Charron In France
Our Charron ancestors lived in Meaux, in the French province of Brie (now Seine-et Marne), about 50 km east of Paris. We now know their history, thanks to research by Jean-François Viel, a professional genealogist commissioned by the association for this purpose. The result of this research, dozens of acts and contracts dating from 1481 to 1684, was published in full in 2009 in a remarkable volume entitled "Charron de Meaux and allied families". If you wish to order a copy, you may click on Our publications under Main menu.
Our ancestors were either merchants or trades people, they were educated and all could sign their names. Their spouses and the spouse of their daughters were also from the same social environment, the lower middle class of their industrious city. But to our knowledge, not one ever used the Ducharme surname meaning that it was initiated in Quebec.
Surprisingly, several members of the Charron family in Meaux, including the branch from which our ancestor Pierre Charron is issued, turned to protestantism in the late XVIth and early XVIIth centuries. By the way, this city was one of the centers of protestantism in France. Pierre Charron himself was baptized in the “supposedly reformed religion” as it was then called and he very likely carefully hid this fact upon his arrival in New France which, at the time, was reserved for catholic settlers.
Our research shows that the Charron lineage in Meaux was declining in the late XVIIth century, many of its members having died without any male offsprings. Even Pierre Charron, born on October 21, 1635, and orphaned in his younger years, did not seem to have any future in the city of his ancestors when he decided to emigrate to New France. He became the founding father of a great number of descendants named Charron or Ducharme, a subject we will discuss elsewhere on this site.
But first, let’s detour by La Rochelle, in Aunis, so that we may comment briefly on the origin of Catherine Pillard, wife of our ancestor Pierre Charron. Catherine was born in La Rochelle and baptized on March 30, 1646. Recruited as a King’s Daughter, she arrived in Canada in 1663 and was confirmed by the Lord Bishop of Laval in 1664 at the same time as her future husband. When she married, she claimed to be the daughter of Pierre and Marguerite Moulinet from the parish of Notre-Dame-de-Cognes, but according to our latest research, the family name of her mother is more likely to be Bouricaud .
Charron and Ducharme in New France
Pierre Charron, son of Pierre Charron and Judith Martin, arrived in Canada in 1661. He married Catherine Pillard on October 19, 1665 in Montreal. They had 12 children all of whom reached adulthood and eventually married. It was an excellent means of perpetuating the Charron family name which now numbers in the tens of thousands established in Quebec as well as in Canada and the United States.
Their four sons, Pierre, Nicolas, François and Jean ensured the propagation of the Charron name, except that, around 1701, François adopted the Ducharme surname and eventually, so did all his descendants. To our knowledge, no contemporary descendant of François bears the original Charron name. This is the reason why the descendants of Pierre Charron and Catherine Pillard are known either as Charron or Ducharme.
A final word about the particular environment of the French colony living along the St-Lawrence river when Pierre and Catherine were married. At the time, the population was still rather sparse and was spread across three villages: Quebec founded in 1608, Three-Rivers in 1634 and Montreal in 1642. According to Benjamin Sulte, historian, the 1667 census estimates the total population in New France as 3 918 persons. In Montreal, where Pierre and Catherine reside, the population numbers no more than 760 inhabitants including more than 500 children and singles. Having arrived in Montreal in 1661, Pierre was one of its first 600 inhabitants.