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."
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
Chapacou...to 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
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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
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
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)
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.
(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
(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
(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
(10) "Trois seigneuries sans seigneurs", Cahiers
des Dix (1951), page 169.
(11) Ibid, page 157.