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The Thériaults by Jacques Lacoursière


Text of Jacques Lacoursière’s presentation on the Thériault family, as aired on June 7 1998 on CBV-Radio-Canada as part of the program “J’ai souvenir encore” (“I Still Remember”).

(Translated from French by John Mark Hopkins)

Family:  The Thériaults

There may be many ways to spell the surname Thériault, but there aren’t very many ancestors.  Yvon Thériault writes in the May 1992 issue of the magazine L’ancêtre [“The Ancestor”]:  “It appears that the ancestor of all the Thériaults in America is Jean Terriot, a plowman from Poitou, recruited to Acadia in the middle of the 17th century by Charles de Menou, Sieur d’Aulnay et de Charnisay and governor of Acadia”.  This means that the Thériaults in Québec are originally from Acadia.

Of particular interest is the marriage of Guy Thériault, known as Grandmaison, with Marie-Anne Poulin, which was celebrated at Sainte-Famille Church on the Isle of Orleans on 3rd February 1713.  Guy was the son of Germain Thériault and Anne Guillote of Bourg-Charente in the diocese of Saintes, in Angoumois.  Marie-Anne Poulin was the daughter of Martin Poulin and Jeanne Baret who lived in Beaupré.  The new bride, who was not quite 20 years old, had already given birth to a son who had died at the age of two months; the father was Étienne Lessard, who was single and eighteen years old.  Guy and Marie-Anne would go on to have at least eight children, five sons and three daughters.  I do not know what became of all of them.

As for Jean Thériault, his history is much more complete.  He and his descendants have been studied by many historians and genealogists including Yvon Thériault, Bona Arsenault, Adrien Bergeron and Jean-Daniel Thériault.  Jean (or Jehan) Terriot was born at the very beginning of the 17th century.  He immigrated to Acadia sometime between 1640 and 1646.  Was he a “trente-six mois” (indentured servant)?  We don’t know for certain.  He was recruited by Menou d’Aulnay who, according to Yvon Thériault, “made two important trips of recruitment in France in 1642 and 1644.  Martaizé, the village where the plowman Jean Terriot was from, is just a few kilometres from La Chaussée and was part of the fiefdom of Charles de Menou d’Aulnay’s family.”  This ancestor’s crossing could well have been in 1644 and he would have been part of the “twenty French families who came over to begin to populate the country.”

This ancestor Jean was already married at that time.  He married Perrine Ruau (or Brault) around 1635.  At the time of his settling in Port-Royal there were three or four children in the family.  The couple would have a total of seven children:  five boys and two girls.

Jeanne, who was born in 1644, united her destiny sixteen years later with that of Pierre Thibodeau, and Catherine, born in 1649, married Pierre Guillebault at the age of twenty.

Claude, the eldest of the family, was born in France in 1637.  In 1660 he married Marie Gauterot who bore him nine children.  Jean, who came into the world two years later, seems never to have married.  As for Bonaventure, born in 1641, he was twenty-four when he married Jeanne Boudrot, and they had three children.  Then there is Germain:  in 1667 at the age of twenty he married Andrée Brun who would be the mother of three children.  After her husband died, Andrée Brun married again in 1678, this time to Emmanuel Hébert.

Pierre, Jean’s youngest son, would play an important role in the history of Acadia; his life is described in the second volume of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.  He was born in the parish of Saint-Charles-des-Mines, in Grand-Pré, in 1654 or 1655.  Around 1683 he married Cécile Landry, daughter of René Landry and Marie Bernard.  He is considered to be one of the founders of the settlement in the Minas Basin.  “Sufficiently educated to write his name in the parish register,” writes Yvette Thériault, “he seemed to be endowed with a spirit of initiative and decisiveness that inspired him to lead other young people in the great adventure of founding a new settlement.[…]  Terriot chose the rich lands of the Minas Basin and the new colony was soon populated”.  This Pierre Terriot, who died on March 21st, 1725, left no descendants.

This ancestor Jean Thériault disappeared before the census of 1681, for Perrine Ruau was listed as a widow therein.  According to Yvon Thériault, “the family began thereafter to spread out and the younger generations began to settle in the new areas:  Beaubassin, Grand-Pré, Rivière-aux-Canards, Cobequid.”  Several of Jean Thériaults descendants would confront the Deportation, but others would leave Acadia before the drama began.  That was the case with Joseph Thériault, whose descendants can be found in several places in the “Côte-du-Sud” area [of the Lower Saint-Lawrence region of Québec].  He was born around 1719, or perhaps in 1723, according to Adrien Bergeron.  He was the son of Claude Thériault and Marguerite Cormier.  He married Agnès Cormier, daughter of Pierre Cormier and Catherine Leblanc, in Rivière-aux-Canards, his birthplace.  Their six children were born in Beaubassin.

In order to escape the Deportation, and no doubt heeding the advice given by missionary François La Guerne, Joseph and his family fled into the woods.  The genealogist Jean-Daniel Thériault, in the November 1994 issue of the magazine L’Ancêtre, cites an article published one hundred years earlier in a weekly from Rivière-du-Loup, the Journal de Fraserville: “Around 1755 because of the persecution of Acadians by the British in order to avoid the exile with which they were threatened, Joseph left Acadia with his wife and children and sought refuge in the forests of New Brunswick, still fearful of being tracked and pursued by the British, wandering in the woods, living only by hunting and fishing, sleeping under the firs in small temporary camps, and after undergoing much misery and deprivation, the family arrived in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Quebec in 1757.”  In spite of what the article states, it is more than probable that the Thériaults were in Acadia until 1759, as in the Saint-François-du-Sud parish register, we read that Catherine, baptized on November 1st, 1759, was born in Acadia on January 6th of the same year.

On September 23rd, 1763, Joseph Thériault obtained a land grand of nine arpents [526m/1726 ft] wide and 42 arpents [2456m/8057 ft] deep.  The land was located in the seigneurie of Saint-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, at a place called L’Islet-à-La-Peau.  Joseph was not able to enjoy his grant for long, for he passed away on November 6th, 1765, around the age of 46.  “At the time of her husband’s death,” writes Jean-Daniel Thériault, “Agnès was already pregnant with a daughter who was born the 11th of April 1766 and was named Charlotte.”  She was the family’s eighth child.  As for the widow, she survived her husband until mid-November 1798.  She died at the age of 74 years.

Other Thériaults who had been deported ended up on Miquelon.  Some 250 Acadians, including some Thériaults, fearing the aftermath of the revolution which was shaking up France, left the French island to take up residence on the Magdalen Islands.

Some Thériault families remained in France.  Shortly before 1808, Charles Therriault, residing in Saint-Malo, decided to immigrate to Canada.  According to the research of historian-genealogist Marcel Fournier, he became a fisherman and farmer on the Baie des Chaleurs.  At Paspébiac, the 28th of February 1808, he married Anne Dickson, the daughter of Jean Dickson and Elizabeth Lebrasseur.  This couple had at least eight children.

Those are just a few details about a surname with a very lively history!


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