American Ancestors New England Historic Genealogical Society - Founded 1845 N.E. Historic Genealogical Society Seal View Your Shopping Cart Join NEHGS

Ask a Genealogist

RSS Feed

Ask a Genealogist - Researching a Quebec ancestor with a New England connection.

 Permanent link


My sixth great-grandfather, John Paine b.21 Jul 1706 Salem, Mass. d. 22 May 1758 in St Roch Des Aulnaies, Lislet, Quebec, Canada. m. 3 Feb 1732 in Quebec, Canada to Marie Joseph Brisson, b. 1708 in Riviere Ouelle, Quebec, Canada. d. 4 Nov 1744 in St Roch Des Aulnaies, Lislet, Quebec, Canada. He is sometimes referred to as L'anglois, because he was from Salem, but his birth name was John Paine. His Parents were John Paine and Abigail Harvey/Harney, of Salem/Ipswich. What would prompt a man, abt 25 yrs old, born and living in Salem, Mass. until abt. 1730, to move to Quebec, adopt French version of his name, marry there and adopt the French culture of Quebec?


In trying to answer this question, I did take a look at themarriage record for Jean Baptiste Pain and Marie Josephe Brisson tosee if he indicated a unique occupation or something else thatmight have easily explained his migration to Quebec, but it did notappear to have anything to do with a job. Before we get into thewhy he may have moved, lets first address the "adoption" of aFrench version of his name. He perhaps did not intentionally adoptthe French version. Like most people who move, their name reflectstheir movement when they move to an area where a different languagein predominant. As immigrants came to the United States, they often"Anglicized" their names to feel more like they belonged in theirnew land. This could be a similar reason for John. However, itcould have simply been that those creating the records wrote hisname phonetically and it became Jean Pain as opposed to John Paine.After all, those who were creating the records in Quebec wereprimarily French-speaking people, so it would be natural for themto record his name in the French manner.

In looking at the record from Sainte-Anne-de-La-Pocatière italso appears that John Paine was Catholic. I do not see anything inthe record that indicates that he was not Catholic. This couldexplain his migration to Quebec.  After all, at the time ofhis birth, Salem was just a few years out from the embarrassment ofthe Salem Witch Hysteria, but they were probably still not asaccepting of non-Congregational (aka Puritan) religions at thispoint. He may have converted or felt that he didn't agree with thereligion of his area. If he was introduced to Catholicism in Salem,he may have met someone from Quebec who encouraged his migration toa more Catholic area. He may also have migrated simply for thechance to get land. In this period, land was wealth. He may havenot seen any immediate opportunities for the purchase of land inMassachusetts and perhaps had heard of opportunities in theCanadian provinces. Once there, he may then have converted toCatholicism.

If land was his impetus, then you will want to turn yourattention to the early land records. Because your ancestor arrivesin Quebec prior to the period when it was taken over by England,you will want to look for the some of the records that are known asSeigneurial Records - the name of the semi-feudal system used inNew France. In the early 1600s, there were grants issued to certainindividuals by the King of France. The seigneuries are asfollows:

·         1623 -Louis Hébert received a grant to the seigneury of Sault auMatlot

·         1624 -Guillaume de Caën received the seigneur y of Cap Tourmente

·         10 Mar1626 - "Reverend Fathers of the Society and Company of Jesus"received the seigneury of Notre Dame des Anges

·         Manyyears the Company of the West Indies had the right to make grants(relinquished in 1666)

·         10 Jan1668 - Maurice Poulin received the seigneury of Sieur del laFontaine

·         20 June1668 - Sieur de Tilly received the seigneury of St. Michel

·         Augumn,1668 - Sieur Jean Le Moyne received a seignery near TroisRivieres


From these initial grants, colonists would receive grants fromthe Seigneur and these land grants usually supply information asfollows: name of the colonist; maiden name of his wife or widow;name of the siegneury and its boundaries; names of the immediateneighbors; and obligations the colonist accepted or price paid.

There is a book by Roland Martin, Les PremiersSeigneurs de Saint-Anne-de-la-Pocatière (LaPocatière, Québec: Société Historique de la Côte-du-Sud, 1973) thatincludes the biographies of the first seigneurs forSainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière. If John Paine purchased or was grantedland in this area, then it would likely have come from one of theseoriginal seigneurs.

Additionally, you will want to search notarial records. Theeasiest way to explain the notarial records is to think of them ascourt records. Notaries handled probate, land, marriage contracts,and more. The area of La Pocatière did not have its own notaryuntil the 1900s. It is likely that they would have sought theservices of the notary of Kamouraska in the early 1700s. The notaryfor the years 1691-1743 was Etienne Janneau. His records are onmicrofilm through the Bibliothèque Archives du Nationales duQuébec. You can visit their web site <>.Additionally, we have Etienne Janneau's records here at the NEHGSResearch Center on microfilm. If you cannot get access to them inanother way, you may wish to consider hiring our Research Servicesdepartment to investigate potential records of your ancestor.


Posted by David Lambert at 04/10/2013 11:53:26 PM | 

David, you never mentioned the possibility he was taken captive prior to his marriage during one of the many Indian Wars! He is not listed in Coleman's book "New England Captives Carried to Canada" but that should not rule out the possibility, since only a fraction of those taken captive have been properly identified.
Posted by: Nancy Lecompte 1 ( Email | Visit ) at 4/12/2013 10:00 AM

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

© 2010 - 2014 New England Historic Genealogical Society