Lieutenant of the King of France
Quentin Moral de Saint-Quentin was the second husband of Marie Mareguerie. In 1651 Marie found herself widowed with three infant children, in a primitive wilderness, in a remote settlement with just a handful of huts. The entire population of New France at that time was only 244 souls, the vast majority of them single men. It is not surprising that Marie married Quentin, a King's lieutenant, within a year of her first husband's death.
But Quentin could only have suffered in comparison to Marie's first husband, one of the earliest inhabitants of the area, a legendary warrior, and the colony's translator with the First People. Quentin was ambitious, and was to become a quarrelsome lawyer, and finally a civil and criminal judge.
At the time of their marriage, Trois Riviere was rocked by fighting. Father Jacque Buteux had been attempting to enforce their form of strict Catholicism on the local Indians. The Iroquois attacked the town on 6 March 1651 but were repulsed by the French's Huron allies. On 10 March the Iroquois killed Buteux north of the town, and two Huron on 8 June. On 19 August they attack again, this time killing the governor and 22 other settlers. The hostilities lead to the collapse of the beaver pelt trade. The defense of Trois Rivieres now lies in the hands of a few friendly Indians employed to fend off any final Iroquois raid.
After what must have been a very hard winter, 16 French indentured servants, sailors, and others deserted Trois Rivieres, heading for anywhere outside of New France on 21 April 1652. At other places in New France masters are being murdered by their servants, and others flee from other towns. The Iroquois attack Trois Rivieres again on 21 August, but are repulsed after an eight-day siege. An exchange of prisoners Is agreed. In October the Huron report that the remnants of the April deserters have shoed up in Gaspe. Several had died, and they had resorted to cannibalism. In November a vessel laden with the year's take of beaver pelts left for France, only to be taken by English privateers in the Saint Lawrence River. But that same month, with the colony facing extinction, a boat arrived at Montreal with 95 new settlers - the "Grand Recrue de 1653". The statistics of this group show the dangers of life in the colony. 153 men signed contracts to go to Canada, but 50 did not show up for the boat. Eight died on the transatlantic voyage. 24 were killed by Iroquois, and five in accidents. Nine left no offspring. The 49 survivors that found wives were the basis for the survival of New France. The population would increase substantially with each year from then on.
The survival of the colony assured, Quentin turned to the matter at hand. Marie had inherited from her first husband 200 acres of land at Trois-Rivieres. Quentin's objective seemed primarily to be to obtain title to Marie's land. However there seems to be an issue with the rights to the land and the security it was supposed to provide from the very beginning. On 21 January 1654, less than two years after the marriage, Marie's son Jacques, at age 12, is reported to be "clearing trees of an island, inherited from his father, which he wanted to seed in order to support his mother and his young sisters".
Quentin made the transition from an officer of the king to that of a civil and criminal lawyer - perhaps not difficult, since lawyers were not allowed to emigrate to New France. And the inhabitants of Trois Rivieres, when not fighting off Indian attacks, were a quarrelsome bunch. Between 1655 and 1662 at the "Prévôté de Trois-Rivieres" there were 907 cases tried for a population of about 700 for the whole area! The "Prévoté" was not only used to dispense criminal justice and adjudicate disputes, it also served as a collection agency under the settlements barter economy.
Two thirds of the cases were for debt settlement and one sixth were to settle inheritance. Only 20 were for verbal or physical violence. Quentin Moral was involved in 29 cases, reflecting not only his role as an attorney but also his disputatious nature and perhaps his duties as an officer of the King. In one case, Moral is being sued for having shot and killed other citizens wandering pigs, probably part of his duties. A few cases later, Moral sues Jacques Aubuchon, master carpenter and the most disputatious man in the colony (44 cases), because the Aubuchon intentionally shot Moral's pig, (perhaps as payback?).
While Marie's son by her first husband became the "Hero of New France", exceeding his father in the breadth and fame of his exploits defending the colony against the First People and the British, Marie would bear Quentin four daughters but no sons. This may have been unbearable at this time and place to this man who now adopted the style 'Sieur de St-Quentin' and lorded over the island her step-son had cleared, which was known forever after as L'île Saint-Quentin. Presumably her son's status protected her from the hostility Quentin may have felt toward her.
Perhaps she found solace in the rigid religion of the colony - it is recorded that she was for fifty years the sacristan of the parish, which would date the event to around the time of her marriage to Quentin. Whatever may be the case, she outlived Quentin by 14 years. Upon her death at age 80, Marie Marguerie was buried beside Jacques Hertel, her first husband. Could there be any greater evidence of their estrangement? The cure of the parish of Trois-Rivieres, Luc Filiastre, officiated.
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Valence, Drome, France
May 9, 1686
Trois-Rivieres, St-Maurice, Quebec, Canada
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