The Ancestor Jean Beaugrand dit Champagne
(1641 - 1699)
Although several thousands of Canadians recognize Jean Beaugrand as their ancestor, his progeny is not among the most numerous of Canada. We will see that beginnings were harsh. The Beaugrand are not either among most famous. The family didn't provide to the nation or the church a long list of chiefs or big characters. It didn't give to the intellectual elite many and brilliant subjects. But, of another side, (it especially appears to the second and third generation), the family takes from the beginning to fill its modest role, its ambitions, and refuses to remain in the mediocrity. The family doesn't belong to what is agreed to call the elite, but is doesn't make part either of certain amorphous and passive mass which lets itself drive to the will of events and which remains some always to the same point.
It constitutes a middle family, as so many others that is the strong basis and structures of the Canadian nation. And we thought that it was justified to present without fear these notes on Jean Beaugrand. To some details of people, dates and places, many Canadians families could recognize Jean Beaugrand as their ancestor.
In all probability, the Beaugrand ancestor was first a soldier and he belonged to one of the 24 companies to arrive in Quebec City between June and September of 1665. Was he part of the Regiment of Carignan and the Company of Saurel, or of one of the four companies of Monsieur de Tracy? No document gives us any precision about this. But this only has a relative importance since all companies worked under the same chief and accomplished the same work.
We see Jean Beaugrand, after a temporary trial in the Lordship of Dautray, to settle soon in a definitive way in the Lordship of Monsieur de Berthier. Whatever the Lordship, there were soldiers of Monsieur de Saurel or of any other companies. A serious enough argument in favor of his membership to the company of Monsieur de Saurel is that Jean Beaugrand seemed to stick to soldiers of the company of Saurel, as the Letendre, Piette, Henault, etc. It is also to be noticed that the Lordship of Berthier was first conceded by Talon, on October 29, 1672, to Lord Hugues Randin, ensign of the Company of Saurel, who resold it to Lord Alexandre of Berthier, one year later, on November 3rd, 1673. We know the important role that played the 24 companies of 1665 in the establishment of the country, either on a military view point, or either on a point of view of colonization, and most families can pretend to have among their forebears, one or several of these soldiers who have later settled as colonists.
As it concerns Jean Beaugrand, we see him, after the layoff of troops in 1667-1668, to settle soon on a land. Documents show us his first ambitious descendants to enlarge the ancestral domain, and the family of the Beaugrand continued to be, except rare exceptions, a family of farmers. Except for a few navigators, of which the St-Lawrence River all near motivated the vocation, we find indeed, that the first seven generations were mostly people of this class.
Good number of Canadian families has the advantage to know into the country of France the place of origin of their first ancestor and other details to which the filial love gives an inappreciable value. The descendants of Jean Beaugrand doesn't have this happiness. The name of his parents is unknown to us, as well as the village where he was born and of the parish where he was baptized. We are left to speculate on the province or the region from where its family name comes from and even on the exact form of his name.
Registers of parishes could probably have filled most of this emptiness, but, in this region more than elsewhere, a lot of acts disappeared. During long years, Sorel and vicinities were visited by missionaries making longer or shorter stays in the middle of groups of colonists or among soldiers of the Fort Richelieu. Sorel, Berthier, Dautray, Isle-DuPas and a good half-dozen of other localities received their visits only as intermittence. It was a difficult and even dangerous ministry. A lot of acts must have been written down on flying sheets, but later got lost. Moreover, some registers or parts of registers were lost later, as we have the proof of it for Sorel, Berthier and Isle-DuPas. This is how it remains so many questions about Jean Beaugrand, his wife and their children, as well as several other families living in this region then.
The name of the Beaugrand ancestor appears under different forms. One finds Bougran, Bougrand, Bougueran, Baugran, Beaugrand, Bougrin, Bougron, and to the extreme forms Boudron and Bourguerats. But it is obvious, to see the documents, that there are only two important variants: Bougrand and Beaugrand. They are only forms which come back in a regular way and the remainder appear caprice of each writer. The first of these two shapes is the more employed in the beginnings, but the second prevails soon and gets settled definitely.
The nickname of Champagne is used since the beginning and Jean Beaugrand carried it as a soldier since his arrival from France. From the beginning, we use either one or the other name or both at once. Since about 1850, the name Champagne prevailed and the name Beaugrand is relatively rare today.
We could attempt hypotheses on the origin of our first ancestor and of the form of his name. But it is always a dangerous practice and it risks dragging us in a bad direction. What can be said is that the "Beaugrand" are very numerous in France that their name always writes itself under this shape and that one especially finds them in the old province of Champagne. Would Bougrand, much faster and easier to pronounce, be a popular corruption of Beaugrand? Could the last name Champagne simply attest that our ancestor came from a locality of the old province of Champagne (in France) where the Beaugrands are mainly found nowadays? It is possible.
We have only one document where we can find the signature of Jean Beaugrand. It can be found on an act before the notary Adhemar on June 26, 1676, where, as a witness, he writes rather awkwardly: "Gean Bougeran". But the notary writes, probably taking the current pronunciation as a basis: "In presence of Jean Bougaran-dit-Champagne, living in Dautray, undersigned as witness". To know how to sign ones name is something rare at this epoch, and our ancestor?s grammatical science probably did not go farther than this.
Now follows, with the help of documents which remain, the chronological order of events which concerns the life of this pioneer and his family.
Jean Beaugrand, after his military service, chose to remain in the country. About 400 other soldiers took a similar decision. The king encourages the soldier's transformation into a settler. As the other settlers, he will receive, in return for a small yearly royalties to the Lord, a free concession of land and a grant of hundred francs in cash, or, if he prefers it, fifty francs and supplies for one year. Jean Beaugrand was 24 years old when he enlisted as a soldier. He is now 27. Indeed, the census of 1681 gives him 40 years old; he was thus born in 1641.
It is toward the same time, 1668 probably, that he unites his destiny to that of an 18 year old girl, Marguerite Samson. She would have been born in 1649 according to the census which gives her 32 years, and would have 8 years less than her husband. The act of marriage was never found, and the origin of Marguerite also remains a mystery. We only know that there were several Samson families established in Quebec since long enough and that they were from Normandy.
The first of their children known as Jean or Jean-Baptiste, was born in 1672. The census of 1681 gives him as 9 years old. The baptism record doesn't exist. Jean-Baptiste and his two sons Antoine and Pierre-Simon are the forbears of all the Beaugrand-Champagne.
A second son, Charles, is baptized in Sorel on February 16, 1673. The only mentioned that we have of him, after this date, is the one above mentioned census which gives him as 7 years of age.
A girl, Marie or Marie-Anne, born at Dautray on July 27, 1675, was baptized at Sorel the 29th. Her godfather was Pierre Letendre, living in Dautray and a soldier of the company of Saurel. She is 6 years old at the time of the census of 1681 and it is probably her whom we find at Berthier on March 3, 1693. It is the last time we have her mentioned.
Here closes the list of known children of Jean Beaugrand. Three children, during a married life of more than 20 years is a little for that time, and it is likely that others came to enliven the home. The loss of the first leaflets of the register of Sorel could really make disappeared traces of several for evermore among them.
Where does Jean Beaugrand, the soldier turned colonist, settle first? Does he live for some time in the Lordship of Sorel, under the protective canons of the Fort Richelieu? It is possible, but nothing proves it. In the list of concessions concerning this region, we do not identify any of which was been granted to Jean Beaugrand. Everything, that we know, it is that on July 27, 1675, date of birth of Marie-Anne, he was living in Dautray, the old lordship, one of the oldest of New France, of which was conceded to Lord Jean Bourdon, royal engineer, on December 1st, 1637. Was he there already before the time of Charles' birth, 2½ years before, and even of that of Jean-Baptiste in 1672? According to the documents at hand, we cannot confirm it, but it is very likely. The certificate of baptism of Charles, made in Sorel on February 16, 1673 doesn?t even mention the birth place. Sorel was the only place where one could find a priest at the time and several years afterwards.
It is also at Dautray, that he lived on June 25th, 1676, when he signed at the bottom of the document that was mentioned earlier.
These two documents are the only ones which we know of to this day in this lordship. Our colonist abandoned this land later on, as we will see.
The census of 1681 shows that he has established a definitive habitation in Berthier. He possesses a plot of land there, of 3 arpents (572 feet) of forehead on the River St-Lawrence by 40 deep(7680 feet), of which is situated 1½ mile upstream from the reserved lot of the church, and a few miles only from his Dautray land.
We can easily find the lot of Jean Beaugrand and could approximately estimate its width with the aid of the following documents:
- Map of G. Catalogue of 1709.
- Bill of sale of Jean Plouffe to Jean Beaugrand, 2 arpents in
width, (notary Tetro, July 27, 1714).
- Avowal and Enumeration of Berthier by his Lordship Sieur of Lestage,
August 9, 1723;
- Cadastral plan of the County of Berthier, 1938, Ministry of Earth and
We know that the ancient plot of land was 3 arpents of forehead by the River, by 40 deep. But according to the records in Berthier of 1723, Jean-Baptiste possessed 5 arpents, of which he acquired 2 from Jean Plouffe on July 27th, 1714.
The map of Gedeon de Catalogne places Jean Beaugrand between Parisien to the southwest and La Grandeur in the northeast. The act of 1714 puts his lot between those of the deceased Le Parisien and of Jacques Joly. The Avowal and Enumeration of 1723 gives him the same neighbors of that in 1714. Enlarged, this lot corresponds to #48, of the present land register, that has 3 arpents, to the neighboring lots. The house that one sees to this day, was built by Basile Beaugrand dit Champagne (5th Generation) about 1825 and is today (1950) inhabited by Pierre Sylvestre, that acquired it in 1913. Seven generations of the Beaugrand family forming a single lineage, followed each other on this earth from 1676 to 1881. After the death of Elie Beaugrand dit Champagne (6th generation) on April 12th, 1881, his widow, Marie-Modeste Bonin and his four children: Marie-Louise, Joseph, Arthur and Edmond sold the property, which has been passed down from one generation to the next.
It is there that Jean will live henceforth; it is there that he will raise his small family; it is there that he will die. It is there on this land, that his son Jean-Baptiste and one of the branches of his descendants, will live the Beaugrand dit Champagne for more than two centuries. Berthier will be the center of where will radiate his numerous descendants, and also in the neighboring parishes, and the rest of North America.
Original source: Rev. Father Antonio Champagne c.r.i.c. (1892-1980). Text published in the "Memoires de la Societe Genealogique Canadienne Francaise" Vol IV-No. 2. in June 1950.
Text translated from french by Gaetan Champagne using Google translator
Original source: Rev. Father Antoine Champagne (1892-1980). Text published in French in the "Memoires de la Societe Genealogique Canadienne Francaise" Vol xx No. X. in 1954.
Text translated from French by Gaetan Champagne.
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