De Turcault (1662) à Turcotte (1984)

La Société de généalogie de Québec

Published in L'Ancêtre, Volume 12, Number 3 (November 1985), and Volume 13, Number 2 (October 1986).

"Autres renseignements sur la famille Turcault", 13, 2, octobre 1986: 43.

From Turcault (1662) to Turcotte (1984)

By Lucien Turcotte
Published in L'Ancêtre, Volume 12, Number 3 (November 1985), page 105.

History of a postcard

At the beginning of October, 1955, I left Canadian territorial waters for the third time of my life. Thirty-three years old, I was accompanied with my wife and my two children.

The day before our departure, my mother, knowing that we wouldn’t miss visiting France during the two years that we would spend in Europe, gave me a postcard that she had recently discovered in an old family album.

The existence of this card, until this date, was completely unknown to me. You can imagine the thrill it gave us.

On the front appears St. Jean Street, in Châtaigneraie, Vendée, France (1). On the back, as is my intention, you can read what my father wrote me about Mouilleron-en-Pareds:

"At the start of June, 1945, I went to Paris and like every visitor to the big city for the first time, I couldn’t help but look in the phone book. I was a little disappointed to notice that there were no Turcottes or Turcots."

Later, on August 21, 1956, my wife and I were going for holidays to Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia. We had the good fortune to meet two Frenchmen who were staying in the same hotel as us.


These two Parisians explained to us where Mouilleron-en-Pareds was. They were so enthusiatic about the place that they convinced us that we had to go to Vendée, ‘the country of ventres à choux’ as the French call it.

On June 7, 1957, inspired by the desire to visit our ancestoral origins, we left Nantes very early for Mouilleron-en-Pareds. When we arrived, we noticed a very curious fact, there are a lot of family names ending with 'eau' or ' aud '. Such as: Clémenceau, Damiaud, Etaigneau, Jacquereau, Sireau, Thibodeau, Turcaud, etc.

Georges Clémenceau was a doctor; he had practised medicine before becoming the Mayor of Paris, a Senator and then President of France (2). The house where "The Tiger" was born is still visible in Mouilleron-en-Pareds.

The remains of General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny as well as those of his only son, Bernard, who died in Indochina, rest in the small cemetery. During our trip, the wife of the General still lived in the house of the Marshal of France, which is situated in the center of Mouilleron-en-Pareds. (3)

In 1960, I took the état-major course in Paris. The following spring, I took advantage of an opportunity of studying at Maixent's School to return a second time to Mouilleron-en-Pareds.

Thanks to a colleague, an officer of the Foreign Legion, who had made all the arrangements for this trip to Vendee, we had the fortune to have tea at the home of a lady named Louis Turcaud. She was doubly surprised meeting a "cousin from Canada" and to hear him speaking to her in French, with a different accent than her’s, decendants of Abel Turcault, a native of Mouilleron-en-Pareds who had emigrated to Canada in the middle of the 17th century.

In April, 1984, my wife and I returned to Mouilleron-en-Pareds for a third time. Since the presbytery of the church, which goes back to the 12th century, seemed opened, we risked going in to try to get a copy of an extract or a certificate of Abel Turcault's baptism. Our efforts were regrettably in vain.

Abel Turcault, ancestor of the Turcottes in Canada

Our ancestor, Abel Turcault, married Marie Giroux in Château-Richer, on November 27, 1662. He died on September 17, 1687 (4). According to a copy of the original plan dated 1918 and signed by Sieur Robert de Villeneuve, in 1689 , Abel Turcault lived on lots 24 and 26 in the parish of Sainte-Famille on the Île d’Orléans.

It is interesting to note the name of his son, who married Marguerite Hoymet, on November 16, 1688, in Sainte-Famille, was registered as François Turcot. (5)

This is not the only time when the family name was modified. My Great-grandfather, named Joseph Edward Turcot, when he was born in 1808. His name had remained unchanged when he was allowed in the Seminary at Nicolet, but when his classic studies came to an end, in 1829, he was called Turcotte. (6)

His wedding certificate with Flora Buteau, in Notre-Dame Church of Quebec, dated November 15, 1842, shows however that his father and himself signed as Turcot. (7)

When he died, on December 20, 1864, having been Mayor of Trois-Rivières, Representative for Nicolet and President of the Legislative Assembly of the United Canadas, he was known as Honorable Joseph-Edouard Turcotte. (8)

A legend about him is that during a political campaign in Maskinongé county, in 1854, he began his speech by singing. He tried to sing his speech in a baritone voice because people of Saint-Alexis in Maskinongé wanted to keep him from speaking. Critics said even if he had a better voice than Xavier Baron, of the village, he could not be as strong as the latter. A meeting shot in the wrist followed. Turcotte, who was one-armed of the hand straight ahead, knocked easily down Baron twice. Because of this victory, it was allowed to him to continue the election campaign. He later was elected a representative of the county. (9)

Since Joseph Edward Turcotte's generation, our great-grandfather, no change has occured to our name’s spelling.

Abel Turcault, ancestor of the Turcots in Canada

Thanks to one of my cousins on my mother’s side, who had the family tree of his family, I was able, to my great surprise to discover that my mother, Marguerite Turcot, and my father Gustave Turcotte, both had Abel Turcault as an ancestor. Nobody of our family suspected this fact up till now.

Abel Turcault had several children.

An extract of the registers of the Parish of Château-Richer shows that his elder son was baptized on September 16, 1663 with the name of François. (10)

François, son of Abel Turcault, got married to Marguerite Houymet on November 16, 1688, as previously mentioned. The registers of the Parish of Sainte-Famille on the Île d’Orléans shows that the spelling of his name had changed from that of his dead father, to become Turcot. (5)

There were ten children from François Turcot's marriage: three girls and seven boys. Two of his issue became the heads of our family lineages, Simon and Joseph:

Joseph, according to the pen of Father Pierre Portneuf, kept the name of his grandfather, Abel Turcault, when he got married to Marie-Joseph Audet in the parish of Saint-Jean (Île d’Orléans), on April 21, 1732. (13)

It was not the only time which the spelling of this lineage had changed. Beginning with Joseph, the son of François, the third generation, the name Turcot reverted back to Turcault, such as mentioned in the precedent paragraph. Then it changed from Turcot to Turcotte in the following generation. In the sixth generation, the spelling was finally spelled Turcot. Since then, all the descendants up to my mother, Marguerite Turcot, considered it wise to keep the same spelling to their name. (14)

For unknown reasons, except maybe for quirk or local whim, the spelling of the names of our family was often changed whatever the lineage.

Monument to Abel Turcault

In the Family Reunion of Abel Turcault of Sainte-Famille, Île d’Orléans, on Sunday, June 17, 1979, we had the chance to attend a mass, followed by a vin d’honneur and a well-organized lunch, where over three thousand Turcots and Turcottes from all corners of the continent were able to meet.

 What few people knew this day, is that among them were Turcottes and Turcots from the ninth generation, as much from my father’s as from my mother’s lines, with none other than Abel Turcault as ancestor. A granite monument was erected on Abel Turcault's land. This land was left from generation to generation in the hands of one of his descendants. Today, it belongs to Mr. Jean-Francois Turcotte.


Thanks to this picture postcard, dated October 26, 1924, we were able to make a magnificent survey, where it allowed us to discover all sorts of interesting information. I am very grateful to the person that sent it to me.


  1. Original Picture postcard dated October 26, 1924.
  2. Clémenceau, Georges. Dictionnaire Larousse
  3. De lattre of Tassigny, Jean (Maréchal). - Dictionnaire Larousse.
  4. Marriage register of the Parish of Château-Richer, November 27, 1662.
  5. Marriage register of the Parish of Saint-Famille, Île d’Orléans.
  6. Note 26 - last paragraph of page 23, of a report presented on Joseph-Edouard Turcotte, 1802-1840, published in August, 1973, by Louisette Pothier.
  7. Marriage register of the Parish of Notre-Dame de Québec, November 15, 1842.
  8. Turcotte, Joseph-Edouard. Bibliographical Dictionary of Canada, vol. IX, 1861-1870, pp. 878-880.
  9. Pages trifluviennes. Les Départs de la région de Trois-Rivières (1841-1867), by Francis J. Audet. Les Editions du Bien Public, Trois-Rivières, 1934. Pages 31-33.
  10. Baptism register of the Parish of Château-Richer, September 16, 1663.
  11. Baptism register of the Parish of Sainte-Famille (re Simon), 20-07-1696.
  12. Baptism register of the Parish of Sainte-Famille (re Joseph), 30-09-1702.
  13. Marriage register of the Parish of Saint-Jean, I.O ., April 21, 1772.
  14. Marriage register of the Parish of Notre-Dame de Québec, January 24, 1910.

"The other information on the Turcault family"

Published in L'Ancêtre, Volume 13, Number 2 (October 1986), page 43.

St. Sulpice-en-Pareds, December 5, 1985.

Abbot J-M. Dubin
St. Sulpice-en-Pareds

Mr. Director.

Former Priest of Mouilleron-en-Pareds (1956-1973), at present parish auxiliary in residence in the Presbytery annexes of St. Sulpice-en-Pareds, I learn from a Canadian friend that a descendant of Abel Turcault, a native of Mouilleron-en-Pareds, published in "L'Ancêtre ", volume 12. No. 3 of last November, pages 105, 106, 107, 108, 109 and 110, a very interesting article on his family.

This descendant of Abel Turcault is called: Lucien Turcotte.

Regrettably, my correspondent did not give me the personal address of the latter. Would you kindly tell me, because, for around the last thirty years, I have been interested in Abel Turcault and his descendants, and have documents which he certainly doesn’t have and which would compliment what he already has.

With my thanks, please, Mr. Director, my deepest appreciation.

J-M. Dubin

Sainte-Foy (Québec), December 26, 1985.

Mr. Abbot J.-M. Dubin

Dear Mr. Abbot,

It is with the great pleasure that we received your letter of December 5th last telling us of your knowledge of Mr. Lucien Turcotte's article which appeared in L’Ancêtre of November, 1985, pp. 105-110, about his ancestor Abel Turcault.

Your offer to help is very appreciated and we thank you for it. I sent a copy of your letter to Mr. Lucien Turcotte, here is his address:

Lucien Turcotte

Seeing the interest of your letter for the researchers of the ancestor Abel Turcault, I published a copy of your letter in the next issue of L’Ancêtre, the January, 1986 issue. If ever you wish to send us a copy of the documents which you have on the ancestor Abel Turcault, we would most grateful.

Thanking you once again for your interest in Canadian genealogists who are very happy when they can find contacts and connections in France, Once again, dear Mr Abbot, my most sincere appreciation


Gérard E. Provencher
Committee of l’Ancêtre
Genealogy Society of Quebec

St-Sulpice-en-Pareds, January 10, 1986

Dear Mr. Provencher,

Thank you for your letter of December 26. I received it yesterday and it interested me greatly. I answered without delay.

I am a priest in Vendee (France). I am 73 years old. I’ve always cultivated the local History with passion. I was Priest of Mouilleron-en-Pareds from 1956 through 1973. Since then, I have been an auxiliary, in residence in the presbytery annexes of St-Sulpice-en-Pareds. Six small nearby parishes were added to it. My colleagues and myself do not miss the work. The responsibility falling to the younger ones.

Establishing my pastoral work in Mouilleron-en-Pareds, I studied the very rich history in this Parish. And, regularly, I published articles about it in our weekly Bulletin. Réunies, these publications constituted a work of 750 pages.

I’ve seen, in a names of the "Revue du Bas-Poitou", Abel Turcault's name, native of Mouilleron-en-Pareds, colonist in New France. When there was time to deal with it, I used a "genealogy" found in the Archives of Roche-sur-Yon, established by Gustave Turcotte, MLA for Quebec. I also corresponded with Mr Delafosse, Archivist of the Charente Maritime, real connoisseur of the departures for Canada and which regretted that lists were not strictly established initially. I had some information on our fore-fathers of Vandee, called the "Chavagnes", who always have representatives for you in Montreal.

For thirty years, the letters did not miss coming from Turcottes, the Mayor had me follow through on all the mail that was sent to him: of Miss Rita Turcotte ... To Mgr. Jean-Claude Turcotte, Auxiliary in Montreal ... by way of members of the tourism societies, embassy attachés in Paris, in Bern ... etc. ... However, the big one was from Brother Eugène Turcotte, 215 East. Castelnau Street, Montreal, Québec, Canada, H2R 1P6. A regular visitor to genealogy organizations, from whom I received the book "Holidays of the Turcotte Families. 1659-1979. Sainte-Famille, Île d’Orléans"... I am appreciative, besides having introduced me to Mr. Paul Millet ... and, especially, Mr. Raymond Gingras ... National Archives of Quebec, which provided a number of services. I am very grateful to him. I had the pleasure to see him here and to have lunch with him.

On the other hand, it was necessary me to wait until 1983 to see my first Turcotte ... Rev. Yves Turcotte, Father of the Church of the Sacred Heart, 7576 Edouard, LaSalle, Québec, H8P 1T5 ... Number of them have travelled to Moulleron-en-Pareds, but hastily, in groups, without seeing the grand tour ... I learnt of their passage afterwards ... Coming at an unfavourable time, they found City Hall closed or, to the Priest, and found a colleague with little understanding of the subject ... Some appeared at Mr. Joseph Turcaud's, real pillar of the inn, which told them the War of 1870 ... When he did not threaten to kick them out ... With his foot... Somewhere ...

Needless to say, Father Yves was received warmly and that he left with thoughtful indications on the spot and to be precise... It took us all afternoon in the country and still we cut short the walk because it was late ... It was necessary for him to leave for La Rochelle where he had reserved a room to the hotel...

It is definite that there were Turcaults in Mouilleron-en-Pareds at the beginning of the XVIIth Century.

1. In the Census of the Seignerie de Bazoges-en-Pareds in 1603, with regard to lands of this Seignerie and located in the parish of Mouilleron-en-Pareds: Field of Moulins and Fillées, between the villages of Sauvagère and Rechignière: other lands with house in the Roche Babin, at feet of the Colline des Moulins... Among others developers, is quoted, twice, François Turcault.

In the same documents we see the same reference and details for, Mathurin Turcault.

2. In the Baptismal, Marriage and Burial records of Mouilleron-en-Pareds, one finds:

On March 14, 1610, the baptism of Jehan Turcault, son of Louys Turcault and Françoise de Bertheville. Godfather: Jehan ...; Godmother: ... Rousseau.

On February 2, 1617, the baptism of Louys Turcault, son of Louys Turcault and Françoise de Bertheville. Godfather: François Jamain; Godmother: Marie Aymé.

Meanwhile, on April 1st, 1616, Françoise de Bertheville's beautiful signature. Regrettably... Different losses, destructions at the time of the religious confusions, etc....

As in the series preserved in Mouilleron-en-Pareds's city hall and in those preserved in the local Archives of Roches-sur-Yon, after the year of 1617, there are no more Registers until... 1700 ... And there was another about fifty years before the name "Turcaud" reappears ... With the ancestors of our current Turcaud ...

Then, they want to know which Turcotte harassed us.?... " By looking still, one of them wrote me, as it should not be, managed to discover the Acts of 1630 and the area, our grandfather having been born in this moment?... "... Or still: "It should be"

" Always trying, as it should not be, to make the link among us and the pleasant (?) Turcauds we met in our passage to Mouilleron-en-Pareds.?... "...

There, please see the second photocopy, the map of the country. You will notice there that Mouilleron-en-Pareds's territory extends far to the south, almost up to the village of St-Maurice-le-Girard and that this southern area is crossed by the River Loing ... Well ... For some kilometres, the valley of Loing had no less than about twenty water mills ... These worked all winter ... Whereas windmills on the highlands worked the summer ... And usually the millers lived near the former.

Today, still, all this zone in the south, although belonging to the Parish and Municipality of Mouilleron-en-Pareds, is refered to as St-Maurice-le-Girard ... If you ask the inhabitants: "Where are you from? ... "Usually, they answer you: "From St-Maurice-le-Girard ... That is, we are from Mouilleron: we go there for the City Hall, for our purchases, to the market ... But, we have a parish in St - Maurice, we send our children to school there, we are different societies: soldiers, elders ... We bury our dead in the cemetery there ... "...

What’s happening nowadays, happened when Abel Turcault lived there ... I went to St-Maurice-le-Girard's city hall ... The collections of Acts have also gaps ... Nevertheless, I found traces of Turcault (Turcaud) there:

1651: Pierre's baptism, son of François Préaud and Marguerite Turcaud.

1654: François's baptism, son of Abel Turcaud and Louyse...

1657: Baptism of a daughter of Abel Turcaud (no more details). Godfather: François Auguinet Godmother: Marie Gobin.

1675: Burial at St-Maurice-le-Girard of Marguerite Turcaud, the parish of Mouilleron, the village of Sauvagère, the aforementioned Turcaud being 50 years old or there about.

The nursery of our Turcault (Turcaud) is located in this area. Now, in the time of Abel Turcault, the parishes of Mouilleron-en-Pareds and St-Maurice-le-Girard did not belong to the same Diocese:

Whereas Mouilleron-en-Pareds belonged in the Diocese of Luçon, St-Maurice-en-Pareds belonged to Maillezais...

Frequenting this last one, Abel Turcault, while being Mouilleronnais (and, so, officially, diocesan of Luçon), was able to consider himself and to say himself of Maillezais"...

And this explains how the marriage certificate can read: " Abel Turcault, miller, of Mouilleron's parish, Evesché of Malzaie "...

This confirms the district of Mouilleron's parish where it started ... Once again this southern district was usually connected to St-Maurice-le-Girard...

Abel Turcault's Marriage certificate contains another indication that his descendants, to my opinion, translated rather widely ... Too much, doubtless...

Marie Girou, Abel’s wife, is said to be from the Parish of Tranblette in La Rochelle, I underline (in) La Rochelle.

You know as well as I how often names were deformed: Savanna = Chavagnes; Bonpère = Boupère; Sure = Sallertaine ... Etc. ...

The authors of the book " Holidays of the Turcotte Families ... " Translated: Tranblette = Tremblade...

Now, Tremblade was always a part of Saintonge (Diocese of Saint)... It is 40 kilometres from La Rochelle... How can one say (in) La Rochelle?"

Suspecting a simplified translation, I wrote to a specialist of the History of La Rochelle: "There is in the suburbs of La Rochelle a parish called Genette: you have no place closer to Tranblette?"

He answered me: Yes, we have Trompette, quarter with public garden, formerly except walls, but, being a part of an urban parish... There was also a famous windmill as a result of the elevation

In the truth, Trompette translates as well to Tranblette as Tremblade. and Trompette has the advantage to be situated (in) La Rochelle... You will think of it what you will want! ... I touched on this with my correspondents... I did not receive an opinion from them ...

Obviously, when one canvasses things on the scene, like Father Yves, it takes another form than to discuss it by letter...

Here we are, dear Mister Provencher, one modest good documentation. I send it to you, nevertheless, wholeheartedly , in thanks of your letter of December 26th, with best regards

(signed) J.M. Dubin, ptre.

Ste-Foy, February 11, 1986

Mr. Abbot Jean-Marie Dubin
Presbytery, St-Sulpice-en-Pareds

Dear Mr. Abbot Dubin,

During the sending of l’Ancêtre of January, 1986, I had told you that I would send a more detailed letter, further to yours of January 10 '86 that you kindly sent with magnificent documentation.

A huge thank you for all the material on the family Turcault/Turcotte and your interesting story on your experiences with this family over the years. Some of our members will be pleased to take advantage of your fruitful research on the Turcault family.

The traces of Turcault/Turcaud found in Saint-Maurice-le-Girard are most interesting. As is your deduction on the location of Marie Girou's origin, wife of Abel Turcault, who should be much more Trompette in La Rochelle, rather than Tranblette/Tremblade (in La Rochelle) of Saintonge.

Once again, a thousand thank yous of your moving kindness towards our Quebecois genealogists. Your documentation will soon be given to all the researchers interested directly or indirectly in Turcault. Our best wishes of good health to you and please, continue "to cultivate the local History with the most grand passion", as you say in your letter of 10/01/86.

Here we are, dear Sir Abbot Dubin, a modest letter in answer to your invaluable documentation. Sincerely Yours.

The director,

Gérard E. Provencher
Committee of l’Ancêtre
Society of genealogy of Quebec

<snip> Personal information such as addresses has been removed from the translation.