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Position statement of the Association des Charron et Ducharme inc.

 On the origin of our ancestor Catherine Pillard



Our association brings together the descendants of Pierre Charron and Catherine Pillard who were married in Montreal on October 19, 1665, and  subsequently gave birth to 12 children (4 sons and 8 girls), from which sprang an impressive number of descendants spread throughout North America.

Catherine2Needless to say, we are very much interested in the origin and the lives of these pioneers. Since Pierre Charron was from Meaux, we conducted in-depth research in the archives of Seine-et-Marne where the city is located. This research added two centuries to the history of our family and led to the publication of a volume in 2009[1]. We also feel the same interest about everything that concerns Catherine Pillard.

While it was admitted up to now that Catherine was a King's Daughter from La Rochelle[2], new information has raised a doubt about that. With this text, we intend to provide an update on the issue and present the position that the association has adopted after three years of reflection and research.

Grounds for doubting her origin

The doubts about the origin of Catherine Pillard were raised in a series of three articles in Le Chaînon, a publication of the Société franco-ontarienne d’histoire et de généalogie, in the Fall of 2007 (vol . 25, no 3), the Winter of 2008 (vol. 26, no. 1) and the Spring of 2008 (vol. 26, no 2). 

Based primarily on the findings of the mitochondrial DNA analysis of some of Catherine Pillard's matrilinear descendants, the authors of these thoroughly documented and referenced articles, Raymond Lussier, Thomas McMahon, Johan Robitaille and Suzette Leclair, concluded she was of Algonquian Siberian ancestry (see the outline on genetics in the next section). Bear in mind that they descended from three distinct daughters of Catherine Pillard, but mostly from her eldest daughter also named Catherine.

In support of their conclusion, the authors also mentioned that the written documents refering to Catherine Pillard often contained ambiguities about her family name which was written in different ways throughout her life (Plate, Pilliat, Platte, Pilate, Pillart, Laplat, etc.).

Another bit of information to add to this issue: an extract from the first register of the Notre-Dame de Montréal parish dated November 25, 1651, regarding the baptism of Ouenta, a five-month old baby, daughter of Du Plat and Annengthon, who was named Catherine. Born into the small community of Montreal, this girl could possibly have grown up about, and eventually marry Pierre Charron under a borrowed identity, that of Catherine Pillard.



[1] Charron families from Meaux and allied families.  Acts and contracts from the XVth, XVIth and XVIIth centuries.

[2] See particularly « Les Filles du Roi en Nouvelle-France », by Silvio Dumas (SHQ, 1972) and « Les Filles du Roi au XVIIe siècle », by Yves Landry (Leméac, 1992)

[3] Among others, Archange Godbout in « Familles venues de La Rochelle en Canada ».  RANPQ, tome 48, 1970

[4] As per the terms used by Jacques Beaugrand on his blog

[5] Sulte, Benjamin : Histoire des Canadiens-Français, vol. 4, p. 80.

[6] An account by Pierre Plet, working for Nicolas Marquardt of New France, his master. Registry of Audouart dit St-Germains, 1652-02-03

[7] Trudel, Marcel : Ce qu’il reste à connaître de Champlain. Mémoires de la SGCF, Vol. 58. no 3 (Fall of 2007), p. 195.

[8] Landry, Yves: Les Filles du roi au XVIIe siècle. Montréal, Leméac, 1992, page 127.

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