Catherine Vieillot dite Maranda was the daughter of François Vieillot and Catherine Leblanc from Rouen in Normandy. Records do not provide a specific birth date, but she was baptized on October 20, 1642 in the parish of Saint-Vivien. As it was with so many early French settlers, only a baptismal date was recorded and we must presume it is the same as, or very near her actual birth date. At some point after her father’s death, she was recruited for the king’s program to travel to the new colony that would one day be called Canada.
Catherine left Dieppe on June 10, 1667 aboard Le Saint Louis for what should have been an uneventful passage. The vessel finally arrived on September 25 after an exceptionally gruelling trans-Atlantic passage of three and a half months. Statistically we know that some of her colleagues would have perished at sea from malnutrition or infectious diseases, so it's little wonder that she and 90 other Filles du Roi were anxious to set their feet on solid ground at the ship’s first port.
In the dormitories of the Ursulines in Québec City they could recover from their illnesses. They would begin learning from the nuns about cooking, gardening, sewing, and generally surviving challenges they would meet in a dramatically different setting from the one they had left — perhaps shortsightedly. And here, of course, they would also meet men who desperately wanted wives to fulfil their dreams in this new and free land where anything was possible.
Soon after her arrival Catherine was courted by a young man who attended the Ursulines’ convent in hope of finding a wife with whom to have a family. Jacques Dubois had already been in the colony for three years and was keenly aware of the king’s program to bring marriageable women from France. The records tell us that just two months earlier he had created — and soon after annulled — a marriage contract with another Fille du Roi, Marie Girard, who is of no relation to us. When their union was dissolved, only time would determine if his second marriage was made on better judgment.
Jacques was born about 1640 in the province of Angoumois in France. He was the son of Jacques Dubois Sr. and Jeanne Tinion. By some stroke of luck, he was one of few early newcomers for whom there is an actual arrival date, and that is May 25, 1664. On this date he appeared in the records of crew and passengers aboard the trading vessel Noir from La Rochelle, France [the same ship carrying young 14-year-old Jean Beaudet, future husband of our Filles du Roi ancestor Marie Grandin]. We know that upon his arrival, Jacques Dubois was 24 years old. He appeared in the 1666 official census as the indentured servant of Louis Sédilot.
On October 18, 1667 — which might also have been her birthday — 25-year-old Catherine Vieillot married now 27-year-old Jacques in Québec City. Like Perrette Vallée, she had been in Canada just three weeks before taking the serious step of matrimony. Neither spouse was able to sign the marriage contract drawn on October 12 by notary Gilles Rageot, but the document became legal when he signed on their behalf.
Like Perrette Vallée, there is nothing in the records to indicate that Catherine and Jacques received the 50-livre gift from the king. It would have been invaluable to any new family. They settled at Sainte-Famille, Île d’Orléans where Jacques perhaps continued his employment as an engagé. If so, the arrangement would have provided the couple at least with a home and a meagre income. Here they would have four children, the second dying very young.
For as much as the possibility exists that they were a model family with the possibility of a great future, fate intervened. Jacques Dubois suffered an untimely death at just 35 years old. No cause is stated, and that is an unfortunate standard that we have come to expect. He was buried March 17, 1675 in Sainte-Famille.
Now widowed with three children underfoot and with Jacques’ fourth child in her womb, 33-year-old Catherine Vieillot clearly understood that remarriage was the only way to ensure the well-being of young lives for whom she was now wholly responsible.
In today’s world, a hasty remarriage after the death of one’s spouse could easily be regarded as a step made in bad taste. That hundreds of the Filles du Roi remarried very soon after being widowed is probably a clear indication that we should not weigh their culture against current social mores. Swift remarriage, says practically all the literature, was essential to both men and women for family survival, and that was exactly what they did.
Just two months after Jacques’ burial, Catherine married Pierre Guénet, also in Sainte-Famille. Little is known about him, only that he was born in about 1652 and that he was 10 years Catherine’s junior.
The fourth surviving child of the now-deceased Jacques Dubois was born five months later, and that son, whom she named Pierre, would continue Catherine’s lineage forward to Grandmother Clarice Bergeron.
- 1699 Pierre Dubois
m. Marie-Anne Mailloux » Marie-Françoise
- 1736 Marie-Françoise
Dubois m. François Rondeau » Françoise
- 1764 Françoise Rondeau
m. Jacques Bergeron » Pierre
- 1792 Pierre Bergeron
m. Charlotte Dussault » Antoine
- 1826 Antoine Bergeron
m. Louise Genest » Alfred
- 1847 Alfred Bergeron
m. Lucie-Marie Bibeau » Clarice
- 1870 Clarice Bergeron
m. Lazare Côté
- 1699 Pierre Dubois m. Marie-Anne Mailloux » Marie-Françoise
- 1736 Marie-Françoise Dubois m. François Rondeau » Françoise
- 1764 Françoise Rondeau m. Jacques Bergeron » Pierre
- 1792 Pierre Bergeron m. Charlotte Dussault » Antoine
- 1826 Antoine Bergeron m. Louise Genest » Alfred
- 1847 Alfred Bergeron m. Lucie-Marie Bibeau » Clarice
- 1870 Clarice Bergeron m. Lazare Côté