Posted by Ancestry Team on September 2, 2015 in Who Do You Think You Are?

Whenever we research the family history of a celebrity for Who Do You Think You Are? there is always the concern that there Tom Bergeron_1may not be adequate records to build a full family tree. Fortunately, when the assignment came to research Tom Bergeron, known to be of French Canadian ancestry, we were confident that we would be able to build a good tree, at least on the Bergeron line. That’s because records in France and French Canada are remarkable and have been lovingly preserved.

Progress on the Bergeron research moved quickly. The parish registers of Québec give the names of each bride and groom’s parents, so family lineages are relatively easily assembled. We quickly traced Tom’s ancestry back to his first immigrants from France, including several of Les Filles du Roi (The Daughters of the King) who were recruited in Europe and immigrated to Canada between 1663 and 1673 to satisfy the need for European women to build a sustainable colony. One woman in particular stood out: Marguerite Ardion, a widow from La Rochelle, one of the main ports of embarkation for Nouvelle France (today’s Québec), made the difficult ocean crossing in 1663, then promptly remarried and raised a family in Québec. There are many records of Marguerite and her children in Québec, but we wondered if we would be able to find much about her in France.

We were able to locate her 1636 baptismal record online. Surprisingly, she had been baptized a Protestant, but all of Les Filles du Roi had to swear that they were loyal to the Catholic Church before they could emigrate! This was a surprising turn of events.

 Tom Bergeron_2

Protestant Baptism Marguerite Ardion 1636

La Rochelle had been a bastion of Protestantism and economic independence until the government in Paris decided that La Tom Bergeron_3Rochelle was too independent and laid siege to the city in 1627 and 1628. The population of 20,000 starved to only 5,000 by the end of Le Siege de La Rochelle. Fortunately, an eyewitness account of the siege was preserved and published in 1648. It includes the information that not a horse, sheep, goat, dog, cat, rat, or mouse was left and that people were eating boots, doublets, and even parchment. Marguerite Ardion had been born after the siege but was still baptized Protestant!

Her parents were Pierre Ardion and Suzanne Soret, per the baptism record, and a search in La Rochelle located a copy of their 1623 marriage contract, which survived the siege! They were from prosperous Protestant homes, and the contract runs two full pages.


Tom Bergeron_4Tom Bergeron_5

 

1623 Marriage Contract Ardion/Soret

There must have been more to Marguerite’s story, and fortunately, a record that explained what had happened was preserved. On 1 January 1659, Marguerite Ardion renounced Protestantism and swore allegiance to the Catholic Church.

Tom Bergeron_6

1 January 1659 Abjuration Marguerite Ardion

But if Protestantism had been so important to the family that they continued as Huguenots even after the catastrophic Tom Bergeron_7siege, why would Marguerite renounce her family’s faith? The answer was in another document: the 12 January 1659 marriage contract of Laurent Beaudet and Marguerite Ardion. She was marrying a Catholic! This contract shows the couple had very little in the way of worldly wealth. Laurent was a shoemaker (Pierre Ardion had been a master stonemason), and there was not much mentioned in the way of property; the contract was less than a full page. So the Ardion family was no longer so prosperous.

12 January 1659 Marriage Contract Beaudet/Ardion

Records for Marguerite were now found among the registers of the Catholic churches of La Rochelle, including the baptism record of Laurent and Marguerite’s son, Laurent, who was baptized at St-Nicolas-de-La-Rochelle in 1661. It was only two years later that Marguerite arrived in Nouvelle France and married Tom Bergeron’s ancestor, Jean Rabouin. We were not able to find a burial record for her first husband, Laurent Beaudet, the shoemaker, but she was definitely described as a widow when she arrived in Québec. Did her infant son survive to go with her? Fortunately another marriage contract held the answer.

Tom Bergeron_8Tom Bergeron_9

 

1663 Marriage Contract Rabouin/Ardion

Neither Marguerite Ardion nor Jean Rabouin had much in the way of material wealth to bring to their household, but Marguerite was one of the few marriageable European women in Nouvelle France, and she wisely took the opportunity to negotiate a marriage that ensured her infant son’s future: Jean Rabouin promised to look after Laurent Baudet until the age of 15 years, providing him with food, shelter, clothing, etc. Laurent had not only survived to make the journey, he had survived the ocean journey and would live to raise a family of his own in Québec.

Marguerite Ardion bore Jean Rabouin eight children before dying around the age of 43. The last record that mentions her as living is the baptism of her daughter Marie-Angélique Rabouin, who was baptized on 28 September 1677 at Nôtre-Dame-de-Québec. Jean Rabouin was described as a widower when he remarried on 8 September 1678 at Saint-Famille-de-l’Île-d-Orléans to Marguerite Leclerc.

Even though almost four centuries have passed since the events of Marguerite Ardion’s life, knowledge of those events has survived because of the value the French place on recording and maintaining their history. Whether in Old France or New France, whether Catholic or Protestant, the French are a remarkable record-keeping people.

Learn more about Tom’s journey or watch episode recaps from previous seasons on TLC.com. Watch more celebrities discover their family history on all-new episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? Sundays 9|8c on TLC.

 

17 Comments

  1. Ana M. McBride

    Wdytya—-one of the best programs on satellite. It’s most encouraging to those of us with an interest in geneaology—-never give up!!

  2. Sarah C.

    Did Tom Bergeron find out if Marguerite’s first son from the first marriage live to get married and did that line continue?

  3. Don Godin

    I am disappointed there isn’t a 2nd program on Tom Bergeron’s family history. There was no mention on his connection to the Bergerons of Acadia and their problems with the Deportation. Obviously, his ancestors fled to the U.S. to escape this period. My ancestors and is were close.Regardless, a very good show as usual.

  4. Daina

    I am so glad that I was able to watch Tom’s story on WDYTYA! I also have ancestress who was Filles du roi. I have discovered a very intereting family history that I was not fully aware of before watching this episode!

  5. This article says “Laurent [Baudet] had not only survived to make the journey, he had survived the ocean journey and would live to raise a family of his own in Québec.”

    Actually, Laurent Baudet and his wife, Marguerite Louise Crevier, had two daughters who survived to marry, the
    second most likely born posthumously, after Laurent’s death. His wife remarried to Robert Grotton in 1688, so Laurent Baudet did not live to “raise a family of his own.”

    Family # 5433 [Couple]

    of LAURENT BEAUDET and MARIE MARGUERITE LOUISE CREVIER BELLERIVE
    Father : LAURENT BEAUDET
    Mother : MARIE MARGUERITE ARDION
    Family Father : NICOLAS CREVIER BELLERIVE
    Mother : MARIE LOUISE LECOUTRE
    Family
    Marriage : 1684-05-16 Lieu indéterminé (au Québec)

    Children born before 1800 :

    Sex Birth (Baptism) Marriage Death (Burial) First name of the child
    Place Place Place Name of the spouse
    f Vers 1685 1704 1744-10-30 MARIE {Baudet}
    Lieu indéterminé (au Québec) La Prairie Pointe-Olivier (St-Mathias) [Family] JEAN

    BAPTISTE MASSE SANCERRE

    {ROBERT GROTTON attended this 1704 marriage}
    f 1687-11-05 1709-04-01 1768-01-26 MARGUERITE {Baudet}
    Cap-de-la-Madeleine Chambly Chambly [Family] NOEL PAQUET LARIVIERE From PRDH © 1999-2015 – http://www.genealogy.umontreal.ca all rights reserved. – Last database updatemarch 2015

    Robert Grotton and his son Louis Grotton de Bellerive are featured prominently in
    Carl J. Ekberg and Sharon K. Person, St. Louis Rising: The French Regime of Louis St. Ange de Bellerive, University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (March 30, 2015) http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/53tkw6ps9780252038976.html

  6. Don Godin, I, too, would like to see the Bergeron paternal direct line. Another Bergeron, André, married Marguerite Dumets in 1673 Montréal and was not an Acadian. They are among my ancestors. Does anyone have Tom Bergeron’s direct Bergeron ancestry?

  7. Linda

    I always watch who do you think you are but this episode blew me away. It gave me great insight as to the true significance of my own ancestor from La Rochelle and his fille du roi bride. Thank you ever so much.

  8. Daina

    Thanks Suzanne, I have since discovered at least 3 Fille du Roi and 2 Fille du Marier in my bloodline which is very interesting! I live in Northern Canada but did find some records online and through the Historical Society of St. Boniface (Winnipeg).

  9. Patrice Demers Kaneda

    I was born in Southbridge, Massachusetts, a town that was 60% Quebecois at the end of the 19th century. At the age of seventy-two I began my book, A Tale of Two Migrations-A French Canadian Odyssey and completed it six years later. It’s available on Amazon and tells the history of the Filles du Roi. I was not aware of the siege of LaRochelle and found it fascinating!

  10. I am so glad you did this episode, because I just found out that my ancestor’s story closely relates to Tom Bergeron’s-my family also came from La Rochelle, and was a Fille Du Roi!

Comments are closed.