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Hypotheses

             Various hypotheses have been put forward to reconcile genetic and genealogical information about Catherine Pillard, some by the very authors of the challenge to the French origin of Catherine Pillard. We will make a brief review of the hypotheses below and add our comments.

1) Catherine Pillard was a Amerindian quietly assimilated [4] into the French population of Montreal.

Comments. This hypothesis is not a priori improbable, but it raises many difficulties. First, it is not based on any document, as shown by the analysis of Ms. Moreau-Desharnais. Second, with Montreal's population amounting to only 625 in 1665 [5], it assumes that many Montrealers would have agreed to participate in the fraud, including the priest and the many witnesses to the marriage where she is represented as originating from La Rochelle. Third, it implies that people were aware of Catherine Pillard born in La Rochelle, whose identity someone else could safely assume. Fourth, there is no reason for such deception, many Frenchmen having married Indian women without it creating any problems. Fifth, it does not include the genetic considerations raised by Mr. Jacques Beaugrand, aforementioned.

 A link as been made between a five-month old child baptized in Montreal November 25, 1651 and Catherine Pillard. Baptized under the name of Catherine, Oenta was, according to the register of the Notre-Dame parish, the daughter of a man named Du Plat and of Annengthon. But we know nothing of this child, except the information found in her baptismal certificate. True, the father is named Du Plat and Catherine was often known by similar names as we have seen above. However, the spelling of the name Pillard also varies in the acts found in La Rochelle.

While we're on the subject of names, take note of the presence in Quebec in February 1652 of a certain Pierre Plet less than three months after the above-mentioned baptism and at a time of the year when it was impossible to enter or leave the colony; his presence is corroborated by a notarized contract [6]. We do not intend to link the two documents; nonetheless, the coincidence is interesting.

The fact that an objection has been issued after publication of the first bann of Pierre and Catherine's marriage has also been cited as supporting her Amerindian origin. Unfortunately, the reason for the objection has not been preserved and we will never know the final word on this story. For our part, we believe that this objection was related to Pierre Charron's protestantism rather than Catherine Pillard's potential Amerindian origin.

2) Catherine Pillard was a Amerindian taken to France and brought back to New France as a King's Daughter.

Comments. This hypothesis is also theoretically possible. Champlain himself had adopted three young Amerindian girls he wanted to take with him to France in 1629, without success [7], yet many other similar cases are reported throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and even beyond. It is conceivable, for example, that shortly after, the young Ouenta called Catherine mentioned above was brought to France, returning later to New France as a King's Daughter.

Nevertheless, this hypothesis faces several of the objections of the first one.

3) Catherine Pillard was the daughter or granddaughter born in France of an Amerindian brought to France at an earlier period.

Comments. This assumption eliminates many of the difficulties we face with the first two hypotheses. If this were the case, Catherine Pillard would be a Frenchwoman, born in La Rochelle, but would be of Amerindian origin.

We know that there were regularly Frenchmen in the St. Lawrence River valley from at least 1534 and probably even earlier. It is quite possible that these visitors, fishermen and merchants brought Amerindian women in France, particularly in the area of La Rochelle. However, there is no documentation supporting this fact about the mother or grandmothers of Catherine Pillard and this hypothesis faces the conclusions of Mr. Beaugrand.

4) Catherine Pillard descended from a Siberian lineage that would have immigrated to France in a more or less distant past.

Comments. The authors of the original articles had serious doubts about this hypothesis but, as we have seen above, it is the thesis proposed by Mr. Jacques Beaugrand who supports it with a more refined genetic analysis.

Position adopted by l'Association des Charron et Ducharme

             After three years of reflection and research, the board of our association has come to three conclusions which are based mostly:

 • on genetic considerations made by M. Jacques Beaugrand;

 • on the two documents showing Catherine Pillard being from La Rochelle, namely the act of her marriage to Pierre Charron, October 19, 1665, and the remarriage of her second spouse Sébastien Brisson on June 2, 1722.

 • on the analysis of documents produced by Ms. Moreau-Desharnais.

 a) Catherine Pillard was definitely a King's Daughter who arrived in Montreal in the fall of 1663 on a ship from France which has not yet been precisely identified [8].

 b) She was presumably the daughter of Pierre Pillard and Marguerite Bouricaud and was baptized in Ste-Marguerite de La Rochelle on March 30 1646.

 c) From a matrilinear perspective, Catherine Pillard was descended from a woman brought from Siberia (alone or with a family or even a larger group) into Western Europe at a date impossible to specify, at least for the time being.

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All Charrons and Ducharmes, as well as anyone interested in these families.