Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques,
Sonnez les matines, sonnez les matines
Ding ding dong, ding ding dong.
I always loved that lullaby from childhood. Brother John, Brother John, are you sleeping, are you sleeping? Morning Bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing….
I had no idea I had my own French Jacques and that the morning bells were those of Notre Dame in Paris.
Little did I know on the day I found my first Acadian ancestor what a floodgate was opening. Now, that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. Wonderful because so much research has been done on Acadian families, and terribly frustrating because in so many cases, in spite of all of that research, we still can’t get them back to France.
The families are also, in some cases, hopelessly intertwined….and I don’t even want to talk about what the autosomal DNA of these families looks like. Let’s just say that it’s not a family tree, but more line a family vine.
Jacques “dit Beaumont” de Bonnevie is an exception in that we know where he was born in France.
Before I tell you about Jacques, what little we know about him, let me thank a few people who’ve helped me immensely.
First, Paul LeBlanc, who tells me we are related in 37 different ways, is the host of the Acadian list at Rootsweb. To subscribe to this list, please send an email to ACADIANfirstname.lastname@example.org with the word ‘subscribe’ without the quotes in the subject and the body of the message.
I think it was also Paul who told me that if you’re related to one Acadian, you’re related to all Acadians. I thought it was cute at the time. Little did I realize he was serious! I didn’t know, then, just how true that was!
Secondly, the research on Jacque and much of what has been done on my other Acadian ancestors was contributed by Karen Theriot Reader, a librarian and genealogist extraordinaire, focused on Acadian immigrants to Louisiana. Fortunately for me, those families all originated in Acadia, in far northeastern Canada, shown on the map below.
I am also very grateful to the administrators of DNA projects that include or focus on Acadian families.
Sorting out the families and separating myth from fact has become much easier with the advent of genetic genealogy. In fact, it’s how I proved my first Acadian connection through the Lore family – but that’s a story for another time.
Oh yes, and there’s one more thing I’d better explain and that’s about “dit” names. Dit names, often found in French Canadian, specifically Acadian, families are nicknames, for lack of a better term, either attached to a surname or to a particular person.
Dit translates literally as “to say” so a “dit” name means “that is to say.” Sometimes dit names are location based, military based or something else that doesn’t make much sense today. For example, if the dit name is LaMontagne, or “the mountain,” does it mean the man was built like a mountain, he was of great social stature, was it that he lived near the mountain, or was it, perhaps, a joke?
As if Acadian genealogy wasn’t complex enough, ancestors can be listed under either name, or both, variously, or at the same time.
When I knew I was going to Paris in the fall of 2013, I searched through my files to see if any of my ancestors had a historical connection to Paris, and sure enough, Jacques was born there.
Jacques “dit Beaumont” de Bonnevie
Jacques was born about 1660, although some references state as late as 1678, in Paris. However, Karen Theriot Reader’s source provides proof that the 1660 date is much more accurate than later dates.
Karen provided me with the following information about Jacques and how we know he was in fact, born in Paris.
The citation from Stephen A. White is from his highly respected genealogical dictionary of Acadians. He does go into detail on the historical document which says Jacques was a “native of Paris.” It is in French in the original citation, but I have the English translation he published somewhat later. Footnote/Endnote Citation: Stephen A. White, English Supplement to the Dictionnaire généalogique des familles acadiennes (Moncton: Centre d’Études Acadiennes, 2000). Published as [vol. 3] of the Dictionnaire Généalogique des Familles Acadiennes.
He is listed as Jacques Bonnavie dit Beaumont.
Another note from Karen provides us with additional information.
Jacques BONNEVIE dit BEAUMONT, Biographical Note: 20 Dec 1732: List of the disabled retired from the French forces at Ile Royale proposed to my Lord the Compte de Maurepas to receive half-pay.
Jacques Bonnevie called Beaumont, aged seventy-two years, native of Paris, former corporal in the troops of Acadia, where he served for seventeen years. He is not in condition to serve, nor to earn his living, because of a wound to his thigh he received in the King’s service.
Document found in Stephen A. White’s Dictionnaire (French ed.): (ANF, Col, D2C, vol 47, fol 475) That would be in the Archives of New France (ANF). Also, Isle Royale is now Cape Breton Island in Canada.
Jacques died on April 23, 1733 at the Hospital de Louisbourg, Ile-Royal, Acadia.
Karen also provided from Bona Arsenault, HISTOIRE ET GENEALOGIE DES ACADIENS; 1625-1810; Ottawa, Editions Lemeac, 1978, 6 vols.; p. 438 (Port Royal); own copy:
Entry says name also BEAUMONT. Jacques was born around 1678, married around 1699 to Francoise MIUS, “doubtless” the daughter of Philippe MIUS Jr. of Pobomcoup & a “sauvagesse” Marie, whom he had married.
Karen’s tree shows the six children listed, born from 1701 through 1715. There were no births listed from 1707-1714, suggesting that at least 4 children perished.
“Sauvagesse” means Native American. Because she has a Christian name, Marie, we can rest assured that she had been baptized into the Catholic faith.
One of the daughters of Jacques dit Beaumont de Bonnevie was Marie Charlote Bonnevie, born May 12, 1706 in Port Royal, Acadia. On August 18, 1721, Marie would marry Jacques “dit LaMontagne” Lore/Lord. They are my 7G-grandparents.
Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any record that anyone by the name of Bonnevie or deBonnevie has been DNA tested, but at Family Tree DNA there are 15 individuals with the surname Beaumont who have tested. There is no Beaumont surname project, unfortunately, so I checked the French Heritage project. Unfortunately, there is only one and they are from England. At Ancestry.com, there is only one Beaumont who has tested and there is no information attached to their account. I have sent them a message, but I’m not at all convinced that my message-sending capability at Ancestry isn’t broken, considering that I haven’t received a reply from anyone in over a year.
I have a scholarship for Y DNA testing for any male who descends from this line and carries the surname, whatever it is today, Bonnevie, de Bonnevie, Beaumont, or whatever.
I know what Paris was like in 1970 when I lived there, and what it is like today, but what was Paris like when Jacque de Bonnevie lived there as a child in the 1660s and 1670s?
Like everyplace else in Europe at that time, religion played a very big part of the lives of the populace. Paris wasn’t immune to the religious turmoil plaguing the rest of Europe after the beginning of Protestantism in 1530. This problem didn’t begin in the 1600s though, but much earlier, in the 1500s,althoug the ramifications reached forward centuries.
An ominous gulf was growing within Paris between the followers of the established Catholic church and Protestant Calvinism and Renaissance humanism. The Sorbonne and University of Paris, the major fortresses of Catholic orthodoxy, forcefully attacked the Protestant and humanist doctrines, and the scholar Etienne Dolet was burned at the stake, along with his books, on Place Maubert in 1532, on the orders of the theology faculty of the Sorbonne; but despite that, the new doctrines continued to grow in popularity, particularly among the French upper classes.
Beginning in 1562, repression and massacres of Protestants in Paris alternated with periods of tolerance and calm, during what became known as the French Wars of Religion. Paris was a stronghold of the Catholic party. On the night of 23–24 August 1572, while many prominent Protestants were in Paris on the occasion of the marriage of Henri of Navarre—the future Henry IV—to Margaret of Valois, sister of Charles IX, the royal council decided to assassinate the leaders of the protestants. The targeted killings quickly turned into a general slaughter of Protestants by Catholic mobs, known as St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, and continued through August and September, spreading from Paris to the rest of the country. About three thousand Protestants were killed in Paris, and five to ten thousand elsewhere in France.
This painting by Francois Debois shows the massacre with Admiral Cologny’s body handing out of a window in the rear to the right. The left rear shows Catherine de’Medici emerging from the Chateau de Louvre to inspect a heap of bodies. Another drawing, below, by Frans Hogenberg, shows the massacre as well.
People left Paris in droves, about one third of the population, fearing for their safety. Many houses were destroyed during the Religious Wars and the grand projects of the Louvre, the Hôtel de Ville, and the Tuileries Palace were left unfinished.
This was a very dark time in French history.
By the middle of the 1600s, the city had recovered and new churches were being built, inspired by those of Rome. By 1650, the population had doubled and reached about 400,000. Bridges were being built to replace ferries and new construction was everyplace. The Church of Les Invalides was built between 1671 and 1678 and the College of 4 Nations from 1662-1672. New theaters were created to entertain people and the first café opened in 1686. Paris was growing and prospering. Jacque, born about 1660, would have been witness to this prosperity.
For the poor however, life was very different. They were crowded into tall, narrow, five or six story high buildings lining the winding streets on the Île de la Cité and other medieval quarters of the city. Crime in the dark streets was a serious problem. Metal lanterns were hung in the streets and the number of archers who acted as night watchmen was increased to four hundred.
Of course, we don’t know Jacque’s social or financial status – but I doubt a wealthy man would serve in the military as an enlisted man, and be shipped to Nova Scotia.
Paris in 1660
We know that Jacques was born in Paris in 1660. We know that he was in Acadia by 1699 when he married. He likely did not arrive in Acadia until he was at least age 20, so he was in Paris from at least 1660 to 1680 and possibly another 18 or 19 years.
We know that he was in the military for 17 years, and he know that he had a “dit” name that translates as “beautiful mountain.” (Thank you for the translation to Marie Rundquist.) You’ll have to pardon my wondering about how that name was bestowed up on him, and whether it was before or after he arrived in Acadia.
What was happening in Paris when Jacques lived there?
In 1660, all of Paris gathered to see the entry of King Louis the XIV. Were Jacque’s parents among the crowd? Was his mother pregnant for Jacques, or perhaps she had a newborn infant and couldn’t attend the festivities.
Here’s the Louvre, as Jacque might have seen it as a young boy, in the 1660s. In fact, he could have been one of those children playing in the street.
If, in fact, Jacques was born anyplace near the city center, he could have been baptized in Notre Dame.
Here is a painting of “Choeur de Notre Dame de Paris” from 1669.
This first map is of Paris in 1550. You can see this map in detail at this link. The detail is incredible, neighborhoods and even individual houses. Were Jacques’, and my, ancestors living here then? Is their house on the map?
The first bridge, The Pont Notre-Dame, shown on the map above, was built in 1512 and held a street and 68 houses.
Here’s a perspective view of Paris from 1607. Notice that there were many churches.
The island at the city center is quite visible and so are the walls, although it’s evident that there is already some constructions and people living outside the walls. If Jacques was born in 1660, this would have been the Paris of his grandparents.
This 1660 map shows not only the city, but the dress of Parisians at that time as well. This would have been what his parents wore or saw people around them wearing.
In 1670, King Louis ordered the destruction of the city walls, feeling they were no longer necessary. This 1705 map shows the location of the old walls and the new construction outside the walls. Did Jacque watch the old walls being torn down? Might he have helped? He would have been a strapping man of about 20, in his physical prime.
Jacques would have watched the construction of Les Invalides, above, from 1662-1672.
We don’t know when Jacques left Paris, but we do know he was in “His Majesty’s Service” for 17 years, and it’s very likely that he arrived in the New World as a soldier. Life would have been dramatically different for Jacques, moving from Paris to, comparatively, a wilderness.
We also know he was wounded in the thigh, but we don’t know how or when that injury occurred although it would have not been before his arrival in Acadia. It could well have been in 1710 in the Siege of Port Royal when the British took Port Royal, renaming it Annapolis Royal.
His 17 years in service could have ended shortly after his arrival in Nova Scotia. If he enlisted when he was age 20 in 1680, his 17 years of service would have ended in 1697, for example. However, the wording in his pension application says specifically that he served as a “former corporal in the troops of Acadia, where he served for seventeen years.” If he served in Acadia for 17 years, then his retirement was probably about 1715 or so. It certainly was not after 1716 if he married in Port Royal about 1799. His retirement could have been earlier than 1716.
It’s likely that Jacques was involved with the building of the fort at Port Royal. With the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1702, colonists on both sides again prepared for conflict. Acadia’s governor, Jacques-François de Monbeton de Brouillan, had, in anticipation of war, already begun construction of a stone and earth fort in 1701, shown below, which was largely completed by 1704.
Fort Royal was defended by about 300 troops, many of whom were poorly trained recruits from France. We don’t know when Jacques was injured, but to entirely disable him, it must have been severe. In 1710, the French lost both Fort Royal and Port Royal. The painting below shows the evacuation of the fort. Whether Jacques was still in the military at this time, or not, he surely was involved in many ways during this decade of instability.
Did he and his wife worry constantly about an impending attack? Did they finally decide that it was never coming, and relax, only to be surprised? How did they cope with living under constant threat? Life apparently went on, because several of their children were born during this decade.
Jacques would have been 50 years old in 1710 when Fort Royal was taken by the British. He requested a half-pay pension on December 20, 1732, at age 72, and subsequently died on April 23, 1733.
Maybe it’s a good thing he died when he did and didn’t live another 22 years to see his children and their families uprooted and forcibly deported from Acadia in the 1755 event known as “Le Grand Derangement.”
Jacques saw a lot in his lifetime. The rebuilding and expansion of the City of Paris, the removal of the medieval city walls, a transatlantic crossing, the fort at Port Royal and the loss of Port Royal to the British in 1710 when he had young children to protect. He was likely involved in battles, or at least one battle, and was severely wounded. He would have watched his children become adults and marry as the fort area expanded. Still, his children were close by. In 1732, probably as he was becoming feeble and unable to care for himself, he asked for a half-pay pension for his 17 years of service, passing away only four months later..
I wonder if he agreed to go to Acadia (Canada) with the expectation that he would never return home to France, or if the company of French/Indian Francoise Mius changed his mind and was the reason he remained. We have no records from Paris, but his age at the time he married Francoise, nearly 40 years old, suggests that he might have had a family in France at one time as well. Perhaps they perished and he went to Acadia to begin anew.
We are very fortunate to know as much as we do about Jacques “dit Beaumont” de Bonnevie. Like all genealogists, I’d love to know more. I’d also love to test the DNA of a Bonnevie male descendant, if there are any. If you are a male Bonnevie and descend from this line, I have a DNA scholarship waiting just for you!