The Brides of la Baleine

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 27 Mar 2019 [unknown]
Location: Biloxi, Mississippimap
Surnames/tags: Louisiana Baleine_Brides Mississippi
Profile manager: Dale Ladnier private message [send private message]
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History of Fort Maurepas

Fort Maurepas, later known as Old Biloxi, was developed in colonial French Louisiana (New France) in April 1699 along the Gulf of Mexico. (at present-day Ocean Springs, Mississippi).

The fort was completed on May 1, 1699 under direction of French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville. He appointed his teenage brother Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville as second in command after the French commandant Sauvolle de la Villantry (c.1671–1701) as governor. Bienville was appointed as governor of the French Louisiana colony after the death of Sauvolle de la Villantry.

Fort Maurepas was designated temporarily as the capital of Louisiana (New France) in 1719. The capital was being moved from Mobile (in present-day Alabama) up the Mississippi River to New Orleans to protect it from hurricanes.

In summary, the French claim to La Louisiane (in New France) began at Fort Maurepas in 1699, moved to Mobile in 1702 (relocated in 1711), and returned to Fort Maurepas (Old Biloxi) in 1719. After a fire, the main garrison moved to the fort at (New) Biloxi and then to New Orleans during June–August 1722.

View this Wikipedia link for the full document with notes and source references: [1]

The Brides of La Baleine

Written by Randall Ladnier, “The Brides of La Baleine” was my brother's first published book which I helped research and edit. [2]
In Randall's words:
"I was initially drawn to this topic because no one knew the names of the girls or why they were chosen for the voyage, or what happened to them after they arrived at Old Biloxi. From the day I discovered that one of the brides was my ancestor, I have dedicated countless hours to the search for answers to those questions."

Populating the Colonies

In 1717, with his Company of the West failing to meet his required quotas for sending settlers and workmen to the colony of Louisiana, Crozat presented the court in Paris with an alternate solution.
Monsieur Crozat suggested that maintaining so many of these criminals in prison was an unacceptable drain on the king’s treasury. He pointed out that many of these men and women had previously been farmers. They were familiar with hard work and possessed trades and skills which would be useful in the colony of Louisiana.
The main categories of persons deported to Louisiana in 1719 included vagabonds, prostitutes, beggars, homosexuals, salt smugglers, tobacco smugglers, heretics, blasphemers, poisoners, army deserters, and the mentally ill.
In a letter dated October 20, 1719 to the Council of the Marine in Paris, Governor Bienville expressed his dissatisfaction and frustration with the convict labor in Louisiana when he wrote:
It is most disagreeable for an officer in charge of a colony to have nothing more for its defense than a bunch of deserters, contraband salt dealers, and rogues who are always ready to desert you, and to turn against you, and who think of nothing but returning to their homeland. Can one really believe that they will not exert all effort to achieve that end? It seems to me that if we want to preserve this colony for the King, it will be absolutely necessary to send here only volunteers, for life in this colony up to the present has not been easy.
In the spring of 1720, Governor Bienville once again requested an infusion of marriageable women into the colony of Louisiana. This time, he received a positive response from the Company of the Indies which had finally concluded that the survival of their financial enterprise depended on the addition of healthy and fertile females.
John Law’s Company of the Indies, which managed the concession for the colony, chose to recruit young women from La Salpêtrière General Hospital in Paris as volunteers to begin new lives in North America. The official list of females selected for the program was approved by Cardinal Louis-Antoine de Noailles, the archbishop of Paris.

The Baleine Brides

On January the 8th, 1721, the French flute BALEINE anchored at Ship Island, nine miles off the coast of present-day Biloxi, Mississippi. The small transport carried a precious cargo – as many as eighty-eight young women and girls who had each volunteered to emigrate from France and begin a new life as the wife of a soldier, sailor, or settler residing at Biloxi, which was then the capital of Louisiana. …. Some French officials referred to them as filles-de-la-cassette because of the small wooden chests each girl had received from the Company of The Indies.
L.H. Legier Desgranges, a highly respected historian of La Salpetriere, wrote about the selection process for the Brides of La Baleine in his article entitled DE LA SALPETRIERE AU MISSISSIPPI:
"However, the colonists of Louisiana requested more marriageable women. This time, the Hospital resolved to choose carefully from among students in La Maison de St. Louis and the young women in the Maison de Correction who had demonstrated remorse and rehabilitation. Altogether, eighty-eight females were chosen to travel to America and marry there.”
Today, those young women are known as the Baleine Brides. Unfortunately, the list of their names was lost for 266 years.
In 1987, it was discovered misfiled in the French Archives and published by Bruce Ardoin in the National Genealogical Historical Quarterly. [3]
At least twenty six of the girls founded lasting families in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, or Illinois. The Baleine bride's genetic contribution to America approaches that of the MAYFLOWER, which had arrived 100 years earlier.
Impact of the Brides
  • 3 brides married and founded large families in Alabama.
  • 2 brides married and founded large families in Mississippi.
  • 5 brides married and founded large families in Illinois.
  • 16 brides married and founded large families in Louisiana.
  • 8 brides left no record of being married or having children.
  • 39 brides married but left no record of descendants surviving today.
  • 15 brides left no trace in America. They were probably buried at sea or died during the terrible epidemic at Biloxi in 1721.

Project Mission

The goal of the project is to create a collaborative process to organize the existing WikiTree profiles and future profiles of the individuals who traveled to Colonial French Louisiana to become the wife of a soldier, sailor, or settler residing at Old Biloxi, then the capital of Louisiana colony.
  • Form a team of the existing Baleine Bride profile managers and leaders to create fully researched and sourced profile records for each bride and link with names in the List of Brides section of the project.
  • Reach out to genealogist with family trees on other genealogical databases which include a Baleine Bride inviting them to join this project.
  • More fully define the project including defining a Baleine Bride page style as may be required.

How to Join - Under construction

Anyone who has signed the Honor Code and has the Pre-1700 badge is invited to join the project.

Are you interested in the The Brides of la Baleine Project?Baleine_Brides.gif


Note: Participants contacted each other primarily through the BALEINE_BRIDES tag in the G2G forum.

Project Participants

Other Projects

La Baleine Brides - Passenger list

The passenger list located by Bruce Ardoin in 1987 and published in The National Genealogical Society Quarterly (see attached files section) included 88 girls or women with their ages, in the spring of 1720, when they started their trip to Le Havre, France to board the ship La Baleine at the port of Painboeuf. [3] [4]
When I started this project, there were 11 profiles within WikiTree for individuals who were among the Baleine Brides.
During research for the book, we found genealogical records and/or family tree entries for 73 of the Brides. We found 66 of the brides in the Sacramental records of St. Louis Cathedral marriages 1720 - 1731 in New Orleans, Louisiana which, in most cases, includes the parents of both the bride and groom. Photocopy of original document written in French. [5]. Translations of the french version was also used.[6]
Some of the brides names has been changed from what appeared on the original list provided to the captain of the La Baleine because of the source documents we found as previously stated.
The list below has been sorted for easier reading. Bolded names represent individuals for which no information was found.

List of Brides

The original Brides list document included the translated paragraph below:
“Names of the girls from the House of St. Louis of the Salpêtrière who have been entrusted to misters Delage and Betouzet, constabulary guards, on the 12th of June 1720, to be conducted to Paimboeuf where they will be embarked for Louisiana.”
The bottom of the document contain the following:
“We, the undersigned constabulary guards, acknowledge that the girls named in the present receipt have been assigned to our custody to be conducted to Painboeuf where we will deliver them to the Captain of the flute.”

Other La Baleine Passengers

Another separate manifest of the la Baleine passengers included 7 paid employees of the John Law’s Company of the Indies concessionary. One of these women married and and founded large families in Arkansas.
  • Louise Marchand


Sacramental records
Research Web Sites


  1. Fort Maurepas
  2. The Brides of La Baleine; PDF published by RDL Press; 2017, by Randall Ladnier
  3. 3.0 3.1 National Genealogical Society Quarterly 75 December 1987 - pg 303-5 By Bruce Ardoin
  4. Photocopy of 88 Named Girls on the Baleine - from French Archive by Randall Ladnier - January 2017
  5. Archdiocese of New Orleans Archives, Orleans Parish, LA, USA; Marriage register, St. Louis Cathedral, St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, Marriage 1720-1730, in French
  6. New Orleans St. Louis Cathedral 1718-1750; Reverand Monsignor Earl C. Woods. Volume 1

Attached Files


The Brides of la Baleine published by RDL Press; 2017, by Randall Ladnier
  • Andrews, Richard Mowery, Law, Magistracy, and Crime in Old Regime Paris (1735-1789). Volume I: The System of Criminal Justice. Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 307-386.
  • Ardoin, Bruce: Notes and documents: The Baleine Brides – A ship’s Roll for Louisiana, 1721. National Genealogical Quarterly, 75, (December 1987) pp. 303-305.
  • Carrez, (Jean Pierre): Femmes Opprimees a La Salpetriere de Paris (1656- 1791). Editions Connaissances et Savoirs, 2005.
  • Carrez, (Jean Pierre): “La Salpetriere in Paris under The Old Regime: instead of exclusion and punishment for women.” Criminuscorpus Miscellanies. Online since 01 January 2008.
  • DeJean, Joan Elizabeth: The Queen’s Embroiderer: A True Story of Paris, Lovers, Swindlers, and The First Stock Market Crisis, Bloomsbury Publishing, New York, 2015.
  • Fraser, Antonia: Love and Louis XIV. The Women in The Life of The Sun King. New York, Anchor Books, 2006.
  • Gagne, Peter J., King’s Daughters and Founding Mothers: The Filles du Roi, 1663-1673, Volume 1, Quentin Publicatiions, 2001.
  • Giraud, Marcel: Histoire de La Louisiane francais, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1953-1974.
  • Legier-Desgranges, L. H. De La Salpetriere au Mississippi. Bulletin d’Information et de Documentation de L’assistance Publique de Paris no. 12, 1951, pp. 27-40.
  • Maduell, Charles R. The Census Tables for the French Colony of Louisiana from 1699 through 1732, compiled and translated by Charles R. Maduell, Jr. Copyright 1972, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Penicaut, André, Fleur de Lys and Calumet: being the Penicaut narrative of French adventure in Louisiana. Richebourg Gaillard McWilliams, trans. and ed. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana University Press, 1953) pp. 249-250.
  • Riley, Philip F. (1990) Michel Foucault, Lust, Women and Sin in Louis XIV’s Paris. Church History, vol. 59, Cambridge University Press pp. 35-50.
  • Strayer, Brian E., Lettres de Cachet and social control in the Ancien Regime, 1659-1789. New York, Lang, 1992.
  • Trevisi, Marion, La Prostitution – une profession reglementee. Le Nouvel Ordre Moral du Roi-Soleil. Historia interactif, La magazine d’histoire de reference. 2007, pp. 1-6

Comments: 1

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Greetings! Hope you and yours are safe and healthy wherever you are. Nice work here.

Could you please remove the US Southern Colonies tag and any categories associated with that project from this page? The reorganization of US Southern Colonies is focusing it on pre-1776 colonies of the US South-- namely, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. That's it. If you're seeking a project to associate with, consider Louisiana.

posted by Jillaine Smith