Bernard Clamens and Jeanne Gautie, she was baptised on 21st October; her godfather was Raymond Blanc and her godmother Jeanne Courdy, both from Le Burgaud, another village near Verdun. We know of a brother called Gillis born 24th October 1636. Their mother died on 28th February 1653, when Jeanne was only eleven. Bernard followed her on 5th February 1662. In the parish register it says that he was a woodcutter, and that he was buried ‘in front of the church porch in the tomb of Jean Clamens’. Here again we are dealing with a family of modest means, but of 'the deserving poor'. However, Jeanne Gautie did have some property which was passed on to her children, consisting of a house with some ground and outbuildings on the outskirts of Bouillac, together worth 128 livres.
When Andre Terrous and Jeanne Clamens decided to get married, Jeanne was a servant at the Golden Lion whose landlord was Jean Couderc. This inn seems to have been in its time the best hostelry in Verdun. On the site of what later became the Hospital of St Jacques, the Golden Lion was a favoured meeting place for the Verdun middle-class. Even informal meetings of the Town Council used to be held there, as the archives of Verdun testify. It was in this inn that the marriage agreement was put in due form and signed.
It was drawn up by Maître Villenove, a Verdun lawyer, in the presence of Jean Belanguier Jeanne’s cousin, Pierre Jougla master mason, Pierre Dusay ‘fournier’, Jean Jauvert son of Jacques, labourer and others - Delmas, Sailhou, Querguy and finally François Etienne Couderc, who was the only person to sign the document apart from the lawyer. It is astonishing just how many witnesses there were, and in such a place. For one thing, it proves how many friends Jeanne and Andre had; as to the venue, it was relatively current for such a document to be compiled either in the home of the fiancée or, as is the case here, of a friend or of someone who considered the young woman to be part of his own family. Similar proofs of affection – it would be tempting to say of paternalism – are evident throughout the marriage. The existence of a ‘marriage agreement’ was normal at that time, even if the couple-to-be had very little. This document contains some interesting information, and is worth looking at more closely. It states that the dowry of Jeanne Clamens is made up of ‘each and everyone of her possessions and rights present and to come whatsoever they may be, and consisting among other things of a feather mattress and an old feather cushion, an old cover, four linen sheets, two new and two worn and six used serviettes made of ‘palmette’  … ‘and the remainder consisting of certain land situated in the said village of Bouillac dependant on the succession of the said deceased Madame Gautie her mother’. In return André pledged his possessions ‘future and to come’.
The marriage was celebrated on 5th November 1662 in St. Michael’s at Verdun. It was not until 5th June 1671 that a note in the margin of the contract tells us that the terms had been fulfilled. Why the delay? The reason is simple; Gillis, Jeanne’s brother, had to be able to buy out the undivided portion of Jeanne’s inheritance. The act of assignation passed by Maître Villenove on 28th August 1668, specified that the sale took place ‘quit of all duties, for the sum of 32 livres in return for a down payment of 7 livres 10 sols in silver louis and deniers, the remainder payable as follows – 4 livres 10 sols at Michaelmas next year and the balance in three years’ this sum being paid 5th June 1671, as evidenced by a note in the margin of the act of transfer. The note in the marriage contract specified that André Terroux ‘swore that he had received previously or at present from Jeanne Clamens his wife, she being present, the sum of 40 livres, together with a feather mattress and a feather cushion, a bed cover 5 used sheets a dozen napkins’ ; in the sum of 40 livres ‘is included the sum of 32 livres which his said wife received from Gillis Clamens her brother for the sale of his part of the goods of the late Jeanne Gautie their mother’, the remainder ‘together with the said goods coming from what his said wife had earned in salary while she was a servant with Jean Couderc, landlord, and which he received from his wife’.
We know that in 1671 Jeanne was no longer a servant at the Golden Lion and that the couple was far from rich. The Terroux of Verdun were humble folk. André’s brothers were respectively a carpenter, a cobbler and a waterman. André was a waterman too but he seems to have been the poorest of the lot. We have as proof the tally rolls for 1686 where we find:-
Guillaume Teroux carpenter taxed 1 livre 4 sols and 9 deniers on his property and 2 livres 7 sols and 6 deniers on his business;
Guillaume Teroux cobbler (the youngest of the brothers) taxed 1 livre 11 sols and 7 deniers on his property and 2 livres 7 sols on his business;
Guillaume Teroux waterman taxed 11 sols and 11 deniers on his property and 2 livres 7 sols for his privileges;
Finalle André Teroux waterman ‘is not seized of any land’ and is only taxed at 1 livre 3 sols and 9 deniers for his privileges.
The fact that André and his wife had no real estate, a rather unusual state of affairs at this time, even among poor folk, means that we have no idea where they lived or where exactly the children were born. There are some indications that Jeanne continued to work as a servant for various people, so that could mean that she and the family lived with whoever she was working for at any given time. This was current practice; the top storey of middle-class homes was traditionally reserved for housing the servants. It is also possible that the couple rented somewhere in town, or rather in the Bastide where we know, thanks to our archives, that there were several rooming houses. It is unlikely that we shall ever know the truth, but that does not really matter for what follows.
During their 26 years together, André and Jeanne had 10 children of whom only four reached adulthood.
- Jeanne born 3rd January 1664, married on 25th June 1684 to François Vignaus waterman, to whom we shall return later;
- Andrive born 28th August 1670 about whom we know only that she was still alive in 1689;
- Antoine, the future Canadian;
- Raymond born 2nd March 1679.
Antoine lived a life that differed little from that of the other children of the numerous day labourers or watermen in Verdun at the time. He had no education, which was normal for the time, but he did not hang around the streets. It was usual then to help one’s parents in their workaday life. To start with, Antoine probably helped his mother with her domestic chores, then when he got stronger it was likely that he assisted his father, thus learning his future occupation of waterman ‘on the job’.
André Terroux died on 4th March 1688, of natural causes it would appear.
So Jeanne was a widow at 47 with 3 children who were still minors. Since 1684 at least she had worked for M Mathieu Rolleau, a man of some importance, adviser to the King, Collector of Fees at the Chancellery. On 1st December 1689, at the home of M. Rolleau, Maître Soulie the notary drew up a contract of marriage between Jeanne Clamens and Nicolas Champier master surgeon of Comberouger. Apart from the happy couple, the notary and the master of the house, there were also present Maître Pierre Courdy royal notary of Canals – who signed the document with Maître Soulie – M. Rolleau and Nicolas Champier.
A marriage of convenience arranged by Rolleau and his wife? It seems more than likely if one is to judge by the care taken over the drawing up of the contract and the contents of Jeanne’s dowry which are detailed below.
After the usual preamble referring to the reciprocal undertakings made by the couple and the customs of Verdun which governed them, the subject of the children is tackled in these terms:- ‘ … and because from the marriage of the said Clamens with the late Terroux there are Antoine, Raymond et Andrive Terroux who are still with the said Clamens, it is agreed between the bride-and-groom-to-be that the said Champier will be bound to feed and look after them as to lodging and clothing until they reach the age of 25 or are promised in marriage, in return for their working as best as they are able and bringing home the fruits of their labours’. The contract provided for an inventory of the goods due to the children which unfortunately it has been impossible to find.
After that came the guarantees over Jeanne’s future ‘in case the said Champier should die before the said Clamens in which case she shall enjoy the possession and use of the house seized in the village of Comberouger for life; the said house has opposite to the east the house of Jean (name illegible), to the south the main track, to the west the street and to the north Jean Gaussail; and as annual pension for life three sacks of wheat, two sacks of mixture each sack holding a hundred litres, Comberouger measure, a pipe of wine, twenty livres in silver, and a dress the wheat and the mixture in the ground or by weight payable every two years, the wine to go into the cellar and the money payable half at Saint Barthélemy and the other half at Easter’
The marriage took place on 6th February 1690 in the church at Verdun, and on the 15th, it was noted in the margin of the contract that the dowry had been ‘paid’. This was only briefly mentioned in the contract; now we have the details: ‘ … a old walnut bedstead, a coverlet, a cushion stuffed with feathers-a little worn, a set of bed-linen of green raze with its surround also of raze in the same colour with a fringe of silk of eight feet, another coverlet and cushion stuffed with feathers-very old, an iron box locked with a key, a copper warming-pan, a casserole all a bit old, six serviettes and two tablecloths-embroidered, and metal spoon for pouring soup onto bread a metal plate, of all of which property the said Champier is content’
A number of the items in this list would not normally be found in the dowry of a poor waterman’s widow. At the very least it seems as if the walnut bed (even if old), the bed-linen with its silk fringe and the embroidered table linen were a present from the people we believe to be Jeanne’s last employers, the Rolleau.
Thus were the Terroux children ‘exiled’ to Comberouger.
Did Antoine go with his mother? Perhaps not, for his brother-in-law François Vignaus was a waterman just as André had been. Our guess, as already stated, is that Antoine followed his father and already knew the job. It could therefore be assumed that he stayed in Verdun, working with his brother-in-law. It is a reasonable hypothesis and one which could explain what happened later.
The Historical Context
At that time, the Garonne supported a large working population, from the fishermen to the men who poled the rafts, as well as the miller who owned a floating mill, and the merchant. At the bottom of the ladder were the boat haulers, whose job it was to pull the barges up river. At the top of this hierarchy were the employers and the supply-merchants occupying an enviable situation which put them on a level with the master craftsmen and the businessmen. The fishermen were a class apart – humble folk who sold their produce direct, dependant only on themselves and whose only wealth was their boat and their nets.
These ‘sailors’ attracted royal interest. Soon anyone who ‘sailed’ was considered capable of serving in the Royal Navy, especially in this last decade of the XVIIth century when France, at war against the Grand Alliance of the League of Augsburg, had great need of sailors to defend her coasts and distant colonies. A census of all the sailors in the kingdom was the idea of the Chevalier de Valbeille. Maritime France was divided into ‘Intendances’, themselves divided into ‘regions’, in their turn subdivided into ‘districts’. Verdun was in the district of Toulouse, region of Guyenne, Intendance of Rochefort. Every sailor who appeared on the register could be called up to serve on the King’s vessels once every three years, from the age of 15.
Life on board one of these ships was hard. The sailors were housed between decks, they slept in hammocks called ‘branles’, whence the French expression for ‘Clear the decks’ when a battle was in the offing. Apart from wounds, which often necessitated amputations carried out in the most appalling conditions, sickness raged. Out of a strength of 15 000 officers, sailors and cadets registered every year at Rochefort, at the end of the year a thousand were disabled, five or six hundred were prisoners, almost as many again had deserted and six hundred were dead. It is easy to understand the reluctance of those who were called up, especially those coming from a ‘freshwater sailor’ background, who were used to spending almost every night at home and who were not in any way prepared for sailing on choppy seas in boats that rolled from side to side. There was a way of side-stepping conscription, which was to enrol in the Compagnies Franches de la Marine; formed in 1690 they were the forerunners of what were at one time ‘French colonial troops’. Their mission was, on the one hand, to assure the defence of the ports and shores of France, and on the other, to defend her colonies which were frequently threatened by England.
A particularly bloody episode in the war, waged on the high seas by the English and French, occurred in 1692, the battle of La Hougue. This was a real disaster for the French who saw their ships, still afloat, being burned on the coast by the English. There was a tremendous outcry which could be heard as far as Verdun where 19 of the surviving sailors – deserters, of course - took refuge.
In 1693, Antoine Terroux was in his 18th year and thus liable to be called up if, as we think, he was a waterman working with his brother-in-law. The numbers required were substantial; it had been decided to raise 1000 sailors in the Guyenne, which meant that few of those due to be called would escape conscription and Antoine had a good chance of being part of it.
In 1693 also, the CFM had decided to recruit one of the biggest group of relief troops ever to go to Canada: 500 men at a time when the total strength in the colony at that time was 1500 men. It was not a question of creating new companies, but only of replacing soldiers who had died or had been demobilised. In this instance recruitment was done through the Intendance of Rochefort. The recruits were not given their postings before they left; that would be done in Quebec.
There is enough material so far to advance a feasible hypothesis about how Antoine came to leave for New France, and it would be easy to invent a gloriously romantic future for him. Perhaps a little dramatic licence could be allowed, without getting in the way of the known facts.
Anthoine Theroux, known as Laferte
At the beginning of Spring 1693, Antoine was taken with other 'freshwater sailors' from the Guyenne, to Rochefort where they were assigned to the King’s ships which were due to take part in the next campaign. The recruiting sergeants of the CFM trawled the taverns and the quays of the town looking for 500 volunteers, going so far as to seduce away regular soldiers and seamen. That was easily done; they appeared in magnificently becoming uniforms, while the sailors were in rags. The regular soldiers conceded nothing to the CFM in the matter of uniform, but even they were attracted by the prospect of “experiencing the country, of having only to measure oneself against the savages who flee at the mere sight of a uniform and the possibility of demobilisation at the end of three years stationed in a brand new country with a great future”, even if not as many were tempted.
Antoine had nothing to lose, the choice was easily made; heigh-ho for the CFM!
The new recruits were assembled in the fort on the Isle of Oléron not far from Rochefort. There, while waiting to leave, they were given clothing for the voyage: a jacket of Mazamet wool, a pair of grey canvas trousers, a pair of stockings, a pair of shoes, one or two shirts, a woollen hat, a comb, a blanket and a hammock. In the early years of the CFM, they outfitted the the soldiers as soon as they were recruited, but quickly realised that the fine, costly uniforms lost their – shall we say? – freshness, after sometimes more than two months at sea in conditions easily imagined; as the hammocks were strung in two tiers, the unfortunates on the bottom row used to get – you can guess especially if their upstairs neighbour was seasick, which was the usual lot for most of those on board. While waiting to leave, the recruits were given a sort of basic military training, so beloved of all fighting forces.
The ships carrying Antoine and his companions left Rochefort at the end of May. They arrived in dribs and drabs from mid-July onwards.
Our new Canadian – the term ‘québecois’ was yet not in use – started badly. The crossing had exhausted him, as it had many others. His ship must have arrived on 5th August, because on that day and the day after, 16 newly arrived soldiers were admitted to the Quebec General Hospital, Antoine among them; he was registered on the 6th and stayed there for 11 days the first time round, then he was readmitted on the 26th for another 7 days. He was lucky; some died in the hospital, among them one Anthoine Faus, 24, from Montauban, the chief town of the ‘Intendance’ in which Verdun was situated.
It is possible that some who took ship at Rochefort never arrived, but died and were buried at sea, wrapped in sail canvas and weighted down by a canon ball, according to custom. It was scurvy, more than anything else which took such a toll during the crossings, but there was also dysentery caused by spoiled provisions, and water which stagnated in the barrels.
So, having recovered from their awful journey, those recruits that were left met again on the Quebec parade ground, where they finally got their postings.
Some sort of dividing up had already been done but only by numbers. Each Company Captain, in turn and according to length of service, made his choice. Antoine was chosen by one of the most prestigious among them, Captain Daniel d’Auger de Subercase. Although a former Captain in the Regiment of Britanny, Subercase was a native of Orthez in the Béarn at the the foot of the Pyrenees. In a way that was Antoine's home turf, or very nearly. Antoine was given his equipment, and the ‘nom de guerre’ which was to be his in the army – Laferte. This name, coming from the old French, means ‘fortress’; it was rather common in the army but was also bracketed with the names of French towns that had been fortified in the past: La Ferté Vidame, la Ferté Saint Aubin, la Ferté Bernard etc. This pseudonym perhaps gives us an idea of the size and stature of the man.
He must have cut a fine figure in his lovely new uniform ; ‘jerkin of grey-white linen lined with blue, decorated with pewter buttons, trousers of blue Aumale serge, stockings of the same (stockings rapidly replaced by gaiters/leggings) a pair of shoes, shirt, tie, three-cornered hat edged with a strip of artificial silver, sword-belt and a sword’. The sword was replaced by a small axe and the tricorne by a working bonnet for trips into the forest and raids against the Indians. A gun and its necessary adjuncts completed the ensemble. It should be noted that the uniform, which in principal had to be renewed every year, belonged to the soldier. So 18 deniers a day were kept back from his pay, and the same amount for his food. As he got 6 sols a day i.e 72 deniers, he only had 3 sols a day (36 deniers) for himself.
Antoine was now a proper soldier, and probably took part in various campaigns. Unfortunately this is the start of a period for which we have no accurate information, not even a tantalising trace. We lose track of Antoine for nine years. It is likely that he led the life of any other soldier in the CFM, who was sent, sometimes alone, to guard a fort which was often only 'sorry wooden huts surrounded by a palisade'. They had the unenviable task of assuring the presence of the Kingdom of France in often hostile country, with several 'savages' under them, whose loyalty could not always be counted on.
It is almost certain that he took part in the famous expedition against the Onontagues, led by Frontenac in person even though he was 74 at the time.
In fact the Company of Subercase, who was major general of the troops, was part of a regular army of 2000 men made up of Canadian volunteers, regular troops and American Indian allies.
These periods of guard duty and expeditions were happily interspersed with periods of calm, of rest periods in the larger forts or in towns such as Montreal or Quebec. As there were no barracks in these places, soldiers were billeted with the inhabitants, especially during the winter. They shared the family life of those with whom they stayed, who had to provide 'a bed a mattress a coverlet, food and a place by the hearth'. The soldier took with him his daily ration which was incorporated into the family 'vittels'. This fixed ration was a pound and a half of bread, a quarter of a pound of salted fat bacon or half a pound of salted beef, a quarter of a pound of dried peas. Not exactly the height of gastronomy but it represented some 3000 calories and was a not inconsiderable addition to the common pot.
While in garrison, the soldier had plenty of free time which allowed him either to help with the work of the family with whom he was staying, which would be much appreciated, or to have some part time work which would increase his meagre income. Living cheek by jowl with a family allowed a closer relationship with a daughter of the family, and many marriages resulted.
The Indian Wars, which caused so many deaths, ended in 1701 with the Great Peace of Montreal, a treaty signed with all due pomp in that town by most of the Indian Nations, friend or foe, and the representative of the King of France. At last, soldiers could think about marrying before being demobilised. A year later, we meet Antoine again, though in rather peculiar circumstances.
Antoine's first 'marriage'
In colonial 'Canada', getting married was not easy. From the outset, there were not enough women; 'Daughters of the King', poor orphans, dowried by the king of France, were sent to remedy this lack. A little later, with the population growing significantly, it was the all-powerful Church which made things more complicated. Marriage between people who had been born there was not a problem, as it was easy to look in the parish registers to verify the catholicity of those wishing to marry and be assured that they were not already married. It was less easy if, for example, the man had been born in the Old Country. It was soon rare for a zealous priest, before giving his assent, not to ask for a birth certificate from the affianced couple. This certificate, which could only be had from the parish where one was born, took at least a year to come from France. One Michel Gaumin, a state administrator, found a way around this. In 1579, the Council of Trent – among its other decrees – fixed the rules which defined a valid marriage. The couple had to announce their willingness to contract such a marriage in the presence of a priest and two witnesses. All they needed to do was to take advantage of a Mass – a solemn one for preference, so that the priest was very involved in the service, just before the Ite Missa Est - then get up and say their vows before two complicit witnesses. The final blessing was considered as being applicable to the 'wedding ceremony'. Then everyone went off to find the priest and asked him to please enter the marriage in the parish register. The priest of course, caught out by his flock, protested and fulminated, but caved in before the argument that 'the conditions demanded by the Council of Trent have been fulfilled'. Well-known people had recourse to this procedure; in 1711, Louis de Montoleon, an officer in the Marine Corps, married Marie Anne Josette de Saint Martin, a descendant of the noble colonial family of Jonchereau de Saint Denis, 'à la gaumine'.
At the end of 1701 or beginning of 1702, Antoine had a relationship with Michèle Fortin. Daughter of Louis Fortin and Catherine Godin, she was born at Lachine and baptised there on 30th April 1678. They seem to have been very much in love with each other and decided to put their relationship on a legal footing. It is likely that the priest they consulted made difficulties by demanding a baptismal certificate. But there was no time to waste; Michèle was pregnant and waiting for a year was out of the question. Their only recourse was marriage 'à la gaumine'. Antoine and Michèle chose 2nd February, Candlemas, to go the church in Ville Marie, where during a solemn Mass they made their declaration which would make them man and wife. Shortly after, accompanied by their two witnesses and a couple of close friends, they presented themselves at the doors of the Seminary and asked to meet M. de Belmont, the Vicar-General of the parish. But things went badly; the vicar refused to legitimise their marriage; our good Gascon Antoine 'lost his cool', things got difficult and the Vicar General threw them out. They tried again the following day, but de Belmont would not budge.
Things stayed that way until 25th September. Then, with Jean Baptiste Magdeleine (godfather) and Marie Louise Rainville (godmother), Antoine Terrous, known as Laferte, soldier in the Company of M. Soubercase, visited Remy, the curate of Lachine, to present for baptism a daughter born the day before to him and Michèle – 'the woman he told us he married at the Seminary of Ville Marie' – in the house of Marie Fortin, the wife of Jean Chotart otherwise known as Saintonge. Antoine’s words seemed odd to the curate. Antoine, probably badgered by questioning, explained that, in the presence of Vivian Magdeleine known as 'Sweetness', of Jacques H, also known as 'River Dinan', of Pierre Leduc and René Godin, he had married Michèle Fortin before M. de Belmont. After which M. de Belmont had told them … he had nothing to say to them and wanted nothing to do with them. Antoine did say that he had always thought of Michèle as his lawful wife, that he lived with her and acknowledged the child as his. The priest baptised the child – she was called Marie Louise – he could not do otherwise, but he doubted Antoine's sincerity, and decided to find out more.
The following day he went to Fort Cullierer where Michèle's uncle, Vivien Magdeleine, lived. According to Antoine, he was a witness to his 'marriage'. Doubtless very embarrassed, Vivien Magdelaine confirmed that on 2nd February, Candlemas, the group that Antoine mentioned had gone to the Seminary to ask the Vicar General to marry the two lovebirds, that he had refused then, and the day after. Michèle's uncle added that he doubted if marriage 'à la gaumine' was valid, unless it was 'put on a regular footing'. The curate of Lachine was convinced; he forbade the 'newly weds' to live together on the pain of eternal damnation. The risk of anathema could not have been clearer.
Then what happened? The only thing we know for sure is that Michèle disappears; there is no mention of her in any of the parish registers which are practically the only witnesses, along with notarised legal documents, to the life of the Colony. Did she enter a convent? That would be one explanation, as a change of name would cover her tracks. A more dramatic supposition; did she take her own life? The river was not very far from Lachine and the poor woman could have been completely thrown by her misfortune. We simply do not know. What we do know is that Antoine now has a child for whom he is responsible.
In 1706 Soubercase was named Governor of Plaisance and of Acadie. The company in which Antoine served was now Sabrevoie's company
That year Antoine Laumet – known as Lamothe Cadillac, the man who founded Detroit – was looking for men to boost the population of that town. He wanted married men who were in a position to settle in the place he described as a 'Paradise full of promise'; he had land at his disposal to distribute; the first colonists and soldiers who had followed him when the fort was established in 1701 were starting to benefit from a similar scheme. In a letter to the Minister for the Colonies, Pontchartrain, he had written 'This village which will certainly become one of the most splendid towns on the American continent is a fine fort built of stakes, with about sixty houses built at right-angles to the only road, Sainte Anne, so called for reasons which are upsetting but dear to me. There is a garrrison of disciplined, well-chosen soldiers, - about 300 of the best trained, and the strongest in the New World; moreover, there are several other people who spend some months of the year here. The villages of the savages, of about six to seven thousand souls, are within rifle range. All the land is well cultivated and the first maize harvest is excellent.' This attracted about a hundred people including Antoine.
In May and June of 1706, wedding succeeded wedding in the parish of Notre Dame of Montreal, as the prospective settlers had to be married and many of those chosen were not; the calling of the bans took time. Time was pressing and people asked M Valchon de Belmont to grant dispensations, which he did willingly – this is the man who made so many difficulties for Antoine and Michèle. Had he forgotten 2nd February 1701? However, as he had done for others, he granted a dispensation of two bans for the marriage of Antoine with Marguerite Laforest. She was only 17, Antoine was just over 30 but said he was 29. Oddly he said he was the son of André Teroux, which is correct, but also of Jeanne Petit, which is wrong. Had he forgotten his mother's surname after all these years? Was it a voluntary mistake? We will never know. Lamothe Cadillac liked contracts, so he required all his recruits to have one drawn up before getting married in church. So on 10th June, Antoine and Marguerite appeared before Maître Lepailleur of Laferte, who drew up a contract in due form, and then they went to Father Priat who was acting as a parish curate. They were not the only ones. There was Jacques Charnel called Lagroanderie, sergeant of Tonty's Company, Pierre Estève called Youth, and Jérome Marillac, both of St Martin's Company. Pierre Estève, who was also going to Detroit, was married on April 12th. He came from the Lauragais, an area quite near to Verdun – an Occitan like Antoine and like Lamothe Cadillac himself. There were others on this expedition, for example Francois Charlu, called Chantelou, married the same day as Antoine who was from the Quercy, Antoine Duypuy called Beauregard, married the day before, from Roquebrune in the Gers, – that is, from Gascony, like Antoine.
Others going to Detroit were married round about 10th June: Bonaventure Compin, called Lesperance, Blaise Foudurose, François Carré called La Roche, François Bauceron, Jacob Demarsac called Delontrou, André Bombardier called Passepartout. One characteristic linking these marriages is the huge number of soldiers who were witnesses.
We know the names of other expedition members – those contracted to work as servants by Lamothe Cadillac, or who went as 'migrants': Jacques Mazeret, Jacques Demoulin, Jean Baptiste Dazy, Mathurin Mandin, Guillaume Audibert, Ygnace Vien, Dominique Dubor, Jacques and Louis Moriceau, Jean Brugnon called Lapierre, Pierre Collet, Pierre Bourdon, Laurent Leveille, Paul, Jean and Robert Chevaliers, Claude Martin, Pierre Robert Maximilien Demers, Louis Duval, as well as Paul and Jean Lescuyer and Jacques Minville, with whom a transport contract for 'horned animals and horses' was drawn up, Joseph Chabot who was taken on to build a mill in Detroit, whether a windmill or a watermill we do not know, and finally Louis Norman called Larivière, a tool-maker who was going with his wife Anne Prunet.
The expedition to Detroit lasted for four weeks, with exhausting porterages, nights under the stars, no comfort, danger and the complicating presence of cattle.
When they arrived, the new colonists were disappointed. The reality was far from the idyllic picture painted by Lamothe Cadillac. Thanks to a report written by Governor Rigaud de Vaudreuil several months later, we have a precise idea of the conditions. 'In Detroit there are only 63 houses instead of the 120 that Cadillac told you about. With regard to the Indians, about 150 huts instead of 1200. The total number of inhabitants is 63 of whom 29 are married soldiers and the others are those who travel in this area but have settled here – their numbers grow every year and they have houses in the fort only for trading purposes. Cadillac is the most important person in Detroit; he alone has 157 acres of land under exploitation whereas all the others together have only 46. There are now 13 cows, 6 or 7 bullocks or calves and 4 horses'.
They had hardly arrived at Fort Pontchartrain than Lamothe Cadillac had to confront a rebellion. In the course of the brawl, three soldiers and a small child were massacred by the Outaoiais, and Father Delhalle, a good friend of Cadillac's, was killed.
Moreover Lamothe Cadillac could feel things going against him. The support which Pontchartrain had given him was now less than wholehearted, and the Minister was beginning to take seriously the mounting complaints against the Gascon adventurer, who in such a situation had to watch his back. Lamothe did his utmost to accumulate a solid financial cushion; those eligible to vote were hit by new taxes, and the fur-trading increased – to his profit. To that end, François Ardouin, of Ville Marie, merchant and manager of the affairs of the 'Master of Detroit' recruited a lot more migrants, beyond those who already had been recruited in June; six in November 1706, among whom was a certain Michael Filis de Therigo, chevalier and sergeant of the Marine Troops, 18 in 1707 and another 26 in 1708.
Finally, it seems as if the climate in Detroit was not too healthy. Did all these facts lead Antoine to question the opportunities for settling there? His young wife, brought up in a place that was relatively civilised in contrast to Fort Pontchartrain – did she long for her family, and did she fear for her life? In 1708 Antoine had been in the CFM for 15 years. Engagements were renewable every three years, so he was liable to be demobilised. Could this be the moment to go back to a calmer life, far from the ever-present dangers of far-away postings, despite the end of the Indian Wars? The couple's first child, Pierre, was born in January 1707, a trip to Ville Marie at the end of 1708 was possible and Antoine, as with each soldier 'freed', had the right to a pension equal to a year's pay.
Civilian life beckons
So Antoine returned to civilian life. His 'demob' money probably amounted to about a hundred pounds which would allow him to get started. It is not easy to track him from this point, for several reasons. Firstly our man seems to have had the wanderlust and moved around a lot. Secondly it is likely that the information we need to follow this couple is missing; they were together for a long time and as was usual for the time, had many children. The third reason is that what we do know is often contradictory and does not always hang together.
On the one hand, we have the parish registers which pose few problems and allow us to sketch a complete portrait of the family, its history, the ups and downs – through the births, marriages and burials – and of the way they moved around New France.
On the other, we have some notarised documents which ought to confirm their movements but which are no help at all. Of course there are lots of documents missing from our collection; moreover some of them contradict the data in the parish registers. Certainly the data base 'Parchemin' contains in principle all notarised contracts of every description signed under the French régime, and which are therefore of interest to us. But some have probably been lost over the centuries. Moreover the spelling of family names was often pure fantasy, as in parish registers elsewhere, but for those, the 'Quebec Programme for Demographic Research' – which can be found in any good library, and thus easily accessible – provides us with an index which is easy to flick through. To find acts of interest to an individual or to a family in 'Parchemin' presupposes that one knows almost all the variations of the name one is looking for, even if the search facility does allow a certain flexibility. All the same, as Antoine was known as Terou, Terrou, Theroux, Teroux, Terous, Teron, Terau, Tereau, probably as well as others even more far-fetched, you can see the problem. Research is further complicated by these famous contradictions between parish registers and notarised documents. However, let us deal with these contra-dictions as they arise.
On 30th September 1708, Antoine signed an agreement to develop about 6 ‘arpents’ of land, belonging to Michel Favard, near Trois Rivières in the domaine of Longval.
At Trois Rivières, where the couple seem to have lived until 1713 or 1714, the parish register records the baptism of Joseph Tereau on 10th February 1710, the death of Louise Tereau on 22nd July of the same year and the baptism of Marie Anne Tereau on 16 February 1712. So in the parish Antoine was known as Tereau, far enough away from the correct spelling as to make one think it might be someone else, but happily Marguerite Laforest is there; her name has not been changed, so we need have no doubts.
As for notarised documents of this period, on 26th March 1713, there is an exchange of 4 arpents of land – worked by Antoine to the south of the river opposite Trois Rivieres in the Seignory of Godefroy on which had been built a small house, a barn and a cowshed, indicating a proper exploitation of the land – against a concession worked by Pierre Chastel which was near the Yamachiche River, 6 'arpents' wide by 40 long, which seems very big. These 'arpents' which are sometimes measures of length and sometimes of area also make things difficult to understand. On 6th June of that year, Antoine resold the land to Philippe Cauchon for the apparently derisory sum of 30 pounds. In both these acts, signed in the office the lawyer Veron de Grandmesnil, he is correctly identified as 'Antoine Terou, called Laferte, husband of Marguerite Laforest'. Etienne Veron de Grandmesnil had more reasons than most for being able to identify them, as he knew them already. He was, from 1705 on, the secretary of Lamothe Cadillac in Detroit before becoming his right-hand man in 1709, and then settling as a lawyer in Trois Rivieres.
From 1714 to 1721 at least, Antoine and Marguerite seem to have lived at Baie St Paul where the parish registers of the church of St Peter and St Paul record the baptisms of Paul Laferte on 2nd March 1715, Marguerite Laferte on 23rd June 1717, Marie Genevieve Terou on 13th March 1719 and finally André Terou on 4th March 1721. For the first the mother is Marguerite Laforest, for the second she is Marguerite Labranche (her father's nickname), for the third she is again Marguerite Laforest and for the last Marguerite Laforets. Everyone is very easily identified, but to confuse things further there is an document granting to Antoine a piece of land 4 ‘arpents’ by 20 belonging to Godefroy de Tonnancour at Bécancour on the south bank of the Saint Lawrence. One of his neighbours was his brother-in-law, Thomas Laforest. The document was signed in the office of Maitre Poulin and in it, Antoine is declared to be a resident of Trois Rivieres.
On 13th February 1724, Antoine received another grant of land at Bécancour, 4 ‘arpents’ by 25, and, using the same lawyer as before, he agreed to pay 290 livres to the previous occupant, Jacques Chretien. He is said to reside in Quebec. There is no trace of these lands at Bécancour being developped, the last having to be ceded back by Marie Frechet, Marguerite's half-sister, who had power-of-attorney for her brother-in-law.
In 1724, on 21st May, in the church of the Immaculate Conception, Joseph Placide, the last child of Antoine and Marguerite, was baptised, after which the couple settled in Île Jésus, at La Pointe aux Trembles. On 27th May 1731, Marie Anne Terroux married Jean Baptiste Couturier, related to the Payet-Saint Amour family. They had a still-born son in 1732. On 30 February 1733, after the death of Marie Anne, Jean Baptiste and the Terroux signed an agreement by which the latter renounced all the rights to any property accruing to Jean Baptiste and Marie Anne during their married life, as Anne Marie was 'without issue'. Couturier willed to the Terroux 'the wearing apparel of Marie Anne and a pewter basin'. 1733 was certainly a black year for the Terroux; their other daughter Marguerite, 16, died on March 6th. And it did not stop there. On 30th September 1732, Pierre had married Rose Coitou and they had a daughter on 10th October 1733, who died just over a month later on 25th November. Was it to erase this memory that that Peter and his wife settled in Yamaska the following year?
On 12 November 1736, Marie Genevieve married Jean Baptiste Christin Saint-Amour who lived in Assomption.
The following year Joseph went off to Yamaska where on 4th March 1737 he married Lisette Dany. Unfortunately she died on 30th November that year, leaving a broken-hearted man who did not marry again for 12 years.
While he was living at Île Jésus, Antoine had become friends with Pierre Payet nicknamed Saint Amour. Pierre was the son of the famous Pierre Payet, captured by the Iroquois during the fighting at Coulée de Groux; he was adopted by them and lived with them for three years. The names of these two friends can be found together as witnesses to numerous burials registered in the parish of St François de Salles at Île Jésus. Pierre Payet died on 20th December 1743. It seems that Antoine had no one left in Île Jésus, on the contrary; most of his children had gone to St Michel de Yamaska. In 1745, he was granted land by Marguerite Veron, widow of Pierre Petit, Seigneur of Yamaska; it was '3 arpents wide on the shores of the river of the said town', and going as far as the little river, next to land farmed by Louis Cottenoire. Antoine and Marguerite settled in Yamaska for good. From July 1749 events seemed to pile in on one another, as if the whole family knew something was about to happen. On 22nd July, Joseph finally got married again … to Anne Elisabeth Cottenoire; on 25th August, Paul married Ursula Breza; on 19th January 1750, André took Jeanne Pelissier as his wife, and lastly Joseph Placide became engaged to marry Agatha Parenteau on 9th February. Less than two weeks later, on 22nd February 1750, Marguerite Laforest died.
Marguerite's estate was wound up on 5th November of that year; Pierre bought his brothers out. Antoine settled his portion on his children on 14th July 1751, with the proviso that they looked after him for the rest of his days.
On 5th February 1753, Marie, Pierre's eldest daughter, married Etienne Saint Germain and Antoine had the rare good fortune, for the times, to know his two great grandaughters; Marie Antoine born on 4th February 1754 and Marie Claire born 6th March 1757. Sadly, his daughter, Marie Genevieve, died on 17th May 1758. He himself died on 22 February 1759 and was buried in the parish of St Michel de Yamaska , 83 years after his baptism in the church of St Michel in Verdun.
But life goes on; the Theroux family (the settled spelling) would expand and move on at the mercy of events and crises, and eventually extend from the east of Canada to the west, and into the United States.
But that's another story.
 We used to think that Verdun was mentioned by the Greek geographer Strabon, writing 2000 years ago. Wrong! Henri has a translation in which Verdun does not figure.
 The Canal Royal du Midi, joining Toulouse to the Mediterranean (a brilliant feat of engineering) was finished in 1681; the Canal Latéral de la Garonne (1838 – 1856), intended to join Toulouse to Bordeaux, was completed just in time to be overshadowed by the arrival of the railway.
 The spelling did not settle down till much later. There would be innumerable variations, going from Terous to Terroux and Theroux, passing by Terou and even Tero or Teron, as when Antoine arrived in New France.
 The age at which one could legally marry at that time was 25, so no question of marrying without parental consent before that age.
 Like Alfred Doolittle in 'Pygmalion'!
 Probably related to the priest who officiated at Antoine's baptism; the name was in all likelihood Villeneuve, a well-known and well-connected Verdun family
 And with his consent
 A ‘fournier’ was the man who in charge of the communal bread ovens.
 See note on previous page. Is this person André's godfather, or a close relation?
 A material used for household linen.
 Paid annually to the ‘Seigneur’ i.e. the King or other nobleman.
 The monetary unit was the livre divided into units of 20 sols, in turn divided into 20 deniers.
 In the dictionary, 'marinier' is given as 'bargee', but that really does not cover the population who worked on, or gained their living, from the river. Moreover, barge is probably too grand a word for the sort of boats that plied the Garonne.
 The right to fish was a privilege granted by the king and of course, gave rise to payment of an annual fee.
 This floor was known as the ‘galetas’ or garret.
 It is a bit of a guess but how else to explain his presence and that of his wife, who was also the child’s godmother, at the baptism of Jeanne Marie Terroux, (one of the children who did not survive) as well as his intervention at the time of Jeanne’s second marriage ?
 This does not mean he had access to the King, simply that he was his representative as far as tax-collecting goes.
 Comberouger is a small village, once fortified, in the Canton of Verdun, about 4 miles from the town.
 Canals is a village not very far from Verdun but on the right bank of the Garonne.
 The age of majority was 25, but marriage freed minors, and this was enshrined in the Napoleonic Code
 Of wheat, barley and oats, usually used to feed the flocks of fowl ever present in and around a house in the countryside
 In Languedoc that would be about 533 litres so Jeanne would have enough to drink !
 The material was ‘raze’ which was shiny, maybe like satin
 i.e. still growing, not yet ready for harvest
 'Poilon' is probably 'poêlon'.
 It seems as if Nicolas Champier had other property which he did not put into the joint estate, expecting his natural heirs to look after his widow . This was not necessary as Jeanne predeceased him, on 29th June 1702. She is buried in the church at Comberouger.
 In 1710 (July 20th) he obtained for 540 livres (a lot of money at the time) the concession for the crossing place upriver from Grenade; there were no bridges over the Garonne between Toulouse and Bordeaux at this time – to get across there was a sort of ferry, but the right of crossing was a privilege belonging to the King or to the great abbeys as was the case at Verdun. This privilege was ceded against a rent, to the ‘farmers’ who undertook to provide the service.
 1686 – an alliance originally consisting of the Holy Roman Empire, Spain, Sweden and several German states joined in 1689 by England Holland and Savoy which waged war on Louis XIV from 1689 to 1697 to curb his expansionist policies. It was not conclusive and resumed under another name – the War of the Spanish Succession – in 1701
 An Intendant was a sort of civil servant who represented central government in the provinces
 The verb means to swing ; in the dictionaries, they give ‘hammock’ for ‘branle’ which is hardly helpful !
 ‘Branle bas de combat’ – take down the 'branles' and prepare to fight
 My dictionary gives 'landlubber', but to my mind that is someone who is reluctant to leave dry land; these lads were at least at home on the water.
 In a letter to those in charge of sailing matters in Verdun, dated July 1692, the Intendant of Montauban warned the 19 to rejoin the ships that were being armed at Rochefort.
 Mazamet, in the département of the Tarn, used to have a flourishing textile industry based on wool, which later diversified into the treatment of animal hides.
 The number of sick men was sufficiently high for the bursar of the hospital to register all those soldiers in a register which was separate from the usual one. This document entitled ‘Record of the soldiers from France this year 1693 and who stayed because of sickness in the Quebec Hospital, with their names, age, their arrival and departure from the said General Hospital' is a valuable document, as it allows us to date the arrival of the first boat on 14th July 1693, and the arrival of Antoine on 6th August of the same year.
 The number who were ill when they arrived was large but not exceptional. When the Carignan Regiment arrived in 1661, 130 were hospitalised in a single day
 Frontenac and Champigny complained that some of the 500 soldiers sent to them were too young. In fact among those hospitalised when they arrived were youngsters of 17, 16 and even 15 which gives us a valid sample from which we can draw a solid conclusion. We have good reason to think that Pierre Esteve called Jeunesse (Youth) whom we find as witness at Antoine’s wedding, was on this voyage. He was only 15 at this time.
 The sword was useful for guard duty and parades or for fighting against regular troops, but less evidently so during the Indian Wars when the Navy Companies had to fight 'just like the savages' at the side of the Militia Companies whose methods they adopted. It was the Canadian officers who gradually as they took over the Independent Companies, adapted their equipment and fighting style to the realities of a situation which bore no resemblance to the 'lace ruffles'-type war being waged back home.
 In the beginning the soldiers of the Independent Companies were given muskets, which was a poor weapon liable to explode when fired. 'Buccaneer muskets' of better quality replaced them from 1693. The maintenance of these weapons was the reponsibility of the Captain of the Company; the King would only replace those arms that had recently exploded.
 During the unavoidable porterage between one river level and another, Frrontenac was carried in triumph in one of the canoes by the 'savages' who admired him.
 There's a very good study of this in a book (in French) by Canadian professor Yves Landry, called 'Orphelines en France pionnières au Canada: Les Filles du Roi'. (published by Leméac in Montreal)
 I am much intrigued by the assumption that Michèle knew she was pregnant so early; she cannot have much more than a month gone at this time.
 This probably indicates the area he came from in France, in and around Charente-Maritime, north of Bordeaux.
 In the Côtes-du-Nord.
 See note 3, page 15.
 Lamothe Cadillac was born 5th March 1568 at Laumets, near Caumont, about 30 kms from Verdun-sur-Garonne.
 The Quercy is an area north of Montauban whose centre is Cahors, in the Lot.
 The Gers is the next-door département to the west, whose eastern boundary is not very far from Verdun.
 On 10th March 1707 Jacob Demarsac received a plot of land in Detroit from'Antoine de Lamothe Cadillac, Seigneur of Douaguet and Mont-Désert'.
 Relations between Lamothe Cadillac and the Jesuits were strained to say the least. Also he had chosen a Recollet, Father Delhalle to be the priest at the fort.
 In November 1707, Clairambault Daigremont was sent on an inspection tour and in his report he did not spare Lamothe Cadillac and his rather personal style of management.
 It seems to be largely a question of geography and not being able to be in two places at once.
 PRDQ Program de Recherches démographiques de Québec.
 According to my dictionary, an arpent is either an acre (French) or one and a half acres (English).
 This is Marie Louise, daughter of Antoine and Michèle Fortin. Whatever may have happened to her mother, it seems as if Marguerite Laforest was willing to take her under her wing. There is of course a four year gap between 1702 and 1706, and we do not know how long Michèle was around after the birth of her daughter to take care of her. It seems probable that Antoine had her in his sole charge for a while.
 Her godparents were Michel Hertel and Marie Françoise Ursule de Godefroy de Champlain.
 Ancestor of Emile Théroux.
 Which seems to be a fair step from Bécancour – if you are going to farm the land, that is.
 Again a problem of distance.
 See last paragraph this page.
 Connected to Etienne the lawyer?