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 is anxious since 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 it even 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 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. He was part of the Régiment 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 only see Jean Beaugrand, after a temporary practice in the Lordship of Dautray, to settle soon in a definitive way in the Lordship of Monsieur de Berthier. (We use the "Dautray" form of preference to "Autray", because the first appears to use more compliant to history).

Whatever his regiment, he was a soldier of Monsieur de Saurels’ or of any other company. A serious enough argument in favour of his membership to the company of Monsieur de Saurels is that Jean Beaugrand seemed to prefer to frequent soldiers of the Saurel company, as the Letendre, Piette, Hénault, etc. It is also to be noticed that the Lordship of Berthier was first conceded by Heel, on October 29, 1672, Lord Hugues Randin, sign 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 voyageurs, 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 progeny of Jean Beaugrand doesn’t have this happiness. The name of his parents is thus unknown, a swell as the one of the village where he was born and of the parish where he was baptized. We are reduced to conjunctures on the province or the region from where he came and even on the exact form of his family 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 who reserved their longer stays in the middle of groups of colonists or among soldiers of the high Richelieu. Sorel, Berthier, Dautray, Isle of DuPas and a good half-dozen of other localities received their visits only as intermittence. It was a dangerous ministry. A lot of acts must have been written down on flying leaves, but later got lost. Without registers or with registers reduced to ashes as we have the proof of it for Sorel, Berthier, the Isle of DuPas leave so many points of questioning on Jean Beaugrand, his wife and their children, as well as on several other families living in this region then.

The name of the Beaugrand ancestor appears under different forms. One finds Gougran, Bougrand, Bougeran, Baugran, Beaugrand, Bougrin, Bougron, and from the Boudron extremes to 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 like a soldier since his arrival from France. Little by little, the form Champagne prevailed and the name of Beaugrand was not carried anymore than by some families. We could attempt hypotheses on the origin of the name Beaugrand and on the name of our first ancestor. 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. Bougrand, much faster and easier to pronounce would 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 can find the signature of Jean Beaugrand. It can be found on an act for which he was asked as a witness owing notary Adhémar, on June 26, 1676, and writes clumsily enough: 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. On another document dated, August 26, 1899, we find "Gean Bougueren".

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, chose to remain in Nouvelle France, therefore of the military draft. About 400 other soldiers took a similar decision to remain as settlers in Nouvelle France. The king encourages the soldier’s transformation into a colonist. As a counterparts, he will receive, in return for a small yearly royalties from the Lord, a free concession of land and a grant of hundred francs made of silver, or, if he prefers it, fifty francs and supplies for one year. The franc or the pound of that time had the same value appreciably that of the franc after the French Revolution, and until the war of 1914: it was worth between 1,800 and 2,000 Canadian dollars. Jean Beaugrand was 24 years old when he became a soldier. He was now 27. 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 act of baptism doesn’t exist. Jean-Baptiste and his two sons Antoine and Pierre-Simon are the forbears of all the Beaugrand-Dit-Champagnes. A second son, Charles, is baptized in Sorel on July 27, 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 recover at Berthier on March 3, 1693. It is the last time we have her mentioned. There closes the list of the children of Jean Beaugrand. Three children, during a married life of more than 20 years, it is 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 become 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 to the date of birth of Marie-Anne, July 27, 1675, is that he lived in Dautray, the old lordship, one of the oldest of New France, of which is conceded to Lord Jean Bourdon, royal engineer, on December 1st, 1637. Was he there already before the time of Charles’s birth, 2½ years before, and even of that of Jean-Baptiste (2nd generation) in 1672?

According to the documents at hand, we cannot confirm it, but it is very likely. The certificate of baptism of Charles, which was supposed to have been 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. I don’t doubt it, according to the report of parishes and missions of New France, of the messenger of Pope Innocent XI, dated 1683. It is said, that it was the same priest who had the privileges of serving the parishes of Sorel, Rivière du Loup, and that of Rivière de Saint-François. It gives every locality the number of families and number of people, measurements of the chapel or church, when there is one, and the material that was use to construct one (wood or stone). Berthier, Lanoraie, Dautray, Lavaltrie, Saint-Sulpice had neither church nor chapel. The island of Isle DuPas is not mentioned here, not even on the census of 1681. There is no chapel there, not even one inhabitant. It is also at Dautray, that he lived on June 25th, 1676, when he signed his signature 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 route to Berthier. He possesses a plot of land there, of which is situated 1½ mile upstream from the reserved lot of the church. The present church is still on that same lot. The first church was constructed on this lot, but much closer to the St-Lawrence River. His land at Berthier was situated several miles only from his Dautray one, a share of 3 arpents (Approx. one acre) of forehead on the River St-Lawrence by 40 deep. We can easily find the lot of Jean Beaugrand and could approximately estimate its width with the aid of the following documents:

Map of 6. Catalogue of 1709.

Bill of sale of Jean Plouffe to Jean Beaugrand, 2 arpents in width, 1714;

Numbering of Berthier by his Lordship Sieur of Lestage, August 8th, 1723;

Cadastral plan of the County of Berthier, 1938, Ministry of Earth and Forest, Quebec

We know that the ancient share 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 Gédéon 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 Parsien and of Jacques Joly. The record of 1723 gives him the same neighbours of that in 1714. This lot corresponds to #48, of the present land register, that has arpents, to the neighbouring lots. The house that one sees to this day, was built by Basile Beaugrand dit Champagne (5th Generation) in 1825 and is today (2002) inhabited by the Sylvestre family, that acquired it in 1913. Seven generations of the Beaugrand family forming a single lineage, followed each other on this earth of 1676 to 1681 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 (1st generation) will live henceforth; it is there that he will raise his small family; it is there that he will die. It is there, that his son Jean-Baptiste (2nd generation) and all of the branches of his progeny, that stretches more than two centuries. Berthier will be the center of where will radiate his numerous descendants, and also in the neighbouring parishes, and the rest of North America.

The generations that followed each other on the land in Berthier thus are:

1. Jean I, married to Marguerite Samson dit Pénisson, 1668

2. Jean II, married to Françoise Guignard dit Dalcourt, 1697

3. Pierre-Simon, married to Marie-Josephte Courrier, March 3rd, 1746.

(Antoine left the house to Pierre-Simon)

4. Jean-Baptiste, married to Marie-Josephte Boucher, January 18th, 1779.

5. Basile, married to Marie-Desanges Tellier, April 18, 1820

6. Elie, married to Marie-Modeste Bonin, October 165, 1855.

7. Marie-Louise (Rosalie), Joseph, Arthur and Edmond. These four along with their mother immigrated to St. Norbert, Manitoba in 1880 and 1881, and now has many, many descendants there.

8. a. Marie-Louise married Louis Thaddée Misael Dufort and had 7 children; Joseph, Anna, Basile, Alphonse, Albert, Noellie and  Edmond.

b. Joseph married Henriette Grégoire and had 10 children; Victor, Gilbertine, Armand, Antonio, Raphael, Marie, Édouardina, Donalda (still living at 102 years of age), Fernando, and Isabelle.

c. Arthur married Marie Lemay and had 13 children; Achilles, Arthur, Aurèle, Clara, Flaura, Georges, Georgina, Joseph, Julie-Camille, Léonie, Marie-Léa, Blanche, and Aldéa.

d. Edmond married Rosina Paiement and they had 13 children; Alphonse, Alma, Amanda, Évelina, Jeanne, Célestin, Irènée, Maria, Léonce, Vitaline, Claude, Régina, and Irène.

The rest is scattered all across Canada and the United States, the West Indies and so on.

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