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.
There is the Mothers of Acadia project as well as the Amerindian Ancestor Out of Acadia project.
There are also various related projects, such as the Louisiana Creole and the French Heritage projects.
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!
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My sister-in-law is 1/2 Acadian from Cat Island, Mississippi. You are 100% correct about being interrelated.
Sorting out the French (or other) origins of the very early settlers in Quebec and environs can really put you in the middle of a swamp. It is extremely difficult, unless you have access to the original documents, to separate meager facts from an abundance of fiction.
The problem of “dit” names pervades genealogy at some periods in areas where French was spoken, and the same phenomenon is found sometimes in other areas as well. Yes, sometimes we can see from documents that a particular “dit” name was, or at least had its origin as a nickname, characterizing a particular individual. But I think it is more helpful to think about why the inhabitants of a small village might need to apply “dit” names or aliases to particular individuals or families.
I’ve found many cases (15th-17th Centuries, mainly in French-speaking Switzerland) where a particular paternally-transmitted surname became so numerous in a small village, that it no longer made sense for all of these people to have the same family name. It was just too confusing. So, individual families having the same paternal surname apparently came to be called by different “unofficial” surnames, to distinguish them from one another. The “new” or “additional” surname was sometimes derived from a nickname (dit Grosjean, Big John), or an occupation (dit au Clerc), a maternal surname, or a place name (in some cases, the name came from the place where the family lived, in others perhaps from a fief that they held). Sometimes these alternative surnames only persisted a few years, sometimes they lasted for a few generations, and occasionally they entirely replaced the original surname. From the viewpoint of the genetic genealogist, this history predicts the existence of families of different names that nevertheless have the same Y chromosome, and, conversely, families of the same name (and originating in the same place) that have different Y chromosomes. In a few cases, the documented history of changing surnames has actually been confirmed by genetic evidence. You have to be fairly lucky to have both the documents that show the evolution of the surnames, and a group of modern, willing descendants who agree to be tested.
When we meet one of these names in Latin, the keyword is usually “alias” or “aliter”, meaning “otherwise”. Occasionally the word is “vulgo” or similar, meaning “commonly” called. In French, we find “dit” (meaning “called”), but also “autrement” or “alias” ( meaning “otherwise”). This custom, where surnames are not reliably stable from one generation to the next, goes back at least to the late 14th Century in the areas where I have experience. When surnames first arose, they don’t seem to have been very stable. It was just a fact of life that families might be known by more than one name. “Dit” names became less and less popular in most places, to the point where I hardly ever run into them by the middle of the 18th Century in France or Switzerland.
Another point that needs to be mentioned, the “dit” names can be found in either order. It’s not out of the question that the person usually called Bonnevie dit Beaumont could turn up in a document as Beaumont dit Bonnevie, or just Bonnevie, or just Beaumont. Just part of the adventure!
Hello Acadian cousin,
Glad you did an article on your Acadian heritage. I was thinking it was about time for them to show up on here. I don’t know how many time we are related, but with just the few names you mentioned, I was able to know of one connection: Phillip Mius. I’m sure there must be others.
You’re so right about the Acadians, or in my case the Cajuns, are all related. I didn’t realize that when I was growing up in Southern Louisiana with all of the Gaudets, Doucets, LeBlancs, Broussards, Aucoins, Babins, and so on. I knew we were from the same culture, but didn’t ever think that we shared so much DNA. My dad is almost all Cajun and he has over 850 “2nd and 3rd” cousins. Think of how many matching segments that comes to! It’s crazy! (I’d be driven crazy by it all, too, if it weren’t for GenomeMate!) So glad my dad was so involved with genealogy for over 40 years. He has corresponded with some of the people you mentioned.
Hope to hear about more of your (our) Acadian ancestors.
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I must share with you a less known story of Acadians who were expelled from North America, and resettled in France. After testing on 23andMe my wife was shocked to discover how many cousins in the “New World” she has. Being French (from France) we theorized she had family who emigrated to North America over the centuries. A simple story we imagined would never be decoded; until our last family visit to France this past Xmas. While there my wife’s Great aunt revealed to her that their side of the family came from an Island off the coast of Brittany called Belle Isle. That evening we did a little research on Belle Isle, and the Acadian flood gates opened! Apparently a group of Acadians ejected by the English were exiled to Virginia, while there these Acadians made lots of trouble, and en masse were imprissioned on the Chanel Islands (men, women, and Children). Apparently their release was negotiated by the King of France, and they were brought back to France, specifically Belle Isle! After a few years many of them left for Louisiana, but a handful stayed behind. My wife’s family (Acadian) stayed in France, and this fact was forgotten until our rediscovery this past winter. This explains the Native American ancestry my wife and our son were indicated to have on the DNA test. At first we thought her American conection was French leaving for North America, rather it was North Americans leaving for France!
I am a direct descendant of Jacques dit Beaumont de Bonnevie. Are you still looking to test a male ancestor?
I am a descendant of Jacques and have two brothers and two nephews that are. I will ask. Our Bonvie settled in Antigonish Countywhen they sneaked back. I lost 2 Aunts on the ships that took some back to France. Their ship sunk.
We are as well and I have a brother.
I have done my dna on my daughter on ancestry, my father was george joseph bonnevie, as was his son. Wegoback to jacque.
My father was a Bonnivie, I always wanted to find relatives in Europe. Would like to get in touch with the author that stated he had a scholarship for male DNA from that line. I have a son that could be tested.
Hi Charmagne. Unfortunately, your son carries your husband’s Y DNA, so that doesn’t work. Does your father’s line descend from Jacques?
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I am a direct descendant of Jacques dit Beaumont de Bonnevie. I am a Bowman now.
Dave my name is Dennis Todd. I am a match to a Bonnevie test that was taken. Are you a male descendant of Jacques? Thank you,Dennis
Imagine my surprise to come across this article on Jacques Bonnevie while browsing your posts. Do you still need male descendants to test? My husband’s family was from NB. Jacques is his 8G-grandfather. My DNA is on Family Tree, but he has never tested.
Welcome cousin. I will e-mail you!
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My husband is a Bonnevie descendants of Jacques dit Beaumont Bonnevie. We are certain that Jacques had some ancestors from the mountains of La Guraz in the Haute Savoie.
That’s very interesting. What kind of evidence have you found?
In the village of La Guraz there is are many
Bonnevie familles. They have been there for ever. Dit Beaumont would mean beautiful mountains and La Guraz is located in the French alps. My husband was there 3 years ago and met a few Bonnevie. My husband contacted the same people you got in touch with at the university Moncton and visited the village of Cap Pelé many times in New Brunswick where the Bonnevie related to my husband lived for many years. We are very interested in genealogy.
Do you live in United States?
Y DNA testing would confirm or refute that connection.
Yes, I’m in the US.
I think my message didn’t go through so I will post it again!
My husband was in that village 4 years ago and met some Bonnevie. Dit Beaumont mean beautiful mountains in French. It makes sense.
We think that Jacques dit Beaumont Bonnevie had some family in the Haute Savoie region for sure. My husband also met Steve White at the university of Moncton and we have the same information that you found! We have to be related! My husband ancestors lived in a little village in New Brunswick called Cap Pelé. They were fishing men. Then they immigrated to United States (Maine) to work in the paper mill.
We are very interested in genealogy. Where are you from?
My husband spent time in that region and there are many generations of Bonnevie living there.
We have the same information about the Bonnevie that you found. We met with Steve white at the university of Moncton in New Brunswick.
We visited many times Cap Pelé in New Brunswick where my husband’s ancestors lived. Some of them moved to Maine to work in the paper mills.
Do you live in United States?
I am a descendent too of your original Jacques. My maiden name is Bonvie, obviously shortened somewhere along the way. Our roots trace back also to Marie and I understand she was Marie Coyote Blanc, Marie White Coyote.
Should also,let you know I have a male child descendent,
Has your male child descendant taken a Y DNA test?
My husband’s mother’s maiden name is Bonvie from this line, and has a brother and sister. Both she and her brother have done DNA tests – I believe his mother from Ancestry.com and her brother through 23+me. As she has since passed away, you may be able to find her on Ancestry. She was June Bonvie Kilpatrick. Her brother is Robert Bonvie.
My Mother’s Mother was the Daughter of Exelda Bonnevie (1885 – 1963) of New Brunswick, Canada, & Cornelius Gallant (1885 – 1974) from Prince Edward Island, Canada, of course making me the Great Grandchild of a Bonnevie, but all through the female lineage in my family before me. I don’t know if that helps any, or even if it comes close to what you are looking for, but let me know if I can help you out, please.