Morin & Lareau Family History

All you wanted to know about your Morin ancestor but were afraid to ask…

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

History Lesson

France has been home to many ethnic groups, including Celts, Germans, Romans and Greeks.Julius Caesar brought Roman culture and the Latin language to Gaul [which covered most of western Europe] when he conquered it in 59 BC. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, a Germanic tribe [the Franks] captured some of the region. It later became part of Charlemagne’s Carolingian Empire. The country of France was a monarchy from then until the French Revolution in 1789, after which Napoleon became premier consul of the new French Republic. He crowned himself emporer of France in 1804 and reigned until 1815, when the monarchy was restored under Louis XVIII. Today, France has a bicameral legislature, a president and prime minister.During the 17th and 19th centuries, France was a religious battleground torn apart by warring elements of the predominantly Catholic population and its much smaller Protestant flock. Although laws called for tolerance, Protestant emigration siphoned off talented craftsmen. Though such turbulent episodes spurred some immigration to America, the French didn’t come en masse like other ethnic groups … they arrived in trickles rather than floods.In 1608, Samuel de Champlain formed North America’s first permanent French colony in Quebec. La Nouvelle France [New France] was based in Canada with a string of settlements along the Mississippi River. Protestants fleeing persecution in France were banned from New France; many went to the British Colonies. By the American Revolution, New France had an estimated population of 80,000, compared to 1.5 million in Britain’s 13 Colonies.

During the French Revolution from 1789-1799, thousands of political refugees left for the United States. Another immigration wave occured during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, when France lost its Alsace-Lorraine region. Many in this group settled in New York New Orleans and Chicago.

Following the American Civil War [1861-1865] the United States saw an increase in French Canadian immigration, most frequently into Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island. Our ancestors, Jean-Baptiste Morin and his wife Julie (Lareau) immigrated from Canada to Lee, Berkshire, MA in December 1871.

The 1930 census revealed that more than 135,000 US residents were French natives. The total French immigration from 1820 onward is about 750,000.


  • 59-51 BC — Romans conquer Gaul
  • 486 — Frankish king Clovis I captures Roman territory in Gaul
  • 800 — Pope Leo III crowns Charlemagne emperor of the Romans
  • 845 — Viking invaders ransack Paris
  • 1152 — Henry IIs marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine gives England control of southwestern France
  • 1348 — The bubonic plague arrives in France
  • 1429 — Joan of Arc leads French forces to end English siege of Orleans
  • 1562 — Religious wars start between Catholics and Protestants
  • 1598 — Henry IV issues the Edict of Nantes
  • 1685 — Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes
  • 1789 — The French Revolution begins with the storming of the Bastille
  • 1804 — Napoleon is crowned emporer of France
  • 1870 — France loses Alsace-Lorraine to Germany in the Franco-Prussian War
  • 1914 — Germany attacks France as WWI breaks out
  • 1944 — Allied forces march down the Champs-Elysees after the liberation of Paris

13 thoughts on “Morin & Lareau Family History

  1. Second post…

    Sunday, September 2, 2007
    The “Dit” Name

    This peculiarity is probably one of the major stumbling blocks in French-Canadian genealogical research. Since last names (surnames) came into being for the purpose of identification, you could say that the “dit” name (pronounced “zeet”) came into being for the purpose of further identification of a person or family.

    Translated into English, “dit” (masculine) or “dite” (feminine) means “called” or “also known as.” There is no negative connotation implied as is sometimes the case with the English “alias.” The reasons or explanations for the name changes are infinite … at least as infinite as there are actual individual changes. However, there are some general sources for these changes or identifications. Some of them are:

    Physical or character description
    Easily pronounced names
    Occupation or guild
    Seigneurial identification
    Place of origin
    Maternal identification
    Heroic deed or accomplishment
    Description of some object

    Dit names are especially common in Quebec. Often, the dit name will come to replace the original family name so that it is no longer recognized as a nickname. Later generations may not know that there was originally another family name.

    The two surnames can be interchanged at any time … “dit” is sometimes replaced by a hyphen. For example, Morin dit Valcourt may appear as Morin-Valcourt. And, since one or both forms of the name may appear at birth, baptism, marriage, in a census record or at death, each individual document must be checked to determine its use. A man might have been born as Jean-Baptiste Morin dit Valcourt, baptised as Jean-Baptiste Morin, married as Jean-Baptiste Valcourt dit Morin, found in a census as Jean-Baptiste Valcourt and died as Jean-Baptiste Morin Dit Valcourt!

    The marriage repertoires that I’ve used used as primary guides for marriage data have therefore been read with care, for they usually gave me some clue as to a possible name change or double-identification.

  2. Third…

    Sunday, September 2, 2007
    The Seigneurial System

    Feudalism came to America with the seigneurial system of New France. The Industrial Revolution brought an end to feudalism in England by the 17th century, but on the lower, or seigneurial level, it was still alive in France and survived until the French Revolution.

    It was only natural that the French should bring their mode of owning land with them to Canada. Since feudalism was a system concerned with governance and defense as well as land, it was particularly well-suited to meeting the problems of colonizing the North American wilderness.

    Under feudalism, the lord owned duties of government and military leadership to his tenants. They, in turn, owed obedience and armed support to him. Hence, in New France, the seigneurs were the military leaders and the seigneurie was the unit of local government and defense. Additionally, the system was supposed to provide a means of settling the land. Large tracts were granted to seigneurs on condition that they would bring out settlers who would tenant their land, clearing and developing it in the process. Thus, block by block, in an orderly fashion, New France would be built up by the seigneurial system. Unfortunately, it did not work out as planned.

    The king sold the rights to colonization to a private company known as the “One Hundred Associates.” They were to have parceled out the seigneuries, but not many were taken up. Court favorites and land speculators acquired large tracts of land and either failed to bring out settlers or did not try. They preferred to hold the land for sale to others making a profit without taking a risk. Seigneuries granted to religious orders tended to be taken up, populated and developed. Yet in general, the system failed as a means of bringing about private colonization.

    By 1663, the crown had had enough of free private enterprise. The king took an active interest in the colonization and brought out settlers directly. Thus, the seigneuries began to be populated by the tide of immigration flooding into New France. Unfortunately, this flow was short lived. By the turn of the century, because of wars in Europe, the crown lost interest and the immigrant stream slowed to a trickle. Until the conquest and thereafter, New France grew chiefly through its own high birth rate.

    The seigneuries did serve, however, as units of local government and community life. Their role in defense was marked by the establishment of military seigneuries along the Richelieu as a barrier to the Iroquois, where the tenants, who were ex-soldiers, still owed military service. Therefore, much of the life of New France was that of the seigneury. It was the habitants little world.

    It cannot be held that the conditions of seigneurialism were really burdensome to the tenant. The system was far less oppressive in Canada than in France. With the frontier at the edge of every farm promising freedom, possible fortune in the fur trade and the ever-present need for more farmers, it would not have been possible to place heavy obligations on the habitants. They owed their “corvees,” the obligation to give work time to the seigneur on his farm or on communal property such as roads, but this came to only a few days a year. They had to pay rent in the form of “cens et rentes” … the former a small annual payment per month, the later often paid in produce or domestic animals. The land was sold or passed on by other than direct inheritance … sums called “lods et centes” were due. But none of these obligations were odious or severe. As for the “banalite,” the requirements to use the mill or the seigneur to grind his grain, the expense of building the mill far outweighed the tolls that were charged.

    Relations between habitant and seigneur were far closer and more friendly than in old France. After all, they were both in the same boat, working together against the wilderness. The house of the seigneur was usually larger and more comfortable than that of his farmers, but it was far from a castle or palace. The seigneur himself was not usually from an old noble family … he might often have sprung from the bourgeois, the merchant or trading middle class. In sum, the habitant was much better off, while the seigneurs were not as well off as their counterparts in France. Moreover, the conditions of pioneer life in New France produced the same open, independent attitudes that were found on the frontiers in the American colonies to the south. The habitant was no downtrodden peasant but a self-sufficient, self-respecting farmer. In this respect, he was not a great distance from the seigneur in wealth.

    Nevertheless, if relations were good and no heavy burden of dues came between habitant and seigneur, there was still a broad distance of dignity and privilege to separate them. The seigneur was shown much respect. His word carried weight throughout the countryside, and above all, a farming community. Hence, that system played so large a part in shaping the outlook of the French colonists. Historians and French-Canadian genealogical researchers on both sides of the North American border would do well to understand this former system of social organization.

  3. Fourth…

    Sunday, September 2, 2007
    The King’s Daughters

    It is almost impossible to be of French-Canadian descent and not have at least one “fille du roi” amongst one’s ancestresses. This was the title given to the female immigrants from France who agreed to travel to New France to marry a settler there in exchange for a dowry from the king.

    A dowry in the period in which New France was being settled was of crucial importance to a girl or woman in France. Women needed a dowry, no matter how small, to marry or to enter a convent as a nun. In a period when positions in life were bought and sold, the size of a girl’s dowry generally determined her future position in life. Without a dowry, a widow or orphaned girl of this age could look forward to only the dreariest of lives. There can be little doubt that the offer of a dowry from the king awakened a fervent hope and even more fervent dreams in the hearts and minds of many of our ancestresses in mid-seventeenth century France. This is the story of that dream … a dream that was often shattered on arrival in the wilderness by the blow of a tomahawk.

    French-Canadian historians often limited filles du roi to those who arrived in New France during the years 1663 through 1673. Women who arrived before the year 1663 paid for their own transport or made their own arrangements. They were encouraged to travel to New France, but it was a private effort and the numbers of women arriving in the New World were small by comparison.

    The average penniless Frenchman traveling to New France usually paid for his transportation with a contract calling for three years of labor. It usually included his sustenance, clothing and a small sum of money. Many women must have agreed to the same terms. They would have been needed by servants by the various orders of nuns. Some came to the New World planning to become nuns but changed their minds and married.

    The importance of these women in the life of the New World and its population is recognized by all historians. It has been reported by the Quebec Seminary that the grand total of immigrants arriving in New France, including the king’s daughters (or king’s girls as they were also called), was 4,894 for a period between 1608 and 1700.

    While adventure may have compelled a few of the women of quality to undertake a new life in Quebec’s wilderness, an examination of the few records available indicates the principal reason was the same as that which sent most of the women on their way. Most of the girls had one or both parents deceased and not much in the way of a dowry. What’s more, once in the new land, there would be no social pressure to marry among one’s own class. Thus, daughters of noblemen wed commoners in New France.

    Most of the history books devoted only a few short paragraphs to the king’s daughters, mentioning the need for wives and mothers in New France and the plan to otain them by having the king offer a dowry. One of the major truisms mentioned in all these accounts is the speed with which the women arriving from France found husbands among the colonists and were married.

    Typical is the account by Eccles. “Each year,” he writes, “the ships carried hundreds of filles du roi to Quebec, where they were cared for by the Ursulines and hospital sisters until they found husbands. This rarely took more than a fortnight.” The bachelors in New France wanted wives and the women arriving had agreed to marry. Love, in those days, was always something our ancestors expected would come after marriage.

    Still, they weren’t about to leave everything to chance. It is amazing to note the large number who apparently sought and obtained wedding partners from their own native sections of France. What is more amazing is the large number of formal agreements to marry which were made before a notary and later annulled. There were even a number of civil marriages contracted, annulled, new partners obtained, another annulment, and the earlier partner taken back again … this time for the all-important church ceremony. The civil agreements on the terms of the marriage were not arrived at lightly. The decision to seek an annulment had to be studied and couldn’t have been made quickly.

    Except for approximately 80 filles du roi, the origin of all known daughters of the king is known. Over 52% of these women came from just two provinces of France that no longer exist … the Ile-de-France and Normandy. Since the French revolution, France has been divided into regions called “departments.” However, an examination of a pre-revolutionary French map, plus a knowledge of the history of the period, will show why the largest number of filles du roi were from those two areas.

    The romantic possibilities of the French-Canadian filles du roi among their ancestors has not escaped the historians of New France, but now and again it has led them a bit astray. One of the reasons was their eagerness to rebut the charges made by Louis-armand de Lom Darce that the filles du roi were the scourings from the streets and brothels of France’s cities. While it’s true that not all of the women who arrived in New France would have been welcomed in a convent, they were extremely poor. Only a few dozen of the women could be considered propertied and of an estate which would have made them good marriageable prospects in France.

    But research shows that, except for a very few (and some of these were apparently led astray in the New World), the filles du roi were courageous, adventurous, daring spirits who saw New France as a means of escaping the depressing future that would be their lot in France because of their relative poverty. Romantically, some of the portrayals of the Kings Daughters picture them in regal splendor. But perhaps we can make some more realistic suppositions about the women: They must have made frantic efforts just before their arrival to appear their very best. The size of the ships, the scarcity of water and their humble dowries musthave made their efforts desperate.

    One of these poor women, Madeleine Fabrecque, age 23, died in Quebec just after her arrival and before she was married. She was probably buried in her best outfit and the only stockings and shoes she had. The inventory of her remaining possessions tells us more about these women than many words: two outer dresses (one of Holland fabric in satin-weave style and made of wool, the other of silk and wool), a tattered green petticoat, a morning dress or wrapper made of rough linen handkerchiefs, six head dresses of linen, four black head coverings (two of taffeta and two of crepe), a muff made of dog’s skin and two pairs of sheepskin gloves.

    That is everything … that is all this poor girl possessed to bring to her marriage … that and the king’s dowry, which would be handed over by the colonial ministry once she found a husband in the New World and the marriage ceremony was complete. The average dowry was under 200 pounds in money; perhaps 50 pounds if she had married a soldier and 100 pounds if she married an officer. She may have also received a supply of goods; a cow, a cask of port, some tools.

    The final contingent of about 50 filles du roi arrived in New France in the summer of 1673. Accounting for over 15% of the French inhabitants of the territory, the filles du roi became the ancestors of nearly all of us who trace our roots through Canada. Among our ancestors, the following women were Daughters of the King:

    Catherine Clerice, born in St. Sulpice Paris about 1653, was the daughter of Pierre Clerice and Marie Lefebvre. She married Jacques Lussier 12 October 1671 in Quebec. Her dowry of 250 pounds included 50 from the king.
    Anne Dequain was born about 1647 in Usseau, diocese of Poitiers, Poitou of Chatellerault. Anne was the daughter of Florimond Dequain and Henriette Fermilis. She married Francois Lareau in Quebec on 28 October 1699.
    Marie Langlois, baptized 23 October 1642 at St. Jacques, Dieppe, was the daughter of Thomas Langlois and Marie Neufville. She married the Carignan Regiment soldier, Jean Poirier-LaJeunesse on 18 March 1668 at Montreal. Marie had a dowry of 200 pounds.
    Catherine Moitie, baptized 14 June 1649 in St. Barthelemi, LaRochelle, Aunis, was the daughter of Jacques Moiti, Royal Bailiff, and Francoise Langevin. She married the sailor Desire Viger on 19 September 1667 in Montreal. Widowed at the age of 78, she married the Carignan Regiment soldier Jean Poirier-LaJeunese on 22 November 1688 in Boucherville.

  4. Fifth…

    Monday, September 3, 2007
    Descendants of Francois Laraue & Anne DeQuain

    FRANCOIS LARAUE, the son of Jacques DeLaRaue and Anne Fosse, was born 1652 in Dieppe, Normandie, France. He died 30 June 1726 in Quebec. He married ANNE DEQUAIN, the daughter of Florimand DeQuaine and Henriette Fermilis, 28 October 1669 in Quebec. Anne was born 1647 in Portiers, Vendee, France. She died in Quebec on 7 February 1734.

    Anne was a “fille du roi,” an immigrant from France who agreed to travel to New France to marry a settler there in exchange for a dowry from the king (see The King’s Daughters).

    Francois and Anne are our ancestors through the following descendants:

    (1) NOEL LAREAU was born 7 February 1682 in Quebec and died there 8 December 1718. He married AGNES PILOTE, daughter of Jean Pilote and Marie Francois Gaudry, 1 February 1712 in Quebec. Jean was born 14 January 1680 in Ancienne, Lorette, France and died in Quebec.

    About 1745, two Lareau brothers, Joseph and Noel, moved south to the Richelieu River where land was plentiful and settlers were needed to defend Montreal from Iroquois attacks coming up from the south. From these two brothers proceed a large majority of the present-day descendants named Lareau.

    (2) NOEL LAREAU was born 29 Dec 1712 in Quebec and died 16 January 1779 in Chambly. He married MARIE ANNE MENARD, the daughter of Antoine Menard and Marie Huet, 22 January 1753 in Chambly. Marie Anne was born about 1729 in Chambly and probably died there.

    (3) FRANCOIS LAREAU was born 22 January 1760 in Chambly and probably died there. He married MARIE GENEVIEVE VICTOIRE HACHETTE (parents unknown) 5 June 1780 in Chambly.

    (4) FRANCOIS NOEL LAREAU was born 12 Jun 1786 in Chambly and probably died there. He married SOPHIE TETREAU, the daughter of Jean-Baptiste Tetreau and Genevieve Barsalou, 31 Jul 1815 in St. Mathias, Rouville. Sophie was born 15 May 1800 in St. Mathias-Sur-Richelieu, Rouville. She probably died in Chambly.

    (5) FLAVIEN LAREAU was born about 1817 in Chambly and probably died there in 1908. He married JULIE GAUTHIER, the daughter of Antoine Gauthier and Elisabeth Aubertin.

    (6) JULIE L. LAREAU was born 20 August 1844 in Chambly and died in Lee, Berkshire, MA 22 Mar 1897. She married JEAN-BAPTISTE MORIN, son of Jean-Baptiste Morin-Valcourt in L’Acadie, St. Jean 4 November 1862. Jean-Baptiste died in Springfield, Hampden, MA 13 December 1925.

    (7) Their children: Lena Mary Morin, Almanda (Emma) Morin, Ella R. Morin, John B. Morin, Joseph Edward Morin, Wilfred J. Morin, Archibald (Archie) Joseph Morin, Lillian M. Morin, Adolphus Francis Morin, William P. Morin, Amelia (Millie) Morin and Mary A. Morin.

    (7) WILFRED J. MORIN was born in Canada 6 September 1875 and died in Berlin, Hartford, CT 9 June 1941. He married JENNIE A. HOLMES 10 December 1895 in Lee, Berkshire, MA. Jennie was born 15 August 1876 in Otis, Berkshire, MA to Charles Robert Holmes and Alice E. Lemley. She died in Berlin, Hartford, CT 15 November 1940.

    (8) Their children: Wilfred A. Morin, Leo E. Morin, Paul Roswell Morin, Beatrice Belle Morin, Charles J. Morin, Claude Raymond Morin, Oliver C. Morin, Viola E. Morin and William S. Morin.

  5. Sixth…

    Monday, September 3, 2007
    The Lareau Family Name

    Through the years, there have been many versions of the family name. This is primarily due to illiteracy … the government official or priest has had to interpret the oral pronunciation of the family member.

    The family name, as early as we can determine, seems to have been DeLaRaue or DeLarraue in France. The earliest records in Quebec show it as Laraue, but since the third generation in Canada, the most common spelling has been Lareau. Other variant spellings have been LaReau, Lareault, Lareaux, LaRow, Larreau and LaRoe.

    It is also important to mention those spellings that (usually) refer to families other than the Lareau family. Some of these are LaRue, Leroux, L’Heureux, Lereau (all established families in their own right), LaRow (a separate family in the United States), Larrow (usually a variant of the Quebec Laurent family) and Larrowe.


    There seem to be four common pronunciations of the name, and they seem to be independent of the spelling used: Lah-row’ (rhymes with below), Lair’-oh (rhymes with narrow), Lahr’-oh (rhymes with borrow) and Lah-roo’ (rhymes with Peru).

    The first seems to be the most common in Canada; the second is the most common among midwestern and western families in the United States; the third is most common in the eastern United States; and the fourth is an Americanization, actually a mispronunciation in English or French, that appears fairly randomly.


    Three separate histories of the Lareau family in France have emerged, and they may or may not all have some validity. Research seems to indicate, however, that they may all refer to a different family living, at least for a time in the same area of France:

    The first purported history of the family is the oldest and most prominant. This version has the name going back to 1014 A.D., connecting to the research of F. Brousseau in his book French Family Origins, and placing the family almost totally in Normandy and Brittany. Many references to persons with similar surnames (DeLaReau, DeLaRue, Dellreaue, Dellareau) appear in public records from Rouen, Louviers, Laigle, Hennebont, Paris and the Isle of Guernsey. The latter is an especially interesting case, including within its records two relatively famous individals … Guillaume DeLaRue, an astronomer for whom a crater is named on the moon, and Thomas DeLaRuye, founder of Thomas DeLaRue, Ltd., a firm that printed much of the world’s money and financial instruments. This history is most likely of the DeLaRue family, and not the family of Jacques DeLaRaue. There is some evidence, however, that this line is the ancestral line of the LaRue family of Quebec and the LaRue and LaRowe families of Westchester County, New York.

    The second version of the French family history goes back to 14th century Rouen and seems to have involved a great deal of devotion to the Catholic church. Members of the family participated heavily in the Crusades, especially during the 14th and 15th centuries. By the 16th century, the family was renowned for its involvement in the politics and administration of the church and one member, Fr. Pierre-Maurice Lareau or Larin, received the “White Lily” medallion in 1788 for “great works of religion.” This line, like the first, is not likely to be that of our family, and is probably the ancestral line of the Larin family of Quebec and England.

    A third version of the family histoy, in the author’s opinion, stands a better chance of representing the true background of our family, although it does not center in northern France at all. The name, spelled DeLaRaue or DeLarraue, means “of the plow” in an ancient dialect used in the Basses-Pyranees region of the far south of France. Located about 85 miles southeast of Pau, the provincial capital, is a small village named Larrau. This village sits nestled in a valley in the foothills of the Pyranees, approximately 12 miles (by winding road) northeast of the Port de Larrau, a well-traveled pass connecting France and Spain. Thus, the name could also be locational in nature, meaning “of Larrau.” While unconfirmed, it is likely that the ancestors of Jacques emigrated from Larrau very early and settled in the more prosperous north.


    Jacques DeLaRaue was born 3 November 1623 in Rouen, Normandie, France. He married Anne Fosse about 1650 in Dieppe, Seine-Inferieure and died in Ancienne, Lorette, Canada on 2 January 1699. Anne was born in France around 1621 and died in Quebec 21 November 1682. Jacques, Anne and their son Francois (from whom we are descended through his son Noel) immigrated to Quebec from Dieppe, and it is here that research has focused.

    When they arrived in Quebec, Jacques settled as a sharecropper on a plot of land situated north of the Riviers St. Charles in what is now urban Quebec City. He also practiced his trade of carpenter, wood turner and wood carver. Their neighbor to the west was the Fontaine family … nearby lived the Edouins and the Huberts, all three of which would be allied to the family by marriage. After Ann’s death, a few years later, Jacques married Jeanne Caille, the widow of the owner of the land that Jacques farmed. Because of this, Jacques obtained ownership of his own farm. For three generations, nearly all of the family lived in the Quebec City area, and indeed, many descendants still live in that area, although few carry the Lareau surname.

    In the fourth generation, about 1745, two Lareau brothers, Joseph and Noel Lareau, moved south to the Richelieu River where land was plentiful and settlers were needed to defend Montreal from Iroquois attacks coming up from the south. From these two brothers proceed a large majority of the present-day descendants named Lareau, and it was at this point that the focus of the Lareau name shifted from Quebec City to Chambly.

    Today, while descendants of the family live in nearly all areas of Quebec, the vast majority of Canadian families with the Lareau surname live in the Quebec counties of Chambly, St. Jean, Iberville, Missisquoi and the city of Montreal and its southern suburbs. For the most part, it is from these counties that most Lareau families in the United States have migrated.

    While it is hard to generalize, most of the lines of the family to enter the United States did so originally between 1850-1870. Most were in search of work. The textile industry of New England, lumber camps in the north central and north western states, industrial plants of all kinds in the major cities and the availability of free or nearly free land in all parts of the country acted as a magnet to the poor but ambitious Quebecois.

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