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Nos Ancestres
by Gérard Lebel
Translated by Tomas J. Laforest
Vol. 6, Chapter 15, Pages 168 to 175

René Maillot dit Laviolette

Let them sing as long as they Pay!" said Cardinal Mazarin some 350 years ago. (1) He was speaking to the Parisians who were outraged over his fiscal policies, inventing all sorts of satirical chants and jokes in protest. In order to reaffirm royal authority during the minority of the Sun King, this celebrated Cardinal of Italian origin, imposed heavy taxes on the people, resulting in an uprising known as the war of the Fronde. Overpowered by this conflict, which only ended in 1653, the French readily accepted a more stable absolute monarchy.

Ten years later, Minister Colbert, (2) Mazarin’s successor, also had to face a pressing need for money. He resolved his crises by increasing the tax on salt. Known as la gabelle, this impost duty was described as follows:

"The sale of salt was a State monopoly, except in a few provinces, and severe penalties were enacted against dealers in contraband salt. The salt tax was violently unpopular, its levy gave rise to harassment and sometimes troubles. Additionally, it was not uniformly administered, depending on whether the provinces were "grande gabelle" or "petite gabelle", salt marshlands or exempt lands. Fraud was easy and universally practiced, therefore, a veritable army of salt-tax collectors was perpetually on the alert against the dealers in contraband. The penalties applied for fraud were often terribly severe. (3)

If the Land is Unproductive, Plant Gascons

About the middle of the 1660s, Gascony was swept by an open revolt against the salt tax, Colbert, in order to keep a firm grasp on the province, installed a relative by marriage there, one Claude Pellet. Nevertheless, a local patriot named Bernard d’Audijos, at the head of a band of partisans, began to attach the salt convoys. In July 1665, in order to combat this popular hero, Pellot imposed repressive measures, not the least of which was the quartering of soldiers in the homes of the people, and began terrorizing the whole region. (4)

This ancient province of the French midi, then extended to the Pyrenees mountains in the south, to the Garonne river on the north and to the Atlantic on the west. Wrote Charles Dartigue:

"In spite of its dimensions, in spite of the variety of its soil, Gasco ne was always incapable of feeding all those who lived there. Whether he was a shepherd in the pastures or in the mountains, a breeder in the basins or the plains, a peasant cultivating his grain or grapes, the Gascon invariably found the soil hard to work and the climate capricious. Therefore, it was necessary that many emigrate, make their way, adapt to any environment to create a place for themselves in the world by means of guile, versatility, cutting and thrusting; if the land is unproductive, one was in the habit of saying, plant Gascons, they grow everywhere." (5)

An Ancestor Not Gifted For Business

Without a doubt, it was the unsettled conditions brought about by the salt-tax revolt and the difficulties of making ends meet in Gascony, which drove ancestor René Maillot dit Laviolette, about 1665, to try his luck in New France. But things were no easier for him in his adopted land. Poor on arrival, he died still poorer, completely impoverished and consumed by debt. He did not live long enough to resolve his financial problems.

Son of René Maillot and of Catherine Berger, René was born about 1637. His marriage contract, drawn up by Romain Becquet on 28 October 1671, tells us that he came from Castelleroy (Castel-Arrouy), in the diocese of Toulouse in Gasco ne. He arrived in New France in 1665 as a soldier in the Porte Company of the famous Carignan-Salières Regiment, the troops who had come to rid the country of the Iroquois menace.

From Varennes to Québec

A man named Arnaut Maillot dit Laviolette is noted at Varennes in 1669. It is entirely probable that Arnaut and René are the same person. As a matter of fact, on 24 November 1669, notary Thomas Frerot wrote that Arnaut had sold a fifty arpent homestead on the Saint-Lawrence to Bernard Voisin dit Beausoliel from Montréal. We then find René at the signing of his marriage contract at Québec. The religious ceremony must have taken place a few days later at Sillery or someplace else in the area, however, a record of this event has not been found.

The Chapacou Family

Who was this Marie whom he took to wife? She was the daughter of Simon-Jean Chapacou, a colonist probably from Saintonge, where he was married about 1653, to Marie-Vincente Pacaud. This couple was noted for the first time in the Québec region in February 1665. In the census of 1666, we learn that the Chapacou family had a son named Louis, twelve years old, and a daughter, Marie, four years younger than her brother.

Abbot H. A. Scott noted that "Simon-Jean Chapacou had here (at Sainte-Foy) in 1667, eight arpents of land under cultivation", but that he had left the place before 1681.(6) During these years, two other sons and two other daughters were born. Louis settled in the seigneury of Villemure and Marie had already married René Maillot.(7) One of the other daughters, Marie-Agathe, was a servant at the home of Jean Creste at Beauport.(8) As for the rest of the family, the census taker does not speak of them, but we know that Simon-Jean was buried at Longueuil on 3 June 1690 and that his widow was still living in 1697, the year in which she signed over her belongings to her grand-daughter, Marie Chapacou. (9)

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Quarter of a Century in the Grondines

Therefore, Marie, the wife of René Maillot, was born in France in 1658. She was only thirteen years old on the day of her wedding, when the groom already had reached his thirty-fourth year. At that time, this was not a rare occurrence; middle aged men frequently married young girls.

The children of René and Marie were baptized in their turn at the Grondines, at Cap-Sante and at Pointe-aux-Trembles in Québec (Neuville) between 1675 and 1695.

Early in 1676, the family settled at Saint-Charles-des-Roches (Grondines) where they remained, we believe, for more than a quarter-century. On 5 February 1676, as reported by notary Michel Roy dit Châtellerault, René committed himself to give to Louis Foucher, of the same place, twelve days of work to pay off the balance of the cost of the house which he had bought for him. On 22 September 1677, the same notary added that René sold a plot of land to Urbain Gabeau, measuring two by forty arpents, at Saint-Charles-des-Roches. On the following 5 February, he acquired another property of three arpents in frontage from Jean Pouzet. It was there that in 1681 the census taker noted the presence of the Maillot family: René, 44 years old; Marie, 24 years old; and the children René, Marie and Jean. Rose was surely present but was not mentioned. They owned two animals and five arpents of cleared land.

The settlement at Deschaillons

On 28 September 1698, Maillot sold his land with three arpents in frontage to seigneur François Hamelin. On the same day, his son Pierre also sold his land to the same person. They were probably thinking of moving to Deschaillons, that is, if they had not already done so.

On 4 November 1701, Pierre Leboeuf sold four by forty arpents of land to René at Deschaillons. Thus the Maillot family was one of the first to settle in this future parish wich was not officially established until 1737. In 1708 and 1711 two of René’s daughters married sons of Louis Guibaud (Guibaut) and Marie Lefebvre.

Comparing the poverty of René Maillot with that of his slightly better off fellow parishioner Michel Goron dit Pititbois, historian Raymond Douville wrote:

"The situation of René Maillot was hardly more prosperous. After his death, the land which he had cleared passed to his nine children. At the end of the inheritance division, arranged by notary Arnouald-Balthazar Pollet on 27 February 1742, he noted: ‘the heirs have this day ceded, relinquished to Messire Louis Jean Desbruières, curate of the said church of Echaillon, all the rights coming to them by the said legacy of the late René Maillot and Marie pay the arrears of the cens and rentes..."(10)

This document tells us that René died in debt. Such was his life, such was his death. As for Marie Chapacou, she had been dead for nearly ten years, having been buried at Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade on Christmas day of 1733. At least it was in this parish that her death certificate was recorded.

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Descendants to the Four Corners of Québec

The descendants of René Maillot and Marie Chapacou are now spread to the four corners of Québec, with a strong concentration in Montréal, where Guillaume went to take a wife in 1704. The regions of the Mauricie, the Bois-Francs and Québec have received the heritage of most of the other children.

1. René, born in 1675 and married in 1702 to Marie-Françoise Goron. They settled in Deschaillons.

2. Rose, born about 1676 and died before 1717. About 1690 she married Raymond Chesne dit Lagrave, or l’Agreable. Later on he was remarried to Marguerite Renaut.

3. Marie (1677-1746), married François Guibaut in 1708 and lived at Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade.

4. Jean was born in 1679; his fate in unknown.

5. Guillaume (1681-1718), married Marie Anne Macé in 1704. This blacksmith and edge-tool maker settled in Montréal.

6. Marie (1682-1702), was not married.

7. Marie-Louise (1684-1713), married Pierre Mataut in 1706 and lived at Château-Richer. In 1715 Pierre was remarried to Scholastique Toupin dit Dussault.

8. Pierre was born in 1686 and married Marguerite Goron in 1708. They lived at Deschaillons.

9. Louis (1689-1760), married Madeleine Houy about 1712.

10. Jacques was born in 1691 and married Marie-Angélique Houy in 1713.

11. Geneviève (1692-1731), married Antoine Godard in 1722. In 1733 he was remarried to Madeleine Dubois from Château-Richer.

12. François (1695-1758), married Marie-Charlotte Goron in 1719. This couple settled at Saint-Pierre-les-Becquets.

13. Marie-Anne, the twin of François, married Antoine Guibaut in 1711. They lived in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade.

Still, according to Raymond Douville, the three most important colonists who had children at Deschaillons were Michel Goron, René Maillot and Raymond Chesne, whose marriages and common destinies established among them a sincere friendship, sealed by the indestructible blood ties of their grand-children. (11)

Name Variations

According to Phileas Gagnon, René Mailhot, who married Marie Chapacou in 1671, carried the surname "Laviolette" in 1698.

According to CyprienTanguay, the surname Maillot carries the following Canadian variations: Boisclair, Laroche, Latulippe, Laviolette, Leblond, Magnet, Mailhot, Maillard, Maillou, Maiot, Majot, Malhiot, Malliot and Mayot.

Other variations culled from American sources are: Mailhotte, Maille, Maillet, Maillett, Maillot, Maillotte, Mailloux, Maiou, Malet, Mallett, Marlet, Mayault, Mayer, Mayet, Mayeux, Mayhew, Mayo, Mayotte, Mayou, Mayouth, Melhot, Merihew, Merlet, Millot, Myat, Myette and Viloche.

End Notes

(1) These words are taken in substance from the memoirs of the Duchess of Orléans. Jules Mazarin, or Giulio Mazarini (1602-1661) sought to continue the work Richelieu in France. Like his predecessor, he took an active part in the birth of New France.

(2) Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683), was another protector of New France. It was he who sent the Carignan-Salières Regiment in 1665 and contributed decisively to peopling the colony with our vigorous ancestors.

(3) By sentencing to the galleys (slave ships), brandings, banishment and even death in case of recurrences. New World Encyclopedia, Tome 7, Pages 2369 and 2370.

(4) Charles Dartigue, Histoire de la Gasco ne, pages 70 and 71.

(5) Ibid, page 8..

(6) Notre-Dame de Sainte-Foy, histoire civile et religieuse, (Québec, 1902, page 455).

(7) This seigneury was located in the region of Berthier.

(8) Born in 1666, Marie-Agathe was recensused under the name of Marie Pacaud. She entered the Congregation of Notre-Dame where she knew the foundress, Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys. She was buried at Montréal on 27 September 1687, at the age of 21 years.

(9) Record of notary François Genaple, dated 13 August 1697.

(10) "Trois seigneuries sans seigneurs", Cahiers des Dix (1951), page 169.

(11) Ibid, page 157.



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