Biographical Notes re: Jean Gervaise & family from the Spickler & Rockwood Genealogy
Arrived Ville-Marie fall of 1653. Baker, Militia Capt, Commissioner at Notre
Dame, Substitute Prosecutor, Procurer-fiscal. Maisonneuve was Godfather and
Marguerite Bourgeoys Godmother to Marguerite their first born.
The following from Our French-Canadian Ancestors by Laforest:
The first man to bear the name Jean Gervais received his title of nobility, complete with coat of arms through a commission granted on 7 Jan 1441, by the Duke of Brittany, in the parish of Mauron, Bishopric of Saint-Malo, in France.
Two centuries later, about 1621, another Jean Gervaise was born at Sauvigne-sous-Chasteau, in the Parish of Saint-Genevieve, Diocese of Angers, in Anjou, Province of Touraine. His father was Urbain and his mother was Jeanne Pebise. Jean received an education, including some knowledge of jurisprudence. As a more practical matter, he also learned how to be a baker. Both of these talents would serve him well in his life to come.
On 30 April 1653 we find Jean at Saint-Nazaire being recruited for service in Canada by none other than the Governor of La Societe de Notre-Dame de Montreal, Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve. Among others signing up for this draft we may read the names of Pierre Godin dit Chatillon, Louis Guertin dit le Sabotier, Pierre Hardy and Mathurin Langevin dit Lacroix.
Along with the rest of the group, Jean arrived at Ville-Marie in the fall of 1653 after a long, distressing and exhausting voyage. Immediately, he took up his duties as a part-time soldier in the defense of Montreal against Iroquois attack. When not standing guard duty, he kept busy baking and clearing land. Thus he would become the father of so many of the Gervaise families in North America
Within four months of his arrival, he married Anne Archambault, daughter of Jacques and of Francoise Tourault, who had come to the country with her parents in 1646. The following year she married Michel Chauvin, son of Gabriel and Marie Orouar. They had a baby who died in the Cradle but soon thereafter Anne would again be carrying another. No sooner was this child born, later named Charlotte, when Anne learned that she had married a bigamist who had a wife living in France. Needless to say, given the times, Chauvin was summarily dealt with and sent back to France. Maisonneuve had the marriage annulled and then he took some extraordinary measures to see that the child, to whom he was godfather, and her mother would be relieved of the social and pecuniary difficulties facing them. The governor permitted the assignment to Anne of the same wages formerly paid to her first husband "in order to raise and to feed little Charlotte for as long as Anne remained in the service of the Seigneurs."
It was under these circumstances that Jean and Anne were married. A few months after the marriage, Jean followed his father-in-law to Quebec (City). It seemed that Jacques could not make up his mind between the two towns, because he kept going back and forth; but not so Jean. His heart was in Montreal with his about-to-be-delivered wife. On 5 Oct 1654 we find him in the town founded by Champlain assisting at the double wedding ceremony of the two friends: Jean Decarie with Michelle Arthus; and Mathurin Langevin dit Lacroix with Marie Renaut. Some days later Jean was home for the birth of his daughter. Just as they had done for Charlotte, the governor acted as godfather while Marquerite Bourgeoys consented to be godmother to little Marquerite, christened on 26 Oct 1654
As a member of the contingent of 1653, Jean was entitled to a grant of land; this he received in March of 1655. It was 30 arpents on the Rue Saint-Joseph (later named Rue Saint-Sulpice). This grant in a prime location seemed to have put an end to his work as a land clearer and allowed him to concentrate on a new business: a merchant-baker. He was friends with Charles Lemoine and Jacques LeBer, so together they established a royal bakery in 1665. In addition to this business and his family life, he also concerned himself with the defense of the island. Ever since Feb of 1663, Jean had been a member of the Militia company of Saint-Famille, a soldier in the 8th squad
In the census of 1667 we learn that Jean Gervaise and his wife, ages 52 and 35 years, had 6 children and 2 domestics in the house. They owned 30 arpents of land and kept 4 animals. Their neighbors were Jean Desroches and Jacques Archambault
Among the facts written about Jean Gervaise, we are able to discern a strong energetic businessman possessing an inner sense of justice and respect for the law. In 1654 he did not hesitate to denounce the infamies of Jacques Linet, who was banished from Montreal.
In Nov 1657, when the Parish of Notre-Dame decided for the first time to assign some administrative responsibilities to three vestrymen. Jean Gervaise was elected along with Louis Prud`homme and Gilbert Barbier. In 1660 the archives mention him as "commissioned to receive fines."
The importance of Gervaise was easier to reckon after 1672. In March of that year, the Montrealers wanted him to become a trustee, a position which he declined to accept. However in August he received a commission, later registered on 25 Oct 1672, in which he was appointed a substitute Prosecutor. On 26 Sept 1673, another commission was added which stated that, when the official prosecutor, Charles d`Ailleboust, was absent on business, Jean Gervaise would be his replacement to render justice at Montreal.
Lets take a look at the role of "Procurer-fiscal" under the French regime: "Charged with exercising the public ministry of the Seigneurial Courts, the prosecutor in a Royal Court of Justice. Always alert to wrongdoing, he must take the initiative to bring before the judge, all persons who refuse to submit to the laws and regulations. In criminal cases, he is charged with the investigation. Another function of the prosecutor is to protect the interests of minors or of those absent from the seigneury; like when an individual dies or disappears, leaving infant minor children or assets, where no person has been charged with their protection. The prosecutor must immediately, in such cases, conduct an investigation so that the judge may determine the action to take, be it the appointment of a guardian, taking an inventory, or rendition of a bill." We may still learn some worthwhile things from the feudal regime!
When he was a judge in Montreal, he had occasion to affix his name to a memorable document which history brings to us. On 20 Oct 1676, the principal inhabitants of Ville-Marie assembled themselves under the leadership of Jean Gervaise and wrote a respectful petition in which, in five short articles, they formulated their suggestions as to the conduct of the merchants` fairs; on the sale of wood; on places for trade and also on the ban placed on their agent, Louis Chevalier, who found himself caught in the middle of a quarrel between Frontenac and Fenelon. There were 14 signatures in all. The petition was sent to Frontenac who received it very coldly. In order to stop the colonists from mixing in public affairs, on 23 Sept 1677, Frontenac forbade assembly or signature in common. Nevertheless, one year later, the same Monsieur de Frontenac assembled the citizens of Ville-Marie in order to find out how they managed the fur trade in their locality.
On 20 Dec 1683, our ancestor received a concession of 6 arpents of land toward the west, "alongside of the forest". Well up in his sixties, it is evidence of his activity.
Jean terminated his mission on this earth on 12 March 1690. His wife Anne, made her arrangements with her children concerning the disposition of assets and died on 30 July 1699. Both are buried in Montreal. Jean and Ann had 9 children, Tanquay tells us that later branches of the tree split into Gervais and Dupuis. The Gervais branch further divided into Gervaise, Beausejour, Harnois, Le Parisien, Rivard and Saint-Jean
Charlotte married Jean Beaudoin in 1663.
Of the children of Anne and Jean Gervaise:
Jean died in 1672 at the age of 11;
Marguerite, the godchild of the governor, married Jean-Baptiste Gadois; Cunegonde married Jean-Baptiste Lefebvre dit Saint-Jean and on 19 May 1685 gave birth to a son whose first name was Gervais; this Gervaise Lefebvre would become the first priest born at Montreal;
daughter Jeanne married Jean Dupuis;
Louis married Barbe Pigeon;
our ancestor Nicolas married Madeleine Payet;
Charles married Marie Boyer;
Cecile married Francois Prud`homme and
Urbain married Marie Caron.
Son Charles, like his father, was elected vestryman of Notre-Dame parish in 1701. His wife gave him 14 children, many of whom settled down in the counties of Berthier and Joliette.
Louis Gervaise, the son of Charles and Marie Boyer, wed Marie-Madeleine Langlois at Montreal in 1737. They went west to Detroit where they started a wood industry. His sawmill, located in the area of Port Huron, Mich., made him well known to everyone on both sides of the straits. After his death in 1763, his two sons returned to settle at Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu.
Anne came to Canada with her parents in 1646. The following year she
married Michel Chauvin, They had a child that died in the cradle.The
following year baby Charlotte was born and Anne discovered she had married a
Maisonneuve had the marriage annulled,sent Chauvin back to France and
assigned the wages formerly paid to him to Charlotte for as long as she
remained in the service of the seigneurs
Anne married Jean Gervais 3 Feb 1654. Maisonneuve was Godfather to
Marguerite the first born of this marriage.