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Are you descended from the Filles du Roy?

Posted by Sean Daly on Jun 9, 2022

Well-known in Canada, in particular in Québec, the Filles du Roy — the King’s Daughters — are the ancestors of most Canadians today and many Americans too. Discover their history… and participate in our collaborative family tree!

On the sixth of May, 1628, in what was then called New France — a gigantic zone colonized by France on the American continent, which extended from today’s Louisiana in the south up north to Québec — the company of One Hundred Associates was founded to manage the lucrative fur trade and consolidate France’s colonial holdings. These were almost exclusively men: fur traders, merchants, or soldiers.

In 1642, the town of Ville-Marie (which became Montréal) was founded and the first women arrived (more than 200, called the “filles à marier” — the “marriageable girls”). The rudimentary living conditions improved over time, but the gender imbalance was striking: by 1666, there were 719 single men but only 45 unmarried women between the ages of 16 and 40. Under these conditions, how could a viable colony be founded if there weren’t enough women having children?

King Louis XIV, the Sun King who built Versailles, and his minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert decided to call for volunteers. They recruited young women from poorhouses in Paris and from western ports: La Rochelle in Aquitaine as well as Rouen and Dieppe in Normandy. Most of these women were destitute orphans or widows from formerly prominent families down on their luck. Soon, sponsored by the king with passage and a dowry, these “Filles du Roy” would leave France forever, to settle and be married in Canada.

Intendant Jean Talon and Bishop Laval greet some “Filles du Roy” in Québec. “Arrival of the Brides” by Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale, c.1927

Upon arrival, they were warmly welcomed and placed under the guidance of the governing council, of a parish priest, or of a friend of Marguerite Bourgeoys, a native of Troyes in Champagne, a teacher and founder of the Congregation of Notre-Dame de Montréal.

The weddings took some time, as the young women could effectively choose among their suitors, which wasn’t the case back home in France at that time. Hopeful bachelors met the women at parties organized for the occasion; most marriages were celebrated within five months of the womens’ arrival. The dowries granted by the king meant a family could be founded right away.

From 1663 to 1673, 770 Frenchwomen settled in Canada; their marriages led to 4,500 births, tripling the population of New France. Today, an estimated 20 million Canadians and Americans are descended from one or more of the “Filles du Roy”.

A collaborative tree has been created to identify and research every one of these young women and to determine, if possible, their descendants — if not their ancestors, difficult to locate in that period when parish records in France were often incomplete, and many of the women were orphaned and alone.

We are looking for volunteers to continue the work already begun! Nothing complicated, all that’s required is a working knowledge of how to enter data in Geneanet online trees. We will provide you with Admin access; you add your name to the project spreadsheet, then you provide the time you wish. There are no obligations, genealogy should be enjoyable!

Interested? Just send us a message!


My direct line wrote books on their fur trading how they sold to the British and others all up and down the east coast, all the way down to jamacia, Africa too! They all seattle in canada, some them moved to Detroit,MI.

My CHAMBERLAINS AND FRENCH ROYAL GGGGGGGGGGGRANDFATHERS AND MOTHERS, OF FRANCE, ENGLAND I am direct desend to all the kings and queens of france. Straight up my lines.

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