Question of the Week: Do you have a French connection?

+42 votes

Happy Bastille Day!

Do you have any French ancestors?

Maybe your ancestors were even involved in important events in French History, such as the French Revolution?

Like in other parts of Europe, many French left to escape religious persecution. Were your ancestors part of the Huguenot Migration?

Do you have family lines that can be traced back to the colonists who helped to settle Acadia? (Visit the Acadians Project to see how you can help research these branches.)

So, pour yourself a fresh café, butter your croissant, and share your stories. We'd love to hear them!

Additional French projects I neglected to include:

asked in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (239k points)
edited by Julie Ricketts

Jean de Noblet in 1394 resided in the family castle called Chaisneys de Tersillac in the Normandie Province near a town of Falaise, France. Around 1540 his descendant Jean Noblett changed the name of the family castle to Chaisneys de Taincourt. He fled France due to religious persecution and the castle was burned by the King. The first of the line to arrive in the USA were four brothers William, John, Richard and Francis. The four were brothers of Irish stock, descendants of Huguenots of France who immigrated to Ireland for refuge. They and their families migrated from France thru England or Ireland and then to the USA in the early 1700s. Through tax lists, land purchase and church records they have been recorded in America as Noblet, Noblett, Noblit, Noblitt and even an occasional Knoblet. My direct line is John Noblit the elder brother and I have extensive information on him and his Noblitt descendants.

Connection is by French ancestor Ezekiel Heudebourq/Heudebourck who was Huguenot and settled in the London area as silk weavers.
An adoptee, I grew up with the information my birth mother was Scottish/Irish & my birth father Dutch.  I found my birth mother, primarily English, Scottish, & Irish, with some Dutch & 2 French ancestors - Bovee & Trude.  The exact origin is not known of Bovee (Boffee, Beauvais) and Trude came from France pre-revolution but the exact name is not known Trude, Trudeaux, Trudeau.  I had a DNA match with a paternal half-brother recently.  It turns out our mutual paternal grandfather emigrated from SW France (Charente-Maritime) to Quebec alone (hence most of those ancestors may still be in France)(surnames Davias, Ravet or Rivet, Juet, Taugé, Renou, Poguet) and paternal grandmother's ancestry is French-Canadian (Labelle, Thivierge, Sauvé, Thibault, Montpetit, Jolie/Joly, Diotte, Meilleur, Lauzon, Darragon dit LaFrance, Morin, Martel) many generations living in Quebec & Canada.  There may be a small amount of Acadian on that side of the family.  I've also been told I may have some Mi'kmaq First Nation ancestry but I'm not sure.  It's only been about 3 months since I found my paternal ancestry and I'm still in shock.
My French ancestors were French Canadian but originated of course in France. Names Charlebois, Proulx , D'oust, Brabant.

They are a work in progress. Want to know where in France the came from.
I haven't found a French connection yet.. even though if you google ROCKETT it says ROCHETTE little rock in French.. some say Irish?? And there is a Rocket Castle in Ireland. my Dad's DNA says it was first found in the Lichtenstein Caves in Germany??..
Pierre-François Macchabée dit Lajeunesse ou Marin, soldier of the Guyenne Regiment, was the immigrant ancestor of the McAbee line in North America (the line of my paternal grandmother). He was born in 1732 in Burgille les Marnay, Franche-Comté, France, fought in the French and Indian War and died in Canada in 1794 at the age of 62 years after siring 24 children with three wives.
I am connected through the Virginia Bobo family (Baubeau when they left France) but I lose the connection past the late 1870s when they started breeding like rabbits and not keeping track of whose kids were whose.  I have a relative named Sampson Bobo (4th ggf) I can track my line back too.  There is a line of Baubeau from France in 1630s who eventually led to a string of Spencers (Sr, Jr, III, etc)  and then Sampsons (Sr, Jr etc) but I can't quite put my Sampson with their Sampson.
I am 25% French Canadian - my grandmother's Rioux and Lemay parents were apparently 99% French. However about 95% of my DNA matches are French. I assume this is because the Catholic Church kept such complete records on their flock, which consisted of huge families - my GGrandmother had 23 children!!!

So I have to wade through all these French DNA matches to find the rare Scots matches that I hope will lead to some answers about my mysterious Wilsons and Sinclairs!

I have added Francois surname and i did add in the surname cadenne also known cadenne de lannoy

My maternal grandmother was a Ramey, and from what I gather I'm a descendant of Jacques "Jacob" Remy. I'd love to find more of my kinfolk to help flesh out my family tree. My maternal grandfather was a Delph, also from Virginia, but I can't find much info on him. Same for my paternal grandparents.

65 Answers

+19 votes
Well - not sure if French Canadians count, but if you trace my lines back far enough it'd certainly get back to France!
Several of my ancestors were immigrants to Quebec from France in the 1600s.
Many of them were "Fille du Roi" or "King's Daughters" - marriageable girls sent over to Quebec and given a dowry from the King for settling in the new colony and marrying someone there.
My direct matrilineal line goes back to Marie Margurie, a woman from France who settled in Quebec in the mid-1600s. She is the founding mother of the 'W3A2' haplogroup in Quebec - hundreds of thousands of people trace their lineage to her, apparently.

The only problem with all this French Canadian lineage - lots of misleading DNA matches! The population had a lot of close marriages due to the 'Founder Effect'. As a result, I share a lot more DNA with more distant cousins than would be normally expected. It's not unlike the Ashkenazi Jewish population, though French Canadians have the benefit of a lot more documentation to work from. I believe I managed to confirm a 6th cousin match through my French Canadian lines, though it was a good chunk of DNA for such a distant connection.
answered by Kristen Louca G2G6 Mach 2 (21.5k points)
Yup, have a large part of my ancestry that is F-C, but also have a Huguenot line.  All F-C are related as they descend from about 2,500 immigrants.  Have over 60 families that I am descended from more than once (helps to explain the craziness).
Yep! When I get a new DNA relative match on one of my French Canadian lines, trying to muddle out the match begins to make my head spin due to how many times the various surnames married and intertwined.

I may have one surname that is a direct ancestor, but another person with that surname also married into the line in several places. Not to mention the changing 'dit' names where some branches kept the 'dit' portion as their surname in modern times while the other branch kept the actual surname.

I've gotten to the point where I don't bother trying to find the common ancestor for a French Canadian match unless they have a deep tree or it is a close match. Heh.

I also have about 180-200 peple that match me on a chunk of my X-chromosome that is from my matrilineal French Candian line - have no clue which ancestor is producing all these X-chromosome matches, but it must be fairly far back. (Could be Marie Margurie, the woman from the 1600s, for all I know!)
My husband can trace back to the original couple who came from France in the 1500's on his dad's side. All French Canadians for 500 years!  Would be interesting to compare family trees for names since we can go so far back.
We would likely overlap at some point, knowing how French Canadian lines seem to go. :)

I haven't got all of my French Canadian lines added to WikiTree yet - I'm trying to ensure I have at least an accurate source for each of them. I've only been able to link up my direct matrilineal line to the big tree, I think. The fact that a lot of the Quebec records aren't indexed on Familysearch is road-blocking me.
I also haven't put his on Wiki yet, as the tree is gigantic! Please check in with me if you ever want to compare notes :)

Ah, Kristen, you hit on another French-themed project I forgot to include!

Filles du Roi Project


Thanks for the reminder!! :-)

p.s. And of course French Canadians count!! I added the Quebecois project up top there, too. 

+15 votes

My mother-in-law is the last Bouchard in her line. Her 7th great grandfather is Claude Bouchard born 1626. Claude Bouchard is the 8th great grandfather of tennis professional, Eugenie Bouchard of Montreal, Quebec. Claude Bouchard was born in St-Cosme-de-Vair, Saosnois, France.

answered by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
My husband's grandmother is solidly French Canadian going back to the original settlers along the Saint Lawrence River from Québec to Montréal along many lines including Choquette, Crevier, Daudelin, Hébert, Messier, Girard, Cadieux, Bourdon, etc.   Many of these lines have been traced back to France.

Claude Bourchard is his 9th great grandfather.
My in-laws go back as far as Jacques Bouchard husband of Noelle Touchard, who were the parents of Claude Bouchard born 1626. Claude married Louise Gasnier Gagne and they had Antione Bouchard in 1682 in SFX Petite Riviere, Quebec, Canada. Did your husband descend from Antoine Bouchard or through one of Antione's siblings?
Well, this is interesting. We may not be talking about the same Claude Bouchard.  My husband is descended from Claude Bouchard dit Orval, born about 1626 in Montigny-Lagrain, Picardie, France, died between 16 Feb 1674 and 21 Apr 1675 somewhere in Québec.  He came to Québec as a surgeon.  His parents were Claude Bouchard and Marie Fermery.

He married twice: first to Geneviève Ayot who died in childbirth with her infant on 1 Mar 1651.  Then he married on 20 Nov 1651 with Marguerite Bénard (1626-1697).  My husband is descended from their daughter Marguerite-Ursule Bouchard dit Dorval and her husband Pierre Jacques Girard.
Yes, it looks like they were both born the same year and later came across the Atlantic to Quebec, but they do not show the same parents. Possibly the might share an earlier Bouchard ancestor. This is my wife's line.
+15 votes
I don't know too much about him, but my great grandfather was born in Paris:
answered by Dan Squires G2G2 (2.2k points)
I added his parents' marriage record from the Paris archives. : )
Thank you!!
+16 votes

Several .. Barbeau families fought on both sides during the French Revolution. 

One notable. " Joseph Nicolas Barbeau Barran was a French politician during the French Revolution and deputy in the National Convention and the Chambre des Cent-Jours .Born in 1761 at Castelnau-d'Auzan and 1816 in Switzerland deceased. 

He was elected as deputy to the Convention for the department of Gers September 5, 1792. He became one of the most ardent mountaineers and one of the most influential men in the Assembly. During the trial of Louis XVI voted in favor of the king's guilt, against ratification of the court's decision by the people, in favor of the death penalty and against postponement. He justified his decision in favor of the death penalty for the king saying: I consulted the law, which tells me that all conspirators deserve death. The same law also tells me that the same penalty that should be applied for the same crimes: I vote for death .

 He became president of the Jacobin Club and was an opponent of Robespierre . In the second restoration in 1816 he was, for the murder of the king condemned to exile and he retired to Switzerland."

Vive La France 

answered by Jerry Baraboo G2G6 Pilot (403k points)
I knew you would have something interesting to add, Jerry! :-D
Thanks for this story Jerry - and great profile for Joseph Nicolas.
+17 votes
Heck yeah!!!  I have NO French Ancestry myself.

But I will tell you this. As a child, I had a very strong desire to go to France, and to learn everything I could about France. The language, the culture and especially the history. I don't know why. The only thing I can think of is that I MAY have had a past life in France. But I was not raised to believe in re-incarnation. Our religion said it was a no-no. Since I no longer remember any details of my very early childhood, I don't know for sure.

I do remember 2 of my most favourite books as a child. One was a French-English picture dictionary for children and other was a childrens novel set in Paris of the 1950s after the end of the war. It was called One Hundred Million Francs and I read that book over and over and over again. The author was called Paul Berna.

As I grew older I subconciously chose not to get married, because I really really wanted to marry a french man. But living in isolated New Zealand, how the heck would I even MEET a French man?

In the year 2000, I met a French Canadian man online with whom I had a LOT in common. We were the same age. Our birthdays were in the same month of the same year. Neither of us were married. He had a hankering to meet someone from "Down Under" which for him meant Australia or NZ. We loved the same music, the same movies, the same TV series. We talked for hours online and on the phone whenever our computers broke down. We were married 10 months after we met and are still married even today - almost 17 years later!!

I have spent just as many years tracking down all HIS ancestors as I have tracking down my own ancestors!! He has 400 years of French Canadian ancestry before it gets lost back in France!!  LOL

This is my husbands tree!!

So YES I am very proud to have a French Connection!!
answered by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (294k points)
edited by Robynne Lozier
What a fabulous story, Robynne!!! Thank you so much for sharing it, and congratulations on your wedded bliss. :-D
Thanks Julie, and Thank you for asking the BEST EVER Question of the Week!!!
+13 votes

I'm 1/16 French-American - I believe my ancestors were asked to migrate to Illinois and Indiana from Quebec in the 1740s when the English colonists started pouring over the Appalachians into the Midwest. They received land grants from the French, then all had to report to St. Francis Xavier church at Vincennes, Indiana, to sign oaths of allegiance to England, and then again to America. This last makes them patriots in the DAR / SAR organizations and the readily available baptisms makes the documentation easier than for some other patriots.

Here's the tree for my second-great-grandmother Emily Victoria Burdalow a.k.a. Amelie Victoire Bordeleau. It was a great discovery when I found that my Burdalow, Tugaw, and Ravalet ancestors had baptisms with Bordeleau, Tougas dit Laviolette, etc.

answered by Karen Tobo G2G6 Pilot (108k points)
edited by Karen Tobo
+11 votes

There's a brick wall in one of my lines and I wonder if a French connection is the answer.

Jeremiah Cudd (c. 1804-c. 1864) of South Carolina is my ancestor but there doesn't seem to be anything to connect him to his origins.

I have begun to wonder if researching French families in the region might turn up a French surname that got Americanized.  But don't even know where to start.  Everybody else I have research on from there is Scotch-Irish or German.  Were there even French communities in the Carolinas/Piedmont?  If so, is it reasonable to look into the possibility that they assimilated into other communities during the early colonization period in the way I'm imagining here?

Would love to see any research or history resources on this question.

answered by E. Compton G2G6 Mach 8 (82.3k points)
It sounds like your family came in through Charlestown, sc. In charleston there were huguenots and catholic French that came over from the French Caribbean islands.I think people know if they are huguenot by their family lore.
the name is certainly not French in that form, although with spelling variations being what they were, and most of them being phonetic, who knows.  But the Carolinas weren't an area the French went to much that I know of.
+12 votes

A very strong maybe. It's one of my brick walls that I don't even know where or how to begin to break down.

My third-great grandmother, Olive Still. I'm still suspicious, based on the name, and earlier records that conflict.

If not her, then I would have to go farther back somewhere....


answered by Eric Weddington G2G6 Pilot (131k points)
+13 votes
Most of my ancestors are German (paternal side) and solid English and Scottish (maternal side).  However, I do have two direct ancestors from France.  Most notable are Lt. Col. John Jarboe from Dijon, France (most likely French spelling is Gerbeaux), and Jean Boussard of Alsace, France.
answered by James Stratman G2G6 Mach 4 (49.2k points)
+13 votes
Yes I do - way way way back - one of my oldest paternal line ancestors married a French Walloon - Christina Vigne (possibly originally Vynen).- married around 1630 in New Amsterdam in the Dutch Colony to Dirck Volckertszen, a Norweigian. Their name over several generations eventually became Fulkerson.

But other than her, I don't know any others off the top of my head.
answered by Scott Fulkerson G2G6 Pilot (328k points)
No but we have a home there and some poor descendant in the future will have to trace us through 2 French censuses!
+12 votes
I can trace a majority of my tree back to France. Most of my people came from France to Canada and then to the Louisiana Territory.

My maiden name was Saucier, which we are very proud of here in South Mississippi, we even have a town named Saucier, which I live just south of.

I descend from  Louis Saucier, and Filles du Roi Marguerite Gaillard,
Jean Baptiste Saucier
A Pelican Girl Gabrielle Savary,
Urbain Baudreau,
A La Baleine Bride Marie Angelique Girard,

Jean Baptiste Nicaise,

We should have a category for the Baleine Brides as well as the Pelican Girls.

My names also include, Morin, Orillion, Bourgeois, Dubuisson, Hebert, Landry, Dugas, Landry, Doucet, Chiasson, Bastarache, Gaudet, Martin, Trahan, Vigneau, Desportes, Delherbe, and Moulin
answered by Michelle Ladner G2G6 Mach 1 (10.9k points)
edited by Michelle Ladner
+9 votes

My 5th Great Grandfather, a Boutilier,  moved to Canada from Etoben, Montbeliard, France.  This family of French Protestants wanted to start a new life and follow their faith.  Sophia Boutilier m. Henry Gould in Nova Scotia; He applied for a land grant, and later moved his whole family to New Hampshire.

Boutilier-57  Frederick Nicholas Boutilier (1754)

Maillard-23  Anna Catherine (Maillard) Boutilier (1733 - aft. 1791)  

Henry had been baptized by Rev. Ranna Cossit, who served as the first Church of England pastor in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  Rev. Cossit, born in Granby, Connecticut, had taken an oath upon his ordination -- to pray for the king and Parliament.  He returned to Connecticut.  His first church assignment was in Claremont New Hampshire; his second was in Nova Scotia.  He was a Loyalist.

answered by Janine Barber G2G6 Pilot (115k points)
edited by Janine Barber
+12 votes
I have ! I'm French ! And I come from totally unremarkable lines. I have to go back to the early 1700s to find an ancestor remotely resembling a local notable. No nobles, no huguenots, my ancestors were almost all field hands.

Three of my grandparents had a cousin who migrated to the USA.
answered by Isabelle Rassinot G2G6 Pilot (164k points)
I love that! My ancestors are also mostly of humble origins: field workers, forest workers, small farmers and iron workers. Only when I get back to before 1700 or so, there are a few members of the clergy.

Among the iron workers there are some Walloon and French immigrants, so yes, I do have a French connection.
All the few French people on Wikitree should like your answer !
Hi Stéphane, great to hear from you!
+11 votes
My paternal grandmother, Antoinette Chilo, was born in the little village of Epoye in northeastern France in 1914.  She met my grandfather, Armand Lavoie, while he was serving in France during World War II.  They fell in love, with Antoinette ultimately moving to the United States in 1947 to marry Armand.

In addition, my maternal grandfather's father, Gilbert Cuvellier, was born in 1907 in Saint-Denis, France.  The family moved to North America when he was young, first settling in Canada in 1912 and then moving to my hometown of Manchester, New Hampshire in 1917.

Finally, I have a great many Québécois ancestors, most of whose ancestors came from France in the 17th century.
answered by Greg Lavoie G2G6 Pilot (101k points)
I should add that, prior to joining WikiTree, I had made a fairly comprehensive list of my Filles du Roi direct ancestors.  My list current includes 84 entries, which represents approximately one out of every nine women belong to that storied group.  I'm currently in the process of adding them to a Free Space accessible from my biogrpaphy.
Greg and I share ancestors from Tourly, Fay, Loconville, a cluster of small villages in Vexin, about 60km North-West of Paris (a very pretty place !).
+9 votes
Yes. My French Huguenots ancestors are the patriot connections that allows me to be a member of the DAR. Gabriel Maupin and Marie Hersant. There's a book about them...
answered by Kat Marold G2G Crew (600 points)
+9 votes
Yes, and I'm having a really hard time finding any information on it so if anyone has any clues about the Vascocu Family in Natchitoches, Louisiana I would appreciate it.  What I've seen online, without good documentation naturally, is that they descended from one of the early French soldiers at the fort there, early 1700's.  

I haven't spent a lot of time looking for information on this family yet but it's on my radar.

Than I have another line, Dearmond, also going back to France, but through Ireland for a generation or so.  The spelling seemed to change every generation or so and earlier spellings were D'Armand.
answered by Lynn Wiggers G2G6 Mach 1 (12.9k points)
+9 votes
Huguenot ancestors who come to New England, a few lines.

My favorite is that my grandfather's cousin worked for the American Embassy in Paris. His daughter, about my mom's age, was sent to America (crossing the ocean on a ship alone, aged 14) during WWII and were teenagers together. She "went native" and married a Frenchman, and I now have lots of French cousins.

What's also cool is that her father who worked for the Embassy was in the OSS during the war, working with the French Resistance against the Nazi occupation. And who knows? Maybe he never stopped being a spy throughout the Cold War. His daughter smiles and says "We'll never know for sure!" Our family spy!
answered by Elizabeth Winter G2G6 Mach 5 (58.1k points)
+8 votes
Several of my paternal ancestors emigrated from France to Quebec in the 1600s.  Many of them, including Zacharie Cloutier, emigrated from the former Perche province in France.  My patrilineal ancestor did not come from Perche, however, but he did marry a Fille du Roi.  I also have several female ancestors who were Filles du Roi.

Besides my Quebecois heritage, I also have some Acadian heritage, especially on my maternal side.  Even though I took a DNA test that revealed that I am mostly Irish (especially from my mother) with only traces of French ancestry in me, I still have famous relatives from both sides of my family including Justin Trudeau and Hillary Clinton.
answered by Nicolas LaPointe G2G3 (3.5k points)
+7 votes

yes i do through my maternal grandmother Rosetta Dawe, her mother was Rosetta Roderick, her mother Sophia Cabana, her mother was Sophia Matthieu. it was Sophia's parents who came to the United States from Quebec at some point as Sophia Matthieu was born in Maine. my x dna comes from Madeline DeBaubuse born in 1616 who was married to Jacques Collin's daughter Catherine Collin came to quebec around 1654 and she was apparently a filles à marier who came before filles du roi. the filles a marier came with the hope of a better life essentially and did not get paid. apparenlty the filles du roi who came shortly after the filles a marier did. 

forgot to add earlier that i have many names connected. Pepin, Lechance, Tardif, Blouin, Blanchard, Rodrique (which is a French change to the Portuguese origins), Letarte, Cabana, etc. I also have 2 "genetic communities" that are French Canadien on ancestry


answered by Meridith Burwood G2G3 (3.5k points)
edited by Meridith Burwood
WikiTree has a category for her - see
Thanks I'll have to add her!
If a fille à marier, then I have some farily good sources for them.
+8 votes
I posted on FB, but forgot to post here....


This is one of my Family Brick Walls!   I think I have French from the article written years ago.
answered by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (391k points)
I just joined WikiTree today and the French Canadians are one of my brick walls as well. My Ancestry DNA test shows a genetic community of French settlers along the St. Lawrence River as a very likely connection. Someone that I met on GEDMATCH suggested that we might have a common ancestor via a slave who emigrated to Canada via "The Book of Negroes" per the agreement with the British. It is very frustrating when I get my DNA matches and so many of them are chock full of French surnames.

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