Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Porpoise Hunter — Jean Mignault dit Labrie

B. about 1665 in Saint-Germain-Laxis, France
M. 7 Nov 1689 Château-Richer
Wife: Marie-Xainte Boucher
D. 6 Dec 1735 in Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec
Emigrated: before 1689

Jean Mignault dit Labrie was born in about 1665 to Louis-Joseph Mignault and Jean Charron (or Chazou) in Saint-Germain-Laxis, France, not far from Paris. Some of this region was called Brie, and Jean acquired the suffix "dit Labrie" to identify his land of birth. It is not known whether Jean had any siblings, but his parents died when he was young and he had little or no education.

The place in France where Jean was from

Jean first appeared in the records of Quebec when he married Marie-Xainte Boucher on November 7, 1689 in Château-Richer. Why he migrated from France isn't known, but a witness to the marriage was an army surgeon, suggesting he may have been a soldier. The Boucher family was well-established in Quebec and Marie-Xainte's dowry included 30 livres and "a mother cow." The priest who performed the wedding was Charles-Amadour Martin, son of Quebec pioneer Abraham Martin. Jean and Marie-Xainte had 10 children born between 1690 and 1713. The Labries moved to a cabin built by Jean on land he was granted in the small settlement of Riviére-Ouelle "east of the river, at Pointe-aux-Iroquois." Jean had land measuring 4 arpents of frontage on the river and extended 42 arpents in depth.

Not long after Jean settled there, the area came under attack from a force led by Sir William Phipps of the Massachusetts Bay colony. Before reaching Quebec City, the English fleet tried to pass Riviére-Ouelle. The people who lived there had to defend themselves from a possible raid, so the priest, Father Francheville, gathered every able bodied man, 39 in all, and Jean was one of them. Father Francheville organized them into a sort of militia saying, "Take arms and be ready for the first signal." The men went out to meet the boats and at a certain moment the order was given to fire. It was said that many English fell dead and a large number were seriously injured. Phipps' fleet moved down the river and suffered an even bigger defeat at Quebec City. Jean seems to have continued to serve some military role; years later he was described on a document in 1713 as being a militia sergeant.

In 1710, Jean gained authorization to engage in porpoise fishing, presumably on his riverfront land. It is recognized now as a cruel activity, along the lines of clubbing baby seals. The procedure was to trap the porpoises with "thousands of poles" driven into the river bank, then to spear them "unmercifully" from a raft. Jean is said to have done this for about 19 years and was successful in making money at it.

Jean's wife Marie-Xainte died on July 15, 1717 at the age of 48. Nine years later, Jean married a second wife, Marie-Anne Dube, on March 4, 1726 in Riviére-Ouelle. They had three daughters, the youngest born when Jean was about 69. He died the following year on December 6, 1735 in Riviére-Ouelle. His underage children had a priest named as their guardian, Jacques-Louis Gastonguay. It was said that the family was poor at the time of Jean's death, but recovered by 1740. His widow Marie-Ann remarried in 1744.

Children by Marie-Xainte Boucher:
1. Marie-Madeleine Mignault – B. 9 Sep 1690, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec; M. Pierre Emond (~1693-1749), 5 Feb 1714, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec

2. Marie-Françoise Mignault – B. 9 Mar 1692, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec; M. Nicolas Lebel (1694-?), 7 Jan 1716

3. Marie-Therese Mignault – B. 11 Nov 1694, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec; D. 15 Jul 1729, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec; M. (1) Joseph Emond (1698-1721), 30 Apr 1719, Contrat Notaire Janneau, Quebec; (2) Joseph Gagnon (1701-1791), 2 May 1725, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec

4. Michel Mignault – B. 2 May 1697, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec; M. (1) Marie-Ursule Soucy (1706-1754), 26 Oct 1724, Ste-Anne-de-la-Pocatiere, Quebec; (2) Angelique-Rosalie Morin (1710-?), 25 Nov 1755, Rock St-des-Aulnaies, Quebec

5. Marie-Ursule Mignault – B. 27 Sep 1699, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec; D. 4 Apr 1758; M. Augustin Emond (1700-1770), 7 Aug 1720, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec

6. Marie-Rosalie Mignault – B. 1701, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec; M. Pillipe Baudin (1687-1756), 7 Aug 1729, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec

7. Charles-Mignault Mignault – B. 2 Feb 1705, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec; M. Marie-Madeleine Aubert (1711-1790), 12 Jan 1728, La Pocatiere, Quebec

8. Jean-Baptiste LaBrie Mignault – B. 1 May 1707, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec; M. (1) Marie-Anne Chouinard (1708-?), 10 Nov 1766, Ste-Anne-de-la-Pocatiere, Quebec; (2) Marie-Anne Grondin (?-1764) 22 Sep 1733, La Pocatiere, Quebec

9. Marie-Cecile Mignault – B. 17 Nov 1709, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec; M. Étienne Raymond (1708-1788), 22 Jun 1732, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec

10. Nicolas Mignault – B. 25 Jan 1713, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec; D. 27 Jan 1713, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec

Children by Marie-Anne Dube:
1.  Marie-Josephe Mignault – B. 15 Sep 1730, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec; M. Jean Gagnon, 20 Nov 1752

2. Marie-Genevieve Mignault– B. about 1727; D. 26 Mar 1798Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, Quebec; M. Pierre Rouleau (1720-1790), 24 Jan 1780, Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, Quebec

3. Marie-Veronique Mignault – B. 25 Jan 1734, Riviére-Ouelle, Quebec; 10 Mar 1816, Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, Quebec; M. Gabriel-asile Ouellet (1724-1809), 2 Feb 1758, Kamouraska, Quebec

Sources:
Our French-Canadian Ancestors, Gerard Lebel (translated by Thomas J. Laforest), 1990
A point in history… and a few acres of snow [website], Marjorie Lizotte, 2009

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