About the Quesnels

I found something for Cassandra to read.


I will copy-paste it and comment on it later on.


The ancient history of Normandy was derived from the early northern Gallic tribes until its early conquest by the Romans in the first century. The distinguished name Quesnel is considered to have its origins in this ancient land. This coastal region was used as a departure point for the Roman invasion of England. With the departure of the Romans in the 4th century, the area was continuously ruled by many different dissenting tribes. In the 6th century, a leader emerged who united the area, Wandrille and may be considered the first Count of Normandy. The Duchy was firmly established after the year 911 when Rollo, Earl of Orkney invaded the territory with his Viking army. He laid siege to Paris and forced the French King, Charles the Simple, to concede Normandy. Rollo became the first Duke of Normandy in 911. The name Quesnel was first found in Normandy where this distinguished family were anciently seated, and were members of the aristocratic families of that region.

Throughout the course of history most surnames have undergone change for many reasons. A father and son may have spelt their name differently. Many are simple spelling changes by a person who spoke his name, phonetically, to a scribe, a priest, or a recorder. Many names held prefixes or suffixes which almost became optional as they passed through the centuries, or were adopted by different branches to signify either a political or religious adherence. Hence we have many variations in this name, Quesnel, some of which are Quesnell, Quesnoy, Quesnay, Quesne, Quesneau, du Quesnel, du Quesnell, Quennell, Quennel, du Quesnoy, du Quesney, du Quesne, du Quesneau, but all are included in the basic origin of the surname.

With the conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy in 1066, the dukedom became a part of the domain of the Kings of England. This formed the basis of the Dukes tremendous influence, not only in England but the whole of Northern France as far south as Aquitaine. Robert, son of William, Duke of Normandy revolted against his father in England, but Normandy passed into the royal dynasty of Plantagenet along with England in the 12th century. In the 12th century, Henry III of England married Eleanor of Aquitaine, acquiring her lands. This was the cause of the major conflicts between France and England which followed. In the 13th century, Philippe August of France, failed to take possession of Normandy. Henry II finally conceded his continental challis in 1259. Normandy preserved its independence until the 17th century, when it became part of France.

The family name Quesnel became influential in Normandy where they held various estates and manors. Noted amongst the early personalities of the family was the celebrated hero Abraham du Quesne. The family branched to Picardy and Paris and in 1668 were elevated to the nobility as the Barons of Lusbeke. In the 17th century Pasquier Quesnel was a noted French theologian (1634-1719), and Francois Quesney was a distinguished economist and Doctor (1694-1774). Later in Canada Joseph Quesnel became a distinguished Canadian poet (1749-1809). Judge Jules Quesnay de Beaurepaire was a distinguished jurist (1838-1923).

In the early 16th century France became aware of her European leadership, and New World exploration became a challenge. Along the eastern seaboard of North America there was from North to South, New France, New England, New Holland, and New Spain. Jacques Cartier made the first of three voyages to New France in 1534. The Jesuits, Champlain and church missionaries followed in 1608. Plans for developing Quebec fell far short of the objectives of the Company of New France, which later became the Habitants’ Company. Champlain made over twenty voyages to France to encourage immigration to New France, and brought back the first migrant in 1617. But the king fearful of depopulating France was reluctant to encourage his subjects to migrate.

In 1643, 109 years after the first landings by Cartier, there were only about 300 people in Quebec, and 500 in 1663. France finally gave land incentives for 2,000 migrants during the next decade. Early marriage was encouraged in New France, and youths of 18 took 14 year old girls for their wives. The fur trade was developed and attracted migrants, both noble and commoner of France. In the late 17th and 18th centuries 15,000 explorers left Montreal leaving French names scattered across the continent. The search for the North West passage continued.

Migration from France to New France or Quebec, as it was now more popularly called, continued until it fell in 1759. By 1675, the were 7,000 French in Quebec. By the same year the Acadian presence in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island had reached 500. In the treaty of Utrecht, the Acadians were ceded by France to Britain in 1713. In 1755, 10,000 French Acadians refused to take an oath of allegiance to England and were deported. They found refuge in Louisiana. Meanwhile, in Quebec, the French race flourished, founding in Lower Canada one of the two great solitudes which became Canada.

Amongst the settlers in North America the first for the name Quesnel was Olivier Quesnel who settled at duquesnel, Quebec, in 1676 from Normandy, and was later followed by Jacques Quesnel in 1760, also from Normandy; Magdalen Quesnell settled in Virginia in 1726.

Meanwhile, many Quesnel’s were prominent in the social, cultural, religious and political affairs of France and Quebec; Peter Quennell is the noted writer and editor of “History Today”.


Husband ,Wife, Date & Place of Marriage

Treffle Jay Quesnel, Monique Marie Lajeunesse Aug. 26, 1990, Sturgeon Falls, Ontario.

Yvon Lucien Quesnel,Norah Evelyn Herron Nov. 21, 1959, London, Ontario.

Treffle Quesnel, Odile Monette Sept. 11, 1922, Noelville, Ontario.

Henri Quesnel, Natalie Dagenais Aug. 19, 1873, St. Anicet, Quebec.

Benjamin Quenel, Louise Genier Feb. 24, 1840, St. Anicet, Quebec.

Jean-Baptiste Quesnelle, Genevieve Besner Nov. 4, 1793, Vaudreuil, Quebec.

Antione Quesne,l Elizabeth Seguin Nov. 15, 1762, Lac des Deux Montagnes, Quebec.

Michel Antione Quesnel ,Angelique Gavillion April 9, 1736, Bout de I’lle, Montreal, Quebec.

Jean-Baptiste Quesnel ,Marie Gourdon Jan. 20, 1705, Lachine, Quebec.

Olivier Quesnel Catherine Prudhomme Jan. 15, 1680, Montreal, Quebec.

Pierre Quesnel ,Marie Poulard 1650 +/-, St. Malo de bayeux, France.


Francois Quesnay (B. June 4, 1694 near Paris, d. Dec 16, 1774 Versailles, France.) French economist and intellectual leader of the Physiocrats, the first systematic school of political economy. Quesnay was consulting physician to King Louis XV at Versailles, where he developed an interest in economics. However, he did not publish his first book on the subject until he was in his 60’s. With the support of Mme de Pompadour, he and Jean de Gournay attracted the Secte des Economistes, whose members looked to Quesnay as their leader.
Quesnay’s system of political economy was summed up in his Tableau economique (1758), which displayed diagramattically the relationship between the different economic classes and sectors of society and the flow of payments among them. In his Tableau Quesnay developed the assumption of economic equilibrium, a concept used as a point of departure for much subsequent economic analysis. Of special importance was his analysis of capital as avances, or a stock of wealth that had to be accumulated in advance of production. His classification of these avances distinguished between fixed and circulating capital. Francois believed savings to be possibly harmful, because if they were uninvested they might disturb the equilibrium of the flow of payments. His analysis is similar to that of J.M. Keynes almost two centuries later.
The methodology of Quesnay’s physiocratic system and his principles of policy sprang from an extreme form of the doctrine of natural law. Acceptance of that doctrine led him to proclaim that laissez-faire in economics followed the natural law and therefore represented the divinely appointed economic order. He was, indeed, one of the originators of the 19th century doctrine of the harmony of class interests and of the related doctrine that the maximum social satisfaction occurs under free competition.

Pasquier Quesnel (b. July 14, 1634, Paris, d. Dec. 2 1719, Amsterdam), controversial French Theologian who led the Jansenists (followers of Bishop Cornelius Jansen’s heretical doctrines on predestination, free will, and grace.) through the persecution by King Louis XIV of France until they were papally condemned.
Quesnel joined the French Oratory ( a religious society of secular priests) in 1657 and was ordained in 1659. His Jansenist sympathies led to his banishment from Paris in 1681, and three years later he was expelled from the Oratory for refusing to accept the anti-Jansenist decrees it promulgated. He fled to Brussels where he lived with the exiled Antoine Arnauld, champion of the Jansenist resistance, until Arnauld’s death in 1694. In 1703 he was arrested but soon escaped to Amsterdam where he finally settled.
Pasquier’s Nouveau Testament en francais avec des reflexions morales (1692; “New Testament in French with Thoughts on Morality”) was a major contribution to the literature of Jansenism, but it caused serious repercussions. It rekindled doctrinal conflicts between the Jansenists and the papacy, which were further complicated by the intervention of Louis XIV. Pope Clement XI’s bull Unigenitus (1713) – prompted by Louis – condemned 101 sentences from Nouveau Testament en francais avec des reflexions morales yet Pasquier never admitted that his opinions were heretical.

Abraham Duquesne, Marquis du Quesne (b. 1610, Dieppe, France. d Feb. 1 1688, Paris, France) French navel officer during the administrations of Richelieu and Colbert who decisively defeated the combined fleets of Spain and Holland in 1676.
Abraham served as a captain in the royal navy under two great commanders, Henri d’Escoubleau de Sourdis and Armand de Maille-Breze. From 1644 to 1647 he was an admiral in the service of the Swedish Queen Christina; later he returned to France and loyally supported the crown during the Fronde.
Early in the Dutch wars (1672-1678) Duquesne, a staunch Calvinist, was deprived of his command after being accused of reluctance to obey orders after the battle of Solebay and for his refusal to renounce his Protestantism. Later in the war, however Duquesne was chosen to help the Sicilian rebels against the Spaniards. He fought his way into Messina and took Augusta before returning to France for reinforcements and supplies. He then routed the combined Spanish and Dutch fleets in two engagements off Augusta and Palermo (April and June, 1676)
In 1681, Duquesne received the title of marquis. His Protestantism prevented his being made admiral, but despite the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) he was allowed to retire in peace.

Jules Maurice Quesnel, member of Simon Frasers exploring party in 1808. In May, 1808 Jules Quesnel, Simon Fraser and another trader along with 19 voyageurs left their post Fort George at Lake Stuart in four conoes, moving on what Fraser thought was the Columbia River. He re-examined the stretch of the river that had been traversed by Alexander Mackenzie in 1793 (estimated at 400 miles from its source) and continued along its course, finding his way around impassable rapids by portages of which the two most difficult were at Black Canyon and Hell’s Gate. The Fraser River was named for Simon Fraser while Fraser himself named the Quesnel River and Quesnel Lake after Jules. Settlement at Quesnel, British Columbia (which was called Quesnellemouth until 1864) first started in 1860 during the Caribou gold rush.

Olivier Quesnel, little is known about Olivier, who is the first direct descendant of our family to come to Canada, except that he came to Quebec in 1676, and married in 1680. He was originally from St. Malo, Normandy. The first trace of Olivier is in the parish register of Notre-Dame de Montreal, dated January 15, 1680 where he married Catherine Prud’homme. He then settled down to a farm in Lachine, Quebec. In 1681 a general census of the colonists was taken and the following were provided as his statement. “Olivier Quesnel, 30 years old; Catherine Prud’homme, his wife; 20 years old; 2 guns, one cow, and four acres of land of value”. Olivier had a large family, with four of his sons (Jacques-Francois, Jean-Baptiste, Jean-Pierre, and Raymond) reaching adulthood. Our family is descended from his oldest son Jean-Baptiste.

Joseph Quesnel, (b. Nov. 15, 1746, St Malo, France, d. July 3, 1809, at Montreal). Louis Joseph Marie Quesnel, the captain of the French ship L’Espior was running guns to American revolutionaries in New York in 1779 when the British captured him and his vessel off of the coast of Nova Scotia. This ultimately led to Joseph becoming a Canadian immigrant – and to some of the first stirrings of European music in his new country. After the British released him, he was taken to Quebec and Governor Haldimand granted him sanctuary. He settled in Boucherville, a small town outside of Montreal. There, he became a fur and wine merchant and lived a cultured life, playing violin and writing poetry, songs, and symphonies at his leisure. In 1789, two years before the first performance of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” in Vienna, Joseph wrote what is considered to be the first Canadian opera, and likely the first composed in North America: Colas et Colinette. The following year, Montreal’s newly formed Theatre de Societe premiered the 40 minute opera. In 1963 composer Godfrey Ridout reconstructed what remained of the original overture and in June of 1986 The Toronto Music Theatre staged the opera for the first time in almost 200 years!


  1. Avery Yvon Herron Quesnel
  2. Treffle Jay Quesnel
  3. Yvon Lucien Quesnel
  4. Treffle Quesnel
  5. Henri Quesnel
  6. Benjamin Quenel
  7. Jean-Baptiste Quesnelle
  8. Antione Quesnel
  9. Michel Antione Quesnel
  10. Jean-Baptiste Quesnel
  11. Olivier Quesnel
  12. Pierre Quesnel




4 thoughts on “About the Quesnels

  1. Anything I have to say here will be relevant but it’s been a while since I seen the Quesnel name came up, and so after reading this here this morning proms me to say that I remember my great aunt Ann Quesnel. She married my great uncle John Masson at some point to which I don’t know but they did live in and around Rivière-Beaudette Quebec. I’d say that she probably descended from Oliver. Both Uncle Johnny and Aunt Anny we laid to rest at Saint-Zotique.

  2. Pierre, thank you so much for the time you are taking to help me 😀 The posts have been of great help in my project 😀

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