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Lejeune Family Information;

A Closer Look at Some of the Records from Stephen A. White

 

There has been a considerable amount of discussion on the LEJEUNE Genweb Forum, regarding certain conclusions that have been drawn concerning the origins of some of the Lejeunes in early Acadia. As has been pointed out, everyone in entitled to his or her own opinion, particularly in a matter that has come to be treated as controversial. It must be admitted by everyone, however, no matter what their leanings, that in order to reach proper conclusions one must have the facts, and all the facts. Unfortunately, not all the facts have been presented here, and some of those that have been put forth have been misrepresented or distorted.

A document which has been mentioned a number of times in support of a certain argument has been repeatedly identified as "the Indian Census recorded in 1708." The information that has been said to come from "the Indian Census" does not in fact come from a document that bears such a title, or, to say the least, does not come from that portion of the document in question that is identified by its compiler as an enumeration of Native American people. There were in fact two censuses taken in 1708, but they are conjoined in a single document, the full title of which clearly indicates its duality:

Recensement gen~al fait au mois de Novembre mile Sept cent huit de tous les Sauvages de L’Acadie qui resident dans la Coste de L’Est, Et de ceux de Pentagouet et de Canibeky, Famille par Famille, Leurs ages, Celuy de Leurs femmes et Enfants avec une Recapitulation a la fin de la quantité d’hommes Et de garcons capables d’aller a La guerre, comme aussy Le recensement des francois Establis a La ditte Coste de L’Est.

Translated into English this says

General census made in the month of November one thousand seven hundred eight of all the Indians of Acadia who reside on the East Coast and of those of Pentagouet and Canibeky, family by family, [with] their ages and that of their wives and children, [and] with a recapitulation at the end of the number of men and boys capable of going to war, and also the census of the French people settled on the said East Coast.

As this title suggests, these records begin with a detailed enumeration of the Native Americans, which fills up most of the document. This enumeration is then followed by a heading that reads "francois Etablis a La Coste de L’Est" ("The French people settled on the East Coast"), after which comes the subtitle "francois du Cap Sable" ("The French people of Cape Sable"), which precedes a listing of seven families. After that three more families are shown to have been residing at Port-Razoir. The census of "The French people on the East Coast" then concludes with a section headed "francois de la heve" ("The French people of La Hève") which lists eight more families. These include those of Pierre "Briart," Martin "Briart," and Jean "Godet."

A facsimile of the original listings concerning these families at La Hève may be seen online at http://geocities.com/the_brasdor_indians/Study/LeHave_1708.jpg. If one looks closely at the two pages so reproduced, one will see that the page on the right bears the words quoted above, "francois de la heve," while the one on the left has been altered to superimpose "francois de la heve" over another heading, of which "francois du Cap" can be made out. This other heading on the unaltered original includes the final word "Sable."

These headings make the intention of the compiler manifest; so far as he was concerned, all the people in this part of his census were French, while those in the other section were all Native Americans. This does not mean that none of the people in the French census had any Native blood, any more than it means that none of those in the Indian census (such as the Petitpas and Mius families at Musquodoboit) had any French blood. Regarding the people at La Hève, for example, the 1686 census shows that Martin Lejeune dit Briard’s first wife was a Native American, and consequently that the children of that marriage listed with him in the census in 1708 were of mixed heritage. But the fact remains that the census classifies these people as French. They were not "recorded in the Indian Census . . . in Indian settlements" as has been stated in a previous posting on this forum.

A second clarification regarding the 1708 census concerns that way in which the families at La Hève were grouped together. It is true as a general rule that the Acadians were a clannish people and that close neighbours in their communities were often also close relatives. But it is also true that the relationships among them could be complex. There are after all two sides to every family: the father’s and the mother’s, or the husband’s and the wife’s. The first five families listed in the census at La Hève appear to have been no exception, despite their relatively small numbers. As may be seen in looking at the census, Pierre Lejeune dit Briard’s household is followed by the family headed by his son-in-law Joseph Boutin. Then comes Martin Lejeune dit Briard, who has long been presumed to have been Pierre’s brother precisely because they appear in close proximity in this census, as well as in that of 1686. After Martin comes the household headed by Jean Gaudet, followed by that of René Labauve, Martin’s son-in-law. The appearance of Jean Gaudet in this grouping does justify the presumption that he must have been connected to at least one or another of the other families, and it is in fact known that he was, because it was his daughter who lived next door. She was Martin Lejeune’s second wife. It so happens that Jean Gaudet’s wife was Jeanne Lejeune dit Briard. If no relationship existed between Jeanne’s husband and any of the other families in this community, one might then be justified in presuming that there must have been a connection on her side to explain their presence there, but no such conclusion is necessitated here, because Jean Gaudet might be expected to have lived next door to his daughter, no matter who his wife was.

The fact that the presence of Jean Gaudet and Jeanne Lejeune dit Briard in the French community at La Hève can be explained by his connection to Martin Lejeune does not rule out the possibility that Jeanne could have been related to the other Lejeunes in the same community. Indeed, the fact that Jeanne was not just another Lejeune, but a Lejeune dit Briard, just as Pierre and Martin were, gives rise to a presumption that all three descended from a common ancestor from whom they derived their name, and consequently that all three were related through the male line, for it was normally only through the male line in French society that family names were passed down. This implies nothing with regard to their respective maternal ancestors, who might have been three different women. Additionally, it remains to be established in just what degree the three might have been related in the male line.

The presumption that all the Lejeunes in Acadia belonged to a single family goes back a long way. Edmé Rameau de Saint-Père leapt to such a conclusion to form the basis of his speculations on the relative antiquity of the family in Acadia that were included as part of his commentaries on the Déclarations de Belle-Île-en-Mer in the Collection de Documents inédits sur le Canada et l’Amérique publiés par le Canada-français (Québec: Imprimerie de L.-J. Demers & Frère, Vol. III, 1890, pp. 144-151). As he himself admitted in his conclusion to his remarks concerning the Lejeunes, his claims were no more than "reasoned" hypotheses, concerning which "chacun . . . peut en accepter ou en écarter ce qui lui conviendra," or, in other words, everyone in entitled to his or her own opinion. Father Archange Godbout cites Rameau in the notes on the early Lejeunes he compiled for his unpublished Dictionnaire des Acadiens, on page 477 of which he suggested that both Marie-Josèphe Lejeune, the wife of Pierre Cellier, and Jeanne Lejeune dit Briard "could have been" ("pouvaient être") sisters of Pierre and Martin Lejeune dit Briard and their father Pierre Lejeune, who is mentioned in the Déclarations de Belle-Île-en-Mer, could have been a brother of Edmée and Catherine Lejeune. Father Godbout was far too careful a researcher to elevate his suggestions to any level higher than that which they deserved. Rather, these were hypotheses he formulated for the purpose of furnishing a basis for further investigation. Incidentally, it is this material from Father Godbout’s manuscript that has been erroneously described by some researchers interested in the Lejeune family (e.g., http://www.michaelmarcotte.com, in a loose discussion of sources concerning Catherine and Pierre Lejeune) as "the 1661 Québec registry." This is in fact neither a "registry," nor any other sort of document that dates from the seventeenth century. Father Godbout was born in 1886 and died in 1960. His manuscript is not dated, but it includes references to materials published at least as late as 1953, so it is clear that he was still working on it during the last decade of his life, in the mid-twentieth century.

It is very easy to lose sight of the tentative nature of the suppositions of our predecessors and to transform their hypotheses into seemingly firmly established certainties. It was to avoid uncritically promoting as facts what Father Godbout only intended as possibilities that an extensive search for intermarriages among the Lejeunes was undertaken during the compilation of the first part of the Dictionnaire généalogique des familles acadiennes. It had long been known that a number of dispensations found in the marriages between the descendants of Edmée Lejeune and those of Catherine Lejeune proved that the two women were sisters, and it was thought that with the far more extensive documentation that had become available since Father Godbout’s death there might be found some additional previously unknown or unnoticed dispensations that would support his suppositions. It was also realized, however, that if marriages between Lejeune descendants were traced where dispensations ought to have been granted according to Father Godbout’s presumptions, but were not, then those presumptions would be cast into doubt and thereby rebutted.

It must be remembered that there are no records that actually state that any of the early Lejeunes in Acadia were siblings. The only thing that had been observed to connect them was their common name, which gave rise to a presumption that they were related. The presumption insofar as it respected Edmée and Catherine Lejeune was long ago replaced by a certainty because of dispensations found in certain marriage records in the Port-Royal registers.

The investigation undertaken during the preparation of the first part of the Dictionnaire généalogique des familles acadiennes turned up two marriages of interest. One was between a grandson of Catherine Lejeune and a granddaughter of Pierre Lejeune and Marie Thibodeau, and the other was between a grandson the same Pierre Lejeune and a great-granddaughter of Jeanne Lejeune. Neither record mentioned a dispensation for the anticipated relationship, and consequently it was concluded that Father Archange Godbout’s presumptions were subject to doubt. The strength of that doubt depended upon the perceived reliability of the priests who officiated at the respective marriages.

There has always been a wide range in the relative abilities and conscientiousness of the men who have served the Catholic Church as its priests. Many of the qualities of the priests who ministered in the eighteenth century are beyond inquiry at this point. But there is an easy way to assess where any given cleric fit into the scale of reliability with respect to his record-keeping. One has only to look at his records and consider the circumstances in which he kept them.

In the case of the marriage of Catherine Lejeune’s grandson Nicolas Préjean to Pierre Lejeune and Marie Thibodeau’s granddaughter Euphrosine Labauve, which took place at St-Servan in Brittany on January 8, 1760, very little inquiry is necessary. In the Old World the church’s administration had been very well established for many centuries, and its exigencies were scrupulously met. The many marriage records of the exiled Acadians in St-Servan include numerous dispensations for kindred. Indeed, no cases are known where any required dispensations were overlooked. It was, after all, a relatively simple matter to obtain what was necessary, because the bishop and the diocesan administration were close by, in the neighbouring city of St-Malo. The proximity of the episcopal authority also assured that all the requirements were duly fulfilled. This lack of a dispensation in Nicolas Préjean and Euphrosine Labauve’s marriage record thus cast very serious doubt upon Father Godbout’s suggestion that Catherine Lejeune could have been a sister of Marie Thibodeau’s husband’s father. It may also be noted that the fact that the sisters Edmée and Catherine Lejeune are never mentioned in any records as carrying the Briard nickname further suggests that they were probably not related to those Lejeunes who did.

In the case of the marriage of Pierre Lejeune and Marie Thibodeau’s grandson Joseph Lejeune to Jeanne Lejeune’s great-granddaughter Martine Roy, which took place at Louisbourg on November 5, 1754, the circumstances were different, but not so much different as some may wish to think. Louisbourg in 1754 was a very important settlement, as everyone knows, and its parish register shows that it had at that time not one or even two, but as many as half a dozen priests at the service of its Catholic population. The pastor of the parish of Notre-Dame-des-Anges at the time, Father Clément Rosselin, was also the superior of the community of Récollets who were in charge of the hospital. He had arrived to assume his duties in both capacities during the early summer of 1753 (A. J. B. Johnston, Life and Religion at Louisbourg, 1713-1758, Montréal & Kingston, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1996, p. 61). It was he who officiated at Joseph Lejeune and Martine Roy’s marriage.

Here is how Father Rosselin recorded the event in the Louisbourg register:

Mariage de Joseph leJeune et de Martine LeRoy

Ce jour cinquième Novembre mille sept cent cinquante et quatre Je soussigné, après la publication de trois bans faits au prône de la Grand-Messe les dimanches vingtième jour d’octobre, le vingt et septième et le troisième Novembre pour le futur mariage Entre Joseph leJeune originaire de l’Acadie Evêché de Québec et actuellement habitant de l’Espagnole fils legitime de germain Et de marie trahan d’une part; Et Martine LeRoy aussi originaire de Lacadie fille de Charles LeRoy et de Marie Chauvet d’autre part Et ne s’etant trouvé aucun Empêchement j’ay reçu Leur mutuel consentement de mariage de parole Et de present Et Leur ay donné la bénédiction nuptiale avec les Cérémonies ordinaires de notre mere la Ste. Eglise En presence des parents Et témoins qui ont signé avec nous dans la Chapelle Royale de St. Louis tenant lieu de paroisse à Louis-Bourg les ds. Jour Et an que dessus.

/s/ Louis gautier

marques de l’Epoux (X) Et de L’Epouse (X) approuvées par moy

/s/ fr Clement Rosselin R. R. et Curé

/s/ chorcheri

/s/ fransois commer

Translated into English this says

Marriage of Josephe Lejeune and Martine LeRoy

This day the fifth of November one thousand seven hundred fifty-four, I the undersigned, after the publication of three banns made at the sermons of the high Masses on Sundays the twentieth day of October, the twenty-seventh, and the third of November for the future marriage between Joseph Lejeune, originally from Acadia in the diocese of Québec and presently residing at Espagnole, legitimate son of Germain and Marie Trahan, on the one side; and Martine LeRoy, also originally from Acadia, daughter of Charles LeRoy and Marie Chauvet, on the other side, and there not having been found any impediment, have personally witnessed their mutual verbal consent to marriage and have given them the nuptial blessing with the usual ceremonies of our mother the Holy Church, in the presence of the relatives and witnesses who have signed with us in the Royal Chapel of St. Louis serving as the parish church at Louisbourg, on the day and year as above.

/s/ Louis gautier

marks of the groom (X) and the bride (X) approved by me

/s/ Br. Clement Rosselin, R. R. and pastor

/s/ chorcheri

/s/ fransois commer

Father Rosselin entered many such marriage records in the registers at Louisbourg during the more than two years he served there. In fact, he officiated at another marriage that same day, and still another the day before. His records are uniformly well written, and they show considerable care regarding the fulfilling of all the Catholic Church’s requirements, including the granting of dispensations. Given that most of the marriages at Louisbourg involved at least one future partner who had immigrated there directly from France, it was rather exceptional for couples to be related, and thus dispensations for kindred were rarely required. The waiving of the requirement of three banns, either in whole or in part, was far more common. The other couple wed on November 5th, for example, needed a dispensation from the publication of one bann, while the couple wed the day before had been allowed to forego two. Father Rosselin did have occasion to record dispensations for kindred, however. On July 7, 1754, he duly noted that Joseph Brisson had been permitted to marry his own niece pursuant to obtaining a dispensation authorized by Pope Benedict XIV himself. And on December 30, 1753, after securing dispensations for both consanguinity and affinity, Gabriel Rousseau de Villejoin had married his cousin Barbe Le Neuf de La Vallière, who was on another side likewise a cousin of his first wife, Anne-Angélique de Gannes de Falaise. Father Rosselin’s record also shows that Villejoin and his new bride had been in something of a hurry, because besides these two dispensations they had needed others for all three banns, for the season, and "even for the hour of the day," there being in force at that time prohibitions against the performing of marriages outside of certain hours, as well as during Advent and the twelve days of Christmas. His record notes too that all these dispensations had been duly issued by Father Pierre Maillard, who as vicar general held the power delegated from the bishop of Québec to grant them.

It is thus apparent that Father Rosselin did conscientiously record dispensations when he was aware that they were necessary. His records in the registers show that he was a careful and meticulous record-keeper. Suggesting that he might have been otherwise because another priest in completely different circumstances kept his records less well is entirely irrelevant. If a judgment is to be made, it must be based upon Father Rosselin’s own records, not on those of any other priest.

In the case of the marriage of Joseph Lejeune and Martine Roy, it obviously may not be supposed that Father Rosselin forgot to record something after a trip to the Baie-des-Espagnols, because he had not travelled there, his record explicitly mentioning that the marriage took place in the Royal Chapel at Louisbourg. Moreover, there can be no question of the marriage record being incomplete, as has been seen. In fact, none of the records in the Louisbourg register during his term as pastor appears to lack anything. Additionally, no part of that register was lost during the final siege of the fortress or the subsequent evacuation of Île Royale; the original is still carefully preserved in the archives in France.

By November of 1754, Father Rosselin had been pastor at Louisbourg for nearly a year and a half, so he had had time to become acquainted with his parishioners, even those in the outlying missions. There is nothing in the marriage record he wrote up for the register to suggest that he treated Joseph Lejeune and Martine Roy differently than anyone else in his spiritual care. As may be seen from the foregoing transcription, he noted that they had both been born in Acadia, but he said nothing about either having had any Native American blood. Other records in the Louisbourg register attest that when any of the priests there recorded events involving Native Americans, they carefully mentioned the race of those persons in what they wrote.

While it is clearly highly unlikely that Father Rosselin would have failed to see that Joseph Lejeune and Martine Roy obtained any necessary dispensation through his own personal neglect or forgetfulness, it is possible that Joseph and Martine neglected to tell him that they required one. It will soon be seen, however, that this too is unlikely, and for several reasons. One is that, as the record indicates, Father Rosselin had taken care to publish the banns of marriage three times. The church required this to ensure that any individuals in the parish who might have knowledge of any impediments, such as blood relationships, would be encouraged to bring them to the attention of the priests, just in case the betrothed couple, or their immediate families, had failed to do so. The requirements in this regard were well known, and all the parishioners would have understood their obligation to bring forth information about any such impediments, if they had any. Obviously, no such information had been forthcoming.

On the other hand, there were a considerable number of people at the Baie-des-Espagnols who were in a position to know if any relationship needing dispensation existed between the Lejeunes and the Roys. Young couples who did not have their parents and other relatives upon whom to rely, either because these were all dead or because they were separated from them by great distances, might not always have known about relatively distant connections. But in this case both Joseph Lejeune and his prospective bride had multiple potential sources of such information who were living in the same community where they resided. Not only was Joseph’s father Germain Lejeune there, but also Germain’s brothers Joseph and Jean, his brother-in-law Joseph Boutin, and his first cousin Paul Lejeune. The three brothers were all sons of Pierre Lejeune and Marie Thibodeau, while their cousin was a son of Martin Lejeune and Marie Gaudet. And all four of these men had been living in the little settlement at La Hève at the time of the 1708 census, so they all would have known Jeanne Lejeune firsthand. Indeed, she was Paul Lejeune’s mother’s stepmother. Germain Lejeune’s first wife, Marie-Anne Trahan, had died when their son Joseph was just an infant, but had Joseph required information on his mother’s side of the family, he might easily have gotten it from his mother’s brothers Jean Trahan and Étienne Trahan, who also lived at the Baie-des-Espagnols. As for Martine Roy, not only did she have her entire immediate family there, including both her parents, but also her maternal uncle, Jean Chauvet, and even her eighty-year-old maternal grandmother, Edmée Joseph dit Lejeune. It is very unlikely indeed that the three Lejeune brothers and their cousin Paul Lejeune did not know the Roys and Chauvets very well. They had all settled at the Baie-des-Espagnols in the period immediately following the retrocession of Île Royale to France after the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. LaRoque’s census in 1752 indicates quite precisely when each of the families arrived. They all came from the British-held region of Acadia between 1749 and 1751. Germain Lejeune and his family were among the last to settle at the Baie-des-Espagnols, having arrived in the early fall of 1750. The families had thus all been together in that same settlement for all of four years before Joseph Lejeune married Martine Roy. And the community at the Baie-des-Espagnols was not a large one. In the fall of 1754, the total population there, including the Commères, who were the only settlers who had not come from Acadia, consisted of around forty families, amounting in all to about two hundred souls. (For a list of the Acadian families at the Baie-des-Espagnols at the end of 1754, see pages 47 and 48 of this writer’s "The True Number of the Acadians," in R.-G. LeBlanc, ed., Du Grand Dérangement à la Déportation, Moncton: Chaire d’études acadiennes, Université de Moncton, 2005.) It is consequently very unlikely that any relationship that may have existed between Joseph Lejeune’s father Germain Lejeune and Martine Roy’s grandmother Edmée Joseph dit Lejeune was not known to all the inhabitants at the Baie-des-Espagnols.

Withholding information about the blood relationships of couples about to marry, and thus failing to obtain the dispensations required by the Catholic Church, could have unpleasant consequences. As A. J. B. Johnston notes on page 129 of his Life and Religion at Louisbourg, 1713-1758 (op. cit.), "Couples who ignored the church’s rules on consanguinity, and had sexual relations or married without dispensation, ran the risk of being arrested and tried for incest." To illustrate this point, Johnston goes on to describe just such a prosecution that took place at Louisbourg in 1734. The couple involved in that had been related in the third degree, just half a degree more closely than Father Godbout’s presumption would have made Joseph Lejeune and Martine Roy. The Lejeunes and Roys at the Baie-des-Espagnols might not have known about that case from 1734, but they must have been most acutely aware of the possibility of outside intervention in a marriage improperly sanctioned by the church because of what had happened earlier in 1754 to their neighbour Paul Guédry’s daughter Marguerite. Poor Marguerite had married Jules-César-Félix de Lanoue de Bogard on February 11th. The ceremony had been performed at the Baie-des-Espagnols by one of the Récollet priests, but it had certainly not been, Father Clément Rosselin. Many, if not all, of the Acadian families at the Baie-des-Espagnols must have been included in the celebration, because many of them were nearly related to the Guédrys, including Joseph Lejeune’s stepmother Marie Guédry, who was Marguerite’s first cousin on both sides. And all must have been impressed by the brilliance of Marguerite’s match, because her bridegroom was a French officer, and consequently a nobleman, for to be eligible to become a French officer in those days one had to spring from a noble family. The new bride’s happiness was promptly cut short, however, by proceedings brought to annul her marriage, because her husband had not obtained permission to marry from his military superiors. Even the priest who had officiated at the ceremony, Father Hyacinthe Lefebvre, received his share of the ensuing punishments, being recalled to France (Johnston, op. cit., pp. 61-62).

Their awareness of what had so recently happened to Marguerite might be expected to have made prospective couples from the Baie-des-Espagnols, and their families, quite circumspect about complying with all the requirements of both church and state. Considering all these factors, one may conclude that the omission of a dispensation for kindred in Joseph Lejeune and Martine Roy’s marriage record is sufficiently indicative to rebut the simple presumption that might otherwise suggest that Martine’s great-grandmother Jeanne Lejeune dit Briard had been Joseph Lejeune’s grandfather’s sister.

The fact remains that Jeanne and Pierre shared a common family name, and thus presumably a common lineage through their paternal ancestors. The question becomes of trying to determine the degree of their relationship. If they were not brother and sister, how might they otherwise have been related? Unfortunately, the records currently available are inadequate to provide a satisfactory answer, but one possibility is that they might have been first cousins. In that case the relationship between their descendants Joseph Lejeune and Martine Roy would have been too remote to have fallen within the degrees of kindred prohibited by the church.

The possibility that Jeanne Lejeune dit Briard and Pierre Lejeune dit Briard might have been cousins would not have occurred to Father Archange Godbout, because he did not possess all the information we now have regarding the Lejeunes in Acadia. In particular, he did not know of the existence in the colony of Jean Lejeune.

Jean Lejeune was one of the early settlers of Acadia. This is known from the fact that his heirs received one of the early land grants at Port-Royal. This grant is mentioned in the "Schedule of the Seigniorial Rents" that was drawn up in 1734, after the British Crown had purchased the seigneurial rights in that area (Public Record Office, Colonial Office records, series 217, Vol. VII, fol. 90-91). The rents list shows the names of the first grantees of each parcel of land, as well as the names of those who were in possession in 1734. In some cases it is obvious that the latter belonged to the same family as the former, but in the case of the parcel allotted to Jean Lejeune’s heirs it is just as apparent that the tenancy had been sold. No record of the original grant has survived, but there are indications that it had been made early in the colony’s history. It is enrolled along with grants that were made to Barnabé Martin and François Savoie. Both of these men were dead by the time of the 1686 census, so the grants must have been made before then. What’s more, Jean Lejeune had likely been dead for quite some time by 1686, because this grant could have dated back to any time after the retrocession of Acadia to the French in 1670 pursuant to the Treaty of Breda.

One can only speculate about how old Jean Lejeune’s heirs might have been when they received their grant, but it is likely that their forebear was a contemporary of the Pierre Lejeune who is mentioned in Claude Pitre’s deposition at Belle-Île-en-Mer in 1767 as the father of the Pierre Lejeune who married Marie Thibodeau. This deposition, by the way, is the only record that mentions the elder Pierre’s given name. It also specifies that the elder Pierre came to Acadia from France, which rules out any possibility that he had any Native American blood. But this deposition does not preclude the possibility that the elder Pierre might have arrived from France with one or more siblings, including at least one brother. We know that the Héberts in Acadia descended from two brothers who had come from France, and from the foregoing it appears that the Lejeunes may have done likewise. Was the Lejeune brother named Jean? The fact that the rents list does not call Jean Lejeune by the nickname Briard does not preclude that possibility, because none of the early records at Port-Royal mention the Briard nickname in connection with any of the other Lejeunes either. Given that Jeanne Lejeune dit Briard is shown by the censuses to have been living at Port-Royal with her first husband, François Joseph, in 1693, and with her second husband, Jean Gaudet, in 1698, a possible supposition is that she could have been one of the heirs mentioned in the grant, and consequently Jean Lejeune’s daughter.

Pierre Lejeune and his wife Marie Thibodeau were also living at Port-Royal at the time of the censuses of 1693 and 1698, but their presence there can be explained through Marie Thibodeau’s family connections. Indeed, if Jeanne Lejeune had been Pierre’s sister, one would expect to see a little more family closeness between them. Pierre and his family remained at Port-Royal after 1698, and one finds them enumerated there both in 1700 and 1701, but Jeanne Lejeune and her second husband Jean Gaudet do not appear in either of these listings. Perhaps even more significant is the fact, already noted, that Pierre Lejeune and Martin Lejeune appear together at La Hève in the first Acadian census that refers to any members of the Lejeune dit Briard clan, in 1686, but Jeanne Lejeune dit Briard is not mentioned with them there at all.

Once again, the only common link among these people remains their common name, which gives rise to the presumption that they had a common male-line ancestor, but one is left without any proper evidence to show who that common male-line ancestor might have been. One may conclude, however, that there is enough data available to justify the conclusion that the early history of the Lejeune family in Acadia was more complex than some people have supposed.

Regarding the question of Pierre Lejeune dit Briard’s maternal ancestry, it has been claimed that Governor de Menneval’s reference to him as an "espèce de sauvage" in 1689 is evidence that he had Native blood. This particular French expression actually means just the opposite, particularly in the context of the feud that had broken out between Menneval and Pierre Lejeune dit Briard’s wife’s new brother-in-law, the local magistrate Mathieu de Goutin. In French, employing the words "espèce de" in referring to someone is only done in a highly pejorative manner. Émile Littré’s Dictionnaire de la langue française is instructive in this regard: "Espèce de, suivi d’un nom de personne, se dit de personnes, d’êtres qui n’ont pas toutes les qualités requises, qui ne sont pas tout à fait ce qu’il faudrait qu’ils fussent. On a dit que le singe était un espèce d’homme." ("Espèce de," followed by a noun referring to a person, is said of persons, or of beings, who do not meet all the requirements, who are not altogether what it would normally be necessary for them to be. It has been said that the monkey is a sort of man.) A common contemporary usage of "espèce de" occurs in the expression "espèce de fou" (sort of fool), which may be said of someone who has done something the speaker considers irrational or foolish. This does not mean that the speaker believes the person so described to be crazy in the clinical sense; on the contrary, it is employed to indicate that the speaker believes the person in question should know better. A similar construction exists in the expression "espèce de cochon" (sort of pig), which might be said about someone who is sloppy. It does not mean that that particular person has changed species, and it would never be used in referring to an actual pig in a barnyard. Such remarks go more towards describing the person’s behaviour, rather than indicating what he or she really is. Conversely, it is in that sense that the monkey in Littré’s illustration was a "sort of man." Thus what Governor de Menneval meant was that in his opinion Pierre Lejeune dit Briard acted like an Indian, but he wasn’t one. At the time, this would have been a serious condemnation of a Frenchman, which, as has been seen from the 1708 census, was what Pierre Lejeune dit Briard was normally called by those who were not feuding with his wife’s brother-in-law. Menneval’s intention was to make Mathieu de Goutin look as bad as possible. Had his wife’s brother-in-law actually been an Indian, Menneval would not have hesitated to call him one. And if the brother-in-law had had Native American blood, he would likely have called him a "demi-sauvage" (half-breed), or the "fils d’une Sauvagesse" (son of an Indian woman), rather than an "espèce de sauvage."

Regarding the question of Jeanne Lejeune dit Briard’s supposed Native American ancestry, it has been claimed that the reference to her and her husband François Joseph as belonging to "la nation sauvage" in their daughter Catherine’s marriage record in the Port-Royal register dated January 7, 1720, indicates that Jeanne was a Native. Some have thought so. Father Archange Godbout, in fact presumed on this basis that she must have been a different Jeanne Lejeune from the one who married Jean Gaudet (Dictionnaire des Acadiens, p. 477). After all, the 1708 census just as clearly labels Jean Gaudet’s wife Jeanne "Briart" as French. But the same 1708 census also proves that Jean Gaudet’s wife Jeanne Lejeune dit Briard was the same woman who had been married to François Joseph, because the daughter Catherine listed with Jean and Jeanne in 1708 was the same Catherine Joseph who was to marry Jean Comeau a dozen years later at Port-Royal. The fact that stands out from these two apparently contradictory indications regarding Jeanne Lejeune is that in a colony such as Acadia a woman’s ethnic classification was determined by that of her husband. Jean Gaudet’s household at La Hève in 1708 was considered French because he was French. The couple made up of François Joseph and Jeanne Lejeune mentioned in the Port-Royal register in 1720 was called Native American because François Joseph was a Native American. In any event, had Father Justinien Durand wanted to indicate that both of Catherine Joseph’s parents were Natives, he would simply have put Catherine down as a "Sauvagesse."

It has further been claimed that the result of an mtDNA test has "revealed the Haplogroup of [Jeanne Lejeune dit Briard] was the Native American Haplogroup A." Unfortunately, neither the identity of the person whose sample allegedly produced this result, nor that person’s lineage has been posted in support of this claim. A somewhat similar situation existed on this very forum last March, when someone mentioned a test result that the person thought revealed something in connection with one of the Lejeune sisters, but failed to post the precise result along with a supporting lineage. This was promptly followed by the posting of a message entitled "Questionable Results" (No. 726), which decried such a claim unsupported by a specific result and genealogical presentation as "somewhat bogus," and advised all readers to "ignore" what was claimed until clarification be offered. It is difficult to see how the situation is any different here with the result claimed in connection to Jeanne Lejeune dit Briard. Ironically, the person who posted the "Questionable Results" message last March is the same person who now declines to produce the supporting information today.

DNA testing has been proving very helpful in clarifying not only the ethnic origins of certain Acadian ancestors, but also in clearing up some difficulties with lineages that have been very hard or impossible to trace. A single result, however, may always be open to question, because of the possibility of an error, either in the handling of the sample, or in the genealogy. In the latter case, even a lineage that has been verified and appears to be fully documented may be found deficient, if the result is incongruous. There has been a case reported in the French Heritage mtDNA Project (http://www.frenchdna.org/FCmtDNAResults.htm, under Kit No. N37290), for example, where the test result came back haplotype A (Native American), but the lineage, which appears to be as fully documented as may be, with a proper marriage record in every single generation, leads inexorably back to a fille du roi who immigrated to Canada from La Rochelle. Obviously, there must be a mistake in either the test result of the lineage somewhere. A second test result consistent with the first tends to guarantee the accuracy of both the DNA testing and the lineages. Three consistent results are even better. But with only one–and that unsupported by any genealogy–one is only left to wonder.


Stephen A. White, Centre d’études acadiennes, Université de Moncton

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Posted February 5, 2007 by Dennis M. Boudreau on the LEJEUNE GenForum, on behalf of
Stephen A. White, Centre d’études acadiennes, Université de Moncton.

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